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[dupe] What was your best passive income in 2014?
323 points by ericthegoodking 1001 days ago | hide | past | web | 466 comments | favorite
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I am the author of two books: "Experimenting With Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid" (http://www.experimentingwithbabies.com), which came out in October, and "Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things" (http://www.correlated.org), which came out earlier this month.

One thing I didn't realize when I started pitching the first book was that there would be "passive income" in addition to the book advance and royalties.

For instance, I've had three foreign-rights deals for "Experimenting With Babies," and the only additional work I had to do was put my signature on some paperwork.

And I have Amazon referral links on both websites, pointing to each book on Amazon. Those links generate a monthly average of about $40 in commissions per month, although my monthly high has been as much as $630.

Oh wow, I just got a sample of your book for the Kindle last week! I got introduced to it by a friend with a baby, talking to another friend with a baby, both of whom are very scientifically minded.

I only read the first two "experiments" but it looks awesome! Waiting for a child of my own to try all these experiments on.

I'd love to hear about the history of the book - how did you decide to work on something like this?

I spent the first 10 years of my career as an editor at newspapers and magazines, and after switching to full-time software development, I was itching to write again.

I got the idea for the book while rocking my son back to sleep in the middle of the night. I realized that I had been doing lots of informal experiments, and I thought it would be really cool to adapt real experiments from various fields of child-development research so that parents could perform them on their own children, with no special equipment needed.

The Experimenting book is really nicely put together. I bought it a few months ago and have enjoyed it. Thanks!

Great work. For writing books do you use any book editor/software of just MS Word ? I am in the process of writing a book and couldn't find a good editor/software. Thanks

For "Experimenting With Babies," I used Google Drive for rought-draft stuff, then switched to OpenOffice. By the time you're passing it back and forth with your editor, you'll need to be using something that's compatible with Word, because that's what your editor will be using (assuming you're working with a traditional publisher).

For "Correlated," I used a lot of natural-language generation, so I suppose you could say that my editor was Sublime Text, at least for the drafts. Then ported into Word format.

Thanks for the info.

anyone used GitBook Editor ? https://github.com/GitbookIO/editor (I haven't - looking for comments from real users)

I bought your book for my scientist lady-friend! It's awesome! Nice work!

Did you do any "marketing" or publicize the books in anyway? Tips for anyone planning to write a book?

A couple of tips:

If you're hoping to get your book in bookstores, get an agent and work with a traditional publisher. Actually, I think going the traditional book-deal route is normally a better bet than self-publishing, unless you expect the vast majority of your sales will be digital and you have a large pre-order list that gives you an assurance of a larger paycheck than any advance you're offered.

Of course, authors must always be their book's best marketer, but having a publicist takes a load off your plate. In my case, the publisher's in-house publicist handled pitching media outlets so I didn't have to.

If you're going to spend money to publicize your book, spend it on pitching media outlets. A single mention in a well-read magazine or newspaper can give you a real bump in sales.

It's been a while since I shared my S3stat [1] numbers. I prefer to talk in vague handwavy terms rather than concrete numbers, but this should give a picture of the trajectory:

6 months: Regularly covering server expenses (which were ~$50-100/month at that point).

18 months: Would have paid for me to live nicely on the beach in Thailand.

30 months: Would cover my rent (and nothing else) at a nice apartment in a major city.

40 months: Passed the monthly take-home pay from my first (non-software) Engineering job out of college.

60 months: About what I'd have been making had I stuck with that first job out of college for 10 years.

80 months: Roughly a Senior Dev salary anywhere but the Bay Area.

As I noted a few years back for the first version of this list, this is for a SaaS subscription product that I built with the explicit goal of having a low-level income stream that I didn't have to put much time into. Early on, there were periods where I worked 80 hours or more per month to get the infrastructure ticking away to my satisfaction. These days, it requires maybe six hours of my attention each month.

This year, though, I've been back to full speed (meaning high single digit hours per week) building out and releasing a bunch of new features.

[1] https://www.s3stat.com/

I'm curious to know how well your cheap bastard plan (https://www.s3stat.com/web-stats/cheap-bastard-plan) has been working out. Has it brought in some customers?

Quite a few people have taken advantage of it, but less than you might think. It brings in some extra traffic, and the occasional new paying customer, so overall it does what it's supposed to.

For the most part, the people who request the Cheap Bastard Plan don't have much in the way of traffic, so it's not particularly expensive to service them. Every once in a while I'll get a request from somebody who's a bit "cheap"'er than normal, asking for an upgrade after posting a comment to an online forum or blog entry, or even just a tweet. But for the most part people tend to have nice things to say about the product, and proceed to say them.

Isn't this almost exactly what Google punished rap genius for doing?

Nah. The Rap Genius representative was offering up a specific and unnatural chunk of HTML with numerous links to different areas of the site. The rules for that S3Stat plan says nothing about linking back at all, although of course you are naturally likely to. Not even in the same ballpark.

Wow, very cool. I suspect this is a model that could be applied to a lot of scenarios where people want to feed raw data into a report and get some nice looking stats out.

One possible application might be recurring revenue stats (growth, churn, etc). There are some solutions for this but they all depend on certain billing providers. Would be nice if you could just upload a .csv file of all your transactions, tag the columns, and get a nice report.


Out of curiosity does anyone know of a similar service for Google Cloud Storage? Really bums me out that they don't break out bandwidth per bucket.

This sounds like a great product idea. :-)

https://qloudstat.com seems to be doing some more services. do you think they do it as passive income as well?

Here are the all time sales figures for http://www.makecupcakewrappers.com

They've been pretty bad the last few months. I think it's because the server was overloaded and response times were getting really bad. It was running on a GoDaddy $70/mo VPS with IIS, SqlServer. But that server was also hosting an Umbraco site and a WordPress blog. The PHP process was taking up 99% CPU nearly all the time.

Now I have it running independently on a GoDaddy VPS and all the static resources are on Amazon CloudFront. It is much faster.

My wife says the designs we have are out of date and we need to make some newer designs. This involves going to Target, looking at the greeting cards, place mats, napkins, and other nick-hacks to get ideas. Also, Pinterest is great for design ideas! Then, opening up InkScape or a D3 console and creating SVG color-in templates in the site's specific format.

   | Mon (desc)| Sales  |
   | July      | 128.70 |
   | June      | 227.45 |
   | May       | 124.65 |
   | April     | 301.50 |
   | March     | 274.40 |
   | February  | 287.35 |
   | January   | 415.25 |
   | December  | 128.70 |
   | November  | 175.65 |
   | October   | 188.60 |
   | September | 132.75 |
   | August    | 330.25 |
   | July      | 343.20 |
   | June      | 297.45 |
   | May       | 505.90 |
   | April     | 351.30 |
   | March     | 484.05 |
   | February  | 188.60 |
   | January   | 248.50 |
   | December  | 38.85  |
   | November  | 155.40 |
   | October   | 89.85  |
   | September | 209.65 |
   | August    | 179.70 |
   | July      | 299.50 |
   | June      | 329.45 |
   | May       | 229.50 |
   | April     | 279.45 |
   | March     | 419.15 |
   | February  | 249.45 |
   | January   | 149.70 |
   | December  | 119.75 |
   | November  | 199.60 |
   | October   | 109.75 |
   | September | 99.80  |
   | August    | 99.80  |
   | July      | 70.80  |
   | June      | 25.90  |
   | May       | 25.90  |
   | April     | 38.85  |
   | March     | 0.01   |

I looked at your site briefly. Great idea, similar to patio11's Bingo Card Creator site. Are you doing any A/B testing at all? I think you should be able to ramp up your sales by being more active managers of the site, instead of it being something passive. But even patio11 didn't want to manage bingo cards forever.

Also, the number of template available seems very low. From your home page, if you add up the numbers under "Categories", you only have 10 templates to choose from? You need to get that to 100. Seriously. This is like a business card creator site - you need lots and lots of choices, and people will buy.

Not many want to custom design a complete cupcake wrapper themselves. Just pick a nice baby design and add text to it for the baby name.

Email some of your customers and ask them how you can improve.

My 2 cents. Congrats on the success, and good luck!

Thanks for the tips! There are actually 41 canned designs http://www.makecupcakewrappers.com/Wrapper and users do share some of their custom designs which can then be edited by other users.

But, it's been on my to-do list for over a year to build a wizard on top of the custom designer with a step 1) choose a design, step 2) upload photo, step 3) enter text, type of experience.

Nice business there! I'm curious, if I may ask, where do you get most of your traffic from?

I get nearly all the traffic from Google. AdWords never worked for me. For a few months I got a lot of great traffic from Cake Central. They have a cupcake forum [1] which is hyper-relavent to my site. Also, I reviewed myself [2] in their reviews section, and it sat in their sidebar feed, getting the placement of a $1000/mo ad, until it fell off.

[1] http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-forum-33.html [2] http://cakecentral.com/products/cupcake-wrapper-creator/revi...

Ah! I remember this site. I thought the idea was neat. I heard on a podcast there's a niche for wedding handkerchiefs actually. Maybe look into that. Cupcakes have gotten popular at weddings.

This is why I'm not an entrepreneur. I could have never, even in my wildest dreams, imagined there would be a market for cupcake wrappers or wedding handkerchiefs (whatever they are).

You may be able to find someone on oDesk or something to make a bunch of designs without you having to do it, might be worth paying for a long term gig which will give you fresh content you can use.

Any success marketing on Pinterest? Seems there'd be a gold mine of home/crafty/DIYers who would be interested.

You might try instagram as well. Here's an instagram account I follow (I have a corgi) that is doing really great marketing. They usually a few posts per week, occasional shots of various products, link to website. I thought it was brilliant.

link: http://instagram.com/corgistagram

Why on Earth are you hosting it at GoDaddy? Throw up a Linode or something.

It's written in Windows technologies. Their Windows VPS prices are good.

Have you looked at Azure? I know they dropped prices fairly recently, not sure how they match up to GoDaddy though.

$5k per month for 18 months in a row.

Made a portfolio website for my girlfriend. Got positive feedback, refactored into Wordpress theme and published on ThemeForest. Not 100% passive as I spend 3-4 hours per week for answering support emails.

ThemeForest is a perfect place for passive income if you are a website developer. At first it challenges your skills as you need to create the concept, design it and code it. Then it challenges your business, marketing and support skills. You become a one man factory and learn a lot.

I just typed in "portfolio" onto ThemeForest and I have to say, pretty stiff competition. Many of the themes I looked at are VERY high end, clearly created by some kind of design professional.

Definitely not an area your average web-developer can just drop into. I can definitely write the code but you also need a good artistic/design mind. Just to make everything more coherent and to create a real theme that runs through the template.

Not only that but ThemeForest users now demand support for their investment. It mostly means keeping up with the rapidly updating Wordpress framework but most of the highest rated themes have some sort of post-purchase support. I think that is why most of the coders are from areas where the cost of living is lower (Eastern Europe/Asia).

Interesting - you've basically accomplished the 4-hour workweek : )

I've been considering doing the same thing with some of my sites. Do you have any tips on refactoring something we've designed and selling it on a theme marketplace? Are there specific site features that sell better than others and/or are requested a lot? Do themes with wordpress/php included sell better than ones without? I'm very curious - thanks!

Except that I have a full time job, so I end up at 44-hour workweek. Not that I do not enjoy it :-)

If you look at other themes on TF you will notice how many features they have. Building your first theme with the same amount of features would be very time consuming. I went with "Getting Real" approach and focused on doing the fundamentals right. At the time I launched there were no customisable fonts, colors or sidebars (something that most of other themes had). But it still sold well, because people liked the way it showcased their portfolios.

Do a Wordpress theme. It sells much better than HTML only and selling price is 4 times higher.

Thanks for answering. I'm looking for any additional income I can squeeze out in addition to consulting while building my startup. Getting Real talks about "Selling Your By-products" which didn't sink in when I read it. Now it makes a lot of sense. I suppose I could change a few things, list the theme and add features based on requests/feedback if necessary.


Is this all from a single theme? What percentage are you at?

I've contemplated converting some of my custom WP themes to sell on ThemeForest but I didn't think it would be worth the time.

edit: I often wonder if it would be worth it to try to compete with theme clubs. They seem to make a killing on recurring revenue and release a couple of themes a year.

Yes, it's from single theme. I'm currently at the highest rate of 70%.

There are a couple of high-selling authors on TF that established their theme clubs. They build up customer base using TF and then invite people to subscribe for a yearly fee to get access to all of their themes plus the ones to be released. I guess after you reach certain amount of customers such model is much more profitable.

Eg. http://www.themezilla.com/ and here's a link to their TF profile http://themeforest.net/user/OrmanClark

Theme clubs? Are those the places where you pay a subscription fee to be in a limited club of people that get a new theme every couple weeks?

In general people spend a lot of money on themes. I think you might be better off competing with themeforest or more likely, any of the number of bootstrap theme website popping up.

There a few but elegantthemes.com is one that comes to mind.

You pay yearly to access to a bunch of quality themes. They pay out 50% commissions (and on renewals too) to affiliates but they have 200k+ plus users. They have to bring in a couple million a year.

I believe they started out at much lower prices and started raising it as they released more and more themes.

Impressive. Link to the theme? curious.

Link to theme's landing page: http://themeforest.net/item/fluxus-portfolio-theme-for-photo... (affiliate)

Direct link to the demo: http://inthe.me/demo/fluxus/

That is a really nice, well polished theme. Hats off to you.

What do you charge for your theme? Is that typical? How much of a cut does ThemeForest take from you?

You start at 50% then it increases by 1% for each $2500 you earn. You continue building up like this until you reach 70%.

The interesting thing is that you can't control the price of your theme and it is set at the time of publishing by TF. Price range for WP themes is $35 - $50

Are you actually based near Old Street? Would love to meet you for lunch some time, I'm at Google Campus every Friday.

You should try pluginbag.com which offers much more than ThemeForest.

Except how could anyone tell? It wants you to sign up before anything? Or at least that's what it looks like, I'm not punching an e-mail address into a form just to see what's behind door number 1 when there's no information for a shopper and very little for a seller.

We are still building the platform and inviting early adopters. We are a team of designers & developers and wants to solve the pain of giving away 50% of our sales on envato marketplaces.

Pluginbag offers 80% to the seller with No Exclusive lock in

Shoppers will benefit from the latest, well managed and quality work of the sellers.

PS: I'm the cofounder at pluginbag.com

That's cool. How about putting it on your site, even if it means making an 'About Us' page (although it'd probably be better integrated into the landing page)? Pointing people to your domain at this point doesn't help them unless they already know what it is... make people WANT to join your site, even if they can't yet.

Hope it works out, sounds like it's a better deal for sellers (which often makes buyers happier in the long run).

Dividends on stocks.

I've never had an idea good enough to make an app out of, or build a company around. So instead, I started investing a small amount of my paycheck in to my brokerage account. Buying lots of stock in Dividend Kings[1], I've earned $25 this year, with another $20 through October. It's not a lot, but I'm fully thinking long-term.

1: http://long-term-investments.blogspot.com/2013/02/15-Best-Di...

I recently moved a lot of money out of a "high" interest savings account and mostly into dividend stocks. I managed to get a small payout of around $20 in an ETF and the potential seems so much higher than that of a savings account.

I guess the other thing I'm doing is finally putting money where my mouth is and putting money into companies I think will succeed in the future.

Have you compared this to just putting the money in a high-interest savings account?

What counts as high-interest these days? Half a percent?


Getting $25/year would need around $3000 in the account. Although it might not increase much over the years.

You've got to consider the inflation rate which is currently hovering around 2-3%.

Depends on where you are. In the U.S, interest rates aren't anything to talk about. In India, my dad gets something like 7% (I think it is more for people over 60)

And the inflation rate in India is 8.9%.[1] so 7% interest is terrible. Doesn't beat inflation. Your money still loses value over time.

The US has had very low inflation in the last decade or so with very small deflation in 2009.[2] but interest isn't beating inflation here either though.



As far as "high yield" savings goes, for a normal savings account or money market account you'll be looking at 1% being the max rate right now, if you can find it. Last I took a glance I saw .95% being the highest. Those are for online banks. I get .85% with Discover Bank (online savings account). I also have a 17 month CD that earn me a whopping 2%. That was a one time special my [brick and mortar] credit union was offering. Those accounts are FDIC (or NCUA) insured.

I considered investing in a foreign country bank since I happened upon $20k through some fortunate stock picks. I was advised that this is a _very_ bad idea because of the currency fluctuations between countries. You might earn 7% in India (or 19% in the Ukraine), but if suddenly the transaction rate doubles, you've lost half your money.

Anyone paying 7% is doing so to compensate for risk.

Yes and no. There are countries that use USD as well as their own currencies. Often the banks offer much better rates than any US bank. Part of that is the risk of the bank collapsing, or the government confiscating deposits, introducing windfall taxes, etc, but part of it simply reflects supply and demand - sometimes those banks find it hard to borrow internationally themselves, and are desperate for deposits.

19%?? woah, that is crazy.

So is parking cash in Ukraine at the moment.

Well, not really. You can't just look at interest rates in a vacuum without any context and make a judgement about them. You have to compare it to inflation rates, currency stability, faith in currency, general economic situation, etc. The US had 16% savings interest rate in 1981[1].

Let's, for example, look at the history of credit cards. I am sure you can agree that the 30% interest rate charged today is unreasonably high. It wasn't at a time, and lets look at how it got that way.

Back in the late 70s/early 80s we had a recession with double digit inflation while at the same time all states had usury laws that capped credit card interest rates. Inflation was so high that inflation surpassed the highest interest rates companies were allowed to charge. Citibank was "going broke" with this model - they were actually losing money lending at that interest rate at that time. Citibank then convinced South Dakota to drop is usury laws on credit cards and Citi would move there in order to charge an interest rate that beat inflation. Citibank moved there and overnight the stage was set for the US credit card industry to now flourish. "All of their senior people used to say it,'' [then governor of South Dakota] said. "That South Dakota saved Citibank. I believe it did. That South Dakota saved Citibank.'' It was a result of an economic recession with high inflation. There was a Frontline special years ago about this - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/more/ri... - though it is outdated, since credit card legislation has passed that addresses a lot of the topics brought up on the show. you can watch it online for free - I highly recommend you do.

Delaware and Nevada followed with similar legislation, so that's why most (all?) credit card companies have a return address in SD, NV, or DE.

However, we are no longer in double digit inflation but the old interest rates and legislation stand, for the most part. New laws are slowly reeling in on some credit card practices to keep up with the economic times and current circumstances.


[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquette_Nat._Bank_of_Minneapo....

*Disclaimer: I have no idea about the economic situation of Ukraine. I am just making a point about judgements of different times/economies.

a what? do you think it is 1985?

2000 or 2007 would've been okay too (rates around 5-6%): http://www.pfstuff.com/savings/#historical

Yeah, maybe it wasn't a great question. I can get 3.5% where I live, though.

Mutual funds may be a much better option, though.

I've had an ING Direct (now Capital One 360) account for a decade or so. I've seen the interest rate drop from 5% or so to .75%.

So yeah the returns are pitiful in a savings. The rates on CDs are lower than the one on the savings account.

The interest on savings is probably smaller than the inflation these days.

Preferred stocks. Current dividend rates are between 6.5 and 7% typically. Especially high quality companies trading at or under $25. Senior to stocks, subordinate to bonds.

Can you give a couple of examples? What are the risks with preferred stocks?

I advise you don't focus too much in dividends but spread it in emerging markets, gold and others.

In the short term it looks like a bad idea, because you could have more income coming from your dividends, but when a crisis or something hits, it's worth it.

Gold is a store of value, it's not very likely to beat inflation.

A dividend stock is likely to beat inflation, (but not with as much growth as a growth stock.) Theoretically, if you're only using the dividends, it's just as good in downturns (as long as it's not GE/GM/BAC with huge non core financing arms).

My risk adverse holding is a major, regulated, electricity provider. If it goes out of business, it's likely that I also don't have electricity.

What kind of crisis are you thinking? Because if you're talking something like 2008 again, dividend stocks should be fine -- the market value of the stock will drop, but the dividends should remain stable. In fact, the smart investor loves those times -- it's a great time to accumulate assets.

If you're talking something like a collapse of the entire economy, then yes, tangible assets like gold and real estate are much better. It's not impossible, but I don't know if it's especially likely that's going to happen....

That said, I do invest in gold/silver and real estate as well for various reasons. I also invest in dividend stocks for other various reasons. They all have a place in my strategy.

I haven't done much research on emerging markets, but isn't that a very high-risk/high-reward investment? For now, while I'm still stuck at my job and not yet "rich" (by my conservative definition) I'd rather mitigate my risk and have some control over my investments -- I plan to be successful and well-off, I'm not just hoping that I get lucky and one of my investments' value goes through the roof.

(I'm not criticizing and I didn't downvote you. I'm actually interested to hear others' investing strategies, maybe I can learn something new!)

If you're under 40 years old, it's better to invest entirely in growth stocks over dividend stocks[1].

In theory, dividends are a great source of passive income, but with effective yields of 2-3% you'd need a lot of capital to generate any meaningful income, i.e., a $1M investment would pay around $30,000 annually.

Dividend stocks have never performed that well; they never appreciate 10-20x like certain growth stocks, they usually underperform relative to the market, and when the market declines they all go down just the same.

Here's an example: over the past two years P&G (PG) and Coca-Cola (KO), two dividend stock favorites, are up about 20% and flat respectively. The S&P 500 index is up 40% in the same period, Facebook (FB) is up over 200%, and Tesla (TSLA) is up over 700%.

[1]: http://www.financialsamurai.com/better-to-invest-in-growth-s...

True. But, as I said before, my strategy is about mitigating risk and increasing control over the outcome.

To get that 700% increase in Tesla, you would've had to get in early; and how do you know at that point that the stock's going up or down?

While I'm sure plenty of people actually do make significant money on growth stocks, it's about appreciation and capital gains. Worse, it's about appreciation of an asset you don't have control over. It's got better chances than trying to win the lottery, I guess, but you can't really know what the future holds. Everything I've heard about other people investing in the stock market (and hoping their portfolio goes up) usually involves wins and losses -- which end up cancelling each other out. You also have to realize the gains to get them. If you don't sell when the market is up, you might lose when the market goes down.

Dividends (not the value of the stock, but the dividend it pays), however, tend to remain stable, even through crisis situations like 2008.

Now, I've read about some pretty complex investing strategies that involve options and all sorts of hedging -- strategies that basically ensure a return by mitigating the risk. But that takes a lot of learning (and time) and I'm not really a stock guy. I feel like my time is better spent focusing on big wins in other areas (where I have more knowledge).

You mention that dividend stocks don't perform well -- but the purpose of investing in dividend stocks isn't usually about watching the price of the stock rise. It's about the dividends -- which are nice by themselves, but also usually rise about 15% a year for those companies. It's also about DRIP investing -- reinvesting the dividends rather than accumulating or spending them. Between DRIP and annual dividend increases, the stock compounds on itself. With any compounding investment, the key metric is time -- so starting early and letting it compound over your lifetime is very beneficial.The idea isn't about investing $1m immediately for $30k/year immediately. Invest slowly over time to have $1m worth of stocks paying $30k/yr (while not actually paying that full $1m, since much of it came from DRIP and hopefully dividend increases)

However, I'm not saying you're wrong, this is all just my opinion. I'll admit my stock investing strategy is very conservative, but like I said, I'm not much of a stock guy. Until I discovered dividend investing strategies, I thought about investing in index funds -- and even before that, I avoided the stock market entirely. I'd much rather own and control my assets, which is why I'm bootstrapping a business and investing in rental real estate primarily -- and reinvesting the income into dividend stocks (when it's an attractive investment) for sort of a stable "base-layer" of "backup" income (down the road -- after compounding) that I honestly hope to never end up using.

EDIT: I just wanted to give an example.

Say you have a stock that's worth $50 and pays a 3% dividend ($1.50 per share). You buy 1 share per year for the next 30 years.

Let's assume no growth -- the stock stays at $50 per share and 3% dividend for the entire 30 years. So you've spent $1500, total, on this stock over that period, and purchased 30 shares. However, with dividend reinvesting, your total holdings at the end of that time are 47.58 shares (you can have fractional shares with DRIP) and the total value is $2,378, and pays a $71 annual dividend. The value of the stock, with no appreciation whatsoever, is about 60% higher than the total purchase price ($1500), and the dividend it pays is about 5% of the purchase price.

Now add a 15% dividend increase per year and an average 15% stock price increase per year (if the price remains stable, the math goes crazy -- you end up paying $1500 over 30 years and have a $2m portfolio paying $4m in dividends!). You pay $59k over 30 years for 1 share per year of stock. At the end of the period, you end up with 7 extra shares and your portfolio is worth almost $370k -- that's a 500% increase in value over what you paid. You also receive an $86 annual dividend per share, and over $3k total per year -- again, a 5% dividend at the end.

These are very simple examples, as well. Realistically, there are a ton of extra variables. You probably buy more stock as time goes on, simply because you make more money. You might also buy a whole bunch more during market crashes, reducing the average cost per share at the end of the investing period -- or you might buy less when the market's soaring. Stocks might stagnate, companies might go through hard times, etc. forcing you to stop buying or outright sell. Plus there's inflation and all.

Bought a house 12 months ago which included a great tenant. Rent checks showed up early every month for the last year. So far the house has been such little work I sometimes feel confused then surprised by his hand written envelopes addressed to me in the mailbox.

Keep the rent low. A great tenant is awesome.

Don't know who downvoted you but I absolutely agree. I have a few homes that I help rent with and having a good tenant is high above and away better than having a bad tenant pay more money. Just the cost alone in time is worth giving a good tenant cheaper rent.

I think the normal reasoning is that higher rent filters out the bad tenants (statistically). But once you have a good tenant then you probably don't want to raise the rent unless they move out and you're seeking a new one.

Another way to screen out bad tenants is to offer zero deposit for high credit score applicants. Several large apartment buildings in my city (DC) do this, and the buildings are full of professionals.

It is totally legal to refuse to rent to people with low credit scores, so that's an option too. Just keep the standard consistent no matter who your applicant is and have a standard criteria to keep everything both fair and legal.

You probably can also charge a larger than average security deposit to weed out the people with cashflow problems. Most states have a cap on amount of security deposit collected, I know here it is twice the monthly rent if under 60. Otherwise the cap is one month's rent.

Here's the rub: You usually gotta have a great place to rent that attract such tenants.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a landlord but I am considering becoming one. Yes, I FULLY know the risks, my parents were landlords for over a decade. So I know exactly what NOT to do as they only made pennies. My grandparents are also landlords and make plenty of money on their rental properties, so I have a positive model as well as a negative one. :)

You probably know this, but for the sake of anyone else reading, your home state probably offers a brochure on how to be a landlord, including what rights you must enforce. It's essential if you ever get a bad tenant. Plus, find a real estate lawyer to go over your lease and whom you can go to in trouble comes up.

Oh yes, I am aware. I would never dream of drafting up a lease without the assistance of a landlord/tenant lawyer.

My TOWN even has a whole book of additional rights for tenants/obligation for landlords in addition to national and state regulations.

Being a landlord is serious business.

... or your fixed costs increase.

Everytime I hear something like that I just suspect the tenant to be a drugdealer or something like that. Which is great since they're always so polite and respectful not to attract attention.

Thankfully he is retired military enjoying life in a quiet mountain village.

Got to be careful with drugs because the police can confiscate the house via asset forfeiture. One tenuous link between a drug dealing tenant and my bank account and the department has a new vacation home.

I hope my landlord appreciations my paying early as well. I always pay a week and a half to two weeks early, just because I've schedule my bills out for it to be that way.

Probably not though since I live in Brooklyn. :(

This is probably what my landlady's thinking too. She works as a tour guide somewhere in south-east Asia, is away 3/4th of the year, and has this quiet dude looking after her house and probably paying for her mortgage, :p. She didn't raise the rent last year since she's happy to have me. I wouldn't mind paying less though, it's kinda meh (old house, single room, etc)

Never hurts to ask. If they know you're a low-risk tenant, they might be able to reduce their margins accordingly.

My business partner and I started Snow in Seconds (http://snowinseconds.com) on the side, 6 years ago. It is a powder thats been around for decades (used in diapers) but when you get it at just the right grain size it looks, and feels like snow when water is added. We found a good source, designed a professional looking brand, made a TV spot (kinda), bought some search ads, and boom, predictable income.

Sales are online only (have not pursued wholesale yet) and is enough to live off of if all else fails. After 6 years we are have about $600K in total sales.

You might want to edit your login page (http://snowinseconds.com/account/login) it still has some Lorem ipsum on it!

Fixed. Thank you!

Wow, congratulations! This would be great around Christmas time in parts of the world where it doesn't snow - S/SE Asia in particular where people have a surprising fondness for Christmas.

Yup, most of our orders are from the South (in the US) and Australia for international.

If you're willing to give us a range, what's your COGS on the snow?

Great animated GIF on the home page!

Margins are good. PPC Advertising cost more than the snow on most orders.

I purchased, gutted and renovated a 1 bed flat in the city 4 years ago. It's gained about $7,000 a month every month for the last 3 years, plus saving about $3,000 in rent. Not exactly 'income' but most certainly passive, and I do plan to sell out when I feel prices are aproaching a peak and move out the city so will yeild then. Neighbouring flats usually sell within 7 days of going to market.

Which city?

(There's more than one you know!)

London. The financial district is often referred to simply as 'the city', so force of habit!

Haven't seen flats sell as quickly as they are now. Living a 3 minute walk from Liverpool Street station and the flat I wa renting sold by the second viewing. It was on the market for three days but things are cooling off.

I had assumed that, but thought it best to ask :)

I was thinking San Francisco, that sounds about for the bay area too.

In August 2013 I released a very simple web app called Space Email - where users send out messages and read messages others have sent, totally anonymously. It had too much volume for what was built on a very poorly designed backend, and with no reporting/flagging system it had to be taken down. This past June I re-launched it on a better platform. This time users could pay a dollar or more to sign up for an account where they get a few extra nifty features.

The first week I made $1200, the last month I made around $450. Things have been slowing down with some personal things going on, so it's been mostly passive as of late. When I launched I had some real speed issues and a lot of optimizing to do, which was incredibly nervewracking as it's my first web app built on PHP and the first project I did that uses a database.

edit: forgot the link: http://space.galaxybuster.net/

This is pretty darn interesting. I've definitely noticed there's a clear split between the interesting, longer, sort of more profound messages 'from space' and the flood of 1-word test or joke messages. Any thoughts on this - is it even a problem?

it's to be expected. most of my users come from tumblr, where those sorts of longwinded posts and that style of humor is pretty common. i don't think it is a problem - i'd rather have a happy medium, though. things like this: http://space.galaxybuster.net/shv.php?id=NTIw or http://space.galaxybuster.net/shv.php?id=MzAwMTg=

may I ask where do you get users from? ppc?

its all word of mouth, mostly from tumblr where it has a bit of a cult-following: http://www.tumblr.com/search/space+email

I keep meaning to write up complete figures but I launched my self-published ebook The Profitable Side Project Handbook in January http://rachelandrew.co.uk/books/the-profitable-side-project

Sales from that are well over 10K USD at this point. A lot of that was over the launch week, I've not had a huge amount of time to devote to marketing it over the last couple of months as our main business (which was a side project until it took off) has kept me busy, so it really is passive income at this point.

Great work. For writing books do you use any book editor software of just MS Word ? I am in the process of writing a book and couldn't find a good editor/software. Thanks

I start out in Scrivener and end up in HTML. Scrivener is great for the actual writing process, although it takes a bit of learning to get used to.

I wrote up on my blog about creating the various versions http://rachelandrew.co.uk/archives/2014/01/07/html-epub-mobi...

I've also recently presented on how to build books in CSS and HTML and the slides and various useful resources are here: http://rachelandrew.co.uk/presentations/css-books

I highly recommend a LaTeX typesetting pipeline for producing the print version your book.

The fonts and page layout make for high quality books.

Using pandoc you can convert pretty much any modern markup language to .tex (I don't recommend .tex as the source format, as it might be difficult to get used to if you don't have experience with it + it is not trivial to produce .html/.epub from .tex sources.

I believe Tim Ferriss said he wrote his first book entirely in Evernote but now raves (with others) about Scrivener.

Keep up the good work.

Scrivener is what all the pros rave about. But if you wan't to check out another option, keep an eye on my sideproject http://blankpage.io :)

How did you market it at launch? Tips?

Pre-announced and got people to sign up to my mailing list in return they got chapter 1 and the table of contents early. I write a weekly email about side projects and building products so a lot of my early traffic came from that. We did exactly the same thing when we launched Perch, and that launch day paid back in sales everything we had spent on the product to get it to launch (not our time but actual cash outlay).

You need to be building an audience for your book long before you actually launch it if you want to have a decent launch. Nathan Barry writes some good stuff about this, check out his book Authority: http://nathanbarry.com/authority/

Its not yet passive because i choose to spend most of my time on it to make it better, but i bought a cleaning business 10 months ago. I recently took a consulting contract for some additional money for expansion and it does run by itself (in the capable hands of my biz manager), however there are more optimisations i wish to make to it. Its the hardest thing i've ever done, but its at a stage where if i wanted to, i could simply take any time i wanted off and all i'd need to do is spend 15 mins a week entering payroll.

I've written about it before, if you want to look through my history.

Start blogging about it, there's got to be a good handful of stories and advice in that throw-away "Its the hardest thing i've ever done". When you're at a 100-odd pages, make it an ebook for more passive income :)

Mind sharing what the cleaning company is? You appear to be in the UK, and I will soon be in the market for a cleaner.

I plan to launch another cleaning business, utilizing what I learned in my launch 3 months ago and write an e-book, and of course sell it for passive income. :)

Excellent, I just started a cleaning business less than 3 months ago.

I'm actually considering starting a cleaning business, and I'd love to get your perspective. I'm a full time software consultant, and I'm looking for a way to get some semi-passive income flowing. Anyway, if you have time, please reach out to me at sean.d.hi at gmail dot com.

Sent you an email.

I had a motorcycle which I had bought for 126K INR. I was not using it much except to commute from home to office. I was going to sell the bike, then suddenly this idea clicked. It took few hours to make and host indiarider.com(people can take the bike on rent). Its been two months now, I have made 15K till now, 7K last week.

I just rented an Enfield 500 off another company to ride from Delhi for two weeks. While they were polite and friendly, the level of professionalism on their site and systems left a lot to be desired. I emailed to check everything was set for a few months from now and the reply was: "you're picking it up in Goa tomorrow right?"

I'm assured things are organized now but its still a little nerve wracking. I know lots of people that would love to be able to reliably rent bikes in India and have often thought about doing what you have done. Your interface looks very professional and gives confidence to the user.

I live in Mumbai, do you have thoughts on expansion?

How do you compensate for the trust gap? Do you make the renter sign some contract or something? How did you do marketing for this ad?

Most of the time I take decision by talking to customer. There is no contract/form to sign. I am working on it. As of now I ask to submit original Identity card and deposit of 10K. There has been an instance when I gave the bike to a customer without taking any security.

What are your typical users and use cases like? I'm from Bombay originally, and can't think of why people would want to rent a bike. Is it people who don't have vehicles and need one temporarily for long journeys? Or is it for one-off joyrides simply for the excitement?

I don't have much to add but just wanted to say that IMHO, this is an example of hacker mindset at its best. Great Job. Congratulations!

Do you have a special insurance for this (I confess I have no idea how India works)? What are you going to do when someone totals it?

I have insurance like that of any private vehicle. I am not prepared for the other question you have asked, its a risk.

I'm also ignorant of how the legal and insurance system works in India, but that seems like far too large of a liability if someone is injured while using your equipment.

Excellent. Scale it if possible. If you can automate the process for others looking to rent, I think the opportunity is huge.

I was thinking this too, only about jet skis and other RVs (I was hoping that is what I would find when I clicked on the link) - I would think there is a lot of opportunity for something like Airbnb for four wheelers, jet skis, camping trailers.

That's really good returns, 7K a week from a 126K startup capital. The obvious next move would be to scale it.

Wow cool! How do you trust that they will return the bike? How do you ensure no misuse including damages?

How do you market?

That's cool, but how do you deal with speeding fines?

In India, traffic cops don't usually use tickets, they accept fines or bribes on the spot in a traffic stop.

Same in a lot of south east asia, Indonesia for example. I experienced it as a tourist on a scooter.

I am based in India. There is not much infrastructure to check the speed. You will find traffic police with such equipment only in cities. That too if you are lucky.

You do realise INR == Indian rupees, right?

They don't have speeding fines in India?

Unless there's actually a cop watching the streets, NO.

That's what he means....

Very proud of this, my first passive income ever: developed an add-on for a popular video game and it's been making me $60/mo.

edit: to mention that it bounces around between $1.50 a day to $2.50 a day based on usage

I'm really interested in how you managed to monetise your addons. I've made some fairly popular addons in the past but I'd always considered them just free things I throw out into the world.

Can you go into detail?

What kind of plugin is it? How do you monetize it?

i smell Dota2

Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) has more than doubled in customers and revenue since the last post, when it had recently broken 5-figure MRR. It could easily support salaries for a small staff at this point, but I still run it myself from home. I try to push out a set of new features every 1-2 months, and have to answer an e-mail on occasion to help out a new user, but otherwise it's very hands-off as a business. I don't do any outbound sales or anything else high-touch.

W3Counter (https://www.w3counter.com) meanwhile generates less than 10% that revenue from 100x the users. They're really similar services fundamentally, but worked out very different. W3Counter ends up being used by hobbyists that want to see vanity metrics like page view counts going up, most of which will not pay for analytics, while companies eagerly pay for Improvely as a profit multiplier for their online marketing.

Aside from those sites, not much has changed. I have a few e-commerce stores that essentially run themselves as passive income, and a steady stream of commissions from various business referrals I made years ago.

Nice! How do you market Improvely? Or which channels do you use to attract new users?

I started EmailItIn[1] to allow people to email files to Google Drive, then added DropBox and SkyDrive/OneDrive support. Premium accounts bring in about $200/m right now, and it's steadily rising.

Support is low - though it took a while to build the initial technology. I get a lot of traction from realtors and lawyers. I've tried paid advertising but the conversions are too low to make it worth it.

Initial goal was "vacation money", and it's currently on track to hit that level next year.

1: https://emailitin.com/

What do you charge for premium accounts? I can't find pricing on your site.

I've had a similar service, http://dbinbox.com/, slowly growing with entirely free plans for the last ~year and a half up to ~25k users and am about to add premium plans.

25k users is amazing. With a premium plan you should be able to convert that into excellent revenue. I suspect getting on CNet, Lifehacker and PCWorld helped a lot there - mind sharing how you got published in those places?

The site is a bit lacking in documentation (typical side project issue). It's $3/m or $30/year. I get a good mix of both types of subscriptions. I figure the price is low enough that it's not a barrier to entry for the majority of people. I also need to document better what premium accounts get you (ability to upload to different folders, etc).

Without paid advertising, how do you advertise the service? I've created a micro-service like this in the past, and where I really fell short was getting the right people on the site. AdWord conversions were also too low in my case.

I worked hard to get onto the front page of google for "email to google drive", and I have a few links from other places that drive a bit of traffic.

I experimented with adwords and stumbleupon but nothing caused enough conversions to be worth it. Every now and then I turn adwords back on to play with keywords a bit, but it's just not worth it at the low price point.

I forgot to add - my next project is likely to be re-writing DVDSpanner (an application that automatically distributes and writes files across multiple disks) to support the latest OSX versions. I will be making that a paid app. I was inspired by the recent story about VirtualHostX.

Hi, are you interested in selling it? Email me if keen (my email is in my profile).

> my email is in my profile

No it isn't :)

Sorry, it is now. :)

I built an information website (not USA) that now pulls in roughly $8800 a month via adsense. To get to that figure takes about 500k user sessions/month (lots of long tail traffic). Runs on a single medium website instance in Azure, takes about an hour a day in maintenance and monitoring for malicious traffic like scraping that can be a problem for info sites (I've mostly automated this).

The initial time outlay was quite large, but it was always approached from the point of view of generating a lot traffic to get the payback.

Won't share the link as it's a competitive niche.

> (not USA)

Is the content in English, or a foreign language? Do you get most of your "long tail" referrals from google.com or an international version?

I suspect there are a lot of wide open playing fields for content sites in foreign languages that simply replicate popular US based ones.

I am curious about how you chose the niche and which factors you think make it successful for you?

It was certainly an area that I was interested in and understood. Also, I made a conscious decision to choose something that would have interest for a very broad group of people, or that was owned by a lot of people.

>(I've mostly automated this).

Can you talk about this?

Also, how many ads and what formats/sizes work best for you?

Approached the traffic filtering from a number of directions - I log and background parse the incoming traffic to look for IPs and ranges that are generating excessive traffic, and get notified of issues. From there I can temporarily/perm block them if desired. I also have a script that can temporarily block all Tor exit nodes, as occasionally I get attempted spamming/scraping from there.

For automating scraping/spamming protection, I would consider something like CloudFlare Security though, my own tools are good enough for now, but I would still be vulnerable to a DDoS or a botnet scrape - it's enough to stop one-man scrapers but I'll need something beefier soon.

Ad formats that seem to work best: 728x90 by a long margin. I generally top and tail the content section with a leaderboard ad. I do serve different sizes for mobile etc, but the leaderboard works way better. I've also experimented with skyscrapers and boxes, which performed very poorly (skyscrapers especially).

That's fantastic income. Is any of that hour a day spent adding content?

Generally no. When I add info it tends to be in bulk (augmenting existing information pages), and then this will be done as a stand-alone project - the info tends to need lots of massaging and making intelligent to give it value.

Holy cow! I'm taking a guess; is it some sort of aggregator website?

Sort of. I took various information sets (some external, some my own), and spent a lot of time pivoting them, merging them etc so that they could be useful. You couldn't find the information as it is on the website elsewhere in the same form, but you could research and produce it yourself, albeit at a much slower pace and with a lot of insider knowledge required.

A very much known service comes to mind! - maybe its yours, maybe different, but has lot of similarities with yours :)

I have a few rentals properties which each brings in around $300/month after all expenses (including property management so I don't have to do anything). Each property price is around 56-60k so if you get a mortgage you only need to put down around 20% of that. It's a pretty good ROI of ~30%.

Email in my profile if you are interested in details.

How do you handle property management?

Geocodio (http://geocod.io) is adding 5-10 new users a day and monthly revenue has gone from <$100 to >$1,000 in just over six months. It's a self-serve product (geocoding US addresses via API or CSV upload), though there is a fair amount of support and continuing development.

I've posted this before, but I wrote up some thoughts about things I've learned about launching a side project here that you might find helpful: https://medium.com/@mjwhansen/things-ive-learned-launching-a...

Can't people just make a request to google maps? Why do they you use your service instead? In what sense is it better (if it is)?

Great question! There are a couple reasons people use Geocodio over or in addition to the major providers, like Google:

* Google's free tier is 2,500 a day. But if you need more than that, you have to sign a yearly contract ($10,000+). Our pricing is 2,500 free a day with additional lookups at $.001 each.

* We don't place any restrictions on our geocodes. The major providers often a lot of restrictions on how you use their lookups, like having to use it with a particular brand of map, can't use it in a backend, can't resell, can't store them, etc. Our lookups are completely restriction free.

* Related, at the enterprise level, we have an option for unlimited geocoding for $750 a month. Major providers usually have a daily limit for their enterprise plans, such as 100,000 lookups a day.

* We provide additional data that people often need along with lat/lon, like timezone, Congressional district, school district, and state legislative districts.

* We're non-developer friendly. We have a CSV upload option (http://geocod.io/blog/2014/04/30/csv/) that lets people upload a spreadsheet of addresses and download it directly from the same dashboard.

A big difference is that we're US-only for the time being. Additionally, it's worth noting that our data is close to Google quality, but not quite. They've embarked on an ambitious, admirable, and expensive quest to map the world and have cars driving around the globe daily. We don't.

Thanks, more clear now. So where does your service perform a search (fetch data from)? Does it use Google itself? Is it just mediator between an end user and google maps which gives the end user more freedom than google maps does?

We've built our own dataset, largely based on the US Census Bureau's TIGER/Line data which we've converted into a useable format. This is why we are US-only -- most countries don't provide such data, and if they do they charge an arm and a leg for it (ex., the UK).

By the way, how big is your dataset: millions, billions records for the U.S.? Or how many (approximately) records are there for, let's say, Washington city or LA?

Honestly, no. Both Google and Bing's APIs are too restrictive, even in paid mode. They basically require that you show a Google/Bing map in conjunction with the lookup, which isn't something a lot of people want to do.

Admittedly a lot of people don't read these fine prints, but they are overly restrictive for a lot of uses.

I looked at various services to do postcode/zip to lat/long and eventually settled on just doing it in-house using downloaded data. After a bit of data massaging it actually works really well.

What do you mean by "settled on just doing it in-house using downloaded data”? Did you build your dataset completely by yourself by parsing data from Google and saving it?

iPad port of a 5 year old game of mine (which previously already paid for itself about 9 times over in its PC and Mac versions) was released a few months ago.

Didn't expect much but amazingly it pulls in consistently $70-$110 a day (about $2,500 a month) for a few months now (not counting the initial release spike).

Game is free to download with 1 In-App-Purchase that unlocks the full game.

Thinking of doing an iPhone version soon which will be a bit more involved than a straight port due to the small screen size and different screen aspect ratio, but I'm currently convinced it will be worth it since the genre actually usually does better on iphone than ipad.

Just wanted to add this to counter all the doom & gloom posts about iOS games not doing well. If you have a great and unique product for a good target market with good retention and monetization, then you can still do very well without too much marketing.

(I actually run ads with about $4 daily budget. Not sure if it actually helps, but I think it does.)

Mind sharing which game this is? I'd simply be curious to see what sort of/quality of game generates that sort of (as you said, very favorable) income characteristics in this current market.

Sorry, I can't for fear of competition.

I'm sorry, but that sounds like a bit of a cop out. One would hope that an idea with the traction to be successful in the way you're describing would be hard enough to replicate to merit that value, or stand alone in such a way that if someone replicated it it would be VERY obvious and difficult for the clones. Perhaps I'm being exceedingly naive to the aggressively cutthroat world of mobile game development, but "competition" seems like a very unsatisfying reason to not want to communicate a shared understanding of what people want in tech at this point in time.

Competition is not an actor. It is a process, of which you're part; whether you want it to be this way, or would prefer a different market to the one we have.

Embrace the competition. Plan for it. Set time aside for it. Make it work for you.

In the meantime, keeping smart people off your back works, too.

Why just a $4 ad budget if it's doing so well?

Thing is, my budget is actually higher than that, but that's how much the campaign actually uses up each day. Not enough reach / people clicking on the ad.

I could try other ad channels, but I'm talking with a publisher who might be interested in publishing it so haven't tried that yet.

I don't think your time would be wasted.

Might help your negotiations, or else you just got started more quickly than you would have otherwise.

I have an AppEngine app that brings in $7k/mo with very little work, with about $2k/mo in server costs. Roughly 50 users paying between $30/mo and $500/mo

There's about 10 minutes of support work per day, but besides corporate customers occasionally needing some phone salesmanship and some manual tweaking, everything else is automated.

Can you talk more about what the app is and what it does? Curious.

I wouldn't be on a throwaway account if I felt comfortable mentioning its name. But, basically, it's an analytics API.

I love App Engine, but why use it in this case? You've got a lot of background processes, but few concurrent users. Couldn't you use a regular server, since you don't have to worry about a spike in traffic?

The API serves nearly 1 billion calls per month, with lots of variations and spikes. That, combined with my lackluster ops skills, makes AppEngine's autoscaling a perfect fit for my use case and skill-level.

Yes, it's probably more expensive than if I used EC2, but I've never been awoken in the middle of the night to need to reboot a server, troubleshoot a memory issue, or scale up my instances.

Sounds good! Congratulations! Can you share a link?

Not comfortable sharing a link in the context of talking about the revenue (hence the throwaway), but it's an analytics API.

Nice. Link, details?

About $30 a month off of AdWords for a fansite I run; it covers about 2/3rds (if that) of the server costs, so I'm content with that. I could earn more if I placed more ads, better ads, worked actively on the site / promoted it, but it's a fansite, and I think it'd be unfair for the people that actually spend obsessive hours writing content for it - if I were to make big money off of it, or would sell it (it's probably worth a few thousand due to content + google rankings), I'd have a massive headache and drama trying to distribute said money.

Effort is relatively low, a few weeks of on and off work to get it online, styling, moving servers a couple of times, etc. I need to move servers again I think, or at least upgrade all the software, it's kinda wonky for some people at times.

£55 in just over a year from ads on http://jquerycreditcardvalidator.com

Not a lot but it’s something. And I built the validator without even thinking about monetizing so it’s quite nice to get rewarded with some pocket money.

It’s not 100% passive, as I do spend a little time maintaining it and adding new features, but what income is 100% passive?

Let me get this straight. You have a piece of software which helps monetary transactions, and yet you don't charge.

No disrespect meant to PawelDecowski at all (his CC number validator looks awesome, I'd use it) but he couldn't monetize it even if they he wished to -- too much competition in that space. Nobody is going to even pay $1 when they can just go on GitHub and find several similar libraries which do somewhat similar things.

I think £55 a year is best case scenario. At least it likely covers web-hosting costs.

You can absolutely charge money for this if you solve a painful problem for businesses: http://creditcardjs.com

But you're still up against freely available libraries that let a web developer build similar functionality, as as jquery.payment from the folks at Stripe:


While it's not a completely like-for-like comparison, I suspect it will be tough to justify $299 per single web site for many businesses that might use these tools in the first place. Personally, I'd want solid data about conversion rates to back up the marketing on the creditcard.js website before I'd consider spending real money on anything like this.

Some companies value the support you may need over initial cost.

It only validates the number. It doesn't take part in the actual transactions.

Still, it helps.


$1000 a month on book sales.

I was surprised since I'm a software guy I didn't write the book to make money, I just did it for something to do.

Although my software business makes much more money, I was surprised at how truly "zero maintenance" book sales are. My software I'm constantly fixing, tweaking and improving (which I enjoy). The book is just "out there" and is priced at $30 per copy. I sell > 1 per day.

The book: http://www.growthhackinghandbook.com

What marketing do you do? I think I an write a decent book on a technical subject, but my big worry is I'll spend hundreds of hours on it and it'll just be another entry on Amazon.

Checkout Nathan Barry's Authority: http://nathanbarry.com/authority/ I know a couple different people that swear by it.

Ya. I worry about this too.

I had seen your food website long time ago. That was very well done site.

$2-5k per month (after Apple's cut) from my Fitbit mobile app, Fitwatchr: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fitwatchr/id684005201?mt=8&i.... The unique value is Fitbit activity conversion to Weight Watchers points as well as a tougher but more rewarding calorie tracking that is based on real science (Mifflin equation). Effort on my part really depends on me/my current schedule as it's a side project. I admittedly have some bad reviews that boil down to getting users to understand how the calorie tracking works. Using Freshdesk (love it!) to answer 1-2 emails per day. It'll be 1 year working on this next month.

That's quite a good revenue. Is it only from app sales ?

I've checked on App Annie ans your app seems to be around 500 (grossing) in health & fitness in the US. I find it a bit surprising that there are 500 apps in health alone making >2k month.

Yes, only app sales - no IAP. Not sure how to explain other apps, but if you look at the list of top paid Fitness ones, many of them charge more than the typical 99 cents - that probably factors into it. It certainly does for mine! Also, I've noticed Yoga, pregnancy, etc apps absolutely kill it (consistently!) in sales day after day after day....

Curious, how long did you spend developing it?

Unfortunately for the first version I didn't track hours (I am now). It took all of last summer (June to August) of nights and weekends. Not too bad considering it was only a few hours per week b/c of being more active outside due to Summer. It's PhoneGap based, so much of the effort wasn't so much writing features so much as learning/figuring out the tools I used: KendoUI Mobile for the UI, PhoneGap Build for building native versions, and Knockout.js. I come from a .NET backend background, so I wanted the new challenge of building an app with frontend tech, not only for CSS/JavaScript practice but also benefiting from one codebase for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, and WinPhone 8).

About $50-$100/month on http://kidsdungeonadventure.com a role playing game for pre-school age kids.

Yes! Thanks for posting this. I had read about it years ago and had been looking for it again for some time now.

This looks like a ton of fun. Think a bright 3-year-old could play or should I wait a year?

Some definitely have with three year olds. It depends on the kid.

It should have a youtube video of some kind.


$1000/month from adsense on my free background picture (no attribution required, use it for whatever you want) website. Kinda looks like crap, but I'm afraid to touch it because it's such a steady-eddy producer. I add a picture every month or two, and get <10% of my traffic from direct search. Has so many links from Uni's and articles on where to find free stock photos that traffic just rolls on it.

You make 1000 a month from this site? I'm very impressed. I feel like I should be doing something with the gigs of photos I have sitting on my computer now...

I wouldn't try to sell them - there's a lot of supply in that market right now. But people will always visit free once they know about it - it's then your job to figure out how to monetize them while keeping the nuisance factor for the user to a minimum.

That said, my site seems to get picked up in an unhealthy number of "top free images for your website" type list articles - I'm not sure if other sites would get picked up at the same rate, but you could always try.

Respect for those stats! When did you start the project and what was the start of the site all about (any marketing hacks? :) How did you manage to get those links? Did you approach those websites actively when you started the project? Can you share some traffic stats or CTR?

What laws surround whether you can post a particular photo? For example, photos of cityscapes, businesses or store fronts, landmarks, or photos with random other people in them?

Can you share url?

sure - http://freemediagoo.com

By end of august I'll be split-testing moderenizing it (it's not mobile/tablet friendly, backend makes it a pain to add content (especially text),etc) - I'm hoping making it nicer doesn't hit the income.

Nicely done! $1K on revenue for that? Are you driving traffic toward that? I do photography and feel like stock images could be a nice way of getting traffic, but don't know how to optimize AdSense.

I haven't driven any traffic yet. I have a SEO tool that I've been developing and finally finished, and was going to use this site as my test case. With no text it has no search engine traffic, the picture names are horrible from an seo perspective...there's a lot I can do if I ever have time.

How did you decide on the placement of adds and layout of site? Glad it's doing well for you.

Testing about a year ago. Had a 8x increase in CTR without much drop in CPC, so that was a big win for the site. I think there's more to squeeze out but it was written a long time ago in hobbled-together .asp, and that's not my forte. Someday I'll move it to a different back-end so I can experiment with things with more ease. For instance, I have content (with real words!) ready to go, but sadly the amount of work I'd need to do to hack the code to display it isn't worth it if I plan on changing the code out anytime soon.

Where do you get the photos from?

I take some myself, and have a whole bunch in backlog from when I bought it. I've bought one from an artist I knew and liked.

Now that my kids are old enough to travel easily, I plan on taking picture-taking vacations to some cool places once a year - and let them take a shot at learning photography on the job.

I have a house my sister and her partner rent. Some may say never do business with family, but we've been doing it for a few years now, and they've never missed a payment. I pay down about $1k every 4 months in principal.

I created http://jscompress.com/ several years ago as a simple online JavaScript compression tool that can also combine multiple files into a single output (and guarantees they will be compressed in the order input).

It's been making around $200-300 per month for several years, and this year has jumped up to $300-500 per month. This is only from Google Adsense: http://cl.ly/WobJ - I also always get a nice holiday spike in traffic and revenues, even though there is nothing seasonal about compressing some JavaScript.

It's zero maintenance, and sometimes I even forget about it. I spend maybe 1-2 hours updating the website to a new Uglify.js version per year. It's a simple single file node.js app hosted for free on Heroku.

That's great! Did you do any advertising to get it going? How long has it been around?

Zero advertising. All I did was link it from my blog and a few other websites I own and tweet about it a few times. I imagine the strength of the domain name and the keywords on the page help a lot. It's also been linked as a useful tool on many highly trafficked and well respected blogs, so it's got some very good credible link juice going for it.

Honestly I just created it for myself back before Grunt, Gulp, etc. after searching for some simple online tools and not finding any that allowed uploading and combining multiple files together. The first version was PHP, and I switched it to a node.js app in 2011 after Uglify.js came out (there were a lot of problems with the PHP library I was using).

I created the website in 2008, so it's been going for quite a while, collecting backlinks and traffic ever since. I am not looking at the reports right now, but I believe it made less than $200 the whole first year I had ads on it (it didn't always have ads).

How does it make money? I turned off my adblocker and still don't see ads.

Do you have Ghostery or something else turned on? There are definitely ads on the page :).

Do you advertise or do you get customers organically?

No advertising - 100% organic. The strength of the domain name and the keywords on the page help, and it's also been linked as a useful tool on many highly trafficked and well respected blogs, so it's got some very good credible backlinks, and is quite popular.

Bingo Card Creator is still plugging along, though both down from previous years and an increasingly small portion of my business. I spend under 20 minutes a month on it on about 2 to 5 issues which make it past T1 support.

As for numbers: http://www.bingocardcreator.com/stats/sales-by-month Historically, multiplying by 60% usually gets a good approximation for profits.

Probably been addressed already elsewhere, but for a relatively static non-tech-dependent product, did you ever figure out why these were such epic months?

    9/12	$6,399.30
    10/12	$7,811.95
    11/12	$6,169.70
    12/12	$7,063.20
    1/13	$5,221.25
    2/13	$8,236.25
If at all repeatable, that's a fairly attractive revenue level...

The Google gods (AdWords and organic) were kind to me.

Have you written a blog post about your support outsourcing process? I would be interested to see your process.

My first side business was profiting $10k/mo but I ultimately lost it because of neglecting support emails.

your ssl cert has expired

Can you tell me what browser/etc you are using? I replaced the cert a month ago on expiry and believe it is serving the correct one, and have verified this independently as of a minute ago, so I am wondering if there isn't a caching issue somewhere.

It was Google Chrome (36.0.1985.125 build 283153).

I've checked again today, and now I don't get a SSL warning. I am pretty sure I've never visited your site before, so I don't think it's caching on my end.

A bought a vacation rental in Hawaii this January. It has been very nice. Purchase price was 510k. It rents for $260-$400 a night and has 90% occupancy rate. I can share more details for those interested.

I hope you don't get offended by this question but are you doing this legally? I know in some areas renting a vacation home is legal as long as you do the right paperwork.

No offense taken :) Yes, it is legal. In Hawaii the condo buildings are setup to be ran as vacation rentals. Some people do live in them, but most are rentals. The building are more similar to a hotel in that they have a front desk, luggage carts, and things like that.

Definitely interested in the details. ~16% ROI is excellent! Does you have management company that takes care of the property?

There are some more costs. We did a full remodel which was expensive since most things on the island are more expensive (although Overstock and Amazon Prime's free shipping were amazing for buying furniture and things like that). There is also general upkeep, supplies, and vrbo fees. For instance, right now we are replacing the sliding glass doors which is going to be between 10 and 15k.

Hawaii passed law in the past couple years that says you must have someone on the island representing your unit incase something is goes wrong or your tenants need assistance, so we do pay someone to be on call for that.

Do you have someone managing the rental or do you do that?

We have our unit listed on VRBO, but my wife and I handle the inquires and renting ourselves. Most condo buildings will run your unit for you if you prefer. They will take care of everything for you (bookings, cleanings, furnishings, etc), but you make much less. Also, you just get a percentage of what the building makes as a whole, so those rooms are really incentivized to be as nice. We wanted our place to be nice and something we would like to stay/live at.

How has your experience been with VRBO? Any reason that has prompted you not to use AirBnb?

Edit to ask: do you mind sharing which island/area, your rental is in? 90% occupancy rate sounds pretty amazing.

If you do a lot of rentals VRBO is much cheaper. AirBnb charges you 10% per booking vs VRBO's $1,000 upfront and then 2.5% credit card transaction fees. This makes our place much more expensive for a renter for us to get the same amount of money. VRBO also has great phone customer support and it just feels more setup to support your rental as a business rather than your rental as a thing you do casually.

Our place in on Maui near Kaanapali beach. Hawaii is nice because it isn't too seasonal.

Built an iPhone app which is still featured by Apple in the new selfie category. 90$/mo with no marketing costs. :) The app called Picr. https://itunes.apple.com/app/picr-everyday-photo-reminder/id...

Congratulations! Sad though that even a featured app only pulls in $90/month.

My own iPhone photo app, Liquid Lens:


actually briefly cracked the top 200 photo apps this month and pulls in more than $90 but is still only in the coffee money income bracket.

After four years of the indie iOS thing I'm tooling back up to do web dev again.

I have an app that floats around the top 200 in the travel section but it doesn't really bring in much (i'm only using iAD and not charging for the app). I guess the travel section is probably a little easier to crack than some sections though.

I made really bad experience with iAD and other monetizing frameworks. 0,50$/day and >2k impressions. I think iAD works only with iOS games. Can you share a link?

Yes, I guessed it will be more. :( How much do you get with the free version of Liquid Lens?

I was hoping that the free version + IAP would generate significantly more revenue than the paid version, since I've read so many articles claiming that freemium is the future of the app store.

So far this hasn't been true though. Currently IAP revenue from the free version tends to be about 1/3 the revenue of the paid version even though free app downloads outnumber paid by at least 10 to 1 on most days. It does seem like IAP has been ticking up a bit over the last few weeks though. Maybe people have to play with the app for a while before they're willing to pay for it?

Personally I'd prefer to just do paid apps, since adding IAP + store transactions adds a fair bit of work.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge :) I think... IAP are good because you can show your potential customers how good your app is.

I really wish Apple would just implement a trial period like Google's Play Store. I understand that people don't want to pay for an app without trying it but trying to solve this problem with IAP just pushes this responsibility onto developers and results in a more confusing and inconsistent experience for users.

I built an niche e-commerce marketplace called http://doleaf.com.

Independent Nurseries and Garden Centers (the sellers) sign up and can instantly upload their items for sale directly to customers expanding their sales region of their niche products from just their neighbored to the entire USA. Since its niche customers who are looking for specific items customers find the site fairly easy through search.

The site is now doing about $2,000 total revenue per month. I'm taking a proportion of each sale. For now, I'm mostly covering cost, but hoping to work on some automated marketing tools to increase revenue.

As others have mentioned, my best performing referrers in terms of sales completed are often Forums (as opposed to AdWords, organic search etc).

The site does marketing via emails and some top products Google Ad Words, Facebook, and hopefully Titter soon. I'm using Google Analytics with the e-commerce plugin to build Adwords remarketing campaigns and plan to do Facebook rmarketing campaigns soon.

It's not totally passive as there's some support request, but I'm hoping to bring on an on-demand virtual assistant for support requests as discussed by the Internet Business Mastery guys: http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/ibm-218-work-less-mak...

You mention being easy to search, but I cant seem to find your site on google or duckduckgo (in case it was my historical disinterest for plants affecting google searches). I tried some combination of the keywords garden, nursery, seeds, plants but never saw doleaf on the first page of results. Am I using the wrong keywords?

I'm still working on improving SEO, but here's some examples for Google:

"buy variegated peperomia plant" #7 / DuckDuckGo #2

"jackson vine" Google #9 / DuckDuckGo #4

"rainbow eucalyptus for sale" Google #22 / DuckDuckGo #6

Apparently I need to start using DuckDuckGo!!! These results are great!

From the attracting perspective sellers (nurseries), the "Buy Plants Online" search has a lot of competing bidders on Google so I'm going to have to get creative there.

Great to see via Google Analytics there there are 6 active users from Hacker News viewing the site right!! Hopefully the Google Analytics E-Commerce Sales Report will show several sales attributed to users coming from Hacker News ;-)

Important rule of ecommerce order conversions - never require an account signup / login before getting to the checkout screen from cart. And allow guest checkout. I'd take a guess you are hemorrhaging sales because of this

rwhitman thanks for the tip! I don't require the login / signup until the user checkout. You can view all listings, add to cart, view cart, etc. It's only when you click checkout that you are required to login.

Can you let me know how you reached the required login page so I can fixe that?

Thanks again!

Yea exactly as you described - add to cart etc, then click checkout it asks for signup. Don't make people sign up to buy something, allow them to check out as a guest and then ask them to create an account after the transaction. Requiring authentication before the purchase is made is a huge abandonment trigger

I ran my own team as a non-dev and built http://drawvault.com - Took a bank loan to fund it, and ran out of money on the final straight.

I really was hoping to be earning a meagre passive income by now, but i'm searching for a second job.

Lesson learned!

My math textbooks [1,2] generated over $20k since 2013. The sales are split between print and pdf sales. It's definitely motivation enough for me to continue as is, but I'm scaling the business further with better distribution.

Books are not dead. I believe there is a great opportunity for specialist to "distill information" in their field and offer it to others as books. People don't pay for the content (which can be found on the Internet) but for the analysis and the curation of this content.

It's not "easy money" because writing and editing a book takes years of sustained effort, but if you're an expert in X, you already spend your days explaining X so writing down your explanations won't be //that// tough.

[1] noBS guide to Math and Phys: http://minireference.com/ [2] https://gum.co/noBSLA

PS: Anyone interested in writing a book about Chemistry and/or Biology? Get in touch with me so we can combine forces and take over the UGRAD textbook market!

I bought your Math & Physics book a few months ago. Only got a chapter or two in thanks to time constraints, but I really enjoyed the approach. Hopefully I can finish it in the coming months. Cheers!

Great job and good luck to you in the future! I'm all for interesting textbooks, math was difficult for me in undergrad and the textbook we used was so hard to understand!

About 500€ a month with automated soccer bets. It's 100% passive but it' still a gamble. So it coud be over in a day with some bad luck ...

Any chance of going into detail on this one for the curious? Automated in what way, putting bets on low odds results? Through an API?

If anything I'm interested more in how it works than how I can do it myself!

I have some bots placing bets for me 24/7 on betfair. They provide a nice API for that (https://developer.betfair.com/default/api-s-and-services/spo...).

The bots written in JS running on a node.js server. The strategy (bet pattern) I use is actually pretty simple. But it's not betting on low odds only, tryed that and failed :)

Is this arbitrage betting? What is the capital you use to generate the $500?

Can you go into further detail about your betting pattern?

Things like BetFair let you place bets both sides (unlike some shops like Ladbrokes where you are betting against them). This allows you to track the current betting prices and create situations where no matter the outcome you can make money.

There are a few places on the net explaining this in more detail.

A gambling site that allows you to make Dutch books? Lunch is on me!

I make about $200/m in affiliate revenue from Shopify (http://www.shopify.com/?ref=disco) <= Yes, that's an affiliate link.

From where do you get your affiliates?

I sell a framework for Shopify theme development (http://bootstrapforshopify.com). It's free to use on sites that have been set up with my affiliate link.

Last September I put Amazon Affiliate codes on links in a somewhat popular post about setting up a Raspberry Pi to open my garage. I know I'm not suppose to divulge exact numbers, but lets just say I've bought games, books, toys, and a PS4 so far with my earnings. On around ~1,000 visitors a month. I wish I had it setup when that post got a ton of traffic from reddit.

I created a website where you can pay per character using bitcoin: http://bitcoinmegaphone.com

On average it generates around $1 per day (in Bitcoin, of course :-)

$500/month from "Play Piano HD" iPad app: http://mobilesort.com/play_piano.html I built it two years ago, and have only had to do minor bug fixes to keep it up to date. It stays on the top iPad music charts in at least a couple of countries, so it does ok without any marketing.

You could than likely charge significantly more for it if you positioned it as a way to learn to play the piano - ten bucks (or twenty) is much, much cheaper than a teacher.

Not proud of it, but around $500/mo thanks to 3 white label dating websites. Easy money, no maintenance needed for 2 years now... Could make much more with some time invested in it!

What dating niches did you come up with? Why do you say you are not proud of it?

One of my buddies a few years back was banking ~100k/mo profit with Chatroulette bots who told guys jerking off to "find me on adultfriendfinder!" That was all in affiliate revenue.

At some point you have to wonder when it moves from ethically wrong, to you're an idiot if you don't do it.

Well if the guys were willing to pay and adult friend finder were willing to give him the affiliate fees then I really can't see that it is morally wrong. I can see it being pretty awesome.

I have targeted some very specific jobs which are usually known as "sexy". I am not proud of it because I don't think it's very ethic, I can't imagine putting this on my resume and technically the challenge is nonexistent (a simple html page with some css, few hours of marketing) Though the service is real and people don't pay for nothing, at least it's legal...

What's unethical about this?

Okay ethic is not the right word. I just think that these are just 3 more website in the p0rn/dating/drugs Internet landscape, and technically very easy to do. I don't regret it, it's free money and other friends have tried the dating/porn market. One of mine was making 30k/mo via porn ads, another never made any money. It's just that I would now prefer to come up with a project which I am proud of, which can be of any help to someone, that I could talk about without wondering if the person in front of me thinks it's creepy... Soon soon :)

I'd imagine it's more about the stigma behind these dating sites. Fake profiles etc.

Problem with white label sites is that you still need to do a whole lot of marketing on your end. How do you compete with the big sites?

Here is the thing, I don't compete with big sites, I target only niches so I have almost zero competitors :)

Are you reselling another service, doing affiliate links or running it by yourself?

I am the affiliate, I build front-pages for a major dating website, my page is just a front-door focusing on a niche. I don't sell anything myself. I am just hosting the page which is an entry point to the main website (which I am not managing at all)

I have an app in the Mac App Store. It is a simple app, I do no work on it, receive no support emails, it has been there for three years, and I get around 50 Euros per month.

Link? Details?

You would probably double your revenue if you just displayed images of cards above the input line. You could even make it something you could disable in preferences, but I'm pretty confident that the improvement in the screenshots, etc. would help sales quite a bit.

My best month was around £120 (in February 2014) (~$200) through Amazon affiliate links & Admob. All within a very simple shopping app 'designed' for android 2.1 back in the day and updated just once in 2 years. I've since pulled it due to changes upstream breaking data so it became useless, I didn't find the time to really fix everything.

I have just launched (like a few days ago) http://photobrix.com - but that is yet to bring in a penny from the limited adverts - I'm likely going to add a higher end/more featureful interface to generate instructions that people will spend $3 - 5 or so on. Additionally I'm aiming on allowing users to order their own prints (rather than deal with the hassle of individual bricks).

My passive income, Ghost Theme marketplace http://www.gtheme.io/ Revenue around 100 USD per month. Running for half year need more marketing for better revenue. Ghost blog is the next big thing in blogging space.

Nice. Staying ahead of the curve like this is the right move. That's gonna pay off when 10x as many people are using Ghost and your site is already ranked at the top of the search results.

Similarly, if you're building a content site, the time to do it is right when the hype around your topic gets started. Think upcoming movie releases, video games, elections, etc. Build out the content around the hype, then when the time comes you're at the top and nobody's gonna knock you off. I know quite a few people banking some serious coin from this strategy alone.

Thanks for the advice. We already built some contents around Ghost blog. :)

I get it around $200 per month (overall about $2500 till date) through my WordPress Genesis child Theme which I spent designing hardly 2-3 days.


That's awesome and inspiring. I have similar fears about any sort of jump in terms of 'working for yourself' so have always moved from job to job rather than even go contracting. I think your stack is very sensible - whatever works, isn't it - it's easy to become sidetracked thinking everything must be shiny & new or custom built. Really well done!

An AdSense site that's been running since '04:

   | Year      |      $ |
   | 2004      |    343 | (I was 24)
   | 2005      |    440 |
   | 2006      |  2,800 |
   | 2007      |  8,900 |
   | 2008      | 11,400 |
   | 2009      | 12,500 |
   | 2010      | 12,400 |
   | 2011      | 18,000 |
   | 2012      | 21,600 |
   | 2013*     | 34,000 |
   | 2014*     | 19,800 | (probably about $39k by year's end, more like $50k if I can help it)
* These are approximate as Google started paying in my country's currency.

I've made redesigns and adjustments over time, but it's been mostly passive, specially the past three years or so as I haven't touched it at all.

Don't ask me the URL, it's fugly and I'm embarrassed (though you can probably find it). Over the past few months I've been actually working on the side building a platform to help me launch other similar projects in a more useful, less ugly fashion. Too much to do, too little time. Stupid wasted youth :D

I never done a calculation like this before, and I didn't realize it's its 10th year anniversary! How cool is that. I would live like a king at 24 with my current cashflow.

I built a Heroku add-on that handles the purchase and installation much more quickly and safely than they could do manually (about 80% of our customers get SSL installed on their sites in less than 5 minutes).


It's been more challenging to get going than I anticipated as it's a significant upfront cash investment to get good cert reseller terms.

Made an Android Snapchat client called SnapHack. It allowed you to download Snaps and send pictures from your Gallery, pretty much the only features people would want to add to Snapchat.

Powered it with an IAP to add 'My Story' support and small banner ads at the bottom of the screen. The app got about 2,500-3,500 downloads a day up to a total of 165,000 downloads. When searching for 'Snapchat' on Google play it was the 2nd or 3rd result. IAP brought in about $25 a day (after 30% removed) and the ads peaked at about $70 a day, so total was between $90 and $100 a day when things were good.

Didn't last long though, took a while to get to that daily amount and Google/Snapchat removed it from the store after the 3rd month of availability. So total was a few thousand. Still a very, very good result but not full-time income.

Side note: Java library that I made for interacting with Snapchat API hosted on GitHub (https://github.com/hatboysam/SnapHack). Contributions are welcome and it supports even all of the new Snapchat features like messaging. Feel free to recreate SnapHack!

I make an average of $70/day on my app in the Mac App Store called HD Cleaner. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hd-cleaner/id836769549?mt=12. I wish I had more time to invest in making more apps like this one. I've been really surprised by how well the app has done with little to no marketing.

Other than stocks and mutual funds I've only got one source of passive income.

I made a Pathfinder Ability Score Calculator last year and it got picked up by d20. There's an ad on it so I get revenue from it. Right now only about $40-50/month but it's been steadily increasing since I put it up a year ago.

A friend was going to sell me his hosting business but that fell through. That would have added about $100/month.

Residential real estate. I bought a few short sale condos here in San Diego from 2010 to 2012 at 1/3 their values from a couple years earlier and hired a property manager.

Now I get about 1.5% their purchase price gross in rental income every month. After buying them and fixing them up the majority of the work I do on them is at tax time (still do taxes myself to stay in the loop). HOA and property management fees eat into it a bit, but it's not a bad haul. In addition to the cash flow, they've all appreciated from 20%-50% in the last couple years.

These days dividends from Apple stock (not bad for a tech company) and some other investments are doing better, though not even close to as well as the real estate.

The key is often to save up enough money to be able to take advantage of opportunities. For example, we just decided last week that we're moving to Florida. We were planning to rent, but we found a 3BR condo in a high-rise gated community on a golf course about 1mi from the beach for around $300,000 that went for $800,000 before the financial crisis. Luckily, we had the cash to be able to capitalize on the opportunity. I assume the property value will at least double in the next 5 years. Even if it doesn't, if we had to rent it out tomorrow we could break even on what we pay for the mortgage + HOA fees with rent.

It's risker than other endeavors, but investing in residential real estate like this is the best kind of investment I've found for my risk profile with the amount of money I'm willing to invest.

The hard part is getting together the initial capital to do so. I started working full time at 21 and it took me until around 25 to be able to make my first investment saving most of my modest income during that time.

40-80€/month (depends on the season - college holidays are bad seasons) with adsense and amazon affiliates.

It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 3 hours monthly, 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. Tips:

- Good content is better than SEO, but you only pick the fruits 1-2 years later as your work compounds. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.

- Adsense is (and probably will always be) ugly but is the fastest way to monetize a blog. I was making 15€/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have a text intensive blog go for image ads and vice versa.

An undisclosed amount, mining an undisclosed (but top-50) cryptocurrency, with an undisclosed (but legal) technology.

Mining is so rediculously hyper-competitive that I hope you'll understand the lack-of-detail. You learn to keep your mouth shut, head down, and just hope that you'll remain marginally profitable after the next difficulty adjustment.

Where I live (or have lived). Aim to get other people to pay for my mortgages. Started out by renting out a spare room, then moved and rented out the whole property, then moved again and rented out both properties. When I started out the rent was around GBP300 per month and the mortgage peaked at GBP450 per month (interest rates were unusually high at the time), and now (after many years) two lots of rental income total approx GBP2700 per month after fees and three mortgages total approx GBP1800 per month (although interest rates are unusually low at the moment). Calling it passive as I've never bought a propery as an investment, just a place to live. Not entirely passive though as there can be a bit of work when there are problems with tenants. I reckon the hassle factor is worth the free accommodation though, given how large a chunk of people's income accommodation usually is.

I've always thought that living my entire life "having others pay for mine" would be ideal. Rent out property, the margin pays for my own residence. Operate restaurants, the margins provide (at a minimum) my own meals. Get into the car rental business, it provides my transportation as needed...

Can't quite get myself to bootstrap this idea...

I built docklister.com in 4 months during my spare time. I started approximately 24 months ago and have a single customer that covers the hosting costs (~80/mo). I just got back from a 30 day honeymoon; anxious to get back into the flow!

Marketplaces are hard to bootstrap. For the last 6 months I've been trying to grow pageviews and leads by doing low-touch marketing experiments: post listings to Boating and Yachting FB groups, asking for feedback in /r/sailing (lots of great feedback and pageviews), replying to craigslist ads for boats suggesting they list on docklister.

I have a several great blog ideas and I have a newsletter with approximately 45 people that I plan to start actively emailing content to.

Currently doing ~100 pageviews/day.

edit: forgot active link - https://www.docklister.com/

"Administrating" a few servers that are rented out (ie, running apt-get every week and fixing the occasional symlink the tenants break).

-$2000/m in power/space/bandwidth in costs

+$4000/m in fees

Banking a little under ~$1700 after I account for taxes for what amounts to an hour of effort a month.

Are you leasing your own collocated hardware or are small businesses paying you on retainer as a server admin?

Leasing my own collocated hardware that was originally purchased for a different task but were no longer in use

Nice. So if it's going so well, why don't you just buy some more servers and lease them out as well?

Work really doesn't scale linearly with servers with this type of business. I've known my current tenants for quite some time and they aren't "needy" or problem users, which makes my job easier.

I'd also either need to purchase a new cabinet or move into a cage -- which is not really an upfront cost (or the headache of contract negotiations) I want to take on for a hobby business. In either case, I'd have to start running my own switches (and god forbid router) and while I roughly know how to administer both, those are better left until I have more time to devote.

On the flip side, I have toyed with racking up a few 6U blade servers (~50 blades total) and renting those out as unmanaged, 0-support servers. The problem here is its a race to the bottom with blades and I'm no Softlayer or OVH and can't buy these things at hefty discount. I have worked out the math and after the first 3months, if I sell at least 60% of the blades I'll be paid off and the margins are significantly higher than my current servers.

I do like the idea of being a remote system administrator, but the trust issues seem to scare people away.

(Though I realize you're doing more than that if you're renting out physical boxes too.)

You'd be surprised how trusting people are, I'm explicit that nothing of great personal value or import should ever be stored unencrypted on these since at the end of the day I hold the keys to the proverbial castle. Quite a few of my customers are people I know from BBSs I used to and still do frequent. One even hosts a few BBS servers.

On the whole, I could probably net in the 11-15K range per month if I expanded but that requires a lot more work and I'm not sure the money justifies it. At the moment its a (usually) enjoyable hobby that helps me keep current in sysadm-land and make some money at the same time

Indeed, I personally am looking for a nix admin to help me setup/secure my personal Ubuntu server. Finding someone I can trust is a huge battle.

This is usually the point where I volunteer ;)

Not entirely passive due to a small amount of support emails each month, but bringing in roughly $1600-$2500/mo (slower in summer) for niche WordPress themes. That's with virtually no marketing or advertising other than a $5/day adwords budget.

$5/day adwords budget is not 'virtually no marketing or advertising'. That is about the sales of a slow month over the year.

No, it's not, but he didn't say it wasn't--the "virtually no" refers to what he does other than paying that $5/day.

$5/day x 30 days is $150, not $1500.

He said "over the year" so its $5/day X 30 X 12 I believe. I could be wrong though.

A friend wanted a glockenspiel app for their daughter, so I took his thrown together html demo and coded a unity3d app and made it free. http://www.simonwaite.com/apps/glockenspiel

After a little bit of feedback about "making the keys bigger" I threw together a paid for app http://www.simonwaite.com/apps/glockenspiel-plus which brought in £2.50 from the android store last month which I was deliriously happy about.

The free one has about 10-20 downloads a day on iOS and 80-130 a day on android.

Last year I made a wine cataloging app for iOS based personal gripes that I had with all the others out there. I just wanted something incredibly simple, and all the others were ugly and complicated.

I was inspired by the 7 minute workout app posted here, and set aside 8 hours to build the whole thing. All told I ended up spending about 40 hours on it and haven't really touched it since.

I started selling it at $.99, but sales were slow and I wasn't really making anything at all off it. So I raised the price 5x to $4.99 and sales didn't really change much. Now it brings me in about $50-150 / month that I use as extra cash toward paying off my student loans.

Do you mind sharing a link to your app? I'm a wine aficionado. :-)

Sold some Microsoft office365 to a handful of clients. Averaging 1200/month.

Wrote a Fiction Novel.

Still in the red, but I've handed out about 10,000 free copies...

Not as successful as the other ones here, but it's starting to show promise. http://mynativemap.com/

I created it to help people that can't surf into Google Map's in their own language. the link's forces the selected language manually and ignore the automatic language detection.

Started a few months ago and it's already covering my hosting in ad revenue. hopefully I'll have better numbers to report on the next Round of "...best passive income.." :)

No Revenue for me yet, but I've been inspired by patio11 and Amy Hoy to build a product. I'm starting very small with a premium wordpress plugin focused on food bloggers.

Progress has been slower than I'd hoped due to personal distractions.

My plan is to spend equal parts on marketing and development. I have released a free version of the plugin in order to get it listed on the wordpress repository and to start seeding my mailing list. So far I have 20 people that signed up for "product updates and early release pricing".

I make $200+ with Adsense and BuySellAds from http://www.logogala.com.

It's been online for around eight years or so now. I typically work on it maybe 15-20 minutes a night or every other night uploading new designs that have been submitted.

Currently planning to re-develop it and make it so designers can sign up and manage their own profile and designs but I'm a little afraid to touch it and end up losing all of the little bit of money I'm currently making.

I've been experimenting with Adsense on blogger for years. I had some ideas that the company I work for could put on the web and wanted to work with Adsense so I just started with a blog about my local sports team.

Eventually I made another blog about local and regional politics and analyzed and repackaged some government data as a whole series of posts that proved slightly popular. Now I'm up to around $1000 per year.

I'm working slowly at making a few sites based on the data I've already done and some new data.

The last few years I've been building up a portfolio of dividend paying shares. In the previous 12 months dividend payouts have totalled GBP 2488.31. There has also been some capital growth.

The portfolio is inside a SIPP (self-invested pension) and the funds funnelled into it have been the profits from my contracting business which would have been liable to higher-rate income tax here in the UK.

Keeping money from the taxman which then makes me more money is great, shame I can't access any of it until 2040 ;)

I have a plethora of niche-based iOS apps for skydivers, beer enthusiasts, and people in direct sales. Bring in about 1-2k a month, but I actively maintain about half of the apps and am actively developing new apps.

Since January, I've netted roughly $13,000 after Apple's 30% cut. I also make income through Apple's affiliate links that are automatically applied to my apps on my website - http://mohawkapps.com

Bit late to the party but i've been arbitraging promotions on Sports betting websites. Yes this sounds incredibly suspicious. It's pretty interesting, and easy. Much easier than trying to monetise blogs (which i've also done).

Not exactly an intellectual exercise but it gets me enough money to pay for public transport, lunch etc.

If you're interested just google Punting Deals ...They've got an article explaining how they do what they do.

PS Australian only I think

So far this year I've made ~33k on my iPhone apps. I'm actively working on new apps and doing freelance work, and every once in awhile things need updated, but for the most part it's passive. I have > 20 apps at this point, the best one doing ~7500 so far this year.


link is dead

I may have written about this before, so apologies if this is repetitive. In 2010ish, I had gotten fairly sick due to a metal poisoning. The biggest issue was that it was messing with my cognitive abilities and that made me fearful of not being able to work and earn an income at the standard of living I had become accustomed to.

I quickly recovered, but became obsessed with finding a way to live - indefinitely - off of the savings that I had accumulated in my 20 year software career at that point. I had chosen a path around increasing responsibilities of management as opposed to startup founder (though I am one now). And I had diligently saved money, but didn't have not-work-anymore money.

I looked for a way to generate 20% returns reliably on my money, requiring little effort, manageable risk, and - mostly - passive. The stock market proved to be an answer. I ended up developing a couple of theories about how markets behave, generated some derivative trading algorithms and have been investing 100% of my spare cash since. The mini hedge fund requires activity once / week (generally) towards the end of the week, and also has two nice benefits of mostly getting taxed at long term cap gain rates along with being in all cash (fully liquid) with more core funds every weekend.

For this year, the algorithms have produced a return of 14.11% YTD. Since beginning the algorithms, they have averaged a yearly return of 24% compounded. I have traded these algorithms in a normal trading account and in an IRA, though the IRA returns are a bit lower around 20%. When the market has a flat year, vs. an up year, the algorithm is likely to perform closer to 30%. Down years that drop less than 10% will return closer to 30% as well. Up markets return lower.

I publish a white paper on this, and happy to share with anyone interested. It's a few quarters out of date, but the essence is all there. You can email me tylerjewell [at] gmail dot com for the paper.

For those that are curious, the algorithms depend upon a few assumptions: - The market has never crashed "up" - they only crash down. - As a result, the market climbs upward very orderly, but moves down very disorderly. - Time is infinite. - There is always volatility.

When you start with those assumptions, and then you apply maximum leverage (with safety nets for blue moon crashes with a max 35% loss), then you can start to derive algorithms that achieve the results expected, by using your money as an insurance provider to others in the market place by selling derivatives.

FWIW - when I started playing with the concept of the algorithms, I did not think it would be possible to achieve these results. So am quite pleased that it's possible to do so. Also, it's very easy to down dial the algorithms to be 1/2 the risk and get about 1/2 of the returns as well.

A lot of the efficacy of this depends on when you started.

The S&P500 total return last year (2013) was 32.39%. The year before (2012), 16%. [1] The two year annualized: 23.92% which is really near your 24% compounded. Weekly trading sounds like a lot of transaction cost for not much alpha. It sounds like you are doing better this year-to-date, but be careful drawing conclusions on a system when the market is going gangbusters.

Does this strategy involve a lot of covered calls? That would seem to fit better returns in flat/down markets and lesser in raging markets (since you'd be taken out early).

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26P_500

The strategy performs optimally in markets that are flat to +-5% on a given year. Last year's 32% gain in the S&P 500 was essentially the nightmare year and yielded 6%. 2008 would have been a nightmare year and yielded around the same. The strategy involves selling strangles with European contracts with portfolio margin using algorithms to determine a 95% likelihood of contracts expiring OTM, with a couple dozen adjustment techniques that occur if the 5% scenario plays out.

I wrote an ebook on how to make games in HTML5 with the Phaser framework. It's been out for a month now, and it has made me over $16,000 in sales. I keep making a couple hundred dollars per day with it.

Link to the book: http://www.discoverphaser.com

More sales number: http://blog.lessmilk.com/ebook-sales/

My social game (for the last 3 consecutive months) has brought in about $8000 - $10,000 a month. Pretty consistently averaging about $300 a day. Generally spend about 4 hours a month on it total. To note: The developer I work with spends much more time on it than I do; but it is not a focus / priority for either of us. It took about 18 months to get it to this point. It probably got to break even in roughly 5-6 months.

Personalized kids books for the iPad:


We're completely revamping the app because it's very hard to be noticed when all your books are in one app, so we're splitting the app into individual books. But this "library" app does quite well.

That's pretty funny, because my girlfriend's sister asked me last year if I would develop her million-dollar-idea: an app that creates personalized books for kids.

Websites. Totally autopilot. Only $300/mo. so its nothing compared to my regular income/job, but its a car payment - and it does beat working.

How many have you got in total - what's your hosting costs? thanks

Five or six.. Almost nil I have $12/yr. VPS and wrote a nodejs app to host them all off one port..

What sort of websites?

Blogs mostly, and ideas I come up with like http://codeht.ml although I don't put ads on all of em.

Would love any marketing ideas, as I don't know how to spread the word quickly and effectively.

That codeht.ml is a great idea and execution. Congrats.

Can you post a link from some of your blogs? thx :)

How do you monetize this codeht.ml ?

just from ads?

yea, adsense only

I used to do a few hundred a month from adsense on my tutorial site. Google penalties and lack of updates and now I only see a few dollars a month. My traffic went from ~70k uniques per month to 5-10k, so it's not that shocking that the earnings went down.

Sadly the spammy made for adsense sites I had did much better than the one legit site I poured most of my time into. I think this is part of the reason so much crap exists.

A good mix of ETF funds from Vanguard Canada. It has been a very good year for equities, and all I had to do was literally not touch what I had bought.

It's been a strong year for equities. When I was looking the other day at vanguards list they all seemed really strong.

I purchased one in January and it's been doing pretty good. Hopefully the second half of the year is just as good.

I currently earn about $1000/month after Googles 30% cut with an Android app that syncs with OmniFocus. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.quantus.app...). I'm still improving the app in my spare time so it's not completely passive yet.

Not much at the moment:

Profits realized from a very long term Bitcoin investment: 10000$

Bitcoin miner: 600$ (profits) so far.

Now I'm covering the costs of running my own SaaS [1] with these profits to create a more sustainable business (I've lost confidence in Bitcoin from an investment standpoint). At this moment my SaaS has 2 trial users but no paying customers.

[1] https://calloud.com

Has liquidity ever been a problem for you with Bitcoin investments? I would imagine limited supply and short term spikes could result in filling currency trade orders at lower prices. In other words, it's not clear if you can always depend on selling at face value.

Yeah, but quite a relative issue depending on the exchange. The first thing you learn is that you can't sell at market prices, you just have to place some orders and wait. To be honest I made a few mistakes related to this when I was starting and lost some money. On Btc-e my orders aren't that large so there's nothing to worry about when placing them. It felt more risky on Bitstamp, and Kraken specially due to low volume, but I rarely have to trade there.

About $50-$100/month on http://onlyfonts.net

I'm not proud of this product by any means, but it is good for experimentation and A/B testing.

One thing that I should point out is that even if I don't write any code, I'm still thinking about how to improve it and looking at the analytics, so having a passive income is not totally free.

Wrote a basic strategy to sell call spreads and put spreads on various index ETFs. I only sell near-dated stuff <1 week expirations to avoid paying too much theta. A fairly consistent trading strategy can easily gross >50% returns on your capital. Not exactly "passive" - but with enough tweaks to the strategy you can get this to run with fairly minimal input time.

What platform do you use to automate the trading? I was always surprised that innovative companies like Interactive Brokers never invested in a simple to use scripting language that would allow people to try out ideas out in the markets.

Sounds amazing. How did you learn everything you needed? Can you recommend ways to get more background in this?

Embeddable shared whiteboard (jQuery plugin + backend service): https://awwapp.com/plugin/

Around $500/mo at the moment, with very little marketing and sales effort. Putting more effort into sales now, aiming to have it cover one full-time person on the project in the next few months.

I build small web apps, like http://blankpage.io/ Since the last thread on this I've cut my costs from $200 a month to about $5 a month, but it took months to rewrite the backend to do that. So still losing more than I'm making.

Excellent landing page! Love the use of typography! And, the animated gifs make it quickly obvious what your app does and how someone would use it. Best of luck!

Thank you! Worried a bit about if it was clear or not. Thanks!

Fixed it up a bit btw, love any feedback.

I manage a simple jQuery plugins blog http://jquer.in/ in which I list one plugin a day. Hosting costs are about 20$ a year. Average monthly advertising revenue is about 100$ not bad considering I haven't started sponsored posts yet.

~100$ / year from an Amazon Price Tracker (http://www.rankique.com/) I wrote a long while ago.

It's 100% passive and is free to run, although some SEO should increase that, which frankly I neither have the time nor the expertise to do.

I run something similar for India. http://www.pricetrak.in

I host a forum and website for a state-wide non-profit that I volunteer for in exchange for a single sidebar Adsense ad on the main page and in the footer on the forum. It's a hobby of mine, but the $300-$400 (gross) covers my expenses. Self-supporting hobbies are nice.

~$50,000 USD per year in dividends from individual, public stocks, which isn't bad considering I do not seek out dividend payers specifically. Was earning another $25,000 or so renting out an apartment, but sold that recently to look for a larger property.

>~$50,000 USD per year in dividends

How much is your invested capital?

EDIT: I think I got my answer: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7749253

$300-$400 per month from my side project [0]. I spend 5-10 hours per month on updating/adding_new_features etc and the revenue comes from Affiliate/Ads.

[0] http://assembleyourpc.net - a pc builder tool

I assume you've contacted the builder communities on reddit? there's a build a pc one, and a build me a pc, something like that.

No. I tried once but didn't get any response. I submitted there and received some feedback though.

I know on build me a pc (forget exact URL), they have a standardized format they paste in. I wonder if you outputted that format, maybe they would take it up?

Thanks. I'll check out.

I'm getting about $50/month through an IFTTT/tumblr/AdSense setup that I have running.

That pays the server costs for http://citystrides.com which hasn't generated much revenue, yet.

My side project is www.stealengine.com

It yields about $50 a month, I'm just happy it pays for itself and requires little maintenance. During Black Friday(November) it made $400, other months are a lot slower.

I have not done any marketing and my friends like to use it so its fun.

You might consider listing some example searches under the search box. My initial impression is that I'm not quite certain what I'm supposed to be searching for.

Thanks for the feedback, I am going to add that.

This is great. Do you aggregate a lot of deal site or are you monitoring prices?

Best month so far has been 50 bucks. It'll take a long time, but I'm hoping eventually enough people link to it and add my widget, so that I can capture search traffic.


I've made a few thousand on an ebook about my app business. Not as much as I make on the apps, but it is 100% passive as opposed to mostly passive.


Earlier this year, I helped out a friend setting up online shop selling electric bike (dropship model). It has been good this summer, average of $1000/month net profit. Traffic is still very low but constant buyers. - shopebike.com.

I'm very intrigued by the dropship model, would you mind sharing how to go about evaluating suppliers? Or even where you start looking for suppliers? Thanks!

I wrote an ExpressionEngine Add-on called Detour Pro that sells for $22 ($17.60 after the site I sell it on takes their cut). I released it back in February of 2012 and to date I've made about $15k, this year alone $4k to date.

I have some german nice sites like http://www.garten-fussballtor.de. My best website earns 100 € / month. If you have any question i will try to answer it.

Is www.garten-fussballtor.de the website which earns 100€/mon?

I earned about 100$/month from knocktocall.com product. It's okay for me because I don't do any marketing for knocktocall.com. Have a full-time job, some freelance job and I'm still making new app for my passion.

I developed some Opencart and WooCommerce extensions (payment gateways, product feeds). They've been generating ~$600-800/m for 3 years now. Not completely passive due to some service emails, but overall a very good ROI.

$2500 for Dec/2013 (close enough to 2014) http://rebrickable.com - reuse your LEGO pieces to build other cool stuff. Not exactly passive yet, but maybe one day.

I built a B2B SAAS app about 18 months ago. I neglect it now, as I took a full time job (living in NYC isn't cheap, and I needed a better living situation).

It brings in about $1,800-$2,400/mo. I'd sell it if I had a buyer.

If you're keen on selling, could you email me more details?(my email is in my profile).

Doesn't seem to be there.

Sorry, added email to my profile. :)

Can you mail me with more details? mitrache.bogdan22 at Google's mail service.

Shoot me an email with some details. I might be interested. (email in profile)

I'd consider purchasing it, do you have more information?

Nice username. How can I get in contact?

se at priest com

Can you also send me details please?

How can I contact you?


Not "best" by any means, and perhaps not even passive, but I'm earning around 5% in my LendingClub account. I had some bad bets early on which lowered my returns a lot, but it's building up again.

Built an e-commerce site, pro bono, for an acquaintance and get a profit share each pay period. Occasionally I monitor, upgrade, enhance, and fix it up which results in more income. Great Situation!

Take great care to sign contracts for anything significant you expect to get. I did something like this once and after spending a long time enhancing it, suddenly the acquantance decided he didn't need to share the profit anymore.

Although you'd expect being the dev and possibly admin, you hold some control over the other party?

Better to have more than vague threats on your side, like having the law and vague threats on your side.

I hear that "very specific threats" is also a workable model.

I do consulting around enterprise software and typically make about $1500/month. It's not quite passive income because it requires me to work in the evenings but its not bad.

I get around $30 a month from a Hacker News app I made for iOS.

This is an excellent post, I am looking to setup streams of passive income mostly for savings and to allow me to travel. Just never sure which itch to scratch :/

Publish a friend's political writings at MetricHour.com, split the AdWords revenue. Learned a bunch about Handlebars and the Ghost.io CMS in the process.

Just launched http://www.smscmd.net/ so not much at the moment.

Stock market: I'm breakeven in a meh year in my country's stock market(Brazil) and it's my only passive income.

I build a small ERP (closed source so far)... 3 customers at 100€ / month => 300 €/month, paid in various ways...

I'm doing something like this.

Where did you get customers?

~80$ a month from ads on http://steamroulette.net

You could make a lot more if you did two things:

1) Remove that under construction thing. Granted it has no gifs, but as a potential user it distracts me.

2) Describe what value I can get from using it. What problem do you solve?

I actually realized I never pushed out my new version haha, thank you for pointing it out! Just deployed it.

About $75-$100 a month from a simple AdSense site that ranks highly for some key terms. Pretty lame.

I'm not sure why i'm not even doing this. (i'm at 0 passive right now)

It's not lame at all. How many hours of maintenance does it require per month?

Whats the content like? blog/photo/aggregator?

I wrote all the content myself, which took maybe 20-30 hours. The theme is a profession in the veterinary field, so it offers advice to prospective students and people interested in the career (schooling, salary, etc.)

It requires zero maintenance. I haven't touched it or written anything new in a couple years.

between $3000- and $18,000+/mo in online courses. The latter being more active in terms of sales, promotion, offers. It's not sustainable since customers are not responsive to this kind of thing each and every month.

Care to provide examples? Was thinking of getting into this myself with premium courses.

Edit: this is a good example of the type of courses I mean http://www.diygenius.com/courses/ (not affilated)

Is it on your own site? Or the likes of Udemy?

I'm not sure if its a good idea to share the exact topics, but generally they are language learning and software training (for example, specific CMSs).

I do everything through my own sites and find customers through via free podcasts, free and promoted youtube videos, etc. Udemy's on my list, but I believe in always owning your own brand, customers and leads.

Thanks for the info, I understand completely you don't want to give away profitable niches.

> I do everything through my own sites and find customers through via free podcasts, free and promoted youtube videos, etc.

Very clever, creative promotional strategy! I would love to read more if you have a blog (again without giving too much of your exact products or niches away). I'm building up a side business currently, and cost effective, targeted promotion is high on my list...(there's a great idea for a premium course btw, would purchase in a heartbeat.)

> Udemy's on my list, but I believe in always owning your own brand, customers and leads.

I guess there's an important trade off between owning the customer relationship 100% and getting exposure on a huge marketplace...

Drop me an email! (info in profile).

I definitely want to get around to doing work in Udemy, but I do have to say that they're not as big as, say, Youtube. :) For example, if you have a popular video, that gets embedded and linked to a lot. That builds link juice to your Youtube channel page and main site if write your video descriptions right, then suddenly you are ranking in Google search faster than you would normally. Same for a podcast and episode summaries. Having position and your own users in one channel also lets you ratchet up another by launching to those users. Over time, you build up big lists of people who you can re-launch updates or work with to develop new courses and products. Some people also use the leads to do affiliate marketing, but I personally prefer not to.

Anyway, owning your own traffic and lead list gives you the ability and permission to do that, so it's my approach.

btw, I forgot to mention I do have some free iOS apps to drive free users too. That by itself accounts for maybe 20% of my leads. I haven't touched Android yet.

Sounds intriguing! Thanks for the offer to connect, email sent.

$10K-$25K/mo for past 2 years. Product sales + adsense + adsoptimal.

Could you expand more on this? Is this all on the same website?

XOM and AGNC dividends

i have a niche humor blog on tumblr that makes about 30$/mo from adsense ads. not bad considering i was doing it for free up until recently.

admob earning of ~$100 from 2 very small android apps catering to a very small set of users.

Selling 3d assets on Turbosquid.

Nice. How much does it bring in?

In my best month, I did $3.3K in AdSense.

No idea is stupid if you can monetize it.

To explore projects outside of clients’ demands, we began a Labs initiative in March 2012. Think of it as a palate cleanser between client work. It's resulted in about ten completed projects. The formula is pretty simple. Find a problem, build a website to solve it. If it can be done in an afternoon, we don't even think about it. We just do it.

Of the ten sites we've built in the last year, the most popular are: RainyCafe, CalmingManatee, Is this Retina?, and Will there be mail today?

Getting traffic is a pretty straight forward process. Submit the site to blogs in relevant niches. In the case of RainyCafe, we submitted it as a tip to Lifehacker who posted it the next day. Once you've got a major blog exposure like that, having frictionless sharing (in the form of social media buttons) is enough to keep it going. However, this assumes the content is compelling enough to share to begin with.

Sometimes doing that much isn't even necessary. CalmingManatee was different. We tweeted it once, and about a week later it was everywhere. A million visits in the first month everywhere. We received requests for interviews from NPR, Huffington Post, and some other random blogs as a results.

The success of these afternoon projects was a pleasant surprise, and the free publicity was welcome, but what would be even better is some extra revenue. As freelancers, having recurring revenue is critical to building our business.

Our first attempt at monetization was to sell Manatee greeting cards through Zazzle. After six months, we sold so few that we couldn't meet the the threshold to get paid out. Fail.

We switched to donations. Using WePay, we allowed people to donate via three suggested donation levels. That netted about $100/mo. Better but not great. We had to reconcile dozens of micro-transactions in Quickbooks which, when you factor the time, made it a net loss. Fail again.

Then we tried making a RainyCafe iOS app that we planned to sell for $1. Apple rejected it because they found that our Rainy Cafe app provides "a very limited amount of content and a very limited set of features" specifically because it "only contains two ambient noises." Strike three.

Finally, I got off my high horse and switched to AdSense.Not only did we hit out of the park with AdSense, but it was the easiest of our four monetization attempts to implement. I wish I'd done it sooner.

Lesson learned: Simple is great. Ever since CalmingManatee, if someone in the office has an idea that can be implemented in less than an afternoon, we don't even debate it, we just implement it, put AdSense on it, and see what happens. Some work, some don't. At the very least, we always learn something from it.

> Then we tried making a RainyCafe iOS app that we planned to sell for $1. Apple rejected it because they found that our Rainy Cafe app provides "a very limited amount of content and a very limited set of features" specifically because it "only contains two ambient noises."

It's a shame. I'd pay up to about 2 dollars for the app as it is now, up to 5 if it had:

- copy hinting at how I'm going to make much more money with this app thanks to increased productivity compared to working from home in silence and saved coffee/transportation money;

- copy bragging about all the binaural recording techniques and smart processing you used to achieve exceptional realism and deep immersion, hours of café recordings without discernible repetitions, etc.;

- actually those techniques implemented;

- higher customizability (pick rain/storm, ambient audio image characteristics).

There's http://www.coffitivity.com/, but frankly their sound plain sucks compared to yours. Their “Morning Murmur” has hissing recording noise all over it and unrealistic rubbish instead of stereo image. They do have an iOS app, but I wouldn't have it for free.

I realize their hiss may result from actually higher quality audio (though they still need to filter it out), but in this case even audio quality is of questionable matter. In a real café I can put my headphones on in order to reduce distraction, but in this case I can't, so the recording has to be pre-processed (certain frequencies subdued) or allowing to pick from a number of processing presets.

hopefully the idea that i'm working on right now...:)

well what is it?

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