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10 Proven Passive Income Ideas for 2023

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10 Proven Passive Income Ideas for 2023

There are many ways to generate passive income and change your financial future. Whether you want to earn just an extra $1000 per month on the side or go into something full-time and replace your current salary, different passive income ideas require different work and time.

Upfront work is required, so don’t expect to get rich overnight, but with a plan in place and the right kind of motivation, you can see success much sooner than you think.

1. Start an Online Business

Starting an online business is the best way to generate revenue on autopilot.

Why?

  1. You don’t need a ton of cash upfront.
  2. You have a lot of room to make mistakes, and
  3. It’s one of the most fulfilling life adventures you could ever be on.

I started my first online business in 2008 after being laid off from an architecture job I loved. My website helped architects pass a difficult exam, and people paid me for study material I created to help them prepare.

How much money did this business make?

In one year, I generated over $200,000, more than double what I earned as an architect.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to generate passive income simply by recommending existing products to other people. If you’ve ever recommended something to a friend, you know how to do affiliate marketing already.

Affiliate marketing has been my most significant single source of revenue, bringing in over $4 million since 2009.

So, how does affiliate marketing work, exactly?

With affiliate marketing, you recommend other people or company’s products and services to your following. You can talk about it on YouTube, a website, in an email, or even just with your social following. And, when someone purchases from your recommendation, you’ll receive a commission from the sale.

One of the most popular and accessible ways to get started is through the Amazon Affiliate Program. People already know and trust shopping from Amazon, and you’ll have a massive range of products to select from.

Just be sure only to choose products that you can stand behind, and that will serve your audience well, and be sure to always be upfront that a link you promote is an affiliate link.

To be successful with this, you’ll need to put time into building an audience who trusts that you’ll always steer them in the right direction and then follow through on that.

Related: 12 Myths and Misconceptions of Affiliate Marketing

3. Start a YouTube Channel

Starting a YouTube channel is an excellent option for making passive income online; it’s free to get started, and if you create videos that people want to watch, you can generate revenue from ads, sponsorships, and even promoting your products.

Recently, I started a new YouTube channel all about Pokemon cards called Deep Pocket Monster. In two years, this new channel has grown to over 500,000 subscribers, and it generates revenue from ads, sponsorships, and even affiliate marketing by promoting card shops and binders on my videos.

4. Open a Paid Membership Business

Like signing up for a gym membership, people join online memberships and pay recurring fees for the sense of community and value it brings them. In fact, we have a couple ourselves:

  • Our SPI All-Access Pass is a community of up-and-coming entrepreneurs who get access to all of our courses, workshops, community events, and even guides to help them through the material.
  • SPI PRO is our higher-level community of established business owners who want to network, connect, and share ideas with growth in mind. We require an application to get into this paid community.

Both of our communities require a recurring payment (quarterly or annual), but people are happy to continue to pay that because they’re getting more value in return.

With a membership business, you may need a platform to host your community. Circle is our top choice because it’s easy to use and familiar to users who join. This is our affiliate link for Circle in case you’d like to check it out and give it a run!

5. Make Print-on-Demand Designs

If you have a keen eye for design and current trends and know how to use design software, selling print-on-demand designs could be a great option to create passive income.

With print-on-demand, you don’t have to buy any inventory ahead of time, so it’s a low-risk business model.

You’ll work with a print provider, like Printful or Teespring, to sell merch (t-shirts, mugs, bags, etc.) customized with your designs and sold per order.

When someone buys one of your designs, the print provider fulfills, prints, and ships the order on your behalf.

The trickiest part is making unique, high-quality designs that inspire your people to purchase them.

6. Offer Software as a Service (SaaS) Business

Another potentially lucrative option for passive income is to create an app or software that you can offer as a subscription service—also called software as a service (SaaS).

To do something like this requires coding knowledge or the funds to hire someone who knows how to code, but there are many resources available to find people who can do that kind of work for you, like Upwork.

Remember that this is one of the more time-consuming options; it will take a good chunk of time to plan and get things up and running.

Also, you will have to create and offer a truly valuable solution—and market your solution effectively—to make passive income with this, which isn’t exactly easy.

This is a challenging route., but it can be rewarding.

Related: How to Successfully Launch a Product in Under 90 Days

7. Create an Online Course

Everyone has a skill they can teach, so why not monetize yours AND help others by creating an online course?

Making an online course isn’t too difficult either, but it will take a lot of time and effort to ensure it’s useful. We host our online courses on both Teachable and Circle, and it’s an amazing way to package information into a place where people can experience a transformation or solve a problem.

Once you’ve created the content and have everything set up, it can be an incredibly profitable source of passive income.

There are several platforms, like Udemy or Skillshare, that you can choose from to host your course and facilitate getting your course paid viewers.

However, I always recommend using your website to give you greater control and true ownership.

8. Create No-Code Apps

Did you know you can reap the benefits of creating an app without knowing how to code? Apart from hiring an expensive developer, that is.

Yep, you can control the process and create an app through development platforms like Zapier, Appy Pie, or Bubble.

There are a lot of apps out there, so to be successful with this, you’ll need to search and identify a need and fill that need with your app.

If you set your objectives ahead of time and know exactly which problem you’re trying to solve—and who you’re solving it for—you’ll already be a step ahead of the competition.

With this, you can earn high passive income through downloads, subscriptions, ads, etc.—depending on how you model it.

9. Publish an eBook

Selling eBooks online is a very accessible method of making passive income.

The idea of creating a whole digital “book” might still sound intimidating to you, but I promise it’s actually simple to do.

Your book’s content can be informative or entertaining, and it can be as short and simple as a 5-page PDF.

You don’t have to be a pro writer or even an expert on your eBook’s topic. Just be sure to provide high-quality, well-designed content that resonates with your audience.

You can even hire a freelance ghostwriter and graphic designer to help you out.

All you have to do is self-publish it to Amazon or Apple Books and promote it to your audience.

Writing an eBook gives you a vehicle to benefit your existing audience with helpful information, further strengthening your relationship with them.

It’s also a great tool to augment your audience to new levels and boost traffic to your website, podcast, and other channels—growing your brand.

10. Write a Book

Writing a physical book is a great way to generate passive income, not just from the book’s potential sales, but how it may promote other services and products you have to offer.

I’ve written and published three books myself, and although it’s a tough route, it’s super rewarding, and the residual income, if you continue to market the book (or it takes off on its own)can be plentiful.

My self-published book, Will It Fly, has generated a total of $459,341.00 (between 2016 and 2019)

patflynn 3 books

If you’d like to join a community of people just like you who are building their businesses right now, please check out our All-Access Pass. We’ll guide you across our entire course library to ensure you give yourself the best chance to earn an additional income.

You got this!

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Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?

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Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?

The Cake Out Maryland bakery in Columbia was a labor of love for sisters Sade and Azia Castro.

Between traveling nurse gigs, Sade Castro would take orders over social media for the sweets otherwise found only in the Philippines, advertising flavors from ube flan to chiffon cake with a milky caramel glaze. But few outside their community knew of the shop.

Castro saw foodies on Instagram in videos that garnered thousands of likes and followers. More people had to be searching for “Asian tastes” in Maryland and Virginia, she thought. Why couldn’t her cakes be the next viral sensation?

So she reached out to a food influencer.

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Over the last few years in Baltimore, the practice of connecting restaurants and burgeoning food businesses with social media personalities has become increasingly common, according to public relations executive Dave Seel, who has built an arm of his Blue Fork marketing firm for the task.

“There can be a dearth of coverage for certain subsections of the city,” he said. “Influencers have taken up that space and used it to build followership.”

Baltimore is a small city, especially in food media. There is no Eater, Infatuation or Michelin Guide. People are thirsting for creative, diverse angles, Seel said.

With the rise of food influencers in Baltimore comes an opportunity to provide platforms to communities, voices and cuisines that have been traditionally alienated. But this wave of restaurant marketing has also raised questions about the authenticity of social media tastemakers and where the quest for that viral video leaves small businesses, many of whom are fighting for survival following the pandemic.

Marketing is an extension of community building, Seel said, and to that end, some restaurants have modified their aesthetics to attract new customers over social media.

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Seel cited BLK Swan in Harbor East as a prime example for its well-advertised community events and “selfie walls.” Customers cannot visit Gunther and Company on Toone Street without taking photos by its “Instagram-worthy living green wall,” he said. At times, he has recommended that restaurants invest in a “particularly ooey, gooey picture-worthy” dish.

It does not always go viral or attract the attention needed to generate business, but it’s an increasingly popular strategy.

“Has it eclipsed all other strategies? I don’t necessarily think so. … But do [influencers] have a seat at the table? Absolutely,” Seels said. “You can’t ignore it.”

‘It’s a marketing job’

Tim “Chyno” Chin, also known as “the Baltimore foodie,” is a well-known food influencer in the area. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Tim “Chyno” Chin always dreamed of hosting his own television show about food.

He grew up an army brat, born in Germany and shuttled between bases before landing in Sandtown-Winchester, a Baltimore food desert. It was not “lavish,” he said; food was utilitarian and purchased with food stamps. There was no one like him on TV: Black, Chinese and gay. But as Chin remembers, he had a “charisma” that allowed him to persevere.

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Chin now considers himself part of a “freshman class” of influencers who rose to foodie fame before the local restaurant industry came to embrace the world of social media marketing. Until about six years ago, eateries looking for publicity were beholden to legacy media platforms. The big players trusted to show Baltimoreans where to eat were radio personalities like Downtown Diane and Dara Cooks, he said.

“We slowly started replacing that,” Chin said. “They didn’t understand [social media] was going to catch on the way it did.”

Chin had worked in kitchens and as a server, so he believed he could relay the importance of a social media presence to the old guard of small businesses. He started by running the social media of the former Joe Squared in Power Plant Live, and then shooting food pictures at the now-shuttered Pinch Dumplings in Mount Vernon Marketplace in exchange for free meals.

“I would post something and then a restaurant would sell out of it,” he said, calling it “the Chyno effect” — a byproduct of his time hosting a YouTube show. He’s now garnered followers as “The Baltimore Foodie” and “The Boy with the Blue Beard,” building a more-than-135,000-person Instagram following and appearing as a host for the “Fresh, Fried and Crispy” show on Netflix.

“I’ve got an Emmy waiting for me somewhere,” he told The Banner.

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To show restaurants he was serious, Chin drew up a rate sheet for his services. “A lot of influencers have it,” he said. The sheet explains an influencer’s cost per post, Instagram reel, links, video and stories. “Everything has a monetized value.” Chyno did not say how much he charges, but as his audience across platforms rises, so does his value.

“People don’t understand this is hard,” he said. “You have to constantly evolve with technology, learn algorithms, follow these trends. … It’s a marketing job.”

TikTok celebrities like MMA fighter turned foodie Keith Lee, who recently made news for a video critiquing the service at an Atlanta restaurant, can change an eatery’s reputation with a single post.

Anybody can call themselves an influencer, Seel said, but “it doesn’t mean they have a core following or an engaged following that really creates the marketing effect that can get restaurateurs that return on investment.”

‘It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth’

Rachel Lipton smiles for a portrait in her kitchen.
Rachel Lipton is the local creator behind the food Instagram @liketheteaeats. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The world of social media marketing is still largely uncharted. The Federal Trade Commission has codified guidelines on sponsorship transparency for influencers, going as far as to issue $50,000 penalties for failures to adequately disclose paid partnerships.

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According to estimates from Insider Intelligence, more than $6.1 billion is expected to be spent nationwide this year on influencer marketing.

Local influencer Rachel Lipton learned about rate sheets herself in 2017 when 7-Eleven offered her $100 to post its iced tea on her “like the tea eats” Instagram page.

“My wife pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you should be charging these large businesses,’” said Lipton, who already had a full-time job. “It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth.”

Her pricing varies. Video content took far longer to edit, so she charged more. Her rates also went up depending on the size of the company inquiring about a post. She also is particular about who she will work with — or not. She said she will never post about Chick-fil-A due to their alleged culture of homophobia. And since news broke in 2020 of Ouzo Bay allegedly discriminating against a Black woman and her son, along with follow-up complaints against the owners, Atlas Restaurant Group, Lipton has promised not to promote dining at their restaurants.

Kimberly Kong, the creator of a series of food photography pages known as Nomtastic Baltimore and Nomtastic D.C., has amassed more than 100,000 followers, in part, for making a point of dining at Asian-inspired small businesses in Maryland and Virginia.

“I let [businesses] know that you’re only going to get featured if I genuinely like your food. And it’s going to be disclosed that I was invited and food was comped,” Kong said. Yet she cringes at the “influencer” title and the lack of authenticity it evokes. A large number of her posts were not paid for, she said, and were born out of an interest in wanting to try new spots.

Kong also does not charge small businesses for promotion, citing pandemic-era losses as a reason for many of them to be skeptical of investing in the world of social media marketing. Chin and Lipton also said they offered reduced rates to try and boost local spots.

“I understand the restaurants’ point of view with how slim the margins are and how tough it is right now,” Kong said.

‘Every time we posted something, it just got sold’

1701865565 522 Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram Do restaurants
Sade Castro adds toppings to Cake Out’s rocky road option. The ube cakes she makes with her sister and business partner at the Columbia business are also on the counter. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Sade Castro never met the Instagram celebrity that sparked an interest in her Maryland shop.

Neither did her sister and business partner, who repeatedly called Castro “crazy” for inviting someone with more than 100,000 followers to sample their cakes. For three years, the two-person bakery had sold the desserts almost exclusively to a group of Filipino moms over Facebook — and even then, they struggled to meet demand.

“I trust that you really believe in your food recs and that you’ve actually tried and loved every food post,” Castro wrote to Kong on Sept. 9. “With that, I would like you to try our Filipino-style cakes.”

Shortly after, Castro was leaving a sampler of nine cakes at Kong’s door.

On Sept. 21, Kong posted footage of her digging into a gooey can of chocolate cake and slowly slicing into the ube flan’s purple center.

“I was at work when my phone started to go off,” Castro said. Within a day, the video had gone viral. The number of people viewing the bakery’s Instagram page rose by over 900% in a matter of hours, and then again by another 2,000% by the end of the week. About 3,000 new people had followed their rarely updated Instagram by the end of September.

“Why would you do this?” Castro remembered her sister asking. “It’s just the two of us, we’re baking from home, and we have full-time jobs.”

The bakery that had provided roughly 120 cakes each year catering to their Filipino neighbors had received hundreds of orders in a matter of days. “We were messaging people saying we don’t have [the cakes],” she said.

Unable to meet demand, they started a lottery. By the end of October, the attention faded some, with viewers of their content down by 42%, according to Castro’s Instagram analytics. Still, the success of the post presented an opportunity for Castro’s self-proclaimed “side hustle.” “Every time we posted something, it just got sold,” she said.

But a restaurant has to be ready. Seel explained that influencers will often receive a tailored experience: sampler cakes, private dining and even custom sandwiches. The business has to be able to execute at the same level for the regular customers, too.

In October, Fells Point eatery Little Donna’s claimed to be “screwed” after a New York Times critic placed the business on the paper’s list of most exciting places to eat. The now-shuttered Local Oyster also faltered in the spotlight after an influencer-promoted sandwich spurred high demand and community backlash, forcing it to be 86ed from the menu.

“All of a sudden, there can be an onslaught of people and it’s hard to keep up,” Seel said.

Castro has no regrets about Kong’s effect on her business. As of November, Cake Out is searching for ways to increase output and serve the Filipino neighbors who had leaned on them for their traditional holiday treats. Plans to move to a larger kitchen are in the works, due to the support from new customers, Castro said.

“For now, we are grateful.”

Matti Gellman is a Food Reporter for The Baltimore Banner. 



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The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands

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The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands

While the current spate of generative AI tools are interesting, and are already changing discovery behaviors and interactive processes, they’re really only scratching the surface of what’s possible, and are far from actual “intelligence” as the AI name suggests.

Indeed, most of these initial models are data matching tools, able to predict elements of text and images based on the most likely sequencing, by applying probability to huge datasets. And they’re becoming increasingly at doing just that, but they’re not “thinking” as such, these systems are not developing new concepts all on their own, and there’s no intent or reasoning behind those matches, other than mathematical likelihoods.

That’s the next level of AI, which many experts have expressed concern about, in that such systems will one day have the capacity to think independently, and potentially exceed our own mental capacity as a result. Though creating a digital “brain” as it were is still a long way from being a reality.

But even so, through probability alone, we’re also just touching on the expanded possibilities of generative systems, with the latest advances now pointing to a whole new phase of digital creation, which could cut many humans out of the process.

Last week, a Spanish ad agency made headlines after it revealed that it had created an AI character, which is now earning $US10,000 per month from brand contracts.

Aitana requires no payment, has no qualms about what she promotes, and is available 24/7. And she looks real, and no doubt many of her 200,000 Instagram followers were not aware that she doesn’t, in fact, exist.

You can see the appeal of virtual influencers in this respect, and Aitana is not the first to build a huge following, and certainly won’t be the last.

Even before the arrival of Dall-E and Midjourney, virtual models were already gaining traction, including characters like lilmiquela (2.7m IG followers), noonoouri (424k followers), and Shudu (241k).

More advanced creation tools are now making these virtual identities even more life-like, while the next phase of digital animation could take them to another level of realism, in replicating human trends.

This video, shared as part of Alibaba’s “Animate Anyone” project highlights how advanced image recognition and video sequencing can now replicate actual human movement, to an increasingly realistic degree.

It’s still not perfect, but again, we’re really only at the start of this process, and you can see how, as these systems continue to evolve, virtual influencers, in both still and video form, are set to become much bigger elements of online interaction.

Deepfake characters, where celebrity faces are superimposed over real actors, are another aspect, and another vector for security concerns, but fully virtual creations, animated from still images, would be cheaper to use, faster to customize, and easier for any brand to create, based on templated actions, animations, and movements.

And they are coming. Every platform is already rolling out AI labelling requirements to get ahead of this, but realistically, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to know whether you’re looking at a real person, or an AI creation, with the blurred details and distortions rapidly being ironed out by newer processes and systems.

Sure, right now, it’s easy to spot those AI-generated promotional photos showing up within your Facebook feed ads. But refinements are steadily bringing these tools closer to reality, and ironically, taking consumers further from it at the same time.

So what does that mean for your marketing efforts?

Well, if you’re camera shy, and have reservations about making video content, soon, you might not have to, with viable alternative options to create digitally animated content. You’ll have to disclose such, but realistically, it’s the concept that will resonate with viewers, not the composition, and if you can avoid the tell-tale markers of current generative AI imaginings, it could be an avenue for your future development.

Though it could also be bad news for human influencers, who are just now having their moment in the sun, as more brands come to realize their worth in reaching certain audiences.

The “Creator Economy” in this context could be set for a rapid recession, as even short-form videos become increasingly AI-simulated, sparking all new trends in promotions, with brands happily welcoming the cost savings.

I do think that human creativity will remain an essential, and that no matter how realistic your AI creations are, you’ll still need human-centered emotion at the core of any promotion.

And until machines can actually think like us, that will remain the key differentiator, though the actual process of expressing your message looks set to change significantly.

This will be a key trend to keep tabs on in the new year.



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US YouTuber who staged plane crash jailed for six months

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Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers

Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers – Copyright AFP/File Lionel BONAVENTURE

Huw GRIFFITH

A daredevil YouTuber who deliberately crashed his plane to boost the number of viewers on his channel and then lied about it to investigators has been jailed for six months after reaching a plea deal, US authorities said Monday.

In a video of the event entitled “I crashed my airplane,” Trevor Jacob appears to experience engine trouble while flying over southern California in November 2021.

The dramatic footage, viewed millions of times on YouTube, shows Jacob, now 30, ejecting from the single-engine plane — selfie stick in hand — and parachuting into the dense vegetation of Los Padres National Forest.

Cameras placed all over the aircraft show its out-of-control descent into the forest, and its eventual crash landing.

Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, films himself hiking to the wreckage where he appears dismayed to discover the water he packed has disappeared.

He does, however, have the presence of mind to recover the footage from cameras.

He then documents an apparently arduous trek through undergrowth to reach safety.

In the weeks after the incident, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched a probe into the crash, and Jacob was ordered to preserve the wreckage.

The YouTuber told officials he did not know where the plane had gone down.

“In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site,” the US District Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said Monday.

“There, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck.”

The remains of the single engine plane were cut into small pieces and dumped in trash bins in and around Lompoc City Airport, in a bid to hide evidence of the crash.

The FAA, the body that regulates flying in the United States, yanked Jacob’s pilot’s license in April 2022.

When investigators closed in, Jacob cut a deal and agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

“Jacob lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power,” the US District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain,” federal prosecutors said.

“Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Jacob’s original video, along with several others he posted after the escapade, have now been removed from YouTube, but a copy can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41iOvFuKsyY

Pilots and aviation experts have been immensely critical of Jacob in the almost two years since the video was initially published.

Many noted that Jacob had failed to take even elementary steps to restart his plane’s apparently troubled engine.

Others pointed out that he could easily have safely glided the plane to a landing spot, and that wearing a parachute while flying a small aircraft was highly unusual.

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