Since posting my latest income report a week ago, I’ve been enjoying life offline, taking a bit of time off from my usual posting schedule to celebrate and spend time with the new addition to our family, our daughter, who entered this world only 10 days ago.
I’ve even taken some time off from writing my book. I was hoping to get a first draft finished by the time she was born but she decided to join us a few weeks ahead of schedule.
Family first, always.
I’ll soon be getting back into my regular schedule (or as regular as it can be, now that I have two kids, hehe!), but this recent time off has made me truly appreciate the power of being your own boss, and of course, passive income.
Not only can I spend time away from work on my own schedule so I can be with my family and re-learn how to fold the front of a newborn baby’s diaper so that it doesn’t cover the umbilical cord, but the businesses that I own can continue to work for me too, even while I’m not there.
No income is truly 100% passive – some work needs to be done to maintain it (not to mention the time, effort and/or money needed upfront to invest into a passive income opportunity), but not having to directly trade hours for dollars can make the income 100% passive during certain periods of time, which is the point.
It provides flexibility. A break in the chain.
Since my daughter was born 10 days ago, and putting in maybe 2 hours of work into a blog post (my latest income report, which was already halfway written at the time), and spending a couple of hours on social media platforms engaging with my audience, my businesses have continued to work for me and have generated over $20,000 in gross income.
Systems are in place to make this happen and specific choices have been made in my businesses to make it more passive, which is exactly what I’ll be covering today.
How to Get Your Business to Work for You Instead
All businesses are different and not all businesses can be 100% automated, but in many cases there are opportunities within your business, big and small, where you can take yourself out of the equation and put something else in it’s place to keep it running, sometimes even more efficiently than before.
Some of these strategies may not apply depending on the type of business that you have or want to create, but implementing just one of these strategies can help free yourself from your business a little and give you some extra time to do what you’d rather be doing, or focus on the parts of your business that need you more.
The Human Touch?
The first step is to understand where the human touch is currently (or would be) required in your business. In other words, what parts of your business would fail or stop working if a human was not present anymore?
There are a couple of ways to figure this out:
- You can create a flow chart of exactly how your business works and see exactly what parts require a person to function.
- For those with an existing business, you can keep a list of all of the actions that you and those who work for you do. Take a week and write down everything that you do in your business.
After you know exactly where in your business a human is used, you can see if any of those parts of your business can be handled by something or someone else instead.
For a lot of businesses, a human touch is used during the delivery of a specific product or service. Many times, however, the delivery process can be automated.
For GreenExamAcademy.com, I made the conscious decision to go digital and sell an eBook instead of a physical book because this would allow me to more easily automate the delivery of that information to my customers.
See flowchart below:
I use E-Junkie.com, which is just one of the several delivery and payment processor options available to digital content providers. Here are some others:
- DL Guard
- Digital Access Pass
- Other Paypal Compatible options for Digital Delivery
In addition to self-hosted automation and delivery options, there’s also specific marketplaces where you can not only take advantage of their automated delivery processes, but you’ll have access to potentially millions of people on those platforms as well.
The Kindle Marketplace for eBooks and Apple’s App Store for iPhone and iPad applications are specific examples that come to mind.
With digital products like eBooks, courses and software, automation is almost a given, but what about physical products?
With physical products, delivery isn’t as easy as a download or access to a password-protected area, but for some businesses it can still be automated.
Fulfillment centers – third-party businesses that will pack and ship your physical product to your customers for you – can easily take a huge load off of your back and make life a lot easier. You will typically have to pay for the service, but it can be well worth the price, especially if you understand how much your time is worth and how much time it takes to pack and ship the products you sell yourself.
I’ve recently been working with a fulfillment center for the physical items sold in the Crooked Arrows store, and not having to worry about packing and shipping to each individual customer is awesome.
I don’t know too much about fulfillment options since the Crooked Arrows store is my only experience selling a physical product, so if there are any readers out there who sell physical products, please feel free to chime in about how you handle and automate fulfillment.
I do know, however, that Amazon.com offers an optional fulfillment service for those who offer physical products in their business.
If you have a service, as opposed to a product, then automating your “deliverable” will be much more difficult, which is why it’s smart to see where else in your business you can possibly automate things.
Sometimes, specific parts of your business must include a human touch and there’s no way around it. But, a question you can ask yourself is: does that specific part of your business require your human touch?
Many times, it does not, and you can easily find someone to handle those tasks for you.
From web development to customer service, a lot of people can benefit from handing off specific parts of their business to those who could potentially do it much faster and better than they could.
As I write this post, for example, I have a developer who is working to create a better Create a Clickable Map (a free tool that I had developed to help people create a clickable U.S. map for their website). The new developer is adding the ability to save your map so you can come back and edit it later, and it’ll be HTML5 compatible so it can be viewed on any device. That’s definitely something I could not do on my own, or even learn how to do in a short period of time.
Just last month, one of my virtual assistants compiled a list of 2,500+ security guard training companies around the U.S. which I’ll be using in a zip code search function on my new security guard training niche site. That research took hours of work and it’s work I didn’t have to do myself.
I know a lot of people who use hired help to automate things like publishing a podcast episode. They hand over a recorded mp3 file to their editor and they take care of the rest, including publishing it online.
There are endless possibilities, but you have to be willing to hand over some of the work in your business to others. I can say from experience that it’s not always easy to “let go” and hand over some of that control, but for me it’s been well worth it.
For more information about finding and using virtual assistants, check out my podcast interview with outsourcing expert, Chris Ducker.
Even for the most automated types of businesses, questions from customers can easily take up a lot of your time. For GreenExamAcademy.com, the business was 100% automated except for the emails I would get from people about the products that I sold.
I soon found out that one of the easiest but most powerful ways to automate your business while actually providing more value to your customers is to create a helpful FAQ (frequently asked questions) page that answers the most common questions people have about your business and your products.
Customers get their questions answered sooner, and your time isn’t needed to answer those questions.
It’s a beautiful thing.
By adding an FAQ page (in this case, it was a PDF file) along with the digital delivery of my eBook at GreenExamAcademy.com, I cut down the number of emails from customers by 75%.
I’ve talked about the power of email lists very recently in a two-part podcast series all about email marketing, but I want to reiterate the power of using your autoresponder in your email campaign.
With a little bit of effort now, you can deliver pre-written emails that get sent out sequentially to new subscribers and automate a lot of the relationship-building and promotional processes within your business.
There are many ways to structure and craft your autoresponder emails. Click here for some specific examples that you can model after.
It might seem kind weird to see affiliate marketing here on this list, but since it has become the #1 way that I generate an income online, I have to mention it because it’s definitely very hands-off and automated.
Even on GreenExamAcademy.com, I promote practice exams administered by a third-party company and the process is as simple as driving people through a specific link. The delivery and customer service related to that product is handled by the product owner, instead of myself, and I get a check each month for the sales I’ve generated.
That said, it’s not completely hands-off for affiliates because successful affiliate marketers do a lot more than just put a special link on a website. A lot of research has to be done to make sure the product is just right for your specific audience (i.e. it’s something that’s actually going to help them achieve the goals that you want them to achieve), and I always recommend that you should “unbox the product” for your audience before promoting it as an affiliate, making your customers feel more confortable with what they are about to purchase and exactly what they’re going to get.
For more affiliate marketing strategies, please check out my Blog World Expo presentation, Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way.
Publish More Content
And lastly, something we can all do, is publish more content.
Publishing content is not passive (unless someone else is doing it for you), but the truth is that if you’re blogging, podcasting, creating videos or producing and publishing any other kind of content, you are creating passive opportunities.
The content you publish today can be read by someone tomorrow, next year, or even five years from now. It becomes a seed that you plant now that can bare fruit for you later, and the more seeds you plant and the more you put yourself out there, the more fruit you will yield.
New content becomes an opportunity for people to find you through search engines, through sharing and word of mouth and it can become a vehicle for more income if that content sold a product, or has a pay-per-click advertisement on it, or an affiliate link. Even if it doesn’t, it’s an opportunity for people to find you and be introduced to your brand and become familiar with what you have to offer, without you having to actively reach out to those people in a real-time fashion.
Automating your business doesn’t mean you’re going create something that you can 100% walk away from forever. Any smart business owner knows that he or she will have to adapt to changing markets and at least monitor the business, but you can take yourself out of the equation, or at least some of it, so you don’t have to be present in order for a transaction to take place and you can spend your time doing things that are more important to you, or focus on the areas of your business that you’d prefer to focus on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Are you automating your business in a way that you’d like to share?
Please leave a comment below. Cheers, and all the best!