THE INC. LIFE

How to Start Creating ‘Passive Income’ for Yourself (It’s Not as Easy as You Think)

Some assembly required.

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BY Jeff Barrett - 17 Jun 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Entrepreneurship is sexy and exciting. But like a brochure for a timeshare, it leaves out a few key details.

Six years ago I dove headfirst in to my own business working on viral marketing campaigns for large brands. I was a creative. My goal was to eventually make Super Bowl commercials. In order to help launch these campaigns I knew I needed to create a social media presence and get in touch with journalists and producers to seed content.

Little did I know, I was creating a real PR business. After making all these great contacts I started getting requests from people I knew to help get them coverage. Experiential marketing takes time and comes with large productions costs. What I was truly good at doing--connecting dots for people--was instantaneous and cost $0.

There are no humble brags here. It took me more than two years to figure out what I had built. This phenomenon is not unique. There will come a moment in every person's entrepreneurial journey where you will either see the path or stay the course.

Molly Marie Kaiser, a boudoir photographer from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, says she's on pace to make over $1 million this year. What started as a business to help women feel confident, empowered and sexy quickly morphed when Kaiser realized she had a knack for creating passive income.

"I started the business with $0.81 a few short years ago," said Kaiser. She made good revenue by focusing on boudoir photography, and then other photographers began to ask her how she did it--prompting her to create her first course. She's since transitioned out of photography and built up a community of over 30,000 entrepreneurs who snap up her courses as soon as they drop.

As you grow in your career and raise your profile, it will create opportunities for passive income. Passive income, at its core, is turning your services or intellectual expertise into a product that you can sell at unlimited scale without having to be actively involved. You're not consulting with clients but rather having them access pre-made expertise courses that provide value to the customer.

Here are six ways to do it:

1. Drive traffic.

The obvious first step is to create a course so let's get past that. The next most important thing is to create an audience. You can't sell something if people don't no about it or know what it is. Use blogs, influencers, media, anything you can to drive initial buzz.

2. Automate emails.

Over time in your career you develop a strong email list. If you don't have one connect with others that do to build out this important piece. Start with your internal network and create incentives for them to share it among friends.

3. Follow up.

For those that attend a class, seminar or visit your site but don't purchase have a plan in place to subtly remind them why they should make the purchase. These are your best leads. Don't forget to keep focusing on them.

4. Create groups.

Any good passive income stream has created a community that is willing to share your content because they have a tangible interest in your success. That value can be intrinsic but trade your value for their promotion. Be helpful and available for you biggest advocates and Evangelists.

5. Create a sense of urgency.

Most people don't make a purchase without a clear reason. Launching your course live can draw in an initial wave of interest and add a level of personalization and accessibility. The key is doing this in a way that doesn't feel like an infomercial.

6. Positioning, positioning, positioning.

To be effective at passive income you have to be able to provide something useful, something people don't have access to easily or can't achieve on their own. Almost any industry lends well to it.

But the biggest key to remember is how you position yourself and your expertise relative to others who may also have that expertise. Constantly look at how you can make your offering stronger through case studies, testimonials and partnerships with other brands or influencers.

What I've learned most in talking to people who understand passive income the most is it's effort-based. That's ironic, given the title. Take the complication out of it, follow the steps, and go out and do it. You have nothing to lose and all kinds of subscribers to gain.