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The Consequences of Not Generating Passive Income

Here is what I wish I had done years ago.

Keri Savoca
Dec 24, 2018 · Unlisted

I’m not talking about get-rich-quick schemes. I’m not talking about filling out surveys for 10 cents each or getting a one-dollar rebate here and there. I’m talking about generating (and saving) a steady flow of countable income— before you need it.

Just like the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, the best time to start generating passive income is when you already have money. You are not immune to a financial disaster.

You could stay with the same company for 30 years and retire with a pension and a hefty investment account. Or you could lose everything tomorrow.

I started selling lesson plans on TeachersPayTeachers a few years ago. I put up 22 worksheets and PowerPoints that I made way back in the day, did about 5 minutes of marketing, got bored, and let it sit. I haven’t added anything in as long as I can remember, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when I get my monthly income statement. It started with аbout $30 a month, but it grew to $75–100 each month in the past year. I’ve put in about an hour of work a year since I started it. Imagine if I had nurtured it.

Imagine earning $495.30 for something that took you an hour to create — years ago. I sell this product for $5, but other sellers post comparable items for double. I sell some other things for $1 to get some quick cash; without marketing the products, the low prices are the best way to convince people to buy them.

And then there was the online t-shirt store that I started when I was young. Same thing. It made money. I was young. I forgot all about it. I put 0 hours of work into it. It fizzled out, but imagine if I had nurtured it.

I still get the occasional “A product has sold!” email.

I wrote some pieces on Medium a few months ago. I made $18 from my first article, which was completely unrelated to any popular topics on Medium. I forgot all about it. The next month, I got another small paycheck, even though I hadn’t written anything.

My most recent article got 26,000 views in 3 days.

That was when I realized that I needed to stop devoting energy and resources into things that didn’t work (like the time I tried to establish a consulting business and got upset that I wasn’t getting clients during the first week). Instead of investing 80 hours into creating a website and an extensive email marketing campaign for a farfetched idea in an oversaturated market (with a target audience that probably didn’t have discretionary income to spend on my services), I should have spent that time nurturing my passive income streams.

Generating passive income is difficult.

Go ahead — Google it. I dare you.

You’ll find plenty of promising links.


It doesn’t work that way.

But if you start with a small project— preferably something you’re passionate about — and nurture it, it will grow. Especially if you do it well. I promise you.

By the way, I’m not saying that affiliate marketing is a joke. I’m saying that, when you’re targeting a niche market, it takes a lot of time and patience to make your business grow. If affiliate marketing is your passion — go for it. But remember — it takes work.

Maybe the whole “passive income” idea isn’t really about making $10,000 a month and never working again.

Maybe it’s not about niche markets after all.

Maybe it’s about generating revenue from platforms that are far-reaching and all-encompassing.

Maybe all the advice I had received was wrong.

For me, the consequences of failing to nurture my passive income streams were pretty significant.

A few months ago, my income changed drastically overnight. I eagerly cashed out a $700 payment from TeachersPayTeachers that I had left sitting there just in case. In that moment, I wished so badly that I had invested even an hour a week on my products; if I could make $100 a month with 0 effort, imagine if I had thought ahead and invested just a little more time over the years.

But you already know what they say about hindsight.

The perfect time to start is yesterday. Here’s what you can do now:

You can create online classes—Udemy is a good place to start. With no marketing at all, it took 2 months before I sold my first class. I wasn’t passionate about it, so I took it down.

You can design and sell t-shirts online without ever having to touch a physical product. Merch by Amazon, Spreadshirt, Teespring, Redbubble, and others allow you to set up an online storefront. Have a big social media following? Advertise your products and they will sell.

You can teach online. It’s not exactly passive income, but I included this for a reason: it is a legitimate way to make money from home if you are able to invest the time... and if you refer other people, you can make a substantial passive income from referrals alone. Or you can teach for 4 hours a week and make a few hundred dollars a month. VIPKid and Gogokid are two of the bigger companies. They pay roughly $20–24 per hour.

You can write on Medium. Maybe you already are. Invest some time, gain some traction, write every day — a good article will generate income for as long as it is relevant.

You can monetize pretty much anything.

It’s not about getting rich. It’s not about quitting your job. It’s about setting a foundation now, so that if you ever find yourself sitting in unwashed sweatpants browsing Indeed for jobs in your area while simultaneously Googling “how to make money at home”, you won’t have to start from scratch.

Find something you can do in an hour or two a week. Nurture it. Let it grow.

Decide what to do with that money — and decide wisely.

Assuming you don’t need money right now, you can keep it in a savings account and forget about it. You can invest it. If you invest even $200 a month, it will grow into a big chunk of money down the line. You don’t have to be a mathematician to plug some numbers into an online investment calculator and see the potential.

Passive income is like insurance — you hope you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll certainly be glad you took the time to set it up.

Are you currently generating any passive income? If not, do you plan on starting? If yes, how do you nurture your passive income streams? Have you been successful?

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

Making of a Millionaire

Stories about money, personal finance and the path to financial independence.


Keri Savoca

Written by

✨ serial questioner • technical writer • I write about everything but my voice never changes • thank you for connecting 👩🏻‍💻

Making of a Millionaire

Stories about money, personal finance and the path to financial independence.

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