Passive income really isn’t that easy
Ever since I heard of the term passive income streams from Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, it’s something I’ve been obsessed with.
Not having to work for someone else while having income is an absolute dream.
In the last 5 years, I’ve been finding ways to develop passive income streams but most of them have failed!
Trying to find myself, juggle a family and aspiring to move up the ladder at work all at the same time has made this task really difficult.
This is definitely my own doing but despite that, I think all of the attempts have compounded into something that works for me today.
If you’re in the same position as I am and you’re looking for something manageable with work and family at the same time, then here are some things I can share with you.
I’m a data analyst by trade, but for some reason I had this bright idea that I could start a blog, do affiliate marketing and make YouTube videos to generate income.
For someone of my temperament and social skills, doing such things are definitely not my strong points. Maybe blogging might be my best skill, but trying to sell things and make videos are towards my weaker talents.
For example, after reading Tim Ferris’ The 4 Hour Work Week, I thought I could sell natural medicines online after all I have a degree in pharmacy in addition to data analytics. I built a WordPress website, embedded Google Analytics into my website, wrote some blog posts, integrated Amazon affiliate links into the blog posts, and paid for Facebook and Google ads. After a week, I only had one person visit my website and the person didn’t even click on the affiliate link.
A bit of reflection and research advised me that I need to sell myself more on social media. Just because you have advertising doesn’t mean people will come.
I soon gave up on this venture because I had no time then to sell myself on social media.
Perhaps, but also I just don’t like using social media much because at that point in time, I didn’t really understand how to engage with people on social media.
I then switched focus. I knew how to code and do data analytics fairly well, so my next venture was to create an app that would automate data analytics.
I began by learning how to do cloud computing, which to my surprise used programming languages a lot differently from what I was used to.
What got me was that there was so much to learn. I’ve already learnt to two programming languages (R and Python), but it seemed like I needed to learn another one (node.js).
Then, the costs kept piling up.
Even though cloud computer services tell you that everything has a free tier, there are hidden cost for everything even if they’re minute.
However, when you’re trying to test something new and test it all the time, all the few cents and dollars add up.
After making a few test apps, I just gave up on making an app because, again, I couldn’t find time and I didn’t want to pay so much in fees.
You may ask why did I just hire someone to make the app?
I don’t know too. I just got so caught up building something that I felt too prideful to out source it and ultimately I wasn’t too committed to my product.
After some soul searching and getting my priorities aligned, I figured that I was only suited for the least manual way of generating passive income.
Buying shares, receiving dividends and hoping for capital gains.
I figured I had some talent in this area as I worked a lot with statistics and making sense of financial numbers wouldn’t be too difficult.
I was wrong.
It was difficult.
I could not make sense of financial numbers. But, regardless of that I still enjoyed the process and could keep up with it.
I felt comfortable looking at numbers on a page and enjoyed learning the insights that the numbers offered.
Eventually, this lead me to reading more about finances and behavioral psychology, which eventually drove the idea that this could be ‘my true passive income side hustle’.
Sure, millions of others are buying shares too. According to Statista, 55% of Americans have some sort of holdings in the share market — that’s about 181 million people, so my chances of making something big were slim.
But, to frame my business differently, my real goal was just for passive income and doing some research to find a decent dividend paying stock with a company with decent finances was not that hard to do, and really I didn’t have to compete against anyone for this. Furthermore, I didn’t have to worry about timing the market.
Unfortunately, it also dawned on me that buying dividend paying stocks isn’t that great of a way for passive income.
For example, for a $5000 investment, you might get an annual dividend of $100. This is a 2% return on investment in one year, and you can only really get compounded returns if the company offers a dividend reinvestment plan.
You probably can see the issues, you still require large capital to buy the shares in the first place and even compounded results take years.
I’ve got a house to pay off and mouths to feed, so this passive income method isn’t the best.
Eventually, I went back to blogging.
I thought to myself it’ll be different this time. I had more confidence to sell myself on social media and have become knowledgeable enough in business not to repeat the same mistakes.
However, the niches I’m particularly knowledgeable at don’t really have affiliate marketing opportunities and quality YouTube videos are too hard to make if you lack the will.
In the span of 4 years, I made myself an annual report reading expert.
I could’ve been a consultant as a side hustle except I don’t have the results to show people since my style of investing takes years for profits to show and reading annual reports — well isn’t exactly something people flock to learn.
I thought the best use of my skills was to write ‘how to’ blog posts then convince readers to sign up to a subscription service.
Turns out that despite how well I wrote, the topic of reading annual reports just doesn’t connect with people. (I’ve tried several times on Medium and can confirm this).
I was in limbo for the next year.
I kept on writing about my interests and still no income.
I tried WordPress, Substack and Medium a few times, and still nothing.
But, one day in an attempt to impress a potential employer, I put down on my CV that I was an SEO expert.
Actually, I was not an SEO expert.
To back up my claim, I wrote a quick article, and sent it to a publisher on Medium.
I did this to demonstrate to my potential employer that I understood how to get a top ranking on Google.
But to my surprise, the article managed to get a 100 views.
I tried writing another article, 120 views and so on.
Eventually, I got hooked into Medium and now I’m writing daily and getting paid.
I’m finally getting a good string of passive income. The articles written months ago are still getting views and earnings now.
So what’s the point of this whole article?
Trying to find a passive income stream that works for your temperament is really hard.
If you’re very entrepreneurial and outgoing, maybe selling yourself on social media is your thing.
However, if you’re like me, someone who is a bit more reserved, maybe investing or writing informative blogs is more appealing.
All I can say is that passive income is a long term game.