Okay, I think it's been long enough since I placed my post on creating passive income – now let's start the walk through of creating a new stream of passive income from conception to launch to operationalization.
If you hadn't been following the passive income post and series that I started earlier in August, I encourage you to start with the first post and catch up as you can.
The process of creating new income streams varies from individuals to individuals, simply because we're all different, so you should or may not necessarily follow my model entirely as you experience, knowledge, skills and networks/resources may not be the same as mine. Even though so, I think you'll be able to learn something from this walkthrough.
Let's get started, shall we?
It all begins with an idea in your head, a spark. Sometimes it comes with revelation beforehand first, like "why am I working so hard for active income?"
For some, it's nothing new, it's more like a "why not?" approach, as in "since I'm doing so-and-so already, why not make it a passive income system?"
One of the easiest and simplest way is to have pen and paper on standby for sudden ideas and revelations, or the most common is to brainstorm a list of ideas. If you're brainstorming, keep writing ideas until you run out of ideas, and then write some more. Some could be spin offs, some could be repetition, but keep writing. Then walk away from that list for at least an hour, and then look over, make editions, or add more and then streamline to the top three that is most decent in terms of profitability and passion.
Many people get caught and stuck when trying to pick an idea – look, if you get stuck here, you can't go anywhere. So whatever you do, don't let yourself get stuck here, make a decision no matter what. For myself, once I've distilled my options to the top three choices, if they're all the same in terms of value, then I'd ask myself what would be more fun to do, and make that choice to move in that direction. Getting stuck in the "what if" scenario will not get me anywhere, so I refuse to participate in that (see my article on preventing procrastination here).
Another good way to choose amongst options is to ask "Which option is the most me?" and that often helps =)
Okay, worse case scenario if you really can't decide, just flip a coin or go totally random. Why do this is because it's better to make a decision and take action quickly rather than suffering in self-suffering and self-pity as it's a perpetuating problem. You'll progress much faster by having a few projects in your hand as opposed to trying to envision and to dream up the "dream vision." Some people will advise you to fail quickly, which can be both bad and good, but in this case, it's good.
You realize that picking an idea is definitely not the same as complaining and whining about why you can't pick an idea. Of course it's also not the same as saying that you don't have any good ideas. It's also not the same as saying "I don't know how" when you think about your favorite idea.
To be honest, good income-generating ideas and businesses are aplenty. Coming up with the ideas and "oh that's a good idea" is the easy part. If you've been employed and stuck in the corporate world for too long, it's likely that your creative ideas and impulses part of your brain has been crushed and limited to become a herd-mentality and follow-the-crowd and wait-to-move to make you a better droid. If that's the case with you, just walk to the nearest child and ask what you can do to make the world a better place, and really listen to what they have to say.
Okay if you're really stuck and can't come up with a decent idea, then I'd be more than happy to pick one for you and assign it to you, but you may not like it….unless you're in Singapore and submissive =D
My initial idea was to create an internet business or digital model and to sell it – to me, that seems to be the easiest and most straightforward, and it's an approach that others can model if they so wish to. I can sell something through my own website, and other people can sell digital product(s) through Amazon, iTunes and other online stores or websites, depending on the approach.
Depending on the nature of your idea, you have details to consider to decide the next step. For my product idea, I need to determine a topic and a format.
Again, you can brainstorm possibilities and pick possibilities and keep moving forward. Don't get stuck, just decide, even if you do it by random selection. Yes, your decision may not be perfect, and – don't get shocked- it doesn't have to be perfect. Just pick an idea that seems pretty decent, and start – you'll get better at picking ideas once you've started and completed a few projects and saw how they turned out.
I decided on a online health supplement called HCF Happy, Calm & Focused which originates from the United States (US) and Canada, so I have a very specific product in a niche area of health supplements, in a amino acid brain supplement arena. I may add more items to the site later, but I can decide on that later.
So my niche product is HCF Happy, Calm & Focused.
Why HCF? For starters ever since I started running a business and opened a clinic in the central business district of Singapore, I've been increasingly stressed with more demands of the business, sleeping lesser and having more episodes of sleeplessness and headaches.
I've personally sourced for this health product and made the efforts to bring it into Singapore for my personal consumption and trial. Interestingly, they are giving a free trial for residents of US and Canada, but you've to pay for shipping and handling (depending on where you're located, shipping and handling can be as low as $9). I live in Singapore, and as Singapore isn't on the list, I had to pay for it on my own, but that's alright with me.
Most of the health supplements and products today are very shallow "glorified multivitamins" and/or very rah-rah hyped, and fails to explain how and why there are various functions of their amino acids and how they work together. Of course, testimonials from professionals including medical doctors, accountants and sports people do make a difference (there's more professionals taking it too, but I mention these three as these three will be ultra concerned with ethics and performance).
I thought that this would be a useful supplement for me and an interesting product to take. Based on what I've seen and researched, there isn't many niche amino acids brain supplements that's available on the market, moreso the parent company just focuses on just one niche product where all the research and development is poured into its one and only flagship product.
I don't think that this product is a product that will make me the most money – it's a very niche health supplement product, and most people don't care or care enough to find out about it. But for those who do care, they tend to care a lot. So HCF Happy, Calm & Focused will be the kind of brain supplement that will have a strong appeal to a certain core audience, and beyond that most people will just think it's weird.
I'd rather make some people really happy than having lots of people only moderately or partially happy. For me, it's helped me to decrease my frequency of headaches, have deeper sleep, more alertness and mainly it helps me to make better decision as I'm more aware and conscious. But that's me.
So I'm choosing this topic because it has helped me, I've enjoyed its benefits, I think enough people would appreciate it, and it's an area where I feel I can contribute something unique and worthwhile.
Brain supplementation is also a classic product, so this product could easily sell for many years to come.
The next thing to do is to fall in love with your idea. Many people often make the mistake of looking to their idea to give them that spark of confidence, as though an idea by itself can do that. No they can't.
In reality, most ideas are quite general and kind of fuzzy at first – it's you who injects them with confidence. Your relationship with your idea with determine how far you'd go, and this relationship is largely under your direct influence and control. Where does your relationship with another exist – in your mind. Where does your relationship with an idea exist – also in your mind.
If you started thinking negatively about your relationship and friends and partner and give in to doubt about a possible positive future together, what do you think that will do to your relationship. Chances are, it'd kill it. Maybe fast, maybe slow. On the other hand, if you hold loving thoughts towards your relationship and ideas, voila, your relationship will improve.
<p>The best thing that a relationship with an idea is even better. Start by treating your idea as if it's the most amazing thing – ever. Respect it. Honor it. Fall in love with it.
Don't look to your idea to motivate you or inspire you. Don't try to suck your idea dry like you're sucking a fruit dry. Instead, let inspiration flow towards the idea – it is you who must feed, water, nurture and grow your idea. It is you who helps to give it its form and substance. You're the gardener here.
It's like planting a fruit tree, you plant the seed, nurture it to grow, protect it, fertilize it, and later as it matures it provides you the shade and fruits of your labor together.
If you plant it but don't love it, why would anyone else do so as well? An unloved idea and seed will lead to poor commitment and poor follow up, and often result in bad results that no one wants, including yourself.
Have fun with your idea, be playful and open with it.
An example is that I'm falling more and more in love with my HCF Happy, Calm & Focused brain supplement product. It is the coolest, most brain-nourishing and alertness-developing brain product that anyone has ever seen, which is why I've been committed to taking it everyday first thing in the morning for since August 2012, I've never missed a day of taking it. How it helps me, I'm very sure it'd help you, your family and children focus at work, at school, and be more excited and alert to be their best selves ever =)
It's fun and motivating to inject your idea with positive expectations. Self doubt, worry and fear will only slow things down, so don't even go there.
Once you've selected your idea, the evaluation period is over. Like a newborn baby, you've named it, claimed it and taken it home with you. It's too late now to decide whether or not it's a good idea. It's yours now, and you'd better learn to love it.
Some ideas are very easy to monetize and incorporate income streams to them. Others require more careful consideration and planning.
In my case of the brain supplement that I'm using, I'm leveraging on their pre-built sales and affiliate program to be marketed on an entirely new website Happy-Calmer-Focused-Amino-Acid.com, as well as to marketed directly on my other websites, NigelChua.com (this website that you're reading) as well as Urban-Rehab.org.
Later I may market them on other sites such as classified like Amazon, eBay etc, but for the purpose of this demonstration, I'll keep it simple. What happens if you don't have high traffic website(s) like I do – then it's likely that you will not generate as many sales if all you do is to post it on your website.
When I started by physiotherapy business, I spent a lot of time marketing our services and clinic, and this involves a lot of legwork and word of mouth marketing on my end to share the news to end users, doctors and subsequently building up Urban-Rehab.org. For just our physiotherapy services, I spend at least 6 months to build up the marketing, and until today I still spend an average of 10-20% of my time personally marketing it.
This makes a big difference, increasing our revenue from virtually nothing to six figures.
If you've fallen in love with your idea, you'll have a lot of motivation for this…but if you don't love it, I'd bet money that you'll give up here.
Everywhere I go, I see lots of potential offline and online entrepreneurs create and release products and businesses that they clearly don't love. The usual pattern is that they will spread the word, market it for maybe a couple of weeks, then they give up and let the income stream die. People know when it's a "me-too, me-too" product, so they stay away and not but. With an unloved product, this by itself is discouragement to give up.
Conversely, with a product you really love, you will be able to go on and push on and keep getting the word out.
It's not enough to "build it and they will come" approach, or to create a really cool product and hope that people will buy it. You have to tell people about it. Yes, once you've build enough momentum, your sales may become self-sustaining, but this doesn't happen automatically simply because you've created something and put it on the internet.
In my case I own several marketing platforms that I use, such as my websites and newsletters, social media such as FaceBook and Twitter to get the word out. Blogging about the development of this system as well as writing articles along the way is also a way of marketing it. Though many people who are following this passive income series wont care about an amino acid brain supplement product, some will.
I can share more ideas about marketing later in the series. For now, let me just say that you can probably expect to spend as much time marketing your new product or services as you do creating it – if you don't love your creation, that will be a big problem. If you love it, then getting the word out is not so bad =)
The good news is that you don't have to design your own income-generating system from scratch, I'm definitely not doing that as well. You can use someone else's fully developed systems such as the ones I've shared from before.
Next, outline and map out the rough blueprint of your venture. What do you think you will include? For my HCF Happy, Calm & Focused, I came out with a rough blueprint of the business:
It will an entirely online business venture and marketing, leveraging on the affiliate system created by The HCF Company, with a very, very rough approach of:
Okay, this is only a rough draft, and may not necessarily be the final outline of the completed business and product, but it helps to start and gets me where I want to go with the brain supplementation. For example, I know I'm going to cover my personal journey of using this supplement.
The point is to create something to help guide you in your process, but don't let it limit you – if you're stuck and spending more than 1-2 hours, I think that that's waay too long – it's alright and perfectly okay to aim for something that looks just okay, or halfway decent. If you cant manage something that is just okay, never mind, just settle for "not okay" first, as you can always change it later and modify and fine tune as you go along.
It's really easy to get stuck here at this point in time, that's why I prefer to move through it quickly. Okay, if you're building a building or a home, it makes more sense to invest more time in calculated planning. But for a mobile digital service or product, overplanning and overanalysing tends to be much greater risk – a general idea of main sections will do to start.
Now here's the part where we focus on getting things done. The earlier steps were pretty straightforward, you can do them within an hour. If it took you longer than that, you're probably stuck, just make a decisive step and move on.
Here is the step where lots of interesting ideas may die – lets pay attention to how you're going to complete this and get it done.
For one-person projects such as this sort doesn't require that much planning, so don't get stuck in planning and planning and planning. Some people get stuck in refining and replanning rather than just getting ready to begin, it would have taken less time to just get down and doing it.
Personally, I prefer the getting down and doing it approach, which has worked wonderfully well for my physical business, but as this is an online project, I want to make sure that I have a process to guide me to a completed project.
Here's my basic action plan to move this project forward to completion:
So that in essence, is the basic plan.
Now many things can go wrong with this plan…maybe the supplier may shut down. Maybe writing everyday of my experiences will be too tough. Maybe I need to take the weekends off so that I wont go mad. Maybe my web servers may crash, and I'll have to redo. Whatever it is, it's okay. The plan can evolve and adapt as we go along – the point of planning is to envision a path to completion.
What I had written down above looks good enough to me.
My physiotherapy business is picking up speed, so I'll have to work around that – that's the main reason why my time to blog and share with you philosophies and principles of living courageously is limited – I'm engaging the world with my philosophies and principles to fine tune them. I'll be taking over an entire clinic by God's grace and careful planning on my part, and serious renovation and marketing will be done as well – I'm doubtful that I'll have time to keep working on my HCF Happy Calm Focused business on the side when I'm fully engaged here, so I'll probably leave it to run on it's own and continue where I left off once I'm not so busy with Urbanrehab.
Urbanrehab is currently a big part of my lifestyle, so I'm fine having this project taking a bit longer to work around it.
I know that if I hit a certain content quota every day, and if I bring the existing content and my personal sharings at the end of each day, I'll eventually reach people who are looking for the solutions that HCF Happy Calm Focus is giving me, which include brain supplementing for better clarity and decision making. So even with much time dedicated to Urbanrehab, this will eventually work out as long as I stick with it.
How long will it take? I don't know, maybe 3 months, maybe 6 months, maybe longer…but it could be a whole lot more. I'll create as much as I can and as it takes to do justice to the awesome product and for me to feel satisfied with the end result. The length doesn't matter since it's going to be web based. If some people are not going to buy it because it's online, they're not sure etc, I'm perfectly alright with that – that's an idea for me to put the physical product in my clinic as well for people who would like to see and touch before they buy. Most of my web visitors are between 20 – 55, and past data showed that most of them prefer online shopping and digital products, so let's see how things goes from here.
Price wise it's not up to me to set the prices, as the prices has already been set by The HCF Company. Retail price is USD 60, but for monthly autoship is USD 40, and if you buy in bulk you can save up to 30-40% on the price as well as for shipping (this is how I buy as well). I think that's very reasonable, as I spend hundreds of dollars every month for health supplements. I'm sure they could price it higher, but I don't want to promote something that companies or people are pricing higher just for more profits, and I don't want people to feel that price is a barrier for them, but I am aware that the current price will be a barrier for some.
My initial intention where I shared earlier, was to create a new income stream of $1000 or more per month that lasts for 10 years minimum, if the average profit is $20, I'll have to make 50 sales per month, which is about 2 sales per day. That may be a little of a challenge for me in the beginning, but I'm expecting it to snowball after reaching a critical mass point, so it should be an achievable goal.
There are many, many ways to set up an income stream, do allow me to share with you what to watch out for and what to optimize for.
Many people try to maximize for profits, but that often includes sacrificing other things in exchange for more money, such as communicating as a real human being. An example is that you may be a lot more aggressive and pushy when it comes to sales…and to me it's a super big turnoff.
That may have to do with my personal character and motivation, which is to do something creative that I enjoy and to contribute something of value for others' lives, and to share in such a way that financial support flows back to me.
Another important factor for me is to prevent and avoid creating headaches for myself – I don't really care about fighting privacy, so if people want to bypass me without paying for it or payment in affiliate fees, that's really their choice. I don't think that I want to give myself headache for detractors who don't believe in it, especially those who hadn't tried it.
During the past years, I've given lots of content away for free. The payment I ask in return is that I live my life enjoyably, to be happy and fulfilled in living how I wish to live. I like creating passive income streams because its so much easier to center them around my life and I can spend my time in learning, exploring, connecting and sharing.
I understand that your priorities may be different than mine, so it'd make sense to adapt your passive income stream to suit your own desires – just note that maximizing income isn't the only nor is it the best approach for you.
If you're thinking to go along with your own idea, then I'd like to encourage you to pick an idea, quickly create an outline, and see how far you'll bring it forward and complete it. Don't feel pressured to follow me in real time with the creation of your own income stream – I obviously have some advantages and experiences that many others don't. this walkthrough will be here indefinitely, so feel free to go through it whenever and whatever your pace.