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In today’s podcast we look at four ways to generate passive income.

My spotlight in the show today was my own course, Course Creation 101. That’s on offer for the next 30 days and you can find all the details here.


You can find a full transcript of today’s episode further down the page.

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Transcript of the Episode

Hi Everyone, Welcome along to Episode 25 of the Niche Life Success podcast. It seems like quite a milestone to have got to 25. I’m Alison Wood, and I’m your host today as we talk about four ways to add passive income to your business.

So we’re going to look at some different ways. And really, even if you haven’t got a business, you could do these as side hustles. They do vary and they’re going to be right for some people and not for others, depending on what you already offer, or what you want to dig into. But I think you’ll find it helpful. And you should leave with some good tips to move you forward. So first, in our spotlight today – I always put a spotlight on something different – sometimes it’s a free resource, sometimes it’s a tool that I love.

My Course on Creating a Course

Today it’s one of my own courses. And it’s going to make sense as I talk about the passive income streams today. But I offer a course where I walk people through how to set up a course themselves from scratch. So coming up with the idea, planning it out, actually putting it all together and marketing. And I’ve got a very special offer on that, just for the next 30 days, so if you want to have a look at that, just head over to

What Is Passive Income?

So now let’s dive in, and we’re going to talk about four different ways to create passive income. Now, obviously, there are lots and lots of ways to create passive income. Many of them are not related to a business, some of them could be investments or money from properties that you own, or those kinds of things. Obviously, that is not my area of expertise. So we’re not going to go into any of that today. This is more about creating maybe a side hustle, or you’ve got an existing business and you want to leverage your expertise or something that you already have. And you’ll understand what I mean by that in a second.

You want to leverage it so that for some of the money that’s coming into your business, you are not exchanging time for money. Now, I think it’s super important, first of all, to clarify what I mean by passive income. So passive income, the true passive income, is where you have money coming in, but you are not actually doing any work for it. And that, as I said, could be an investment or something like that. Now, that’s not what we’re talking about here, the type of passive income I’m talking about, is you do the work up front and then as you make sales money comes in. You will always have to do some additional work because, for example, if you’re offering a course you might have customer service, or you might want to evolve that course and make it better. So it’s never going to be completely hands off or work free. That is not what I’m talking about when I’m talking about passive income.

But what it does mean is that you are not working for an hour and getting X amount of dollars, or pounds, or euros or whatever it is that’s coming in. So you’re moving away from that formula. And you’re adding additional things that you can sell basically around the clock. You can offer them in different ways, and we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of that as well. So I hope that makes sense. And what I will say is today I am just talking through different options. I am in future podcasts going to go into some of these in much more depth. But I wanted to introduce these things to start with, just to maybe get you thinking about them, and to see if any of them might be right for you or for your business.

Now, the very first thing I want to talk about is really only for those people who have an existing blog, because you need to have a high level of traffic coming in for this one. Now, you might be thinking, well I haven’t got any of those things. But if you’re just starting out with a blog, it could be something to bear in mind for the future. And that is to have adverts on your blog. Now, this is not something that I’ve actually done. The way that I monetize my blogs is through affiliate marketing. So I’m by no means an expert on this. But I have worked with people that have used this, and obviously leveraged quite a lot of income through this method.

Now, it is really only for those people who have a good visitor base to start with, or if that’s where you want to head in the future. So basically, what you’re doing is you’re writing good content and people are coming to your site. So you’re writing in one particular area, maybe pets, or finance, or anything at all, really, but it’s something that means you’re getting a good amount of traffic to your site. Now, anyone can start monetizing a site with something like Google AdSense. And if you’ve heard of that, it’s banner advertising that is placed on your site and when people visit your site, then if they click on the advertisements, you get a small percentage. Now with Google AdSense, again, unless you’ve got a big audience, you’re not going to make huge amounts of money up front – you can head to the Google Adsense site actually and on there, it gives you a calculator. And if you put in how many visitors per month you’re getting, it will calculate for you the average that you could potentially expect through Google AdSense. So that’s one option.

There are other much, I suppose more focused ad networks as well, maybe not more focused. I mean, AdSense is, as you know, it covers all sorts of things. And there are loads of networks out there, Google AdSense is only one, another couple are MediaVine and AdThrive. And there are loads, loads more. So if this is something that interests you, Google ad networks and see what comes up, have a look at AdSense, have a look at Mediavine, I think Mediavine needs someting like 50,000 visitors to your site every month, just even to get started with them. And it may be higher than that now, maybe 100,000. So, as I’m saying, this is not for someone that’s just starting out. If you are just starting out with a blog, then obviously, you need to build that traffic up as the very first step. But it could potentially be something to think about further down the line. So I did just want to bring that up. Because in terms of passive income, once you’ve built the site and you’ve built the traffic, it is much more hands off, because obviously you put the banner ads, you work with these networks, and they help you to optimize where the advertisements appear, and all those kinds of things. So it is very much more hands off. However, remember that you’ve got to get do all that work upfront, in order to build the traffic to your site in the first place. So not for people that are just starting out. But I did just want to mention it because it can be something to think about, something to work towards.

Affiliate Marketing

Now, the second passive income stream, or potential one, I want to talk about is affiliate marketing. And this is maybe one of the easiest ways to get started. Because you can really start from day one if you want to. Even if you’ve got a small blog, or you’ve got a business where you’re connecting with people, even maybe through socials, you don’t necessarily have to have a blog for affiliate marketing. As long as you’ve got a place where you can promote, whether that’s in your emails, whether it’s on socials, whether it is on your website or blog. And again, obviously this is a huge topic and it is probably one that I will dive into more in a future podcast, but I just wanted to give you just the broad brushstrokes of this. And if it’s not something that you’ve come across before, then you can potentially start thinking about it now.

Now, if you’ve already got an audience, maybe one of the first ways to get started is to talk about and promote things that you use in your business or in your life. Or if you write about a certain topic, there may be things that you naturally recommend, you know, if you do recipes, you might naturally recommend the blender that you use, or any kitchen equipment basically. And that’s the same for anything.

In my business, I recommend the people that I use for my email marketing. I would recommend who I use as my host for my podcast. Those kind of things. But again, if you just write about a topic, you can basically bring anything into that. For example, on my pet site, if I’m talking about crate training a dog or something like that, I would give a recommendation, or I would show some different crates that are potentials. Or if I was talking about great dog toys or something, then you can link to a few of those. So that’s basically the bottom line. What you’re doing is you’re working with a company or network of companies. And then you’re putting links into whatever it is that you’re recommending, whether that’s on social media, or in your blog, or in your email newsletter. And if somebody clicks through and they make a purchase, then you would get a small percentage of that.

Now, there are some things to think about with this, there are definitely rules and legislation around this. So you need to read around those topics before you go in. I’m not giving you an exhaustive legal framework for this. But even just coming down to things like disclaimers, if you’re recommending something, or you’re telling somebody about something, and it’s an affiliate link, you need to be very clear about that upfront, you normally need to have a disclaimer, even if it’s on socials and you need to be making sure that people know it’s an affiliate link, before they click through. So there’s a lot of things around that.

There are numerous ways to work with companies. Some companies you can work with directly like Amazon. And there’s lots like that, that you can connect with directly. For example, I promote ConvertKit, which is my email provider, and I’m an affiliate of theirs. So, you know, if somebody asks me what email provider, I recommend, I will say ConvertKit. And there’s links on my site and things like that. But you can also join affiliate networks. A couple of examples of those are Shareasale or Rakuten. And there’s loads more. And when you go into those, you can find companies that might be within your niche.

So again, let’s take the example of pets. If I went in to Shareasale, I can type in pets and I can find lots of different companies that promote pet products. Now if you know those companies, yourself, or you’ve purchased from them, or you know they’re good, you can affiliate with them and promote on your website. Whatever your niche is, there’ll be something for everyone. It’s not just for pets, it’s for basically everyone. So you would go in, you would search for your topic, you’d look and see whether they’re a good fit for your business, and then you apply to work with them. And if you’re approved, then you can put links onto your site.

Now that is very ballpark. However, I wanted to bring it to your attention now. Because let’s say, for example, you’ve got a new niche blog that you’re going to be working on, you’re going to be writing lots of content for it. There is nothing to stop you starting from the beginning and adding some affiliate links. And the good thing about that is that those links can earn you money for a long time. For example, on some of my sites, I’ve got links that I put on in 2009, and they still bring income in. Now it is not something if you’ve got a very small amount of traffic that is going to be an overnight sensation. Do not get your hopes up that you’re going to suddenly be earning loads and loads of money straight off the bat. It is again another slow burn one. But it is worth thinking about fairly early in your journey, I believe anyway, because you can add those links as early as you want to, basically as soon as you partner up with some companies. So that is another one to think about. And I think a good one, because you can use it in so many different ways.

Selling Digital Products

Now we’re going to come on to a couple of different passive income streams that may be right for different people. The next one is selling digital products. So this can be many different things. It could be an e-book that you’ve written, it could be access to a video or an audio, it could be printables, that people can download and print, it could be templates you design, and they’re useful to people in lots of different areas. If you’re a graphic designer, it could be desktop or phone wallpapers people can download, and enjoy on their computer or their phone. So there are lots of different ways to approach it.

Now, again, if you’ve got something that you can create, this is another one that is fairly easy to get started with. Because you don’t even need to have a website of your own. Some of these things, things like printables, or templates can be sold through sites such as Etsy. So you could set up a small store on Etsy, a lot of people do that to sell printables and things like that. If it’s an e-book or something else, there are lots of different companies that allow you to sell digital products really easily. The two that I recommend – the first one is Payhip, and that’s probably the one I recommend the most, purely because I’ve used it much more regularly. And the second is Gumroad, and I do know a lot of people like that one as well. Now, what these allow you to do is go onto their site, and create a listing, although you have to promote it yourself. You will need to share it in your newsletter, on socials, and maybe on a blog if you’ve got a site yourself. You upload whatever the digital product is, you set your price. And then they will give you a link which you can place wherever you want to or share wherever you want to. Now the great thing about this, particularly Payhip, I’m not quite sure how Gumroad works, I think they have a monthly fee, but I’m not 100% sure about that. But I know with Payhip they don’t. So what they do is if you make a sale, they will keep a small percentage, because you’ve made the sale through them. But there is no kind of ongoing cost. And that’s really good because it means that if you’re just getting started, and you’re not sure how many sales you’re going to make, you may not want any outgoings immediately. But you’ve got the potential that you can put products out there and they’re available straightaway.

Now, obviously, with all these things, as I said, you’re not going to magically put them out there and then be making loads of sales. So you have to still think about the marketing element. But if you do have an existing audience, or that’s what you’re working towards, if you’re blogging, or you’re being a influencer on Instagram, or whatever it is you are doing, you’ve got the potential there to be able to offer something for sale. And something that once you’ve created and you’ve uploaded it, people can purchase at any time – that’s the passive element of it, because you’re not creating something every time someone makes an order. It’s not like a physical product that you’ve got to create or you’ve got to ship, the product is there, somebody purchases it, they download it, all that is taken care of for you. The person gets the product and you get whatever the profit is that you’ve made on that item. And Payhip’s really good because the links you can either embed in a site, or you can just share the links wherever you want to.

Creating Online Courses

So that was number three selling digital products. And the last one that I want to talk about is creating courses. Now, again, you can do this at whatever stage you are at in your business or as you set up a side hustle. It is a really good time to be making courses because, I think partly due to the pandemic, but I think it was going that way anyway, a lot of people are looking for information that they can learn online. And this is not just in the kind of blogging niche, or the business niche, this is in all kinds of topics and areas of expertise. So if you have something that you know about, then creating a course can be a really good way to go.

You can also make courses as simple or as complex as you want to. So you could literally have an email course that’s text based that someone purchases, and then you send out a series of emails that’s got the course material in there, or it’s got links to videos. And the person can consume the course that way. They could even purchase it through Payhip if you want to do it that way, and actually have just a PDF with the links to the videos embedded in it. So I’m not going to go into all the mechanics of this, because obviously, it would be too much for one podcast. But I think it’s important to talk about the options. Sometimes people get scared when I talk about courses, because they think it has to be like a big production event kind of thing with lots of video and audio and all of that. And of course, it can be like that. But it can also be very simple as well, it can literally be text based, or links to videos, you can even get set up on places like Thinkific and Teachable, both of those have free options, so you can try them out.

I think Thinkific has a free option where it’s limited in what you can do, but it’s definitely enough to get you started. And Teachable also has a completely free option, but again, they take a small percentage if you make a sale. Now both of those are excellent ways to get started. Because it’s very low risk for you. Obviously, you’ve got to take the time to create the course. But you’re not paying out for a course platform or anything right from the start. But you don’t even need to go the route of Thinkific or Teachable. As I said, there’s other ways around that you could have a password protected page on your website, there’s loads of different ways.

You can run courses that are live, or you can have them pre-prepared so people can buy at any time. You can also do group live courses. This is good if you maybe work with people one- to-one. So you could offer say four webinars over a month, people come along to that so you’re working in a group environment instead of that singular one-to-one. So it’s a way to leverage your time because obviously you’re working with groups. It might be less, you might charge less than you would for working with someone one-to-one, but you can work with a group of people. So you’ve got multiple people purchasing what you offer. So there again, there are lots of different ways of doing that and it’s important to think about what is right for you, and what’s right for your business.

It’s never too early to take baby steps with courses, I remember some of the first things I offered were just very simple, text based offerings. I also did some courses that were totally free at the beginning. And that’s another great way to build your list. Again, they can be very simple courses that people sign up for. It’s just important when you’re doing a course to be very clear on what you’re putting out into the world. You don’t want to go too big, you want to be helping somebody find the solution to one issue they’re having or one thing that they want to learn. And it’s important therefore to keep the course quite defined so that you’re not going off in lots of different directions, because that’s not good for you and it’s not good for the student that’s coming through the course. So again, if you did want to check out the course that I offer on that, then just head over to It’s very low cost for the next month. So it might be worth you trying that and we go through all the different steps for creating a course.

Summary and Final Thoughts

So I hope those passive income ideas have given you food for thought. There are lots of different ways that you can add passive income streams to your business. Or if you’re starting from scratch, side hustles that you can pursue. I think it’s just important to lean into the things that you enjoy. So if you think, actually, I would really enjoy writing an ebook, or I would enjoy putting some videos together for a course, or actually, my sole focus is on just writing for this blog, and I want to make sure that’s where my focus is, then you can decide on the best way to leverage that. Because, for example, if you are a blogger, first and foremost, perhaps the easiest way to add passive income at the start, is to add affiliate marketing. There is nothing to say that later on, you can’t branch out into writing an ebook or adding a course. But maybe if you’re really focused at the start on getting that traffic built up, getting exposure for your blog, that might be the time to lean into affiliate marketing. And then to go off into some of those other routes later on.

I think in an earlier podcast, I’ve talked about kind of keeping your focus. And that’s the same with passive income, you want to bring in the passive income that is the easiest for you at that point. If you feel that, because you’ve got a lot of expertise, maybe that’s on for example, making sure that you make the most of your tax return, or how to make sure that your baby gets to sleep at night, if you’ve got that kind of expertise, that can be more easily turned into perhaps an ebook or a course. And you don’t then have to be writing every week on a blog about that topic. So always go with what’s right for you at this stage, what you think you would enjoy doing, and what’s the easiest thing, because you don’t want it to be too much of a distraction.

You know, if you work with a lot of clients, you might not have a lot of time for extra things. So you want to make sure that you are putting all your attention in the right area, and an area that’s going to bring some returns in for you. I think a lot of us get to the point where we feel quite burnt out, maybe sometimes quite pulled in lots of different directions. And that can be the time when we start thinking there have got to be some ways where I can make life a bit easier for myself. And one of those ways is to bring in some elements of passive income. So then maybe you don’t have to be service based all the time, or you’re not needing to work directly with people one-on-one all the time. And actually, if you want some really good advice on that, and leaning into making things as easy as possible, I would definitely recommend the book Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas, because she really does look at the ways that you can make your business as easy and stress free as possible. But she also goes into some of the very practical elements of that as well. So that’s definitely another good read.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed that. So the first one that we talked about was adding banner advertising – that is really only for people who have got a blog and who have got some sort of audience. You can start when your traffic’s lower with something like Google AdSense, and then you can work up to some of the bigger bigger networks, like Mediavine or Adthrive.

The second one is affiliate marketing. If you’ve got a site or you’re talking about things that you recommend, or you use things yourself that you would definitely recommend, then affiliate marketing can be great for that because you’re coming from a place of authenticity, and I think that’s always good. Like the things that I recommend are the things that I use. So I recommend ConvertKit because I use it for email marketing or I recommend Podbean because I use it for my podcast. So if you use it yourself, it’s much easier to recommend those things because you know how good they are, you’ve worked with them.

I think affiliate marketing can be started really as early as you want to, it’s just up to you when you take those first steps. But it is something to be looked at, because you do need to consider every different company that you work with will have some different T’s and C’s. So you want to make sure that you’re clear on what those are. Particularly somewhere like Amazon, they definitely have some things that you can and that you can’t do. So you want to make sure that you’re always on the right side of those things. You want to be very clear on your disclaimers and any legislation around affiliate marketing in your country, your location. So that aside, it’s a good one to start with early, but just make sure that you do a little bit of homework around it, I have got a great free resource for that (you can find that here).

Number three is selling digital products you can get started easily with that with something like Payhip, or Gumroad. And the last one is courses. So that is really good if you’ve got expertise to share. Or if you maybe work with people one-to-one and you want to leverage that a bit more so that you can work with groups.

If you do have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you. You can always tweet me on Twitter at @AlisonMWood. If you’ve got any things that you’d love to see featured in the show, then let me know as well. I hope that’s been helpful and I’ll see you next time.