Fooled by Passive Income Promises

Photo Credit: Tax Credits via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Tax Credits via Compfight cc


by Monika Beck

Seems like you can’t swing a Fendi purse without running into someone claiming passive income riches. When you look closer you find that nothing is passive about passive income. Some of the hardest working people are those paddling the passive income lifestyle.

The best-known internet marketers are ALWAYS working on a new course, video series, or eBook on the horizon. It seems like they never sleep. If they know so much about how to make money without trying, why do they work so hard?

As a side note, why do people want passive income anyway? What’s wrong with getting rich through active income? Is it the headline that sells people on the idea? Would people feel happy earning a passive income for doing absolutely nothing? Would you feel OK with that? At first glance, the idea is appealing. I have fantasized about being born into a rich family with a huge trust fund. I am sure you have met or heard of some of those people. They are usually self-centered, unhappy, and, generally lost. A life without purpose.

Back to where I was with the problem with passive income. Let’s start with the fact that for the most part, there is no such thing as passive income. You could argue that inheritances and investment income are passive and you might be right. But, that kind of income normally originates from income sources other than passive.

The truth is, if you want income you have to earn it. There, I’ve said it. I know it’s a tough sell. It doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as passive income. I would much rather picture myself sipping a margarita on the beach as the money rolls in instead of pulling my hair out and building websites for people. One is passive the other is hard work. One is a dream the other is reality.
Let’s look at the typical passive income model that internet marketers try to hook you into:


Step One

Create your own product or find a product someone else made that pays a commission on sales. It sounds like a great idea to me. The question is, “Why would people pay you instead of paying the person that created the product to begin with.” If you create your own product, you will spend many hours working, tweaking, and improving. There is nothing passive about that.


Step Two

Do a ton of research on keywords to find the magic combination that Google loves. This I believe to be true. The only problem with this is that it isn’t passive either.


Step Three

Create a website with lots of high-quality content. Again, I agree. The same problem here. Creating great content is an awful lot of work.


Step Four

Distribute your content and drive traffic to your site. This is even more time-consuming than the actual content creation process.


Step Five

Profit. This is where most people focus, especially wantrepreneurs. The money just rolls in, and all you have to do is count it. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.


I agree that the above formula is one way to make money. I disagree that any of it is passive.

Building a business can be fun. It should be fun. You are helping people. You are building value. It is a beautiful concept. You make something and you get paid for it in return. It is something to be proud of. It is something you can do. It may not work for you the first time, but if you stick with it long enough. If you are willing to fail enough times, it will happen to you.

You can’t blame the marketers. They are selling you what you want to buy. They package it for you. They even put a pretty bow on it. They paint a beautiful picture for you. One day you will be sitting on a hidden beach of an exotic island. There will be sun with a soft ocean breeze. There will be nothing more than you with your drink and your phone that makes a “cha-ching” sound every time you make a sale. Smile on your face. Your phone interrupts every few seconds, “cha-ching,” “cha-ching.” Sounds like a dream. Doesn’t it? It is a dream.

Now wake up and get to work.




Monika BeckMonika Beck is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Success Harbor a website for entrepreneurs. Success Harbor is dedicated to documenting the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. Monika Beck is also co-founder of Webene, a website design and online marketing firm.




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4 Replies to “Fooled by Passive Income Promises”

  1. Monika

    Thank you so much, Margo, for your comment. There is no magic in business 🙂

  2. Lisa

    so well said, great read.
    I love how you lay out the “active” steps needed to be taken for an on line business.

    1. Monika

      Thank you for your feedback, Lisa.

  3. Margo

    So true- even though you may be making sales on a digital product, there’s nothing passive about it. Unless there’s some magical internet product that we’re not in the loop about 😉

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