Five Ways to Make Passive Income Online

Computer on a desk

By Tricia McKinnon

In an economy where Canadians are burdened with debt, with Canadian households owing $1.68 for every dollar of disposable income, finding new ways to make money can lead you to the path of financial freedom.  Generating passive income which typically involves making an upfront investment in time or capital to reap future returns can be a lucrative source of income.  The digital economy appeals not only to part time workers and freelancers but also to workers in more traditional jobs that are looking for a way to supplement their income.  While it can be difficult to figure out exactly where to start there are a number of passive online income sources that even a digital novice should try.  

1. Start Blogging. Gone are the days when you needed to learn how to code to build a website. Using online website builders like Squarespace or Wix, you can build a website quickly and easily.  After you have developed your website you can use it to host your own blog. Targeting a specific set of readers that is narrow enough so that you can be known for something is critical.  To generate revenue from your blog you can sign up for Google AdSense.  Google AdSense allows you to display targeted ads from a wide range of advertisers on your website. You are paid by Google typically on a cost per impression or cost per click basis.  Or you can reach out to brands/marketers directly and sell them advertising space. Income generation is dependent on traffic to your blog and it can take up to 12-18 months before you see a meaningful level of traffic.  Becoming proficient in SEO and learning how to market your blog are also important keys to success.  

2. Try Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing goes hand in hand with a blog.  In your blog include affiliate links and receive a commission if a website visitor completes a specific action such as purchasing a product or subscribing to a newsletter after clicking on an affiliate link.  You can use these links when you are recommending or mentioning a product or service in your blog.  It is important when going down this path to make sure that the affiliates you are promoting are aligned with your brand and value proposition.  If you are looking for affiliates you can tryAmazon Associates, ClickBank, ShareASale, eBay Partner Network or Rakuten Marketing.

3. Write an eBook and Self-Publish It. Publishing your own eBook is a great way to reach a broader audience and cement your status as an expert in an area.  You can curate the content from existing blog posts or you can start from scratch and write about a topic you are passionate about. It is best to focus on a single audience, if you go too broad your book may easily get lost in the sea of existing titles.  Once you have written your book you can publish it and sell it on your website or through Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon), Writing Life (Rakuten) or iBooks Author (Apple).Self-publishing may be the best option if you want more control over your content and a bigger cut per sale. Authors that self-publish keep between 50% - 70% of sales vs. 15% to 25% royaltiesfor publishing a book in a traditional manner.   Keep in mind that while you will generate more revenue per book through self-publishing you may easily spend the difference in marketing fees especially if you are relatively unknown.  

4. Create an Online Course. Similar to creating a website it is fairly easy to create and sell an online course through online training platforms such as Udemy, Thinkific and Teachable.  Udemy’s platform which I have used myself to create my own online course allows you to easily upload video, slides and quizzes, basically everything you need to create a course.  As a novice in this space I found the entire process very smooth which was a relief after spending several months developing the content for my course. As with all of these opportunities, the work does not stop with content creation.  You have to market your online course in order to drive course enrollment. 

5. Create YouTube Videos. You may have already thought about creating your own YouTube videos or wondered how people make money from it. Becoming a YouTuber can serve as a lucrative form of passive income if you do it right.  Just use your smart phone or a buy a high-quality camera depending on the video quality you are hoping to achieve.  Similar to the other income opportunities start first by figuring out your target market.    Once you have identified your audience and value proposition start making videos.  Frequency and consistency are the keys to success on YouTube and for your blog.  Try to post at least once a week on the same day at the same time.  That will create a habit as your subscribers tune into your channel each week to watch your latest video. In the same way that you use Google AdSense to display ads on your blogs you can also use Google AdSense to display ads on your YouTube videos.  YouTube keeps 44% of the ad revenue generated through your content and you keep 55%.  To use Google AdSense for YouTube you need at least 10,000 viewson your channel.  

For all of these income generation opportunities it takes time to create the content and even more time to build a following.  This is not a get rich quick strategy.  But with perseverance, patience and the right content you will enjoy the fruits of your labour.  It is also important to know that many people start generating passive income online while still working full-time.  You can always choose to transition to working on any of these opportunities on a full-time basis if you are achieving the returns that you desire. 


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Tricia McKinnoneCommerce