17 Sources of Semi-Passive Writing Income for 2022 and Beyond
By: August Birch
While all your friends are busy gambling their 1990s Beanie Baby money on crypto named after pets and NFTs of crayon drawings on napkins, you, the writer, can grow actual, reality-based semi-passive income by creating pure alchemy — money from nothing.
I hereby dub 2022 is the year of #momentum.
We’re sick and tired of trading our finite time for one-off payments. As writers we’ve got this gift. Why not use it more-efficiently.
Instead of doing the whole see-saw dance of freelancing, where each month you reset to zero, trudge into the wild for a new kill, and bring it back to your writing cave… only to repeat the process next month — let’s build something once and sell it forever.
I’ve compiled a list I hope will help you this year.
You don’t have to choose everything. But there might be something on the list that tickles your keyboard. Let’s get to it…
Here are 17 sources of semi-passive writing income for 2022 and beyond:
- The 21 day challenge — Quarterly, launch a challenge and charge to join. Create 21 pieces of daily, automated, dripped content. Each, a small piece of a 21 day transformation journey of some kind. If the person wants to re-take the challenge, they will automatically be charged again if they don’t cancel their membership… or however you’d like to set it up.
- Printables, blueprints, and spreadsheets oh my! — Do you have a tool you made for yourself that might help the people you serve? You can sell these simple, digital tools on your site, Etsy, or anywhere your audience spends their time and needs a quick, specialty solution only you can deliver.
- Micro-courses — I have this ‘5 + 1’ recipe I use to build small, text-based courses. This is my sweet spot. These courses are affordable to more people. You can make one in a week or two, and you don’t need to be on camera, record your voice, or spend any more than a couple minutes editing, if you update the course in the future. You can literally make your entire living from these little micro-courses.
- Booster packs — Each time you earn a new email subscriber, offer them a booster pack/quick start pack to get them started now. Your booster pack should have something to do with the topic of your free email offer. Using this one strategy-alone, I cover my mortgage automatically every month.
- Medium stories — If you keep writing more stories your readers want to read, they’ll return tomorrow for more. I have a handful of stories I wrote years ago, that have earn a few thousand dollars, and they continue to earn every month, as they are spread via social media and continue to tickle the Medium algorithm. Medium stories not only earn through the partner program 24/7/365, they also grow your email list. Medium is semi-passive, because you’ve got to show up a little bit daily or your traffic will die.
- Membership sites — Schedule a weekly piece of new content to be published in a paid membership area. This offers recurring income, where you can serve many people at scale by creating a single piece of content and serving as many people as you can with it.
- Your email welcome sequence — Write a series of engaging, welcome emails. Sell your best work automatically to each person who joins your email list. If you have no interest in writing live emails, you can literally pre-load a year or two worth of content and drip it out a few times a week to each person who joins your list. I don’t do this. But if you really don’t want to write live emails it’s totally possible. I have a short welcome sequence, then I add readers to my live email list once they complete the welcome series.
- Giant academies — Instead of building a series of micro-courses you can take your time and create one giant, high-ticket course. These types of courses work very well in concert with a back-end offer from one of your books. This combination of low-cost/free book + high-ticket course is a great way to make advertising work for you.
- Paid newsletters — I love this business model. A paid newsletter is the long-game. Slow to start, but you build a crew of rabid readers who want every issue you publish. Another way to scale your service from one-to-many. You write the newsletter once and can sell it to hundreds or thousands of people. You can also re-sell and re-purpose back issues. There’s a lot to be said about physical, print newsletters too, since most people aren’t making them. Taking physical real estate in your customer’s world is a constant reminder of your place in their life.
- Write a book — Then write the next one. Earning money from books is damn-near impossible. They’re inexpensive. You have to a lot of work to earn a customer. And you need to sell a lot of books in order to eat. However, if you use a book as part of your overall media plan, you can use your books to bring new customers into your courses and large-ticket content. Plus, most people have not written a book. A book brings instant credibility. Once you write the first book, write another one.
- Email-based consulting/coaching — I recently started doing this, myself. Offer a month of unlimited email-based consulting for a fixed-price. I like the ‘unlimited’ aspect because it helps people stop worrying if they are getting their money’s worth. Clients can email me with one question at a time and I can handle a lot more people at once. Instead of scheduling the dance of one-on-one Zoom calls that are constantly being re-scheduled with no penalty for the customer, but wasted time for the owner.
- Retainer fees — Like an attorney, you can charge a monthly, recurring fee for direct access to you. Might sound strange, but some people just want the warm, fuzzy feeling they can call-upon you when they hit a roadblock. People will be willing to pay for the ‘option’ to call on you even if they don’t use it much.
- Rights to use your work — Just like Twinkie slippers and Campbell’s Soup steering wheel covers, you can license your content, books, course material to other creators who would rather not make the stuff themselves. You can structure these deals a dozen different ways (take a percentage of sales, sell the rights once, control distribution to different geographic areas, etc). Licensing is a great way to re-purpose your work.
- Affiliate programs — No, not selling someone else’s stuff, but you creating affiliates to sell your own stuff. There are many platforms and services that will manage all this for you. You create the marketing material and determine the affiliate payout per sale. Sometimes it’s worth giving 100% commissions on a low-ticket product if it means you can add that new customer to your email list for later, more-expensive offers.
- Foreign rights — Sell you work to entrepreneurs in other countries for translation, in languages you do not speak. While this may not be a large portion of your income, the world doesn’t only speak English. Again, you can structure these deals in multiple ways.
- Invest in dividend-paying mutual funds — I know this has nothing to do with writing directly, but it’s important you money doesn’t ever stop working for you. When you invest money you made from alchemy you multiply your income even more. Take a big chunk of your creative income each month and build truly-passive income by growing a nest egg through boring investments. Let it grow. Reinvest the dividends. Leave it alone. Have automatic deposits made each month, straight from your account, so you can’t screw it up by putting it off until tomorrow, like you do with the heat bill.
- Invest in your own education every month — Use some of your business income to buy courses, books, consulting etc. from those who came before you. We don’t create alchemy in a vacuum. If you want to serve your clients on a deeper level for a long time, you got to put a steady stream of the ‘good stuff’ in. And this isn’t a pitch for you to buy my stuff. This is a rallying cry for your own education as a creative person. We all get stale over time if we don’t constantly put new, great knowledge in the soup kettle.
No matter what, start an email list
I cannot tell you how many clients email me, trying to scramble to promote a product they already made, but don’t have a way to tell the others.
Email is the hands-down, best sales vehicle for writers and creators who want to scale their one-person empire.
When you’re ready to start your email list I’ve got something for you…
I built a free email masterclass for you . I hand-crafted the whole thing, by hand… with my hands. It took me a couple months to build the first version (many revisions since). I call this masterclass the Tribe 1K.
Now is a great time to start (or grow) your email list.
I’ll show you how to get your first 1,000 (or your next 1,000) readers without spending a hot nickel on ads. Past Tribe 1K students include New York Times bestselling authors (yep, the ones you see in the bookstore), high-caliber university professors, attorneys, doctors, scientists, artists… and regular folks too — just like you and me.
Your email list will help you build freedom through your creative work.
If you want to grow your creative business you need email before you lose that valuable reader’s attention. A social media account isn’t enough. Start your list before you need one. Once you need a list it’s almost too late.
Guarantee your seat before I start to charge an enrollment fee.
We’re waiting for you.
My Tribe 1K Email Masterclass is a $97 value (with all the templates and checklists included) and it’s all yours here.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed email marketing expert for writers and creators, August helps indie writers and creators gain freedom through their best work. The core of August’s process is your email list . When he’s not writing or thinking about writing, August hangs-out with his beautiful wife and handsome son, carries a pocket knife, and shaves his head with a safety razor.