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Failing at Passive Income

Updated on February 13, 2016
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Passive income can be a great way to keep your pockets a little fuller than usual. The problem is that many people fail in getting the river flowing in on passive income. They expect it to fall into their laps. While it is passive, they fail because they are not active in generating it.

Defining Passive Income

Passive income is income that comes in without direct work put into it receive it during that ‘pay period’. It’s not like active income which describes my day job. I go to work and then I get paid on a set date for that actual work that I put in. It’s a pay per hour job like most are. Passive income is not like that. The work done to ‘earn’ it comes long after the work is done and can fluctuate. There is not set pay. There is no set schedule. You do the work and wait on it to come in which could be days or years.

Think of it as an investment for future earnings.

Working at Developing

The reason people fail at passive income is that they don’t realize that work has to be done to get it flowing in and to keep it flowing in. First off, you have to work to create the passive income channel. It doesn’t just happen. You have to build the building that will bring in the passive income called rent. You have to write the book that brings in the passive income called royalties. Work has to be done to create the income pipe.

That means that you need to create something worth people paying money for. That means you have to work.

Even after the passive income source is created, work is needed. If you have an apartment you are renting, you will need to get renters in. You’ll have to maintain it and keep the property in livable conditions. If you have written a book, you need to promote it and keep people interested in it. Work continues though it is not a 40 hour a week type. That is why it is passive income.

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The Failure

This is why many people fail at passive income. They build it and forget about it. They write it and forget about it. They might do the work to create it, but the work goes no further. Failure comes in not maintaining the flow of passive income.

I know a lot of writers. Many of them write a book and then move on to something else. Then they complain that they aren’t getting any money from book sales. Are you marketing your book? No? Then how do you expect any passive income for it?

You need to maintain the money pipeline. You don’t have to work on it hours and hours a day, but you need to put some work into it. It might need a few hours today and a few more on Saturday. It might need all day today and no more for several days. It varies, but the work is needed.


Where can you find successful passive income that you work to bring in? There are many places. Some require more work than others. Some are more successful for some than for others. I firmly believe that you have to try it and work at it before you can declare it a success or failure for yourself. Here are some ideas for passive income.

Rental Property

This is one of the oldest models of passive income. You buy a house or other building. You get it fit for occupation. You market it. You rent it. Technically, you leave it alone until it needs you while the money comes in. You only have to be ready to address issues when it comes up.

The drawback? You need money upfront to purchase the property. Not many have that.


A lot of people write content material and let it bring in money long after it is written. They might write it on their own blog, but most of the money comes from sites that pay for the hits on the site. You write for the site and promote it. The only thing you need to do after that is update it periodically and write more. Sites such as Hubpages is a great place for this kind of passive income. Some have reported income of hundreds of dollars a month.

Downside: You have to have plenty of articles out there and typically have hot topics. Evergreen articles are best as they are never truly outdated.


If you have a camera, you could be making passive income. People are looking for pictures all the time to use in their work. Sites such as Flickr and Pixabay and Shutterstock are great ways to get passive income rolling in.

Downside: You have to have a camera, the ability, and have lots of pictures out there. The more you have, the more chance of a stream of passive income you’ll have.

Affiliate Links

With affiliate links, all you need are ads and/or links on your site that take a visitor to where they can purchase anything from memberships to jewelry. You get a percentage of the sale. Many have reported thousands of dollars in review from such links. Nearly all sites that sell something offer affiliate programs.

Downside: You have to have a high number links, high number of visitors, and links to high percentage affiliate programs.

Vending Machines, etc.

There are several venues of passive income that some people have tapped into and found quite a bit of success. These venues take just a little monitoring and maintaining generate income. They include vending machines, ATM’s, laundromats, and video rentals. You set them up. You check in once a day. You replenish and clean up anything you need do. Then you go home. People who own laundromats usually open it up and then don’t return until that night to close up, empty the money receptacles, and do a quick clean up. Vending machines usually need only checked once a week for replenishment and money redrawals. These machines do pretty well.

Downside: You usually have to have some money to get started with these venues.


This is one of the most obvious and common passive income sources. You put money into a company or into an account and get interest and/or the value of increased value of stocks.

Downside: This takes money and a lot of know how to bring in.


This has become a new trend in passive income. You develop an app that can be used on an iphone or other such device. People purchase it, and you get money. Apps are everywhere for everything. Some offer free versions with the ability to upgrade for more features.

Downside: You need to have the knowledge to design them. There are sites that help you with it.


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    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 2 years ago from Wisconsin

      Yes, I wrote this because I knew several people who don't do anything once they have the income started. They don't understand why they aren't still making money.

      thank you for stopping by and have a good one.

    • Robilo2 profile image

      Lori Robinson 2 years ago

      Rebecca - thank you for this article that really defines what passive income is. So many people do not understand that there is work on the front end, and then some maintenance for the life of the income stream.