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Ask HN: What was your best passive income in 2016?
779 points by djadmin 197 days ago | hide | past | web | 678 comments | favorite
Any side projects, Game, OSS, Hacks.

Breville coffee grinders are impossible to get internal parts for. I designed a 3D printed upgrade for the main wear-part in their BCG800XL SmartGrinder.

The storefront is through ShapeWays[1] and I use ifixit[2] to drive the traffic. It's passively making ~$425/mo with about 10 minutes of work per week on my end. This all happened because my grinder failed and I couldn't get parts.

[1] https://www.shapeways.com/product/NASLAGCCP/breville-bcg800x...

[2] https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/BCG800XL+Grinder+Jamming+due+to...

> about 10 minutes of work per week on my end.

... and on the guide.

> Sandpaper and a file are likely optional. They are only necessary if the 3D printed impeller isn't a perfect fit.

Do you get any "support" queries from people who buy the impeller and then try to fit it, and it's tight (by your own admission a deliberate design choice) and they try to email you or return the impeller? Not trolling, genuinely curious.

About once per month. I purposely set expectations low by saying it may take a little sanding. That lets me over-deliver since it's usually a perfect fit. Also, ShapeWays has a decent refund policy and customer service for stuff under their responsibility.

Also, anything that comes up that takes significant back and forth with a customer, I immediately add to the iFixit writeup. All the troubleshooting steps at the bottom were a result of questions that came in at the beginning. This was a lot of work up front, but it's thankfully just a trickle now.

> I purposely set expectations low by saying it may take a little sanding. That lets me over-deliver since it's usually a perfect fit.

Wow. This is genius. You should write a click-baity blog post titled "This Weird Trick will always get your products 5-star ratings"

I think "over promise and under deliver" has been part of business for far before any of us were around :)

Or spoken in more buzzword silicon valley speak - you have to set customer expectations and then aim to exceed them.

I think "over promise and under deliver" has been part of business for far before any of us were around :)

Sorry but isn't it 'under-promise and over-deliver'? Just double-checking...

Pretty sure you're right. Or was there some hidden sarcasm we've both missed there?

> "over promise and under deliver"

I've dealt with quite a few vendors who over promise and under deliver...


Is the material used in the part safe to ingest?

I'm an amateur at this part, but I've reason to believe it's fine.

The material is a Nylon plastic. "Polyamide PA 2200" according to ShapeWays. This link[1] has details on the material when used with laser sintering and in regard to contact with food. The key quote is "[...]are in compliance with EU Plastics Directive 2002/72/EC for the use with all types of foods except high alcoholic foodstuffs[...]"

That said, there is a porosity issue with 3D printed parts and consequently dry coffee coats the impeller and sticks to the surface right away. It's a big problem if in contact with dairy, meat, liquids, etc. because it harbors bacteria. For this reason, ShapeWays does not claim to be food-grade. I don't think it matters for dry coffee though. Nevertheless, there's a writeup about this on the storefront so customers can make the call if they care about stale coffee on their impeller or not.

[1] https://www.sculpteo.com/static/0.30.0-49/documents/material...

Was thinking the same. Looks like the original plastic part is destined to be slowly ground and consumed by the user, the printed one will have the same fate.

and what's the original part made from? that's what I'd want to compare.

This is awesome! I have that grinder, but haven't had this issue (yet...). My only issue is that the lowest grind setting isn't quite fine enough for some beans, but with your pictures I think I can actually see where to shove a tiny shim to make that work better too. I'd always intended to do that but hadn't ever gotten around to it.

Honestly, that’s one of the coolest side projects I’ve heard of this year. Kudos!

This is really cool and I'm sure many here would love a longer write up of your process doing this.

That's so cool! I really admire your creativity and the way you turned a problem into a passive income source

Did you post this in /r/coffee? I think I remember seeing something similar.

Not me. I haven't done much to advertise besides iFixit and a post to an ebay forum.

What's the legality of that?

Hmm, it's my own custom design and not a copy of Breville's. The blade geometry is especially different. Is that the angle you were thinking of?

have you attempted to upgrade to an alloy based blade?

Super cool side project.

Metal is too expensive still. Next step is porcelain. I made one prototype so far. It failed because the glazing process "puffed" the surface out of acceptable tolerance. I plan to inversely deform the mesh to compensate for this when I get around to another attempt.

Young hackers who have a surplus of income and have funds to spare that aren't being channeled toward debt / family / donations, heed me: save as much of your salary as you can, and put it in boring investments (index funds / etc), probably through vanguard.com (no affiliation, I just use them and have heard nothing but good things from people I trust). You can pretty easily set up your job's direct-deposit system so that a portion of your salary goes directly into your investments without you ever seeing it, it's a good set-it-and-forget-it system. It adds up over time!

[Somewhat related: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-sim... ]

This book taught me the fundamentals of passive investing (https://www.amazon.com/Random-Walk-Down-Wall-Street/dp/03933...) and this website is THE online community for Bogle-style, passive investors (https://www.bogleheads.org/), once you understand the basics.

I read that book this year. The entire book can be summarised as.

Don't attempt to beat the market. The market cannot be beat (many examples in the book). Invest in index funds long term which is the right mix of risk/reward for most people.

It does have a chart in the back which tracks your age and situation. For example as you approach retirement you should start to liquidate your funds and buy government bonds so you aren't hit by a bad year when you have to start drawing on your investments.

It did convince me. I opened accounts with Wealthsimple and Questrade the next day.

A great site for fellow Canadians is http://canadiancouchpotato.com/ - you can skip the book.

That's a great summary and advice!

It's crazy there is this giant industry of overpaid people that exists only because people don't listen to that advice.

Disclaimer: I work in said industry.

>The market cannot be beat.

I really would like to believe this, but please explain to me how then how firms like Renaissance can exist ... Not sure whether it's relevant but I'll add that I'm an economics PhD student.

The market cannot be beat by 100% of amateurs piddling away on their brokerage account during a few spare hours a week.

The market cannot be beat by 99.9% of professional investors spending all their time day and night trying and with a team of people helping them.

I'm calling your bluff on you being an econ PhD student or maybe you have been one for a month or two at most...? If you are an econ grad student you know what RenTec is doing more or less. At least in theory if not specifics, people talk and there's plenty of econ papers explaining what's underneath major quant strategies.

People need to chill bringing up RenTec when finance comes up (Buffett too). Just like they need to chill bringing up Facebook when talking about startup valuations. Outliers are outliers.

Academia doesn't pay that much attention to the real world. Most of the papers out there are rubbish and would be considered junior level work, except with way too much detail.

There are pretty much no econ papers that would describe what happens inside the high end systematic firms. (Source: I work in the industry)

Bringing up the outliers is a perfect counterexample when wild sweeping statements are made. These are not even real outliers, they are valid samples.

>The market cannot be beat by 99.9% of professional investors spending all their time day and night trying and with a team of people helping them.

Professional investors pretty consistently beat the market. But not the ones that you see. The louder someone markets their fund, the more likely it is to be a scam. Your sample is of guys who heavily promote their fund and make money from management fees not performance.

The best managers aren't even made visible to you. Why would you attract attention to what you're doing if you have a good thing going?

I agree & the "pro-index" crowd would improve the accuracy, if not the effectiveness, of its message by saying "non-passive strategies can work superbly, but not for outsiders with <$1M in capital" instead of saying "no one beats the market in the long run" / "you can't predict which parties will beat the market in the long run".

>high end systematic firms

I'm not familiar with this term, would you mind giving me a general description of what kind of investing these firms take part in?

"Algotrading" generally refers to execution algorithms only, despite popular culture's interpretation.

When the funds portfolio is decided based on a system your fund is systematic. It's an important distinction.

Illuminati confirmed then right. My bad.

Professional investors are not pretty consistently beating the market...secular! Anyone can have a good year or two.

I'm not talking about dudes talking their book on CNBC. Yes there are shops that beat the market, but if you have beaten the market 5 years in a row, you can't keep it a secret even if you want to.

How exactly do you think the performance is made public, if the fund doesn't want it to be? This isn't about illuminati, this is just logic. You can't hide what you're doing from the institutions you have to deal with, but they won't exactly disclose it to general public.

Why would you promote your fund, if you have all the FUM you need? If you are doing well, why would you tell people about it? It is funny that your position is because you haven't seen it, it doesn't exist.

You say you work in the industry. How long have you been doing this and what do you do?

You don't have to answer but your questions are odd for someone with experience in the industry. But let's get into it:

How is performance made public? The same way people know what "stealth" startups are doing. Sometimes a document leaks and sometimes people talk. Usually both. Let's just say a manager is super secretive. Do you know how many people in the chain know performance anyway... Current and former employees. Current and former recruiters of these employees. Current and former clients. Current and former consultants to those clients. etc... And you're saying all these people also don't have that human urge to brag about these rock stars of the investment world? OK.

Even if that were the case, everyone has a cousin at State Street or HSBC, these people take coffee breaks and love to gossip performance and secrets breakdown there.

This is like Fermi's paradox. If all these funds out there are beating the market, then where the hell are they??

All of the funds beating the market are secretive and successfully secretive? For decades?

If it was as common as you imply there should be more of them known to the public by choice or by accident. That is logic.

Don't be the guy who mortgages his house to buy Herbalife products and tells his wife this is your year.

The comment above said 99.9% are not beating the market. There are thousands of funds out there. All funds are filing Form ADV's now...We know who exists. So yes there's a few people who do beat the market. Those 3 Russian guys in Texas and that story about the MIT PhD's working out of a house outside Miami and so yes, there's a few examples out there. Dinky family offices don't count. But no, there's a not a bunch of professional investors with serious weight under management and outside clients beating the market over a secular horizon.

There's a handful, and if you are at one of them congrats to you. But to come on a forum saying there's a bunch of professional investors beating the market, they just all happen to super secretive billionaires and they don't tell anyone about it. That's misleading. That's tech back office got your info from a e-book kinda talk. And it would be at odds with your original thesis that folks that beat the market are secretive and don't talk. So it makes me think you don't work at one, you just want to believe they exist. But again if you do work at one, congrats. Are you hiring? DM me.

So where are they?


He's wrong because he's assuming the average result of the zero-sum game is the only result you can have.

It's a simple fallacy most people with a statistics background understand, but the average journalist doesn't.

Saying you can't beat the market, is like saying you can't win at boxing, because on average nobody wins (there's always a winner for every loser).. but I would put my money on Mike Tyson in his prime.

Your expected value for investing across the market, will roughly converge to the market because of diversification. ~20 funds will start to approximate the underlying universe of stocks, because the range of views of the fund will be across all of them. All of the alpha will be evened out into beta.

So after fees - you would be better just investing in an index than a basket of funds. But there is dependence, a good fund is consistently a good fund. So if you get a chance, it's much better to invest in a good fund.

But the best funds aren't accessible to the public, so the public doesn't get to understand the market for what it really is. And there's a lot of shit ones that market heavily to the public.

There is also a populist idea to the notion that indexes beat hedge funds etc, it makes the average person feel good to think the top investors are no better than they are. So why would journalists peddle the true narrative?

Renaissance is part of the market, and it's the sort of thing that we individual investors can't beat. "The market can't be beat" doesn't mean no one can see better returns - it means a random yahoo like me simply can't compete with the information, processing power, and access funds like Renaissance have.

Thus, an average investor is a lot better off with an index fund instead of trying to pick individual stocks. (Funds like Renaissance's Medallion simply aren't available to people without tens of millions of dollars to throw around, too.)

So buy into the Renaissance mutual fund. There, you beat the market.

Renaissance doesn't run mutual funds. They aren't taking outside money in the market-beating fund.

Funds like Renaissance's have minimum investments in the millions, are often invite-only, etc. We average investors simply can't play in those leagues.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns?

People have been saying that about rentech for the last 20 years. People have also been saying that about berkshire hathaway for the past half century. At some point, past performance IS indicative of future returns.

I'm not sure about any Rentec mutual fund, I don't think such a thing exists, but aren't the funds they have open to institutional investors not doing particularly well?

When most people say Rentec they think Medallion, which while being spectacularly profitable over 20+ years, is now a closed fund only open to current employees last I heard.

Renaissance has hundreds of smart people trying to beat the market. Same with the HFT shops.

You can start one of those firms; in all likelihood, not all the potential profit has been extracted yet. You can hire a bunch of smart mathematicians and/or smart technologists, and spend time working on the problem. And then you'll be in good shape to beat the market. If you're an econ Ph.D. student hanging out on Hacker News, you're already well on your way to doing this with your life, if that's what you want to focus your life on!

But "you", the person with an unrelated day job fiddling with some investing app on your phone in your spare time, starting with a relatively small amount of capital compared to Renaissance's first year, and relatively small risk tolerance compared to Renaissance's first year, and definitely not enough money to hire a bunch of scientists full-time - "you" who's asking on a thread about passive income instead of lifelong career options - you are statistically unlikely to beat the market. That's what people mean by "You can't beat the market."

Two decades ago you might have asked how firms like Long-Term Capital Management can exist


That's a ridiculous argument. From that graph, LTCM lasted 4 years. Renaissance has lasted decades.

Rentech, in particular, data mines weak signals out of gigabytes of historical data, and has a team of PhD mathematicians working to find these signals. Each strategy has some small positive expected value, so in aggregate they can be profitable.

Two reasons you can't replicate this - 'you' aren't a team of super top notch mathematicians with decades of data, and even if you had an exact copy of their trading strategies, you don't have the capital to make the transaction costs, etc, worth it.

This is good advice, attempting to beat the market is something that everyone tries at least once, and repeats until they learn that it is futile. There are bigger interests than the "richest investor you know", and those interests will always win. Every single damn time. Instead, just follow them, and ride the wave.

Why did you choose Wealthsimple and Questrade instead of Vanguard like a lot of people on bogleheads recommend?

You can't buy directly from Vanguard in Canada. Questrade is essentially a very low cost broker (low as in free for ETFs).

You can buy certain Vanguard Funds from Canada. For example: VAB, VSB, VCN.

I think you misunderstood the parent. All three examples are ETFs with Canadian assets, available on the Canadian stock exchange.

OP's point is (most likely) that you can't buy them directly from Vanguard (i.e. using an account on www.vanguardcanada.ca) but will have to buy them using a broker (e.g. Questrade.)

Thanks Huppie, that's exactly what I was saying.

> The market cannot be beat

On average, and when bench-marked against itself taking into account fees. There are funds that consistently beat the market, that you should put money into over the index if given the chance.

But your general notion that the average person shouldn't try is a good one. At the end of the day you have to earn money because you took it from someone else. To think that there is a dollar for everyone is to ignore this simple truth.

Of course some funds beat the market. The problem is, there is no reliable way to know what those funds are until after they have done so.

It depends on your definition of reliability. Is driving a car reliable? There's no way of knowing it will crash but that doesn't stop you from getting in one.

You see it as a problem, if you are used to the idea of earning money instead of taking money I get that angle. But to investors it's not a problem but a fact of life.

How are you finding Wealthsimple?

Can't speak to the tool itself, but the site design and overall aesthetic looks gorgeous..

Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You to be Rich is the personal finance book that introduced me to all the basics (e.g., paying off debts, how credit scores work, why not investing in index funds across diverse asset classes is moronic, etc.).

Dead practical advice despite the somewhat sleazy writing style (see title of book).

Earlier this year, at my last boring corporate job, I was trading stock trading stories with our head accountant. (Like the time my brother and I were trading stock tips about 10 years ago, when he turned me on to some up-and-coming German solar energy firm and I mentioned to him some small biotech company I had just read about. I invested a couple thousand dollars in the company my brother suggested and it was bankrupt within 24 months. My brother invested in both and the company I had mentioned -- I can't remember its name and only even vaguely remember the conversation -- has gone on to something like 50x return, easily making up for the losses from his lousy recommendation... But I digress.)

I told the accountant, who I always found watching CNBC in the break room and I suspect still dreamed of being a day-trader, that the best investment I ever made was our company's ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan).

He said, "You know what? Same here."

(Standard disclaimer: max out your 401(k)/IRA contributions, first.)

> (Standard disclaimer: max out your 401(k)/IRA contributions, first.)

Minor quibble. Your 401k plan almost always has more fees than index funds at someplace like Vanguard.

1. Contribute to your 401k to get your entire company match.

2. Then max out an IRA, a Roth IRA, or a combination of the two based on your income level.

3. Only then continue to max out your 401k.


It's important to remember that this is putting all of your eggs in one basket to a certain extent though.

Your income, your 401k match, and your ESPP are all tied to your employer, so as long as things are good, ESPPs can be a great way to make easy money, but if things take a stark downturn, you can find yourself with ESPP you lost money on, a slouching 401k, and no job. The chances of that happening are fairly low, but still something that makes me a little uncomfortable about ESPPs.

Obviously your advice to max our 401k/IRA contributions first should mitigate a lot of this, but I think it's important to mention the risk too since there's a certain temptation for younger engineers who think it sounds like easy money and don't realize the full implications of it.

That's true, but I always sell my ESPP as soon as it is purchased. That is an immediate 15+% return. Our ESPP is 15% off of the lower of either the beginning or the ending of the offering. Of course the hope is that it will be the lower at the beginning of the offering so that the sell will be 15% + the amount the stock has risen since the beginning.

The only company I've worked at with an ESPP required you to hold the stock for 1 year before selling--not in the sense of tax incentives unfortunately, but you literally cannot sell before 1 year. I didn't realize there were ESPPs where you sell immediately. In that case, woo free money!

Well it is 15% but you are paying income tax on it because you aren't holding it for a year. So depending on your tax situation, it may be closer to 7-10%. Still good though.

The income tax on the profits. If you sell the espp instantly, there isn't much profit, so I'm guessing there isn't much tax?

Well, according to this guy: https://thefinancebuff.com/employee-stock-purchase-plan-espp... it is closer to a 90% return. The example he gives is exactly how my company's ESPP works.

"...the best investment I ever made was our company's ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan)."

This is certainly not true for all companies. I lost over $100K due to our Employee Stock being driven into the ground over the course of a decade by a CEO and board who had loose ethics and no business running a company.

My advice is, before investing in you're ESPP (or Employee Stock Ownership Plan - ESOP), even if you're surrounded by exceptional talent, take a close look at your corporate leadership before purchasing. If they seem sleezy and disingenuous, they probably are and it may be 10 years before you realize you've been totally screwed.

It's good advice to save money and to spend conservatively, if you're poor.

On the other hand, the implicit question of the post was "what did you create to generate passive income" (it's called "Hacker" News, not "Invester/Banker" News).

I think you'll find that the poor generally don't save money -- they spend it, but I digress.

Also: Why isn't interest income considered passive income to you? "The fundamentals" are there for a reason, after all.

Poor people don;'t have enough money to save, by definition.

I don't think this is always accurate; a lot of poor people are poor through spending habits and poor financial management, not through lack of income.

I think that it's also good advice if you're not poor :)

Your second point is absolutely correct, but I still think that my comment answers the root question - how did you set things up such that you're automatically being given money for free on a regular basis? - in a way that is simple, requires very little effort, and has a very good chance of working for many people who are able to try it.

I have read a lot about passive investing (The Intelligent Investor, Mr Money Mustache etc.) but I live in France and it does not seem as simple as in the US to invest in a SP500 index fund for example. Especially if you want something that is quite tax efficient. Does anyone have any advice?

Just want to chime in to say that using a broker to buy index funds should be possible in France as well. I'm in The Netherlands and use DeGiro[1] which is available in France as well, so that might be an option. My investment portfolio basically consists of a few index funds, all can be bought once per month with this broker without a brokerage fee.

As for tax-efficient ways, my french isn't that good so I don't know the details but if I understand this topic [2] correctly you should have some options like PEA, PERCO/PERP, and/or PEE/PEI/PEG

N.B.: There will always be some discussion around this specific broker because their 'default account' contains a clause where this broker is allowed to temporarily loan your assets to other customers. Don't do this. You can get a so-called 'custody account' (which is basically a regular brokerage account) that's only marginally more expensive.

[1]: https://www.degiro.fr [2]: http://redd.it/3oht1m/

Open an investment account in the USA - it's fairly straightforward. I don't know your tax system in france, but you can invest in the US as an individual or an entity, probably worth talking w/ a tax attorney about how to do it - it's certainly done by others.

Don't think it's that straightforward. Probably need a SSN and there will be tax withholding of earnings

Process here. Not trivial but not insurmountable.



Open an ETRADE Securities account if I'm neither a legal resident of the U.S. nor a U.S. citizen You won't be able to open a brokerage account online if you are not a legal resident or citizen of the United States because we will need some additional documentation from you. If you're not sure if you're a legal resident, see the Help topic Determine my residency status. Request a brokerage account application by mail, or download it from our Forms & Applications page. Download a Form W-8BEN. Complete sections 1 through 6 of the application (the section on options trading isn't required). Send your completed application and Form W-8BEN, along with your initial deposit and any supporting documentation, to us at: By regular U.S. mail ETRADE Securities LLC PO Box 484 Jersey City, NJ 07303 - 0484

By overnight mail E*TRADE Securities LLC Harborside Financial Center 501 Plaza 2 34 Exchange Place Jersey City, NJ 07311 1-800-ETRADE-1

France doesn't have an ISA/Roth IRA/TFSA equivalent? Google tells me - PEA (Plan d'Epargne en Actions) - but this info was from 2006.

Thats right. With a PEA you can avoid capital taxes provided you hold your stocks long enough.

As per how to open a brokerage account for alien non US resident, several years ago I managed to open an account at interactive broker while living in hong kong. They have among the lowest fees of all brokers and good software. Pretty sure its also possible to open an account while residing in france.

One thing to note though: as an alien non US resident, any US dividends will be taxed at 30pct in the US, directly deducted by the brokerage company

Invest in a cheap French or Eurozone total market index fund. It only makes sense to invest in a fund that matches your local currency.

>It only makes sense to invest in a fund that matches your local currency. //

Why? Surely investing in a higher growth economy is better?

You're now exposed to foreign exchange risks too

Conversely, it could be a smart diversification move

I put 25k into my investments this year, and I made 40k in unrealized gains, following the above strategy. It works folks.

My blog post about financial independence: http://mays.co/why-financial-independence/

I mean, it does work, but using a sample size of one single year isn't the best way to explain or prove it.

Yes, it works. I've been investing a minimum of $500/week for the past 8 years. Currently I'm investment $1000/week. I make good money and keep my expenses low, and now have more than 33x my yearly expenses in investment/savings. I'm planning on retiring early...

At 33x annual spending you can retire today.

That is already passed the 4% withdrawal rate (can take out 4% every year and never decrease the principle), which is 25x annual spending in savings/investments.


I am aware, but am overly conservative. I just turned 40 so have a few good working years left at least.

Nice blog, but watch out for advising people that putting money in index funds 'pretty much assumes an 8% return'. Returns can vary wildly year by year even if 7-9% annual is accurate over the last 20-30 years or so. Bogle (and others) is estimating the coming year's returns to be lower than 7.

Thanks! I've heard that comment a few times so I think I will make a quick edit. Appreciate it.

For what it's worth, my best passive income was from investing as much of my income as I can part with paycheck to paycheck. No boring investments though, always the exact same two funds: UWTI and DWTI, both of which are gone, they delisted on Dec 8th.

That said...there are many funds like them, those in particular are 3x leveraged crude oil ETF's. That means if the price of oil rises 1%, UWTI rises 3%. If it falls 1%, DWTI rises 3%. Crude oil as a market has "predictable volatility", that (simply) means that within a given day, the price will rise/fall repeatedly within a sane range(given no extraordinary circumstances). Identify this range, and buy and sell on both sides(short and long) to take advantage of the range. Follow the big money(banks), and you'll be just fine. Never go against the flow, you will (virtually) always lose.

This is very bad advice. 3x funds are not meant for long term buy an hold. They experience contango and even if they index end up flat you can still lose money from the gyrations of the market. Nobody should b investing in in leveraged etf longer than a few days.

I didn't say to buy and hold it...that would be very foolish unless you know something that noone else does(which is unlikely). I was talking about using the daily volatility to profit from following the banks. ie: day trading. My positions in leveraged funds last less than 60 minutes, and the average is probably closer to 10 minutes.

Before you jump into 2x or 3x, you should be able to reliably generate returns from a non-leveraged ETF tracking the same commodity.

So what happens to UWTI when the price of oil falls 1% and to DWTI when it rises 1%?

They'll move 3x. When oil falls 1%, UWTI rises 3% and DWTI falls 3%. That's good for a short term bet if it goes your way. In the long term it corrodes the value.

Lets say UWTI is trading at 100 today. Oil is trading at 50.

Day1: Oil falls 47.5 (5% drop). UWTI will fall to -> 100 * ( 1 - 3 * 0.05) = 85

Day2: Oil rises back to 50 (5.26 % rise). UWTI will rise to -> 85 (1+ 3 * 0.0526) = 98.42

So even though oil price recovered, you lost $1.58. Over a period of time, rise and fall in oil prices corrodes the value of UWTI & DWTI (and similar leveraged ETFs)

http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ is a bit nicer to read and goes a bit deeper than mrmoneymustache.

I would also add that the author's book http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ere-book is great, and lets one get the essential points of what he has to say without trawling through numerous posts.

Any tips for something solid vanguard-like in the EU?

GERMANS: Be aware! Don't buy any US ETFs when you pay taxes in Germany. There is pretty heavy penalty tax on ETFs. Depends on the difference of the price on the first day of trading of the year and on the last. If unlucky you can pay 50% tax on your gains. I did just this year pay 45% and I won't be getting it back. Read thru this first: https://www.justetf.com/de-en/news/etf/steuereinfach-in-etfs...

I have read the link you posted and I'm still not clear on how you would end up paying ~50% and not be able to get it back.

If your ETF is "ausländisch thesaurierend" ("foreign accumulating"), declaring it will be a bit more complicated but not that hard. Would you mind explaining your situation a bit better? Maybe I'm missing something (and I wouldn't want to, since I'm looking into this topic myself at the moment).

Do you mean also for accumulating ETFs? Are you supposed to list all ETF purchase prices/start-of-year value, and the end-of-the-year value in the tax declaration, then?

Do Germans not have any practical way to invest in accumulating funds?

DENMARK: Similar problem - you pay yearly capital gains tax on foreign ETF :(

You can buy Vanguard via their ETF funds using any broker. I do.

Just beware of taxes.


For non-EU/US residents I got a recommendation for http://int.tddirectinvesting.com/

Rules are a bit different. I'm in the UK and you need £100,000 to go direct with Vanguard and thus you need to go with a broeker.

https://www.charles-stanley-direct.co.uk/ is a good shout, but there may be better depending on how you'd like to invest.

I use Nutmeg, had a return of 7% over two years, and I've also just opened an account with MoneyFarm.

Nutmeg has a really nice looking website and is heavily promoted, but I'm not really sure it's a great recommendation as the associated fees are higher than competitors.

Is there a value add that I'm missing?

I'm using DEGIRO (based in the NL), seems to be OK, decent website and low fees. They have this weird thing about loaning out your shares in the regular accounts; I couldn't quite get the risk I'd be exposed to in that case, so I went with a Custody account.

Same here. Just wondering, are you using the Ireland based Vanguard ETFs (i.e. VWRL, VEUR, etc.) or the US-based ones (VTI, VGT, etc.)?

Neither :) I'm using an Amsterdam based one: https://www.euronext.com/en/products/etfs/IE00B3XXRP09-XAMS

While traded on the Amsterdam stock exchange, the domicile of the fund is still Ireland.[1]

Anyway, since you're in Europe, curious why you chose this fund (S&P 500) over something with more exposure outside the US?

[1]: https://www.vanguard.nl/portal/instl/nl/en/product.html#/fun...

Ah, right, I didn't pay close attention. I selected the S&P mostly as a simple "default" choice to start. It doesn't really matter, since it'll be a while before I can invest any significant amounts.

I get vanguard in the Uk via HL, some funds are on there and the fees are not too bad for the most part.

If you're on HL, you could also look at their 'core trackers':


For example, that provides the FTSE all-share through an L&G fund:


Which has fractionally lower fees than the Vanguard equivalent:


The fees on HL are quite high though, it's worth shopping around the brokers. http://monevator.com/ is a great resource for this stuff.

I user interactive brokers and just buy VOO (vanguard S&P500 etf)

Nutmeg might be worth looking at. I've used it for my pension pot since I left my perm job and went contracting/freelance.

That probably depends a lot on which country you live in.


Humanity has had numbers for some 200,000 years.

any hacker can, in the next ten minutes, cause their CPU to do more arithmetic than the arithmetic (explicitly adding 2+5, and so forth, multiplying two numbers in their heads) that every single person has done in the history of humanity. okay, but that's just numbers.

Today we live in a connected world where 2,000,000,000 people can be reached in any eight-hour period of time.

Any hacker can find any niche and make a product that will be the first search result within it (by being the first; making something that doesn't exist; and telling people).

Why save a salary, when you can create a business, create value, and scale to the entire Internet and give people some benefit?

Every hacker should start one or several businesses. While it may not exactly be a moral obligation, this brings humanity forward.

EDIT to clarify: I am disagreeing with the suggestion that hackers should save all or most of their money - (put in my parent comment as "save as much of your salary as you can") -- rather than saving it, they should invest it into their businesses, adwords to grow it, other advertising and business development expenses, hiring, etc.

Some of us bring in value by developing existing software packages which amplify the work effort of some critical sector or another. The renumeration for this work is in the form of regular pay. A portion of which should probably be invested smartly.

As software systems grow they turn into complex systems. They become embedded in the processes of the end users, while requiring constant boring work to remain alive.

I fail to see how this maintenance work is less worthwhile than developing new tools. Any complex task requires decades and decades of labour.

This is not to say that identifying niches that benefit from established tecnhinques and require only some domain specific customization would not also be wortwhile.

But claiming "everybody should find such a niche and become entrepreneurs" is quite bit too much. My mental energy is used in my daily work which brings added value to my orgs and our clients. The benefits of this are enormous - I can focus on deep, technically complex work while outsourcing payroll, taxes, liabilities etc. to my employer.

Effectively, I don't think many people can do deep work and become an entrepreneur at the same time. Also, expert skills in one domnain are no guarantee in some other. Star software engineers can turn up shit or stellar business operatives.

I think you are covering the software engineer in some weird halo of infallibility.

That said, I do have enormous respect for people who have created new businesses. But it hardly is the only way to bring in value.

>But claiming "everybody should find such a niche and become entrepreneurs" is quite bit too much.

This is how you end up at conferences where everyone you talk to is the CEO, but nobody is actually making any money (or, in large part, actually doing any business).

I also love entrepreneurship, but it is not, nor should it be, for everyone.

"The remuneration[1] for this work is in the form of regular pay. A portion of which should probably be invested smartly."

I guess my objection was to the idea of saving "as much as possible." I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't work for a salary: but you should take some of that salary and spend it on actively building or backing businesses, not just passively.

Based on your background I think you would be amazed how much business you could create by investing in/overseeing a developer in India or China, for example. Your knowledge/background + $5000 goes waaaaaay farther than you think. (regardless of who the owner ends up.)

To me this is the opposite of the advice to passively save as much as possible!

[1] I corrected the spelling of this word - I mispelled it before too.

"you should take some of that salary and spend it on actively building or backing businesses, not just passively."

Active investment is highly context sensitive. I'm not denying someone might be plausibly in a position with sufficient information, domain knowledge, connections and a small amount of capital to operate as you suggested.

Your claim that operating on this manner is the obvious best choice for everyone is highly controversial. For starters, private investment requires trust and communication and just the culture barrier to understand the true rules of business and engagement are non-trivial for someone who's native culture is for example northern european.

Basically, I'm totally clueless. I have no idea how to a) hire an indian software dev for a few thousands b) what value added activity I should require of them and c) to whom to sell their work to.

I do know, however, how to invest into low cost index funds with reputable finance organizations. Thus the latter from economic perspective is a highly more enticing option.

I presume you have some specific situation in mind. Perhaps you could give some 'hypothetical' scenarios and what their profit model is?

Active investment is essentially a second job. Not everyone has the ability or desire to spend even more hours working.

I don't want to start a business and in fact I specifically plan to never start a business. Sounds terrible. All that... business stuff. I shudder to think about it.

I do like programming, and I plan to spend my productive time on this Earth programming on projects that interest me and help humanity in some way, but I just absolutely 100% have no plans to start a business. I admire your excitement about the idea, but I think that maybe not everyone feels the same way :)

(I also recognize that maybe not everyone feels that automatically saving+investing as much of your income as possible is a good idea - I'm mainly attempting to reach those folks who do think it's a good idea and just need a little bit of prodding to actually set it up.)

Serial entrepreneur here. Love your attitude. You play to your strengths and keep it chill. Not my style but a rock-solid strategy nonetheless.

> rather than saving it, they should invest it into their businesses

"Saving it" here is not hiding it under the mattress. Buying stocks is literally investing it, only into other people's businesses. Buying corporate bonds is lending it to other people's businesses so they can grow. And investments into existing established businesses could easily be argued to have at least as large a potential impact as starting out on your own with a minor project that is more likely to fail than not.

I'm all for entrepreneurship but the original question asked about passive income. Your suggestion is clearly very active.

Yes but why answer the question when you can get on a soapbox instead?

My soapbox was prompted by the words, which I'm not embellishing, "save as much of your salary as you can".

I don't think there's anything wrong with saving or with passive investments. But it shouldn't be as much as you can. Engineers have other very good uses of their money, which I outlined.

> Why save a salary, when you can create a business, create value, and scale to the entire Internet and give people some benefit? Every hacker should start one or several businesses. While it may not exactly be a moral obligation, this brings humanity forward.

How does starting a business bring humanity forward? Maybe I'm just pessimistic but as far as I can tell the pursuit of money largely just ruins things.

I would think that a "hacker" would make things just because they can and enjoy it, without concern for things like profits or market value. Indeed weren't the very first hackers amateurs and not professionals, in the literal sense?

I'm not saying that people should just forego money completely of course, as I am just as guilty of anyone of wanting more money. I just don't understand why "every hacker should start one or several businesses." if we're solely concerned about humanity.

> Why save a salary, when you can create a business, create value, and scale to the entire Internet and give people some benefit?

Risk tolerance.

If, for whatever reason, my business doesn't turn as much of a profit as I'd hope, and I've spent everything I could on it, I'm in an awful position: both as a person who needs to keep a roof over my head, and as someone hoping to do good things for humanity. If I'm on the verge of bringing humanity miles forward, and fail, I've done less good than if I reliably brought humanity a few inches forward.

On the other hand, if I do save my salary up, I can choose at some later point to spend all of my time and energy on something cool, and keep spending that time and energy until something happens, because now my risk tolerance is much higher. And then it's much more likely I will bring humanity forward by the miles I wanted to.

I recommened reading the parents link but if it's all a bit too much for you vanguard does funds that are already diversified and deals with the rebalancing on your behalf.


Thumbs up, this is what I use.

Do I have any rational expectations to beat inflation by having well diversified index funds?

Historically, as a guideline, you'd have made about 7% p.a. on average, well above inflation. The question is whether you can handle the drawdown (can you keep your nerves during a crash?)

then again: beware of averages. Historical PE ratios are quite high (though EV/FCC would be more instructive) - so it is unlikely that the next couple of years will bring 7%. We're living in a world of free money: if central banks change interest rates the party could come to an end.

Not necessarily. If the interest rates are reduced because the economy improved, then the growth could stay similar.

Aren't interest rates reduced to stimulate a struggling economy, and increased if economy improving?

Right. If interest rates are increased, that's a sign of a stronger economy and the market might go up in response. On the other hand, traders might decide the Fed is mistaken, the economy is not in fact stronger, and they'll react to the higher interest rates by taking fewer loans and the market will go down.

Basically, the change is already priced-in and you shouldn't worry about timing the market. Buy and hold.

Interest rates go up when the economy is improving.

Oops. That's what I meant to say: s/reduce/increase/

>Do I have any rational expectations to beat inflation by having well diversified index funds?

You should get inflation + some economic growth + risk premium for holding equity.

How confident can I be of this? Why are banks struggling to get even 2% return on their investment if I can just go on and get 7% on average?

There's no guarantee at all. In a really bad year (2008?) you might get -50% or worse. Then you might get some really nice returns in the years after (or not!). If you average over several decades, historically, the returns have been around 7 or 8 per cent per year, but the standard deviation is enormous. Just look at a long-term chart of e.g. the S&P 500 at https://finance.yahoo.com/chart/%5EGSPC - click "Max" and "Settings" -> "Logarithmic" (you'll want a logarithmic axis so that equal percent changes are equal distance on the plot). You'll see that on average it went up over the decades, but between June '07 and February '09, it lost over 50%, and tripled since then.

I encourage you to read up on this, but someone else with more knowledge should recommend some books.

All of this is correct, but the standard S&P 500 index doesn't include dividends, so your typical index fund will (should) do 1-4% better each year than the S&P 500. The S&P 500 does have a lesser-known version that includes the total returns: https://www.google.com/finance?q=INDEXSP%3ASP500TR&ei=WWJNWK...

Index funds such as SPY do include the dividends. VGO (specifically) also has a 1.94% yield.

Banks operate on a completely different model so it's not a useful comparison, but the answer is that they are borrowing at ~0% and lending 2%+ so they view the world differently

banks are heavily regulated and cannot just put deposits (the money you put into a bank constitute a loan to the bank) into stocks. They have to invest more conservatively, e.g give money to solid companies or hold low risk bonds. See Basel-rules to learn more about risk weighted assets (RWA): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basel_III

>if I can just go on and get 7% on average?

I didn't mention any numbers. If economic growth is low, and inflation is non-existent, you will not approach 7%.

>Why are banks struggling to get even 2% return on their investment

Where do you get that information?

risk --> reward.

bond etfs have been sold off, so they are cheap and yields are up.

Oh, I invest the automated way too and figured that's the best way given I know this is important for nest egg and such and I want to spend as little time as reasonably possible managing investments .

For my Indian friends here (or people interested in investing in the Indian market), I'd suggest http://scripbox.com (no affiliation, just a happy customer).

I started a year ago when I was 25, and am glad I started this early(-ish).

Do you have any thoughts or sources on Indian micro-loan investments? It looks like a way to help people in need while gaining some profit off their success. I'm more interested in the former, but I do not wish to simply donate. I do not believe it to be the way to go about these things.

Do you mean something like Kiva or Zidisha? They're quite popular, but there's a very real chance that the borrower can default on your investment. Not a huge deal though, because if you're micro-lending then this is expected. I don't think the interest rates are good either.

Doing it for charitable reasons is fine, but it's not a great way to make money IMO.

This isn't really passive income outside of the 2% dividend yield of a total market index fund, which isn't all that great. A $500,000 investment only yields about $10,000 annually. (Not to mention the significant risk of a market drawdown in a given year.)

I think the idea is that you can plan on withdrawing 4% every year as well. The more flexible you are with your expenses, the more you can withdraw while ensuring you will have sufficient income throughout your retirement. I like the hybrid constant-percentage / constant-dollar withdrawal method where you keep 7.5 years of withdrawals in bonds and the rest in stocks. So a $1m portfolio produces $40k per year so 7.5x * $40k is $300k in bonds, and $700k in stocks. https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Withdrawal_methods#Combinati...

... otherwise known as a 401k.

Probably don't do this (use taxable investment accounts) unless you have at least 15% going to your tax-advantaged retirement account(s).

Good point, I forgot to mention that. I think that it's possible for a lot of young people in our industry to save significantly more than 15% of their income, and so I should have said: max out your contributions to retirement accounts every year and then set things up such that you're automatically saving as much of your remaining salary as is comfortable (e.g. if you're a recent college grad working in SF, and you have roommates, you might find that this percentage is pretty high!).

I was on the "max out retirement accounts" train when I was younger. When I got older and home prices got massively inflated, I wished I kept more of that in non retirement accounts to be made more easily liquid for a home without steep penalties.

Saving tax while something grows is great, unless you need that cash sooner. Then it is not too helpful. I wish there were a tax advantaged vehicle to use for setting aside money for a home.

So yes, definitely invest in tax advantaged accounts, but do so with a solid understanding of your expected financial needs as best you can model for the next 5-10 years. If you need access to that money sooner, what you'd lose on tax may be worth the flexibility of having those investments somewhere more easily liquidated.

You can avoid the 10% tax penalty for early withdrawal for your first home if it's in a Roth IRA, up to $10k. It's not very tax advantaged though.

[1] https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590b/ch02.html

This is confused.

EVERY contribution you make to a Roth IRA/401k can be pulled out, tax-free, at any time for any reason. It's the earnings you have to be careful about. But for example if you have contributed $20k to your Roth IRA or Roth 401k, and it is now worth $35k, then you can pull out $20k at any time for any reason, while for the other $15k you have to wait until 59 1/2, or use SEP withdraws, etc.

In addition, for a first-time home purchase you can pull out up to $10k without penalty (but with normal income tax applied) from a traditional IRA or 401k.

$10k is well within the variance of fees and fluctuating interest rates on a home purchase. On the scale of real estate (in and around the cities that have significant tech employment) it's pocket change.

You can also loan yourself a bit of your 401k to buy a home. It's not a lot but at least helps https://smartasset.com/mortgage/when-to-leverage-a-401k-for-...

Has anyone invested on a peer-to-peer lending platform? Curious of how the risk & reward for such platforms compare to those of ETFs and index funds.

This is if you don't need that capital to create your own businesses or other streams of revenue.

What are the returns, in percentage?

Vanguard is index funds, so the returns are as good (or bad) as the market.

Wouldn't it be a better idea to invest in bonds or more stable sources of investment for the next few years until we can make sure of the impact of Brexit-Trump? I wouldn't be surprised if AAPL and other giant third sector companies fall in value right now.

You're talking about market timing which is incredibly hard (some say impossible) to do over a long period of time. Sure, you might miss the down here (if there is one), but then you also might miss the move back up. There is a saying that time in market is much better than timing the market. If you consistently put money in, you'll naturally also buy the downs. At that point, you just need to periodically rebalance, and with age start to shift to less risky investments.

In investing terms, you're talking about a "less risky" rather than "better" idea. You'll only know if something was better after the event in question has passed.

Passive investing when you have many years before retirement means you worry about long term trends rather than short term risks.

Ah, you see, because the market is famously perfectly efficient, equity and bond markets have already priced in the expected effect of Brexit-Trump. So investing in equities now essentially gets you a discount over what they would have cost had Brexit-Trump not happened.

Whereas (more seriously) investing in "more stable" things like bonds forces you to pay a premium, because every man and his dog has desperately been chasing stability, safety, yield, etc since 2008, in many cases using quantitatively eased money to do so.

while coupons (e.g. the regular payout) might be stable, bonds, too, can fall in value. One interest rate hike by the FED or ECB would send bond prices tumbling.


> liberal hubris

When a thread takes a turn for the worse, please don't reply unless you can make it better, not worse still. Political name-calling makes it worse still.

Since I had to ask you to keep partisan politics out of HN threads only a couple days ago, I'd like to emphasize the point. This is not what Hacker News is for. Please (re)-read:



How is the comment you replied to liberal hubris? There is uncertainty with regard to Britain voting to leave the EU. Since the U.S. election the bond market in the U.S. has fallen quite a bit. This is unusual given that the only new information comes from the election. Clearly there are impacts from the election that an average person wouldn't be aware of. Hence the comment about adopting a wait and see attitude. While this may not be a good strategy it hardly qualifies, necessarily, as liberal hubris.

Average..? Ex., 1%-5%/yr

It depends on the fund. I just did a report on this for one of my classes. https://github.com/wihl/stats107-project/blob/master/writeup...

All the code is in the same repository as R Markdown.

MOOC or are you at Harvard? Was the course worthwhile?

Through the Extension school, all online. I found it worthwhile.

7% in the long term, but with big fluctuations.

Which fund? According to whom?

SPY / VFIAX / S&P 500 has a CAGR 4.9% from Nov 2000 to Nov 2016.

Not too long ago the long term rolling returns for the S&P 500 where still somewhere around this number. This article [1] is from 2012, not much has changed in the last four years.

"The average 30-year rolling total return for the S&P 500 starting with 1926, is 2,478% or 11.21% annualized (geometric mean). There were several 30-year periods that had annual returns between 8% and 10%."

Having said so, past returns don't guarantee anything for the future. They might give you an indication though.

[1]: http://allfinancialmatters.com/2012/08/29/sp-rolling-total-r...

Edit: Here's [2] a better (?) graph of the S&P 500 with the 30 year rolling returns, inflation adjusted and dividends reinvested. Source[3]

[2]: http://imgur.com/Ja1xOcA [3]: http://redd.it/3fsdex


Mr Money Moustache has 2 or 3 rental properties which are wealth appropriating not wealth creating. He's using the wages of other families. He goes on about how $10 is a lot yet takes far, far more in rent each week.

What's wrong with renting properties?

>which are wealth appropriating not wealth creating

Literally everything anyone buys is paid for by a portion of their wealth, not sure what you are trying to say here.

Not sure where to start here. Are you suggesting money gained is a proxy for wealth created? It's the product of an imperfect system. Some people add more value than they are paid for, others the inverse. The system heavily favours economic rent extraction via land. Almost all new debt is issued via land.

Quite simply people have figured out it's a rigged game and are piling in, hence the asset bubble and the fallout effecting an entire generation, which perhaps you missed.

I'm not really interested in discussing this with you either as just pointing out things are paid for is just taking the existing system without any question as "correct".

I understand what you are saying, but I think you are missing an important concept. If you created more value than you spend, you have an extra. Other people want to spend more than they created. So what happens is that people who have the extra, can loan their value to those who have a deficit. This loaning can also be considered a service. People are not forced into renting. What Mr. Money Mustache is saying is "Hey, don't be the guy with the deficit, be the guy with the surplus, because everyone with the deficit will work for those with the surplus". What I hear from US with all their credit cards, it seems it's a culture of spending way more than you earn. Spending money that you will receive at the end of the month. Which is pretty stupid.

He's saying "i live frugally, be like me" then doing something that doesn't scale. We can't all be the landlord, rent seeking.

He says: Earn a lot, spend little, invest the difference. Once the revenue of your investments covers your spending, retire. That's what he's saying. And the key is indeed living frugally, which makes it all easier. And yes, he rents out houses, that's his investment. I don't see anything wrong with this.

If everyone was a landlord, then that would be a pretty bad investment now would it?

I disagree with his wealth appropriation and the idea that he is somehow living frugally whilst relying on that appropriation. Fundamentally we cannot all claim the labour of others using the system to force their hand.

> we cannot all claim the labour of others using the system to force their hand.

What does this even mean? He is providing a good/service, and people are willing to pay him for that good/service. He's not living off the pain and suffering of others...

This was pretty accidental, but to motivate myself to complete the arduous application process for my professional engineering license, I creates a WordPress blog documenting the process. Also because I thought I would learn something new (setting up WP blog) and this seemed very "shippable". I completed the application process over the course of a year and haven't written a blog post in over a year.

Thanks to a complete lack of material in this niche, the site (http://pengapplicant.ca) gets a decent amount of organic search traffic given the niche size (2k page views per month) and I make about $15/month in Adsense. Recently I was also contacted by someone who sells materials for the application and exam and have become an affiliate for them. It's only been one month, but i've already made one referral which netted me $100. So passive income on this after hosting costs is probably $220-ish and will be more in 2017 hopefully with more affiliate sales. Obviously very small potatoes, but I never set out to make any money for this and it looks like now it will at least cover my yearly professional dues ;)

To be honest, the best part is the messages I get from people saying how I helped them get their license. That's a much nicer feeling than the $.

Hey, just to give you a trailhead into a service that I've used before for automatic ad-placement optimization, try Ezoic (ezoic.com). They did very well for me (150% increase in Adsense revenue) and their site says on average they double Adsense earnings. It's totally legit, they're a publishing partner with Google, which is eventually what made me sign up with them after some initial skepticism. But they delivered for sure.

Thanks for the recommendation. It looks very promising and I tried signing up, but unfortunately they require a minimum of 10k monthly uniques and I'm not anywhere close to that.

Go ahead and sign up anyway. I didn't have that when I signed up, either.

FYI, I tried it and I think they've closed this loophole. Before any ad testing can begin, your account needs to be manually approved by someone who can verify your Google Analytics numbers. I was told I needed 15k uniques minimum.

By changing ad placements, and adding a more ad units, you can increase your Adsense earnings significantly.

And add banners pleading to disable Adblock, right?

I would think a few relevant amazon affiliate links (text books, calculators, etc) could out-earn the current $15/month ads as well.

You should offer paid content through Gumroad or something.

That said, the PE exam was a breeze for me (took computer engineering exam). I'm slightly horrified that the failure rate is 50%.

Thanks. The affiliate that I work with offers paid content that is miles better than something could come up with over short period of time, so I'm happy referring business his way. Pouring more hours into this project isn't really worth the opportunity-cost for me at this point (consulting + bootstrapping a startup).

In my jurisdiction (Ontario, Canada), if you graduate from an accredited engineering school and gather the requisite work experience, there is no technical exam, it is the same ethics and law exam for all disciplines (PPE or Professional Practice Exam). Documenting your work experience is probably the most work-intensive task as they want you to lay out what you did and how it qualifies as engineering in great detail. Probably the biggest reason for my traffic is that I published my (anonymous) experience record, since real life examples of this document are nearly impossible to find on the web. For the exam, I basically studied for the better part of a week. It's a 3 hour exam where your answers are typically paragraphs or pages long. I get the sense that some engineers struggle with it due to language issues more than anything else.

Ask for permission to publish, or do interviews of those that sent you messages about their own process. Ask them for their criticism of what on the site helped and didn't help and publish that, too. That might help others.

Previously, as a developer evangelist with Twilio, I had to know the tech events and tech leaders in my local community. While I didn't figure out a repeatable approach then, in late 2015, it hit me.

I built a bot network that reads tech events - mostly meetups, some conferences and workshops - for a given city from a variety of sources and tweets them. I use machine learning to determine hashtags, time of day to tweet, and new data sources. When I launched Austin - https://twitter.com/ATXTechEvents - in September 2015, I got 900 followers the first month. I suspected it was a fluke so launched Dallas FW and Houston to test. It wasn't a fluke.

In 2016, I've launched 45 different cities in the US and the network has 100k followers collectively, has its own automated weekly mailing list, and is generating 1.4M+ impressions/month. Revenue is affiliate fees for conferences (we are a media partner for O'Reilly) and workshops and selling the ad blocks in the newsletter. Almost all of that is automated. The revenue is pretty minor right now but growing and I spend 1-2 hours on it a week.

The landing page is here: https://techeventsnetwork.com/ (only some of the cities) and the full list of cities is here: https://twitter.com/TechEventsNet/following

Btw, by plugging into meetups first, I found a super receptive audience. After a decade+ of planning UGs, I knew the most important but easily forgotten step is promoting the group.

The Tech Events Network tweets most groups either the morning of or night before and five days in advance, so you have a couple chances to notice. Further, occasionally it mentions the meetup group's twitter handle so easy RTing.

(All automated and sometimes I'm surprised about what it's found.)

> I use machine learning to determine hashtags, time of day to tweet, and new data sources.

can you elaborate more this?


My last startup - Clarify.io - did automatic speech recognition through machine learning. Since I was doing the roadmap and API design, I wanted a better understanding of ML and started digging into it.

For context, I started by studying the Austin tech community since that's what I know and could manually check the conclusions.

The basics:

Overall, the system tracks 5500+ groups, conferences, etc which is close to 60k events. It grows as it discovers new groups and events via a few channels.

As it finds and imports groups and then events, it categorizes each based on how they're described. If it's from Meetup.com, the category data and topic are reasonably good so it starts with that. If the source is Eventbrite, less so. If the source is an event website, even harder.

After ~15 months, it's discovered about 105k keywords/phrases, some only barely related. Of those, only about 7500 are actually useful. Not surprisingly, they include languages, frameworks, companies, products and combinations of words. (Side note: I've found words like "hacking" are less of an indicator now than when I started.. because everyone is "hacking" something.. marketing, cooking, etc.)

From all that, groups are qualified in/out based on their overall score. I manually review things that are borderline but that's 2-3 most weeks. That keyword/phrase list also feeds into the hashtags that get used.

The first version of this - hardcoded, no ML - was hacked together in a day. I've rebuilt it from the ground up to wire in the ML processing to scale across all the cities.

I later did some major refactoring to have pluggable output so it can broadcast into a Slack channel (done & released) and eventually send you a reminder DM or text (via Twilio!)

Oh, and I'm careful to disqualify job fairs. You might find a session about resume writing or "getting a better job in tech" but not the fair itself. I've gotten a bunch of thank you notes and tweets about that aspect.

They have their place, just not in my system.

Solid idea! I think this will be supporting you in a year and will be killing it in five. Quite impressive.

I'm based out of Baltimore and I follow your Baltimore Twitter bot. If you need any help or Quality Control for Baltimore events let me know!

Well played sir. And thank you.

I run a number of side projects and have done since the mid 1990's. I started in business when I was 21 and I'm now 47, so definitely considered 'old' to some of you on here! I've been o reader of HN since it came out, but rarely a contributor. A few comments from me and a link to some of what I've done and how they have done in 2016:

- Rich Dad, Poor Dad got me into the idea of 'passive' income. Nothing is truly passive of course, but it makes me think about what I do

- SourceGuardian. This is encryption software I set up in 2002 as I had a need myself and the nearest product was $6000 at the time. It has generated a great passive income since then. Enough to pay all my bills. 2016 was no different. I work with 2 other people on it, one of whom I've never met (he's in Russia) and it works well

- Competitor Monitor. This used to be a side-project 5 years ago, but it has grown significantly and in the past year we are up by 35% and we have grown our team. Strangely this has now become passive in the sense that I have created a structure and systemised the business (read The Emyth Revisited book) and that has allowed me to step out. I am not more of an investor than a day-to-day contributor

- UKscrap.com. This one died in 2016. The site is still there, but competition and my lack of interest killed it

As I said, nothing is truly passive, but you need to have a passion for whatever you do and I would try to create a 'passive index' for your ideas. How much time will they take to get off the ground, how much to run monthly, what is the product life cycle (if you can work that out!). From when I started there are a HUGE number of resources to help you also. Feel free to ask for help or advice, for what it's worth!

EDIT: I actually met my SourceGuardian partner once in Prague for 2 days. Forgot that when I wrote the above!

Hi! I would like to know the language and LOC of both SourceGuardian and Competitor Monitor, to see the what's the complexity of code people are selling. Thanks

Both are relatively complex now and I don't have a precise answer for 'lines of code' for you. Competitor Monitor has evolved for 5-6 years and has various subsystems including image matching, crawling, proxy management and much more. Both started out as MVP's and have evolved. Competitor Monitor is built in Python and Go predominantly, however that shouldn't mean anything. The language, platform and complexity of someone elses product should not be any guide for you on your own. Looks also like you created a throw-away account purely to write the request

Thanks ;) yes I did

Unfortunately not 2016, but two years ago when the Samsung Gear Watch came out a friend of mine got it right away. We went out drinking the same day and when we came back at night we put together a watch face while still being drunk. We uploaded it, set the lowest possible price 1$, and... Nothing happened. Everywhere in the admin panel it showed 0. 0 downloads, not a single dime earned, even after a few days. We were devastated.

But than I found another tab in the utterly shitty admin panel and it hit me like a rock. The numbers on the dashboard were a monthly overview and in fact we earned already hundreds of dollars and downloads in just a few days. I went back to the computer, but together an even better watch face, set it to 1$ again and watched it selling like hotcakes.

However it tried out quite quickly after that. People started to copy stuff and giving it away for free and I never bought the watch myself, I just used the emulator to test my apps. So I took them out of the store at the end because dealing with taxes and sharing the income does not make it worth it if you get support requests like "how can I change the time on my watch", "what do I care, its your shitty watch and Samsung's shitty interface"... So yea. That's my best story about unexpected passive income. Selling stuff fast on a new platform seem to work!

Edit: Found some screens. First one: https://i.imgur.com/TIVsPKO.png Best selling one: https://i.imgur.com/9L8TetO.png

You created an apps in a few hours while drunk, set the price to the lowest possible, and when you thought you had no sale after a few days, you were "devastated"?

Look. We were very emotional at the point. We thought the binary clock was a good design and the booze helped us to believe we were going to get very rich of it. ;-)

Love the honesty of your answer!

So roughly how much did you make overall? A few hundred, a few thousand?

A few thousand over the course of a few months. The first three months were working out really good. But than it dropped to a fifth of the previous month and it went downhill from there. Anyway. It was still worth it. What took most of my time was setting up the store pages. (Which I couldn't look up by myself because I didn't own the device so I could not access the store at all. I didn't know the ratings on my apps either. Or the ranking in the store.)

i own a decent amount of tesla stock and 2016 was a great year for lending it out.

since tesla is such a controversial company, lots of people want to own the stock (expecting it to go up) and lots of people want to short sell it (expecting it go down).

if you're a stock holder, certain places (like interactive brokers) will let you lend your stock holdings to people that want to sell it short. you earn a premium on this loan, but its basically risk-free since the brokerage bears the counter-party risk.

because short interest is so high, there was a substantial portion of 2016 where there weren't enough shares available to satisfy short sellers' demand. TSLA became classified as "hard to borrow" and borrowing premiums would be anywhere from 8% to 100+% depending on the day/demand. this is money short sellers pay on top of the cost to purchase the shares (and one more thing to bear on top of the risk of short-selling, but that's another story).

the premium is paid daily, and the brokerage usually takes a chunk of it (often half), so if you had $100k of tesla stock and the premium was 50%, you'd earn (100,000 * 50% * (1/2) / 365) = $68.50 for each day that someone borrowed your shares. the rate fluctuated daily, but this still netted me several thousand dollars of truly passive income, since i was planning to hold the stock either way. this is also a huge income stream for institutional shareholders that are sitting on millions of shares.

Thank you for teaching me something new about the stock market -- I had no idea this was a thing!

Ditto. Never heard of this or if I did, it totally didn't register

What would be a good starting place to learn more about doing this? Also, is it possible to do with a small amount of shares in individual companies if the bulk of my investments are in indexes?

If you were set on doing it, you could compare this list of heavily shorted companies (http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3062-nasdaqshort-hig...) with the rates paid by your broker. if you're using Interactive Brokers, this is listed under "SLB (Stock Loan/Borrow) Rates".

If you own index ETFs then you can loan out those shares. QQQ is on that list and it's a NASDAQ index ETF. If you primarily own indexes though then you don't really own shares in the individual companies comprising that index, so I don't think you have something to loan technically. Like you might sort of own a lot of Apple through an S&P index, but you can't really deliver shares of Apple to a short seller.

Two columns to note in the link above:

* if you look at the "% Float" column in the link above, you can see that TSLA is at 32.0%, meaning that 32% of all TSLA stock is held by people that are shorting it. this calculation is a little more nuanced than this because shorts are only borrowing it and the stock kind of has two owners, but it paints the general picture: 1/3 of Tesla stock holders are there because they hope Tesla stock decreases in value. I think they're dead wrong but that's how markets are made.

* the "days to cover" column means that if all the short sellers tried to close their position (ie, buy stock in the company), how many days would it take that to happen at an average day's volume? this can be an indicator of companies ripe for a short squeeze, where a company announces unexpected good news and shorts rapidly try to close their position but not enough people want to sell and so the stock price skyrockets. This famously happened to Volkswagen: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-greatest-short-sq...

be aware of a few things in general:

* these rates are completely out of your hands. GOGO of Gogo inflight Wifi is listed at 43% float and 21 days to cover, but its borrow rates are around 8%. I don't know why.

* in many cases, there is a short argument worth listening to and there's a reason many people are shorting a stock. GoPro/GPRO is currently paying 86% for people to lend out their shares to short sellers. You could buy GoPro and lend out your shares but then you run the risk of owning GoPro and it's a big question mark how big that risk is. I face that same risk in owning Tesla, but I think the short argument is garbage and I really believe in the company and that's enough for me.

* the tesla situation was kind of a perfect storm because it has a lot of fervent believers on both sides. companies that people are really passionate about might be hard to come by.

also, as a side anecdote about short squeezes: people were really expecting one these past few months with Tesla regarding its SolarCity merger. The thought was that since there was a potential merger coming up, shareholders were going to need to vote on it one way or the other. That meant that Tesla's institutional shareholders were going to have to recall their loaned shares from short sellers because if the stock were loaned out at the vote record date then the institution technically didn't own it and wouldn't be able to vote on the merger. Since Tesla has such a large percentage of institutional ownership this would trigger a short squeeze.

For whatever reason this never materialized but I don't know why. There's a possibility it may have been against SEC rules or that institutions gradually recalled their shares so as not to disturb things too much.

its basically risk-free since the brokerage bears the counter-party risk.

Well, unless the brokerage itself goes under, no?

Yes, but I would think that's always a risk.

That's part of what you are getting paid for. You are getting paid for providing TSLA liquidity and risk of default on loans.

That's true. The only point I would add is that my loan is with the brokerage and they put up cash collateral. I'm not having to deal with individual short sellers and whatever risk profile they might have.

If the brokerage puts up cash as collateral where is the risk?

i don't really know of any aside from the brokerage itself going under.

i would imagine brokerages want to make this as low risk as possible as it encourages more transactions, so they can charge more fees. and they also get their cut of the premium.

How do you set this up in IB? I have a decent amount of long positions that this seems really useful on (especially since they will be selling float regardless)

What are the best brokers that do this? I always assumed brokers just did this behind the scenes with your shares and kept the money?

The only ones I know of off the top of my head are Fidelity and Interactive Brokers. Maybe Schwab as well? I think in general Fidelity and IB have similar rates.

I co-wrote a book on user acquisition and co-created an accompanying video course to climb out of debt left over from a failed startup.

Made $104,000 in revenue since June (turns out the user acquisition stuff actually works), about 87k of which is profit, so we'll say ~$11,000/month part-time. It still makes me a solid $2,000/month now with zero work, and hopefully more once the book is officially published. (It's done and delivered to backers, but won't be on bookshelves and Amazon until after it's typeset.)


I know the marketing will be over-the-top for HN. Just know it sells because the content is really, really good.

Vincent Dignan, one of the worst twitter spammer I've ever blocked (more than once since he likes/liked to ignore complaints, open a new account and do it again...to the same people!).

If spamming all of twitter in alphabetical order is an example of the growth hacks....

I see the account he used to do most of the spamming has been suspended by Twitter now https://twitter.com/vdignan

Ya, we had a sit down about that and I made him stop. It does work, but I don't care

Would you not spam Twitter if you were in debt and could make 11k/mo? I agree it's lame but gotta pay the bills :)

There are alternatives to wasting thousands of people's time, such as getting a salaried job doing something that's a net positive for society.

I know that I wouldn't. It's called moral compass and knowing how it would make the internet a shittier place the more people it would do.

You can deal crack too, it pays the bills.

> I agree it's lame but gotta pay the bills :) reply.

Yep. And like Floyd Mayweather said, "Skills pay the Bills." Like it or not, Mr Vincent Dugnan is very skilled at making 11,000 / month spamming on twitter and social networks. So that's that.

>I co-wrote a book on user acquisition and co-created an accompanying video course to climb out of debt left over from a failed startup.

I hope the startup didn't fail because it couldn't attract users?

No, it failed because even with 500k users/month it couldn't make money

Grasswire? I used to go there sometimes (found it through your blog posts), and being in a similar space I'd agree that the news/article traffic is extremely tough to monetize. We've since slightly pivoted and are confident we're on the right track now. I'm also glad you found your thing!

Can you answer me a quick question? I notice you use the Twitter widget/embed on Grasswire. How do you like it?

I've always felt it was kind of redundant to show the same content that's already on the site. The reason why I'm asking is because while doing my "due diligence" about blogging/bloggers (our target market after the pivot), I've noticed that a solid 10-15% of all blogs use it (or a similar widget from Pinterest or FB). I can see how they CAN be useful, but the fact that they are mostly "consumption only" and mostly curated by one person, means that there is a lot of room to improve them, which is exactly what we're trying to do with our community platform. I'd love to partner up/work together and join forces in some way. Let me know!

Yes, Grasswire.

Honestly Grasswire is now entirely open sourced/crowdsourced and I haven't touched it in the past ~year or so, so I haven't really been involved in that decision making process and don't have a strong opinion.

I don't really run Grasswire, it's kind of an open collective community, so you can convince people to participate but we can't really "partner" with anyone easily.

Making money selling a book isn't proof that the content of the book contains good advice for making money.

Not directly, but the main method of driving revenue was giving away the first few chapters. We know almost exactly how many sales we'll drive based on how many people read those chapters.

I would really like to buy a digital copy of this book now, is that possible?

Yes, the starter pack on the link I provided gets you a digital copy of the book.

Writing a book is not exactly passive.

I'm going to assume from your reply that you've just not heard the term before but passive income refers to income from something where you do the work up front and it continues to pay down the road.

A book is a perfect example of that.

I'm trying to work out what would count as passive enough to satisfy the grandparent commenter, if writing a book doesn't qualify. Maybe inheritance? Even robbing a bank requires some upfront effort, so it's hardly passive.

A new book is not a perfect example of that, it's a shitload of work - very likely more work per dollar earned than a day job. Passive income is related to using capital rather than effort to generate money. If the IP of the book was passed down to his kids and they continued to make money off it, or enough money was made from it to surpass a regular working wage for the hours spent, maybe then it becomes "passive". Right now it's just a lot of underpaid effort on credit.

You are correct that it is not passive income in traditional sense, but in HN, "the passive income" has come to mean something that generates automatic revenue after the initial work without requiring significant maintenance/upkeep work.

The prime example of passive income used here is patio11's Bingo Card Creator.

One also could say that in traditional investing, the upfront work is the research work to find right index funds or buying property in real estate investing. They might be less work than writing a book, but revenues e.g. from passive index fund investing are also significantly less than from writing a book, if your starting capital is small.

> One also could say that in traditional investing, the upfront work is the research work to find right index funds or buying property in real estate investing

This is the key point. In absolutes there is no such thing as passive income. Anything will take at least 1s of effort, and $0.001 of capital. The spirit of the term, is income that is heavily skewed towards being generated from assets rather than effort.

A new book is the edge case. While making money off IP is generally the perfect example of passive income. Quitting a job to become an author, is not. There is an implied lack of effort and cost in the question. Additionally, and importantly, there needs to be a sense of "free" in there.

The prototypical case:

- [bust your ass at work] >> [get evened out with paycheck] >> ["free!" passive income from savings]

New book case:

- [bust your ass writing] >> [nothing, world still owes you] >> ["free?" passive income from book IP]

Until the "nothing" gets filled in with the equivalent of a salaried wage, I'm not a fan of calling it "passive income".

> Until the "nothing" gets filled in with the equivalent of a salaried wage, I'm not a fan of calling it "passive income".

Would you also consider creating a static "how to" site that generates revenue from ads to not be passive income? I think that's the most basic example of what HN considers passive.

I think it depends where you are in the cycle. If you just finished putting in 50hrs of work, and have so far made $100, I wouldn't consider that true passive income. Fast-forward a year, and your income from the site has surpassed $2500 (the equivalent of your salaried wage for those hours), with minimal additional effort - now you are making passive income.

We're just defining words here anyway. I think a core component of what people think of when they think "passive income" is making a disproportional amount of income relative to effort put in. Until those proportions get dis'ed, you're just working at a sub-optimal job.

2k/mo with zero work is indeed passive.

Yes, and not only is it not passive, but you actually have to say something interesting, which means you have to have some business knowledge in some field. And even then, it actually makes money only if it works. Which is rare, probably more rare than a successful startup depending on the specific domain you are writing about.

Yeah thats exactly what you should do to promote something like this.

Tell anyone how much you made with your own tipps without proof/proof of your specific case and use it to sell it

What part of "$103,892 USD total funds raised" on the provided link was difficult to parse?

And why assume the other is lying? This Ask HN is specifically about passive income, and calls for people to share their profits. It's not about them posting their IRS returns or other proof. If you're gonna doubt them, might as well skip the whole post.

It is the same crap Tim Ferriss is doing. People like the idea, think they can use it as well only to never understand that they are a part of a pyramid scheme which is ultra flat and has only him or someone like Tim Ferriss on top.

If it's ultra flat then it's not a pyramid scheme. It's only a pyramid scheme if it trickles down to ever diminishing returns.

At worse, what you describe is a snake oil sale.

But people can genuinely learn things from this or from Tim Ferris work too, so it's more like any self-help book/product sale basically. As long as it contains useful stuff that the buyer didn't know before on their own, it's legit for me.

Of course if the content is good, it still relies on the determination of those applying it. And some luck besides.

Well, looks like it got $103k in crowd funding, so it's not totally unsubstantiated.

I wrote Hello Web App and Hello Web App: Intermediate Concepts (http://hellowebapp.com, they're learn-to-build-a-web-app books using Django) and self-published both in 2015.

Just checked and this year I've made about $13,000 in profit. It's mostly passive — this year I started using a fulfillment company so the majority of my work is sending them orders (and answering questions about the book.)

Hoping to continue the trend next year by launching a book on teaching design for engineers (http://hellowebdesignbook.com).

I'd be curious to hear a rough estimate on how much work went into those books, and the site? I'm assuming "13k in profit" means sans expenses for proof reading, hosting etc - but not counting the actual work writing everything?

I also find it satisfying to see that it's apparently quite possible to make (some) money on such projects - keep up the good work! :-)

So the year they were wrote (first book came out May 2015, second book in Dec 2015), I made $15k profit. Mainly because I did two Kickstarters for the books + the launch campaigns. Of course, 2015 (and a bit of 2014) was when I was spending time writing/designing/editing/publishing the books, so "profit" would be lower if you include my time.

This year, other than answering questions on my book's discussion forum as well as running a couple workshops for PyCon and DjangoCon, has been largely writing-free so it would truly be 13k in profit. :)

Congratulations! How did you promote the books? What would you say was your most effective promotion channel?

Through the Django and Python community, primarily -- they've been super supportive. The second book was aimed at folks who've completed the DjangoGirl's tutorial.

Very nice work there. Could you share the name of the fulfilment company (or a similar), Google gives me here some rather traditional results. Outsourcing support would be of great help.

I'm using PrintNinja (http://printninja.com) - they also do the printing for me, and they've been phenomenal. Great quality, reasonable prices, absolutely stellar customer service. The fulfillment is relatively new, and they're still working out the kinks, but I really like working with them so it's nice having only one company for both aspects.

This is a great product. Glad to see it doing well.

Thanks for the compliment!

210,000 Euro, divided between me and a friend.

We started a small online shop about 10 years ago, and it's mostly automated. About 5 minutes/day + one week / year of work.

Before that, I had spent a few years (trying to) run rather big software projects (for me – I was 18 or 19). They had cost me so many sleepless nights that I swore to never again take on customers paying me more than 100 Euro each. Now, if anybody complains, or gets on my nerves, they get their money back and are never heard from again.

My friends joke I'm the living example for an unconditional basic income. They haven't decided on the outcome yet, though.

Could you share more details? Was it hard to get it right? Did you need luck to get it to that level? Is it a niche?

I assume you don't sell physical products, then? Is it something you created by yourself?

WHat you sell?


I put my CSS Layout knowledge into an online course at:


Interestingly it has been very popular with teams (so selling a set of licenses so a whole team of developers can use the material). I also teach the same material in person (either in-house or in open workshops) so I'm keeping the two in sync. I made some notes about that process on my blog: https://rachelandrew.co.uk/archives/2016/06/03/creating-an-e...

I intend to do a bit more marketing of both the in-person and online training in the new year.

As an independent (not working for a browser vendor) invited expert to the CSS Working Group, training and offering this course is really how I can fund doing that.

Would you be willing to sell the code powering the website itself?

It's built using my other product Perch Runway, using our Shop add-on :) took me about half a day to put together as Shop deals with membership stuff by default.

https://grabaperch.com https://shop.perchcms.com

Awesome, thank you, will look into it!

I am currently putting together an online course and I am still undecided on the easiest method of delivery.

TLD List - https://tld-list.com

It's a price comparison website for top-level domains. Gross on average is $600/month through affiliate sales and data download subscriptions. Requires maybe 10-20 hours of work per month for maintenance and new features.

The most difficult part is tracking registrar affiliate earnings, and then actually getting paid by the registrar. Many require you to manually request a payout once you've reached the minimum payout threshold, others simply ignore your payout requests.

I don't know if I'd call 20 hours passive income.

I love you. This is what I needed in my life.

Being a developer in a large corporation.

Gotta appreciate sarcasm in this answer, take a [+]

Note it's not necessarily sarcasm. Personally, I've been working as a developer for years (15+), and I 'quit' a couple of years ago.

What do I mean by 'quit'? I've been working in large corporation bouncing from team to team. I only write code if I absolutely have to. So in practice I end up actually "working" a few days a month. I don't do shit at work. I just deliver something every so often, and with my experience, I can do as much as a typical dev in 1/10 the time. And I can do the hard stuff some developers just can't. An example of this was writing a parser for third party lua config files. The team fought a half assed implement for months, I came in and re-did it in a week.

Agile has been a god send for me. I just complete a couple of tickets a week, enough to have something to report in the stand up. So far as management is concerned I'm golden.

But what do you do instead? Hours must seem long without work!

The mind can playback any movie idea you can think of, even some you probably can't.

Long hours of doing nothing can lead to thinking "I'm wasting my potential here"

My side project http://www.ghostnoteapp.com is still growing.

It's a tricky product because the way the app work is not for everyone, at the same time when people use it they normally share it with their friends. So I get good organic traffic. The biggest issue is to explain whats unique about this productivity tool, but seeing the video normally do the job.

It's not able to pay for me not working yet as I live in NY so there are obvious reasons for that being hard.

But it does provide me with a healthy chunk of money. And through feedback from customers I have found a new product in the same area and that will be a SaaS product.

My brother and I have built a couple of test prep sites for UK medical school entrance exams: https://www.bmat.ninja, https://www.ukcat.ninja . BMAT Ninja made about $25k this year (up from $16k last year) and UKCAT about $10k.

Didn't do any work on marketing really so it is pretty much passive, but I think with a bit of work they could both do a lot better. It's a very seasonal market - we only get customers for about 3 months per year (the 3 months leading up to the exams), so thinking of branching out into other exams that occur during other times of the year so the income is a bit more steady.

How did you get the question bank? Did you pay students for questions? If so, how did the costs balance the profits?

We paid freelancers from around the world (via www.upwork.com) to write the questions based on some guidelines we made (it's not really hard to write questions of this level so anyone can do it with a bit of guidance) and then paid medical students to write the solutions. Probably spent about $7k on this stuff back when it started, so it did require a bit of upfront cost.

Looks good! What did you use to build this?

Thanks :) Nothing special really - Laravel on the backend, Bootstrap on the frontend. And React for the interactive question bank interface (probably not necessary but I wanted to learn it...)

great site! if you didnt do any marketing, how did your customers find you?

My passive income is quite standard. Three apartments in a new block. I bought all of them four years ago when the construction was still unfinished. This got me a good price. I knew that the area would be under continuous development, therefore it won't be hard to find renters. I was right. Best part is that I didn't even have to furnish them. I managed to rent them all unfurnished.

In what country are you located? Furniture is more of a short term rental requirement, unless you've included essential appliances with your categorization.

Germany (Frankfurt). I didn't provide the appliances, except for fridge and electric oven+stove (because I managed to get a discount on buying three sets of these appliances through a friend). Sorry, also the kitchens were furnished by me. The rentals were made long term.

That is true in the US, even in NYC. However, furnished apartments are the norm in London, for long rentals.

> My passive income is quite standard. Three apartments in a new block. I bought all of them four years ago when the construction was still unfinished.

Trust fund baby?

You make it sound easy. How much cash did you have to front for the down payment total? I know that for Investment properties, Lenders require a minimum of 25% - 35% cash down (so they can hedge their risks against you dumping a badly performing investment property.)

The barriers to entry in Real Estate investing (as rental properties) is almost always the HUGE down payment.

I do have portfolio of small web apps: tools for learning music notes, non-latin alphabets, language flash cards and so forth.

They are making some nice money each year, but the trend is quite clear: given same traffic I am making about 50% less each year. Ad revenue is way down (more adblock users, less money per click, CTR is down), but paid premium plans are balancing it a bit.

These projects are still my biggest passive income stream, but they are going to die in few years. Other than that I am owning agriculture land (that I am renting), rental property and portfolio of p2p loans.

Those traditional assets are much more expensive to acquire, but then the yield is much predictable and stable. Still, the tech projects are my best source of income considering the amount of money/time required to create it.

How are the p2p loans doing?

They are doing good. My strategy is to invest very conservatively and for relatively short time. I am making about 7% pa.

That's pretty impressive. I was under the impression that its near break-even.

Which site are you using if I may ask? And what is your idea of short time in this context?

I am from Czech Republic and I am using quite a new platform called Zonky.

What I see is that quality of loans go down as a platform scale and I am lucky to be with this platform from the start. So my cohort is made up of mostly early adopters. I am year in my portfolio with 0 defaulted loans and 1 late payment (I feel like this loan will default during the lifetime).

My strategy is to invest to nonconsumer debt (no car loans, no holiday or Christmas presents loans or loan refinancing). I am investing in loans with disclosed profession (investing in IT professionals, govt workers, school teachers...) and with disclosed loan history (aiming to people with 0 debt). I want the loans to be paid in 3 or 4 years. I do break my rules for about 5% of portfolio that goes to riskier loans, this is where I get majority of my yield, otherwise my yield would be like 4 or 5% instead of 7 - 8%.

I guess this strategy is not applicable in US or UK, where is normal to have some debt (there is/was very different debt culture in most EU), and even here is still harder to discover these good loans, so I basically stopped investing in there.

Next year I want to start experimenting with b2b loans for unpaid invoices (business sell their new invoices with terms like NET30 or NET90 to boost their cashflow).


that's because of "programming is fun, it's easy, let's do more programming, let's teach everyone how to do programming, yyyaaahhhh"

ZoneWatcher - Side project of mine to monitor your/your clients' DNS services and alert when a change to a zone has been made. It serves as a revision history & alerting system which has been helpful when a client fucks with their DNS and expects you to put Humpty Dumpty back together quickly.

I launched it a few months ago and have a few smaller subscribers with a handful of larger subscribers.


I really like the theme you used! What's it called?

My passive income has mostly dried up this year. Years ago I built an automated webshop deployment system for a bloke who makes hundreds of small websites a year, and dozens of webshops a year. The deal was that I'd build it for free, but I'd get a fee per shop he deployed. This worked out pretty well for a couple of years, but now he's swimming in money and is retiring, and my passive income source has dried up.

Of course, because of my laziness, I took the passiveness too far and it's now all but impossible to reuse it for another potential client.

It was fun while it lasted.

You could take over for the guy if you want to turn it into active income. Since he's retiring and made some good money off the cooperation with you he probably wouldn't mind setting you up with some clients and sharing some of his methods. Can't hurt to ask (if you want to go that route)

http://dollarfuckyou.com/ I've made about 300$ :/

FYI, the linked "dollardialup dot com" at the bottom is expired.

Really interesting idea! Have you encountered any legal issues?

no, I spoke with a lawyer friend who seemed to think I have all my bases covered.

I recently created a website similar to this recently at a hackathon. I considered setting up a payment system but decided not to as I didn't think people would actually pay for something like this... curious to know - over what period of time did you make the $300?

It looks like your SFW link is broken

ah - you're right - i haven't looked at this thing in a while. G-rated version never made any money, I think I'll let it go out to pasture.

Made me laugh loud ! The idea is awesome !

Awesome idea, please make it available in the EU.

I love this. Make an App and hook into IAP

Thinking of the non-app-future, my plan is to use it as a learning case for a PWA https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps/

> G-rated Version: $DU

The link there is dead.

Here in Brazil we have it easy. The most boring funds (the ones which track the interbank rate - CDI) easily return around 12% per year (depending on the administration fee; the smaller the administration fee, the higher the return). With the inflation around 6% per year, this gives around 6% returns before tax. If you stay with the fund for at least two years (and it's of the correct kind), the tax rate is 15% over the gains, so you have an after-tax return of around 5% per year above inflation. And that's for a fund which basically never gives negative returns.

You can go further and buy government bonds directly, through the Tesouro Direto system. Those indexed by the SELIC rate (which is sort of related to the CDI) are currently around 13.5% per year, before administration fees and taxes (in fact, the boring funds I mentioned above mostly invest in these SELIC-indexed government bonds).

This will change when (and if) rates get lower, but so far, investing in these funds or bonds is the simplest (and one of the best) way to have passive income.

You probably know this, but it's always important to keep in mind what causes such high interest rates.

A high interest rate is a signal that lenders are wary of lending money to the borrower because of an increased risk of default/inflation. That's fine as long as you are aware of this, but don't think you're getting a "better deal" than someone investing in a boring 1% German government bond. That 12.5% you're getting in addition represents the increased risk that the Brazilian government might default on their debts or the currency might inflate enough to negate the advantage.

I live in Brazil, so if the government defaults, every other investment I could have made here would also crash, and the local economy with them. It's not called the "risk-free" interest rate for nothing: it's the lowest risk investment one can get within Brazil. Corporate bonds, for instance, will have a higher return, due to their higher risk.

As for inflation, when it increases the SELIC/CDI rates tend to rise with it too. And if you're afraid of that (it hasn't been long since we had a hyperinflation, so a lot of people still are), another government bond (NTN-B) has a return of inflation (measured by the IPCA index) plus a pre-fixed component (currently around 6%). Due to its pre-fixed component, it has some interest rate risk (if the interest rate rises, its present value drops, and vice-versa), but that's not a problem if you intend to keep it to term.

And, actually, the high interest rate is set by the government, as a way to control the inflation, so it's not as linked to the risk of default as one might think. The government could decide to lower the interest rate (and it has: a few years ago, it was set lower, but that led to the currently higher inflation, so the government increased it again to contain the inflation).

> I live in Brazil, so if the government defaults, every other investment I could have made here would also crash, and the local economy with them.

Wouldn't that be a good reason to invest some money abroad?

> And, actually, the high interest rate is set by the government, as a way to control the inflation

But surely that's the interest rate that their central bank charges to the banks (which influences the interest rates banks pay/charge for savings/loans with them), not the interest rate that they are paying on their own government bonds? I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure those are two very different things.

> Wouldn't that be a good reason to invest some money abroad?

Yes, and I intend to do that someday. It's not trivial to do, however, while investing in the boring funds I mentioned is extremely easy for anyone with a bank account, and investing in government bonds is as easy as investing in stock. In particular, for both the funds and government bonds the tax is paid automatically, while if you invest abroad, you have to do the calculations yourself, and from what I've read they are not as simple. Not to mention the extra cost and risk of opening an account outside your country; for instance, the Brazilian customer protection laws won't apply to an account outside the country, for obvious reasons. All in all, it's a lot more research to do, with the extra risk of investing outside your home jurisdiction, for a much smaller return, and the only benefit being reducing your exposition to your own government - one I'll be always exposed to, since I live here (it could easily impose taxes on capital held abroad, for instance).

> But surely that's the interest rate that their central bank charges to the banks (which influences the interest rates banks pay/charge for savings/loans with them), not the interest rate that they are paying on their own government bonds? I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure those are two very different things.

It's complicated, but basically the government sets the SELIC rate target, and buys/sells government bonds so the SELIC rate moves towards that target. The SELIC rate itself is the interest rate banks pay each other for a one-day loan with government bonds as the guarantee. Finally, one of the government bonds (the LFT) pays the principal ajusted by the SELIC rate at its term. There is also the pre-fixed government bonds (the LTN), which pays a fixed value but is bought for less, the inflation-indexed NTN-B, which I already mentioned, and a few others.

As for why increasing the interest rate helps control the inflation, that's one thing I still don't quite understand. I just know that the government does increase the interest rate when the inflation gets above the target.

They are separate things, but one type of bond is indexed by the interest rate (another is indexed by inflation and a third type is completely preindexed on a fix rate).

That's not true for domestic currency bonds. There's no chance of default as a sovereign can always print more of it's own currency. Sovereign yields are driven by inflation expectations and what investors need to earn on excess of that.

This is all true - and if you look at the UK gilt price/yield over the last six months it demonstrates this aptly - yields started to increase in June as everyone tried to sell their gilts. As you say, the yield only happens if the government pays the nominal at the expiry - and if yields are high it's because the market lacks confidence, and people are selling for less than nominal.

long live the carry trade

Man alive. Here in the UK a five year treasury bond yields precisely nothing - potentially less than nothing. I have a mountain of cash and nothing to invest it in here. Even property doesn't present a meaningful yield any more.

It also doesn't look like it's going to get better, just worse - so as far as I can discern the best course of action is just to spend it before it becomes completely valueless. To stay ahead of inflation here I'd have to have a 10% yield at least - official CPI figures grievously underreport it, as the baskets of goods they use don't account for the shrink ray.

If you don't trust UK markets and gilts, it's easy to buy the same ETFs the Americans are buying (though you may pay a little more due to currency conversion). Vanguard also has non-UK ETFs denominated in GBP eg: https://www.google.com/finance?q=MUTF_GB%3AVANG_FTSE_DEV_5J6...

A quick google search shows UK inflation for the year at .9%. Why are you saying you need a 10% yield.

A common refrain in the UK is that inflation figures are an elite conspiracy with the reality being much higher than reported.

There's an awful lot wrong with CPI/RPI measures, but needless to say this is tinfoil-hattery.

Actually, I ran an ecommerce platform and had a £3bn p.a. mixed basket of goods being sold on the platform. Since 2012 goods have increased in price by about 6% p.a.

To say there is nothing to see without looking at any data is ass-hattery.

So 1.5%/year, which is a lot closer to 1% than 10%.

6% p.a. - per annum. Before then it was more like 2-3% p.a.

It's subtle, but present - a big driving factor has been unavailability of credit, which forces smaller batches for fabrication, which drives up price. This has commensurately resulted in a whole host of businesses in turkey and china who specialise in short-order just-in-time manufacturing.

But either way, prices have increased far more than is immediately apparent, particularly food, garments and low value giftware. The pinch is a lot harder at the bottom than the top of the market, too.

I obsessed over this data for years, as it was the key to understanding where to position (I.e. Who's making margin?), which retailers would be risky clients, etc.

ah! I missed the p.a. = per annum. Thanks.

Read the second half of the sentence you are responding to.

Invest in an ACWI (all countries world index) fund. Kinda boring, but the return is ok.

What do you call a meaningful yield? Ecommerce in Russia is growing. JV?

Ahead of inflation, and preferably enough that I could be bothered. Earning £100 on £1,000,000 over 20 years doesn't interest me.

12% sounds great but that's about how much the BRL has decreased against the dollar over the last five years. Just holding USD cash would have gotten you about the same returns.


In my experience, holding actual physical USD cash is a bad investment; older bills are worth less (exchanges will give you something like 10%-30% less for older bills, if they are accepted at all), so the longer you hold it, the less it's worth. On the other hand, there are funds which track the USD; see for instance http://www.bb.com.br/docs/pub/siteEsp/dtvm/dwn/inf04128893.p... . That fund had a return of 150% in the last 5 years; however, it had a return of -12.58% this year. The CDI had a return of only 64% in the last 5 years, but that's a consistent return, with no negative months. This year the CDI had a return of 12%, so if you had in January invested in a fund which tracks the CDI, you'd be way ahead of someone who invested in a fund which tracks the USD.

In other words: yes, investing in USD has a higher return, but that return also comes with a higher risk. I don't buy food with USD, I buy food with BRL, so the BRL is the one that matters here.

You buy food in BRL yes, but when the BRL has a massive swing up or down food prices can swing the opposite way to compensate. If BRL drops 30% and food prices rise 30% you're going to be in a bad situation — dollars are likely to be far more stable

The packaging for every food has the manufacturing location printed on it, and almost every one I've seen is produced somewhere in Brazil, often in a nearby state. So, it's the opposite: the price for the food I buy has a greater chance of tracking the BRL than the USD. Fuel is also produced locally (by Petrobras).

And when the food prices do increase, consider that the food price is a big component of the inflation index, so both IPCA and later SELIC would rise to compensate.

The pain point is electronics. Almost all of it is imported, or has imported components. That one does tend to track the USD.

Older bills are worth face value in the US, why does anyone take a 30% discount on them?

They are worth face value in the US, but not outside of it. See for instance this question: https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/25959/converting-...

Instead of simply not accepting the bills, some places take a discount to offset the risk that they're fake. The older the bill, the greater the chance that it's a counterfeit.

Interesting, thanks for explaining. I thought it might be due to the risk of counterfeit, but I thought there must be some way of verifying still. Sounds like if there is, it's out of reach of many of the money changers.

In early 2016 I purchased commercial real estate, got a 25 year fixed rate mortgage, and leased it. This requires very little of my time every month, and the post-tax yield is above 5%. I couldn't be happier.

I'm now considering doing this again in 2017. Hopefully interest rates will remain as low as they have been in order to lock-in an attractive mortgage.

You don't say where you are based, but you are going to get a shock if you think interest rates are going to stay on the floor. If you can get a genuine 25-year fixed rate, great, but you need to tread carefully here.

Brexit, Trump, EU sentiment, China trying to deal with their own problems, they're all pointing to the same way: devalued currencies. Where they start, rising interest start to follow.

I'd also be wary of assuming commercial real estate was a lock-in. I've heard horror stories.

I'm glad it's working for you right now, I'm just saying: make sure you tread carefully and have done your research before you start gearing up.

The all-in fixed rate is 2.10%, and let me repeat: fixed. Not LIBOR + spread + you need to have you savings account with us + you need to buy my home insurance, etc.

I don't understand why you say "tread carefully"... when it's the bank bearing all the IRS cost. Plot any LIBOR curve, and you'll see that the bank is the one to lose here. Banks are fighting for customers, and cheap loans and mortgages is the game they are playing. I could go into more detail, but given that I have a 12 month DSRA account in place, I'm quite happy with the investment.

I don't believe we'll see high rates in our lifetimes. The broad trends in developed countries are all deflationary.

Don't you lose if you can't find Tennant's for your property? Or do you plan to just go bankrupt if that happens?

  > but given that I have a 12 month DSRA account in place, I'm quite happy with the investment.

What happens if you can't find tenants for 12+ months? I've seen many commercial properties sit barely occupied for years.

Worst case scenario, pay the mortgage with my salary.

So that seems a pretty risky investment to me. Only a few percent profit for the risk of eating a giant monthly bill.

"Risky" investment for commercial real estate in a tier I area in a European capital? I find any residential property more risky and volatile, at least from a price elasticity point of view.

I guess we have different views on how we perceive risk. But that is ok.

I am not saying commercial is more risky than residential. I am saying for the low gain, I would not take that kind of risk (i.e. more than near 0)

This isn't necessarily true. The US dollar is actually increasing in value as people want their money to be safe. If Trump does bring back American jobs, meaning less jobs in Asia, the dollar buy will continue, depressing Asia and strengthening the US for now.

But you're right, the OP definitely needs to tread lightly with property and the contracts. The devil is always in the details.

The unemployment rate in the US is 4.9% which is basically full employment.

Now sure there are a number of people who don't report and those who wish to work more. But I don't think it's going to be easy to get those people back into work. Most are either in industries that are disappearing due to automation. Or they lack the skills/training to re-educate themselves.

And without tariffs (which will impact exports) there is little chance of US being all that competitive in most industries that compete with Asia (I assume you actually mean China).

Unemployment is only 4.9% because the participation rate dropped 3% points in the last 10 years: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

That's close to 10 million people who have stopped looking for jobs who we would otherwise expect to have them.

But the participation rate can float for a few different reasons


(clickbaity headline, but the contents seem sound)

Baby Boomers should be leaving the labor market though.

It's not just old people: "in 2000, if you happened to be a 20-year-old man with less than a Bachelor's Degree--and when I say 20-year old, I mean in their 20s--21 to 30. About 8% reported not working at all during the prior year. That number, today: About 18%."


4.9% isn't even close to being the real unemployment rate.

Nor does it reflect the stagnant/decreasing income of the jobs that people DO have.

Not to mention hordes of underemployed college grads.

You want to look into participation rate. Compare participation and unemployment rate over time and it's clear '4.9%' is pure fallacy.

Roughly 100 million people in the US are out of work or no longer looking for work. That's approx a third of the population. "4.9% is basically full employment" is a terribly naive statement. The trend clearly shows things getting worse, not better.


> In early 2016 I purchased commercial real estate, got a 25 year fixed rate mortgage, and leased it.

What was your downpayment? Asking because I tried to do the same thing earlier this year. Thought I was clever, did the math on how much I can rent out an apt on AirBnB, and what the mortgage would be on 30 year fixed, and my calcs said I need to put only 5% down to break-even. Then I contact lender and turns out, for Investment properties, they require minimum of 25% to 35% cash as downpayment. They said this was to hedge their risks against a borrower who would bail easily if an investment property goes south.

Any way around this? i.e. around not having to put 25% down on investment RE?

No. Because the lender knows your AirBnB investments could easily be regulated out of existence. I suggest you live super frugally and save up cash for your real estate purchases. (We did this and so have many of our friend.)

Thanks tomcam (cool username btw :)

As the property owner, aren't you responsible for maintenance etc?

In the commercial world, NNN (triple net) leases are popular. The tenants take care of property taxes, insurance, and maintenance, so it is a good passive investment since you don't have to worry about operating expenses.

Contractually, day-to-day maintenance, no. Any extraordinary maintenance (a water pipeline bursts, electrical problems, etc), yes; but that would be covered and taken care of by the insurance company.


because... I haven't worked hard and saved money?

or, like you are implying, I shouldn't have saved any money, and spent it all... fancy cars, exotic vacations, and parties. I guess I gave up one lifestyle to reach another one. We all have different priorities.

I don't believe land is taxed highly enough so the system encourages monopolising land to appropriate value added by labour that should be going to workers.

I think right now we have a situation were money makes money and selling your labour doesn't, in the average case not in the "I'm a senior engineer at google" case.

I just don't see how this ends well. Workers struggling to get wage rises at all and yet 5% per anum return for those with capital. We've just had Trump and yet here everyone is basically saying "I can get further ahead by playing the system".

It's not looking good.

Relax, you are mixing apples and oranges.

Many companies, large multinationals to small startups don't want to OWN property. It's capital intensive for them, they want to rent. Does Starbucks own its coffee shops? No. Can't you see how renting property is a service to many?

Stop being apocalyptic simply because someone owns property. Take a chill pill.

I think this is a huge problem. I think that is illustrated by the fact that you feel you can make well ahead of wage rises without any risk. The financialisation of land is driving a wedge between those with capital and those without.

We've just had Trump because some people are feeling very left behind. I'm not saying you caused Trump, but I think the system that incorporates rent seeking through land is a big part of it.

Land prices are all consuming, they are taking wages from workers and then rent from net wages of workers. The system as it stands is very efficient at adjusting credit to soak up any gains into banking and land speculators.

You should offer chill pills as part of the property deal. :) like your style

Optimage – a visually lossless image optimization tool


Released this week. Came unnoticed on HN but somehow got featured on PH. 1200+ downloads of free version and a few sales.

Not sure if that'll change. In that case, the best of 2016 will be one of the plugins for Sketch https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12319286.

How is it different from ImageOptim?


Also are you going to support and fix the frequent bugs that png optimizers run into with esoteric color space/alpha combinations beyond the best effort...?

Sorry for copypasting, I get this question a lot.

Optimage can do automatic lossy (visually lossless) optimizations on JPEGs and PNGs. It means you don't have to manually tune JPEG quality for each image and can get some PNGs quantized to 256 colors if visual differences are negligible.

It uses a modified quality metric based on Contrast Sensitivity Function (CSF) and contrast masking of DCT coefficients for JPEGs, and a custom one for color-quantized PNGs (major difference is sensitivity to noticeable gradients).

Optimage has a lot of tweaks to compression algorithms to squeeze some more bytes (Pareto principle here). But much more bytes are saved by exhaustively trying all possible image data representations, e.g. fast brute forcing of PNG delta filters, dirty alpha, palette sorting.

There's a good PNG test corpus at http://css-ig.net/images/png-test-corpus/png-test-corpus-201.... Optimage – 276 058 bytes, ImageOptim – 297 561 bytes. But this is just a lossless test.

> Also are you going to support and fix the frequent bugs that png optimizers run into with esoteric color space/alpha combinations beyond the best effort...?

At some stage, yes. Right now I'm focused on things like losslessly rotating JPEGs according to Orientation meta in Exif, adding CMYK to RGB convertion when Convert to sRGB is ON, supporting container formats like ICO and ICNS, more tweaks to compressors for performance and smaller output, GUI improvements, etc.

Just a small suggestion, clicking to see the difference on the demo images wasn't clear at first. Maybe you should use one of those sliders that they use for before/after images. I think that would be better UX.

I think that kind of drives the point home. Maybe it's my display or my vision, but I still can't tell a difference between the "Before" and "After" pictures. That's very impressive to me, looking at the compression ratios.

The only way I could make it fairer is to add a magnifying area zooming to 100% but that would be too much work. Hoping that links to images is enough.

I discarded the idea of using a sliding divider because it cannot switch images fast enough to notice tiny compression artifacts, if any.

But thanks for your feedback. I have a couple of ideas how to make it more clear.

Any thoughts about delivering this as a webservice? Lots of catalog images out there are managed by merchants and need hands-off processing. Happy to chat further about this.

CLI is cross platform. I'm certainly planning a server license with an option to spin it on AWS.

I have some performance updates planned making it 2-3 times faster. Probably worth waiting.

Email is in the HN profile.

Saw that on PH, looks good.

May I ask what percentage of sales did you get?

I'm going to launch my product soon, and I'd like to know what I can expect.

Thanks. Literally a few. Contact me if you need specifics.

What is PH?

what's PH?


To be fair porn sites do need all the video/image optimization they can get due to the sheer amount of data they hold

Yes, Pornhub uses a mix of JPEGmini and our own image optimization.

@brettz, not sure if you work for PornHub or not, but if you do and this question isn't weird for here: do you know if PornHub would be interested in a video superresolution service tuned specifically for pornographic content? i.e. upscale SD to HD or HD to UHD, but with state-of-the-art algorithms that go far beyond "dumb" upscaling. My friend and I are tinkering with the idea of starting a small service to do that, filling specifically the adult video niche so we can focus the algorithm for improved performance (versus a more general superresolution technology).

Sorry if this isn't in your wheelhouse or it's inappropriate to ask in a HN comment.

Sounds interesting can you email me more info

Ahem… are you fully satisfied with your current solution?

Correct. P0rnHub also uses Redis for blazing performance.

Source: http://blog.devtool.com.ar/2012/04/how-does-pornhub-use-redi...

Product Hunt

A self published book on "Redux". Still in progress but already sold for 3,160$ in revenue between me and a friend.

Hope to have it really pickup once done and turn profitable


why did you choose this leanpub platform?

I like the fact it can publish unfinished book. but I'm worried that it is not as big as amazon?

Its a great place to build and edit the book. The pre-release is a good market validation bonus.

Once its done we will publish on Amazon as well (no exclusivity at leanpub)

Are you worried about piracy?

Because leanpub allows paid user to download pdf and epub files. those can be easily shared.

whereas, on amazon, you probably could only distribute the work via kindle and printed (I'm not sure), without providing any shareable files?

re: piracy: I just released my latest Leanpub book (Haskell Tutorial and Cookbook) 2 weeks ago, and I put a Creative Commons 'share with attribution, no modifications, no commercial reuse' license, and I explicitly tell people that it is legal to share the PDF, ePub, and Mobi files with their friends, and they have my best wishes if they do so.

I have written a number of books and the payout in increased networking with people who are into the same tech as I am, increased consulting business, etc. is awesome. I also make decent passive income from writing, but that is a secondary objective.

It's very easy to pirate Kindle files.

You can't escape piracy if you offer epub.. just hope enough people appreciate enough to buy.

Nice to hear :)

Adding an optional buy button to my Chrome Extension has made me $0.59 so far, so technically that's my best.

My friend has made about $650 off of his AMD investment so far though and is thinking of moving all of it into Micron.

Stop with the bragging. You're killing us here!


Would you consider your trades luck that won't last? Also I am curious what's your background that made you so successful in trading? I personally had 10x gains on crypto market but it was a 1 year investment, (no speculations) done with some research but I'd say I mostly just got lucky.

I'd say paying a very expensive tuition to learn trading and patience. But on the holding department (buy and hold), you are delusional if you don't think that luck doesn't play the major part of it.

What are your WordPress Plugins?

I used to do index funds. Then I went looking for an active portfolio manager. After a few years I found one, he was good, but 6mo in he switched jobs and left for another career.

The next guy wasn't good and eventually didn't want to actively manage the account. I kept looking until this year when I found fractalgo, which is used by large institutional investors to trade through science without emotion and second-guessing.

Downside is you needed to be a qualified investor.

I called up the owner curious about how the fractal tech worked and found out he was setting up a service for everyone, not just the big guys.

After some research I moved my IRAs left over from previous 401Ks to a custodian that can do directed investments + broker and let the automated system go.

Couldn't be happier. No humans required once set up, and it keeps growing like a weed while I sleep.

Do your own research for what works for you and seek it out. You will find it, eventually.


Since doing so well, they just opened a fund using the same technology.


They seem to be taking just an email. Are they actually on boarding customers today? What is the minimum investment?

What type of returns are you seeing? How has it performed in down periods? What's your beta?

The owner sent me his returns from 2007 and it's a steady upward slope, even through down times.

I just started last month, and I'm up overall, although the Trump event took some back. The system takes these draw downs into account.

If I told you I made $11K last month it's mostly meaningless since the size of the account and markets you choose are important.

So I don't have enough data for you, but the data that was shared with me was better than anything else I've tried. And I've done day trading too. This is much simpler and passive once set up.

Feel free to reach out if you want, see profile info.

> it's a steady upward slope, even through down times.

Exactly what Madoff's returns looked like. I googled the guy behind Fractalgo, Rich Clifford. Looks like he's been through some shady dealings.

How did the Trump event take some earnings back? Since the election, markets have been going very steadily up.

The markets weren't predictable and ran counter to the previous patterns which were already invested long or short.

2 (count 'em) dollars a month. For letting two people who don't want to run an instance of my OSS program themselves tap into my personal instance.

One. Two. I counted them.

I followed your lead and also counted them...But just in my head.

I made http://fivestar.io/ a year or two ago; it's a better Amazon search.

It shines when you search for something that you want the best version of, without caring about the details; i.e., let the masses determine the quality for you. It weights results based on ratings, review volume, and some other stuff, segmenting the results by price range.

Helps me answer the question "I want the best phone mount for my bike, but I don't want to spend more than $20" without fiddling with Amazon's search parameters and then scanning the page.

Makes ~$100/month off of affiliate links.

Isn't it against Amazon's terms to use the affiliate API to make a search engine?

Note parent's username

Interesting. Have you thought about an option for non-US amazon, e.g. .uk / .de?

I have, but the API differs in availability/completeness across regions and writing the code to handle each region probably isn't worth the time. The Product Advertising API is also _terrible_ and not fun to work with, so I'm minimizing the amount of time I spend working with it and reading their docs.

What volume of traffic / searches do you get?

1000 uniques/month on average, not including when I post the site on hacker news. The clickthrough/conversion rate is pretty solid. 35% of users buy something after clicking through to Amazon, which makes sense cause it's a pretty strong signal of intent.

I'm making between $3'000 and $10'000 Dollars with native apps/games and html5 games. I made much much more a few years ago but app store revenue is decreasing each month and all my latest apps made me nearly nothing. (My portfolio: http://intermediaware.com).

I used to make native apps/games and some web games, and I was wanting to start making small games again, but I keep hearing how revenue has dropped precipitously for them and it makes me worried.

As someone who's experiencing the drop in revenue firsthand, what are you thinking of doing to address that? Shift platforms to PC/Steam? Change the designs of future games to reflect current trends, etc.?

I was considering I might just make games using a simple cross-platform tool like Love2D, keep the designs of the games small but addictive, single player only, no levels but can be played endlessly to failure (i.e. Tetris or 2048), either make them free with a simple consumable or a dollar, and distribute them on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

I don't expect to make a ton of money for most of them but I hope I'll get lucky with one of them and it becomes a hit. I have about 3 past web games to port and update that could work.

Does this seem feasible? What would you do differently?

I think you should have a good concept/idea how to reach your audience without to rely on the app stores.

When I started that wasn't required. You just released your game and users are coming in for free. So I decided to do lots of small apps - but in the long run it would have been wiser to do apps that engage the users for a long time and constantly update with new content to keep those users engaged.

For myself I'm currently moving to bigger projects and also release for consoles and PC/Steam. But it's very risky for a small developer - because if you develop serveral months or years and the game flops you're basically out of business.

That's unfortunate. I'm totally a small game designer. I come up with concepts that excite me all the time but "adding new content" i.e. seasonal hats and new weapons and crap doesn't excite me at all (and I did it professionally for a year at one game company, I can do it for work but I'd hate to do it in my spare time).

Adding features or levels is different, and I could do some of that, but I think I just want to make a games that are addictive to play and give you the "oh, I can get a little farther this time!" feel, like again like 2048.

Oh well, if they're not successful then that's just too bad.

Do you advertise or do any marketing, or are you dependent only on app store searches and word of mouth?

I've done press releases here and there but never put money in advertising or stuff like that.

This is something ive been meaning to get into. Any tutorials, sites, or books to recommend?

Watch Handmade Hero from Casey Muratori.

I would like to get into games, any pointers(books, article, ides, and so on).

Watch Handmade Hero from Casey Muratori.

https://www.castingcall.club Social network for amateur voice actors. I wrote about it here: https://medium.com/@buf/accidentally-built-a-successful-soci... Brings in about $2k/mo.

p2p lending is hit or miss for me: 3-10%

Index funds pull in the rest.

I've also moved temporarily to a very cheap COL country so that I can focus on some more side projects to pull in extra sources of income before I return to the work force.

Question: how do index funds (or any kind of stock, really... in fact this question isn't really about index funds) "pull in the rest"? Do you actually manage to sell them when they're high and buy when they're low again? Or do you get stocks with dividends and just make money using the dividends? Obviously merely possessing stock of high value is kind of moot if it doesn't turn into cash somehow, so I'm curious how people usually do this. (I don't know much/anything about finance.)

To answer your other question (hn has a child-reply limit I think), it makes money on the dividends, which are reinvested back into the portfolio.

Ah, gotcha. Thanks!

Sorry for the confusion. It's just a set it and forget it robo investment for now. I go in and adjust every quarter.

Ah, so no actual income then? Just stocks going up in value? As in, at some point you'd have to sell before you actually have any income from it, right?

But even if a company doesn't pay dividends, it will often make a profit that ends up on the company's books. A part of this profit, proportional to your ownership, belongs to you who own the stock.

In an index fund, the stocks contained in the index will on average pay out a certain dividend and turn a certain profit that isn't squandered on worthless projects.

This last part is what makes stocks increase in market value long-term, and which also makes it reasonable to sell a small proportion of your shares every year as a passive income.

If the dividends and your sales constitute less than 3-4% of your funds' total market value each year, you can expect your portfolio not to decrease in value long-term.

> But even if a company doesn't pay dividends, it will often make a profit that ends up on the company's books. A part of this profit, proportional to your ownership, belongs to you who own the stock.

You're totally missing my point. I'm saying, even if your stock is "worth" $1 trillion, if you don't actually ever sell it, you haven't earned a single penny from it. It's only money when it's actually money. So my question was whether the OP was ever selling the stock or not.

This part of your statement is incorrect: "It's only money when it's actually money."

Stocks in major corporations are generally considered a liquid asset - i.e., they can be easily converted to cash. [1]

Don't confuse liquidity and risk exposure. The money is still subject to the risk of the market when it's still being held in stocks, but it's approximately as good as money.

[1] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liquidasset.asp

Index funds tend to have some dividends, because while not all stocks yield dividends the dividends from the ones that do still get distributed to the holders of the fund.

Ahh, makes sense, I should've guessed. Thanks!!

If you sell you pay taxes on the gains, so you are probably better off borrowing against your investments if you need cash, since borrowing isn't a realization event for tax purposes.

Investments that pay dividends aren't as good for individuals since the dividends are taxes at ordinary rates.

> you are probably better off borrowing against your investments if you need cash

I don't understand what that means. Whom would you be borrowing from? Where would the cash be coming from?

Also, wouldn't this mean you have to pay interest on the ENTIRE amount of the loan, as opposed to tax on just the gains? So if you have $1000 that means at 2% interest (I assume that's yearly) you're paying $20/year, whereas if your stock went up 5% (= $50), that means you'd be paying (say) 25% of that, which is $12.50. So it should be only better if either have a high tax rate or your stocks /really/ increased in value (not just kept pace with inflation).

That requires 110k$ and you can't just take money with that rate, it's margin. So you should have more than 110k$ to take some of that money and replace them with margin.

What happens if your stock goes to zero in the meantime while you've borrowed against it?

Broker will sell your stocks to prevent it's losses.

You would borrow from the bank, using your stock holdings as collateral. Not as easy as he makes it sound, but not unheard of if you have even a meager amount. Say, at least 50k.


Can you tell me more about moving to a cheaper COl country, pros and cons, and which countries look most appealing to you?

I chose Sofia, Bulgaria. I pay about $500/mo for all my expenses. It's true that I could find that in the US as well, but I'd be hard-pressed to find something that isn't deeply rural.

In Sofia, I'm in the capital. There's lifestyle necessities like grocery stores, fast internet, etc. Plus I won't need a car because of the excellent metro. If I want to catch an American movie or a show, there are malls/theatres. It really has just about everything I need.

It also helps that my wife is Bulgarian.

Money in the bank, made me well over $100 over the whole year.

adjusts monocle

slow clap

Helpmanual.io is my first attempt at passive income. Launched 6 weeks ago and traffic is building nicely. There's still a fair bit to do but the delight of sites like this is you can make improvements when you want. Shame that ad income is less than it used to be but we'll see how it gets on.


One idea where you can distinguish you're in addition to being just better: add commentary/disqus and have some sort of system that aggregated and ranks comments (like stack overflow answers) on each man page. I find that man pages always have all the info I need, except it's often buried or there are surprises, but others' knowledge/experience can really save you from common pitfalls not in the man pages. Just having s crowd-sourced highlighter function of sorts would give you a unique offering among the competing options. You could also augment the see also section. And for marketing, you could have a blog and write about the top BSD tools based on activity, searches, etc, or up-and-comers. You could feature community commentary (like how to best use a tool) and build in some kind of point/reward system.

I have more ideas but I'll stop there. Good luck with your project!

That's nifty and cute. How do you go about promoting and building traffic for this kind of site?

> How do you go about promoting and building traffic for this kind of site?

Well, parent posted it here and got you interested!

Well yes, a bit of that. :-)

I'm kind of relying on Google to list it organically as man pages are something people search for a lot.

It seems to be a searchable man page index. What does it offer that google+terminal don't offer?

Man pages in the terminal are pretty annoying as you can't (easily) search them.

By "Google" I presume you mean online indexes of man pages E.g. This site.

The other man pages sites are ugly, old and incomplete, despite that done of them rank pretty high on Alexa. I built this site to end up smarter, more modern, easier to use and more complete. Still a work in progress atm.

On Firefox, code examples are sometimes 1-2 pixels longer than their viewport, so you can get a fairly pointless scrollbar. See, e.g., https://helpmanual.io/man3/printf/

One suggestion: how about guessing at hyperlinks. For example, there are a few underlined instances of `size_t' in the printf man page. If you ask for the size_t man page, you get the man page for stdint. Suppose I had a device on my desk that could automate this sort of drudgery for me...

(I did something like this for my patched version of Bwana: https://bitbucket.org/tom_seddon/bwana, original: https://www.bruji.com/bwana/ - works well, at least for the OS X man pages. My code only looks for man pages with the exact name, though, since it runs on demand. If you're doing a preprocess to generate all the pages ahead of time then you could perhaps afford to be more thorough.)

> Man pages in the terminal are pretty annoying as you can't (easily) search them.

The content? Type / then your search term.

> What does it offer that google+terminal don't offer?

Hyperlinks and the "referenced by" section are pretty neat.

TheSimplePostcard.com, makes me ~$220/month. Text it a photo and it sends a postcard. It took me a few long weekends to build using Django and Twilio.

Sweet project, like it a lot :) perhaps do the same for Europe?

I need to find a postcard printer in Europe.

Vistaprint? They're a massive German operation - mind you every town has at least one print shop but VP already has a custom printing system, their parent company have a print fulfillment API (https://open.cimpress.io/).

[Just an occasional private customer]

You can try https://www.kite.ly

Cool. How do you process payments via text? I assume you send them a link to a page to complete transaction?

Exactly. I looked in to charging via their phone bill but couldn't find an API.

very creative, I like it

Domain sales, over US$ 2M/yr that could have been mid 7 figures easily but still holding onto those other gems. With all the new extensions valuable .com domains is where it is. Brokers managing sales. Also not sure if falls into passive or not, sold a business few years ago and did the financing, still getting paid monthly for few more years.

I have a decent 5 letter one, zvive.com (zuhvive like survive w/ a z) I'm still trying to figure out a startup to launch on it, but i think it could be a good brandable one.. I wanted to do an online survival store, etc... Do you think I could get some money for it on the market?

Twenty first century rentiers!

Still my 5 year old watermarking tool making around 3-5k$ a month.

My only new product this year was a 6 weeks video course [1] in productivity, it makes around $5000 every time I fill a class.

1. http://timeblock.com TimeBlock course

What's that watermarking tool of yours?

I work remotely and moved into an RV to travel around North America with my wife. Started blogging about travel and working on the road at http://therecklesschoice.com and using Amazon affiliate links whenever appropriate that pull in about $50/month.

This seems not passive. If you blog 5 hours a month and make $50, you made $10 an hour.

It is if you like to blog anyways.

Yeah we were doing it anyway to keep our family in the loop about where we were and how it worked. Honestly it's probably way less that $10/hour, but we do it for the travel log anyway.

So if you like to program, programming is passive income?

I don't think that's how it works.

True, but no income is truly passive. I think you also have to consider the savings of not having to own a house (or being able to rent out an existing one) so it's as good as any other 'passive' strategy posted here.

I think stock market is passive income. Literally 5 minutes to set up an account, and it can provide income for life without touching it. I consider that 5 minutes small enough to not count, but not sure what the hard limit is ;)

If you make an iPhone game.. spend 1000 hours.. then it makes you a few $100 per year for a few years, I don't think thats passive income. It is just income that is very delayed from when the work was done for it.

After being encouraged by folks on HN

I published my tutorial on writing webapps with Go without a framework,


There isn't much income because I want the book to be free, I'm writing another tutorial migrating the same app taught in the book to use VueJS library.

Why not publish (at a typical ebook price) on Amazon also? Be a fun experiment to have both paid and free versions--not too many opportunities to collect that kind of data. Or maybe make the vue version available only on Amazon while leaving the older version as is.

It is an interesting proposition, but I do not know why, I feel to give out my book for free, the reason for this might be from the fact that I learned programming on my own reading free books, the great books came with a hefty price tag, hence I don't feel it morally right to publish my book/tutorial at a hefty $$.

Said tutorial/book since people have told me that if it isn't present in actual stores it can't be called a book :)

Also, my first book/tutorial is available via leanpub.com, so users can pay if they want, so far hardly 10 have paid, but gitbooks.com where the online version is hosted does get around 200 page views daily + 800 downloads monthly. Leanpub currently has 550+ readers.

I deeply admire your motives. Am not trying to remove that pleasure from your life, but I will say that very often people who pay tend to appreciate and value one's work product more than if it's free. Thanks for the thoughtful answer.

Thank you!

Yes, I do understand that folly regarding money. Money tends to bend reality, there are many psychological experiments done with money,

for instance: spending physical money induces more pain than spending money using a card, that's why it is recommended to carry cash around the next time we do shopping (read this in a book Thinking Fast and Slow and observed in real life)

I know you aren't trying to remove that pleasure from my life! But the thing is, after open sourcing my tutorial, it has been read thousands of times, and there have been 4-5 readers who went out of their way and communicated to me how much they loved the book and in the words of one reader on HN, "it is one of the best tutorials I have read" regarding webapps in Go.

It is a humbling experience for me to hear this from someone else (who isn't my best friend :D)

It is a great irony that while documentation is free, books are not.

Plus, I am not an author, writing tutorials/books isn't my primary source of income, although I was thinking of keeping the Vue book/tutorial open source on github, it already is, http://github.com/thewhitetulip/intro-to-vuejs/ and charging money for the PDF, most probably I won't be doing that, let's see.

Thanks for your input!

LOVE the Vue.js book. Thanks for pointing me to it. It's a timely contribution for my work. For a non-writer, you're a damn good writer. Thanks for all your contributions.

Thank you for your compliment :-) If you like it, please help me in spreading word about it!

By the way, I had started writing a novel 2yrs ago, but I am not finding time to complete it!

I didn't understand what you meant by "It'ts a timely contribution for my work".

The book is far from complete though, and the 5'th chapter was written in two hours :-D. I have observed that (when I take a vacation of a week to program), I am more effective when I have 2hr programming sessions.

I'll contact you when the book is done :-)

The best was a physical project - www.spypatch.com. A sticker for the camera on your laptop. I dont do any advertisement, but it sells through Amazon and the website. ~2k/y.


Friendly correction: peace of mind, not piece of mind =)

Many years ago when I was still a PHP + Wordpress developer, I discovered that getting updates to private plugins and themes was a huge pain.

Fast-forward a few years and I finally built out https://kernl.us as a learning project (Mongo, Node.js, Angular). It's mostly passive income now, pulling in ~$450 per month.

Some years ago, I did some referral promotion for a webhosting company with nice results, around 70k.

Later, company rules changed and I stopped actively promoting it, but second level referrals still are generating 5-10k year with doing absolutely nothing of work.

I've been running https://UltimatePaleoGuide.com for a number of years now. This last year we launched https://PaleoMealPlans.com and it's been a great product / service so far in addition to the rest of our offerings.

Made a med school entrance exam prep platform with my brother last year (www.bmat.ninja) - $12k profit last year, $27k this year.

Once the website was setup, maintenance workload was pretty minimal (the occasional BugSnag report), so I guess that counts as passive.

I wrote an ebook that helps Junior Developers get jobs - it's primarily targeted at bootcamp grads: https://kokev.in/hired-fast

In the past 8-10 months, it made about $5k+ through sales as well as partnerships with a couple online bootcamps. Not too shabby as I spent almost no time marketing it. Plus it was fun to write since I'm passionate about the topic and I've received some awesome feedback (of the "you actually changed my life"-sort). That was more than worth the hundreds of hours I spent writing it, the small bit of money aside.

I have a website with ads on it. Or actually a few, but one that mostly pays for my life right now.

I'd be really interested in learning from you about what you did with this site and the less successful ones.

What i did? Well when i have a idea that i think somebody else could like too i throw it into a website, then throw it out there and see what people think. Sometimes i get valuable feedback and can improve, sometimes it is good as it is.

The only "secret" other than user generated content (what makes it actually passive) for me is to never stop trying. I have like 50 in use domains right now, many which i did not extend because they did not pay for themself after a year.

Thanks for the reply. It's something I'm researching but without much background knowledge or experience, it's hard to know where to start.

How do you source your user generated content? Is the big earner a forum or the like? I'd kind of envisioned some kind of static sites with ads.

Have you taken a noticeable hit like others in this thread from diminishing ad revenue and rates?

My site is only 1.5 years old. Revenue was stable that time. I think the biggest break was before that. But my site is also not "made for adsense" which was what google mostly penalized.

Its more like a forum, but not one. Users can post their own content and others can vote and comment that. Plus it has a huge searchable database.

The problem with static sites (i have those too) is that google loves site updates as often as possible. A site that is good ranked today can be killed by a more dynamic one next day.

I have one website with ads on it, been running it for like 6 years, generates a whopping $200 yr...

My main site makes between $1000 and $1500/month.

Most of my other sites are more on $50 - $200/year too :/

How much does your life cost a year?

Well since i quit my job in switzerland and moved around the globe to work on my own stuff (I dont only do stupid content sites) about $1000/month + Some plane tickets here and there.

Which countries/cities have been the best to you for quality of life vs cost of living?

I am relatively new to this myself, but so far Thailand was wonderful for this. Next will be ether nepal (shitty internet tho) or Vietnam.

Vietnam internet can be quite quick. It's also cheap there.

What kind of site is it?

Gaming related. Its just content actually, but also user generated content (what is what makes it passive)

It seems like the vast majority of employment contracts prohibit side projects like this, or at the very least, require explicit company approval. I'm interested in hearing strategies on how to best pursue side projects without violating one's employment contract.

One way is to be a California employee, where the labor law explicitly protects your side projects as long as you aren't using your employer's resources and isn't related to your day job. If you decide to take something Big Time and make a startup around one of your ideas, California also conveniently ignores non-compete agreements. These two things are why Silicon Valley exists in California and nowhere else.

In Germany tax laws might help you a little bit with this.

If you build something with the main interest of making money out of it, the state (and most probably your employer) will treat it as a business and want you to run a business for that or will likely forbid to do it. But if you build something because you need it for yourself and are running it more like a hobby but make profits from it, there´s something called "Liebhaberei". This special status mainly has tax implications (you can´t get refunds on losses from your Liebhaberei because it´s not qualified as a business, tax-wise...) but I´ve had friends which got their side projects "approved" by their employers because they did not look like real businesses and were run on this Liebhaberei status.

So if you like miniature railways and build a niche site around it, which will give you beer money (or a bit more), the tax people most probably won´t have any problems with that. You should avoid doing things that look like you are running a business (having a shop, selling stuff), but most of them probably won´t even notice affiliate links or understand what that does.

This can also help you with your employer. "Boss, I have this site about my miniature railways and now it´s making 50 bucks a month, is that a problem?"

Or you go the right way. Be honest and say that you´d like to do something for fun but there could be money involved and you just wanted to make sure that´s okay for everybody. I found employers to be unexpectedly tolerant when you´re honest.

I'm in a state that is notorious for enforcing non-competes (in fact our enlightened legislature tried to make them even stiffer), but even my contract says my non-compete is only enforceable where a clear conflict of interest exists.

I build a small CMS / CRM + app as a freelancer, for a client. This was 6 years ago. I build it for almost nothing, because it's a really simple thing that took a week or two.

I agreed to automated billing with him and he pays per user. I also build API's so he can hire other developers to do stuff with the data and add features.

I myself haven't touched the code for years, but the growth of the database means an extra monthly $1250-ish comes in. Which is nice.

My friend and I made an online course for User Experience Design, and sold it on Udemy. So far we have about $40,000 in enrollment revenue, which yields about $20,000 in profit that we split. We are looking into doing more courses, but aren't sure yet what to teach. If anyone wants to collaborate on a project, we have a full studio and all of the equipment.

Here is a link to the course: https://www.udemy.com/user-experience-design-the-accelerated...

In addition to that project, I also launched an online store for design patent artwork. To do this, I downloaded images of patents from the US Patent Office Database, paid a virtual assistant $1/hour to clean them and standardize the proportions, then using a Photoshop Action applied in Batch, I generated all of the images. After getting all of the images, I built an online store and integrated with printing and fulfillment service using Woocommerce and a Restful API - so when orders are placed, it triggers the artwork to be printed, and shipped, automatically. I now make about $300/month from that project and spend about 10 minutes/week managing it.

Here is a link to that website: www.PatentArtStore.com

Anyone have any suggestions for my next project?

Very creative I love it. Your store might need to be a bit polished though. For example, on mobile: - Shop now button too small. Should be bigger and more visible ("call to action") - One item per line on shop page, otherwise really hard to see the pic

Wish u good luck for ur project!

I wrote a guide on how to get around my local ISP's requirement to use their crappy modem/router combo and recommended a verified-working router with an Amazon affiliate link. Since Jan 1. I've pulled in $160. Very nice since I host at nearlyfreespeech.net and the site has cost less than $1 in hosting this year, and $10 for the domain.

Started a hosting company: its very small and only offers shared hosting right now, but it is almost making money. I never wanted to get into hosting, but so many of my clients were using Godaddy etc I just had to get them away from that chaos.

Note: I'm also looking for a partner in this if anyone has any experience let me know.

How did you start did you buy the servers or are you just using one of the cloud providers and "whitelabel" them?

Try webhostingtalk.com to find partners or advice.

I did an Android app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flatangle....) earning me some 80€ since August. Hope next year will be better!

I make $1,400/mo from Google AdSense. I made a Wordpress website for people who want to find information about other people. I don't do anything on the site anymore besides perform Wordpress updates. It's basically changed my whole life and I am very fortunate/lucky. Throwaway account.

Congratulations - that is great to hear.

Is the traffic mainly from google?

85% Google

what kind of traffic and CPMs you getting? i assume most of the traffic from organic search?

About 10k visits/mo

What's the website?

Been trying to do this for years, never really succeeded.

In 2016 i've relaunched https://www.interssl.com/en/ but when i'm being honest there are just too many support incidents. So i just can't call it passive income anymore - even if that was the initial idea.

The margin of sales without support basically just covers the cost for the orders that require heavy support. Remaining income is basically blown for advertising and maintaining the site.

My conclusions:

a) think twice about potential time killers - even if the core business model per se is passive, it might turn out to be time intensive ...

b) i'd rather not go into reselling something anymore but rather sell my own product, gives me more financial headroom.

my 2 cents.

letsencrypt is free, wosign is free; maybe there's something else which is free; they don't require a lof of effort to install them. who are your customers then who pay for what they can get for free?

I built catelus.com a couple weeks ago and I've done $130 in revenue.

It's a domain name idea generator. You feed it a keyword and it translates it into 30+ languages and shows you .com's that are not being used. Trying now to get more eyeballs across it. Fun though!

Your domain lookup doesn't seem to work, unless I'm misunderstanding something. Searching "smart" brings up elegant.com which is certainly taken.

Edit: are you doing a lookup of the raw version instead of the cleaned one?

I'm doing the look up on the raw version yeah. I'm working in weeding out false positives now.

Squated domains that aren't pointing to anthe thing are right now registering as available.

Moving to an actual Whois lookup has to get better results. Thanks for taking a look! And I appreciate the feedback


Only have made like $20 off Adsense, but I've got a lot more work to try and get this tool into passive mode:

* working on selecting a date range

* style up the site a bit more

* maybe have users so you can save searches etc

I get very valuable data that the travel industry would probably consider great leads, but I'm just figuring out what to do with it all.

Edit - and fill out these graphs: http://www.averageweather.io/monthly/boston/ma/12/

Nice. Some wants:

* If I type Manhattan, NY, automatically show me a map w/ overlay of weather in Manhattan and surrounding areas. Maybe default to today, but also forward cursor to calendar.

* Or maybe automatically show bar chart of Manhattan for 1 week starting today. If they select a day automatically show +-3 days.

* or allow a date range to be selected or even just Month of December

* you need exposure, I've never heard of this before

edit: Oh ok, you've already done some of these, good.

1 more: move the C/F selector to upper right and make it a sticky value per visitor

Thank you. Any tips on exposure?

Myself no, let's hope someone with more expertise answers.

At a guess I'd say it would be difficult to buy ads to get exposure to then sell ad clicks. Cheapest way would be very high SEO placement, but you don't have much content for indexers to anchor on. Maybe add features like expand out travel/local things-to-do space? Good domain name though.

Join relevant forums (travel, weather) and be active and genuinely helpful and leave website in signature.

Mention it on city-data.com or Reddit local subreddits. Test this strategy by doing only the biggest population centers.

Is there more data that I'm not seeing? I just see high & low. This information is available on literally every travel guide.

Also, "Bangkok Thailand" asks me to pick a town/city.

What is the question the user actually wants to know? Should I pack a raincoat? Should I pack a dress coat for nights? Do I need an umbrella, or just a coat with a hood, etc...

Can I see the date range chart with sunny/cloudy/rainy?

Could I compare multiple areas in one chart?

Unrelated. How could I search for the least hot areas of Florida? Or find really windy areas of Florida?

how many visits do you get daily/monthly to get 20$?

25$/month in Adsense. Not much, but it's passive and it grows. Everything started as a fun small project. http://random.country/

I'm really curious to know how you promote and get traffic to a site like that. I've seen a couple and I've been working on my own, but I've never known how they get discovered.

I didn't promote too much, I just put link in signature on two forums I occasionally visit and forget about it for a few months. Later, people somehow find it. Over the time there were few twitter posts about it, few share on 4chan and similar pages. Then your rank on Google gets better, and so on.

Parsing of the capital name doesn't handle Switzerland properly

Ok, will check, thanks!


I made about $10 from app sales of my Android Wear watchfaces https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.odbol.foun... and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.odbol.oxwo...

$10... For the whole year. App sales aren't the golden goose everyone things they are.

I released the new version of my Acid Machine synth + drum machine web-app just under a month ago. It has made about £200 in the last month.

The web-based version is like a demo, it's free to use but saving and importing is disabled. I'm selling a downloadable desktop app version which has the restrictions removed.

I'm thinking of making it completely free and maybe selling ad-space on there instead.


an android app that pulls in about €500 a month. i coded it years ago and literally have not thought about it this year until now. it used to bring in about €700-€800 a month but i finally got some competition after a few years. i've noticed the app game is tightening up

and what is the app about? Any link to share?

I wrote a blog post about three years ago about doing single-sign-on stuff between salesforce and google by writing a google appengine app that acted as a SAML IDp. At the time, salesforce didn't speak OAUTH and google didn't natively speak SAML, so you had to do it on your own. I put it on an old blog I had laying around and turned on google adsense.

To date, I've made $6.31 from that blog post alone. Someday, I'll get over $100, so adsense will pay out.

I wonder how much you could have made by SaaS-ing it.

I added an animated GIF exporter to my lossless screen recorder Claquette (macOS, https://www.peakstep.com/claquette). The project got some traction when Apple featured me in the Mac App Store this August. It also entered the Product Hunt front page and finished in the top 3 on launch day. Revenue is nothing spectacular, but it's a nice additional income.

I just recently launched a statuspage aggregator at https://statusbeacon.io which has been pretty cool to work on.

I've also got an online multiplayer boggle game that has made me low 3 digits per month since about 2008, http://serpentinegame.com, mostly ad revenue but also paid memberships.

Looked at statusbeacon.io. Is there a place to see all the providers you monitor without having to sign up?

I just put up a list here: https://statusbeacon.io/service-list

Hey, currently no I don't have that list in a public place. So far I have 43 services integrated, and most of those are fairly big ones like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, etc. I was thinking about making the list available on the landing page though, so maybe I'll do that. Anything in particular you're looking for?

Launched this small tool 5 weeks ago: http://sqlify.io Made a few dollars with AdSense.

Just so you know, your site doesn't work too well on mobile (an ad makes the page too wide and displaces text).

I've written a book on using Cubase with a general grounding in music, recording and music technology [1]. Income has been very patchy, and never what I'd hoped for at any point. Best month has been around £450, but that's only happened a couple of times (I don't know why, either, unfortunately), usually it's more like £40. Made about £2000 in total, so definitely not something to retire on. Unsure as to whether it's the market for the book, the quality of the book (I hope not and don't think so given the positive feedback I have had from those who have bought it), or a total lack of marketing that's at fault. Not entirely passive as I've had to update it for each revision of the software that has come along, which takes around a week's full time work.


Unsure as to whether it's the market for the book, the quality of the book (I hope not and don't think so given the positive feedback I have had from those who have bought it), or a !total lack of marketing! that's at fault.

i dont think your unsure you know :)

Bought Oclus Rift, played with it a lot, then created a site where you can take them for rent. Got #1 position in Google for "rent oculus". Outcome: about 4k this year. Now stopped it.

Built an saas document management & review site for a very large company 3 years ago. I have a monthly maintenance contract with them and receive about $3,500 per month. After expenses (insurance & hosting) and my partners split I net $1,300 per month. Over the last 2 years, I have invested an average of about 2 hours a month, most months I do no work at all.

I design & build adapters for old server power supplies that make it super easy to reuse them as general purpose 12 volt power supplies.

Web and email hosting. Designed sites in 2015, hosted on Google Cloud and continued to take in monthly web and email hosting income in 2016.

Tasktopus, is a lightweight, task manager for the desktop (Mac OS X, Windows and Linux). Tasks are managed on a Kanban-style board with Backlog, Doing, Done and Archived columns.

Built with Qt. 14-day trial on Gumroad[0]. Also available on Mac App Store[1].

MAS version has made me 40$/month. Gumroad version is better (lets you try it and lets you use same license key on all 3 platforms). However, I have sold only one license on Gumroad! I guess the MAS has better discoverability.

[0] https://gumroad.com/l/ADWm/tasktopus [1] https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/tasktopus/id1039688985


I sold a domain I had intended to develop this year to a FB founder for $12,000 and another for $7,500. After researching I found there are few places to buy really good startup domains so I made brandfountain to passively fund my startup(s)!

maybe you could partner with that AI generated logos guy (was posted within the last couple weeks, can't remember the name, sorry)

edit: i'm remembering it as logojoy

In 2012 I created devices mockups and was selling it since on graphicriver. https://graphicriver.net/item/devices-responsive-web-mockups... . It was sold more than 3400 times already, and made about $800/month in the first few months. Now the income is somewhere around $25/mo but it's been 4 years since. The funny thing is, that I have never seen these devices close-up in real life before creating these mockups :)

I made some silly fan designs on CafePress many years ago. Haven't really touched it since then, but it still generates $50 per year. Provisions have been going down. though.

That being said, it's mostly 2 designs out of ~35 that sells anything at all.

I'm sure there's some potential in there, but it's kind of hit and miss.

I wrote my first e-book [1] about how to save money to work less and live your dreams. I'm really happy for a first attempt, and it has inspired me to write more.

[1] http://amzn.to/2hcfuB7 - Work Less to Live Your Dreams

Wow, that's awesome. How are you promoting/marketing it? How do people find out about it? And how are you getting reviews?

Have been thinking about this for awhile and haven't settled on the right topic yet!

Thanks! Marketing has mostly been on my website[1] and social[2]. I'm getting reviews from people interested in what I'm doing, sites that cover Overland Travel, 4x4, etc. (I'm driving around Africa for the next 2 years)

[1] theroadchoseme.com

[2] @theroadchoseme on FB/Instagram/YouTube

This is my portfolio :


None of them have made a lot of money, but one is still generating a small amount. Guess which. Hint: Income is not proportional with the shinyness of the technology stack

Flags and capital quiz, 10k downloads. Little competition. I would say gogtasks for user need, but there's a lot of competition in that space.

GogTasks? It seems to solve a real problem.

I'd go with GetOut Ølbarometer - I think you're underestimating the European desire for cheap beer!

I have a rental property, it's not much, barely breaking even on mortgage payments, but the hope is I will have the principal as an asset when the mortgage is paid off and any payments coming in will be pure bonus.

So does Bitcoin not count as passive income?

I have launched https://drilldb.com couple of months ago, got few paying users and growing each month.

$50k from investment earnings (index funds, mostly 401k - I'm in my 40s).

$20k from a website I built a couple years ago (searchable product catalog with Amazon affiliate links).

Was that dividends or just unrealized gains in the fund price?

Maintaining a few websites, ranging from a gift ideas website based on (and earning from) Amazon, to some content sites, latest being www.americaundertrump.com

Passive investing in commission-free index exchange traded funds (ETFs) along with a lazy portfolio explorer (http://portfolios.lunean.com/) to analyze ETF portfolios (e.g. backtesting, portfolio comparisons, and ETF correlations).

You have a mess in fund names. I.e. "VTI 60% Total Bond Market ETF" etc.

I want to be able to invest in solar projects. These projects often have internal rates of return of 10%+.

However, this involves 20 or 30 year contracts to buy power from you after you have made the initial investment to purchase /rent land and install the panels.

Wish there were a way to securitize those deals & allow us to trade them like bonds.

Solar City used to (and night still) offer solar bonds that were exactly this. The future of these is a bit uncertain after their Tesla merger though. It sounds like they might be changing strategies

Look at solar yield cos, the well structured ones just own the revenue stream

trouble with the solar yield cos is they have these "sponsors" But those guys are just PV manufacturers who are looking to boost their margins by installing PV and then charging their yieldco top dollar for those projects. It's an obvious conflict of interest.

I've got some PEGI, which is mostly wind power that has less of this conflict of interest.

However, I'd much prefer to simply invest directly in a solar project via a notes (lending club) sort of mechanism. Allow me to sell the notes on an aftermarket if I suddenly need money for another reason.

~$2k/mo from an informational hobby-related website I run and monetize with affiliate sales. Growing, too!

Are you able to keep it enjoyable? Invariably when I ask people who run hobby-based stores selling things like toy trains, comic books, or stamps, they tell me it's no longer fun to them.

Yes, I am expanding offline as well because I want to explore it as much as possible. Still fun for me, and what isn't I try to outsource to others.

I am the person behind http://dictummortuum.blogspot.com

I reach the adsense threshold about once every year, so it's ~70 euro/year. Sad, but I don't spend a lot of time maintaining it.

Amazon referrals. I made £40 or so.

$2,550 in rental home income on a house that will be paid off in 3 months.

What a great feeling!

http://www.siliconvalleyguide.org is a geeky tour guide to Silicon Valley. It makes about $10/month in ads.

Fun! Good idea. Duly bookmarked.

I make about $80 a month from (http://redreport.org/), mainly from organic search traffic.

It would probably be more if the ads didn't actually cover the content.

Running ransomware network. For $6000 investment you can get $80000/month rent coming to you.

"Investment" is not income, passive or otherwise.

Income is step one. Investment of that income is step two.

A "salary" is income that is bound to time worked.

"Passive income" is income that is not bound to time worked.

The key difference between passive income vs investing, is what is being invested. With passive income like salary _time_ is the investment, not money. That's why it's income.

All the comments discussing saving and investment strategies are rather missing the point of the question.

i made like $125 in amazon gift cards between swagbucks and bing(now microsoft) rewards points.

Stock appreciation and dividends.

2K, domain & hosting services. | thx, god!


I'm relatively new to investing and started a year ago. $AMD was one of the companies I chose to invest in last December. I'm up 100+% (in GBP) on my AMD investment right now and planning to hold for another year. If Zen and Vega deliver (and I think they will) I'm confident I'll see 200% a gain in the next 6 months, possibly even close to 300%.

Trump game! Not huge amount, but for the small amount of the effort it was great.

What is Trump game?

A game with Donald Trump as the character, most likely.

Two years ago, the first response would surely have been "Top Trump cards, most likely", most likely.

Perhaps it's Trump Trumps? If not, it should be. Or presidential candidate trumps; Trump trumps all?

Sold a condo in California and bought two investment properties in Texas.

I'm very curious to know how much both 64bites.com and buildyourownlisp.com made this year. Maybe the authors would like to comment? :)

Bitcoin has been my most profitable.

Can you elaborate please ? I am considering investing a some time in bitcoin and blockchain next year and I would really appreciate your insights. What tools/services/websites did you use ? Did you learn that on your own ? what resources did you use ?

Pretty sure Bitcoin works best for the people who got in early.

anon4this1: I bought 5800 bitcoins mostly for around $5 back in 2011ish [...] I'm up 15,400% in 5 years


I think anon4this1 dropped a few zeroes there

Airbnb listings in NYC, BOG, MDE - make enough to live almost anywhere I want.

rent from real estate

Using Lendingrobot - an automated p2p lending service

I used lending robot. I used the middle of their risky / safe bet slider, tending toward the conservative side.

I'm going to end up LOSING MONEY as many of LC's loans are going delinquent.


This is sad to hear. How many loans do you have in your portfolio?

isn't that funded?

I assume GP meant interests generated from lending on that platform.

I am not involved with the company other than being a happy customer. It was by far the best passive income I made this year.

I think you're using the actual definition of passive income (make an investment, don't do anything else other than wait), whereas everyone else seems to be talking about fake-passive income, such as lifestyle businesses they pretend not to work on. (But really do.)

Yes I believe it is.


2016 isn't over. Ask in 3 weeks time.

I don't need to invest anywhere. My company invests for me in 401k and by the time i retire i will get $401,000 as the name suggests :)

Surprised nobody has mentioned getting married yet. Dual incomes is probably the easiest path to wealth. Just don't ever get divorced...

It's too risky, not worth it :)

Being married is not exactly a passive activity :P

Heaven 17: I'm your money.

Buy this

Sign here

Order now our emotional life

I'm offering you the post of wife

Plus the overnight treasury

It'll work for you if it works for me


It's a great song and a very good album:


This post is what's wrong with Capitalism. Rent seeking. The Matthew Effect. Making money by making money.

Generally, the people interested in this are interested because time is the most valuable resource of all. If they can obtain enough passive income to be independently wealthy, they can contribute to humanity in whatever way they choose vs being forced to sell their time to a day job where they have limited control of their life.

Creating value and receiving some percent of that as rent is not inherently a bad behavior. But if you think you have a better, more "noble" answer, I'd love to hear it.

Now on the HN front page: Great Problems: An Epidemic of Rent-Seeking https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13153047

> obtain enough passive income to be independently wealthy

"Passive income" does not make you "independently wealthy". You avoid "being forced to sell [your] time" because you extract wealth from those who do.

Rent seeking does not, by definition, involve "creating value":

In economics and in public-choice theory, rent-seeking involves seeking to increase one's share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. Rent-seeking results in reduced economic efficiency through poor allocation of resources, reduced actual wealth creation, lost government revenue, increased income inequality, and (potentially) national decline. - Wikipedia

From Taking Back Adam Smith and “Classic Liberalism”:

Many conservative economists claim to be staunch followers of Adam Smith. They shout slogans such as “Supply and Demand!” “Capitalism”! “ “Let the markets work!” However, for anyone who actually read Adam Smith, you would note that the “invisible hand” was not his only observation of the inner workings of capitalism. Adam Smith recognized that many in the economy were making gobs of money, but weren’t contributing anything. He was referring to what was eventually called “economic rent”.

Smith observed that all production required 3 things. Land, Capital, and Labor. A very simple example would be a brick factory. The building and oven needed to create the bricks are the “capital” – the owners are the capitalists. The people making the bricks is the “labor” – the people doing the actual work. The Land the factory occupies and the clay used to make the bricks is the “land” – the owners of the land are the “Rentiers”. Any money made by selling the bricks is then divided up between these three groups: the rentiers, the capitalists, and the workers.

Where many here on HN and I will differ is what forms of passive income are rent seeking rather value creating applications of the output of one's previous labor.

Note that you can even be pro-Capitalism and anti-rent-seeking: How Economists Duped Us into Attacking Capitalism Instead of Parasitic Rent-Seeking http://evonomics.com/economists-duped-attacking-capitalism/

I think the flaw in the system is land/personal property. If you have enough money to call 'dibs' on a shared resource like that, then we create a feudal system. There is no legal place to just live without paying the landowner.

That's one flaw. Georgists and Geo-libertarians get this.

Are you a Real Libertarian, or a ROYAL Libertarian? http://geolib.com/essays/sullivan.dan/royallib.html

Passive income. So great that financiers gave people a nice name for extorsion. Some ideas on here are creating value and selling it over time. No problem with that.

Too many are rentier activity, costing everyone more in the long run. Appropriating wealth rather than creating it.

Hacker news seems to embrace this culture. Surely the antithesis of the early days of computing and the origin of hacker culture.

What a strange attitude.

I'm very grateful that my landlord chooses to own an apartment and rent it to me on a short-term basis. I needed housing for four months, I already own a house (which is being remodeled), and I certainly didn't want to try to buy a second house for five months.

For that rental, I'm happy to let my landlord earn a profit, in exchange for taking on the risk of owning and maintaining the property.

Not strange at all. Many well-respected people have this point of view, from Nobel laureate economists to free-market libertarians.

The problem is that most of the profit he "earns" is from the ownership of land, not from maintaining the property.

See my other comment for more, or this now on the HN front page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13153047

The profit he earns is because he's providing a service that I need -- short-term housing. To do that, he's taking on various risks associated with homeownership, such as a lack of available tenants and fluctuations in capital due to market conditions.

Some of the issues discussed on the linked post aren't fundamental to the idea of profiting from what you own, they're examples of something closer to monopoly abuse -- buying out all of the available properties in an area, etc.

It's not great when there's not enough property available for outright sale, but it's also not great when there's no room available for short-term housing either.

The linked article has several issues with it, though I won't disagree with the problem of using regulation to lock-in a high-profit monopoly. That's a bad thing, and it's common, and it's something we should fix. But some claims in there -- "A professor at an architecture school or law school does not earn a six figure salary due to providing superior mentoring and teaching. They earn their money because they are the legal gate keepers to entering licensed occupations." -- are baloney. The earn that salary because that's what it takes to pay them to not go make substantially more money in practice, and the university carefully calculates that minimum to keep their professors at minimum cost.

(This one I do have specific knowledge of - I'm a professor who just spent the year in industry, and the degree by which my salary increased during that year was... large. That's not specific to computer science, either; I know a lot of law professors who're in a nearly identical situation. They do the job because they love teaching, and the university is happy to give them a pay cut in exchange for that.)

Another big piece is risk: your landlord is taking on a bunch of risk by owning that land, which could depreciate in value before they pay it off.

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