Looking for passive income?

Stop asking the wrong question

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If you’ve been following along here or know me from my past work, you know I have a previously existing company called New Haircut. It’s a product strategy consultancy. Naturally! (with a name like that)

It’s a fun name. It’s also easy to say and, more importantly, remember. But when it comes to positioning and SEO, I didn’t do myself any favors.

Do you know how many calls I’ve gotten over the years from someone asking for a perm or blowout?

When I started Passive Profits, I wanted the name to be simple and obvious. Something more clear than clever.

Since my ultimate goal is to help people earn additional income streams without working longer days, I chose a name with a tieback to passive income.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the perception people have of passive income. It’s more complicated than I imagined. The term stirs up emotion. Especially from people who have:

  1. Tried earning it and failed (been there)

  2. Not yet dedicated real effort to earning it

It’s these two groups that tend to scoff at the notion of passive income. And while I empathize greatly with the first, I roll my eyes at the second. Armchair quarterbacks suck.

But then there’s also an outlier group that simply doesn’t like the phrasing. Their main argument: Nothing is truly passive. There’s always upfront work and more work to maintain it.

For example, there are passive income channels like stock investments and real estate.

Some argue that the money you invest often comes from active income sources. Or that you had to invest time (and money) to learn and study the markets so that your investments were profitable.

I get that. But it also seems like semantics; i.e. a pissing match.

“Portfolio income”

As part of my research, I learned an important nuance.

In the US, income generated from dividends (e.g. stocks) should not be conflated as passive income, but as “portfolio income.” The IRS classifies and taxes them differently.

Same outcome. Different name (technically).

My experience with passive income

There’s also the passive income channel that I champion and teach: Productizing your expertise into digital products (e.g. courses, templates, ebooks) that you create once and sell forever.

I’ve shared my results doing this. Here’s the recap for you…

In 2020, I created a few digital products. They took a decent amount of work to build and launch. Ballpark: 300 hours

Then I made updates to them. Ballpark: 100 hours

Then I built a series of free content and lead magnets that drew a growing audience to them. This self-perpetuating growth loop became my flywheel. Ballpark: 50 hours

During and afterward, I did the bare minimum to market & sell them. Ballpark: 10 hours

After a while, I stopped working on them altogether. I stopped talking about them. I had other things going on in my life. They were good enough.

And yet, people to this day —3 years since I last touched them — continue to discover and buy them.

Total time: ~460 hours
Product revenue: $80,000

Even crazier? I’m not even actively operating the company (New Haircut) that these products were built for.

There’s no one at the wheel, and yet the products I offer through the company still sell. That feels pretty passive to me.

But here's the most interesting opportunity — which most are oblivious to — your passive income products can also market and upsell your active income streams; e.g. your consulting and coaching services.

Case in point, my digital products have done the lion’s share of winning me $975,000 in premium consulting services. Including a 6-figure contract I just won last month… from products I created 4 years ago.

I don’t know about you, but that feels fan-fucking-tastic compared to the soul-sucking sales pitches I used to do to try and win business.

Now that I’ve driven my point into the ground, let’s pick our heads up to see how others feel.

A passive income poll

Last week, I attempted to gather some additional perspectives on passive income. To do that, I ran a poll on LinkedIn:

I braced for an onslaught of votes for ❌ No such thing. Instead, this happened:

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