BUX Podcast 82: Passive Income Strategies for Web Developers

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We spend a lot of time on this site talking about UX and how to create a better user experience. We’ve also spilled a lot of ink writing about how web developers and design firms can communicate better with their clients. And for business owners, we’ve talked considerably about how to think of websites and how to use them to reach business goals (like increasing revenue).

Today, we get to talk about something near and dear to my heart: increasing the revenue of the web developer.

And what’s the best way to do that?

The answer is simple: you get paid for what you know rather than for what you do.

See, when you’re working a 40-hour work week, you’re essentially working by the hour. You’re either billing directly or you’re working for a salary. And a salary can be thought of as a certain number of hours a week being billed at a certain dollar amount per hour that’s spread out over the year and paid to you evenly. Either way you’re tied to your output (or at least to showing up to work). If you decided to quit going to work, they’d decide to quit paying you.

Passive income strategies are ways to get paid multiple times for doing something once. This can be accomplished with intellectual property. See, intellectual property is governed by copyright law. And copyright law is a terrible mess. Current copyright is has been shaped by powerful corporate interests for decades resulting in copyright owners being able to profit from their works for 70 years after their death. That means that not only can you potentially make good money off of your works for years, but your grand kids can too!

What kind of intellectual property can you create? That’s up to you. As long as you’re communicating and selling that communication – it counts. If you can write it, draw it, code it, paint it, record it, sing it, say it, film it, or otherwise get your ideas into a method of communication, you implicitly own that via copyright. To be fair, in order to sue for copyright infringement you must file with the copyright office, so it’s not quite as easy as “you made it you own it” though in theory under the law this is true. So consult an attorney (or at least Google it) if you want to know more.

Easy things developers can do are:

– Online courses – You know sooo much more than most of us about what you do. Make a course – either a full-blown website or a video/text experience and sell it. If you need a place to start, try udemy.com.
– e-books – If you don’t want to create a course, can you write a book? Even a short one? Like, a few pages long? If so, you can make $0.99 and up per copy sold. Even if you wrote 1 and sold 50 a month, that’s $50 a month ($600 a year) you didn’t have before. Write more than 1. You’re playing the numbers. The more product you have to sell, the more chances you have for people to buy.
– Create a WordPress Theme.

Alternately, if you can program and through together an app or a small website that does 1 thing particularly well, you can try for recurring revenue. Amy Hoy has the 15×500 plan. Sell 500 people a product at $15 a month. Do that and you have $7,500 at your disposal every month.

Do what works best for you. If you like film – create a video series. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a coder, create a theme or app or other useful widget. If you are an artist, put your stuff on istockphoto.com or another stock photography site.

Create multiple small revenue streams. They can add up to quite a torrent of cash each month. And if one goes away, you still have the other streams to float you until you can find a way to replace your income.

I hate to bring it up because it’s the most obvious, but for heaven’s sake, you’re at least putting AdSense or another ad network on your site, right? It’s pennies in the bigger scheme of things but like Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” So get to saving those pennies. And create as many passive income streams as possible.

You took the time to learn what you know, you deserve to get paid for it.

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