3 Best Ways to Earn Passive Income Online | Guest Post by Nicholas Rubright
As you probably know, making any kind of money online is very difficult. When most people look for ways to make money online, they turn to advertising.
Unfortunately, online advertising requires an extreme amount scale for you to be able to make anything. The average CPC of a display ad on Google Adsense is less than $1.
Fortunately, there are promising alternatives out there. In this article, I’ll share with you three ways I have personally made passive income. Some of these ideas made more than others, but in each of them, I’ve had some level of success.
Along with each idea, I’ll talk about the good and bad about it, and give you step-by-step instructions on how to get started if it interests you.
Let’s dive in.
In short, affiliate marketing is where you sell someone else’s product or service and earn a commission on it.
When I started affiliate marketing, it was by accident. I just wanted to get traffic to my blog, and thought I’d try adding in some affiliate links to make some extra money.
I quickly learned that this could be a lucrative income stream for me. Within a few months after lots of SEO work, one of my blog posts was bringing in around $500/month.
After publishing more articles in my niche, I quickly scaled my income up to nearly $2,000/month
Here’s a screenshot of my Amazon affiliate income:
If you’re willing and able to put in the work, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative opportunity for you.
Pros and cons of affiliate marketing
- The income can scale quite significantly.
- There are tons of options for affiliate marketing in almost any niche.
- Low startup costs.
- You need lots of scale for this to work, and margins are too small for paid advertising to work, so you’ll need to use SEO or some form of viral marketing.
- Because of how SEO works, your site could lose rankings at any moment and your income could drop significantly.
- Depending on the niche, it’s extremely competitive.
How to get started with affiliate marketing
1. Find your niche
If you’re interested in getting started with affiliate marketing, the first step is to find a niche that you actually have experience in.
So if you’re a musician, choose the instrument you’re an expert in. If you’re experienced in email marketing, start an email marketing blog to share your real world experiences.
Whatever the niche, you can surely find affiliate opportunities in it.
2. Identify your money keywords
The next step is to find keywords that people are typing into Google with an intent to buy. Here are some examples of this:
- Best –product name-
- Buy –product name-
- -Product name- reviews
Type some of your ideas into Google’s Keyword Planner and make a list of these keywords for products in your niche. In my experience, you want to go after keywords that have more than 500 searches per month.
3. Create your content
This is one of the more time consuming portions of affiliate marketing. You need to create two types of content:
- Content that targets your money keywords.
- Content that can attract backlinks.
When writing the content for your money keywords, you’ll find that a lot of times, this has to be reviews.
Lots of affiliate marketers write fake reviews as if they actually used the products for this, but I’m very against that. Instead, I make my articles based on research.
Check out this article I wrote about the best acoustic guitars for an example of what I’m talking about. The article isn’t necessarily a list of real-world-experience type of reviews, but instead is more research based – and the article is very clear about this.
Don’t be dishonest. It’s unnecessary, and people will see through it.
4. Increase your search engine rankings with link building
Once your awesome content is created, it’s time to start building links to increase your search engine rankings.
Even though Google has over 200 ranking factors, backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors for Google.
With affiliate marketing, it’s very hard to convince people to link to you because the nature of the content is very opinionated and often not based on hard facts.
Because of this, I recommend making use of guest blogging as a link building strategy.
Instead of trying to explain how guest blogging works, here are some helpful resources from people much smarter than myself on the topic:
- Guest Blogging – The Definitive Guide
- Guest Blogging Outreach Best Practices
- Guest Blogging for SEO – How to Build High Quality Links at Scale
Have you ever ordered something from eBay, and gotten it in an Amazon box?
That’s because the eBay seller was dropshipping the product that you bought.
Basically, dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a seller never touches the inventory. Instead, once an order is placed, the seller then places an order from their supplier.
In the eBay example above, the seller was placing an order on Amazon for a product they were selling on eBay because the product was available on Amazon for less.
You’re probably thinking “How does this happen? Don’t people always look for the best price?”
Yes, but people usually develop shopping habits that are specific to an online store. eBay customers only use eBay to search for products, and filter for prices within eBay. This is what allows people to dropship from Amazon to eBay.
Despite the fact that some people find the ethics of this very questionable, many people are making good money with dropshipping.
Pros and cons of dropshipping
- You can do everything from your computer.
- No need to manage any ecommerce inventory.
- Low startup cost.
- Low fulfillment cost.
- There are tons of suppliers to choose from. Like in the example above, you can use an existing retailer like Amazon as your supplier.
- You can dropship any type of product. You can even dropship T-shirts with a service like Printful.
- Margins can be very slim, especially if you’re selling on a marketplace like eBay, and you may have to scale it up quite significantly to make money.
- You have less control over fulfillment, which can make returns difficult to handle.
- Some ecommerce sites don’t like being used for dropshipping fulfillment. In some cases, this can lead to your account being locked.
- If you’re dropshipping from Amazon to another retailer like eBay or your own Shopify store, your customers won’t be able to track their orders if Amazon’s own logistics service (AMZL) fulfills the order. While there are some great amzl tracking workarounds, this can lead to some customer dissatisfaction.
How to get started with dropshipping
1. Choose where to sell
There are two different types of dropshipping business models you can go with.
The first is the retail arbitrage method. This is where you use one retailer to supply another that acts as a marketplace. The Amazon to eBay example above is what this would look like.
The alternative is that you can dropship products on your own ecommerce store, and use a combination of different suppliers to fulfill different products.
I recommend the later. This way, you don’t have seller fees getting in the way of your profits.
2. Choose a supplier (or multiple)
After you’ve decided where you want to sell, now you need to find a supplier for those products.
In my case, for the dropshipping store I set up, I was selling T-shirts that were fulfilled by Printful. Once a shirt sells, Printful prints and ships the order, and even handles returns. This is great if you want to sell products that you’d find at your favorite band’s merch table.
If you want to sell other products, consider using an online retailer like Amazon to fulfill the orders, or look into alternative dropshipping suppliers.
Choosing an online retailer like Amazon can make things difficult to manage, so be sure to look into some dropshipping automation software to help make things more scalable.
3. Get exposure for your product listings
The specific actions you take here are going to depend on how you chose to list your products, so at the risk of this section getting too long, here are some resources you can look into for help:
- 10 Important Tips for New eBay Sellers
- 6 Practical and Proven Ways to Drive Traffic to Your New Online Store
- 6 Steps to Building a Successful Online Dropshipping Business
Create an App
Mobile apps are very competitive. Out of the passive income options in this article, this one probably contains the most risk.
I released a music-streaming app in college, and while I was able to make about $300/month in extra income from it, it never did grow into something I could live off of.
That doesn’t mean it won’t work out for you. With the right idea, a solid business model, and hard work, you can make some great passive income from this – especially if you can develop a subscription type of app that fulfills a need.
Pros and cons of creating an app
- Everyone has a smartphone now, so your potential reach is endless.
- Huge growth potential. Developing a mobile app is your best chance at getting into the billion-dollar tech space.
- If your app grows enough, you can sell it for millions.
- If you don’t know anything about programming, getting started can be expensive, time consuming, or both.
- There’s lots of competition, and the competition has lots of money in lots of niches.
How to get started creating a mobile app
1. Come up with an idea that solves a problem – even if it’s small
Coming up with an app idea that hasn’t been executed well is very hard.
When brainstorming app ideas, you want to look into problems you personally experience. This is the only way you’re going to be able to develop a proper solution because you can be your own customer.
2. Build the app
If you’re an experienced programmer, this part is less difficult.
However, if you want to build an app and have no programming experience, there’s a more difficult road ahead.
I’ve been in your shoes. When I was in college and had my first app idea, I tried hiring freelancers to do it for me.
This never worked out. It got so expensive that I ended up going through freelancers just trying to find the cheapest option, and they never delivered a high-quality app.
If you speak with any developer, they’re going to tell you that you need to learn programming on your own – and I’m right there with them.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, I learned programming and build my app within 3 months, and so can you.
If you want to follow my exact steps, check out this article I published on BPlans detailing my process.
3. Market the app
This is the hardest part of turning an app into a passive income stream, and is where many apps fail.
Too many developers publish their app, and hope that the app store will bring in endless downloads.
This isn’t the case. In order for your app to make money for you passively, you need to build out a marketing channel that works on its own.
There are tons of ideas out there about how to promote new apps, but one of the most effective things I did to get downloads was what I call “list promotion.”
Here’s how it works.
- Do a Google search for “best –app type- apps.”
- Reach out to every listing and ask to be added.
Simple, right? Here’s the exact email I sent to get my app listed on a blog post by Wix that ranked in Google for tons of high-volume keywords:
The advantage here is that instead of going after these extremely competitive keywords yourself, your app is then ranking in Google for high-volume keywords indirectly by being on the pages that do rank, which will drive long-term, passive referral traffic.
This strategy is much more effective long term than any press mention would be. Even a story on Mashable or Tech Crunch would send a spike in traffic that slowly drifts back to nothing.
Nicholas Rubright is the digital marketing specialist at SaleFreaks, a service that helps dropshippers make use of Amazon as a supplier for their dropshipping needs.