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You’re just waking up in the morning. Pouring yourself a coffee, starting to make some breakfast, and you go to check your email…
Surprise! You have 15 new sales!
Congratulations: You just made money while sleeping.
Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?
As a creative person in today’s interconnected world, making money from your hobby is a real possibility. There are literally hundreds of ways to start building a passive income stream.
You just need to know where to start…
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I’m going to share actionable steps you can take to start make money doing what you love. I’ll recommend techniques that have worked for me, and offer plenty of tools and ideas for all types of creatives.
Creating high quality, valuable content is one of the best ways for creatives to build a passive income stream, which we also refer to as a “passion” income stream.
This can be achieved through a variety of different mediums:
- Blogging and Writing
- Shooting Stock Photography
- Shooting Stock Videography
- Creating Stock Music
- Creating Graphic Design Templates & Elements
- Designing Website Templates, Themes, & Scripts
- Podcasting & Voiceover/Narration
- Writing Product & Software Reviews
- Creating Product & Software Tutorials
It’s an amazing time to be a creative entrepreneur!
Technological advancements have given us powerful and versatile tools, and the internet and social networks have given us access to an ever-expanding audience, as well as an abundance of readily available resources and information… it’s never been easier to learn, innovate, and spread the word about what you’re doing.
Can you really make money doing what you love?
The good news?
Of course you can… but that does not mean it’s going to be easy.
Here’s the deal:
Making money from your hobby is going to take a lot of work.
One thing that seems to stop most people from turning their passion into profit is that they think there’s already too many people doing it, and they’re so much better than me!
But there’s one thing that makes you different from everybody else…
You are the only one who sees the world exactly the way you do. You are uniquely qualified to tell your story, in your own voice.
The key ingredient to being successful in this venture is that you are passionate and genuine about what you’re offering, and that you put in the time and effort to see it through.
This is something I first learned when I started writing stock music in 2014.
My Personal Journey as a Stock Music Creator
I had been working as a professional video editor since 2001, and had even made custom music for some of the videos I had edited… but mostly, it was something I did when I got home from work. It was a hobby. Something I would be doing whether I was getting paid or not.
One day, as I was going through some stock media sites – looking for background music for a video I was editing… it hit me:
I could be doing this.
So, I started doing research about the royalty free music industry. I figured “hey, let’s see if somebody out there wants to use my songs in their videos.”
What’s the worst thing that could happen?
So, I joined Audiojungle.net as a contributor, and started writing and uploading music.
Turning a Hobby into a Business
Of course, my sales were slow at first… but began to grow as I started researching and adapting my writing style to what it appeared the customers wanted.
As months went by, more and more sales started trickling in… sometimes even while I was sleeping! This was truly exciting, and something I’d never experienced before – making money while I was sleeping.
As I started looking at this more like a business than a hobby… I came to realize that every piece of music I created was an asset.
An asset owned by me.
As a creative, with very little business knowledge… this was a revelation.
Fast forward to today (and this is the truly rewarding part)…
I’ve made over 2,600 sales!!
Image Source: Audiojungle.net
And that’s just from one of my stock music accounts.
Looking back, it can be hard to remember how much work we put in at the beginning of the journey. Nothing happens overnight.
There were many times when I wondered if all the work was going to be worth it… but in the long run, I was able to start building a passive income stream through my creative outlet.
The Benefits of Building Passive Income for Creatives
I had done it:
I turned my passion into profit.
Additionally, I gained invaluable knowledge about being in business for myself, making money in a creative industry, and adapting to the market.
In fact, it’s been over 2 years since I’ve uploaded any music to my AudioJungle account, and having spent no time or money marketing – there hasn’t been one month where I’ve made less than $500.
I would have been making music those years anyway!
But after focusing my hobby… I now have a collection of valuable assets that I own, and it’s continuing to generate income without me having to do anything. That’s why it’s called passive income.
This extra revenue even helped ease the transition from me being a full time employee – working for someone else, into a business owner myself.
Time to Take Action and Turn Your Passion into Profit
Ok, so now that we know it’s possible to make money doing what you love… what are some ways you can start to take action?
First and foremost, you need to have a creative skill, and ideally it’s one that you’re proficient enough at that people would pay for your service.
I’m not going to lie to you – if you’re just getting started in one of these creative fields, building a passive income stream will be much more difficult. That’s why this article’s title has the word “quality” in there.
So, let’s get real:
What are you really good at?
Photography? Web Design? Maybe writing?
Let’s take a look at a few routes to building passive income for creatives…
Photographers and Videographers
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s look at the facts:
There are TONS of people and businesses creating videos, articles, and presentations out there… and sometimes they’re looking for very specific content to use in their pieces.
Think about it from their perspective. It’s WAY more cost effective (and not to mention MUCH faster) for a company to just purchase an aerial clip of a specific city skyline for their video than to:
- Find and hire a drone operator
- Send him/her to that city (travel + lodging)
- Hope they get that great shot
- Wait a bit longer for the right shot to be edited and color corrected
- Ok, now we can complete the project!
See what I’m saying?
No, they would rather just pay somewhere between $50 – $200 for the shot they need, call it done, and move on.
Same goes for an industry blog or big corporate presentation that needs quality photos of anything you can imagine to illustrate their point… determined athletic people, happy pets with their owners, or trustworthy looking doctors with medicine.
Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the things people end up needing for their projects.
Case in point:
I’ve been contributing to various stock footage marketplaces for a couple years now, and I recently sold the following shot on the Pond5 Marketplace…
An Alligator Gar Fish swims through a group of smaller fish, filmed from the dock of a little pond in Florida.
As you can see, there’s nothing spectacular going on here.
But somebody needed it for a project, and I happened to have it. So, I made the sale.
Submit Your Photos and Videos to Digital Marketplaces
My advice to photographers and videographers is to sign up for a contributor account and get your quality photos and videos on one (or more) of the digital stock marketplaces.
In fact, if you’ve been taking photos or shooting video for a couple years… who knows, maybe you already have a collection of usable content sitting around on old hard drives? Go find it. Get those shots clipped off, write up some descriptions and tags, and upload it!
Here are a few others to get you started:
Graphic and Motion Designers
As a video editor, I’m constantly on the lookout for usable graphic design and motion graphics templates for both my personal and client projects.
That being said, if you’ve honed your design skills – you could be creating things like print and presentation templates, artistic backgrounds and illustrations, motion graphics promo templates, icon packs, infographic templates, stylized fonts, and logo intros.
I would highly suggest researching the market before starting to create. This will help you get a feel for what customer’s are looking for.
Create or Contribute to Graphic Design Elements Bundles
Another great resource to look into… there are numerous websites dedicated to promoting discounted graphic design elements bundles.
Here are a few to check out:
Sell Your Designs on Apparel and Merchandise Sites
Yet another option for graphic artists is submitting your designs to trendy apparel and merchandise sites such as:
Here’s how some of these stores can work:
- You submit your design.
- It gets voted on by the community. They’re essentially looking to see if enough people are interested in purchasing a product (could be a t-shirt, hoodie, phone cover, etc.) with your design.
- If enough of the community expresses interest – your design gets printed.
- When people start buying it, you start making money!
Web Designers & Developers
In this day and age, everybody needs a website, right? But not everybody knows how (or wants to know how) to build and design a website.
That’s where you come in.
If you’re in the web development business, you probably already know that there’s an enormous demand for website templates, themes, and visual builders. There are also numerous approaches to starting a revenue generating machine, including creating: WordPress, HTML5, Bootstrap, PSD, eCommerce, and Joomla templates.
But why stop there?
There’s also a HUGE market for code.
Without a doubt, building a quality website template or premium theme is a lot of work… however, the payoff can be substantial. When you consider that many of these sites offer up to 70% commission per sale, the potential earnings from just one superb product can be tremendous.
However, a word of caution:
Competition is fierce in the web template creation business.
Build a Dropship Business Website
Another way for web developers to make money online is to build a dropshipping business.
What is a dropship business? Shopify.com describes it this way:
“Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant never sees or handles the product.” – Shopify.com
Image Source: Shopify.com
To put it simply:
A dropship business doesn’t have a physical inventory. It sells products from wholesalers.
Here’s a quick overview of steps to build an online dropship business:
- Select a niche for your online store
- Perform competition research in your chosen niche
- Decide on a name for your business, and purchase a website domain and hosting for your site
- Build your online store. A good place to start are eCommerce focused website platforms such as: Shopify, BigCommerce, LemonStand, or PinnacleCart
- Find dropship-friendly suppliers and products with tools like SaleHoo, Worldwide Brands, Doba, & Wholesale Central
- Once you’ve got products on your store, it’s time to let everybody know –> Start an advertising campaign, and begin to build your brand’s awareness
- Track your sales data, and continually optimize and adapt to the market
Bloggers (and Podcasters & Vloggers too!)
Is storytelling more your thing? What do you love to tell stories about? Are there products or services related to that topic that might interest an audience?
For instance, maybe you’re a fan of new technology… or something even more niche like the best new cell phones. These industries have tons of new products coming out on a regular basis.
Why does this matter?
Well, if you think your opinion can persuade people’s buying decisions…
Consider starting a blog, a podcast, or a vlog.
It could just be informational, or product reviews related to your niche, or how-to tutorials.
The key thing to remember is to make sure you’re providing value.
Once you’ve started to build up an audience around your topic – you’ll be able to take advantage of affiliate marketing.
Monetize Your Blog, Vlog, or Podcast with Affiliate Marketing
Here’s something I think we can all agree on:
Every business that makes a product or offers a service obviously wants customers, right??
Well, many of these businesses have what’s called an affiliate marketing program.
What is affiliate marketing?
“Affiliate Marketing is an advertising model where a company pays compensation to third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services.” – Investopedia.com
In a nutshell, this means you can sign up as a “marketer” on their behalf, and if you send them customers (tracked via cookies by links on your site), you receive a percentage of each sale (although the specifics of every affiliate program will vary).
To put it another way, through affiliate marketing, you’re able to advertise products or services that you love – and build passive income while doing it.
I call that a win-win.
If your goal is to be an independent creative entrepreneur, or if it’s just to start building a passive income stream… there are numerous ways to achieve this.
The idea of making money doing what you love is no longer a dream.
In this massive globally-connected digital world, our creations no longer have to be tangible, physical objects.
Our products, blogs, books, videos, and music can “sit on the virtual shelves” indefinitely.
10,000 people can be reading the same book, or watching the same video at the same time. That blog post you wrote back in 2012 is still being read today, and somebody is gaining value from it.
What’s more, our digital products and creations can be purchased/consumed over and over again.
The real key to building passive income for creatives is to make sure what you’re creating is adding value to your readers/viewers lives.
There are three things most people are looking for when browsing the internet: reliable information, usable resources, or entertainment.
In the end, the content that can become the most successful finds a way to combine all three of these.
How about you?
Have you been able to build a passive income stream from your creative outlet or hobby? What advice or guidance would you give someone trying to achieve this? Let us know what’s worked for you in the comments.
Joel Simser is a creative writer, entrepreneur, and all around video maestro. He’s produced original music for commercials and television, lent his voice to various promos and presentations, and edited thousands of non-award winning videos (including a few actual award shows).
As founder of AwesomeContentCreator.com, he authors in-depth guides that teach fellow content creators ways to grow and develop in their industries.