The holy grail of passive income

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cholesterol coverPassive income really is the Holy Grail of many small business owners. Why? Because it’s money you make without trying. Well, not really: you have to try initially, but once you’ve got your passive income stream going, it carries on flowing, whatever else you might be doing.

What is passive income?

Put simply, passive income is money you earn without doing anything for that particular chunk of money. Confused? Let’s look at some examples.

You write a book and sell it through a bookshop or online as an e-book. People can buy it whenever and there is no demand on your time and effort once you’ve produced it and got it ready for sale.

You set up a referral link to Amazon on your website so that every time someone clicks through and buys something from Amazon, you get a percentage back.

You accept advertising on your website. You say OK to requests to place adverts (this is different from having a free blogging or website service that has adverts applied to it unless you pay the provider not to do that) and make the requisite part of your website available: someone else pays you a regular or one-off fee to host that advert.

Get the idea?

How do you start earning passive income?

Most people will do something connected with what they’re doing already. Here are some examples drawn from Libro clients and people who’ve taken part in my small business chat feature:

  • An author has created e-books and downloadables on how to publish an e-book, based on her experience publishing her first book
  • A hypnotherapist has created CDs of hypnotherapy sessions which people can buy online
  • A business advisor has franchised her business, so people pay her to run a similar business under the same brand name

You can see that in all of these cases it’s not magic, effortless income: you have to put some kind of effort in first, be it negotiating with an advertiser or creating a resource or franchising model. But once it’s done, all of these people can get on with their every day life, knowing that their efforts will be bringing in income.

How am I developing a passive income stream?

For my normal run of income, I do some work, whether it’s transcription, editing or proofreading, I charge my client for either the hours I spend or the minutes I transcribe or the words I edit, and I can’t do any other similar work at the same time. One piece of work for one client, one chunk of income at a time.  That’s fine, but will only go to a certain point. So I have developed a couple of streams of passive income, and while they’re only trickles at the moment, I hope to expand at least one of them in the future.

  1. Referral fees. Having checked out their services and assured myself that they do a good job, I recommend self-publishing authors to use a print-on-demand publisher I know (this saves the authors having to pay upfront for millions of boxes of printed books that they have to sell themselves or, hopefully, getting ripped off). I am very clear when I recommend that I will be getting a small referral fee for this – so I’m not duping anyone into going for a service only because I will benefit. I haven’t made much out of this so far, but it’s there and something is better than nothing!
  2. E-books. I published my first e-book, How I Conquered Cholesterol, a few months ago. It’s selling small numbers steadily – OK, about 20 per month so far. It’s made me around £40 in royalties so far – again, not much, but not nothing. It took me a few hours to write, so I haven’t made back my initial investment in terms of those hours being worth money if I’d “sold” them to other projects – but I did this in down time, I didn’t cancel any bookings to do so, and most importantly, I learned all about publishing e-books on Amazon from the process, which helps me understand what some of my clients need to go through.

For the future, I’m planning another e-book based on this Libro Full Time blog, detailing how I went full time and what it was like. This actually fits better with the rest of my activities than the cholesterol one, and I’ve certainly got more contacts and friends in the small business world than the heart health one, so I’m hoping that one might do a bit better.

Remember to record your passive income in your accounts

Passive income doesn’t come from an invoice. That doesn’t mean that you can leave it off your accounts sheets, not pay tax on it or not record it at all! Here’s what I do …

  • I keep paperwork for any passive income that comes in. Amazon sends me a statement when they send my royalties. These come straight into the bank account I registered with them. The publisher, at my request, sends me a statement of which people came to him and how much I am making for each, then transfers the money into my bank account.
  • I have a section on my accounts sheet for passive income, so that tots up and makes up part of my turnover and thus profit – and it can then be easily recorded in my bank reconciliation, too.

Have you tried getting a passive income stream going? What have you tried and how has it gone?

Book reviews – Millenium Hall, Virtual History and Cotter’s England, and two Thalia novels

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At last we are on to the November reads, although having started off with a quite challenging one in intellectual terms, and a quite challenging one in terms of it being rather slow going, I fear I’m not going to finish many this month (see my note at the end on that point)!

Sarah Scott – “Millenium Hall”

(26 January 2012)

A Virago find from my Stratford Haul, this is an unusual book, published in 1762, and the kind of read I haven’t experienced since my University days. It’s a rather amazing Utopian fantasy which follows a novelistic convention of the time by presenting a framed narrative consisting of a series of biographical and “improving” vignettes, but with the first wave feminist aim of presenting a society of women who have eschewed marriage and the patriarchy to live in a community and do good deeds. All is practical and explained in detail, although some of the biographies resemble the gothic / sensationalist literature with their horrible stepmothers and reunited family members. Not the easiest of reads, but valuable and worthwhile and altogether fascinating.

Kaggsy from Kaggsysbookishramblings has done a far more detailed review here.

Niall Ferguson (ed.) – “Virtual History”

(26 January 2012)

Although this was subtitled “Alternatives and Counterfactuals”, there weren’t as many stories as I had hoped and expected. It was mostly a reiteration / exploration of the historical backgrounds to various “turning points” in history, with some treatment of what else could have happened. A bit dry, for the most part. The most fun and storylike section was in the editor’s epilogue, which cleverly drew together the strands of the individual essays to produce more of what I had expected throughout – a flight of fantasy grounded in historical possibility. Unfortunately, by this point I was flagging (going to the gym in order to force myself through more of the book while enjoying a cycle on a machine!), especially as I’d been reading it on and off since August!

Christina Stead – “Cotter’s England” (D.N.F.)

(26 January 2012)

A Virago on which I fell gleefully on my charity shop trip in Stratford. It’s about the 1930s, the working class, the Labour movement … but yet the prose is somehow dense and treacly, I found the characters confusing and kept having to check back, and looking through and reading the introduction did nothing to persuade me that I would find it any easier going if I persisted. So I didn’t.

Larry McMurtry – “When the Light Goes” and “Rhino Ranch”

(27 March and 17 March 2012)

At last, the fourth and fifth in the Thalia “trilogy”. I will read anything (non gruesome cowboy) this man writes, and these, although melancholy, valedictory and in one case more than a bit rude, these do round things up in Thalia in a satisfying way. McMurtry charts the changes in the South-West, where cowboys are dying out and new people come in to run old businesses, but some things – sex, depression, friendship – remain constant.

“When the Light Goes” is short, almost perfunctory in getting the story going along, and is the more dark of the two. Duane gets back from a trip and has apparently become irresistible to younger women. Then again, if you look around Thalia, he’s probably the only man in town who’s clean, reasonably sane, solvent and not missing any body parts. We lost some more main characters, time passes and we become sad.

In “Rhino Ranch”, Thalia and the series are enlivened by the arrival of a rich woman from the north who establishes a Black Rhino sanctuary, with amusing consequences. One rhino takes a shine to Duane and this is quite poignant – the last of their species, wandering through Texas. Although the inevitable does happen (you can check this if you flick to the end, as I had to, having spent significant amounts of time with Duane over the years), but it’s done well and not unbearably, with hope for the future, too. This one is not actually as sad as “When the Light Goes”.

These two have been criticised in reviews for being a bit rude and sketchy, but McMurtry does cover all aspects of life, for the young and older, in his books, and I don’t see anything wrong with them. I am glad I’ve followed Duane through his life, and will miss Thalia, although I’m sure it will crop up in other works by McMurtry.

———–

I feel like I really haven’t read much recently. The problem actually is that I haven’t finished much: I’m still reading, and very much enjoying, a biography of Michael Foot, Hardy’s “The Laodician” and a Michael Muhammad Knight book about travelling around the Islamic world. I just haven’t finished them yet!

E-book news

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cholesterol coverMy e-book is doing well and selling solidly and regularly – I’m so pleased that it’s helping people! I could do with a few more reviews, of course, so if you have bought or do buy it, please consider placing a review on the relevant Amazon website.

After some chat on Twitter a little while ago, I sent the cholesterol charity, HEART UK a review copy to see what they thought of the book. I am delighted to say that I’ve received the following lovely quote from their dietician, which I have their permission to add to my e-book and mention on this blog:

From HEART UK’s dietician, Linda Main: “Liz provides some practical common-sense ideas and advice which she has tried and tested to lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Her results demonstrate how a healthy balanced diet, low in saturated fat and high in wholegrain, fruits and vegetables and containing some cholesterol busting foods such as oats and nuts can be a central part of achieving this.”

Hopefully this will reassure my readers and potential buyers of the e-book that I know what I’m talking about and am giving sensible advice – please do click on the links and have a look at the great resources HEART UK have on offer for those suffering with high cholesterol.  Thank you to the charity for their kind words!

Note: you can buy my e-book all about reducing your cholesterol naturally by visiting these links:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com (note the review on there refers to the first edition: it is now fully updated for the US audience!)

Amazon.fr

Amazon.de

Amazon.it

Amazon.co.jp

Book reviews – Green Grass of Wyoming, The Bolter, Duane’s Depressed and Meet Me In Mozambique

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The last of my October reads – I really didn’t read much in October! I’m not sure why – I have had some busy work weeks but had some quiet ones in October, too. I know I got on with some quite big books, and I caught up with my Mag Lag too … Anyway, here are three reads and one DNF …

Mary O’Hara – “Green Grass of Wyoming”

(1980s)

Ken is 16 now and his brother Howard is off to West Point. Ranch finances have improved thanks to the sheep and cattle, and Nell has her extension and furnace, but the prize bull is terrifying and Nell s having horrible premonitions and feels ill. Thunderhead has got out of the secret valley and is stealing mares to set up a new herd, and when he comes across a prize racehorse filly, Ken gets to meet her owner, Carey, and it’s love at first sight. But Carey has an overbearing grandmother, Jewel can’t be found, and Ken and Howard find themselves squaring up as rivals. The romance, which I loved during my teenage reads of this book, seems a bit rushed and naive now, but Nell’s struggles are heartbreaking. I could go on and on reading about this family and their horses, but this is the last one … Really glad I have re-read them all over the past few months, though.

I seem to have last read this along with the others in the series in July 2000 (interestingly close to my readings of the Larry McMurtry Thalia series): here’s my review from then:

“The characters from the previous books, people and horses, grow up and face more challenges. More overtly Christian than the earlier books, and with a new love interest, but still the same excellent, spellbinding stories and characters.”

Frances Osborne – “The Bolter”

(26 January 2012)

Another from my great Stratford charity shop haul, and a Virago, too.

The story of the author’s naughty great-grandmother, by what I realised is Tory Chancellor, George Osborne’s wife (sorry – that put me off a bit!). All the tales of wild goings-on were competently enough told with the right amount of detail, but the fact remains that it’s all pretty sordid, and while it’s obviously good to be a strong woman in charge of your destiny, it’s all a bit shallow and nasty, and Idina actually comes across as pretty weak and needy, but all sympathy is geared towards Idina and her awful behaviour. You can’t help remembering, too, that behaviour condoned in the very rich is castigated in the poorer levels of society …

Larry McMurtry – “Duane’s Depressed”

(11 April 2000)

Third in the original Thalia trilogy, being re-read before I get to books 4 and 5, purchased recently, and more wonderful realistic McMurtry. Duane gives up his pick-up truck and starts walking everywhere, for no apparent reason, then living in a shack on his property. There is lots of satisfying detail about how he arranges things, but the local community and his family proclaim his depression. There is a general improvement in the family, however, as everyone pulls their socks up, although golden boy, Sonny, from The Last Picture Show is actually in more of a decline. A great description of psychoanalysis and – separately – the redeeming quality of gardening. McMurtry pulls a shocker with one beloved main character, but it’s mainly great to be back wallowing in the world of Thalia.

This is the one out of the three that I’d only read once, and I didn’t remember much of it at all. Oddly, I don’t seem to have recorded a review of my first read, even though I mention it in a review of “The Last Picture Show” in 2000.

E. A. Markham – “Meet me in Mozambique”

(29 September 2012)

I wanted to like this, especially as I had found the other two books in the trilogy in January via BookCrossing and bought this second hand so I had the first one, and it is about returning Caribbean immigrants, which is right up my street, but I just could not engage with it for some reason, and gave up.

What the well-dressed homeworker is wearing 7 – Friday

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It’s the end of my week of well-dressed homeworker posts. I’ve had great fun writing these – hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! I’ve also thought quite a lot about image, clothes, dressing up, etc. And I’ve learned a few things along the way, too!

And I WAS established in 1972 myself!

First off, today’s outfit … I started off the day in pajamas and fleece for a pre-breakfast transcribing session, transferred to yoga kit for the breakfast-to-yoga period, then moved up to my slightly-less-than-shabby set of comfy clothes I bought to homework in back when I started doing this one day a week.

The lining is so fleecy-warm, though …

No Horror Pinks for me this week … but here’s a photo of them anyway!

What are you wearing today? What’s your most disreputable homeworking outfit?

What have we talked about?

On Saturday I introduced the series and shared what I was wearing.

On Sunday I got inspired and started to plan the week’s posts

On Monday I shared my levels of clothing depending on context, and everyone else talked about this like mad!

On Tuesday I talked about my transition from office suits to home office tracksuits, and asked you about your journeys …

On Wednesday I explored with you whether we’re hired for our appearance or our brains. Does it matter what we look like? And I shared a pic of myself “au naturel”.

On Thursday I asked what you wore when you got out of the house to networking events, etc., and realised I had a uniform for that, too!

… and today I’m rounding things off and seeing what I can draw from the whole process!

Which has been your favourite post?

And what have I learned?

I am really comfy living the way I live and dressing the way I dress, and I’m comfortable with that, too.

We all get cold and we should all wear more wool, silk and thermal undies.

We all have pyjama days if we can get away with them.

What’s all this “getting away with it” mentality anyway – we’re not hired for our looks, we’re hired for our brains!

Most of us like it best this way.

We are still able to get out of the house, dressed in a conventional / tidy / decent manner that sometimes doesn’t even involve any fleece!

Have you learned anything from reading these posts and comments?

And finally, a small gallery …

Tony from Alago Tony from Alago was sporting a nifty Darth Vader Tshirt on Tuesday … and we found out that lots of us are happy in our Tshirts and hoodies and fleeces.

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Matthew aka HistoryNeedsYou relaxing at home …

Matthew aka HistoryNeedsYou likes to relax at home in something comfy. Or maybe this is what keeping standards up is all about!

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Liz from Kidsontalks

Liz from KidsonTalks sports a kimono for homeworking, and says it gives her lots of options for layers.

Sloves!

And here are the famous SLOVES! How exciting! My friend Sian’s Mum made them for her. She (Sian, not her mum) popped round for a cuppa yesterday and posed for a photo in the sitting room. I’m glad I got them in! Any knitters out there like to be commissioned to make me some?

You can keep up with this series by clicking on the category “clothing” to the right. And do share / comment / both – I want this to be about us, not me!

What the well-dressed homeworker is wearing 6 – Thursday

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I Can Haz Accessories!

Welcome to Day 6 of my week of posts on the well-dressed homeworker. We’ve talked about all sorts of things this week and I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments and hearing what you’ve got to say – thanks for taking part (and if you’re coming to this later on, please do still have your say!).

Today I want to talk about what we wear when we do get out of the house. The main thing I do out of the house is networking. Well, networking might be a fancy word for it: I’m quite well established now and not always out touting for new business, but I like to get out and about, chat with my peers, exchange ideas and find out how everyone’s doing. I also love putting people together who could help each other. So, yes, networking.

What do you wear when you’re out and about on business?

For networking, I seem to have developed a bit of a uniform: skirt or trousers (usually my trusty black-jeans-that-don’t-look-like-trousers), a jersey top, and a cardigan. You can see from the top picture that sometimes I even manage accessories: there I’ve managed a brooch, a ring and a watch! Wow!

A skirt!

Sometimes I even manage a skirt. Actually, even I, devotee of hoodies and fleece, like to get a bit dressed up now and then, and I do have some lovely things in my wardrobe which aren’t really that suitable for my everyday activities of sitting at my desk or going to the gym. I love my bright skirts from H&M and don’t really care that the A-line knee-length skirt is out of fashion. I have also admitted in the past that the Social Media Cafe, run by the always exquisitely groomed Karen (see  her link to her lovely nails in the comments on Monday’s post) is the only thing that makes me pluck my eyebrows and makes sure I can still get earrings in.

Bags!

I look quite the businesswoman here, don’t I, with all my bags! But I’ve still got my trusty DM shoes on …

But looking through the photos from the Cafe (all taken by the lovely Adam Yosef from Punk Zebra – if you ever need fab photos of yourself, go to him) I do notice a horrible reliance on a few cardigans that crop up time and time again. Do I need a new “capsule wardrobe” or is it not worth it for about 20 outings a year (I did do a presentation a while ago and really struggled to find something to wear to that. I was being a case study of someone who’d used social media for her marketing, I was among other small business people, and I could only find one outfit I thought was suitable.)

It’s tricky, because it’s not the suits of my formal office days, or the polyester trousers of my office girl days. I want to look a bit nicer, a bit more informal, maybe a tiny bit more up to date (although I’ve been ranting about the prevalence of smocks and puffed sleeves and detailing in current clothing for a couple of years now, none of them good for a short, high-waisted, small lady with broad shoulders!).

Do I need to go personal shopping or just trawl through TK Maxx? Has my trousers-cardi combo got stale? What should I do? What have you done in this situation? Would you like to take me shopping? Help!

And …

What are you wearing today?

Should I just stick with my homeworker uniform for all occasions? (Picture to come)

You can keep up with this series by clicking on the category “clothing” to the right. And do share / comment / both – I want this to be about us, not me!

What the well-dressed homeworker is wearing 5 – Wednesday

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Public image of Liz (courtesy of Adam Yosef)

Today I’m going to talk about something that’s always been close to my heart:

I’m hired for my work and my brain, not my looks

Yes, I’ve written that big.

I’ve always struggled with this corporate image thing, especially for women. Being expected to dress a certain way, to put on make-up, to look “right”. I’m not talking about my right to be dirty or unkempt here, but to not dress up in what sometimes feels, to me, like drag. And I’m not criticising people who like to dress smartly, and especially not those people who dress very individually and interestingly – I’m talking about me and my resentment of the fact that I have had to present myself in a certain way in order to engender respect.

I’m lucky: I’ve not had many times in my life when I’ve had to dress up in office, suity attire. I do make an effort when I go to networking events or to do a presentation, but now I can pretty well choose what I want to wear. But I can remember times at trade shows where I’ve been openly criticised for wearing a dress and jacket, not a suit – “SO unusual”, when it wasn’t.

I’ll openly admit that I’ve not had the courage to be different and stand out; I’ve always toed the line and slunk around in my suit and heels, trying to be invisible. I’m fairly introverted and quiet,  and I don’t really like to attract attention by my physical appearance. I do know businesswomen who have brightly coloured hair or unusual outfits and can manage to sail on past the criticism. I salute you!

Anyway, I’ve always maintained that it doesn’t matter what people look like, but what they ARE like. Again, no to smelly and unkempt, but yes to pretty much anything else. And working invisibly like I do, on the other end of a wire(less), behind an email address, means that people probably don’t know what I look like, and hopefully don’t care. They hire me for my mind and my abilities.

Of course, human nature being what it is, I have been advised to, for example, have a photo on my About Me page of my professional website. And I have got one. And I am lucky enough to know Adam Yosef, who takes jolly good photos of me, looking like me. Cardi and scarf, a bit of make-up because, yes, I have got brainwashed into the whole image thing, and frankly it does make me look more awake these days, and we do have to present something of an image to the outside world, still, but it’s me, I think. But I hope that my clients, and potential clients, have a look, OK, she’s a human, a woman, about whatever age I look to be … and then concentrate on hiring the mind inside the outer casing.

Private image of me – can this woman spell less well?

This is a bit unfocused, but it’s been interesting jotting my thoughts down. I know I’m the same person with the same gifts, mind and talents as when I was sitting at an office desk stuffed into a suit – but I’m a more comfortable and relaxed home for those gifts, mind and talents now.

You can keep up with this series by clicking on the category “clothing” to the right. And do share / comment / both – I want this to be about us, not me!

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