Turn Your Hobby Into Passive Income
Chris Lowry, Guest Blogger
Find Your One True Passion
About two years ago, I was telling a friend of mine that I wasn’t an expert in any one thing. Instead, I knew a little here and there about a lot of different things. In other words, I “humbly” bragged about being a “Jack-of-All-Trades”. This type of encompassing experience gave me a wide variety of different opportunities in my professional life. If an employer was looking for someone who developed websites, but also knew marketing and how to write copy, it was in their best interest to hire me. In essence, they could hire one person to do the job of three or four. Every employer I worked for could count on me to fill in gaps when needed. And if I needed extra cash outside of my day job, I begrudgingly stayed up late nights working my tail off on various freelance projects in web design, Google AdWords, and copywriting.
On the other hand, my personal life suffered because of this expansive way of thinking. I had a desire to find one interesting hobby or activity to occupy my downtime. I wanted to be an expert in one area. But, I’d pick up one hobby, only to get interested in another. And once I lost interest in that hobby, I moved on to another one. This continued for months. I competed in beginner-level Karate tournaments. I played competitive card games like Texas Hold ‘Em. I collected comic books. Heck, I even tried panning for gold just so I could see if it was something I could participate in on a regular basis!
My professional way of thinking was starting to creep into my personal life.
I’m not going to list every hobby or activity I got into, or you might be sitting here for a very long time...but you get the point. Not only were these hobbies and activities time consuming outside of their allotted schedules (especially practices), but they took a lot of money out of my pocket! Aside from gold panning, they drained me financially, and I wasn’t getting anything in return. Why? Because I wasn’t focusing on one specific area.
Fast-forward to the present, and you’ll find that I’m a changed man. Through extensive research, I found something that I absolutely love...and the best part is that I enjoy it without having to fork over my paycheck every month.
What is it, you ask?
For me, it’s the most relaxing, adventurous, and unforgiving activity I could possibly find (that’s not a typo). I described mountain biking with those three adjectives because it’s the one hobby I found that offers a different experience every time I go out on the trail. The “Jack-of-All-Trades” in me loves the variety mountain biking offers, but it’s also an activity that brings a sense of fulfillment without breaking the bank.
Capitalize on Your Passion
Now, along with mountain biking comes a set of difficulties that the average person may not know. Before I got into it, I just assumed that all I’d really have to do is keep my tires inflated at the right pressure, and I’d be good to go.
Just like a car, mountain bikes can (and will) break down. The wear and tear from ten miles on one trail alone can be damaging if you don’t know how to properly maintain your bike. And whenever you deal with maintenance, you’re going to need parts, tools...and a little bit of elbow grease to go along with it.
I actually don’t mind maintaining my ride. Some people may find it to be a chore, but I thoroughly enjoy working on my bike in the peace and quiet of my garage. It gives me a sense of fulfillment and focus. Because of that, I started thinking about other mountain bike enthusiasts. Did they share the same type of love for the activity? Do they like working on their bikes? Up until this point, I rode solo on my adventures, so I didn’t have a group of peers to answer those basic questions.
One thing I knew before I even started researching - there was more than likely a community of mountain bikers waiting to take me under their wing and share in the camaraderie of our adventures together. The obvious place to start looking for mountain bike activity groups was performing a search on Google. Sure enough, I found dozens of online forums relating to mountain biking in the search results. And when it comes to finding a community on social media platforms, nothing compares to Facebook Groups, with Google Plus Communities coming in at a close second.
By now, you’re wondering what the point is in all of this.
The point is clear. Just about every hobby or activity has a specific need. In the case of mountain biking, that need comes from a lot of different areas:
- Mountain bikes need replacement parts
- Mountain bikes need tools to replace parts
- Mountain bikes need accessories (especially for long rides through the wilderness)
- Mountain bikes need calibration
- Mountain bikes need experts who know about the items above
Take note of that last bullet point.
Now, read it like this:
Experts needed! Immediate openings available!
You see, there are literally hundreds of thousands of searches performed each and every day. A good portion of those searches come from people who are looking for information on how a specific product works. Or, they want to know what kind of quality they can expect from a product or service they’re already interested in.
If you happen to be the “expert” in this case, you can provide that info. And if you’re an expert mountain biker, with a passion for the activity, you already have some unique insight that you can share with those seeking it.
What’s in it for you?
I’m not going to beat around the bush. There’s money to be made. No, you’re not going to get rich and become a millionaire overnight, but you could enjoy a robust second income that supplements your current job or career over time. And if you play your cards right, you could very well quit your job and turn your passion into your primary source of income! Again, that’s if you’re determined...and it’s something that takes time to build.
So...how exactly do you create a passive income from being an expert in your field?
First, you need a website.
A good website, along with a great domain name and hosting company, allows you to talk about your hobby or passion extensively, without any limits on what you can say. There are dozens of companies that allow you to create a website from a template, or even from scratch. Or, you can hire a web developer to do it for you.
Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that a website should give you the flexibility to do the following:
- Blog about your products extensively. This means writing reviews about popular products in your area of expertise, blogging daily about new trends, writing tutorials and creating tutorial videos about specific products, doing product comparisons, etc.
- Add, edit, or delete products.
- Add, edit, or delete hyperlinks and/or banners.
Once you have a routine, you can explore more options, such as social media sharing, comments sections, RSS feeds, and more.
Along with a great website, you’ll need to get visitors to that site, or all of your hard work will be in vain. In other words, you need a vigorous marketing campaign that reaches your targeted audience on a daily basis.
There are many different forms of online marketing, but the two that you should focus on first are social media and search. A social media campaign should focus on the four major outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. Remember, not all social media campaigns are the same, so it’s best that you research each of them extensively before you launch. Posting times, groups, communities, and paid campaigns are all things you absolutely need to know in the long run.
Search marketing has been around since the golden age of the Internet. In essence, anything you type into a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo will display results with different websites listed. The sites that make it to the very top of the search are the ones that are paid for by bidding on that position, while the ones just below that are optimized for what’s known as “organic search” - search results you don’t have to pay for (otherwise known as “SEO”). Ideally, you want to optimize your site for organic search, but if you have a website that focuses on popular (or general) hobbies or activities, you’re going to have a tough time getting to the top.
So now that I covered the bare bones minimum here, you’re probably still wondering how you can actually make money with your website and a marketing campaign. Well, the key to all of this is something called “affiliate marketing”. Before we explain what it is (and bore you to death), we’ll give you an example:
John has been a 3D printing enthusiast since the technology first came out. Because of that, he has a couple years of experience using 3D printers for various jobs, so his friends and website visitors look to him for advice when it comes to purchasing one for their own needs.
In other words, John is an expert when it comes to 3D printing.
Mark is looking to get into 3D printing so he can start creating custom chess pieces. Although he’s thoroughly researched the technology, he still isn’t sure which one is best for his individual needs. Since 3D printing is fairly new, he doesn’t want to risk getting the wrong printer (especially because they’re a big-ticket purchase).
Mark types “best 3D printer for chess pieces” into Google. To Mark’s surprise, there’s a website near the top of the results which compares multiple printers by giving the pros and cons for each. This happens to be John’s website. After browsing John’s site, Mark clicks on the link to the printer he feels will get the job done right. It sends him straight to Amazon.com, where he makes his purchase. In just a few days, Mark gets his 3D printer shipped to him, and John makes a little bit of money on the side…
John makes a little bit of money on the side?
You read that correctly. Because John linked the 3D printers on his website to Amazon’s affiliate program, he made about $160 when Mark purchased a 3D printer by clicking a link on John’s website.
By referring Mark to the 3D printer on Amazon’s website, John earned what’s called an “advertising fee”. Simply put, Amazon paid John to advertise for them.
Because John signed up for Amazon’s Affiliate program (otherwise known as Amazon Associates), John earned an advertising fee of 8% because he sold an item that was in the “Industrial Products” category. I won’t get into the specifics, but Amazon pays a different percentage depending on the category that product is sold in.
And although Amazon was one of the first major companies to start an affiliate program, there are countless others! Just about any big company you see online today wants people just like you to do the advertising for them - and they’ll pay you for it! Of course, like I mentioned above, you can’t do it by simply placing links all over your website and hoping for the best. There are specific strategies and rules you have to follow in order to keep your affiliate programs active.
If you’d like to know more, simply sign up for our “Money Tips & Tricks” newsletter near the top of this page. This monthly publication will show you some of the very basic fundamentals you’ll need to get started with earning a passive income!