Blog / Marketing tips / Passive Income Ideas for Under $3
This is a guest post by Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.
In a 5 year study conducted among 233 self-made millionaires, most had multiple streams of income. Not only that, but 65 percent had at least 3 income streams or more!
By design, the richest people in the world have many sources of income because it provides financial stability and maximizes their earning potential.
When one stream is down, the other streams allow their wealth to build without affecting their lifestyle.
Here are some other benefits of having multiple income streams:
While having multiple sources of income sounds great on paper, most people never go beyond working a day job because they aren’t aware of the money making opportunities at their disposal.
The article will teach you 4 ways to generate multiple streams of income for less than $3/month while working a full-time job.
Let’s dive right into it!
First off, when it comes to creating another source of income, the goal is NOT to get another job.
After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and any source of income that requires you to be physically present will never scale.
So instead of trading your time for money, it is essential that you leverage computers and the Internet.
You also don’t need a lot of money to create a passive income stream. For as little as $3/month, you can get started with any of the ideas below and eventually create a 7 figure business.
An Amazon affiliate store is an ecommerce business model that allows you to make money selling physical products without carrying inventory and without worrying about customer service.
Here’s how it works.
First, you partner up with a retailer (Amazon) and act as a virtual sales person for their products.
You then create special links from your website to theirs, and whenever someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you get a commission! This arrangement is known as affiliate marketing.
For practically zero upfront cost, you can launch your own online store with the Amazon Associates program, instantly carry millions of products from Amazon.com and get a cut from every referral sale.
Overall, affiliate marketing is one of the lowest-risk and most hands-off method of making money online. Your only task is to educate your market and refer them to relevant Amazon products.
Then, Amazon deals with the inventory, payments, shipping, returns, and everything else!
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make passive income online with an Amazon affiliate store.
Any website owner can join the Amazon Associates program for free. Simply go to the Amazon Associates page and sign up.
The process only takes about 5 minutes and Amazon will approve your account within 24 hours.
After you get an email confirmation, you’ll be able to log in to your Amazon Associates dashboard and track your clicks, sales, and income.
Choosing the right products to sell is crucial to making money with your Amazon affiliate store.
You can use the following tools to find profitable products to sell online.
Amazon Sales Data — You can check the popularity of a product by looking at the number of customer reviews.
Also, if you scroll down to the product details section of any listing, the Best Sellers Rank (BSR) will tell you how well a product is selling in its category (lower numbers are better).
JungleScout — Jungle Scout is a tool that tells you how well a product is selling on Amazon and the approximate monthly revenue.
Note: The average payout for Amazon affiliates is 1–3% but you earn commissions on the customer’s entire shopping cart. For example, if a customer clicks on your affiliate link to buy a t-shirt but they also buy a big screen tv, you will get credit for both the tv and the t-shirt!
Make sure to review and follow Amazon’s terms of service to a T. Otherwise, your account could get suspended for violations.
In general, Amazon Affiliate program violations include:
Overall, you MUST check Amazon’s terms & conditions every once in a while. The rules tend to change, and you can get banned if you unknowingly violate them.
To sell your goods, you should choose an ecommerce platform that suits your budget.
While you can pay for a fully hosted shopping cart to host your Amazon affiliate store, it will be much more expensive. In general, WooCommerce will be the most cost-effective solution because it is free to use.
Because the success of your Amazon affiliate store will largely depend on creating great content, going with WooCommerce is a great choice because it’s built on top of WordPress, the most popular content management system in the world.
Log in to your Amazon Associates dashboard and create your special Amazon link.
Next, go to your WooCommerce shop and select Add Product. Type up your product title and description.
Then, scroll down to the Product Data box and select External/ Affiliate Product from the pull-down menu. Cut and paste your Amazon affiliate link, and then hit save.
Here’s an example of what my WooCommerce product listing looks like:
That’s it! You earn a commission every time a user clicks on the Shop Now button and buys an item.
In fact, you will get a commission on the customer’s entire shopping cart and not just the single item referred!
Amazon payouts arrive 60 days after the referral sale. For the payout type, you can choose from direct deposit, Amazon gift card, or check.
On average, Amazon only pays up to a 3% commission for all your referral sales. And yes, that’s NOT a lot of money.
But here’s the good news. Your affiliate sales data will be your roadmap to greater wealth.
The key is to identify high-demand products. Then, you can source the products yourself, sell directly to customers, and keep 100% of the profit.
A print-on-demand (POD) service is a great way to earn passive income if you’re passionate about design.
For little to no cost, you can start selling custom merch like t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and phone cases. Then, the POD company will print and ship your products every time a customer places an order.
Here are the primary benefits of running a POD business:
In fact, selling print-on-demand products is so inexpensive to start that my 9 and 11 year old kids funded their own t-shirt business for less than $3 under my supervision.
And in their first 3 months of business, we made close to $1,000, which is a ton of money for an elementary school kid.
Step #1: Choose Your Niche
Profitable POD businesses sell designs that resonate with their customers. Before you create your designs, identify your target audience.
In the section on running an Amazon affiliate store, I shared some tools you can use to find products to sell online.
For POD, you can also use the exact same tools—Amazon Sales Data and JungleScout—to brainstorm ideas for your POD store.
Pinterest is also a great place to brainstorm ideas.
Step #2: Create Your Design
Whether you’re an expert or beginner at design, anyone can launch a POD store. With a creative idea and basic design know-how, you can come up with graphics that will sell.
Here are some design tools that you can use:
One way to test your design is to post it on relevant Facebook groups in your niche. As long as you don’t overtly try to sell on these groups, you can solicit valuable feedback to refine your designs.
You can also use a service called PickFu to quickly gather feedback from real humans in your demographic.
For my kid’s entrepreneurship t-shirt business, I launched the following poll targeting female parents earning more than $100K.
In just 15 minutes, you can solicit feedback from real people within your targeted demographic and figure out whether your design will be a hit.
Step #3: Set up your shopping cart
With a well-defined niche and great designs, it’s time to start building your online store.
In general, it’s best to choose a mainstream shopping cart since most POD drop shippers only support the most popular platforms.
My top shopping cart providers include Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.
Of the 3, WooCommerce is easily the cheapest and you can get started for less than $3/month.
Here’s what my kids’ WooCommerce POD store looks like.
Step #4: Choose your print-on-demand provider
Once your online store is up and running, you can connect it to a POD website and add your products.
One of my favorite POD drop shippers is Printful because they give you a wide variety of product options—from t-shirts, bags, to posters.
Personally, I like Printful because of these benefits:
When a customer buys a product, Printful will then fulfill the order and ship the item on your behalf.
Step #5: Promote your products
Valuable content is the best way to build an audience and promote your brand. Once you start attracting visitors, make sure that you try to get their email address to keep the conversation going.
If you’re a good writer with SEO skills, you can run a blog and draw in traffic from Google. (More on blogging later.)
You can also start a podcast to show more of your personality and share your knowledge.
Or you can create videos on YouTube to connect with your viewers.
For my kids’ t-shirt business, they opted to attract customers via YouTube because they are great on camera (check out their mission statement)!
As long as you are expert enough in a topic that interests you, you can provide value to people who want to learn from you with an online course.
Similar to starting an Amazon affiliate store or a POD business, launching an online course requires little or no upfront cost.
In fact, all you really need is:
Follow these steps to launch your own online course on a barebones budget.
Note: One of my students made over $4,000 in his first 3 months following these exact steps with no website and no audience.
What things are you better at than others? What skill can you teach to improve people’s lives?
No matter how random, write them down.
For example, here’s a short list of things that I could potentially teach:
Even though I technically don’t have the “credentials” to teach these courses, I know more about these topics than the average person. As a result, I know that I can provide value and deliver great content.
In any case, jot down all of your skills and interests that come to mind. And avoid judging yourself in the process, so you don’t limit your ideas.
Imposter syndrome is real. Remember, you only have to be expert enough to be an effective teacher.
Flesh out your list by figuring out what aspect of your skill people would pay to learn. What benefits can people get from your skill?
Let’s say I want to teach a Photoshop class. By taking my course, people can learn how to:
The next step is to identify a common pain point of a specific group of people.
From my experience, I know that selling on Amazon FBA requires all main product photos to have a white background.
I also know that Amazon sellers pay 1–2 dollars per image for professionals to process their photos.
By teaching Amazon sellers how to process their own photos, I can help them solve a problem and save them money in the long run.
Now that I know my target audience, I can do a quick Facebook search to find Amazon groups where I can market to. You can apply these same steps to find your audience.
With your online course idea and target audience in mind, you can start collecting contact details of potential customers.
MailChimp is an email marketing provider you can use for free up to 2000 contacts. If you have money to spare, you can sign up for more advanced solutions like Drip or ConvertKit.
After signing up, create a quick landing page.
Note: Some email providers will allow you to create a landing page for free so you don’t need a website
Within 5 minutes, I created this landing page in Drip.
A short video tutorial should be a “free sample” of your full-blown course. Establish yourself as an authority by demonstrating your skills and providing testimonials from people you’ve helped in the past.
By doing so, you’ll be able to entice potential customers to sign up for your email list to get more information.
Here are some free tools you can use to record your video tutorial.
You can also try Camtasia, which is the software I use for my screencast tutorial videos.
When recording your tutorial, don’t worry about giving too much information away. The more you give, the more people will see your value.
Also, don’t forget to display your landing page link at the bottom of the video. Your link should also be in your Facebook or YouTube video description as well.
Then, post your video in relevant Facebook groups and start gathering email signups.
But be careful not to come across as overly promotional. Weeks before you post your tutorial, build up a good reputation in the community by sharing helpful posts, answering questions, and adding value to the group.
People will be more receptive to you once you post your tutorial. And hopefully, that will lead to email signups.
Repeat this step for all relevant Facebook groups. In due time, you’ll see your email list grow.
You don’t need many followers to make a reasonable income. All it takes is a handful of people who are eager to pay for your services.
As you are gathering email signups, remember that you don’t need to have a detailed curriculum from the get-go. You can actually launch your course before you have any recorded material.
In 2011, I announced that I was creating an ecommerce course and generated $10k through presales. It’s fine to develop your course on the fly and apply customer feedback as you go.
Once you’ve built a decent-sized email list, create your flagship course on a free course platform like Teachable.
Step #6: Give a webinar and launch your class or service
Once you have your email list and a framework for your course or service, you can start making money!
A live webinar is the best way to launch an online course without spending any money.
Giving a live webinar may sound intimidating, but think of it this way: a webinar is basically a live tutorial with an invitation to buy your full course.
Here’s how you should structure your webinar:
Social proof like screenshots of testimonials of your work can also win over your potential customer’s trust.
Based on experience, here are some statistics that you might expect when running your webinar.
To demonstrate how effective this model can be, let’s throw some numbers into the mix.
Let’s say you want to make $1,000 and you sell a $250 course.
Remember, the numbers above are just an approximation.
With an email list of just 80 people, my student Arree Chung made $4,316 teaching people how to publish their own picture books. And today, he runs a 6-figure business selling courses.
Everyone’s an expert at something. The skills you already have could be your key to greater wealth.
Blogging is another popular way to make passive income online because it’s easy to do and requires little upfront cost.
However, building an audience and making money blogging can be a grind. And you’ll be putting in many unpaid hours to slowly build your audience.
In fact, the income trajectory for a blog looks something like this.
For example, my blog didn’t make much money at all in the first year. And it took 3 years before my blog hit 6 figures in revenue!
Here’s an overview of different ways you can make money with a blog.
Digital products are useful or informative products customers can download online. For example, you can sell templates, ebooks, videos, or PDFs.
The great thing about digital products is, you don’t need any inventory to start selling.
Furthermore, digital products are easy to make and ship unlike physical products that require suppliers and warehouses.
With affiliate marketing, you send traffic to a company and get a cut of every referral sale. Earlier, we talked about the Amazon Associates affiliate program. But there are many other ways you can do affiliate marketing as well.
First off, almost every business has an affiliate program. You just have to Google the company you are interested in followed by the words “affiliate program”.
For example, the Printful affiliate program pays you 10% for any business referred and it literally takes a minute to sign up.
Here are the exact steps on how to quickly get started with affiliate marketing:
Once you’ve made the referral, the company handles the rest! Meanwhile, you automatically get your payouts for the referral sales you make.
Learn More: 10 Tips for Affiliate Marketers to Make More Money
Display advertising lets you monetize your blog with ads on your header, footer, or sidebar. These ads are tailored to whoever is on your site.
You first need to apply to an ad network that places ads on websites. Most ad networks will approve websites that have quality and family-friendly content, a disclosure page, and a top level domain (.com, .net, and so on).
Once you are approved, you just need to add some code to your site to automatically show ads customized to your site layout.
Typically, ad networks pay you based on page views, so your task is to drive as much traffic to your site as possible. This is why display advertising is ideal for bloggers with a decent amount of traffic.
The downside of ads is that you have little control over what ads flash on your page. Ads are targeted to the reader based on their browsing history.
If a reader goes on your site and finds an ad inappropriate, you could get complaints. On top of that, ads can be distracting and slow down your site.
Overall, you must weigh the pros and cons. If your site gets thousands of page views a month, ads are an amazing way to make passive income.
A sponsored post is where a company or brand pays you money to write about their product.
There are 2 main ways to find sponsored content opportunities:
Membership sites give members access to exclusive content. When a customer pays for a subscription, they’ll be able to log into an online members area to access the products at their convenience.
Through a membership site, you can offer the following:
You can also run a private mastermind group to help members solve problems through peer to peer mentoring.
Right now, I run a private ecommerce membership course with WordPress and a free plugin called S2Member.
It doesn’t cost much money to run a membership site. You just need to attract the right clientele.
Overall, you don’t need a lot of money to create multiple streams of income online. Even with zero upfront costs, you can launch a sustainable side hustle that can potentially replace your day job salary.
In addition, every income stream you create will build upon itself.
For example, an Amazon affiliate store or a POD business allows you to test the market before you spend money on developing your own private label products. And in the process, you will create an audience of buyers.
As you gain experience running your side hustle, you will acquire new skills that you can teach others with an online course.
And while you make money from your various side hustles, you can create a blog to drive more traffic to all of your businesses.
But before you think about creating multiple streams of income, just start with one for now and follow through. Good luck!
Read Next: How to Make Money from Home: 35 Viable Ways
Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.
Printful is a printing and dropshipping service with fulfillment centers located all over the world. We help people follow their passion and turn ideas into brands and products.
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