Here are my incomes streams that have flipped and even more that have flopped!
Earning a living from blogging and other “passive” incomes is a slow game. Some things work, others fall (very, very) flat. I’ve begun a few new attempts at passive income recently, so I thought I’d share with you some of my past successes and even more failures!
My goal is to have a diverse amount of income streams, but the only way to do that is to try some things out! What I’d like to tell anyone who’d like to try one or more of these ideas is to not be afraid of failure. You will have fails, but you can learn from them for the next time — and knowledge will set you up for that time that you are successful!
I’m not ashamed of my fails. They didn’t cost a lot of money and I learned a lot about my skill set — my strengths and also where I can grow. Here are my attempts:
I have been blogging for almost 10 years! This is a passion of mine — I have always loved documenting things, along with photography, writing and design — so I would do this on some level even if it wasn’t “successful.” And honestly, it wasn’t successful for YEARS. I didn’t start making a decent income (equivalent to my graphic design cubicle job) until a few years ago.
But today my site continues to grow past 100,000 page views a month and over 27,000 email subscribers. I make money from ads, affiliate links, and sponsorships (of which I have only done a few). The majority of my income comes from the ads on this site that AdThrive manages. Ad revenue has significantly decreased this year, so I’ve taken a hit here recently. You can see all about how to start a blog here.
Another great passive income idea is digital products on Etsy. I decided to try my hand at some photography prints. I added a carefully curated selection of beachy scenes. It took me a long time to shoot, edit and fill out all the Etsy information and marketing. Guess how many I sold. None! I didn’t sell one file.
Because I already had the Etsy account, I thought I’d give graphic posters a shot. I had some quotes and the Lord’s Prayer for kids. I sold zero quotes and designs, but I did sell a few prayer posters. But then people kept asking for different translations, even languages. The time I was spending on updates definitely did not compensate the 10 sales I made! You can now find the FREE prayer poster for kids here.
Finally, on my third attempt, I was onto something. I spent days creating and designing a printable cleaning ebook/workbook and uploaded it. It took a few months, but slowly it began to sell!
I decided to keep going and add an organizing planner. That too began to sell slowly after several months! A couple years later I added a Thought Life Challenge workbook and then a Money Saving workbook. Those have sold as well, but the cleaning and organizing books continue to be best sellers.
Five dollars at a time isn’t much, but with time and increased products, I’m able to make about $400 a month from Etsy. And the beautiful thing about this stream of income is that I don’t have to do anything when someone makes a purchase. It’s all digital and emailed to them directly. I just need to answer messages occasionally — usually when someone needs help downloading. You can see all my planners here.
Oh, I also sold presets. They did ok for a little while and then business trickled away. That’s the thing with all of these ideas — they might do well for a time, but there’s no guarantee next month. And that’s why it’s important to have multiple streams of income.
I still have two presets in the shop, but they are only listed for $1. I’m not sure it’s worth keeping them up, but I wanted to see if by drastically reducing the price I could sell more. If 1,000 people thought that was a good price and product, I’d make $1,000 (minus fees). But alas, this has definitely not been the case.
I suppose you could count Instagram as an income stream. I’ve certainly spent enough time on this platform to get paid! It took me several years and about 600 posts to get 17,000 followers.
They offer money for reels. I don’t understand all the rules, honestly. I think I’ve only made about $400 total for reels. But in fairness, I can’t keep up with the demand of daily posts and interaction.
I also do make some money from affiliate links when I share them, but I only do that on occasion. I like to share great finds and good deals, but I also don’t want to influence people to spend spend spend. This is a budget blog after all!
I’m still interested in Instagram because of community and inspiration, but not really for income or even growth.
Some of my time would have been better spent on new blog content or Pinterest, which pulls a whopping 40 percent of my blog traffic! I put probably a quarter of the effort into Pinterest as I did Instagram over the years and now have 125,000 followers and 13 million monthly impressions over there (with the same content). That’s quite a contrast from Instagram.
Oh TikTok. What a crazy ride that was. I’ll call it a success because I gained 232,000 followers and made probably $6,000 over that last couple years through their Learn on TikTok campaign, sponsorships, affiliate links and pay per views. But this took me an incredible amount of time and commitment.
And along with Instagram, I cannot keep up indefinitely with the daily content required to earn anything substantial. I also keep the comment culture and criticism in mind — and also how the platform makes me feel.
My character has strengthened dramatically over the last couple years from the onslaught of negative comments, but that doesn’t mean that I want to continue that for the long haul. You can read about my experience with social media haters in this post.
This isn’t passive income, but it’s hilarious. I have a goal of paying off our house in seven years. Now this is a real stretch! So to make it happen a little faster, I thought I’d give furniture flipping a try. I watched a few YouTubers whip trashed furniture into masterpieces over night. Easy, I thought. I paint things all the time.
I even set up a little spot in the garage with flooring and white wall to take all the before and after shots that would help my new business sell pieces like hotcakes.
I purchased a small antique cabinet on Marketplace and started sanding that week. The next week I cleaned the hardware. The next week I did nothing. And it still sits in the garage to this day — oh my gosh it’s almost a year now!! It’s safe to say furniture flipping is a fail for me.
I started a House Mix YouTube channel 4 years ago, but added videos so sporadically I didn’t expect anything big there. I kept thinking I’d get to it one day. Then two years ago I started a faith blog, Faith Q&A. I went big (too big) and decided to produce a written blog post, a podcast AND YouTube video for each topic. It was too much to do them all well, but then something unexpected happened.
My Is There Proof God Exists? series started to take off — but not in a good way. Atheists were not kind and let me know comment after comment that I “have no idea what I’m talking about,” that I should “stick with my personal testimony” and someone even called me a coward (?). But they weren’t done. I took off comments, hoping people could now watch the video and decide for themselves without all this negativity. So they started commenting on my actual profile.
It was too much for me. I felt I had overextended myself with trying a podcast AND blog for the first time. If I was going to get all this heat, I at least wanted to be my best work, and it wasn’t. So I decided to take down the channel for now.
House Mix channel
My negative experience aside, I want to see if I could monetize my House Mix channel over the next year or so. You need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to be monetized and make money from ads. 4,000 hours is a lot! (Right now I have 748 subscribers and only 554 watch hours, haha!)
So I will have to put my video skills to the test. And I’m still shooting with my phone! I can’t justify buying a $800 camera if I’m not going to make money from it. So if … I mean when I become monetized, I’ll buy the camera. So this venture is still up in the air. If you have any content ideas, be sure to comment here and let me know!
And the last one (at least that I can think of) is stock photos. I think this one is too early to call a flip or a flop.
I had so much interest from companies to purchase the rights to my fire pit photos and video that I thought I could try selling them as stock photos.
My brain always needs a project, so I started thinking of all the stock photos that would help bloggers, photos I look for myself — home decor shots, plants, gardening, diy — and I’m in the process of shooting those and uploading to Shutterstock.
So far I’ve made a big $4.32 this month! Haha! It’s not much, but I’ll never know if it will work unless I give it my best for awhile. And this passive income would be great, because there are no comments, inquiring messages or upkeep work. If I can afford that camera at some point, then I can upload stock video as well! And videos makes more than photos.
I hope this gives you a little glimpse into my unconventional blogging job that has involved into many more things. It’s a slow game and takes awhile to grow to a boil, but it allows me to stay home with the kids and use my creativity in multiple ways. I don’t take myself too seriously in any of these roles and they don’t require much (if any) money, but instead a whole lot of time and thought! Would you try any of these? Or do you currently make passive income doing something else?
10 thoughts on “My passive income fails”
I found you via pinterist. I am a conservative and left many forms of social media due to privacy concerns (fb, Instagram, etc.). That may account for some of your changes on your side of the channel if you’ve lost similar followers like me. I love your sporadic blog here though :-). Glad you email.
One other thought for you to try – reposition/promote some of your photos as Zoom backgrounds! The stock backgrounds are too boring and it’s rather hilarious when half the people on a call use the same background. One of my favorite finds was Serena & Lily’s free Zoom backgrounds. I always receive compliments because they look like that could really be my home (I wish!) – and I would definitely buy other well-photographed photos like yours to use for that purpose.
Oh, I’d never thought about Zoom backgrounds! That’s a great idea. Thanks so much, Melissa :)
We are trying our hand at several things currently. I am starting a blog (I’ve got a batch of posts ready but we haven’t launched yet) so hoping ad revenue and affiliate marketing will work for us but I worry sometimes I won’t be able to keep up. I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience with negative comments. I hated that when I used to do more YouTube. But the positive comments and community was so special. I miss the people. Keep up the hard work and thanks for this post!
Ps- I love that the cabinet is still in your house. That was refreshing to hear. Lol that would have been me had I tried my hand at that!
That’s exciting, Anna! Let me know when you launch so I can check it out! And yes, the negative comments are not fun, but I’m toughening up and realizing it’s just a part of putting myself out there. I agree, the community is the best part! Thanks so much for being here :)
I really enjoyed this post. I have entertained the idea of trying some of these passive income enterprises. It was refreshing to get an honest appraisal of what worked for you and what didn’t work for you. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for being so honest I’ve been thinking the last 6 months about blogging and being a YouTuber I have my Instagram account don’t like it at all to much BS on there. Rise up Win that Battle every Day !!!
Thank thank you thank you for posting this and being honest about yourself and your successes as well as not so much successes. I keep getting news articles pop up in my feed about how successful and rich and these people have become from passive income and how easy they make it seem. It was starting to eat away at me, feeling like I was a failure for not having tried all these things and become a millionaire by the age of 21 or something with a side hustle.
I see those ads too! If it were true, I guess we’d all be millionaires! Haha They’re very misleading. Hope you have a wonderful day :)