busting the myth of passive income

Busting the myth of Passive Income

I didn’t want to write this, but since the outbreak of COVID-19 I have seen more ads than I can remember for “passive income”.

They start with stuff like:

“get this course today and start earning your way to becoming a millionaire”.

Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

Well, like most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

The problem with most of these courses is they don’t really tell you what’s really involved. AND, I’ll let you into a secret ; a lot of the content is FREE if you have a spare bit of time to do some google searching.

And, let’s face it, why pay for something when you really can get it for free?

If you are thinking of blogging, for example, I can recommend this free course.

The Passive Income Myth

The problem is there is no such thing as passive income. There IS money to be made online – a lot of it actually! – but it does require hard work AND money.

Here are just some of my monthly costs to give you an idea of what overheads you could have:


  • Hosting – this is where your website is stored. I use Cloudways for a number of reasons. (Mainly the quality of the specs, but also the uptime and the ease of use).
  • SEO Platform – I personally use SEMRush and they offer a 14-day free trial – this allows you to see what people are searching for, what drives traffic to your competition etc. It’s pretty handy.
  • Copywriters / proofread – Anyone that knows me knows that writing English isn’t my strongest point. So, I pay someone to proof the vast majority of what I publish. It’s actually a pretty good way to go – I know what I want to say and the technical side of it; they know how best to get it across to you!
  • Domain names – These cost money. And, depending on the name you want – website names like Andrew-halliday.com, for example – they can cost quite a bit of money. This is something you never technically own, as you have to pay renewal fees every year.

There are other costs involved too. These are just the main ones, but don’t be put off!

The good news is there are plenty of ways to make money online – they just all require hard work.

I want to cover a few of them below as well as giving the pro and cons of each from my experience.


If you have skills, whether that’s graphic design, copywriting or technical skills, there will always be someone looking for the skill you have.

Pros of Freelancing:

  • Requires very little capital to get started
  • Can be done in your spare time (So, you could start off alongside your usual job, then see if you can make it work for you!)
  • You don’t even need a website. You can even promote on your own Facebook page or use third party sites like Fiverr or freelancer.

Cons of Freelancing:

  • Finding clients can be difficult – especially when you are new
  • There’s not always a regular stream of income coming in
  • Third party sites can take a huge % of the sale, meaning you can be working a lot for not a lot of return – depending on the site


I focus mainly on Technical SEO – and while I have the website, most of my leads come from client referrals.


This one is the most common strategy of so called “passive income” courses. Basically, you create a website – usually around a passion of yours, and link to eCommerce websites and you are paid a % of the sale

It doesn’t have to just be ecommerce, it can be to travel booking sites, restaurants etc. Basically, anything with an online purchase option.

There are some REALLY good platforms out there for affiliate marketing

  • Amazon – This is by far the most popular one as they sell everything you can imagine. For example, if you clicked this link and purchase from Amazon in the next 24 hours I would get a small percentage. Amazon’s pay out percentage is smaller than the vast majority of others, but the conversion rate is very strong.
  • Awin – this is a middle-of-the-road company connecting you to a wide list of eCommerce and other businesses. It used to be free to join, but due to the amount of spam companies signing up (sigh) they have, in the last few years, introduced a £5 signing up fee. It’s not a lot though, and I believe you get this back when you make your first payment.

Think of Affiliate marketing returns like a cashback website (Top CashBack for example), but instead of you clicking through and purchasing something, it’s strangers doing the buying and you getting the cashback.


  • You can make good money
  • You don’t have to rely upon clients paying you
  • If you can get a site ranking you can make good constant money


  • Unless you have a lot of wealthy friends that you can encourage to buy then you will need to rank a website in Google or become an influencer on one of the social media platforms to get a good return
  • You have to wait – usually 60 days – for the company to pay you
  • It’s a more competitive market than it once was, and it’s only getting more competitive
  • Cashback sites have really ruined the market


Ecommerce is basically running your own website selling either physical or digital products. While I do run two of these, one won’t be updated throughout COVID-19 (as no one is buying the products) but the other site will continue, at least for now.


  • You’ll get better margins (if done correctly)
  • You can get repeat customers
  • You can drive revenue pretty quickly


  • You usually have to buy stock – (not always, though)
  • You’ll have to rank for commercial terms against established competitors
  • There’s more risk involved – especially if you’re purchasing stock
  • You’ll have to be good at multiple marketing channels – or find and pay someone that is – as customers don’t just interact by one single channel

Lead Generation

This involves creating a website and selling the leads onto another business. A good example might be ranking locally for the term “divorce lawyers” and then when someone comes to your site and enters their information, you sell this to actual divorce lawyers. This is something which I tried before – but I didn’t put a lot of effort into it.

On a side note – being locked in with the wife and no sports – I can see the divorce rate spiking after this.

Joking aside, this can be used for a whole host of industries.

Local is the key and is especially important in areas where it doesn’t make sense for the person to have a website.

Local locksmiths, for example, trying to get one site to rank, will probably mean the person could be difficult.

They may have too much work on to concentrate on marketing and they probably don’t have the skills to get a site to rank.

But if you can, then you might have 5 or 6 locksmiths who you can sell the leads to depending on who is busy.

While some niches they might only sell for £5 or £10 per lead, other niches can be several hundred pounds per lead.


  • Simply rank a website and start collecting contact information and selling it on
  • Low risk involved


  • Ranking can be difficult – especially in tough niches
  • You have to build relationships with quite a few experts to sell the leads and trust they will pay you

Overall, while I have covered 4 of these types of making money online and there are more, none of them are easy.

And, perhaps more importantly, none of them create passive income.

To keep ranking in Google and getting more traffic, you need to be constantly updating your sites, adding new content, and building more authority.

Yes, anyone can do this, but please don’t fall for any course which

“for just $997 will teach you have to create a passive income site to make you a millionaire”.

There is a lot of work involved and, sometimes a lot of risk.

But, get it right, and it could really be worth it.

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