February 5, 2021 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As of 2019, The United States Census Bureau reported that about 13 million US workers have more than one job, and that number is rising. Whether this is due to the need or desire for extra income or to explore other areas of interest, there remains a holy grail in the “side hustle” communities both on and offline: the untapped resource of passive income.
When we talk about “passive income,” it’s argued that no income is entirely passive: most require at least some initial investment if not regular management in order to be truly successful. However, there definitely are ways to supplement your day job without eating into all of your free time.
By this point in the year, it’s not exactly a secret that many of the traditional alleys and pathways entrepreneurs have taken to earn extra money have either fallen apart or shifted into different directions in an attempt to go virtual or remote.
Adaptation and innovation remain two qualities that have kept businesses and entrepreneurs and creatives surviving and even thriving during a pandemic. With advice from Content Creator Tayler Helder, “Micro” Influencer Laur DeMartino, and Business Owner Justin Gilmore, you can find three different paths to turning your side hustle into passive income in 2021.
Online Passive Income – Content Creation Across Social Platforms
Content Creation is one of the most rapidly growing and dominant forms of online income you can tap into. Blogging or vlogging are just two ways to begin to gather audiences, first by making yourself an established creator, expert, or leader in a specific niche, especially in an area where you already know there is a high demand for advice or special interest. While some of the top creators across platforms have salaries in the millions, you have to be committed to the process if you want to see lucrative growth.
Now, some people may go into content creation hoping to go viral and gain hundreds of thousands of followers and get brand deals like some of the Instagram Influencers or Tik Tok stars you see or hear of blowing up very quickly on the social media landscape. Most of the time, this is due to a steady incline of gaining followers and traffic thanks to regularly and carefully curated content, but sometimes the right 30-second clip, photo, or Tweet can turn someone into an internet sensation overnight.
If you’re willing to start building an audience around video content that is longer than the average clever Tik Tok, creating a YouTube channel is the way to go and can offer you more options to make money than other newer platforms.
It’s the rest of the process that can be a little more daunting and complicated, especially if you’re not used to being on camera or editing video. YouTube’s Partnership Program (the key way to start monetizing your videos) can also be a challenge for new creators to get into since you’ll need 1000 followers to qualify, which is easier said than done.
In an article with Backstage, Content Creator Tayler Holder (who now has over 24 million followers across his social media channels) stressed the importance of treating content creation like a job, and not a hobby, and explained the key to pulling in people from all different demographics: “Consistency is the main key. Be different. Put out content that people haven’t seen before. That’s what’s going to really make you stand out.”
Duplicating yourself (and your content) across channels is another way to get you and your brand known. Shorter previews of your content on Tik Tok or YouTube or Twitter can gain interest, and ultimately some traffic to your YouTube Channel, which might be the start you need.
Whether you already have a YouTube Channel, a blog, or even a podcast, creators also have found themselves utilizing sources like Patreon, promising extra content for fans or subscribers who are willing to pay a certain amount for different tiered levels of their work. This can be early access to new projects or access to you for advice or suggestions for future projects, and it can supplement your work as you grow your audience and begin to gain traction and a following.
Virtual Stores and More – Affiliate Marketing and Shopify
For those that already have an audience, whether it’s on Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube or even their own website, one way you can begin to make some extra passive income is through affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is the process where individuals help direct traffic from their personal pages to another brand’s and are often paid by commission for those clicks that turned into purchases. The average affiliate marketer can earn around $100 per customer, which can quickly add up if you commit to advertising for these brands.
Most of the money Influencers make on any platform often comes from ad revenue. Tik Tok creators for example, can make anywhere from $200-$20,000 with branded content.
Even if you aren’t an influencer (yet) yourself, you can begin your journey of affiliate marketing on Google or Facebook. There are plenty of resources to getting started, and even if you only start by making a couple extra hundred dollars a week, that’s not a bad beginning to what can become passive income. For example, “Nano” Influencer Laur DeMartino has found a way to earn between $300-500 extra cash for sponsored videos with her 5,000 follower Instagram account. She also offers her brand kit here for Business Insider subscribers.
While the shift from shopping in-person to online had been steadily growing over the last decade or so with the pressure of an international pandemic causing many shoppers to make the choice to shop online, much of the remaining businesses have had to adapt or risk losing business altogether.
As e-commerce sales in the U.S. have grown during this time, and as shoppers have been encouraged to seek outside of Amazon and to “shop small,” this year more than ever it may be the year to start selling your wares on sites like Shopify.
If you can sell something digitally, that’s even better. The right eBook or other downloadable content can be the ultimate Shopify guide to passive income.
Making Money With Money – Passive Income WIth An Initial Investment
As the founder of ATMMachines.com, Justin came a long way from “hucking” pizzas in Atlanta, Georgia. Now he makes money by selling and processing ATM Machines (and a course on how to get started) – helping customers to start earning money on their own.
As Justin’s learned, even in 2020, not every opportunity for passive income is online. Within two years of starting in the ATM business, he was making between $10-15 thousand dollars.
Justin shared some paramount advice, that the secret to scaling his business was treating his customers like partners: “With this business, I only make money when my customers make money. So my approach has always been to treat my customers as my partners.” After the merchant splits the monthly revenue on the 600 machines sits between $180K and $220K.The customer base brings in between 900K and $1.2M per month from surcharge revenue.
So, as someone who dropped out of high school after getting expelled in the ninth grade, Justin’s story wasn’t one of traditional success — but sixteen years after creating his business he now owns over 600 ATMs and has processed another 1200, helping his customers-turned-partners along the way from start to finish.
Whether you’re getting involved in the Vending Machine business or renting out space on Airbnb, your unused RV, or even parking spots, you just have to get creative, and get out of your comfort zone, and pave your own way to earn cash and be a huge success.
If we’ve learned anything from 2020 it’s that we all have to pivot and cultivate new ways to be successful, and while starting something new has its risks, it can be incredibly worth it in the end. Get started with these tips and soon you’ll be on your way to making passive income and establishing yourself as a boss in 2021.