How Passive Income Allows You to Work Smarter, Not Harder

When I was posting each weekday on the Elle & Company blog, I was often asked how I continued to come up with blog post ideas.

My answer was always the same: I’ve found that the more I blog, the more I understand my audience and come across topics that would interest them; it actually gets easier over time. 

I also know that business is never stagnant; there are always new lessons to learn. Industries evolve and there are always new changes and practices to come across. If you aren’t learning, your business probably isn’t growing.

While many of my posts are instructional and informational, they’re also indicative of where I am in my business and what I’m learning.

I write from experience and research so if you see an Elle & Company post on a certain topic, there’s a good chance that it’s been on the forefront of my mind at some point and important to my business.

The same is true for this post. 

How Passive Income Allows You to Work Smarter, Not Harder | Elle & Company

We’ve all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder.” I have been putting a lot of thought into how we bring in an income through Elle & Company, as well as how we can make the best use of our time. 

Today we’re taking you deeper into what we’ve discovered and how we plan on making things easier for ourselves in terms of bringing in an income for our business.

While the goal of each Elle & Company article is to benefit you, I know that this one might be a game changer if you haven’t put much thought into passive income.

What is passive income?

Investopedia defines it as “earnings an individual derives from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise which he or she is not actively involved. As with non-passive income, passive income is usually taxable; however it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).”

It’s a little easier to understand when you look at the opposite of passive income: active income.

Investopedia defines active income as “income for which services have been performed. This includes wages, tips, salaries, commissions and income from businesses in which there is material participation.”

I like to take a more simple approach. Passive income is income that you aren’t actively working to earn. For example, an ebook might take time and energy to create at the outset, but you can sell it an unlimited amount of times without any other work to be done on your part. The income that you receive from that ebook is passive income.

On the other hand, my design services are an example of active income.

I’m unable to do the work once and sell it over and over again; the custom nature of my work requires time and effort to be spent on each individual client. 

Active income requires your energy and effort in order to make money while passive income does not.

While there are benefits to active income, the methods you use to pursue it aren’t scalable; you only have so many hours in your day.

You may be able to raise your prices as the demand for your services increases, but you may reach a cap. And for many of you who run a business while keeping up with a growing family or managing a full-time day job, your working hours are precious as it is. 

That’s where passive income strategies can be life changing for you; they allow you to work smarter, not harder. 

How I created passive income

I stumbled into creating passive income through Elle & Company when I introduced the Library last summer. 

It started as a simple idea to make useful design files available for my audience.

At the time, the files were broad and could benefit anyone, but I’ve recently started to transition the collection to be geared more toward bloggers and business owners (editorial workbooks, customizable business cards, to-do lists, and customizable blog sidebar buttons are all coming soon). 

How Passive Income Allows You to Work Smarter, Not Harder | Elle & Company
How Passive Income Allows You to Work Smarter, Not Harder | Elle & Company
How Passive Income Allows You to Work Smarter, Not Harder | Elle & Company

When I considered ways to earn an income through the Library, I settled on a monthly subscription where subscribers could have unlimited access to the collection of files in return for $6.99 a month.

I add new files three times each month, so there’s an incentive for users to continue their subscription. Subscribers can also cancel at any time or they can purchase longer terms of access to the Library at a lower cost, so there’s flexibility and no required long-term commitment. 

The Library brings in another stream of income for Elle & Company but even more importantly, it brings in passive income.

It’s the same amount of work to keep up with regardless of how many people are subscribing. The Library doesn’t require any extra time or effort when someone new subscribes, and my profits increase as my number of users increases. 

How you can create passive income

The opportunities are truly endless. Here are a few ideas:

1. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing where a business or brand rewards its partners (affiliates) for each new visitor or customer it receives from the partner’s individual marketing efforts.

For example, many fashion bloggers earn a passive income by linking to products and online stores within their posts.

Depending on the affiliate program they’re a part of, they can earn a commission if one of their blog readers follows the blog link to the store’s website and purchases the item.

It’s a win-win for both you and the business you’re partnering with; you earn money from simply adding special links into your content, and because the best form of advertisement is a recommendation from a trusted source, the business gets some solid marketing and potential purchases from the deal.

You can use affiliate marketing to your advantage by linking to products and businesses within blog posts and social media posts, and you can even create a resource page on your website with affiliate links to your favorite products and businesses.

I’m beginning to put a little more time into seeking out affiliate programs and brainstorming how to use them best for Elle & Company, and of course we would never highlight products and brands that we weren’t fans of already.

We want our audience to trust us and authenticity is of the utmost importance for us, so we wouldn’t recommend anything that we don’t use ourselves.

If you’re interested in earning passive income through affiliate marketing, we encourage you to do the same. Do some research and see if the businesses you often link to offer affiliate programs. If so, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

There’s also an unspoken secret in creating an affiliate marketing income: your website’s traffic directly correlates to your income. More traffic, more clicks, more income.

2. Digital products

Ebooks, online courses, videos, workbooks - the opportunities for earning passive income from digital products are also endless.

They may require time and effort to create at the outset, but you’re able to do the same amount of work regardless of how many people purchase the product. You have an opportunity to make a much larger profit for a lot less time.

And because it’s digital, it often doesn’t cost you anything to produce over and over again (like you would have to do for a physical product). 

3. Paywalls

Paywalls are helpful for subscription-based offerings, like the Elle & Company Library.

I use a paywall service called Tinypass which allows me to block access to the file collection with a login/purchase page. Subscribers can enter their username and password to get through the wall, and visitors have the option to subscribe on that same page, but those who don’t subscribe can’t get through.

Tinypass also bills subscribers on a monthly basis and takes care of the payments so I don’t have to worry about it. It’s great!

Paywalls could also take different shapes and forms. You could use a paywall for premium content, digital products, etc. 

There is plenty of room for creativity within each of these ideas, and I would encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to brainstorming ways to earn passive income. 

The goal of pursuing passive income is to lighten your load and create more freedom in both your finances and your schedule.

Work smarter by brainstorming and using passive income strategies that can do all of the hard work for you.

How have you earned passive income through your blog or business? Which files and resources would you like to see in the Elle & Company Library?