Can You Really Make Passive Income?

Online gurus continually tell us we can make butt-loads of money using affiliate links and YouTube channels without showing your face! You can live life easy, leave your nine-to-five job and retire at the age of 35 from selling printables on your Etsy Shop or drop shipping Shopify Store. Let’s not forget, you can make $10,000 per month by Selling on Amazon! I ask the question, “Can you really make passive income?”

I have attempted many types of side hustles, like selling plasma, turning my car into a billboard, starting a t-shirt shop, even designing and selling an AWESOME Productivity Planner! I also tried a few other passive income ideas that we’ll look at below. A few of these, and will continue to work through some of these. I was talking to a buddy the other day, and if you break it down it seems so easy, right? Pay off the outstanding debt on my investment properties and cashflow increases.

I have approximately 1.4 Million Dollars in commercial debt. Just simply pay down this debt to increase cash flow then build wealth and have the freedom to leave the day job if I choose. Easy peasy! A thousand dollars here, a thousand dollars there, and it can really start take a chunk out of that debt. So can I find a way to build a system to earn additional income. Perhaps this is $50 per month at first, then $100. Soon $500. eventually $1000 per month. I ask myself the question, “Can you really make passive income? Can you make it online or offline, like IRL? Let’s take a look a few of the things tried.

Sell on Amazon FBA/FBM

After a great deal of research, I set up an Amazon Seller Account.  The question was do I have Amazon fulfill the orders (FBA, Fulfillment by Amazon) on products I source, or do I fulfill the orders myself, (FBM, Fulfillment by Merchant)and lessen the fees paid to Amazon. I’d review the clearance isles at my local Walmart, and use the seller app and scan products and find ones that were deeply discounted yet still priced at retail on Amazon.  I’ve started this several times, but would end up not following through. Finally there were some Star Trek Model Kits, where were marked 50% off! I’d scoop up six of these at $10 each, and added these For Sale listings New in the Box, at $20, and I’d fulfill the orders myself.

With Amazon fees the margin wouldn’t be great, but $5 per or a total of around $30 would be a way for me to test, and learn the platform.  Welp… $0 in sales.  After a few weeks there weren’t any sales. In some additional research I’ve found that people typically need larger big ticket items. Starting at at least $40 or $50 per item to make it worth our time.  We attempted the same FBM process for Text Books. I had 6 text books from some technology training I completed last year. I scanned the UPC, added them to Amazon for their recommended pricing structure, and shipping.  This again was not fruitful.  I ended up selling the entire lot on EBay for a fraction of price. This made me Sad. But someone got a great deal on knowledge 🙂 

Drop Shipping via a Shopify Store

All the gurus tell you drop ship to your customer and don’t hold inventory.  It’s easy peasy they say. And, they are only partly correct.  I was able to setup a store with a domain in a matter of minutes, and using a plugin to source products from overseas and used Google Keyword Planner, and setup an SEO plugin with keywords in titles, descriptions, and hashtags. Then, I focused on a specific narrow niche of Keto Diet supplements and products.  We were live within a day with a logo and six products.

Ketone Club Logo

I placed an order and follow through the entire purchasing and fulfillment process.  Only to have the overseas supplier reject fulfillment a few days later.  I wanted to prove the model wold work within the 14-Day Shopify Trial period, after which i’d be charged $312 for the Storefront. Perhaps, again, this would take more time, running targeted paid ads for the products. 

Affiliate Marketing

This is the trend all across the inter webs, just sell someone else’s product or service, and you make a commission. Easy peasy. I think it would take much more research and learning in the price point, ad spend, in relation keyword ranking. I created accounts on ClickBank and Digistore24, I found what I thought would be products that would sell based on trends, and Google keyword planning. Also products that we’d have had high conversion as well as recurring income in a product or service. I then would use royalty free images from sites like Pexels, create Pins on Pinterest then pay to promote the Pins.

I got bitten by the bug early on! Literally within minutes of posting my first Pin, I had two sales! I thought, “Are you F’n kidding me!?” This can’t be this easy. I posted a Pin, paid a few bucks a day, and make $50! Two sales with $24.99 commissions!  So I dove in, jammed on several more Pins, with affiliate links. Spending a few hundred dollars in Promoted Pins over the next couple months. Wait for it… with NO ADDITIONAL SALES! Ugh, bloody hell! I’d see dozens of peeps click, and they just weren’t converting.

Then I had Pinterest reject some promoted pins claiming they were be predatory in nature and couldn’t target a certain gender.

I then attempted my first FaceBook Ad. Without warning, or anything I was banned, from running ads because evidently the ad was “body shaming” I attempted to appeal the decision, and they responded with I’m banned from ever running an ad using that business account ever. Period.

Smoothie Diet Pin
Rejected Ad for Body Shaming

I think this can be a model worth pursuing.  It would just take additional research and learnings to find the right balance of ad spend and conversions. And riding the line of what is acceptable ads that don’t violate FaceBook Terms.  I mean. I’ve seen ads much ‘worse’ than the ones I attempted to run. 

Sell Decals on an Etsy Shop

I’m chatting with my heavy metal buddy one night, and he’s like, “Bro I got a killer Idea. Ya know those family decals on the back of minivans? Let’s make some decals, but have it a family of Metal Heads!” ummmm, of course! This sounds like a brilliant idea. I got to work. Designed my little stick figure Metal Family, with a variety of options. You can have them holding a Mic, drumsticks, guitar, or simply holding the Metal Horns up High! 🤘🤘

Stick Figures From Etsy
Metal Family Decal Pin
Metal Family Decal Pin

Then spin up and Etsy shop since it’s a proven marketplace, and the gurus tell us they make bank on the platform. Upload a butt-ton of images/products and we are open for business. Now… need I remind you, I didn’t have production ironed out at the time. How would I actually produce the vinyl decals, manage orders, and get them shipped out. After idle for a bit of time, I was able to snag an awesome deal on a vinyl cutter, some tools, and some vinyl material. Ah-ha! We are open for business! I tweaked the Etsy Shop, and spun up a couple Pins that I Promoted for a month or so. It always seems the same short term results. They get dozens of clicks, but no conversions.

Sell Trending Items On My Shopify Store

I had been running a permanent Shopify store at It started with a few custom shirts, like my Metal Against Racism design as well as where we sell merch for my Music podcast the Thrash Report.  I’d like to spend more time in researching better designs. 

At the height of popularity, the online daily word game Wordle, I thought, “Hey maybe I can sell a couple items, and profit on the popularity”  I attempted a Promoted Pin, a Facebook ad and some tweets, with No sales… wah wah.

Wordle T-Shirt

Also, with the release of the Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie on streaming, that night in watching the movie, I had an idea of a custom shirt using Venom’s own name for himself, “Lethal Protector” I quickly whipped up that design, a promoted Pin and Facebook and Twitter post with clicks and saves, but no sales.  I then started thinking, How could you be profitable in selling shirts with paid ads as it just eats any and all profits. With paid ads for an item that is only $15, you’d need to sell a lot of shirts to make it work our while.

Venom Lethal Protector T-Shirt

Background Sounds & Music YouTube Channel

YouTube is the #2 search engine on the internet. People use YouTube for 3 billion searches a month, and did you know 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Whaaaat!!?? It just boggles my mind. You may have seen the gurus claiming you can tons of cash without even showing your face on YouTube. This seems too easy. Almost, too good to be true? Of course I’m just foolish enough to give this a try! I get busy. Produce a combination of content with royalty-free videos and audio, then upload to YouTube. It’s just printing money, right?! Hahah… Not so fast. We determine a niche and a brand. I focused on the healing properties of audio with a channel publishing audio for Meditation, Relaxation, and Focus. I took my YouTube channel that I created in 2006, and rebrand it. Change the name, description, and start uploading.

The idea is this, you establish a channel in your niche, and optimize for keywords using descriptions, hashtags, closed captioning, as well as interaction in the comments. All of these factors contribute the search algorithm and hopefully get your videos to show in searches on YouTube as well Google. The more this shows in search, the more the engagement, the more consistent results. My plan is to consistently contribute new content to to channel, and over time the YouTube channel will get enough subscribers, and the videos will get enough views/hours to qualify for monetization through sharing of the ad revenue on your content. All this seems simple in theory, but optimizing for search is F’n hard! I’ll continue and try and build subscribers, but knowing there are 100’s of Thousands of channels doing this, it’s gonna be tough to land in the top search for this content.

I tossed a couple Promoted Pins on Pinterest and waited for the floodgates to open, LOL! Yeah, after a couple weeks of ads, and paying about $10 a day, I not significant increase in traffic to my YouTube channel. I could a hand full of people that would click on the Pin, and/or Save the Pin, but I haven’t been able to really see the conversion to subscriber.

As I mentioned earlier, I think some of these may generate true passive income, but over time. a great deal of time. One would have to invest a lot of time, and most importantly, consistency of uploading new content. For example, if you were continually update your YouTube channel with new quality content along with researched and targeted keywords within distribution, titles, and closed captioning combined a long term advertising strategy this may become something profitable months if not years down the line.

Have you attempted some side hustles, or passive income ideas? What have you found successful or a waste of time and resources? Let’s sound off below.

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