How to grow your business with passive income

In my recent blog post, I wrote that there are only 3 ways to grow your business.

The first way an entrepreneur can grow their business is through replicating their sales funnel. In today’s blog post, I want to talk about the second way that an entrepreneur can grow their business: By creating passive income.

“Passive income” is a phrase entrepreneurs use to describe something created once and then sold over and over (unlike a service or a manufactured-each-time product). An ebook is an example of a really popular form of passive income: You write it once and then resell it over and over again.


There are plenty of passive income opportunities available but they can generally be divided into two models:

  • Access-to-information: This is where you create a piece of content and then sell access to it. For example, you might sell downloadable ebooks, reports, or templates; access to listen to audio files or view video files; access to knowledge centers; whatever. Your customer pays you in order to get access to information in whatever form that is convenient for you to create and for them to access it. You’ve seen these sites: There’s usually a “Buy Now” button for someone to purchase an ebook.

  • Advertisements with content: This is where you create content and post ads on the content. As people click to your site and view the content, they also click on the ads and the ad revenue earns you money. In this model, you write and post the content and people view it for free and revenue is generated through ads. You’ve seen these sites, too. They’re the ones with Google ads or banners scattered throughout the content.

Of course, I’ve only described a really simplified example of each. You can mix and match and add layers to make it more effective. For example, one common way of selling digital content is with a two-step approach: Ask for your leads to become prospects by signing up for a free ezine. Then, build a relationship with these prospects and offer them your ebook.

You might want to also check out a related blog post entitled 5 levels of content monetization for a different way to look at passive (and active) content sales.


That depends on you and your subject matter. Here’s what I often recommend to my clients:

Posting free content with advertising is just fine but you only get paid when you send people OFF of your website to an advertiser’s site. And chances are, those advertisements are for a product or service that could be considered “competition” if you are also selling similar products or services to the same target market.

So, if you have a sales funnel that includes other products or services, don’t erode your sales in exchange for advertising dollars. Selling access to digital content is just probably better. However, if you don’t have any products or services but want to earn some income, creating content and posting ads can be a way to earn income from an industry.

Having said that, there are lots of sites out there with ads on their sites and they do just fine building traffic and earning advertising revenue. But most of my clients are real estate and financial clients and they want to build a long-term relationship with a customer, so the goal is (usually) to keep website visitors rather than send them to advertisers’ sites. The advertising model sends customers away while the access-to-information model keeps customers on your site and builds your brand’s value.


Start by figuring out if there are any services or products that you can turn passive. Pay particular attention to existing products or services that you tend to repeat. That’s a good start. This blogpost entitled Are your products and sales funnel taking up too much of your time? will help you to identify opportunities that can become passive.


Be sure to create compelling, unique content that addresses a problem or issue in the industry you’re working in (I call this The Pickaxe Factor). By doing that, you’ll be more likely to attract potential readers. If they’re reading your content on your pay-for-access-to-information site, they’ll be more likely to pay to read. Or, if they’re reading your content on your freely-available advertisement-model site, they’ll be more likely to click the advertising.

If you’re creating passive content that you’ll sell through the access-to-information model, pricing your content effectively will prove to be a challenge (because it’s a challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs). Check out How much should I charge? A magic formula to easily find the best price for your product for some pricing ideas.

And remember: This might be called “passive income” but it doesn’t mean you should stop marketing. Passive income requires very active marketing, especially in the beginning. Have a plan to market like crazy so you can build traffic to your content (no matter which model you choose).

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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