The best way for you, as a freelancer or consultant, to add passive income streams to your business is to develop programs that teach others what you already know. You can launch a new product based on your own knowledge relatively quickly and cheaply when compared to other types of income streams.
Sure, you could create a piece of computer software or an app that helps others do what you do (for example, a business consultant creating an app that analyses a company’s marketing strategy). But creating software is time-consuming and costly, because you’ll need to hire someone to do the technical work for you. Instead, focus on adding passive income streams that don’t require you to spend lots of money or to hire anybody in order to implement them.
The good news is that with all of the new technology and online tools available today, launching a new passive income stream for your business doesn’t need to be hard or overly-complicated. During my journey into adding passive income to my consulting companies, I found that I could learn everything I needed to know to be able to add new income streams without any significant cost or learning curve.
Top 7 Passive Income Streams for Freelancers and Consultants
Based on my own past experience, here are the top 7 income streams you can add to your own business this year.
#1: Online Classes
Online classes are a fantastic way to teach what you know and earn a significant amount of income while doing so.
People are more comfortable than ever with learning online. You can use all kinds of online tools and technology to offer class videos, webinars, written guides, podcasts, online office hours, or any combination of these items as part of your class. Each class can have one or more modules and as many supporting materials as you would like to include.
Thousands of entrepreneurs have successfully offered classes online while charging anywhere from $19 to $1,999 per student.
I have found great success with offering online classes, and they became the backbone of the passive income streams that I offered in all of my consulting businesses.
Best of all, you can record your classes once and sell them over and over again, which is the ultimate goal of your passive income efforts.
Similar to online classes, webinars are a great way to teach people what you know.
Unlike online classes, which normally contain more than one module or more than one webinar, individual webinars offer you the chance to teach your client universe about one particular topic. Webinars normally last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, and entrepreneurs normally charge anywhere from $9 to $99 per student.
Webinars can be offered live, with some time for teaching and some time for Q&A, or they can be recorded and sold over and over again (or both).
Another great way to create passive income products that can be sold over and over again is to write one or more e-books touching on topics that interest your audience.
Unlike traditional printed books, which cost money to print and ship, e-books don’t cost anything to produce, other than your time and the cost of hiring a designer to create a compelling cover image for your book (which costs less than $200).
Your e-books can be sold as PDFs directly from your own website or can be sold via online platforms like Amazon (for Kindle). The amount you can charge for your e-book varies wildly, but most e-books are sold for less than $20.
Check out my own free e-book on generating passive income as an example of the kind of simple e-book you can produce.
#4: Membership Programs
As you grow your customer base by launching classes, webinars, and e-books, you can add recurring income to your business by launching a membership program.
A membership program (sometimes called a membership site) is a program where your customers pay you monthly (via automatic credit card withdrawals) for ongoing access to the information you are providing.
Normally, membership programs will offer one or more webinars or classes per month, plus access to a library of all of the previously recorded webinars or classes. These programs sometimes also include exclusive member-only content, such as:
- Facebook groups
- Group coaching calls
- Written materials
- Member-only e-mail newsletters
Launching a membership program takes commitment, because you're promising your clients that you will be publishing new content on a regular basis. But you’re still able to create each piece of content once and sell access again and again as you pick up additional members for your program.
It’s also nice to know that you have a recurring base of income that comes in month after month. Freelancers and consultants that launch membership programs can expect to be able to charge anywhere from $9 to $299 per month, depending on your niche and what type of information you offer.
As your website traffic grows, you may be able to offer advertising on your site.
Depending on the popularity of your niche and how many people visit your site each month, companies in your space may gladly pay to reach your audience by placing display ads on your site or in your e-mail newsletter, or by sending e-blasts to your e-mail newsletter list.
One of the most common ways to add advertising to your site is by using Google’s Adsense program. Using Adsense, you place some code on your site (for example, in the sidebar or in some of your blog posts) and earn a small amount of money each time someone clicks on one of the ads, which are automatically posted by Google.
A more lucrative path is to sell advertising directly to companies in your niche who complement (but don’t compete with) your business. For example, if you are a non-profit fundraising consultant, you can sell ads to fundraising database providers or online crowdfunding platforms, etc. These ads can easily be added to your website, or you can sell ad space in your e-mail newsletters.
By selling advertising space directly to companies in your niche, you can charge anywhere from $1 to $1,000 per month, per ad for ads on your website (depending on your niche and your web traffic).
In addition, you can charge anywhere from $100 to $10,000 per e-mail blast for solo blast e-mail advertisements to your e-mail list (again, depending on your niche and the number of subscribers on your e-mail newsletter list).
#6: Affiliate Marketing
If you don’t have the time to create your own classes, webinars, or e-books — or if you’re just looking for additional revenue streams for your business — affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn passive income from your audience.
Affiliate marketing is where you earn a commission by promoting another company’s products or services. Usually, this means promoting a product or service on your website through a special link that tracks when people you send over to the other company’s site buy something from the other company. You then earn a commission on the sale.
Believe or not, there are some consultants and freelancers that earn what amounts to a full-time income simply by connecting their online audience with other people’s products and services.
Lots of companies offer affiliate programs that you can promote. For example, if you’re a business consultant, you may want to promote as business CRM program that you like, or an online ad platform that offers an affiliate commission.
Obviously, be sure to only promote those products and services that you believe offer real value to your audience. Remember, if you promote something to your audience and it turns out to be a shoddy product that doesn’t really work, your audience will blame you for the recommendation, and may stop following your site or buying your products and services.
One final passive income stream that you can add is to launch a podcast for your business. For those of you who aren’t familiar with podcasts, they are recorded audio programs (like radio shows) that you can listen to on your computer, tablet, smartphone or MP3 player through services like iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Launching a podcast can help you build your audience and drive traffic to your website. That said, launching a podcast isn’t really passive, because in order to be successful you will need to keep publishing new podcasts on a regular basis.
There are several different ways to earn money from your podcasts:
- You can promote your own products and services, if you have any.
- You can point people towards the affiliate products you market on your site.
- Or you can sell advertising and sponsorships, which is the most popular way to earn money from a podcast.
How much you can earn will vary on your niche and the size of your audience, but you could earn anywhere from $10 to $2,000 per podcast on advertising alone.
Remember, the suggestions listed above are just a handful of examples. There are tens of thousands (if not more) freelancers and consultants who are earning passive income using the seven streams recommended above.
Your best bet is to start by adding just one of these streams. Then, as you find success, add additional streams as your time and bandwidth allows.