Online Passive Income and Blog Update [August ’11]

Wow, August was a busy month! We’re almost a third of the way through September and I’m just now finally getting around to writing about August’s results.

August was another one of those ironic months where I did very little, yet somehow had one of my best months ever (don’t get too excited though – it’s not much better than the past few months).

Before I get into the usual monthly update, I’m going to begin with a personal update…

What’s New With Me (Personal Update)

I don’t always spend much time on “personal” matters, but anything that consumes a large portion of my time is probably worth mentioning.  Earlier this month (9/1), my girlfriend and I moved into a new apartment together, and we’re loving it so far.  For those familiar with Chicago neighborhoods, we moved from Lakeview to Wicker Park.

Instead of being crammed into one bedroom with my desk and everything else (I used to live with a roommate in my previous apartment, so my girlfriend and I shared my bedroom for all of our possessions), we have a two bedroom apartment to ourselves, and have converted one of the bedrooms into an office for me (pictured to the right)! No, I’m not quitting my “day job,” but it’s still nice to have a separate working space from my bedroom.

As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time apartment hunting and ultimately packing during August, so that’s where most of my time outside of work was spent.  It’s nice to finally be settled again, which will hopefully mean I can be more productive again.

[Read my write-up here]

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know about my love for Lending Club. It’s a peer-to-peer lending site that I feel is my only true source of passive income (i.e. once I’m invested, I make money by doing virtually nothing).   As of the end of August, I was invested in 98 loans (+2 from July) and my net annualized return was 7.20% (+0.13% from July).

As I always point out, my current interest rate at Lending Club far exceeds that of any type of “safe” investment like money market bank accounts and CDs (certificates of deposit). Remember, however, that Lending Club loans are riskier than these other types of investments.  I do strongly believe that the additional risk is more than compensated for by the higher rate of return.  I’ve been with Lending Club for over 2 and half years now, and have consistently seen returns greater than 7%.

Here’s an image from my Lending Club account summary that show my performance compared to other Lending Club investors:

If you’re interested in trying Lending Club, you can sign up with this link and get a free account.  If you’re unsure whether this type of investing is right for you, you can deposit a small amount (loans can go as small as $25) and become familiar with it.

To me, trying something like this and investing a small portion of your money is a no brainer. You’re going to get higher returns than a bank account, and although it locks up your money for a period of time (you are generally paid back over 3 years), it’s well worth the ability to have your money earn you money, with virtually no effort on your part.

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

August was a great month for Info Barrel, as my AdSense income saw a nice increase despite me not writing any new articles.  I’m sure some of you are wondering why I haven’t written any new articles given the success I’ve had with a collection of articles that I wrote several months ago.   It really comes down to this: time.

For the past few months, I’ve only been able to dedicate, on average, probably 3-4 hours per week to my internet work.  Once you take into account that 1-2 of those hours are spent writing for this blog, there isn’t much time left for everything else.  Part of this is my fault, but it all comes down to priorities, and there are other things in my life that have taken priority. :)  Hopefully, I’m able to demonstrate for you that you don’t need to have all the time in the world to make a reasonable amount of money online.

As of the end of August, I have written 130 articles (+0 from last month).  Here are my August Google AdSense statistics for Info Barrel:

In August, I earned a total of $79.02 via AdSense, from my Info Barrel articles (+$19.00 from July).

August InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $79.02
  • Amazon Associates:          $0.00
  • Chitika:                                    $4.43
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $0.00
  • Total: $83.45 (+$6.66 from July)

If you want to add InfoBarrel to your passive income portfolio, you can sign up for it here.

Niche Site Duel

As a part of Pat Flynn’s niche site duel,  I created a niche site about a year ago based on P90X, an extreme home fitness routine.   After three straight months of very modest increases, I saw a decline in August.  Although I’m not officially giving up on this site, I’ve stopped focusing much time on it.  I think it’s important to understand your failures and move on to areas where your time is more valuable.

I am experimenting with something new this month for my P90X site, however, and if anything interesting comes out of it, I’ll write a case study next month.

August Niche Site Duel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense: $0.00
  • Chitika: $0.00
  • Amazon Associates:  $1.75
  • Total: $1.75 (-$6.30 from July)

Amazon Niche Site Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

Last November, I launched a challenge where I planned to create several niche sites specifically tailored for Amazon’s affiliate program (i.e. selling physical products as an affiliate of Amazon.com), and I’m following the lessons taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course.

For the third straight month, I saw record earnings once again.  I’ve been very thrilled with the way my Amazon sites have progressed, and if this trend can continue, I’m expecting a very rewarding holiday season (the most lucrative time for Amazon affiliates).  If you’re thinking about starting an Amazon niche site, do it now so that it’s complete and ranking by the time the holiday shopping season gets into full swing.

Here are the stats for August:

# of Amazon niche sites: 16 (same as July)

Total August Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $214.94 (+$45.94 from July)

My Authority Website

As I detailed here, I’ve started an authority website that I have big plans for.  The site finally started earning money! It’s not a lot, but I’ll take it as a small step in the right direction.  Once I get around to doing some substantial work on this site (most notably, writing an eBook that will be used a list-building giveaway), I’ll dedicate an entire post to it.

Here’s what the site earned in August:

  • Google Adsense:                 $3.45
  • Other (to be disclosed later): $3.84
  • Total: $7.29 (+$7.29 from July)

Misc. Affiliate Income

This area saw a nice jump over the past month!  As usual, there’s no real explanation, as all of this comes from work that I did a long time ago (I didn’t build or write anything new that would add to these income sources). Here’s the breakdown for August:

  • Adsense: $6.66
  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $235.59
  • Commission Junction: $201.40
  • PayDotCom: $0.00
  • Private Advertising: $35.00
  • Market Samurai: $63.50
  • Other Misc.: $64.50

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for August: $606.65 (+$121.59 from July)

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of August’s earnings.  Instead of summarizing it by source (i.e. AdSense, Amazon, etc.), I’m going to summarize by project/challenge, which I think makes a bit more sense.

  • InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge: $83.45
  • Niche Site Duel (P90X site): $1.75
  • Amazon Niche Site Challenge: $214.94
  • My Authority Website: $7.29
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $606.65

Grand Total for August: $914.08 (+$175.18 from July)

I’m thrilled to find that this is my highest month so far this year.  It would be nice to crack the arbitrary $1,000 mark, but I’m not there yet.  These earnings are always bittersweet for me – on the one hand, it’s great that I’m able to generate this now on a fairly regular basis with very little work (that’s the beauty of passive income), however it bothers me to know that if I could just find the time to put some more work into my income-producing properties, I could be making so much more.

Popular Posts

These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in August based on number of views:

1) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

2) The Best Sources of Passive Income Online (My Rankings)

3) How to Make $2,000 Per Month Writing for InfoBarrel

4) 142+ Ways to Make Money Online

5) Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]

Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!

If you enjoyed this income report, subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss any future updates. Thanks so much!

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Online Passive Income and Blog Update [August '11]

Related posts:

  1. My Blog and Passive Income Experiments Update [August '10]
  2. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]
  3. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [September '11]


Generate Strong Passwords with Wolfram

Wolfram Alpha – an online engine that in some respects is more powerful than Google – can also be used for generating strong and unique passwords for your various online accounts.

To get started, go to the wolframalpha.com website and type a natural-language query like password of n characters to create your unique password (n is the length of the password).

wolfram password

Unlike other password generators, Wolfram Alpha offers a phonetic form for every password to make it a bit easier for you to memorize that complex string. It also shows the time it would take for a computer to break that particular password.

While the default settings in Wolfram are good enough to create strong passwords, you may also provide specific password rules like whether the password should have special characters, should every character be different, are number allowed and so on. Useful!

Also see: Keep Your Passwords Safe on a Piece of Paper

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Generate Strong Passwords with Wolfram, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on August 30, 2011 under Password, Wolfram Alpha, Internet.


A Better Way to Translate Office Documents

Translate Office Documents

There are several easy ways by which you can translate your Microsoft Office documents or PDF files from one language to another.

For instance, you may upload documents to the Google Translation website, select the language translation pair and hit the Translate button. Then there’s the Translator Toolkit, also from the Google stable, where you may not only translate documents but also edit the translated material. Microsoft also offers a free utility that brings translation capabilities right into all your existing Office programs (including Outlook emails).

There’s however a limitation you should be aware of. While the Google Translate website makes it a one-click affair to translate lengthy documents, it doesn’t preserve the formatting of your documents /presentations and turns them into almost plain-text after the translation.

If you want your translated documents to look just like the original as far as formatting is concerned, give DocTranslator a try. The user interface is horrible but the tool is pretty useful. You upload a document, select a target language and within a minute or so, it will translate all the text of that document in the required language while preserving the document formatting.

To give an example, here’s the original document in English and the translated document in Hindi. If you compare the two, only the text has changed while all the styles are preserved. DocTranslater internally uses Google Translate itself and hence supports all language-pairs that are supported by Google Translate.

You may use the tool to translate PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, video sub-titles, OpenOffice documents and plain text files. Here’s a video demo of the translation tool in action.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, A Better Way to Translate Office Documents, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on August 30, 2011 under Google Translate, Software.


Samsung Drops Prices for Google Chromebooks

Google Chromebook by Samsung

Chromebooks went for sale in June and in this short period of time, Samsung has already dropped the price of their Google Chrome OS laptops by as much as 10%.

The Wi-Fi only Series 5 Chromebook is now selling for $399.99, down from $429.99, while the 3G + Wi-Fi Chromebook is available for $449.99, down 10% from the original $499.99. The prices for Acer Chromebooks are however unchanged.

While a price drop is always welcome, I am still not convinced why would anyone prefer a stripped-down Chrome OS based laptop over these netbooks that are much more versatile.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Samsung Drops Prices for Google Chromebooks, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on August 30, 2011 under Google Chrome Os, Gadgets.


Google TV is a Value-for-Money Device [Video Review]

google_TVThe content on the web is exploding, our Internet speeds are getting better and, fortunately enough, there are a plethora of affordable devices available that can bring most of the online content to our living room TV without even requiring a computer.

This category of devices, also known as digital media players, connect to your TV at one end and the set-top box at the other.

It doesn't matter whether you have a standard TV or an HDTV – they should have the right input ports and then all you need is a wired or wireless Internet connection to enjoy the web from your couch.

Which Media Player should you choose?

When it comes to choosing a media player, your main options are Roku, Boxee, Apple TV, WD TV Live and Logitech Revue powered by Google TV. If you are in the the US, you would probably compare the boxes based on their support for Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Amazon Movies, etc. but the selection criteria would be very different here as none of streaming services are available in India.

The $99 Apple TV is polished but mostly designed for people who buy content from iTunes. Boxee supports most common video formats and offers a wide variety of content but at $199, Boxee TV is twice as expensive as the other digital media receivers.

The new Roku media player, Roku 2 XS, also offers content from popular sources and the box itself is quite portable but there are some major limitations - Roku does not 'officially' supports YouTube nor can it stream content over the home network out-of-the-box. That means if you have photos and videos stored on your computers, you cannot enjoy them on your TV even if the Roku box and the computers are on the same network.

The $99 Logitech Revue with Google TV

I therefore decide to go with Google TV based Logitech Revue which runs on Google TV. Revue is available on Amazon.com for $99 and the convenient part is that you can get it delivered to any address in India for a $26 shipping fee - I didn't have to pay any import duties either so it was kind of a good deal.

I have been using it for about two weeks now and really like the thing. Here’s a quick video tour /review of the device in action:

Google TV Review - It works outside the US too!

The installation was pretty straight-forward. You connect Google TV to the TV unit with an HDMI cable while the other HDMI cable connects the set-top box to Google TV - the latter step is optional but you would need that in case you like to watch Internet content alongside your regular TV channels.

The integration of Google TV with YouTube is absolutely fantastic. You can switch to the Leanback mode for a full-screen experience. If you are signed in with your Google account, you can also access your YouTube playlist and favorites on TV.

Google TV offers one-click access to video content from popular sources like CNN, The New York Times, CNET, Revision3, al-Jazeera and more. On a side note, I am quite surprised that Leo Laporte’s TWIT.tv is missing in the list though you can always add that channel on your using the Queue feature mentioned below.

The unit ships with Google Chrome browser so you can enjoy virtually all Internet content on your TV just like you do on a computer. I doubt if I would ever use a TV for replying to emails or for creating a presentation but that is quite easy to do with Google TV's browser.

It might feel a bit odd to use a QWERTY keyboard as a remote control for your TV but you don't have to - there are free mobile apps available that will turn you iPhone, iPad or your Android mobile phone into a remote for Google TV. Unfortunately, these apps aren't available in the Indian iTunes store but you can easily bypass that with a second iTunes account.

The other interesting feature in Google TV is Google Queue. This actually a podcast catcher application where you can subscribe to video podcasts and stay updated as new shows become available. The podcasts are however streamed directly from the Internet as Google TV has no storage for downloading podcasts.

The Revue keyboard, like the Chromebook laptops, have a dedicated search button that lets you simultaneously search the web, video channels and Twitter among other places. It is easy to switch between Internet TV and cable TV or you can use the Picture-in-Picture (PIP) button to watch regular TV while also replying to a tweet on Google TV.

Google TV is designed for the American market and thus it would only recognize your set-top box as a “Generic Video Source” meaning you won't be able to search your TV programing schedule from Google TV. Also, I was unable to configure the Revue controller as a remote for the cable set-top-box.

Most online publications slammed Google TV when it launched initially with a $249 price tag but with the recent price drop, Google TV is suddenly a value-for-money device. And with Honeycomb upgrade expected in the coming weeks, which will bring more Android based apps to your living room TV, the scales could further tilt in favor of Google TV.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Google TV is a Value-for-Money Device [Video Review], was originally published at Digital Inspiration on August 29, 2011 under Google Tv, Gadgets.


Why Publishing Guest Posts Can Be a Bad Thing

If you look around, you’ll find hundreds of blog posts that talk about the benefits of writing guest posts for other people. Few people seem to talk about the pros and cons of actually being the publisher the guest posts.

It’s worth noting that certain blogs thrive on guest posts, and regularly utilize guest bloggers.  Other blogs seem to rarely publish guest posts (like me). Then of course, you have the blogs that are somewhere in the middle, and periodically publish guest posts, but not on any regular schedule.

But can it be bad to be the one who actually publishes guest posts?  I’ve decided to dig in a little bit deeper on this topic…

Some Interesting Data

Let me start by first saying that I don’t regret the recent guest posts on my blog by Sunil and Spencer.  I respect both of them, and firmly believe that their writing brought value to my blog. In fact, I wouldn’t have even thought about writing this blog post if I wasn’t checking my RSS feed stats recently.

What I decided to do was graph the past 4 months of my RSS feed subscriber stats, taking a look at percentage change in subscribers for each day (rather than total subscribers, which has trended upwards at a fairly steady rate since I started this blog).  What I found was actually pretty interesting, although I don’t necessarily believe the data is significant.  Here’s the graph:

As it turns out, the two lowest points over the past four months, where my RSS subscriber count decreased the most (in terms of % of total subscribers) were the days immediately following the only two guest posts I published on my blog.

To put it in words, in case you don’t like reading graphs, my RSS subscriber count decreased 5% after Spencer’s guest post, and decreased 18.2% after Sunil’s.  It’s worth noting that in both cases, the RSS subscriber count bounced back within the few days that followed each drop.  It’s interesting nonetheless, especially since we’re talking about 4+ months of data.

I can’t say with any real certainty that these drops were caused by publishing the guest posts, but it has inspired me to write about the reason why publishing guest posts can be a bad thing.

Okay Then, Why Can Publishing Guest Posts Be a Bad Thing?

There’s one primary reason why I think publishing guest posts can negatively impact your blog, even if the impact is brief:

The posts aren’t written by you.

This is probably the biggest reason I can think of.  People generally come to your blog to read your writing.  Unless your blog is in a very unique niche where there aren’t many other blogs, or you have something else significant that differentiates you, your voice is most likely the “unique” aspect of your blog.

Therefore, when you remove your voice, you’re essentially removing the reason why many people visit your blog.  This isn’t a problem in most cases, because it’s temporary.  But I can almost guarantee that if I stopped writing and replaced my weekly posts with guest posts from different writers, there’s a good chance I would lose some of my regular readers.

Obviously there are some blogs that make this work, and then of course you’ll always have SEO traffic, which is mostly blind to the author of an article.  The blogs that publish guest posts frequently, however, can do so for one main reason – they’re already very popular! After all, why would there be so many people willing/wanting to write guest posts for them?  By this logic, it makes perfect sense that they can publish guest posts with a greater frequency and not damage their following.

The Benefits of Publishing Guest Posts

With any decision, you need to weigh the benefits vs. the negative points.  Given the fact that guest posts are popular all over the blogosphere, it makes sense that there are some benefits to publishing guest posts.  Here are a few of them:

1) They give the blog owner a break.

Depending on what you do for a living, blogging may not always have a place in your schedule.  If you don’t write with any sort of regularity, this isn’t a big deal, but if you try to write once per week or more, you may need a break at times.  Whether you’re going on vacation, busy with work, or just feel lazy, guest posts can give you a bit of breathing room.

2) They offer a different perspective or “expert” insight.

Different perspectives are generally a good thing, and this is one advantage of guest posts. Depending on your niche, there are probably people who are more knowledgeable than you about a particular topic, and guest posts allow you to share that knowledge with your readers.

3) They provide more content for your blog, which has lasting SEO benefits.

In general, more content on your website looks better to Google, provided it’s unique and not riddled with ads and spam.

4) They allow you to network with other bloggers, and open doors to future opportunities.

To me, this is the #1 benefit (so ignore the fact that I listed it fourth).  By publishing someone’s guest post, you’re doing something that’s mutually beneficial – you get their content, and they get a link on your blog and whatever exposure comes along with it, which they will definitely appreciate.

This strengthens your relationship with the guest writer, which could give you opportunities in the future (being able to guest post on their blog, working with them on a joint venture, etc.).  In the “business world,” everyone preaches the benefits of networking and building relationships, and a lot of that applies to the blogging world as well.

Conclusion

It’s clear that, in most cases, the benefits of publishing guest posts outweigh the primary disadvantage (the “loss” of you).  Even so, it’s worth considering the negative impact of publishing a guest post, especially if you’re a newer blogger with a limited following.

Remember, people started reading your blog for a reason.  Don’t take that reason away.

What do you think? Are there any other reasons why publishing guest posts could negatively impact your blog?

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Why Publishing Guest Posts Can Be a Bad Thing

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Will You Give Up Blogging and Internet Marketing in Exchange for This?

Note from Eric: This is a guest post by Sunil, an internet entrepreneur who has seen a variety of successes online, including several website sales for five and six figure amounts.  Sunil and I initially connected because we share similar professional backgrounds (we’re both CPAs and previously worked in public accounting) – he has since become a full-time internet entrepreneur and has been making money online for the past 9 years (longer than many of the so-called “gurus” out there), so I respect his advice and was happy to publish his guest post here today.  You can read more about him and his blog at the end of this post.

When I started my ecommerce business online, my motivation was pure profits. Years after selling that business for a six figure sale price, I found myself online with a portfolio of several profitable niche websites and now a successful blog.  However, my underlying motivations today seem to have evolved.  Am I alone in this boat?

The internet is more saturated than ever before with the number of new websites and blogs cropping up by the second.  Companies are realizing that a web presence is no longer just an option, but rather a necessity in order stay on level ground with the competition, let alone to beat them. The recent social media growth has added even more pressure to establish that presence online.

But companies are not the only ones rapidly joining the web sphere.  Individuals like Eric, you, and myself too are putting up websites and blogs faster than ever before.  A big factor contributing to this trend is the abundance of internet marketers online who preach how one can make a lot of money online.  The attractiveness of that thought, coupled with very low barriers to entry, if any, has saturated the web space more than ever before.

That said, I don’t care what people say initially, the underlying motive behind the establishment of most personal website and blogs involves profits.  Sure, one can blog as a hobby, or to get things off their chest, or simply push an agenda out to the masses, but somewhere deep down in that complex human mind is the thought of making some money from their initiatives at some point. Think about why YOU spend so much time online?

The thought of making some money initially turns into making some more money, then making a lot of money and then eventually into making enough money to “quit my job”.  This is especially true when a “webpreneur” first gets a taste of some income, may it be just a couple dollars in Google Adsense earnings. Don’t you think there is some element of truth to that pattern?

So my question for you is; how much money is enough for you to walk away from your blog or website? What will it take for you to give up blogging, social media hustling and internet marketing? Will you still be toying online if you had a million bucks in your hand today?

We all know that it is NOT EASY to make money online. Building a long term, sustainable income stream online requires a lot of time, hard work, perseverance and even financial investment in many cases. Not everyone has an abundance of those resources, especially those who are already working full time jobs looking to give up their career one day to work online full time.

If you are in that situation, or somewhere within the ballpark, would you give up your online initiatives if I were to promise you a million bucks in cash today? Think about this question very carefully before responding.  A million bucks today is guaranteed cash you can take in and use however you want. You can buy a house, car, fund your children’s education, pay off all your debts, help family, start a business and pay all cash for it.  Or you can stash it away in the stock market or money market and set yourself up for a very nice retirement well ahead of your peers.

Doesn’t this beat toiling away for hours over months and years trying to make your web ventures work for you? Think about how much time and effort is involved in that. Think about how much of your free invaluable time you’d lose out on? Think about all the fun activities and outings with your friends you’d miss out on as you continue building your online business. And even after all that, there is absolutely no guarantee of succeeding online!

Money on the other hand makes money. A million bucks on hand today can be grown to a few million in a relatively short amount of time (assuming you know how to).  This seems like the safer and more lucrative route to go, no? I understand the hypothetical nature of this question, but please try to be as honest and unbiased as possible. I am interested in observing whether passion trumps profits or vice versa.

So what will it take, $10,000? $100,000? Or $1,000,000?  Let’s hear it.  You obviously started your online venture for a reason. What was that reason? How has it evolved? Are you willing to drop it all today for guaranteed cash on hand?

Why are or aren’t you willing to give up all your online activities forever for cold cash today? Is it passion? Is it desire for money? A bit of both?  Tell me your answer and I’ll tell you mine.

Sunil

Note: Giving up all activities does not entail stopping to surf the Internet or use Facebook to connect with friends. You can still go online, you just can’t be involved in any profit driven initiatives.

- –

Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time”, a FREE report you can download instantly from his Extra Money Blog, where he discusses how to create multiple streams of passive and residual income, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, blogging and personal finance. In 2007, he sold his ecommerce website for $250,000 to a top Ebay Power Seller and since then has sold several niche sites for five figures each. You can read more about him and his work on his blog.

 

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Will You Give Up Blogging and Internet Marketing in Exchange for This?

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The Best Sources of Passive Income Online (My Rankings)

I’ve written before about 142+ ways to make money online, but there was no formal ranking involved.  Sometimes when you only have time to do one or two things, you want to “work closest to the money” – in other words, you want to do whatever is going to maximize your earnings (considering both short and long term potential).

With that in mind, I’ve decided to rank various sources of passive income in broad terms, however I will give some examples for each category.  Keep in mind, these rankings are based on my own opinion and experience – feel free to disagree with them in the comments. :)

Here Are the Rankings…

This isn’t an exact science, but I tried to base the rankings on the overall income potential, the “start-up time” required to begin earning, as well as how passive the type of income actually is (i.e. how much ongoing work is required to maintain the income).

1) Investing Online

In the “internet marketing” blogosphere, everyone focuses on building micro-niche sites, authority sites, pay-per-click advertising, and other various affiliate product promotion means.  People seem to always overlook a source of passive income that existed before the internet itself – investing (in financial instruments).

The problem with investing is that most people feel they lack the financial expertise to make an informed decision, and people also tend to believe that investing requires a large sum of money to get started (which of course will magnify the risk involved).  While these concerns are true in many cases, they don’t always need to be.

I’m not telling you to go out and buy 100 shares of Google’s stock (by the way, this would cost approximately $60,000 at the time this post was written).  In fact, I’m not saying you should directly buy stock in a company at all.  Here are a couple things I’ve done with investing that I don’t believe require substantial risk:

  • Lending Club (U.S. Residents Only) - I talk about Lending Club in every one of my income reports, because I still believe it’s the best source of passive income, even though it’s not my largest source.  You can get started for as little as $25, and over the past 2+ years, my interest rate has been 7% or higher, which I think is very good given the relatively low risk involved.  This is even more true given the recent market downturn. You can read about how I select my investments here.
  • Investing in Index Funds – I use Vanguard for this, but there are several reputable sites out there that allow you to do the same thing.  It’s a good way to invest excess cash that you don’t need now and use it to diversify your portfolio.  I’m not going to make a specific recommendation here, but Vanguard does have a page that will make a recommendation to you based on your risk tolerance.  This is generally going to require more up-front money than Lending Club (probably $1,000+), but if you have the money, it’s something to consider.

Ranking Criteria

Here’s how “investing online” did with my three criteria:

  1. Overall income potential: Satisfactory - Your income potential will generally be directly related to how much you invest.
  2. “Start-up time” required: Excellent - Investing requires very little up-front work.  Usually most of the time will be spent setting up the account (a one-time task) and selecting your investments.
  3. How passive it really is: Excellent - Once you set up your investments, it becomes very hands-off.  The only additional time necessary is figuring out how to re-invest any interest you earn.

2) Article Writing

Pen & Paper

Article writing is one of those things that isn’t at all glamorous, and few people will get excited about it.  With that said, it’s one of the easiest ways to set up your passive income stream.  To give you some perspective, I wrote about 120 articles late last year and have hardly written any since then.  Since that time, my articles have earned me over $700.   I continue to earn $70-90/month without having to do any additional work, which is something I look forward to every month.

There are a lot of article sites out there that share revenue, but my favorite (and it’s where I earn most of my article writing income) is InfoBarrel, which you’re very familiar with if you’ve been following my blog for awhile.  If you’re up for a very ambitious challenge, you can read about the one I wrote for earning $2,000+ per month with article writing.  The top InfoBarrel writers currently earn at least $2,000 per month.

One added benefit to writing articles for passive income is that you can use these articles as backlinks for your niche sites and possibly other articles you’ve written on other platforms.  It’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Ranking Criteria

Here’s how article writing did with my three criteria:

  1. Overall income potential: Good - If you’re willing to put in the up front work, this can be a great source of future passive income.
  2. “Start-up time” required: Poor - Unfortunately, before you start earning a lot of money, you will need to spend a lot of time writing.  You can offset this “pain” by using your articles for SEO/backlink purposes as mentioned before.
  3. How passive it really is: Excellent - Once your articles are written and ranking (which can happen without much backlink effort if you pick good keywords and write for a major article site), you can enjoy regular income without much effort at all.

3) PPC Arbitrage

This is something I never discuss on this blog because quite frankly, it’s not something I ever do.  Nevertheless, there are internet marketers around the world who make a living doing it, so it’s worth mentioning.  So what is PPC  (pay-per-click) arbitrage?

Others may define it more narrowly, but to me, PPC arbitrage basically involves setting up PPC ads (via Google AdWords or similar platform) and directing the traffic that results from ad clicks to a landing page or straight to an affiliate link (which many platforms don’t allow anymore).  The goal is obviously to earn more from the affiliate income than spent on the ad clicks.  You aren’t adding any value, but merely earning more from traffic than what it costs you to generate that traffic.

I’ve read stories about people setting up ad campaigns and making thousands of dollars within a matter of hours. What’s the catch?  The big one is risk.  You’re spending money to make money, so if you turn out to set up a bad ad campaign that doesn’t convert well, you can easily lose lots of money.  That’s been the primary reason I’ve stayed away from this method of making money online.  I’m not going to bother giving advice here, because as I said, this isn’t something I’ve done.  If you’re interested, you can probably find a lot of good information via Google, but watch out – as with any other internet marketing topic, most everyone is going to try to sell you something.

Ranking Criteria

Here’s how PPC arbitrage did with my three criteria:

  1. Overall income potential: Uncertain - Although some people can make a lot of money with this, it’s also possible to lose a lot of money.  So although income potential can be high, it’s too uncertain unless you’re experienced and can take on the associated risk.
  2. “Start-up time” required: Good - Ads are generally easy to set up, but it does take some time to find the proper affiliate offer to promote, and there could also be additional time if you are creating a landing page.  Overall though, the start-up time isn’t too bad.
  3. How passive it really is: Excellent - Once your ads are running, you could literally just sit back and watch the money roll in.  Again, you are spending money to make money here, so there is risk involved.  However, once the ads are set, the income can be very passive.  Keep in mind, you may need to monitor and possibly modify ads if they aren’t performing well.

4) Niche Website Creation

This is an area I write a lot about here, because this is where most of my internet activity is focused.  Although passive income is something I’m always after, niche websites rank pretty low on this list, ironically.

“Niche websites” can be a lot of things, but when I speak about them, I am typically referring to websites that aren’t particularly deep in content and generally target a specific long tail keyword.  With niche websites, you’re more focused on generating traffic with SEO than by building a community.

I’ve written a lot about niche websites on this blog, but here are some highlights:

My ultimate goal is to have niche sites generate a “full time” income, so I continue to build new sites on a monthly basis.  Unfortunately, they are not as passive as you’d like them to be.

Ranking Criteria

Here’s how niche websites did with my three criteria:

  1. Overall income potential: Excellent - Although it’s very possible to make $0 with a niche site if it doesn’t receive traffic, you can also make a lot of money if you rank well for good keywords.  It’s not likely that you’ll make a living off one site, but they are generally easy to build.  If you can build one successfully, you can probably build several more.
  2. “Start-up time” required: Poor - Experienced niche site builders will be well versed with outsourcing certain tasks and running through the whole process very efficiently, but when you first start out, it can take a long time to earn your first dollar from a niche site.  Doing research, designing the site, writing content, and doing proper SEO work can all be very time consuming, and the payoff isn’t always something you can rely on.
  3. How passive it really is: Satisfactory - Because of all the upfront work required, it’s hard to consider this income very passive.  Once the site is in good standing, it’s great, but there may be upkeep required along the way to maintain the income (like creating more content and more backlinks).

5) Blogging/Authority Website Creation

I struggled to even include this as a source of passive income, but it’s something that you would probably expect to read about on this list, so I had to add it.  I love blogging, and I love working on authority websites that cover a topic that interests me.  The problem is, these are both very active (i.e. the opposite of passive) projects.

There are, however, some aspects of both that can be considered passive.  For example, I may have an affiliate link on a blog post I wrote a year ago, but someone could visit it today and I could earn money from the sale of a product.  Much like article writing, one piece of writing can result in endless future income.

Blogs and authority websites are different than niche websites, because they generally imply on-going content generation.  Sure, I could stop writing on this blog today and let it sit forever, but that’s not the intention of the blog.  Furthermore, blogs and authority websites tend to include a community or social aspect.  We have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (can someone explain to me why the hell I haven’t made a Facebook page yet?), and we discuss various topics in the comments of each article or blog post.  Although SEO does affect traffic, community is more important.

Ranking Criteria

Here’s how blogs/authority websites did with my three criteria:

  1. Overall income potential: Good/Excellent - The only reason this wasn’t completely rated “Excellent” is because not all blogs are created with the intention of making money (unlike everything else on this list).  Blogs and authority websites can earn massive amounts of money, but it’s going to vary widely.
  2. “Start-up time” required: Poor - As you may have experienced, creating a successful blog or authority site is a lot of work.  Writing content, interacting with readers, and continuing to find ways to keep people coming back are not easy tasks.  Standing out in the crowd is even more difficult, if you aren’t targeting a very specific niche.
  3. How passive it really is: Poor - For all intents and purposes, you’re never truly done working on a blog or authority website.  You can always write new content, modify the design, etc.  Although certain parts of the site may earn you income passively (like a Resources page), the site as a whole is very much an active undertaking.

What do you think?

Would you rank these differently? Is there something you would add or change?  Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this article, I’d really appreciate it if you could retweet it, share it on Facebook, or Stumble it using the buttons on the left sidebar.  Thanks so much!

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The Best Sources of Passive Income Online (My Rankings)

Related posts:

  1. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]
  2. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [May '11]
  3. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [June '11]


Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July ’11]

It’s always exciting to write these income reports each month because I don’t track my income on a daily basis – generally, I don’t have a good sense for how well I’m doing in a particular month until it ends and I write my monthly income report.  There are certain things I check on a regular basis (AdSense and Amazon to be specific), but even if those things are performing well, it doesn’t necessarily say much about my other income sources.

With that said, the surprises aren’t always pleasant.  July was a “down” month, but in many ways, I saw very positive trends.

[Read my write-up here]

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you pretty much know the deal with Lending Club. It’s a peer-to-peer lending site that I feel is my only true source of passive income (i.e. once I’m invested, I make money by doing virtually nothing).   As of the end of July, I was invested in 96 loans (+4 from June) and my net annualized return was 7.07% (+0.10% from June).

As I always point out, my current interest rate at Lending Club far exceeds that of any type of “safe” investment like money market bank accounts and CDs (certificates of deposit). It’s important to keep in mind that Lending Club loans are riskier than these other types of investments.  However, I strongly believe that the additional risk is more than compensated for by the higher rate of return.

Here’s an image from my Lending Club account summary that show my performance compared to other Lending Club investors:

If you’re interested in trying Lending Club, you can sign up with this link and get a free account.  If you’re unsure whether this type of investing is right for you, you can deposit a small amount (loans can go as small as $25) and become familiar with it.

To me, trying something like this and investing a small portion of your money is a no brainer. You’re going to get higher returns than a bank account, and although it locks up your money for a period of time (you are generally paid back over 3 years), it’s well worth the ability to have your money earn you money, with virtually no effort on your part.

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

July was a pretty stable month for Info Barrel – I didn’t write any new articles, and my earnings didn’t change much.  The nice bonus this month were the additional earnings from Amazon, which I typically haven’t seen much of from my Info Barrel articles.

As of the end of July, I have written 130 articles (+0 from last month).  Here are my July Google AdSense statistics for Info Barrel:

In July, I earned a total of $60.02 from my Info Barrel articles (-$3.42 from June).

July InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $60.02
  • Amazon Associates:          $14.27
  • Chitika:                                    $2.50
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $0.00
  • Total: $76.79 (+$11.79 from June)

If you want to add InfoBarrel to your passive income portfolio, you can sign up for it here.

Niche Site Duel

As a part of Pat Flynn’s niche site duel,  I created a niche site last September based on P90X, an extreme home fitness routine.  It’s crazy to think that I started this site over a year ago.  While it’s tempting to label it a failure, I’m still not giving up.  I had a taste of awesome rankings and earnings for a short period once, so I still hope I can one day reach that level again.  And although it’s still very minor, I’ve seen my earnings increase for the third straight month.

July Niche Site Duel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense: $0.00
  • Chitika: $0.21
  • Amazon Associates:  $7.84
  • Total: $8.05 (+$3.21 from June)

Amazon Niche Site Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

Last November, I launched a challenge where I planned to create several niche sites specifically tailored for Amazon’s affiliate program (i.e. selling physical products as an affiliate of Amazon.com), and I’m following the lessons taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course.

Just as I did last month, I saw record earnings once again.  Most of this can be attributed to one of my sites that has finally taken off, but it’s a good example of why you need to be patient sometimes.

Also similar to last month, I’ve added some sites to my portfolio, and these have been mostly hands off as I am outsourcing both content and SEO.  Some of my new sites will be more AdSense focused, but I will continue to monetize with both Amazon and AdSense, with some other occasional affiliate programs.  Only time will tell if these heavily outsourced niche sites will be profitable, but I’m willing to take my chances.

For my new sites, I will be using a new Amazon plugin that I reviewed here.

Here are the stats for July:

# of Amazon niche sites: 16 (+6 from June)

Total July Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $169.00 (+$58.20 from June)

My Authority Website

As I detailed here, I’ve started an authority website that I have big plans for.  The progress is slow (I’m adding about 1 post per week so far), but the site is shaping up nicely and I’m seeing modest traffic (~50 visits in the past week).  No income yet, but I’m not in this for a quick buck – I’m planning on building a long-term asset that will one day provide massive value for not only me, but readers as well.  Stay tuned…

Misc. Affiliate Income

This was really the only negative part of my month, and there’s no real rhyme or reason to it.  Some months you just don’t earn as much. :/  Here’s the breakdown for July:

  • Adsense: $3.70
  • Amazon: $2.76
  • ClickBank: $114.40
  • Commission Junction: $227.40
  • PayDotCom: $0.00
  • Private Advertising: $35.00
  • Market Samurai: $0.00
  • Other Misc.: $101.80

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for July: $485.06 (-$236.36 from June)

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of June’s earnings.  Instead of summarizing it by source (i.e. AdSense, Amazon, etc.), I’m going to summarize by project/challenge, which I think makes a bit more sense.

  • InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge: $76.79
  • Niche Site Duel (P90X site): $8.05
  • Amazon Niche Site Challenge: $169.00
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $485.06

Grand Total for June: $738.90 (-$163.16 from June)

While it is disappointing to have a down month in earnings, it’s important to keep in my that, aside from the misc. affiliate earnings, everything else saw an increase  last month.  I continue to build niche sites and continue to add to my authority site, and I know this work will eventually pay off.

Popular Posts

These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in July based on number of views:

1) Online Passive Income and Blog Update [June '11]

2) 142+ Ways to Make Money Online

3) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

4) How to Make $2,000 Per Month Writing for InfoBarrel

5) How Much is Your Time Really Worth?

Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!

If you enjoyed this income report, subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss any future updates. Thanks so much!

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Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]

Related posts:

  1. My Blog and Passive Income Experiments Update [July '10]
  2. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [June '11]
  3. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [August '11]


7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 3: Complacency

It’s been awhile since I wrote about the first two deadly sins of entrepreneurship (impatience and indecisiveness) so I figured it was time to address the third part of this series: complacency.

What is complacency? In basic terms, it’s the satisfaction with a current condition or situation.  Feeling content with the way things are.  How is this a sin?  I’ll explain.  The truth is, this may be the deadliest sin of all, depending on who you are and what your goals entail.

What’s Wrong With Being Happy?

It’s a valid question.  In everything we do, the ultimate goal is usually to be happy and satisfied.  Accomplishing your goals and realizing your dreams will obviously make you happy.  However, the inverse is not necessarily true:  Just because you’re happy or satisfied does not mean you’ve accomplished your goals and realized your dreams.

In fact, you can be a complete and utter failure, but still be happy at any given moment.  I’m happy when I’m watching TV or taking a nap, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that you can have those things with virtually no accomplishments in life.  This seems like an appropriate spot to quote from the classic comedy “Office Space“:

Lawrence: Well, what about you now? what would you do [with a million dollars]?
Peter Gibbons: Nothing.
Lawrence: Nothing, huh?
Peter Gibbons: I would relax… I would sit on my ass all day… I would do nothing.
Lawrence: Well, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do shit.

Maybe we take our basic standard of living for granted, but that’s a topic that’s outside the scope of this blog.

The problem with being satisfied is that it’s not motivating.  Success could motivate you to seek out more success, but being happy and satisfied doesn’t necessarily give you the drive to do more.  More specifically, being satisfied with your progress toward a goal can sometimes impede future progress.  Complacency may be the silent entrepreneurial killer, because it’s disguised as something that really doesn’t seem all that bad.

A Realistic Example

This being a blog in the “make money online” niche, I’m sure it’s read by a lot of people who want to quit their jobs and start their own business or otherwise find a way to make a living online (or simply supplement their income online).

To find a realistic example of complacency, I need to look no further than my own life.  My motivation to do work outside of my 9 to 5 job is directly correlated with my unhappiness of the job.  In other words, when I’m happy or satisfied with my job, I’m less motivated to work hard and build up my own business.  As it stands, I enjoy my job right now, so it’s more of a struggle to push myself to work when I get home from work (if that makes sense).

There are even better examples of the opposite scenario, where people have been fired/laid off from their jobs and it jump-started their wildly successful businesses – see examples here (Pat Flynn) and here (Chris Gurthrie).  They were forced to remove satisfaction or stability from their lives, which lit a fire that continues to spread today.

Success Isn’t Always a Killer

Obviously, being successful can excite you and drive you to bigger and better things.  That’s a different motivator altogether, and I still distinguish that from being complacent or merely “satisfied.”

Success is relative – it wouldn’t surprise me if the most successful people actually didn’t feel completely successful throughout their growing list of achievements.  Although an outsider may view someone with $1 million as “successful” (because they compare the person to themselves), the $1 million person is probably thinking, “why don’t I have $10 million?” or “how can I get to the next million?”

The important thing is, despite what others perceive as success, these individuals are never completely satisfied, and that’s what drives them forward. It’s not all about greed, either (ironically, one of the original “deadly sins”).  There are numerous ways to measure success beyond dollars and cents.

But Wait…I Like Being Happy…

It’s a weird dilemma.  You want to be successful, because success will make you happy and satisfied.  However, being happy and satisfied may prevent you from achieving further success.  There has be a solution to this, right?

There’s no groundbreaking, magical solution.  In fact, it’s quite simple: set good goals.

You’ve been told this a thousand times, and I would be beating a dead horse if I went into all the details about setting good goals, because there are literally thousands of places you can look online for tips on how to set good goals.  Almost every lifestyle design/internet marketing/entrepreneurship blogger has written at least one post about goals, including me.

But if you’re looking for tips here, I’ll give you a few brief ones:

  • Set BOTH realistic and “stretch” goals - You need to be able to dream big while tackling reality at the same time.
  • You need to be hungry for your goals – Anyone can set a goal to “earn $100,000 this year” or “build a successful business,” but to have even a remote chance of accomplishing your goals, you need to be HUNGRY for them.  You need to really want to achieve them.
  • Divide and conquer – Goals are usually not written in bite-sized chunks, and if you try to swallow the whole thing, you’ll choke to death (okay, that’s a bit extreme).  Even your less significant goals are probably too big to tackle with one swift motion, so you’ll need to find a way to break it down into action steps.  Start with making a daily “to-do” list.
  • Keep setting goals, even as you fail to achieve them – Your life is dynamic, and your goals should be too.  A goal you set earlier this year may not be practical anymore, or you may not care about it anymore.  Don’t chase goals you don’t care about.  If your desires change, alter your goals to reflect it.  There’s nothing worse than chasing a goal that isn’t appealing.

By staying on top of your goals and always keeping them in mind, you’ll hopefully never be complacent, because there will always be something out there that you have yet to achieve.

What do you think?

None of this is an exact science, so I’m curious to hear what you think about complacency and how to combat it.

If you enjoyed this article, please support it by using one of the share button on the left side.

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7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 3: Complacency

Related posts:

  1. 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 1: Impatience
  2. 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 2: Indecisiveness