Everybody likes to have an income stream they can rely upon month after month whilst other contracts ebb and flow. You’d probably also like something that keeps earning whilst you’re on a much needed vacation. How can it be done? One avenue worth exploring, especially for indie-greens is the development of a passive income stream.

The internet has opened up a number of opportunities to organisations and individuals to be able to make money online. There are three main ways to make money via online interaction:

  1. Selling your professional services or an actual product. The web enables all of us to put up a personal profile and/ or a company website. There are also a number of freelancing environmentalists who sell specialist kit, everything from small mammal traps to bat detectors. This is somewhat passive, but still needs people to pack and ship the product, although you can outsource that function
  2. Blogging, write about what you know and what you are passionate about and you may just be able to make a living from it; countless people do from interior designers to finance gurus. Does anyone know of environmentalists who have made a career from blogging? It takes time to get up and running and is semi passive in that you have to blog and keep your blog in the public eye, but you can be earning money from it even when you aren’t logged on, although most of that is from advertising revenue which may or may not appeal to you.
  3. Selling prepackaged knowledge and expertise via on-line training courses or publications. Once the groundwork has been done this is a good potential source of passive income as everything is automated. Just make sure it doesn’t crash!

How to prepare the ground to start generating passive income

These are the key ingredients for setting up passive income.

  1. Find a niche. It is much easier, less time consuming and more profitable to target your product to a niche that shares your interests than trying to attract the general public.
  2. Start putting out information that will be useful to that niche – most organisations and people use a blog. One of the reasons you do this is to establish your credibility. Your blogs demonstrate your knowledge and expertise within a particular area.
  3. Develop a following by distributing your information. Publicise your blog amongst people within your niche and encourage them to share the information with their friends and colleagues, use them and social media to grow your audience to be as big as possible. Invite guest bloggers to add content to your site (also guest write for other blogs to talk about what you do and link back to your website) and allow it to be a space where ideas are explored. This will spread awareness of your site.
  4. Work on the blog is a means to an end – you want to build profile and content. Once you have sufficient content you can produce a short helpful guide from your blog posts that you can make available as a free booklet (this is being done more and more frequently by everyone from cookery blogs that publish a book of their recipes to coaches who convert their blogs into a self improvement book), all people have to do is give you their email address in return. This way you develop a database of people who may wish to interact with you in the future.
  5. Engage with those who engage with you, build a community. Communities like to keep in contact and do things together so everyone who gives you their email address can be asked whether they would like to go on your mailing list, reassure them that they will be able to unsubscribe at any time, and that the bulletins you send out are weekly/ fortnightly/ monthly (whatever you can actually cope with). Encourage them to engage with you by inviting comment back from them on your blog posts and bulletins.
  6. Hopefully by now you have developed a large audience of potential clients. Time to move to the final step. Use the work that has gone into developing the blogs to create an on-line course with more in depth information. This training course can be set up on-line and be completely automated. People can sign up, pay for and go through the course entirely through an on-line portal.

This may look like a lot of work initially, it is. If everything is done as listed above you get the best outcomes, but that isn’t to say that you can’t do everything a little more slowly and in a way that doesn’t suddenly land you with a massive new workload. Above all you have to have something that is useful for your community and something you want to share. If that is the case, if you are passionate about what you are doing, then you will enjoy the process and, I hope, gain a secure income stream.

Have you tried this technique? Did it work for you? Have you found other/ better ways of setting up passive income streams?