In this report, I want to tell you how I turned my Passion for filmmaking (and ZERO marketing experience) into thousands of dollars a month in Passive Income. It allowed me to take control of my finances and even upgrade from my trusty 2001 Honda Accord to my awesome 306 Horsepower 2015 Lexus IS 350F. (I’m not really into “stuff” but I always wanted a nicer car. You know, why not?)
I want to show you how to do the same thing. Because you don’t need any special talents or years of training to do it!
A quick history: Back in 2010, I was unemployed and living in the desert outside of Los Angeles. I was 32 years old with a college degree and no clue what I was doing with my life. Then I heard about Internet Marketing. And I learned I could determine my own level of income using my own knowledge, experience, and passion.
Newbie Pitfall: Chasing Niches & Chasing Riches
Now this is where my training and approach differs from a lot of other people. Humanity has a seemingly unlimited number of problems. It’s kind of our thing. And that means there are a literally millions of problems you can solve and make a business out of it.
The CW (Conventional Wisdom) in Marketing is this: find a market or “niche” where people desperately need a solution and sell it to them. That’s why weight loss has always been so profitable. People are DESPERATE to lose weight and they will try all sorts of weird stuff to do it (or to do it without exercise).
One of the “rules” put forth by a lot of gurus is to only work in a ‘money niche’. And this leads to a lot of people chasing money, which doesn’t work. I know.
My first year I took a ton of courses on Internet Marketing. I set up a bunch of websites on everything from California Car Insurance rates to Forex Trading to Interracial Dating to T Shirt Design. All the time hoping to make money from AdSense clicks, Affiliate Sales, or CPA offers.
And you know what? I didn’t make very much money.
I was also exhausted from the process of setting up all these sites and pursuing any opportunity I saw that seemed like it could make me some money. I was like a dog chasing my tail.
All the while I was chasing “money” niches, I started blogging about a topic I am truly passionate about: filmmaking. And wouldn’t you know it, but my filmmaking site (called Film School Secrets) started getting real traffic from real people, interested in getting my advice. My helpful articles and practical insights on shooting video and networking started creating a buzz.
The Art & Business of Passive Income
Fortunately, I found my way to some courses on Information Marketing, and it completely rocked my world. I learned how to take my Passion, Experience, and Insights and package them into an e-course, which I also called “Film School Secrets”. It took me about 6 months of trial and error to find my “sweet” spot, but my final website looked like this:
And once I found the right balance of helpful information and salesmanship, I started making sales and reaching people with my message from all over the world. It was amazing to get emails from students in places like Norway and Korea, places I had never been, who were telling me what a difference my course was making in their lives. And it felt great to be making money doing it!
My first check from Clickbank was for $116. It was the best $116 I’d ever earned, because I’d created it out of nothing from something I cared about.
Over the next year, I started making more and more sales, and my Clickbank account looked like this:
Now, I wasn’t making $100,000 a month. It was about $1,000 a month for the first year, with the site only up for about 9 months a year. I was receiving regular emails like this:
I’d always seen business as something soulless or boring. But here I was earning income and helping people — it was a far cry from what I’d initially thought of when I heard about “making money online”. And I was doing it in a niche, or market, that is by no means a “money niche”.
Can You REALLY Monetize a Passion?
One of the biggest problems with conventional IM training is the excessive focus on “profit” niches. In fact, that’s a huge selling point for some courses: “Don’t WASTE your time and money on unprofitable niches!”
Choosing the wrong niche IS a problem if you have absolutely nothing original to say. So many people are looking for lazy, “done for you” solutions that yes, if you start promoting PLR or re-spun content you might make no money at all. This is part of the reason why I never made any money with my blogs on car insurance or Forex Trading. I had nothing exciting or original to say, and no personal experience or passion!
My niche, filmmaking, looks like an IM nightmare at first glance.
- First off, there are literally THOUSANDS of FREE videos on Youtube about filmmaking.
- One of my fellow bloggers gets 250,000 visitors a month giving away free advice on film production (nofilmschool.com)
- My colleagues who run blogs that get 300-600 visitors a day warned me that most filmmakers are just moochers who want free advice. One had a list of 10,000 people that he was never able to really monetize.
- The most profitable keywords in my niche were “film school”; people looking to pay $30,000 a year for a Bachelor’s degree
- To top it off, I am not a famous filmmaker!
So I basically was set up with the expectations that I was in a sucky niche where the only people making money are accredited educational institutions or people selling ads on sites with a quarter million visitors a month, and who the hell am I to create a course when I haven’t won an Oscar or even distributed my own film yet?
But the fact is I have 17 years of experience in filmmaking, and I didn’t realize the wealth of valuable information that experience was for a newcomer until I sat down and really thought about it.
Even today, though I have retired the course and moved on to a higher priced offering, I still get emails from people looking for the course.
I direct them to my new offering, and have actually begun using my old course and blog as lead generation for the higher priced product.
Something funny, literally the day that I took down all my payment links to start promoting my new course, someone somehow found a link I had missed and got in. I still don’t know where the heck they found the payment link!
Monetize, Don’t Follow, Your Passion
Mike Row, of the TV Show “Dirty Jobs”, went on a diatribe against the whole “follow your passion thing”. And he said, “Do we really need Lady GaGa telling our kids that happiness and success can be theirs if only they follow their passion?” (I respect Mike – he has a nuanced take on things, but I need to address this).
What he’s speaking to is ungrounded, aimless rah rah “follow your bliss thinking”. You love to draw, so you draw and hope it will somehow lead to a paycheck. Not likely.
I do understand what he means — the same problem is prevalent in the world of “make money blogging”. Many courses and teachers tell their students to just “blog about your passion and the money will come”.
Nope. That’s not what I’m talking about.
The main reason my product was successful is because I learned how to market it. That’s all. And marketing is quite straightforward – you can plug nearly any product, passion, or service into the principles of marketing and achieve at least some level of success.
$1,000 Real Dollars vs. $1,000,000 Fantasy Dollars
Passive Income is possible, and it is possible to make a LOT of money by packaging your knowledge, expertise, and passion into a product.
The problem with a lot of Internet Marketing courses is that they flash huge checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars in your face and get you really excited about the fantasy of making passive income online. I’ve even taken some of these courses, with outrageous claims and ridiculous names like:
I made this one up, but I’m sure you’ve seen similar courses and similar products. And they are, across the board, full of crap. I know, because I’ve fallen for their slick advertisements and outrageous promises too.
The reality is, an online business is still a business: you need to provide value to your customers. And it takes time, and effort. I know that isn’t as sexy as telling you that you can make money in your sleep or just hook up a push button software and automatically generate money magnet websites.
But this is the truth. So the question is: would you chase the fantasy of making $1,000,000 without any work… or learn how to make a real $1,000+ a month and build up from there? If so, read on.
The Passion Profit Process
Learning to set up your own Passion Product and make sales is a learnable and repeatable process. The amazing thing is, you don’t need to have professional accreditation or training to help other people out in their lives. And you don’t need any technical skills to set up your own website and create your own electronic information product.
Step 1: Brainstorming
The first step is Brainstorming… or Heartstorming as I like to call it. This is a lot of fun, it’s when you look inside yourself and see what it is that you are passionate about. You can also explore other Passion Products that other people are profiting from, and this will accelerate and stimulate your creative process.
You also need to fully grasp the entire process, like charting out a route on your GPS before taking a trip. Many newcomers get lost or fail to complete their products because they don’t have a clear vision of the whole picture before starting out.
Step 2: Research
The next step in the process is Research. Basically, you need to understand what people are looking for in terms of answers to their questions and problems, as it relates to your Passion topic. With the right approach, you can find the right way to position your message and your product to your potential customers.
There are some passions, like collecting Japanese Beetle Sperm, that really may have nobody else with a shared interest. You don’t necessarily need to find out if people are spending $100 million a year, you just need to see if other people share the passion, and are searching for guidance on it.
Research is an art and a science, but the great thing is that it’s totally doable for the average person to do insightful, intelligent research in 2015. Even back in the 1990s, there was no way in the world to have any clue what people were looking for and seeking in their hearts and minds. To conduct research you’d need a major firm doing live surveys and a huge budget of at least six or seven figures. Now, tools like the Google Keyword Planner offers anyone instant access to millions of pieces of search data for free.
There are also other tools available like Traffic Travis and Market Samurai, and Long Tail Pro. I explain them in more depth in the Resources Section.
Step 3: Site Setup
The next Step is actually setting up your website. 10 years ago this was an involved, complicated process involving coding and hypertext markup languages… but today you can set up a good looking website without any tech expertise. You can actually have your own website up in under an hour once you learn the process!
The two best options are either your own WordPress Self Hosted Blog (you can learn how to set up one up here) — or using a Site Builder. I prefer WordPress (and it’s what this site is built on). It allows for a lot more customization. And the Templates, dear God. Templates basically mean that good designers and programmers make a functional website available to you with the click of a button (this website is a great example. I don’t know anything about programming, I just plugged in my ideas into this great “Jarida” them). You can learn more about WordPress blogs here.
But Site Builders are good too — my favorite is Wix. (They did an ad during the Super Bowl with Brett Favre). I like them because they have a pretty easy to use interface and their templates are actually really great looking in HTML 5.
Step 4: Product Creation
Next is Product Creation. This is when you actually put together your own ebook or ecourse with your own personal and creative message. This includes the cover art and design of the site and the product. Once again, you don’t need to be a professional designer or marketer to do this, you can hire people to help you out at a very reasonable rate.
But here’s where your Passion gives you a leg up. If you’ve bought stuff online before, you know about PLR. That stands for Private Label Rights, or pre-made products you can buy and re-sell as your own. These products are all over the place, along with re-spun articles, outsourced blogs, and so forth.
People are lazy when it comes to creating content. Everyone wants a done for you solution. So, whatever your niche is, I bet you there are already a bunch of PLR products out there with glitzy sales letters and thin content.
The key to great product creation is pretty simple: make a great product! Put the effort into actually helping people solve their problems using your experience and insights and your personal touch.
Another key is to have a unique voice and position. Again, there is so much bland, regurgitated content out there that just saying something different will get people’s attention.
In my case, I took a very strong position that film school is a waste of time and how young filmmakers should learn about film as a business first, instead of spending a lot of money on classes. I got very specific and was pretty relentless. My position was controversial within my niche and got a lot of attention.
(Note: It is possible to make a profitable website selling affiliate products. That means you simply recommend products other people have created and take a commission. It’s not bad at all, especially if you find products you really believe in — but you lose a lot of the power of having your own product, one of which has to do with traffic and ownership, as mentioned below).
Step 5: Selling/Sharing
Then, you need to Sell your product. THIS IS THE KEY. The word “Sell” can have some bad connotations; I prefer to think of it as “Sharing”. Really, selling is just powerfully sharing and communicating the value of your product to other people, so they can really see how it will help them and improve their lives. You don’t have to learn many “sales tricks” if you have created a quality product you put your time and care into.
Selling goes hand in hand with product creation: you want to make sure that your product delivers on your sales message. But it’s helpful if your sales message also has a unique voice and position.
In my case, I was shocked to discover that the no BS, in your face, film school is a waste of money and here’s what to do instead approach really helped make sales. When I started out, my initial website was just very positive “you don’t need film school, here’s a greater, cheaper option!” I didn’t make that many sales. But then one day I got really frustrated and wrote a blog post called “Are You Ready to Be the Next $100,000 Joke?”
I remember thinking to myself “oh boy, this isn’t going to help at all” but it was how I truly felt.
I even said people who paid all that money to use such inexpensive equipment were “stupid”! The graphic above was pretty in your face as well. The next thing I knew, I started getting more sales. It really got people’s attention and made them clear about the major problem with film schools and how I could provide them with a solution.
I’m not saying to insult your visitors, but don’t be afraid to be real. People like it when they can tell you are being authentic and genuine.
Clearly the “no BS” is my thing — but I’ve seen people who are gentle, sweet, enthusiastic, and many other grades of their own real personality leverage that into winning over readers into fans and customers.
Step 6: Organic Traffic
Once your site and your product are ready to go, you need traffic in order to make money. This is where many newcomers hit a brick wall. The beauty of creating your own Product is that, as mentioned above, you can attract Affiliates to send you free traffic. You pay for that traffic by giving your affiliates a commission; but you only pay when they make a sale. It’s a wonderful way to get a stream of visitors to your site.
There are ways to attract more affiliates and ensure that the traffic they send to you is sufficiently “pre-sold”, to increase the chances of that Affiliate traffic of converting.
Beyond that, having a real website with real content gives you the opportunity to get additional organic traffic through Google and other search engines. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of adjusting your website to make your pages appear higher in Google’s search results. This is where a lot of newcomers get really screwed up.
There are a lot of companies and courses promising “Secrets” to ranking on Google. Many Internet Marketers are still advocating artificial ways of “tricking” Google, through link building schemes and other methods. But Google is constantly upgrading their search algorithm; every time this happens, sites that were built on these “get ranked quick” methods fall off the search results and lose a lot of their traffic.
Going back to Steps 2 and 3 — research and site setup. If you find the words people are searching for in Google and create unique and helpful content answering their questions, this is better than what an SEO Agency will charge you for.
But the truth is this: Google is run by smart people, and you won’t outsmart them. The best thing is to work with Google by creating quality content based on your Passion.
Step 7: Paid Traffic
A “diversified portfolio” in the Stock Market is a smart investment. You put your money in a lot of different places to protect it. It’s wise to have the same approach with traffic; you want “traffic diversity”, or traffic from different sources. You want Affiliate Traffic, and Search Engine Traffic, and Social Media Traffic. You never want to rely on just one source of traffic.
You also want to pay for traffic. Paid traffic is great because it is INSTANT. If you put aside even as little as $5-$10 a day you can ensure that your website gets visitors and isn’t sitting completely abandoned on the web.
The source I recommend for newcomers is Youtube. It’s a place where you can still get very cheap clicks (as low as $.03 to %.05) for very targeted traffic.
Step 8: Tracking
The final step is something absent from most newbie training: tracking. Tracking is essential to any business. You need to understand what is happening on your website and with your traffic; if your visitors are buying your product, how frequently, and from which sources.
The big secret to success in Internet Marketing, even with a Passion Product, is testing, testing, and more testing. Even multi million dollar marketers aren’t infallible; they are just really good at testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Tools like Google Analytics and Conversion tracking help you get a 3d picture of how your visitors are engaging with your site, what’s working and what isn’t, so you can make adjustments that increase your sales and satisfy your visitors.
So what are you passionate about? What can you teach someone else based on your own personal experience that will help them? Connect with that, and you are on your way to making money from something you care about.
You don’t have to be an experienced teacher or salesman. You just have to be willing to speak and guide people about the topic you happen to be passionate about. And from my experience, if you love doing something, the next best thing is helping someone else do it too.
Being an Affiliate Vs. Being a Vendor
Most courses on making money online for beginners focus on Affiliate Marketing. It seems like the easiest way to start out. Take Clickbank, for example. You sign up for a free account and suddenly you are able to promote hundreds of other people’s products. If someone clicks on your Affiliate link and buys, you make money!
It seems to be the ultimate sales opportunity. High commissions and no financial investment required. The problem is, like anything that seems too good to be true, it often is. Many newcomers pimp out their affiliate links like crazy only to make zero sales.
Conventional Wisdom tells you to go out and find a hot product and begin promoting it; but if a product is that hot, it means that there are literally hundreds or maybe even thousands of other affiliates promoting the same product. And that means you have COMPETITION as a salesperson.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is possible to make money promoting other people’s products. But it isn’t as simple as just setting up a web page and telling people to “go buy” it! People need to trust you and listen to you if they are going to take your advice and actually buy something.
And at the end of the day, you are still doing a ton of work to send someone else free traffic and promote their product.
Starting Out as a Vendor
Now consider starting out as a Vendor, promoting your own product. You are suddenly on the flip side of the equation. It’s like going into the Dance Club through the back entrance and entering the VIP lounge.
You are an authority because you have literally authored your own product, regardless of the topic. It instantly accelerates your potential to make money and to reach people with your message.
The biggest problem most newcomers have is getting TRAFFIC to their site. But when you create an Information Product as a Vendor, suddenly you have an army of affiliates trying to send YOU free traffic.
It’s pretty great. Instead of you spending your time and energy promoting someone else’s product, other people are now doing that to promote your product. Right off the bat, you have a FREE TRAFFIC source that few newcomers ever know about.
Passion As a Sustainable Energy Source & Sales Tool
As mentioned above, creating your own product immediately puts you in an Authority Position, versus trying to sell someone else’s product. It creates a flow of traffic of Affiliates promoting your product.
But here’s something else of vital importance: in order to sustain your online product as a real business, you need to be consistent. You need to keep working at it, to promote it and make it the best it can be.
And, I’ll tell you from my own experience, it’s hard to follow through on a project if you don’t have passion for it. I also personally found it hard to promote other people’s products unless I had personally used them and found they made a difference in my life.
Your experience and Passion for whatever expertise, advice, or solution you are providing to people will shine through; and Authenticity is the best sales tool in existence.
Profiting from Modest Traffic
How much traffic do you need to make a Profit?
The answer should be: not that much.
At its peak, Film School Secrets got between 100-200 visitors a day. (Since I’ve retired the course, I have less traffic because Affiliates no longer send me free visitors). Even at 3,000 to 4,000 visitors a month, this is still considered a “low traffic” site on the internet.
But I was still making over $1,000 a month without a deluge of traffic.
I’ve heard of people getting 1,000 to 10,000 visitors a day to their sites… and making almost no money. A Good business should not require 1,000s of visitors every day for you to make money. The beauty of having a quality Passion product is that every visitor has the potential to turn into a client, and every sale should make you a decent amount of money.
Part of this is simple math: if you run a website promoting someone else’s product, only a percentage of the people will click your links to check out their site. But every visitor coming to your product based site has a chance to hear your offer and decide to buy or not.
Then, when you do increase the volume of traffic your profit can increase.
But aiming to profit from a modest amount of traffic first is a much more realistic place to start, and it’s very doable, in a short amount of time.
YOU CAN DO IT!
The reason I mentioned having your own product and modest traffic, not needing to be a famous expert or a ton of degrees, is that I want you to see that this is doable. One thing I hate is when people equate entrepreneurship with Apple – like you can only express yourself in business if you are Steve Jobs, or have millions of dollars in startup capital, or if you’re goal is to have a multi billion dollar IPO. Not so.
I’m saying that even if you don’t have any previous technical knowledge, you’ve never built a website, you have no sales experience, and you’ve never been a contestant on “Survivor” you can still create your own passive profitable product.
In Depth Instruction – The Problems & Solution
Okay, but how? I struggled with this question back in 2010 and had to piece together the answer from over 25 difference courses and trainings. One thing I’ve found is that you’ve got two schools of training.
1. Make Money Online Offers that only focus on the money, sales, conversions but have no soul and often don’t actually teach people a sustainable business model
2. Positive Blogging Courses – Well meaning courses on setting up and monetizing a blog that provide a ton of inspiration and soul, but very little guidance when it comes to monetization or traffic generation. These courses tend to just teach you to: write something great, and you’ll get traffic to your blog. Which isn’t how it works.
This inspired me to create my own course called “Passion Product Profit”. It contains more than 15 Hours of In Depth Lessons — covering everything from brainstorming and research to building your blog/website, making your first information product, and how to sell it without selling. It’s all explained in down to earth language that’s fun to learn!
To learn more about the course and exactly what you’ll get, click here.
And feel free to check out the site, and sign up for my newsletter, for more great tips on how to make money in unconventional ways and live a life of your own creation!