After receiving a fair bit of interest about passive income in my post ‘Rethinking Retirement‘, this one is a sort of follow-up which dives deeper into the concepts of passive income and how it can get you closer to your retirement goal, whatever that may look like.
In this post we discuss what passive income is, how it can be achieved and most importantly, why to even bother chasing it in the first place. When used correctly, I believe it to be an incredible tool that anybody can use to significantly improve their lives.
Passive Income – A Definition
Passive Income has a whole host of different definitions but in a nutshell, it is a method of generating income without the need for a real-time presence. That is to say rather than having to be present to be able to work and earn your money, as is the case in almost every job: from office jobs to manual labour to the service industry etc., you don’t have to be there to earn.
With passive income streams, the money that you earn can come in while you are sleeping, on holiday or what I believe to be most important, during times of circumstance where life may hit hard and conventional work may not be possible. In these instances, passive income streams are going to have your back when you need to deal with life first, and work and money second.
Passive Income Ideas and Examples
Because things like passive income don’t get talked about much, especially in formal education where traditional ‘stable’ jobs are always the focus, you may be doubtful about their potential and what is actually available to you specifically.
Maybe you are at the stage where you dismiss it as something only a few can achieve after lucky breaks, financial aids or someone with a burning passion for a very specific hobby. Don’t worry, I shared the same scepticism that you might do and I discovered that isn’t the case. Some of the ideas on this list are sure to be very familiar to you, but perhaps you never considered them as options, so let’s check them out…
Blogging, podcasting, YouTube
Yes that’s right, this blog is a form of passive income. Albeit a very raw, unpolished and embryonic form at the time of writing, but that is how all blogs have to start!
First off, writing about something that you are passionate about is the perfect starting point. If you are sharing ideas with a community about what you are interested in, what they are interested in and you can provide value to them, yourself AND get paid for it in the process, then isn’t that almost the perfect job?
Of course, starting, writing and maintaining a blog certainly isn’t passive. That is something which I have learnt in the past couple of months as well as what I anticipate way into the future. However, monetising blogs is actually very easy to do and there are quite a variety of ways of doing it. Here are a few broken down very simply:
Ads – The most basic form of passive income (and can be the most abused and counter-productive if used in excess, as we all know). This is how most of your favourite bloggers, podcasters and especially Youtubers are making most of their money. Agencies pay for their material to be on your blog or every time their stuff gets clicked on your platform.
Affiliate Marketing -The favourite of many. It involves you selling someone else’s product or service and in return you get a commission from the company when someone buys through you, at no extra cost to the buyer.
This is ideal for generating passive income because not only are there so many fantastic affiliate schemes out there, but if used correctly, you can also serve your audience by recommending things that are ACTUALLY useful to them and that you have ACTUALLY used, so that they are more likely to trust you, find value in it and go through you in the future. It’s a win win.
If you check out my Matched Betting post, I receive a commission if you sign up to the matched betting software site, Oddsmonkey. If you read my Rethinking Retirement post and went and bought ‘The 4 Hour Work Week‘ off Amazon, I would also receive a commission. This is affiliate marketing in action.
Books, eBooks, Courses – While not specifically tied to blogging and the social aspect, these three are made for serving your audience and from what I have seen, work best when tied in with a blog and a specific audience of people. Obviously not passive in their creation, but once they are out there, they are out there and the income is steady and automated.
How about writing a how-to book on growing and nurturing a Bonsai plant? Or releasing a course online that helps people pass a specific exam that you have already taken and know all of the tricks for? Just like the people of the world’s tastes and interests, the possibilities are quite literally endless.
What I and many other people do is invest in a Vanguard Life Stategy fund. Your typical thoughts about ‘investing’ probably make you think about stockbrokers on Wall Street, high-stress, lots of graphs, very risky etc. etc.
In its most basic form, Life Strategy funds allow you to put money into a portfolio which invests a bit of your money into a load of big global companies in sectors such as technology, media and energy just to name a few. Due to the spread of your investments, the returns are often not spectacular but very consistent and greater than having your money sat in a savings account which earns next to nothing or trying to beat the market yourself.
You don’t even need to know anything much about markets. You just put your money in and the rest takes care of itself.
I set my fund to an ‘accumulator fund’. This means that the money that you consistently make reinvests into the fund, compounding massively over time. Your money then starts to make its own money until it is making enough for you to live off without any extra investment, which is not only passive, but pretty cool.
These are just a few of the options. Other honourable passive income mentions inlcude: Peer-to-Peer Lending, Renting Real Estate and Releasing Your Own Products.
How much money can passive income actually make?
Writing about stuff that you love, creating courses on stuff that you are good at, putting a few links in your blog all sounds great, but how much money can it really make?
Actually, with a bit of time and effort, quite a bit.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out these examples where in some cases the people are making over $100k a month:
Of course, these are just 3 examples out of I have no idea how many. I acknowledge that these examples took a huge amount of time and effort to create, build and nurture but as you can see, the passive income streams come through steady from a variety of different sources, meaning more back-up plans if one fails. The hard work involved in creating something worthwhile is always worth it.
Even if you have no plans to make passive income or blogging or whatever a full time thing, it is certainly worth considering as a second income and using it as an emergency or leisure fund.
Passive Income – How and Why to take action
Personally, I would start off by having a good inward look at what you are truly interested in, what drives you and what your skills and abilities are (you are sure to have more than you think). From there you can start to think about how you can combine the two, perhaps incorporating some of the things that you have read today.
Not only is the idea of earning money while you sleep or while you are on holiday very appealing, but as I mentioned in the ‘Definition’ part of this post, the very best thing about passive income in my opinion is flexibility. There are two very important sides to the coin in my eyes.
The awesome side: the fact that if you manage to make a large chunk of your income passive, then you can take time off ‘work’ whenever you want to do whatever you want. You can go watch your child’s football game during school hours. You can take a cheap, midweek city break to somewhere in Europe if you fancy it. If sufficient money is trickling in from hard work that you put in in the past, rather than day-to-day, then it frees up your time. And with time, you can do anything.
The not-so-awesome-but-very-important side: Largely linked with the freeing up of time and presence sides, if you don’t have to go into work every day in order to pay your bills, then time and thoughts can be spent elsewhere when it is really needed such as when life decides to come at you hard. That includes time spent to tackle times of personal struggle, both mental and physical. Tough times involving loved ones, or just getting your shit figured out.
These things all need time to be confronted and resolved, and your obligated presence somewhere in order to pay your bills shouldn’t be, and doesn’t have to be, a sacrifice to the wellbeing of others and most importantly, to your own wellbeing.