I was trolling through some old emails this morning when I came across a back-and-forth I had with a friend where I spelled out some of my ideas for creating streams of passive income. Most of the ideas I actually pursued are now a few months old, and I think each represents a large enough sample size that I can analyze the results of each experiment and gain some kind of insight.
And what’s a sexier method of analysis than an income report?
In general, income reports are only popular among bloggers who have found real success in generating passive income online. For every success story, however, there are gobs of people — me! — who fail at the passive income thing for one reason or another.
So here are my failures. Let’s see what lessons we can take away from these failed hustles so that you can have a clearer idea of what works, what doesn’t, and where I got lazy.
THE PASSIVE INCOME HUSTLES
Etsy Store: Papyrus Vintage
I’ve written about this one before. With this store, the lady and I hoped to find new homes for some of the really sweet vintage and antique photos one can find at shops throughout Riga. We conceptualized a name and brand that we thought would resonate with vintage buyers and even packaged the photos to look old, as if they were delivered via Pony Express or something.
Marketing within Etsy takes hours upon hours of mind-numbing work. Handicrafts and vintage trinkets really have to be your thing if you’re going to network on Etsy. They’re not my thing.
After four months, we had sold 20 photos, which was enough to make a small profit on the whole operation, but the money earned per hour worked would probably be measured in cents, not dollars. The listings for the photos have since lapsed (Etsy’s four-month expiration date on listings is really a blessing for sellers who don’t know how to fail quickly).
Etsy Store: Astoni Handmade
This store has also since lapsed. It was actually a straight-up affiliate marketing hustle.
A local entrepreneur we know had a leftover stock of silk comforters from a previous business idea, and he wanted to move them for break-even money. He asked whether we could affiliate for him with an Etsy storefront and split the earnings 50/50. The asking price was almost $300 per blanket, so we thought the reward was worth the minimal risk ($0.20 to list each item and the time spent creating the site).
To no one’s surprise, people are unwilling to drop $300 on a comforter without being able to see and touch it first.
I was really intrigued by the Fiverr idea when it launched, and I thought my being in Riga was something I could leverage for $5 / person (note: $3.92 after Fiverr and PayPal take their cuts). I set up a gig in which I offered custom guides for anyone coming to Riga. They message me with a brief description of their personal interests, and I send a PDF with a breakdown of recommend hotels, restaurants, sites, etc.
The idea was to largely automate the process by having one master file to work from and just copy and paste based on customers’ requests. I got my first order in July and spent a whole Saturday creating the master file.
After that, I got no more orders.
Perhaps Riga travel is too small of a niche for Fiverr. Or maybe I should just sell garbage backlinks.
The previous three hustles have all lapsed on their hosted platforms, so I can definitely rubber-stamp them with a big FAIL. My niche sites, on the other hand, are all live. That means they haven’t failed, simply underperformed. Or, more accurately, I haven’t done a good job of picking profitable niches.
Among four sites, the total costs have amounted to $87 because I’ve outsourced almost nothing. In theory, I need to earn back $87 off these sites to break even, but AdSense only pays out at $100, so I can really either profit $13-plus or lose $87, no in-between. As of this morning, my earnings are aaaaalllmost at $11.
- Revenues: $127
- Expenses: $85.62
- Profit: $41.38
- Revenues: $0
- Expenses: $1.00
- Loss: $1.00
- Revenues: $4.00
- Expenses: $0
- Profit: $4.00
- Revenues: $10.88
- Expenses: $87
- Loss: $76.12
Total Losses: $31.74
THE NATURE OF THE HUSTLE
Meanwhile, I am still scheming on other projects. Of note right now is my BurritosInEurope.com directory, which continues to grow. I have a plan for this thing for 2012, and I’ll talk more about that as the time becomes appropriate. If you would like to help — or if you’re in Europe and need a burrito — why not follow my new Twitter account: