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5 things I’ve learned about building passive income

Keep these 5 things in mind when building passive income for your business. Whether you’re licensing or using digital products, these are important tips to earn more money.

Person calculating passive income

I began my career as a wedding stationer/hand-letterer and now focus on licensing to other designers. I license patterns and prints to larger companies through an agent, working on an ad hoc basis for ad agencies and small businesses alike, while also drop-shipping merchandise.

From moving away from the wedding industry and more into licensing and drop shipping, I’ve learned a lot about how to generate passive income for my business and personal life. 

Whether you’re looking for a new (passive) side hustle or a new revenue stream, here are some tips you can use. 

1. Passive income is not really passive at all

“Passive income” is kind of a misnomer—it’s incredibly active and it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to make passive income work. I sell on Creative Market and the algorithm (like most) favors those accounts and shops that have a more routine posting schedule and more items for sale. 

If you think about it, even personal passive income takes time. Real estate investments require a lot of market research and searching, and passive income through the market requires a lot of portfolio strategy, strategic dividend stocks, and much more.

If you want to earn passive income through selling digital products, you’ll still have to spend time building your products, pricing them, setting them up, promoting them, and optimizing the entire process. 

The good news is that it’s usually a lot of front-loaded time and effort that can end up giving you extra cash in the long term. Just don’t assume that passive income is something that you can get started building immediately.

2. Never assume people know what you’re selling

If you are an established photographer who is selling curves or presets, never assume your audience knows that you’re selling these. You have to constantly remind your audience about your shops and what they can buy there. In fact, the rule of seven in marketing means that people usually need to see the same message at least seven times before they’ll take action. 

However, you shouldn’t bombard your audience with pages of links they have to search through—I use a account to change my profile links so I only have three to four going at a time. From there, I can continuously schedule social posts that drive traffic to the links.

Keeping your audience informed about your products and services and allowing quick access to them can be extremely helpful in generating consistent passive income.

3. Take the time to create strong marketing images

Did you know that Vegas hotels use ugly carpets to get people to keep their eyes off the ground and on the machines that can give them a lot of money? 

When it comes to promoting digital products for passive income, you want to do the opposite of that. Creating strong images that showcase how customers can use your work can spur them into a purchase. 

Although bigger businesses often have designers who can visualize how patterns and designs will look in the final product, many people find it easier to see examples. Creating great mock-ups of your work can help you better market your products, patterns, designs, and more.

4. Create content that can be used in multiple ways

This goes for client work, too—as long as you retain the rights and get the necessary contracts in place), don’t be afraid to use what you create in different markets. 

For example, if you’re a photographer taking photos for a styled wedding shoot, ask the models to be really expressive, toss a bouquet, kiss passionately, or laugh—this can lead to great footage for stock photos. You can then potentially license these to designers and other wedding professionals or use them to create beautiful “before” and “after” examples for presets or curves.

A personal example: I recently worked with a bride on a beautiful custom wedding suite, which involved creating a botanical drawing of a few different flowers. I specifically made sure to create the leaves and flowers on various layers, which has allowed me to create and sell wallpapers, a pack of digital clipart, wrapping papers, art prints, and stationery. The designs are a different style than what I normally create, but they’ve been really popular and helped display my breadth of work.

5. Consistency is king

No matter what markets you choose to diversify your revenue, you have to be consistent. Invest your time wisely and be selective of where you put your energy. 

Only create that Etsy store or Creative Market shop if you can see yourself investing the same amount of time two years from now. It takes a massive amount of dedication to begin to see results, but those who are consistent will win out.

Create a better process for building passive income

Along with these tips, the best thing you can do to build passive income is to create a process that works for you. For most business owners like me, that means using automation. 

Especially when it comes to digital products, you already put some much time up front creating and promoting them. The last thing you want to do is spend even more time selling it to customers. 

Using HoneyBook, you can leverage business automation to take the entire process of your hands. Allow clients to inquire about your product via a contact form, then automatically send an invoice along with your digital product. You can get started today!

Woman using passive income apps

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