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Your best passive income? (2014)
395 points by kirk21 on Jan 21, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 420 comments
This post gave me the motivation to give it another try: https://medium.com/business-startup-development-and-more/e0937c7f0951

Previous years: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6661536 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4639271

Not much has changed since the last thread. Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) is still in the 5-digit monthly RR range and growing, and I do no outbound marketing other than some PPC ads that don't need much active management. Everything that can be automated has been automated (onboarding, lifecycle mails, dunning mails for billing issues, etc), leaving me free to spend all my time on support and improving the product.

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.

Awesome, congrats.

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."

How did you manage to compete against google analytics (which does conversion tracking and a lot more, for free) ? Conversion tracking is something that i thought became a dead market at least 5 years ago (at that time i developed an analytics and conversion tracking solution myself).

I think Google Analytics dashbaord can be confusing and cumbersome. I understand that once you've used it and understand you can be proficient at it but many people don't have the time or care to learn the a complex tool.

I think the biggest value proposition Improvely offers is the Click Fraud reports/reporting and alerts.

LOVE improvely. Actually used it to show conversions on my site, which i recently sold on flippa. Needless to say, it got a very good response: https://flippa.com/2963324-pr-3-app-templates-site-with-10-4....

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.

Oh wow, this looks like exactly what I've been looking for for my not-so-passive income project, textbooksplease.com, for tracking conversions.

...any chance of an HN discount? :D

Sure, I happen to have programmed a discount into the billing system for one of the affiliates which I can repurpose. This link's good for 10% off any subscription for life. https://www.improvely.com/signup?perk=hn

Hi, I was checking out your project. Do you mind if I ask where you got the list of universities and the URLs?

Hi Christian - textbooksplease looks great. nice job! I was wondering: 1 - how do you monetize? 2 - how does the post-stickers-get-tshirt marketing channel perform (and how do you know, as it's hard to track..)


Thanks! :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.

Dan, I love your date range picker. I use it all the time. Thanks.

second that. Using it as an angular directive. It's really nice!

Seconded :-)

Congratulations! Any tips on what worked the best for you to grow your product?

(I have a product with 4-digit monthly RR and I would like to take it to 5.)

Small typo on the bottom of the page here: https://www.improvely.com/features/click-fraud-detection


Btw the product looks awesome.

Thanks, fixed it

This is a super cool product, I'm giving it a shot.

Silly question, What is "RR"?

"RR" is recurring revenue.

Recurring Revenue

I'm having trouble figuring out what you do. Or rather, I know what you do, but am not sure how you do it. How do you track conversions?

I couldn't find a page on the site letting me know how much technical skill I'd require to implement this.

That's great Dan. I have a couple of questions.

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)?

It's run through ShareASale [1]. They take care of tracking sales, cutting checks, sending 1099s at the end of the year, and all the other boring parts of running an affiliate program. As for getting affiliates interested, there's a link to the program in the footer of the site and a link within the app for existing customers. When I come across a site that seems like it'd be a good fit for some kind of partnership, I just send a brief e-mail and see if there's any interest.

1: https://www.shareasale.com

A few years ago, I wanted to build an oscilloscope in my pocket, so I went ahead and did it. Then I wanted a spectrum analyzer, and then an equalizer.

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).

Here's a perspective from the other side: I purchased Octave and having used it, and asked for a small feature (single-tap to pause). You told me that you don't have much time and will work on this feature when you have time. I understand that, but it's disappointing from the consumer point of view. I wish I knew that before I dropped $5.

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!

Come on, you spent $5 for an app. For a working app! This is a pretty low price. Actually, it's basically nothing. Of course you can't get support and are not entitled to feature requests at such a low price tag!

$5 is not cheap by app store standards. It's a fair price for an app in that class.

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.

First, wow, I didn't expect any HN readers to actually know about, much less have bought, my work! Thanks.

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.

I've used novocaine on a hackathon project. Very fun little library, thanks! It was 10,000 times easier than setting up the audio unit chain, etc. I had done it the old fashioned way for my first app but there was an incredible amount of error-prone boilerplate code when all I really wanted was a callback function to populate output buffers.

This thing also looks pretty cool: http://theamazingaudioengine.com/

That open source library is awesome. Wow, thank you.

Novocaine is wonderful, thank you.

"App Store standards" don't really work for valuable niche software. They can work for games that end up selling 10 million copies, but there's a reason why professional software with few users is usually priced between $500 and $100 000.

$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.

Nothing against you specifically astral303, but this is exactly why I will probably never build a stand-alone mobile app.

I re-read my post and I realize I do sound like a whiny asshole for not getting feature requests for a $5 app.

Good perspective.

This is like two days late, but its incredibly refreshing to people acknowledge that they had a wrong/flawed perspective, especially on HN.

You bought a product. You did NOT contract a developer. Your expectations do not reflect this.

$5 is cheap. By any standard. You proved it yourself, by purchasing the app BEFORE emailing him. If you think it's expensive, I trust you can outsource building a replica of the app for less than $5.

$5 barely affords you service, let alone the right to be dissapointed that your feature request was not immediately implemented. Are you really expecting enterprise level customization for a $5 app?

Look at this guy. He paid a WHOLE 5$ and now he is entitled to hours of programmer work from the developer.

I guess you can still like someone as a person while you dislike them as a developer.

It's nice to hear both sides of the story.

I've been a loyal oScope users for ages; I once used it as my front panel in a Halloween robot costume, and it blew people's minds that they could talk to me and have it show up on my 'belly screen'. A very useful tool indeed.

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.

That's a great idea! People are always really pleased to see their sound turned into something they can look at. It never gets old to me...

I built a dozen or so educational apps. I started each on iOS then have ported a few to Android and Windows Phone. It hasn't yet been a great financial success, but it is almost entirely passive income now. Updating apps for UI changes like iOS 7, the iPhone 5 screen size, Holo, etc. are kind of a pain but not bad at all compared to constantly selling myself on new consulting gigs or chasing down non-paying customers.

Yeah, the breaking changes that accumulate over the years is the main nagging thing I have to keep up with. Since I use my apps myself, and tend to use beta iOS releases, I can usually catch these pretty early, but not always.

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've got a job where i do almost nothing. It's my passive income.

I'm convinced this is the best type of passive income. A job with minimal work (perhaps some kind of security guard or IT support) sitting at a desk. I would use the opportunity to work on my own projects that would actually make me money, all the while getting paid.

Yeah I want this.

I had this, it got boring real fast. The money wasn't great. I could live on it but there was no future prospect. A slow career death if you will. So I took a harder job, with higher pay.

Exactly the same case for me too. At first it seems like it would be great, but it was wearing away at the passion I once had for my career. I now spend my days looking at cat videos and playing games rather than focussing on personal projects. I move jobs in 2 weeks to a harder job with better pay and can't wait.

Best of luck with that. For me it was a great decision!

This, I had the same issue, except they paid well. I ended up leaving for a job that would actually use my skills with more pay

Can't really argue with "and higher pay"

It was exactly double. Can't argue with that.

I work for a big company where there is a lot of down time. It may sound appealing - good pay with minimal to no work, along with minimal supervision - but it get boring real fast and can be demoralizing.

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.

Like others have said below you think you do and you do for a while but then it starts to wear on you, big time. All that extra time you have at work becomes oppressing and personal projects suffer if you work on them at all. I'm looking to either go back to school or find a tougher job, I've even considered landscaping or construction since it's generally non-stop but it would be a detrimental pay cut.

Do some freelancing during office hours & double the income.

While not doing anything might be immoral, doing something else is most likely in violation of the contract and the work done would (again, most likely) be owned by the employer. Along with the income.

You're risk adverse, aren't you?

Yeah, what are you, chicken?

I'm not a chicken. You're a turkey!

This would not be passive.

You have to think bigger man.

Outsource the outsourcement... Interact with top-level outsourcer once per week... he interacts with low-level outsourcer daily.


Relevant: "Man reportedly outsources his own job to China, watches cat videos" http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/17/business/la-fi-mo-ma...

this may be veering off-topic, but why would an employer-- especially a big one with lots of individual consumers as customers-- be willing to make it publicly known that that occurred?

doesn't it undermine consumer confidence in their business?

They didn't. The story is provided by Verizon's Enterprise Security Products group, and is a cautionary tale about one of their clients and the need for proactive log review. The client and the cat-loving software developer in question were not named.

Original source: http://www.verizonenterprise.com/security/blog/index.xml?pos...

That's as timely as awesome

Yes, but how i would outsource interacting to still do nothing?

Have a Perl script written to handle it.

I've got to say it ain't so easy to find such a job. When you've got some qualifications, employers doesn't keen on hiring you. I'm talking about tech support jobs that you can do easily during the day. Working as a night guard is usually very low pay and doesn't justify the effort. If anyone has got an idea on how to get remote flexible support jobs, I'd be happy to hear.

Government or big co?

wally is that you? SCNR

Board Director?

Much like "Bored Director"

Do you have to show up at any particular place every day?

Morning stand-up meetings and the office kitchen.

Microsoft? Meetings are work man!

Hmm, I probably should send my cv there...

I have been working on my Google Map Gps Cell Phone Tracker for several years now. Recently, I updated the project to include tracking for Android, IOS, Windows Phone and Java Me/J2ME phones. The project allows you to track a phone periodically (every 1, 5 or however number of minutes) and display them in real time on Google maps.

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.

Congrats on the brave move to launching your own projects.

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.

Hey, thanks for your comment. I use SF as a distribution channel. I use github every day and love it:


My iOS app that teaches you what a tesseract is and lets you manipulate it in 3D and 4D.


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.

The app icon is irresistible.

Thanks. It was essentially my son's idea (age 5 at the time), and it was about a month after I designed the icon that I realized the "third eye" connection, as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_eye which made me love it even more.

I'm really looking forward to your next iOS app, Fiasco -- it looks awesome. I hope you don't get sued for Scrabble kicking Tetris in the face, or by Stanslaw Lem's estate!

From the reviews, it sounds like the high quality of your explanations has made a small geeky niche far less small, geeky and niche. Bravo.

Heard about this app when it first launched, such an original idea.

Would you feel comfortable telling us the number of sales in 2013?

The Fourth Dimension generated $17,600 during 2012, the year I launched it. The majority of that was driven by reviews the app got.

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.

Seems to violate the premise of "the dumber the app, the more popular it will be." Awesome.

"The dumber the app..." works almost everytime. I launched a conceptually great app which was a complete failure: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/gravity-byte/id504372023?mt=...

Then launched a card game which is a decent success..

Gravity Byte may be a great app. But, it does not make a great first impression. You may want to try to give the app a more cohesive art direction. For example, in the app screenshots, I see 4 different fonts. Also, the game graphics don't really grab my attention. Keep in mind that most people are judging your app almost entirely by the screenshots.

You could probably turn that around rather easily by paying a good designer or graphic artist to produce some professional looking assets and reskinning the game.

It's a shame, the icon for Gravity Byte looks really nice, but then the screenshots put me off instantly.

Wish you had an Android version :/

Kudos anyway, great idea and looks like a great execution as well!

Cool! My mom showed this to me (she's a maths teacher) In fact it was the first app she ever bought! She just loves showing it to all her science colleagues! That really is an awesome app!

I love hearing stories like that, thanks. I never thought it would resonate with so many people.

Nice! WRT to the icon, you should add stereoscopic imaging (red/green style) to geek out even further!

Near the end of the app, there is a cross-eyed stereo viewing mode that works pretty well, although it can be headache inducing for some people.

That looks so cool. I'm glad it brings in a good amount of money.

I just bought a copy myself!

I run Built With Bootstrap (http://builtwithbootstrap.com). It's making 4 figures a month at the moment.

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.

Hi simonhamp, Congrats on the project! I'd love to hear more about how you're running it for so low cost! Have you open sourced the site? I'd love to also hear your stack. I've managed to keep all my projects (even one exceeding 5 Million+ ) extremely low cost (pretty much the domain name only as well) and always looking for more ideas to save! Feel free to PM me as well!

Woops just saw the comment below how its on Tumblr. Should've noticed that earlier. Any other hacks?

Thanks Zaheer. Please see my other comment to cko

I use also tumblr platform (very underrated IMHO). If you can adapt your website/blog to it you get a decent free hosting. However if your blog depends on SEO I would not recommend it (unless you develop a custom theme and really know what you are doing).

I totally agree that Tumblr is underrated. It's by no means perfect for SEO, but I haven't found it a problem. Would certainly be nice to have a little more control over certain bits, but it hasn't been detrimental to mine, now PageRank 7 (if that still means anything?)

Once I made the experience, two blogs, one on wordpress, one on tumblr, as similar as they can be, same posts, etc. After few days the wordpress one was in first page of google, the tumblr one still very difficult to find. Anyway to cut costs I kept the tumblr one. Nowadays (2,5 years later) my blog is pagerank 4 (good rank for the traffic I have) and reasonable SEO. Even not being perfect like you say I would also recommend tumblr. (http://archimodels.info)

galfarragem: It depends on the kind of site you want to run ultimately, but personally I think you made the right choice.

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?

Wow - this is awesome - good for you!

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?

Thanks! Yes there are many limitations. And yes it is definitely locked into a blog-like schematic. It's not really for making a "website"... it's for writing a simple blog - thankfully that's all BWB is :)

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've visited that site quite a few times and I'm very interested in how you're keeping running costs low.

As galfarragem mentions, it runs on Tumblr to start with. This is a totally free, simple blogging platform, pretty much perfectly suited to the needs of the site.

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.

How many uniques/month does it take for you to turn a profit??

Well as revenue is largely from ads (that are reliant on page views) I needed to build up visitor numbers to generate ~100k page views a month on a regular basis

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

Nice. Keep up the good work!

Very impressive, thanks for sharing! I'm more interested in how you grew the user base plus any other growth hack tips you might have? There is the obvious free SEO and social media publicities, but it's always tricky to get engaged users.

I would say I got lucky. I started the site not too long after the public launch of Bootstrap. And after about two weeks of farming Bootstrap sites myself (to build up content) I submitted it to HN. Then it went nuts. I got a spot on the official docs homepage without even asking and rode the wave as Bootstrap soared to becoming the most popular frontend framework and Github repo.

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...

That's a great return, good work! Are the profits mostly from affiliate click throughs to ThemeForest and the like?

Thanks :) no actually the largest source of revenue is from ad sales at the moment. I do use affiliates, but they are small in comparison.

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.

wow that's very cool!

For me it's still residential real estate.

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.

My family owns several rental properties as well. It's a part time job to manage all of them, though it gets easier once you have 3~4, at which point they share the same resource pool for repairs and such.

some observations

- 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.

Very cool. Congratulations!

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.

I tried, and I even looked at hard money loans, but at the time I couldn't get any (even with an 800 credit score and never missing a payment on anything in my life).

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.

Thanks a lot for your response. I may shoot you an email since you offered before. Would be interested in discussing further.

Monthly property taxes + monthly HOA + monthly payment to manager < 20% of cash-flow? That is incredible.

How do you get enough money to buy an house at 21? A loan?

Yes. I was in the military so I used the VA loan. Additionally, the house was only $140,000. I've since refinanced to a 15yr loan on that property and the rental income still covers it.

Where did you get your equity? Do have debt on any of them? I want to follow this plan too, but don't have the equity for down payments...

Of the 5 homes, I have mortgages on the 2 most expensive ones (we live in one of them). The other 3 I bought more or less cash.

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.

Why does everybody list books, webapps and mobile apps as passive income? I hope you created them yourself. Then they are not passive income but a product. Like every product they have a lifetime, then you need a new product. Therefore you actually have a first or second active business and not a passive income. "Passive income" is rent for condos you own, or having shares in your friend's profitable business that yields dividends etc. or did I completely misunderstand the meaning of that word?

I think in the tech circle, passive income is used to refer to something you could ignore for 6 weeks and it would still be earning you money. Most of the 'work' people put in seems to be increasing revenue rather than maintaining it, although yes I agree it isn't completely passive. The same could be said about your condos too though, they'll need to refurbished every few years. Unless you are outsourcing everything, you'll need to do some management of that yourself.

Look, I understand how people use the phrase "passive income", but it's really not correct. Like "object" or "unit test" "passive income" is a term with a meaning. It has advantages for you to understand the difference between "unit test" and "regression test". It also has advantages to understand the difference between "active income", "passive income", and "portfolio income". For once you can speak with professionals without misunderstandings, and you can think about a topic in a different way. When you understand what "passive income" means you will see, that you actually really like "passive income" from a tax paying point of view, even if you have to work as hard for it as you would for your "active income" (e.g., salary). The thing is, though, that often if you have to work hard for something that is considered "passive income", then you are probably doing something wrong or it's actually your "active income".

[1] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/passiveincome.asp [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_income

I can assure you as my wife and I are starting into the rental business that leasing a residence is not passive.

If you're renting your first couple places, absolutely not. But at some point you hit a mark where you have a property manager doing all the day-to-day and a few leasing agents filling vacancies and it becomes as passive as you want it to be.

In my experience (family business is property rental) I think the point at which you can afford a property manager is pretty far down the line for most people.

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.

That's true. The same could be said of many of these software products. I think passive income is more about the goal of least ongoing direct effort to highest income than spending zero time.

Another adjective springs to mind, also beginning with "P-A"...

I think you're missing the obvious: "passive" and "income". Passive income is income you earn passively, and in the context of the opening topic, it generally refers to something you've created yourself (whether the product, the system that sells it, or both), which is earning you money with a relatively low amount of ongoing work.

You do make a point. I worked quite some time to get my app working, and occasionaly i spend time tweaking things. But currently, (and for almost 2 years). I hardly worked on it. And money still flows in.

That condo has to come down someday my friend.

50€/month with adsense and amazon affiliates. It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 4-5 hours each month, so it is not exactly passive...). It's a niche blog about architectural models: http://archimodels.info that I started as a hobby to learn about web development. I know that i'm near the bottom in the hierarchy of passive income but anyway I'm leaving my 2 cents.


- 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.

I know this isn't entirely passive, but I occasionally rent my spare room on AirBnB. I'm quite clear that it's a basic room and if they use the kitchen etc. they need to clean up after themselves - this isn't a hotel I'm running... So there's basically no work to do other than cleaning the bedsheets, which I do as part of cleaning my bedsheets anyway... I do this for a maximum of 1week/month, which gets me roughly £4000/year and since it's tax exempt in Scotland (under lodger laws), it's the easiest money I've ever made.

Sounds like it's treating you well but have you had problems or do you price it so you generally price-out those that might less than savory characters?

I live in a city that lacks hotels and doesn't have any tourism, so the only people contacting me are people who work in our local industry (offshore oil production), and just need a place to stay while they are doing training, etc. I've never had any problems, and like I said that has kept work for me really low.

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).

I'm guess that's Aberdeen then?


My book "Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails" continues to sell well, in the $2k range per month. It's not exactly passive, though, as I write blog posts and develop other related content in the same theme.


Ever thought about rewriting parts of the book to work with other languages, as a separate product?

Yep. Language and payment processor variants are something that I've thought about a lot and will probably start working on at some point.

Edit: autocorrect correction

PHP would be a natural fit (Symfony2 or Laravel 4 (I'd vote for Laravel 4 as that is a rapidly growing market that is still relatively "poor" in learning material).

Also if you did happen to do it for Laravel 4, I'd buy it ;).

Wow, I just took a look at the docs for Laravel. I had no idea it was that sophisticated. Thanks for the tip, I'll look into it some more.

It's a truly excellent framework that pulls in the best in breed from the others but then puts a layer over the top that allows you to get things done (in a well engineered and testable manner).

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).

I'm currently earning around $45-60 a day mining cryptocurrencies with a little over $5000 in hardware. Once setup it's completely passive.

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.

Is that net of energy costs?

Energy costs about $6 a day.

GameOfTrolls just asked

"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.

Asic/FPGA's? Or just GPU/CPU? Which currencies? I was one of those that mined a few blocks of bc and spent it all before it was worth anything, and then thought that fpga's and asics took it out of my price range. Have considered trying my hand at it again.

GPUs mining scrypt. It's more profitable than using ASICs to mine Bitcoin.

You kind of seem to be avoiding specifying, but which ones, if you don't mind sharing?

how long would that be sustainable for, given the periodic difficulty increase in the various cryptocurrencies?

As a followup to this, the scrypt coins I mine increased in profitability this week. I'm making over 1% ROI per day right now.

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.

I'm making negative 15 USD/month hosting two side projects:

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.

Sorry to hear they're not a great success. They look good though! I've noticed both of those sites use Bootstrap? If you want, submit them to http://builtwithbootstrap.com/submit and I'll publish them tomorrow, see if you get any more action on there.

Thanks! They were indeed built with bootstrap. I'll submit them right away. :)

Done and ready to go :) let me know how it goes!

Thanks a ton! It already has 3 notes :) If you're interested, I'll e-mail you some analytics as soon I have them. Let me know if there's any way I can buy you a beer.

No problem :) glad you're already seeing some results! By all means send me your analytics. Would be nice to see the impact BWB was able to give you

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 :)

I have been looking for a Markdown-aware pastebin for ages. If you add this one function I will use your service extensively / exclusively. Good luck!

http://peg.gd/ is basically that :)

Thanks. By markdown-aware you mean realtime, say, html-rendering?

yes. gist is ok but not anonymous.

gist.github.com does this!


Enjoyed playing with blocksim. Have you considered aiming for a different market than matlab/simulink? One thing that simulink cannot do well is dynamic, reconfigurable networks of components (for example, UAVs or autonomous vehicles, but also game sprites). For this purpose, some smart people (not me) at UC Berkeley developed a language called SHIFT and applied it to platoons of automated cars and trucks back in the mid 1990s. I rewrote it as a ruby DSL that generates C code: https://github.com/vjoel/redshift. It would be fun to have something like that in a browser, with animations.

Thanks. It sounds very interesting. From the little I've seen, seems like it could be used to simulate systems in a "smart cities" context. I will detinitely take a closer look.

Same here for me with http://timebot.io/ I just have no clue how to go about getting customers.

Your "try it now" link doesn't go straight into trying it. I have to either pay money or share to FB. It may seem fine to you, but that's a redirect in the customer's mind. That was enough to stop me from trying it--even though I am struggling to get a freelance practice started and need hour tracking and invoicing help. You haven't shown me anything and are asking me to part with my money or my privacy just to see whether your products sucks or not.

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.

You're absolutely right. Thanks for checking it out.

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.

Hate to be blunt, but you wouldn't have posted your site here without wanting to know what is wrong I guess. Anyway, forcing someone to share a product they haven't even tried yet just to try it themselves, and also forcing potential paying customers to enter their credit card details on an unsecured connection are both great ways to turn away 100% of your visitors instantly! That would be the first thing that HAS to change if you want customers :)

I've had this problem with every single side project. The only thing that seems to work "out of the box" is my rhythmbox plugin/android app, but I guess I'm just piggybacking on people's search for "rhythmbox".

I would suggest focusing on how you're different from your competitors. At a first glance from your site, I have a hard time distinguishing you from say, Freshbooks.

heh, I have the same product: http://grafire.com

haven't maintained it in ages though

How many users do you have?

Currently in the single digits, this is my zombie project. I haven't actively marketed for a few years - moved on to other things. People tried it a few days and left, I guess there are better free options or they just didn't like the interface.

Even I am making negative dollars a month Hosting a server and paying for Apple Dev Account http://albumsyncer.jyothepro.com Will appreciate any feedback - * The iOS App is Free

Don't you think you need some customer feed back on why its not that useful and incorporate those feedback on your products?

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

Definitely. Altough people I know personaly haven't given me a lot of useful feedback. I tried to "Show HN" them as well, but both posts were instantly buried. I used criticue.com to get feedbacks too, but they were either "This is super cool" or "I can't figure out what it does".

A stupid app, called That's Not Funny, that I wrote in 2008 or so to teach myself Android programming (when v1 came out) continues to make around $40 a month from ads.


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.

For comparison: I made an app called Joke Effects (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ctrlplusz....), in early 2011. The free version has around 70 000 downloads, and has made me about 25$ - in total.

Paid version (0.99$) has sold about 200 copies.

That's a pretty nice app. I think with these simple apps you have to be at the right time in the right place. When I wrote That's Not Funny, there was only one Android phone on the market (HTC G1) and the App Store was fairly tiny. So the app made a bigger splash.

I made a very simple word jumble app, I get some dollars a month from ads. The one thing that blows my mind is that people still download it, how do they ever find it? :-)


I have a quite simple web site with some calculators for taxes and stuff, that I originally built in 2007. The Google AdSense and affiliate income has grown from about $1000 per year to almost $1000 per month.

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.

Can you tell me which site it is?

Sure, but the site is in Swedish: http://rakna.net

Ah I actually ended up using that a few months ago when trying to determine cost of living between various European countries. I was pretty shocked and saddened (as a naive university student) when I realised the full extent of taxation in the UK for graduate job salaries but soon realised it was still less than those of Europe, especially the nordic countries.

Wow, funny that a local version can make so much money... Maybe I should be creating somthing simple but usefull too... Sometimes we software devs think we have to create something complex in order to get money... But you just have to solve a simple problem people have. Thanks for the insights!

Any reason why you haven't done an English version?

It looks like it has some Sweden-specific stuff, and adding in English-speaking countries would require knowledge of their tax systems. I suppose you could do an English version for English-speaking people living in Sweden who don't speak Swedish, but it would likely be a tiny niche market.

No good reason, no. Feel free to start your local franchise, and let me know how it goes. :-)

Current passive income for me - blog and niche sites with articles (ads e.g. http://www.flagshipstorelondon.com/), e-commerce business (sales), ETFs (investments), and teaching a skill.

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.

Your map is quite cool, were you the one to hand draw it all? It is 100% drawn, no?

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.

> http://www.wellingtonstravel.com

You made that? Beautiful map! You should do those for more cities.

Thanks! I had a business partner who is an architect and she did most of the artwork but we designed it together. It took us 3 years and was kind of a hobby.

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.

Firstly that is a very nice map. Do you have any plans to do any other cities or is it a one and done kind of project?

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.

So it's vintage 2012 (like a wine), we might do another vintage in 2015 or 2016. I'd like to do other cities but I don't have so much time right now.

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.

If you did it again, would you do physical products? Is there any sort of "drop shipping" for large paper printing like that? I looked into it before for maps, but it looks horrifcally expensive to print large paper maps if you just want one copy.

My free-to-play Solitaire web app, at http://www.solitr.com/.

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.

Hey joliss, I'd like to ask how you pick up your traffic? I've got a similar project as yours, and it has the same problem - it's a remake of a popular game with lots of high ranking webapps on Google. None of the SEO and social media did the trick for me. I even built a plug-in widget. So far a handful of links send most of my traffic, and I don't get in a month what you get in a day.

My project is: http://sudokuisland.com

How would you go about it? Thanks.

I'm getting organic search traffic for niche keywords, like 'free solitaire online'. http://sudokuisland.com seems to have a decent amount of keywords already, but perhaps you can think of more. Organic search is probably the only way to get traffic at the scale you need for an ad-monetized game.

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.

You make a grand for 3 thousand daily visitors? That's much higher than I expected! Is it normal to earn over a thousand dollars a month for a few thousand daily visitors?

I have no idea. I was surprised at how high it was.

I created the app 3dweapons for Android about 2 1/2 years ago. (http://www.3dweapons.net) The free version was downloaded >1.7 million times. The paid version around 8k times.

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.

So another 3 months to buy a Motorola Xoom ;-)

Are you planning an iOS version?

Hahaha Emiel! (I worked with him for over 2 years). I can give you a link to the source so you can implement it in objective-c. I'll buy you a beer!

Do you have a way to tell how many of your paid installs are legitimate?

You are referring to the pirated versions of my app? Actually i dont have hard figures.

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.

See how much Google sends you every month?

Oh man, you should be making more money. Great fun app!

If you're looking for some dropshipping insights (which the OP's link suggests), here's a nice story: http://www.ecommercefuel.com/selling-an-ecommerce-store/

That one's interesting, but leans more towards the "part-time small business" side than the "passive" side imo. Manning a phone line 4 hours/day M-F in particular makes it at least a part-time job, since you can't do that and also be traveling, holding another job, or studying full-time.

At first I started with a Blogspot with a bunch of cat gifs and a couple of Google ads. Once I earned enough money to buy a domain name for this project, I bought http://catgifpage.com and designed a cheap-but-fun interface for the visitors I targeted.

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.

You got the copyright holders' permission to use those gifs, I take it?

I’m genuinely interested: do you have any example of a GIF/LOL website which owns the rights on the published content?

No. I just think it's unethical to make money from someone else's work without compensating them.

"But everyone else is doing it" is the kind of reasoning small children use.

That was not my reasoning, I thought you had some examples in mind.

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?

Lol, touché! and how about google? does google have permission to show gifs jpegs/whatever video/.. online when people do a search on any term in particular? Guess there are loopholes for big companies only ;)

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

1) Selling Elon Musk t-shirts: http://www.zazzle.com/elonmuskspaceman Did not make that much but was great fun.

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'm a huge fan of Elon Musk, but I must say I don't like the designs very much. I you can't make better designs, you should think of having shirts with quotes like “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”or "I'll put a man on Mars in 10 years. Maybe 20 years worst case. Otherwise I won't be able to go there." (can't find the exact quote!)

Thanks for the tip. Just added some t-shirts with quotes. The goal is to create more designs in the coming weeks.

Haha I love the "I would like to die on Mars. Just not on Impact" I didn't know that one!

I created and sold Stickonspy (http://stickonspy.com) just after mid last year. The initial month I launched it did pretty well as the NSA news was still a pretty big deal. All in all it's made me < £1k but it's been great fun to build and ship a product from scratch. I've shipped to around 12 countries too which is cool. I also spent no money on marketing.

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!

Great idea. Just wondering that if you didn't spend any money on marketing, how did you get the word out, SEO?

I started out by merely tweeting a link to the site and asking my friends to do the same. I did publish HN but it got took down pretty sharpish.

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 ;).

I like this - it made me chuckle :) Can I ask who you used to print the stickers?

A website promoting ebooks about seduction : http://www.ebookseduction.com/ (in french, english version coming soon) It's not a big business but it is good pocket money considering it takes me few hours of work per month.

that can also be read as ebook seduction.

I created a web game called Pit of War (http://www.pitofwar.com) about three years ago and it has been generating enough monthly income to pay all my bills and affords me the ability to travel and live anywhere I like. It isn't completely passive but that is because I choose to add new features and updates. It is a niche game but the Internet is a big place with lots of people. :) Books like The Long Tail and The Curve have taught me that you don't need to have the #1 product in an industry to make a good living.

How do monetize? Selling in game items? Advertising?

The game has two currencies. Hard currency (Trophies) that are mainly bought with real money and soft currency (Gold) which are found in game. It is a fairly standard practice for those familiar with Free-2-Play (F2P) games. It was difficult to balance things so paying players and free players could compete on level footing but after three years I feel I've found a nice balance and if judging from player feedback the majority also feels the same.

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.

I'm going to toss this out there - I've considered building an affiliate site in the porn space. I've looked at a couple API's and it looks easy. However, I have never built anything in this space - I just hear that there's money to be made so have been tempted. Let the flogging begin!

Was easy money around 2002-2004. You'd get like 200:1 conversion of an OK paysite with either a 35% lifetime revshare of sometimes random promotions (usually to kickstart a new site) would offer $250 upfront PPS. Niche sites (gay, extreme fetish) would convert TGP traffic as good as 75:1 and honestly were the best place to be (to many fanboy affiliates saturating the market with mainstream "teen amateur" sites).

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.

I'm considering creating chatroom site. Not my own chatrooms but using API of others. Seems like those may still be in vogue. Have you had any luck with them? I'm certain I can create a site in an evening, then I just need to see how to drive traffic to it.

Most guys used to say don't bother making a paysite (same applies for camsites) until you can drive 10,000 a day to it from your own network. Paid seeding traffic is just too expensive.

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.

Oh - if anyone has any info on this please email me via my profile. I'm open to reason not to do it as well as I don't have my heart set on it, more of a curiosity than anything.

Income is often called passive but essentially there is always something you need to do, monitor, improve or change in order to keep cash flow steady. If you don't, your income will decrease over time until reaching zero. It is surely easier to maintain "passive income" than to start from scratch.

I understand 'passive' to mean 'charging more than once for the same piece of work'.

I interpret "passive" to mean "not directly trading time for money".

I make $0.70 cents (1 sale) every month from my iOS puzzle game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simpl/id672601351?ls=1&mt=8

In a few months I'll be able to buy myself a coffee! =)

You should go to a coffee shop, and buy people a coffee in trade for looking at your entry in itunes, see what they think and if they can describe what the game does. You probably want to re-word the description as I am only guessing at how it works and I still don't know. A trailer on youtube wouldn't hurt either, though the name makes it hard to search for...

Bought the app Sleep Cycle Calculator from its previous owner. Completely redid the interface for iOS 7, and I'm now finishing up a version with a custom UIView.

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.


Where do you buy these kind of apps from?

Bought mine on Apptopia. As far as I can see, it's the (only?) most reliable and most solid market place.

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