9 Income Streams That Add Up To Six-Figures
I grew up in rural Wisconsin in the ’80s with no internet or cable television. Therefore, my understanding of the career opportunities that were available to me was extremely limited.
While my blue-collar family worked hard, we often struggled to meet basic needs. This manifested itself as anxiety and an obsession with money.
If you’ve ever experienced food insecurity or the burden of barely getting by paycheck to paycheck, you likely know this feeling well.
I was determined to do better.
Unfortunately, my parents only knew of one way to earn an income — get a job, work hard, and hope to advance through meager raises.
Due to my limited understanding of the opportunities that were available for achieving financial stability, I assumed the only way I would make it out of poverty was to become a lawyer.
Sadly, that was the highest paying job I could think of at the time.
Through sheer will and brute force, I put myself through law school and landed a good-paying job. For a brief moment, I thought I had made it. However, after a mere month at my “dream job,” I was miserable.
In my desperate attempt to escape poverty, I had developed tunnel vision. I had only been focused on money. I never stopped to consider what kind of life I wanted outside of work.
Relationships, travel, hobbies, and exploring curiosities never entered the equation. However, the worst part was that my job didn’t even relieve my anxiety and insecurity around money.
When all of your income is dependent on one source, all it takes is one misstep, one economic downturn, or a global pandemic to send you into financial ruin.
Luckily, I was able to find another way to financial security and you can too.
While I would never tell anyone not to get a job or follow their career aspirations, I do want to spread the message that there is an alternative to the conventional wisdom around jobs and careers.
You do not have to make all of your income from just one source.
If you are unhappy with your job like I was or have no idea what you want to do with the rest of your life, I would encourage you to explore your interests and build multiple tiny income streams over time.
Just like massive rivers are composed of many small tributaries, you can build a six-figure income out of multiple small income streams. You don’t need one big business idea or one high-paying career to make it happen.
The Benefits of Multiple Income Sources
I started building tiny income streams online in 2013. Today, I make a healthy six-figure income from all of those sources combined.
When I started building these income streams, I was working 60–70 hours a week at my day job. Finding time to work on my side hustles was challenging, but it absolutely can be done.
The best part about this approach is that it has allowed me to explore many different interests and expand my skills far beyond what a traditional career would allow.
While I will always have some anxiety around money, my fears have decreased exponentially. If something were to happen to one or two of my income streams, I have several others that can keep me afloat until I rebuild or replace the lost income.
My 9 Streams of Income
Here is a list of my various income streams. They’re really more like categories. When you add them all up, they result in a six-figure per year income.
The best part is that, for the most part, these are things that anyone could create regardless of your education, background, or available resources. If you have access to the internet, most of these options are available to start building right now.
I do want to point out that I did not create all of these at once or overnight. Rather, I methodically took small steps to build each one over a span of several years.
Here are the categories:
1. Affiliate Marketing
If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, its when you promote a product in exchange for a commission on each sale. This is by far my largest source of income.
I know that affiliate marketing has somewhat of a tainted reputation online, but hear me out. The key to affiliate marketing is to find products and services that you are already using and that you’ve had a good experience with.
For me, this means promoting products I buy from Amazon through the Amazon Associates Program. I also promote software that I use in my online business. Some affiliate programs offer recurring commissions, which makes it easy to grow my income month after month.
Avoid spammy products that won’t benefit or add value to people’s lives. Also, avoid courses that teach you to promote these types of offers. Anyone can make money promoting crappy products for a little while, but if you want to play the game for the long term, focus on quality products.
My next income stream is royalties. I could split these into two categories:
- Royalties from books I’ve written and published on Amazon through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, and
- Royalties from audiobooks that I’ve recorded and produced for other authors.
Amazon has an offshoot called ACX.com. This site allows anyone to post their book and accept auditions from amateur audiobook narrators.
There is an option to get paid in royalties versus a one-time payment. The royalty share percentage is 50%. I’ve recorded dozens of audiobooks over the years and this has led to a substantial royalty payment from Audible each month.
I do a variety of freelance work such as ghostwriting, audiobook production, voice overs, creating webinars, and so on.
Freelancing is one of the fastest ways to make money online.
You simply offer a service in exchange for a one-time payment. You don’t even necessarily need a website to get started (although it certainly helps.)
While I do love to work on freelance projects from time to time, I’m much more selective these days about what I work on. The reason being that freelancing is not the best use of my time.
I’d prefer to spend the majority of my time working on income streams that will continue to pay me over time — like affiliate marketing or writing books. However, if you are in need of an influx of cash, freelancing is often your best bet.
Writing for Medium has become one of my favorite ways to earn additional income in 2021.
Here, you have the option to sign up for the Medium Partner Program which pays you based on how many people have viewed your stories and how long they spend reading your content.
However, the Medium Partner Program isn’t the only benefit of writing for Medium. You can also incorporate affiliate links into your articles where appropriate (just make sure you disclose the link) and it’s a great source of referrals for consulting projects.
If you write quality pieces, people will take notice and it can lead to greater opportunities later on down the road.
While my YouTube channel is still quite small, it is monetized and I can see that there is a great amount of potential for it to grow into a significant income stream in the near future.
YouTube offers a great deal of leverage for your time. In addition to making money through the YouTube Partner Program, you can also promote your affiliate links and other offerings to your audience.
6. Digital Products
Digital products like online courses, templates, ebooks and digital workbooks could be a six-figure business all on it’s own. At some points in the past, it has been for me.
I am continuously experimenting with different online course offerings and digital products on my various websites. Currently, these types of products bring in a healthy amount of income into my business, but there is a lot of room for growth here. It’s something that I plan to devote a lot more time to in 2021.
The best part about creating digital products is that they are money making assets that you can sell over and over again without incurring additional costs. Once you create them, their profit potential is nearly unlimited.
Consulting is when you get paid to give advice or guidance in an area in which you have expertise. I have worked hard to acquire knowledge and experience in a couple of different niches over the years.
Once you have demonstrate that you have knowledge in an area through writing about your topic on Medium or LinkedIn, or creating videos for YouTube, I’ve found that people will reach out and ask you to consult on problems they are trying to solve.
For example, my experience as a lawyer has led to consulting opportunities with small businesses who have questions about their rights under a contract or other regulatory issues that are relevant to their industry.
However, you don’t need an advanced degree in order to be a consultant. You could become an self-taught expert in Facebook ads or SEO and consult with people who need help in those areas.
Since I love to create online courses, tutoring online seemed like a natural fit. There are a couple different types of tutoring opportunities available.
The first is helping adults and children from China and other non-English speaking countries learn to become fluent in English. The second is tutoring kids in specific subjects that they are struggling with.
There are dozens of websites where you can sign up to become an online tutor. Each site has it’s own requirements, but many do not require that you have a teaching degree specifically.
My last income source is from investments. This is more of a long term strategy for me rather than income that I pull from each month to meet my living expenses.
I’m still fairly new to investing, but I’ve committed to growing my stock portfolio each month. While securities and other investments are subject to market volatility and loss, investing has been a way for me to multiply my money and create an additional source of passive income.