Yes, you can make money sleeping.
That’s the beauty of passive revenue.
A passive revenue product is anything you can create and sell without an ongoing investment of your time or resources. Without a passive revenue stream, I would not have been able to scale up my company.
Here’s how you can do it, too.
As an expert in your field, you’re likely sitting on specialized information people would gladly pay you for. For example, if you’re a mechanic, you could create a PDF about maintenance anybody can perform on their vehicle. If you’re a life coach, it might be a life-planning system you take clients through.
A passive revenue stream is similar to a lead generator, but you’ve stepped up the value considerably. A passive revenue product can be as small as a PDF or as large as a full-length e-course. It can be an e-book or a simple series of tutorial videos.
Oh, and don’t worry that you’ll lose consulting business by giving away your trade secrets. People will still pay a premium to have you walk them through the very material you cover in your passive revenue product. Plus, by investing a small amount of money in your company, you’re further positioning yourself as a guide and earning trust for repeat purchases (at bigger price points).
Even a product that costs as little as $7 will impact your bottom line. Plus, a $7 passive revenue product can offset your advertising cost on Facebook or Twitter and thus give you greater influence into the community you are trying to reach.
My hope is after you create your first passive revenue product you’ll get hooked and create more. Many midsize companies create passive revenue streams that net them millions, allowing them to scale up without partners, investors, or bank loans.
Here are four tips to help you create a passive revenue product that offers great value to your customers:
1. Make it solve one of your customers’ problems.
A passive revenue product should completely solve a problem your customer struggles with as it relates to your business. It doesn’t have to solve all their problems, but it should certainly solve one.
Whether it’s teaching a dog to obey a specific command or understanding when and why to pull your money from the stock market, make the PDF or course robust enough that your customer can experience some kind of transformation.
2. The quality should be high.
It’s true you can make a down-and-dirty PDF or video series with low production value, but do so at your own risk.
Remember, people’s first impressions coalesce quickly — in about 50 milliseconds, if you ask science. Use great design and production to make that split-second judgment a positive one.
If you have to hire a designer, a writer, or a video crew, go for it. You never want to sacrifice quality to meet your customers’ needs. Make the passive revenue product enjoyable. That way, customers will trust that any additional hard-earned money they spend on your brand will be worth it.
3. Offer a money-back guarantee.
Take all the doubt, hesitation, and risk out of a purchasing decision.
How? With a money-back guarantee. It’s often the last bit of reassurance people need before they buy.
Sure, you might get ripped off. And you will definitely get refunds. Your refund rate could be as high as 10%, although many businesses we consult with only see about 1% of customers ask for their money back. Even so, you still win.
That’s because the increased sales you get from the guarantee will more than make up for the cost of refunds. Even people who ask for a refund won’t hold anything against you. In fact, you’ll still be positioned in their minds as a trustworthy guide.
4. Start small and iterate.
Many entrepreneurs aim too high in their first attempt at a passive revenue product. Or they let perfectionism get in the way of actually shipping it.
Plus, creating an online course can be expensive. And the more robust the product, the greater chance there is for errors.
For those reasons, I recommend you start with a simple PDF or video training series. Get early feedback and scale it up from there. Just remember, your goal is to completely solve a problem your customers have as it relates to your brand.
To get you inspired, here are a few examples of passive revenue products from a variety of businesses:
The Grass is Always Greener
A lawn care company offers a 10-video course on fertilizing, aerating, weeding, watering, and caring for a lawn in the southeast. The video series comes with an automated email system, customized by region, for when to reference each of the 10 videos. The promise is their lawn will be the greenest, healthiest lawn on the block.
Getting Started in Crochet
A yarn store sells a series of simple kits that teach a crochet beginner how to complete a project from start to finish. It includes the right amount of yarn and needles, plus PDFs with easy-to-follow instructions. From pillows to scarves, each product costs only $20 and promises customers a finished project plus basic crocheting skills.
The Experts’ Guide to Hiring and Firing
An executive coach offers an inexpensive checklist entrepreneurs can follow whenever they need to hire someone or let someone go. This short PDF saves business leaders thousands in financial resources and even more than that in sleepless nights and headaches.
A local liquor store shares 12 weekly recipes for making your own cocktails at home. The recipes are packaged as a “Best Summer Ever” series, giving customers the chance to up their entertaining game for an entire season.
5 Keys to Winning at an Auction
A firm that sells machinery at auction creates a PDF that helps people actually buy their products. Their customers fear losing money during an auction because they don’t feel confident bidding. This PDF completely solves that problem, and as a bonus, those customers come to auctions confident and ready to make a purchase.
If a lead generator is a second or third date, an inexpensive passive revenue product is kind of like going steady. It ensures you’re moving deeper into a relationship with potential customers.
Remember, everything in the StoryBrand framework is about building relationships and guiding our customers along a path to transform their identities and be the hero. Bear that in mind as you create your passive revenue products, and you’ll have happier customers and a stronger business to show for it.