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No-Bull Passive Income: 3 Must-Haves For Making Money While You Sleep

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I may have told you before that Karon Thackston gets all the credit for making me a better writer. She was one of my very first clients, and I wrote content and copy for her for years. What I didn’t know was that behind the scenes of her successful copywriting agency, she was also creating a whole new income stream. 

When she let it slip that she was earning six-figures passively, I knew I had to get her on the blog to share her secrets with you. 


If you’ve been in online business for more than two days, you understand the inside joke about making money while you sleep. You might have gone down the same cobblestone path I did two decades ago when “passive” income meant outsourcing everything to someone else: They did the work, you got the proceeds.

Still, even after the Internet became as common as microwave ovens, people on the outside joked about all those ads they saw promising to show newcomers how to generate income 24/7. But those of us who took time to explore, learn, and consistently pursue ways to create a paycheck passively silently smirked in satisfaction.

Yes, you can make money while you sleep. I do it every single day.

No, it’s not spammy, or unethical, or underhanded. I’m helping my followers find resources they want and need to grow their businesses.

Yes, there are some jerks out there attempting to lure unsuspecting people into virtual dark back rooms where you’ll find things that make you go, “Oh HECK no!”

Yes, it takes some work. Passive is defined as lethargic (with little energy), not as unconscious.

Yes, some types of passive income are easier and quicker to generate than others.

No, you don’t have to have a huge email list, an influencer-sized social following, or a YouTube subscriber base that would make Justin Bieber jealous.

If I had to name the three must-haves for making money while you sleep, they would be as follows:

1.Something Desirable

Too often, online business people attempt to sell anything and everything that offers a commission to their lists. If you are unaware of what your list wants, a certain amount of testing might be necessary. For instance:

  • Asking your subscribers or social followers to answer a short survey you created free using Google Forms.
  • Starting an online conversation in a group or social site.
  • Hosting a free Zoom call to discuss what the most common struggles are in your group of people.

You may need to try a few different offers to get a feel for what interests are represented among your people. That’s normal.

But choosing to promote a product or service strictly because you want to make money is never a good idea. It has to have some sort of connection with your audience. If you’re not selecting products or services that your customer or fan craves, there’s no point in promoting.

Not only will that practice irritate your subscribers, but it could also cause them to leave.

On the other hand, when you focus on your people, you might get emails like the one I received today that said, “I have a question about {product name}. I saw it in your email and was tempted, but would love to know _______.”

Tempted is a good thing! Obviously, this ebook caught the attention of this person because it offered what she needed/wanted. That’s vital! The old saying, “You can’t sell ice to an Eskimo” is still true. If your followers have no desire for what you’re talking about, sales will rarely follow.

When you begin (or continue) to build your passive income pipelines, take time to figure out which types of offers tempt your subscribers — then give them more of those.

2.Something Profitable

It’s true, you shouldn’t focus solely on making money. But the products or services you choose to promote do need to provide you with a nice profit or it won’t be worth your time.

Just imagine writing blog posts and/or creating videos (or however you promote) for a product offer you thought was great, then finding out afterwards that your 35 sales of this $19 ebook only earned you about $40.

Instead of being inspired to continue growing your passive income pipeline, you would most likely be disappointed and discouraged.

Take time to review the commission structures of affiliate products — never assume. Then carefully weigh the amount of setup/promotion against the profits.

PRO TIP: You’ll also want to ask when you’ll be paid and whether there is a minimum to qualify for payment. It royally stinks to make sales and then discover that you won’t be paid until you reach at least $150 in commissions.

3.An Automated System

This is “passive” income. Remember, passive means “with little effort.” My definition of passive income is that you set something up once and let it run automagically! While emails are certainly not the only way to promote affiliate offers (or any other offers), they are one of my faves.

I would write 2 to 4 emails, schedule them in my email software and go play pickleball! Done! The email software sends the emails at the right times/days and *presto!* I’m making money while I’m on the court (or sailing at the lake, or shopping with my sister, or…).

You can certainly earn income by asking people to call you, but that’s not passive. That requires your presence to stick close to the phone so you can attend telephone appointments all day. The entire goal of passive income is to free up your time.

My #1 Recommendation

I have long believed that affiliate marketing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to incorporate passive income into your bottom line.

Someone else:

  • Creates the product/service.
  • Writes the sales copy and follow-up emails.
  • Sets up the shopping cart.
  • Handles customer service.
  • Pays the merchant fees.

With affiliate (referral) marketing, you:

  • Make a friendly recommendation to people who know and trust you, and
  • Earn a commission.

The problem new and experienced marketers have is finding those little jewels that appeal to their customer avatar and offer great commissions.

And that’s where Passive Income Jumpstart comes into play. I’ll show you my own step-by-step process for investigating and evaluating affiliate offers. Then you’ll be equipped to head off into Cyberspace and choose the best-fit products that you can quickly add to:

  • Social posts
  • Emails
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Backend funnels
  • Opt-in freebies
  • Existing blog posts
  • And more.

Because you’re a friend of Cindy’s, I’ll drop a coupon code here that will save you $10 off. Click here for full details on Passive Income Jumpstart and use code PASSIVE.

  • Thanks for having me! Love talking about making money the easy way!

    • Cindy says:

      The only thing I like more than talking about making money the easy way is actually doing it. 🙂

  • Carol says:

    Hi Cindy and Karon, do I need to have a website or extensive blog in order to be successful at this?

    • Hi Carol!

      Affiliate marketing (also called referral marketing) does require that you share the products you have found with others. But it does not require that you have a website or a blog.

      Because you are sharing other peoples products or services, they handle setting up the web pages, and backend systems for each offer.

      All you need to have is a way to share your affiliate link and thoughts/recommendation for the product.

      You can do that through social media accounts, email, YouTube videos, standalone landing pages (that are not part of a website), your baby/beginner blog, posts in groups (with permission) and other places.

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