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[dupe] What was your best passive income in 2014?
323 points by ericthegoodking 1149 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.


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