Two things that fit the "passive" mentality that have been picking up steam recently:
1) I offer an affiliate program with a revenue share commission (upfront bonus plus 10% of the referred customer's payments for a year). A couple of my best customers have become my best affiliates, recommending the product on industry blogs they write for regularly. It doesn't get better than having excited customers marketing your product for you. In the early days the affiliate program wasn't doing much at all, now it's a meaningful contributor to subscriber growth.
2) I've been running Improvely long enough now (just over a year) that some of the clients are growing their businesses significantly. I've got quite a few marketing agencies on board, and they're picking up new clients and adding them to their accounts. As their business grows, and their usage grows, they upgrade to plans with higher usage limits. Same customer base, higher revenue per customer. In the beginning, a new customer was worth $30ish per month. Today that's over $70/m per customer on average.
Just putting this out there: if you're generating that scale of value for agencies, you can often get them to agree to an arrangement which sounds like "$X per account you rep". Mental comparison for you: what's the largest agency you count as a client paying you? Would $250 times the number of accounts they rep be a substantially larger number than that? They probably make substantially more than that.
My brother works at a PPC agency. Typical client: a company you've never heard of in Chicago which does, without loss of generality, weatherproofing. They have a PPC budget of $IT_WOULD_BLOW_YOUR_MINDS_HN. Like many PPC companies, they charge (WLoG) 20% of spend every month. $250 doesn't make that account meaningfully lucrative and if you give them 1 extra conversion a month to brag about it's net profitable for the client.
I am aware of other marketing software companies which get into very cozy relationships with their favorite marketing agencies, to the tune of four to five figure checks monthly. That would, presumably, lift your average from $70 to an even happier number.
Bonus points: if you do it right, you can pitch this as a straight moneymaker to the agency, on some model like "You add a line-item to all your invoices of +$500 for $FOO_SOFT, so after we get our cut, that's $12,500 that your agency grosses which is totally free money to you."
I think the biggest value proposition Improvely offers is the Click Fraud reports/reporting and alerts.
I'm sure it sent you a good one or two customers too! :)
I've been a subscriber for roughly 6 months and am very happy with the service.
...any chance of an HN discount? :D
1. Affiliate links. Each time someone buys a book through my site, I make ~5% from the retailer.
2. You know, not very well, but I think its a cool perk to give to customers you interact with ("glad I fixed your issue - want some free stickers?"). My biggest ROI to date is from google adwords, but they're outrageously expensive, so I'm going to be focusing on natural SEO for this next semester.
(I have a product with 4-digit monthly RR and I would like to take it to 5.)
Btw the product looks awesome.
I couldn't find a page on the site letting me know how much technical skill I'd require to implement this.
Do you have an in house affiliate program that you use or a third party one? How did you get affiliates interested (other than existing customers)?
1) oScope — an oscilloscope in your pocket. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oscope/id344345859?mt=8
2) Octave — a real-time audio analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/octave-an-rta-for-the-iphone...
3) Fourier — a spectrum analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fourier/id386084557?mt=8
I built all of these for fun in college, and I've occasionally updated them afterwards. The only thing I do now is answer a few emails a week.
I've since gone back to grad school, but the yearly income has not changed, and approaches my stipend (low 5-digit).
What's been really neat is how people have found unexpected ways to use the apps. Sound engineers for halls and communities use Octave to set up the sound for concerts. Teachers use oScope to help kids understand how sound is composed of moving pressure waves of air, and how pitch is the frequency of these waves. Also, oScope had a tiny cameo in the show Homeland, as a "fancy science-looking analyzer tool for spying on people" (uncredited, unfortunately).
Basically, it sucks to be stuck on the "passive" receiving end of a passive income project. Though actually, it's Apple's fault for not letting me trial software.
But I'm glad to hear these projects are working out and wish you continued luck!
As to whether you're entitled to support or feature requests, you can make an argument both ways. One could generate some word of mouth by following up on (simple) feature requests.
In one of the apps, Fourier, the reviewers say that the horizontal frequency scale is off by a factor of 2 (but the frequency display elsewhere is accurate). That's a small thing to fix that hasn't been fixed since Apr 2012. I think that at a $5 price point, my expectation is that the app is updated with at least bug fixes of that variety.
Second, I understand your frustration. I love building things, and sometimes I wish I could do that full time, but grad school is a 70 hr/wk commitment for me.
If the app is not useful for you without the missing feature, Apple does allow returns. I'm not quite sure how it works, but I see a few returns a year on my reports.
Also, I've open-sourced the hardest part of the app, the audio managing aspect, as Novocaine (GitHub.com/alexbw/novocaine), and along with the great package NVDSP, anybody could replicate the basic functionality of my apps with a few weeks of learning and effort. It'd be great for the audio app ecosystem, too!
I'm also interested in hiring a part-time developer to help flesh out the top-requested features, if anybody has ObjC coding experience. That'd make many more updates possible.
This thing also looks pretty cool: http://theamazingaudioengine.com/
$5 is worth 3 minutes of developer time at common hourly contracting prices. If a developer receives and reads an email from a customer, they will probably end up with no profit. If they respond to it, let alone are adding new custom features, they are certainly losing money compared to working for someone else.
It's nice to hear both sides of the story.
One thing that I've always wanted it to do is to be able to horizontally move/scale the frequency domain plot. Most of the time I'm using it, I only really care about the low frequency (vocal range) component.
As an aside, I find it a lot easier to bring in consulting gigs if I aggressively open source tools that I make, and then promote those OSS projects. I find it more pleasant to tell people about free tools than to just promote myself alone, but they end up feeding into each other. Just my two cents.
I would rather be actively working on something that challenges me, than have my brain rot away.
I've even tried working on side projects while at my day job and it doesn't work out because it's difficult to really devote focus to something that isn't related to your job.
I'm not a chicken. You're a turkey!
Outsource the outsourcement...
Interact with top-level outsourcer once per week... he interacts with low-level outsourcer daily.
doesn't it undermine consumer confidence in their business?
Original source: http://www.verizonenterprise.com/security/blog/index.xml?pos...
You can also save routes and display them later. I use google adsense on my website and also on youtube. I have been averaging about $600 per month in revenue. Now that I have done this update (which took a few months), I suspect that my adsense income is going to increase dramatically. If you want to learn more about my project, here is the landing page:
I'm 53 now and I've been a software contractor for the past 17 years. Because of the economy and my age, I was having an increasingly difficult time getting contracts. It's hard to compete with young programmers who can work a lot faster than you and at a much cheaper rate. So I decided it was time to step out on my own. It has been very challenging, a little frightening (ok, a lot frightening), but I am making slow progress.
Today, I was very happy to find out that my project was nominated for "Project of the Month" on Sourceforge. It's been downloaded about 8000 times in the past 4 days and has gotten 24 5-star reviews. If you have an account with Sourceforge and have the time to look at my project, would you please vote for me if you feel it's worth it?
Thank you. I appreciate the help and let me know if you have any questions.
On a side note, if I were you I would move the project from SourceForge to github. There is barely anyone using sf.net these days and github social features might also help your project to get noticed.
It blows my mind that people still find out about this app and happily buy it every day even though it occupies such a small geeky niche.
Would you feel comfortable telling us the number of sales in 2013?
In 2013 it made $3900, or $325/month, and seems to be holding at that rate of income. The only work I did on the app in 2013 was about two days making it work correctly on iOS 7.
It's not huge money, but it's far more than my expectations, which were on the order of $500 total over the lifetime of the app.
I posted a breakdown of the first three months of reviews here: http://www.fourthdimensionapp.com/first_three_months/
My next app is a two-player Tetris/Scrabble mashup: http://fiascoapp.com/b
My expectations for the word puzzle game are either $300,000, or zero. The wave function has yet to collapse.
Then launched a card game which is a decent success..
Kudos anyway, great idea and looks like a great execution as well!
It's mostly passive income as I spend no more than a few hours per week actually working on the site. Though I spend considerably more monitoring the stats and feeds etc etc
My biggest win with this site is the extremely low cost to run it - something I want to talk about more if anyone's interested. My only real regular cost is the domain name! Pretty phenomenal for a site that continues to attract thousands of visitors per day :) a model I'm proud of and hopefully can continue!
But of course, all standing on the shoulders of giants! Many thanks has to go to far more talented people than me... both for the site's foundations and it's popularity.
You have had free hosting, no headaches of a hacked site or overloaded server, minimal downtime and a thriving social system all rolled into one.
I think PageRank 4 is incredible - there are millions of sites that would love that! What's your site?
I'll have to look into tumblr hosting - what are the limitations? Do you ever find yourself locked into a blog-like schematic?
But also, if you're so successful with a passive approach, it sounds like you've found a real market demand. Have you considered taking a more active approach given the success? How long would you say this took you to setup initially?
I definitely think the active approach will yield greater results, but right now I'm doing even more interesting things in my day job and other side projects that I enjoy. This gives me the freedom to keep doing those things :)
As for initial setup, I rolled it out in the same afternoon I had the idea and incrementally built on it from there. It's certainly nothing like it was when I began it.
I get awesome hosting for free and a fair amount of flexibility. Yes there are limitations and the admin of the site isn't quite as easy, but when you haven't got much admin it's ok.
The most important reason for choosing Tumblr was the Submissions feature. Visitors can submit a post just as I need it to be. It costs them nothing, it costs me nothing - all the hard work is done (mostly - I obviously need to do some editing, but this is minimal.)
But the absolute killer feature of Tumblr is the queue. Without this, there's no way I could manage the site.
Would I like more features from Tumblr? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not. Do I need those features? Not right now.
I handle all submissions myself, the Twitter feed, Facebook Page, Google+ page... all done by me (with the help of the awesome http://bufferapp.com/)
I use IFTTT (http://ifttt.com) to check for new posts on Tumblr and cross-post to Buffer (Twitter) and Facebook - this isn't perfect yet because I'd like it to use Buffer for Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but IFTTT doesn't support that yet.
Technically the $10/month for Buffer is a cost... but I use it personally and on other projects, so this is obviated by the fact that I would be using it anyway.
I use the awesome BuySellAds (http://buysellads.com) to serve ads. Yes they take a cut and this too is technically a "cost"... but it comes straight out of money I wouldn't be making anyway so I don't see it as a cost.
I also run with a few affiliates and these bring in a little extra revenue.
Each visitor brings about 2 page views on average so 50k visits a month puts me over the threshold. Uniques are at about 70% (I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader)
But to actually turn a profit... I really only need a very small fraction of this. Maybe 10%..?
It's all moot tho, as I need the numbers to be high as this is what gets advertisers paying. Thankfully this comes with a natural abundance of funds making this the most profitable project I've ever worked on
The popularity this brought was untold as hundreds of sites started naturally linking to BWB. I guess being first was the most important thing here.
I've also made a point to make it always free and easy for folks to submit a site. There's no complex review process and no fee (if you don't mind waiting in line). This gets some loyal supporters who are happy to provide new content on a somewhat regular basis.
The knock-on effect has been that Google seems to love the site and now the majority of my visitors come from searches. This despite Tumblr not being the greatest base for SEO.
No "growth hacking" required, whatever that is...
I think this is largely to do with the fact that I don't push affiliates too much at the moment. The effort-return ratio is nowhere near as good as the ads.
Between 2010 and 2012 or so I picked up some condos here in San Diego at short sale for about 1/3 of what their price was a few years earlier. I get about 1.5% of their purchase price every month in rent. At the same time, the property values have appreciated so the rents are starting to increase as well.
The longest I've had any of them vacant was about two weeks and that was only during the time I was replacing carpet, appliances, furnace, painting walls, fixing stuff, etc.
To make it completely passive I have a property manager (I live in the area, but I value my time). That along with HOA fees and real estate taxes eat into my bottom line, but combined it's only about 1/5 of the monthly rent.
These properties allowed me to quit my job, self-fund my company, and I'm actually putting money away every month. Go figure.
I'm not a real estate expert, but if you have any basic questions feel free to get in touch (contact info is in my profile). As background, I bought my first house at 21 and owned 5 homes by the time I was 27 (I'm 29 now). I was in the military until a few months ago, so I didn't make a whole lot, but I'm pretty good with money and invested wisely. I didn't grow up with much, so I learned what not to do with money. I'm also pretty deliberate about how I spend my money, which is different than being frugal.
- don't cheap out and buy in a bad neighbourhood. We did this once, and with the turnover/repair costs it made a loss.
- choose tenants carefully (you can say no). Families with income are best.
- know when to evict people. Rent for long enough and you'll certainly get a pathological renter.
I am also into residential real estate and was wondering why you chose to go the cash route especially when rates have been so low. For instance, in the properties that I am currently in business for, for 20% down I able to fetch a 30% ROI after mortgate + all fees incl. property management, taxes, insurance, etc... For the same properties, if I would go all cash, my return would be closer to 11 to 12%. Of course with the mortgage approach, it tends to be a bit slow (i.e. a mortgage at a time) and longer to scale to the same levels of in terms of absolute monthly returns since my monthly cash flow is lower in absolute terms.
Interested in your thoughts.
Lenders were hesitant to loan for investment properties, especially in condo complexes with low owner occupancy rates.
In 2012 I learned that I didn't look hard enough when I a buddy told me he 'had a guy' that he'd get loans from for the same thing for 20-25% down. He said it was a bit shady and the rate was a bit higher than a conventional loan, but it did the job.
And to be honest with you, in all of my investment I've never crunched the numbers to determine exact ROI. I always ballpark it in my head and go with my gut. I'm sure it's more risky and I'm probably leaving money on the table, but to me investing was a hobby and that kept (keeps) it fun. I do it because I love doing it.
Also, it may be holding me back, but I don't like debt. The last three homes I bought cash, as well as both of our cars. Hell, I'm even self-funding my business. I find it gives me a lot more freedom albeit a lower return. But to me it's worth it. For example, sure I could grow my business faster with funding, but I've been working on it for two years now and still love it. In fact, I'd do it for free. You can't put a price on that.
The first condo I bought by selling most of my stock investments. After buying the condo I started investing again. The following year I took out a HELOC out the next condo, sold all my stocks again and bought the next one cash. I did the same for the one after that. I've since paid off the HELOCs.
A cheap property manager or estate agent is generally not worth it - their main goal being to rent the property as quickly as possible to anyone, rather than ensuring rental to a good tenant.
Decent property managers cost a fair bit of money and unless you own the property outright or have a very low mortgage it's tough to afford a good manager and have a reasonable passive income from the property as well.
- I agree with cdaven. Good content is better than SEO, but you only take the fruits 1-2 years later. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.
- Adsense is ugly but is the fastest way to monetise a blog. I was making 15€/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have an text intensive blog go for image ads and for an image intensive blog go for text ads.
In terms of pricing, I just priced it by what I thought was fair. I do refuse people though, since like I said I wouldn't host for more than a week or so per month (I don't want this turning into a job, but it's the easiest money anyone can make if they have a spare room).
Edit: autocorrect correction
Also if you did happen to do it for Laravel 4, I'd buy it ;).
The framework creator (Taylor Otwell) has an excellent book on leanpub and there is an amazing video guide site (laracasts.com) which is better than I have seen for anything (check out the free vids for an idea of quality).
Edit: ROI could be improved a bit on this too since I intentionally bought hardware that was good to experiment with rather than optimizing ROI.
"Are you moving away from BitCoin and into others? or vice versa. I'm curious about the trending of BTC mining."
Poor bloke appears to be dead.
Increasing difficulty is less of an issue for altcoins. There are so many of them that difficulty may spike on one but that will cause it to drop on others, shifting which is more profitable. They tend to self correct better than Bitcoin.
http://srctree.net - A pastebin with version control
http://blocksim.net - A poor man's online simulink-like thingy
I am aware that there is a _lot_ of room for improvement in both services, but the fact that nobody uses it at all is not very motivational.
Don't worry about the beer :) be sure to submit any other sites you publish that use Bootstrap in the future. Happy to promote them :)
Freelancers are going to be really used to trying tech for free before buying. They are a good market for freemium or even ad supported.
Not sure about this one but to be honest I was distracted by that robot cartoon character. I'm not even sure what he has in his mouth. It's just weird and makes me think you are 17. Hope that wasn't harsh, I would wager there's an emotional attachment to that robot, you or someone close is a great artist. Ditch the emotion and get something more product specific.
As for the robot, I was going for something cute, like MailChimp. It was picture I took of a friend's painting. Awesome painting, but didn't translate well to a pro icon. Do you think a robot could work if I got a pro version done at Logo Tournament?
I do plan to make it easy to try it for free. Also make it much cheaper... say a flat $5/mnth or something.
I actually abandoned it over a year ago once I launched and realized there are 41394 invoicing apps and I don't know how to market.
haven't maintained it in ages though
To get feedback you can simply ask someone who uses a similar tool to spend time on it and give a harsh but true review flat on your face. :P
I wrote it, released it, then to my surprise, it got a pretty massive amount of downloads. Over the years, I've updated it to new versions of the OS, but very minimal work.
Not a lot of money, but it wasn't a whole lot of effort either. It covers the internet bill.
Paid version (0.99$) has sold about 200 copies.
It is "passive" in the sense that I respond to the occasional e-mail (once a month), update the data once a year, and add another calculator when I feel like it.
A few years back, I was in the same position with another (online casual gaming) website, that I sold for 2.5x the yearly revenue. Looking back, I should probably have kept that site as well.
Pro tip: quality content beats SEO in the long run. Be the tortoise.
Flagship stores - I went around taking pictures of the best of the best stores for the top retail brands in London and made a directory. Created page on Blogger.
Ecommerce business is my best passive income. It's a physical product I really wanted so I made it. It's a map of London but made in the historic style. http://www.wellingtonstravel.com
I still need to spend time on it because I am customer service, legal, accounting, finance, marketing, IT, R&D, and operations. I have outsourced manufacturing and fulfillment to someone I found on https://sortedlocal.com/ and Amazon's FBA. It's great because it's more money and something I'm passionate about but it definitely takes 5-7 hours a week.
The teaching one is interesting in particular because it leverages your strengths, improves your communication, and is probably something you really enjoy since you took the time to get good at it (i.e. sailing, swimming, kettlebell workouts, or even English). I wrote a post about teaching English (http://www.taigeair.com/websites-to-help-you-teach-english-o...) for people who complained they couldn't find a job so did nothing all day, but they could be teaching a special skill which is what I did when I became unemployed. I learned code, created a few websites, interviewed, and taught swimming.
And rental income is good but definitely, not very passive...
Lastly, I'm developing a really cool website for helping people sleep which I can see being profitable.
I'd like to hear how much time you spent or are spending on these side projects. Also I heard babies are a time and money sink. So I'd be interested in hearing about people doing side projects/passive income with kids.
I'm just in my 30s and traveled/partied a lot in my 20s so I never put much thought to the long-term or generating income but I have a sweet job now and have been increasing my web/graphic work after hours. Will probably start writing a blog specific to what I do at work to start generating passive income. Most of what I'm reading about being passive isn't actually passive like dumping money into a bank and waiting but requires active work, like you said 5-7 hours a week. Obviously that amount of time is trivial especially considering you're passionate about it.
You made that? Beautiful map! You should do those for more cities.
Now it's quite time consuming to do VAT tax every 3 months and keep records. BTW physical products are so much more work than anything I did on the web.
I'm hoping to do a world map next though.
Secondly, (and this is a shameless plug, sorry) if you're finding keeping up with VAT a pain and you're a small business take a look at FreeAgent (https://freeagent.com/harry - the referral code will get you 10% off). I work for them and it sounds like it might be of use.
Thanks for the link. I tried some software before but no matter what you use, you still have to do manually keep the records. Given that, I'll just deal with the paper work until it generates enough money to pay for someone to do it.
It's making a bit over $1,000 in monthly ad revenue. Traffic is at ~3k dailies.
I did this as a weekend project 2 years ago, and at some point migrated my blog to it to pick up DomainRank. Other than that I've mostly left it alone.
My project is: http://sudokuisland.com
How would you go about it? Thanks.
My plan is to improve the PageRank and DomainRank, and eventually to make the product better (since Google presumably picks up on that through bounce rates, time on site, sharing). So that'd be the general strategy I recommend.
Another metric you can optimize is the number of times a first-time visitor returns, because it acts as a multiplier on your traffic. Say you get 100 organic first-time visitors per day, if each visitor returns 5 times, you'll have 600 total visits per day.
I added adds from multiple sources (mopub, admob etc) and in app purchases.
For the paid app: In the top months (2 years ago) I made around 800 euro. But it dropped to 90 euro per month currently.
For in app purchases: I am making 30 euro per month currently.
For ads: Making about 200 euro per month currently.
Are you planning an iOS version?
Initially I was not aware of pirated versions. I even had my app translated to chinese because I thought it would be a huge market. But after I did that, i noticed Google Play is not active there, and all paid apps are free in china.... Pirated versions.
I tried to prevent pirated versions of my app by performing code obfuscation, but probably it was still easy to crack.
As I am more a “dog” person, I decided one year (and about 1000€) later to open http://doggifpage.com. It increased a bit my incomes but not so much. As you may know, the Internet loves cats, cats and cats!
In 2013, I earned almost 4000€ for about 10 fun hours of gif gathering!
I have some plans for 2014 but I want to keep this project fun and certainly not time-consuming.
"But everyone else is doing it" is the kind of reasoning small children use.
I think the only solution to respect the copyright for this kind of content (amateur content with no identified author) would be to stop publishing it: you can’t sue Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter etc.
Just to be sure: are we talking about the original authors, or the websites who add their watermarks on it?
You either have no money to pay for a lawyer and go bust or you buy all the lawyers so that no-one will be left to sue you... sort of kind of... doesn't make sense but you catch my drift right? :D
2) Helping my artistic friends selling their products. If you want to sell designer products, you can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dmyfzRwBbpcKAyRplHs0i2RMqsC...
I'd say my time - which was evenings after work - investment was around 3-4 days initially and then fulfilling orders is simply writing a customers address and posting the stickers - which if the demand was bigger I'd probably outsource.
It's been great. I've learnt a shit tonne & the conversations it started has given me an idea for a similar product which I'll be focusing on very soon!
My main win was cold-emailing tech blogs. I got featured on BoingBoing - http://boingboing.net/2013/08/12/stickonspy-sticker-reminder... - through emailing and also managed to sell directly to Cory ;).
The game's forum uses advertising but the income is negligible, maybe around $10 per month. This is likely due to the fact that it is the same eyeballs looking at the ads and it is not a high traffic forum.
2005-2008, TGP's totally died to Tubes. And Tubes generally killed the value in hosted galleries (a key marketing tool for affiliates alongside TGPs). Last I heard of old contacts, they'd either tried to move up the food chain intro production (which mostly moved to eastern europe), moved into niche tube sites, or sold up (as I did) and went into mainstream web. Actually, probably the most money I made was from sale of site network and domain portfolio.
So general roadmap was usually build up a network of very niche TGP sites (later, Tube sites) and only push around to your own network (so no external crap or popups) until you get a soid audience of bookmarkers (daily returners) and once you're confident you can start producing 10,000+ outclicks a day, THEN add your own paid stuff on top.
Trying to push payments really early just makes people hit the close tab... adult is all about getting bookmarkers
Basically, the "retention" in the Pirate Metrics funnel. Facebook didn't want to put on ads until they'd build years of loyalty and bookmarkers. Once you're totally bought into the service, (one hopes) that you wont mind the new paid ads that start appearing.
In a few months I'll be able to buy myself a coffee! =)
I paid a designer to completely redo the interface, but then iOS 7 happened. Lost a lot of customers with the transition, because I had to throw away the new design and start again.