The biggest question I get AND one of the things that I think is most overlooked in strategy is: do you need a big audience to incorporate passive income? Today, I want to talk about this and be fully real with you – because I think a lot of people aren’t doing that.
Do You Need a Big Audience to Incorporate Passive Income?
Do you want to listen to the podcast version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
Before we start, I have to tell you: when you’re reading this, one of my children has gone back to school – and I am SO excited. We started school in August, but our governor wouldn’t allow kids in any part of the state to go back full time. I chose virtual for my kids because 1) I had three days to make my decision and 2) everything was so up in the air and could change at any second that it seemed like the best option. I need consistency to work, even if the consistency isn’t ideal. Virtual learning was the most consistent option we had.
When we picked virtual learning, we had to select it for the whole first semester. I didn’t anticipate that our governor would let us go back before January, but he did! And thanks to some different things happening and a little begging, my kids are starting back to school this week! They will still be home on Wednesdays because the schools are closed then, but one day versus five is GREAT.
Let’s dive in… Do you need an audience to incorporate passive income?
To start, remember my definition of passive income. Passive income is anything you can sell on a one:many level instead of one:one. It’s also something you create where the hard part is selling it and you don’t have to do much work after the sale. That can be courses, digital products, or anything else.
I don’t think that people who teach passive income are very forthcoming in this area. I will often see people say that you don’t need an audience to create a course or sell something. And that’s just not true.
You ABSOLUTELY need an audience to incorporate passive income.
I had someone in my real life ask me about digital products. I was straight up with her – I said that she needed to start offering a service before selling a digital product or else she wouldn’t make any money.
Now, for the asterisk: You DO NOT need a BIG audience to incorporate passive income! You just need an audience.
You have to have people there who are ready and willing to purchase what you’re going to sell. That being said, you can set up streams of passive income where you are building your audience and selling to them at the same time. You can use small offer funnels to do this – and I have a whole other episode you can listen to here to learn more.
Here’s a story about my first course.
I’ve talked about this before, but I’m going to say it again. I launched my first course with no audience. I launched it at the same time as I launched my podcast because I thought I would immediately be famous from my podcast. (Hilarious, right?)
I had 50 people or fewer on my email list and I sold 0. None. Nada. Zilch. I had NO audience, and I sold none – and that ratio makes sense. If you launch something to no one, no one will buy it. The days of just putting something out on the internet and assuming people will buy it are over. The market is too saturated. If we don’t have people ready and willing to buy the thing we’re selling, no one will.
The next time that I launched a course was five months later, and it was a successful launch. I had spent five months audience-building (just five months) and I wasn’t even on YouTube yet. I was doing webinars, freebies, funnels, Facebook groups, and more. I went from like 0 people on my email list when I launched my first course to about 500 people when I launched my second.
The course, called DIY Your Website, ACTUALLY SOLD! I didn’t sell that many of them at all. It was around $700, and I sold 10 of them – so I sold $7,000 worth of a course. At the time, that was the equivalent of two one-on-one web design clients for me, so it was massive. I sold 10 and I did NOT know what I was doing. If I did, I probably could have sold more.
Again – you DON’T need a massive audience. You just need some audience of people who want to buy the thing you’re selling.
To get the audience you need, you need to get clarity about who the person is who will want to buy what you’re selling.
Early on, I made the mistake of not thinking about the people who wanted to buy what I was selling. I didn’t coordinate my offers so that the person who bought my first product now would also buy my second product in six months. Coordinating your efforts is KEY.
I was creating a mix-matched pool of things. Person A would need the first thing I made, but they wouldn’t want the second thing; Person B would want that one but not the next one. That was not effective at growing my audience or my income.
Make sure that all of your offers are applicable/sellable to the same group of people.
It can be applicable all at once or at different stages of business. You need to spend your time building an audience who wants what you’re selling. You need an ENGAGED audience, not a big one.
Here’s an example of what an engaged audience looks like.
I worked with a client who created a very niched course that cost $1,000. The audience who would want to purchase this course was very, very small. When we started working together, she didn’t have an audience at all. Before she launched, she grew her audience to 250 people.
250 people – that’s it. The important thing to note is that they were 250 people who were perfect for the offer she had. We spent time AND money getting those people on her email list. When she launched that course to 250 people, 50 of them purchased.
She made $50,000 from a VERY small email list. She also incorporated affiliate links into her course, upsold people other places, and more. Not only did she make $50,000 from the first offer, she made residual money from passive income that she worked into the course. She made a lot of money from a TINY email list.
It is true that you will make more money from a larger audience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start with a smaller one!
Even if you don’t have an audience now, incorporate the steps to get people to a sale for when you do.
Too many people say, “Oh, I’m not big enough yet to use affiliate links,” or “Oh, this is my first YouTube video so it doesn’t matter.” Setting up the sales tactics now, even before you have an audience, will equip you to make a lot of money when you do.
Let’s say you create a video on YouTube all about how to use an iPad, for example. You act like no one will ever see the video and you don’t include affiliate links to your iPad, pencil, and screen protector. Three months later, YouTube picks up your video and 20,000 people watch it. If you didn’t include those affiliate links, you missed out on the opportunity to make money!
Imagine that 10% of those views, or 2,000 people click on your affiliate link to your iPad. Then, 500 of them actually purchase it through your link. If you make $20 commission for each sale (I have no idea what you’d actually make but just go with me here), you could have made more than $12,000 just through affiliate links. People are going to buy the iPad anyway, so set them up to buy it through you. If you didn’t put in those links, you just lost $12,000.
It is NEVER too early to add links to things in your content. Set yourself up for success from the beginning, and you’ll be more successful later. Don’t let your house go up while you’re rushing to build the basement underneath – strong foundations are important!
The Allie Casazza Story
When I hosted the All Up In Your Lady Business podcast with Jaclyn Mellone, we had Allie Casazza share her story about how she went “purposefully viral.” (You can find Allie over on Instagram here!) Allie found this blog post with a step-by-step formula about writing an expanded guest blog post. You can read the blog post by Bryan Harris here – although warning, it was written in 2014 so it’s not entirely applicable.
Allie had NO audience at the time, but she followed the formula to a tee – which included incorporating a freebie into her guest post. And the formula worked! She went viral and she ended up on Good Morning America. Because of that freebie, she grew her email list to tens of thousands in a week’s time.
She hadn’t sold to them yet, but she had thousands of people on her email list who were READY to purchase the things she wanted to sell them. And she was prepared to sell something to her email list once she built it up! Allie had already created her product, perfect for someone who wanted the freebie, and was ready to launch. If you disappear for six months after your email list grows, people will have forgotten who you are.
Now, Allie has a multiple-7-figure business selling courses to moms in the minimalist category. And if she hadn’t added the freebie to grow her email list or prepped something to sell her audience BEFORE she had one, she would have missed out on all these possibilities.
You do need an audience to make passive income, but you SHOULD be taking the steps to incorporate passive income now so that you’ll be making more money later!
Another good example is my digital planner videos. I discovered the world of digital planning around Christmas of 2018. I decided to talk about it in my YouTube videos. Because I knew that content can “go viral,” I KNEW better than to put out this video without some way for me to make money from it.
So, I spent time over Christmas break to build my own digital planner. That way, when I did a video about it, I could say that I had my own for sale and link it below. My digital planner videos alone have made me more than $30,000!
That money comes from three different passive income streams. 1) it comes from the money I make when someone watches the video. 2) it comes from the affiliate money I make when someone clicks the affiliate link in the description. 3) It comes from the sale of my digital product.
Now, are those people the exact ones I want in my audience? No, not necessarily. Eventually, I will probably phase out digital planners or stop pushing them, but for the last few years it’s been a great source of income. I knew that video would take off, from both my past YouTube experience and the fact that not many people were talking about it on YouTube at the time.
If we don’t prepare our content, businesses, and social media with all the things that lead to passive income, we are going to be mad at ourselves later when that content goes viral.
You have to know that not everybody goes viral. It could be that you put affiliate links in your blog posts that no one reads now, but in two years you have 50,000 website visitors every day who read your stuff.
You absolutely DO NOT need a big audience to incorporate passive income. You absolutely don’t need any audience to start down this path!
To make sales and maintain a full-time income, you just need a group of people who want what you’re selling. It doesn’t have to be 10,000 people or even 1,000 people – they just need to want what you’re selling.