How to create a passive income stream

Larissa Ham

Creating a passive income stream – something that makes maximum money with minimal effort – is every business owner’s dream.

But will the concept remain a pipedream for most? Or is it something that any business could attempt?

Josephine Woodberry, who has run Melbourne’s Brunswick School of Dance for two decades, recently launched a paid online ballet program for children in remote areas.                     

While revamping her website, a friend suggested she use her experience and her school’s positive reputation to build something aimed at a wider audience.

“There’s only so many students you can fit into your week into this space. It’s got a limit,” says Woodberry.

“You can do a university course online, so why can’t I teach ballet online?”

Every month, Woodberry films a new lesson for subscribers, who pay $69.95 for six months, including a free ballet outfit.

I have to make sure people are aware this is a quality product – a quality program created by a teacher who knows what she’s doing.

It’s early days, with about 30 students on board so far. Some are on remote cattle stations, or in mining towns, while others are as far away as the UK and US.

Some of the biggest challenges for Woodberry have been learning skills such as online marketing, and convincing people to pay for something online.

“I have to make sure people are aware this is a quality product – a quality program created by a teacher who knows what she’s doing.”

Matthew Magain, of website UX Mastery,  has co-authored two eBooks aimed at people interesting in learning about User Experience (UX) Design.

The most popular, How to get started in UX, began life as a highly read blog post.

“When we saw the traffic we were getting we knew there would be interest in fleshing out the article into more detail.”

He and co-founder, Luke Chambers, have sold more than 4500 copies of their two books so far. They also sell two books written by other authors through their website – and take a cut. 

Magain says he and Chambers were always “looking to start a business where we weren’t just trading our time for money”.                   

Apart from the initial time spent in producing the eBooks, there has been considerable ongoing marketing effort.

“Digital products like eBooks generally follow the same sales pattern – you get a big spike when you launch it, and then you get this "long tail" of ongoing conversions,” says Magain.

“The ‘passive’ part of our eBook sales comes when we don't actively market them. What we earn is nothing to be sneezed at, but it's much less than when we actively promote it.”

Larissa Ham

Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!

Image: KindleGiorgio Minguzzi, Flickr Creative Commons license