Starting / Working from home

Is there a secret to passive income?

There is a whole industry built around selling the idea that you can escape your job, earn a six figure income and retire in a few years – all working part-time from anywhere. Count me in for this passive income!

25 October 2010 by

I’ve done some reading and the promise varies from sales letter to telegraph pole, but some of the common features are:

  • It is VERY simple. If they can do it you can too.
  • They have access to secrets (usually about seven) that others don’t want you to know.
  • You don’t need any experience or special skills.
  • It doesn’t require selling.
  • It will deliver high levels of passive income quickly.
  • It is a ‘turnkey’ system that simply needs to be switched on.
  • It requires working a few hours a day on your home computer.
  • It needs only a small, highly-discounted, upfront investment.
  • There is a strict limit on the number of people they can let in (must be limited space on the e-bookshelf).

It sounds so simple. So how come the only self-made people I know who have achieved freedom, passive income, early retirement and a pot of gold have worked their butts off for it? For passive income, it sure looks like hard work!

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Hard work, experience, learning, patience… pfft! Isn’t there a shortcut?

"I’m starting to wonder… are you lot all out earning squillions in your sleep without telling me?"

I’m starting to wonder… are you lot all out earning squillions in your sleep without telling me? I suspect you’re off at the beach or in the south of France or whatever, but when you get back, will you let me in on the secret – pretty please?

But seriously, cutting through all the hype and empty promises out there, I’d love to know what your successful strategies have been for effectively creating new income streams.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best not to fall for the next telegraph poll.

Peter Crocker

is a director of Flying Solo responsible for marketing and advertising. As a business copywriter he partners with digital agencies and corporate clients on websites and digital content. He i’s the co-author of Flying Solo Revisited:– How to go it alone in business.


  • I take a much looser definition towards the term passive income in that it’s money you earn when you aren’t actively working. For example I think many business owners on Flying Solo could benefit from a number of forms of “Passive Income” such as affiliate advertising, within their blog posts, or building online courses that can be purchased and used with complete automation. If you mention a book in your blog posts it makes sense to create an affiliate link to Amazon, you’d be surprised how much can be made.

    While I completely agree that no income is every fully passive and even people like Pat Flyn from agree that it takes significant work. The same principles of business still apply to passive income you must have something of value before you can make any form of income. As solopreneurs though where time is critical making an upfront investment for something that can generate ongoing sales without our constant attention is something we should all consider.

    • Hi Byron. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s been a few years since I wrote this and while I definitely think it still holds true in essence, the world has also changed dramatically. I really like your broader definition of ‘earning while not working’. For many service businesses this often means revenue that is not tied to an hourly rate or fee for service. To me it’s the difference between “passive” and “recurring” income. For example if you make the effort upfront to create products (digital or physical) that can be sold multiple times then you can have a scalable business where revenue growth doesn’t correlate to time. Or, as you say, if you make the effort upfront to build an audience, then you have an opportunity for ongoing sales without much extra effort in addition to what you have already invested in. Whichever way you look at it, it can be hard work this passive income thing 🙂

  • Damn! There I was, having read the highly professional flyer I found on the windscreen of my car, ready and willing to work for two hours a week to earn my millions from passive income. And here you are, crushing my dreams in a matter of words. They promised me as I went through the sales funnel, that I would have all my goals met, my questions answered and my dreams fulfilled, just by handing over $5000. Now I might miss out because they only had ten places and they had picked ME out of the hundreds that had applied. They had overcome all my objections about why I didn’t really want to sell the stones of the pyramids to gullible people, simply by setting up an easy website using their five steps to financial freedom AND I wouldn’t even have to do any selling because the stones pretty much sell themselves. Now what do I do???????? Oh of course, I work for it!

    Hey, I’m not saying that passive income doesn’t exist because I know it does, but I absolutely know that it is a result of clarity, focus, belief, study, dedication, commitment and a lot of hard work. My plan is to have products and planners that people can buy online automatically, but I’m very aware of the work needed to get to that point. Great article and great comments.

    • Haha! Thanks for reading the such a great reply. I loved your view on ‘passive’ income as “a result of clarity, focus, belief, study, dedication, commitment and a lot of hard work.” It’s definitely possible, but never easy. That’s not to say that it’s not worth the effort of course. Sounds like you’re on the ideal track to achieve the goal of passive/recurring income that comes from the right business model!

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