It's the dream that countless individuals are striving for:
You wake up on the beach after sleeping in your Lambo.
You take a look at your phone and there are payments from Stripe and PayPal that say you've received lump sums of income with numbers ranging in the quadruple digits.
You take a look out into the endless ocean horizon.
The party behind you is still carrying on from when it started 3 weeks ago.
Life is good…
Of course, this article isn't going to go over how to achieve any of that — sorry.
It's all a bunch of malarky as far as I'm concerned. A lie that is being marketed on the internet too much.
But hey — what I can promise you is getting you one step closer to at least building enough of a living through your own efforts and creativity so you don't have to go any longer into a job that doesn't fulfill you, working for a boss that you don't respect, making a living that you're underpaid for.
It doesn't have the photoshopped glitz and glam, but it does have achievement and fulfillment.
Over the course of the past half-decade, I've experienced a decent amount that has led me to a place where I've been able to build a humble online business for myself:
- I've been fired from my office job for making sales calls to people who didn't exist
- I've been laid off from my restaurant job because the damn building burned down
- I've written over 500 articles — many falling flat on their faces
- I've secured freelance writing gigs helping me generate tens of thousands of extra income
- I've written hundreds of articles that have helped me earn a full-time income online
- I've built and sold digital products that have helped me generate thousands extra in monthly passive income
This article is about that last bullet point: how to create digital products that sell passively and help you create extra monthly income. We're going to go over the makeup of the digital product, how to generate organic traffic to market it and how to sell the product on autopilot.
Let's start digging…
Before we get started
The topic of passive income makes people freak out a little bit.
I've written about it before and believe it to be either a goal worthy of pursuit. Some people are encouraged by the idea of generating income with little to no effort and others see it as a false signal flare spelling S.N.A.K.E. O.I.L.
Let's first define a definition of what passive income is so we can attempt to get on the same page. According to trusted debt specialist, author, and business man Dave Ramsey, passive income is,
"money you earn in a way that requires little to no daily effort to maintain. Some passive income ideas — like renting out property or building a blog — may take some work to get up and running, but they could eventually earn you money while you sleep."
The most important part of this definition is the passage that I highlighted, "may take some work to get up and running."
Whenever I've written about this in the past — people get all up in arms stating this like,
- "Jon — what are you talking about? You've clearly produced "active" work in order to produce what you've produced!"
- "Jon — passive income doesn't exist; just like your bright ideas."
- "Jon — you're amazing. Will you marry me?"
Okay…obviously I took some liberties with that last bullet point — I just want to make sure you're reading carefully because we're going to start diving it.
I just want to make it clear that in order to build a passive income system online, it's important that you understand some active work is going to be necessary to get this bird into flight.
Let's take a deeper look now.
Step 1: How to make your passive income product
I mentioned in the introduction of this post that in order to create our passive income, we're going to need to create a passive income product.
That passive income product is going to be a digital product.
More specifically, that product is going to be a downloadable ebook.
Just to prove to you that we're going to be doing this and to prove the income, see figure 1.1.
You can see that there were two digital products being sold (blue and yellow). You can also note that the sales really started to pick up in the second half of the month.
This wasn't due to this system not working. This only had to due with technical problems regarding the passive sale that were out of my control. We could reasonably assume close to double the amount of sales.
I don't share all of this to throw it in front of your face. In fact, I share all of this to let you know what's possible. I'm just a guy from the Midwest who experimented — a lot that didn't work and some that did.
Again, what helped generate this income is a passively selling ebook.
This article isn't going to go over the intricacies of how exactly to build the ebook — it would make for too long an article and I know, statistically speaking, I don't have that long to keep you engaged with the content I already want to share with this article.
You can either create one yourself using GoogleSlides and downloading as a PDF or have a designer help you on Fiverr or Upwork.
However, it is important to create an ebook that your audience actually wants. Furthermore, it's important to create an ebook that actually solves a problem for your audience.
Too often do I see online creators creating products for themselves (they just don't know it). They believe that because they created it — an audience will surely want it.
Do you notice in figure 1.1 the conversion rate? Almost 50% of all the people who make it to the checkout end up purchasing the product. This far outpaces the e-commerce industry average of 3%. This is because after years of testing (and testing that is still ongoing) the development of a product an audience actually wants (and a solution to their problem).
What are some examples of this?
Take for instance you're in the dating and relationships niche. You want to help couples struggling with conflict resolution. You could create a problem-solving ebook helping couples worth through issues. This of course would be packed with verified studies and real-world examples.
Once you have your ebook, we need to host it via an online storefront. To do this, you can use free platforms like WooCommerce.
You could also use new utilities like Convertkit Commerce (if you already use Convertkit as your email service provider — of which you'll need). For my purposes, I use SendOwl and am transitioning to ThriveCart (both paid) because they offer more. None of these links are affiliate so click away!
You can follow the platform's FAQs and setup wizards in order to figure out how to upload your digital product.
From there, you're going to need to drive traffic to the product that you created.
That's what we're going to take a look at next.
Step 2: How to generate organic traffic to market your passive income product
In the online content space, there are generally two ways of marketing your passive income product:
- Paid advertising using Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc.
- Organic traffic using Medium, Quora, Linkedin, etc.
For our purposes, we're going to focus on the second way — generating organic traffic.
Well for a few reasons, but mainly, the costs of running advertising online keeps getting more and more expensive. Recent research indicates that on Facebook alone CPM rates have grown 90 percent year-over-year for marketers.
If there's one thing we don't have when starting off building our online business, it's extra money to just throw around.
This way is going to be free.
Well, you're going to pay with time and effort. The way our grandfathers told us. You know — to roll up our sleeves and actually do the work.
What does all of that entail?
It means you're going to create content on those platforms in order to uncover, develop and nurture your True Fans. Your True Fans are going to be your base that helps you build your online content business into the $100,000 business you know you're capable of creating.
You do this by writing niche-specific content first on Quora — especially if you're just starting out.
Why Quora first?
Because Quora is literally a platform of 300 million unique monthly users that are looking for niche-specific content. The questions are segmented in topics. When you answer the question with a conversion-focused lens, you are creating content that helps drive traffic to your passive income product.
I know for me, it was hard to figure out what to write about.
Quora acted as a writing prompt machine. All of the ideas for my future content could be provided by searching for high traffic questions within the topics I was looking for.
How do you know if a question is high traffic?
There are three characteristics for understanding if a question is high traffic and these can be found within the question metrics:
- It has over 500,000 views already
- It has over 100 already generated answers
- It has over 100 people following the question
Generally, I've found that this is a sweet-spot for answering questions. The traffic is already there — you just need to put your fishing pole in the water and catch some bites.
All of this helped me garner the status of most viewed writer in a given topic.
Again, I'm not trying to make this into the "Jon Show."
I include this to prove to you that I know what I'm talking about and this isn't all theoretical.
This has practical application if you're willing to put in the work.
Because not only did that help me generate a third of a million views in 30 days, but it helped generate me and my content credibility going forward.
You need that if you expect people to purchase from you.
Once you've generated some traffic on Quora, you can syndicate that content on other sites like Medium and Linkedin.
Of course one of those sites helps you generate more income with royalties but we don't need to go over that in this article — you've read so many "How I Make a bazillion dollars with Medium" articles I'm sure your eyes hurt.
Now a crucial few elements of the entire system are coming up — hopefully you're still with me…
Step 2.1: How to leverage the organic traffic into list building
Have you ever wondered why "big time" online content writers put footers at the end of their articles?
It's because all the money is in the email list.
In his bestselling book, "DOTCOM Secrets" Russell Brunson notes the importance of building an email list,
"The first month, I was able to get about two hundred people to join my list, and I made just a little over two hundred dollars that month. […] When I got my list to ten thousand people, I was averaging over ten thousand dollars per month! […] That's why it's so important to convert the other two types of traffic into subscribers and buyers as quickly as possible. the bigger your list, the more money you make." (Brunson, R. "DOTCOM Secrets" 2015 Morgan James Publishing)
When you have content generating organic traffic (article views), it's a crying shame if you leave the potential of that content to wither and die. That is, you're losing out on potential earnings if you don't leverage the traffic into list building.
The calls to join a newsletter help these elite writers build their list.
From there, they can help their audience solve their problems with products and services over the course of the subscriber's time on the list.
Step 3: How to sell the passive income product on autopilot
This is the moment you've all been waiting for. The part where you go from obscure novice writer and transform into internet marketing juggernaut.
Again, like I stated in the first paragraph of this article — it isn't as sexy as it sounds. However, it's rewarding as fu — .
When you're building a list there is a feature that all email service providers allow you to do.
That feature is known as the email welcome sequence (sometimes called email welcome series).
The email welcome sequence is a series of emails that are sent to your new subscribers when they join your list. It’s your opportunity to make a great first impression. Your only job at this stage is to provide extreme value and get people enrolled in what you stand for.
There are no standard rules for how many emails over how many days, but you don't want to leave your new email subscriber (who is trusting you with their email) to be left out in the cold.
There's nothing worse than showing up to an organization or event and having no guidance as to what you should expect now that you're joining. The same goes for your email list.
The new subscriber should be warmly welcomed in.
You should send out a series of emails letting them know a few things:
- About you.
- What you stand for and what the list's mission is.
- What the subscriber can expect (daily, weekly, monthly emails etc).
It's also your opportunity either at the beginning or the end to "pitch" your product.
Your whole goal is to provide your community (True Fans) content, products, and services that yield value. The product that you created in the previous step is providing that value.
Your audience should have an opportunity to purchase that and apply it to their life and situation.
I cannot go into the full detail of setting up an email welcome sequence — this article is already at 2,300 words and I've probably lost 90% of you.
However, if you're one of the special few that is still with me — you can literally Google,
"[Name of your email provider] email welcome sequence"
And you'll be brought to a walkthrough page for your respective ESP.
From there, you'll include links to the digital storefront that you're using (WooCommerce, Convertkit Commerce, SendOwl, ThriveCart etc.) as the payment processor.
It is passive by nature because if we refer to the definition earlier, "may take some work to get up and running, but they could eventually earn you money while you sleep.”
You've put in the work to get this system up and running. Now — whenever someone opts in, the system takes place without you having to enact anything. Each pitch is automatic and if the product's value proposition meets your new subscriber's needs — chances are they'll pull the trigger and buy.
I have to be honest — don't feel discouraged if right away your product doesn't sell like hot cakes.
It takes time.
I remember my first digital product sold (I don't offer it anymore because I've improved on it).
I sold it for $13.50 to a gentleman name, Daniel (I am forever indebted to you taking a chance on me!)
It was May of 2018 and I almost dropped my phone when I saw the Stripe payment come through.
"Thirteen dollars and fifty cents" I thought to myself, "I'm Rich, beeotch!"
Do you want to know how much I made off the rest of 2018 selling that same passive income product?
Fast forward two years and I'm consistently generating $1,000 — $3,000 in passive digital sales (factoring issues outside of my control).
It all starts with getting the systems in place and letting them ride.
It's starts with a decision
I get it.
This article isn't sexy.
If you've made it this far — kudos.
You're a member of the small percentage of people that actually read entire articles.
Furthermore, you're a part of an even smaller community that knows the broad-stroke systems and strategy needed to become a "passive income badass."
Yeah — I think that’s what we’re going to call it…
Will this route get you that lime green Lambo?
Will this route get you that endless party on the beach?
Will this route get you the Instagram notoriety of Tekashi 6ix9ine?
(I'm can't tell if I'm proud or disgusted with myself that I included Tekashi in this article…)
What this route will get you is leaps and bounds closer to your end goal — working for yourself earning wages you know you deserve, helping and building a community of like-minded people, and doing and sharing the work that fulfills you.
But it all starts with a decision.
A decision that stares down and intimidates far too many people.
The decision to roll up the sleeves and put in the hard work that others aren't willing to do.
Will you do it?
Ready to Make More?
If you want to excel and earn more than what you’re currently making by doing what you love, check out my guide.