Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 2 - Status Report

OK, what have I done this week for my passive income stream... Not much, since this was my last week at work.

I was busy with competence transfer and I wanted to enjoy the last moments with my colleagues. I have worked for the same company for 13 years so it was a big thing for me to leave. I will surely miss my workmates.

But I still did do something in addition to reading Steve's blog posts and doing the exercises he gave.

I bought a domain and thought a bit about my budget.

My lovely husband/assistant/manager made a spreadsheet that contains our ideas and keywords.

I joined to SBI Affiliate Program and practiced using affiliate links in a proper context. In case you did not notice, my last blog post contained several affiliate links. And in case you did not notice, Steve's last blog post also contained affiliate links in a very effective context.

Steve says that he has helped thousands of people to find SBI. SBI Affiliate Program says that a people won earns you $75-$250. So 1000 people means... $75000-$250000. Not bad, huh?

In his Best Affiliate Programs article Allan Gardyne confesses that SBI is the biggest moneymaker for him. If you are interested in affiliate marketing, Allan's articles are a must-read. Before I started reading them I was not able to spot 80% of affiliate links at all. They are everywhere. And if they are presented properly, I am happy to click them.

I did not join to SBI Affiliate Program because others are making good money with it. I joined because I have already decided to take course. Becoming an affiliate is free and they have a massive amount of training material for their affiliates. But the best thing for me is that I am now able to see inside of one of the most successful affiliate marketing program. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw that they have over 100 landing pages to gain interest of different people. And they also have free downloadable material for different groups (which are probably an excellent read even if you would not be taking the course). Becoming an affiliate is a good way to gain easy access to all that material and learn how the best affiliate programs are built. I think that joining to SBI Affiliate Program was probably the smartest thing I did this week. You'll get yourself a head full of material for free.

I also joined to GoDaddy and BlueHost affiliate programs. No need to put my eggs in a single basket. I have also joined several other affiliate networks, but as I did that before I even started this project I'm not listing them now.

How are you guys managing all your affiliate accounts?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How Much Will It Cost?

I just bought a nice domain name for $14. I was doing keyword searches with Google Keyword Tool and stumbled into something that had nice amount of searches, but the domain matching the search was still free. There was not much competition either. I am not at the point in my passive income project where I should be buying domains, but I just could not resist.

That made me think how much it costs to create a passive income stream. I have planned a rough budget of 1000€ (about 1250 US Dollars) for this project. I will put up a counter so you'll be able to see how much of that I end up spending and where it went. I surely hope I don't have to invest the whole 1000€, but that is what I am prepared to spend if necessary. To me it looks like that creating a passive income stream does not HAVE to cost much, but the temptation to spend is there. Having to confess my budget slips here hopefully helps with that!

How Will I Invest My Money?

To get a trustworthy looking site one has to have an own domain. I bought mine from GoDaddy, but lots of people seem to prefer BlueHost. I have been using GoDaddy for couple of years now and I've been happy with them, but I am buying just domains and hosting my stuff elsewhere.

I think I probably need virtual machines from a cloud service to run my future applications. So I have allocated some money for that in my budget. Most of you don't need that, but then you might have some other needs that I don't have.

Some money is earmarked for photos and graphics. The picture in my profile is several years old and I might need some simple graphics for my products too.

I have also allocated money for skill building, that is - books and courses. I estimate those will probably eat up most of my budget.

I'm planning to buy some books on technical subjects for learning purposes. But there is a possibility that I end up trying affiliate marketing and in that case I want to buy the products I'm marketing.

There is only one course I have earmarked money this far and it is SBI! (Site-Build-It). I might take other courses too if I find good ones. But this far the only courses that I have considered for real are SBI! and Amy's 30x500 (which is unavailable now). I will take the SBI! after my summer vacation so I really have time for it and of course I'll report to you how it works for me.

I ended up considering SBI! since Steve and several other people living on passive income highly praise it and SBI! site has plenty of real life success stories. They even show you the sites they are doing money with. But I got the final push yesterday, when I added EndersAdventures to my link list of people who are taking part in Steve Pavlina's Passive Income Series. Ender's passive income goal is $2,800+ per month by Nov 1st, 2012. That is highest I have seen this far. I was interested in how he is planning to do that so I browsed his site a bit. And guess what? Yes, he is already using SBI!.

When I first browsed SBI! site couple of months ago I was a bit turned back by the blocky look of the web pages that were generated with their web site builder tool. But I went through a several success story sites and my final thoughts were that SBI! is something else than just a web site builder. I mean, I looked at all those blocky web sites and rolled around the thought that all those pages are collecting the bucks home. I came into conclusion that they must be effectively search engine optimized and that SBI! must teach some really effective ways to drive massive traffic to one's sites. Also, I've seen SBI reports used to find out which ideas are worth investing. And those things are just what I need to learn now.

EDIT: When I went to their site today I noticed that SBI! has a new site builder. So no more clumsy web pages. Also, all their pages seem to have this brand new look. That makes me wonder if Steve is going to make purchasing SBI! a suggested part of his passive income series....

I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject! What are you planning to invest and why? Did I miss something obvious in my budget planning?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 1 - Learning

This week I have:

  • Surfed the web for several hours on product creation and search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Discussed with the WebServerGuru
  • Analyzed how I could most efficiently produce value and to whom
  • Worked on my skills (2 books read)

At the beginning of the week I did some random web surfing on how to drive traffic to my future passive income stream sites. I freaked out when I found out all my blogs have names that are not search engine optimized and as I am using Blogger I cannot even use the SEO-plugins that are available for WordPress.

Fortunately I also had a quick meeting with the WebServerGuru. I did mention him earlier, he is the one who is helping me update my programming skills for the web development. He gave me two books to read on technologies/tools that I want/need to learn. I just finished reading the books and they were both great reads.

He also gave me a very brief introduction to Search Engine Optimization and he made it sound much less scary than the guys who are in a profession of selling me tools and courses to do that. He said that it mostly boils down to carefully selecting a small enough set of keywords for my site that I will then consistently repeat in my site content. Before that I first need to check with Google Keyword Tool that the words I select have enough searches, but that they are not too popular and thus have too much competition to beat. I should repeat those words in the URLs that I use, image names and in the content I create. I also need to get people to link to my site and if they use my keywords in the link, the better. I can get started by linking to my site from my other pages, but I must be careful not to make circular links. I can also try posting to forums, social media and blogs. He also said that getting traffic by repeating the keywords in hidden content, like invisible html tags or with white font on white background are maybe not worth it and if done too much one can get caught on using them. Overall, that does not sound too hard! I do know I have lot to learn still.

While surfing I visited Unicorn Free blog. Amy is an author of Java Performance Rocks book and she is living on passive income, coming from her software, books and courses. She has a passive income system that resembles the one I want to build and she managed to get hers up quite fast. So I was thrilled that she is starting a course on product creation on June and she has sample course material in her blog. Unfortunately that course costs almost $3000. But the samples are free and after I read those I got my first good product idea. So I really recommend reading the samples. They will help you not become a slave to your ideas. I have not yet decided if I will try to apply to the course. I think the course is horribly expensive, but on the other hand I've seen and been on more expensive ones with less content than she is already giving out for free - I just have not been the one paying them! (Edit: looks like I might be late too, probably all the seats are taken already!)

I've also (of course) read Steve's suggestion to start thinking how I could produce something of value. The most obvious way for me would be to continue doing what I am already doing now - programming. But I could also teach people and I'm good at learning new things myself, so there are plenty of options for me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How I Set My Passive Income Goal

This is my working room. I printed out my goal, put it in a frame and placed it where I can see it often. Not to the fridge door where I would see it only a few of times per day, but to the place where I spend a lot of time and where am when I might get distracted from my goal. I wrote and undersigned my committed passive income goal in both English, my working language and in Finnish, which is my native language. I feel it is important to pay attention to how the goal is phrased. You may want to skip all this, but I assure you this is important to success. I have used similar motivational and focusing techniques for many projects and they really work. So let's analyze my goal a little more.

"I am successfully creating a new stream of passive income by December 31st, 2012, that generates at least 1000€ per month on average and endures for a minimum of 5 years. I'm doing this in a way that delivers value to others and I'm having fun. I'm healthy and have plenty of time to relax".

If you look at my goal you will see that it follows quite closely the phrasing Steve has in his goal. That is no coincidence. Steve is an expert in phrasing his goals. Why should I invent the wheel again?

It is important to include the word "successfully". It does not matter what the goal is if I don't believe I will succeed in achieving it. When I have that word in I will increase my chances in succeeding. The tense is important too. If I would be using future tense, it would not motivate me to act and succeed now, but somewhere in the future. These are little things, but they can make a huge difference on how the goal makes you feel and act.

You may have already noticed that my schedule is different than Steve's, who is planning to have his $2000 per month stream up and running at the end of the September. I wanted to give myself a bit more time because I am prepared to create at least two income sources. I also want to have a long nice summer vacation. I have much to learn in quite a short time even with this schedule. I'm planning to follow along at Steve's speed until my vacation and then catch up afterwards. And when the first stream is up and running I'll rinse and repeat - but with my new skill set.

I picked 1000€ ($1300) as my goal. When I have received it for 5 years I have earned a total of 60000€. If I split that over the 6 months I have ahead, it is 10000€ per month. I was tempted to set the goal to 500€ per month for 5 years, but I had a belief that I now think is wrong. I used to think that I need to work really hard to earn big bucks. And it just happens that 5000€ is about my worth per month if I would go freelance and earn active income. I feel 1000€ per month is a challenging goal for me, but I want to prove myself that it is possible.

What I am after is not the money itself, but the lifestyle that passive income enables. I am not interested in leeching income. I want to do things that I am comfortable with. Not comfortable like staying in my comfort zone all the time, but comfortable like doing things that are aligned with who I am. I would not feel good about myself if I would be lying to someone or ripping someone off. I'm not looking for and early retirement either. Instead I want to find a way of working that I will enjoy continuing until the end. I love to create new things and I enjoy programming and learning new things. But I want to work on projects I love. And I want to have fun while I am doing it.

I want to feel that I have earned the money that I get and that the work I do brings joy and happiness to someone.

My last passive income stream creation process was an emotional and physical rollercoaster and I realised that I am a work addict. That is why I added the last clause. This time I will only work on this 4-5 days per week, about 8 hours a day. I will buy a good alarm clock to notice me when I have to eat and I will make sure I am living a life that is sustainable in the long run. It will not do my any good to waste myself, when I can choose to have the same results with different attitude.

The last clause also works on some of my fears. I was afraid that my husband would not love me anymore if I would work so much that I would end up looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame. I was afraid that we would get deranged, since I am going through different experiences than he is. But the last clause tackles those fears. I will use my extra time to be with him and share my experiences with him so that he stays in contact of what I am going through.

I used quite a lot of time in creating my goal and I did it together with my husband. However, the goal is mine to reach. I am happy how it looks now and I think it covers what is needed. When I look at it, it makes me smile and think of all the things I can achieve.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Let's Get Started

I am Jaana Kulmala. At the time of the writing I am 35 years old and living in Tampere, Finland. I wish you all welcome to follow and support me while I create my first larger scale passive income stream. I especially wish to connect with other people who are either already living on passive income or building their own passive income streams.

While I will create my stream I will tell you what I am doing. I will also try to tell you why I am doing those things. I will not follow any posting schedule, but instead post when I have something to say. I will update the statistics at the beginning of each month. Those of you who are thinking of starting your own streams will probably benefit most from my blog. You can read about what I am doing, plus I will also tell you where I have already failed. You can then reflect whether you could do the same yourself and learn from my mistakes before you make them yourself. I wish to inspire as many people as possible.

I never thought I would be starting a blog like this. But then, on Tuesday when I resigned my day job as a programmer I did not know I would be following Steve Pavlina's Passive Income Series either. I am an old reader to Steve's blog, but I visit it only now and then so I was not aware of the series until thursday this week.

When I reached the article Commit to Your Passive Income Goal and read Steve say: "I’m just the helper you’ve summoned into your reality to help you create this now", I felt very moved - he was talking to me. I really felt that way. I did summon you Steve, thank you for doing this for me! But as I realized Steve was writing for me, I also realized that by admitting it I was actively receiving a gift. If I receive a great gift, I often get a feeling that I must give back or forward a gift too. And following that type of instincts, seeing opportunities when they open before you, that is essential in succeeding to transform one's life. So now I'm here, forwarding that gift. I hope you will enjoy it.

Overall, this has been a really consuming rollercoaster week for me. When I resigned from the company that I have been working for 13 years I jumped to the darkness. I still have couple of weeks to linger in the office and teach my colleagues. I had no concrete plans, I just knew I was about to do "something" before new year. But I knew I had to close some doors before I could see and open other doors. And by Friday I had already received myself a teacher for the skills that I want/need to learn and Steve, to give me the focus and guidance. I am amazed.

If you are new to passive income, I am not suggesting that you should resign yourself now and start creating your stream as I am. Firstly, you don't have to resign your dayjob to succeed in creating passive income. Secondly, my transformation has started long ago and I have learned and processed things for several years. I have already changed inside - I am ready to take this step and finally apply those changes to my world. If you are new to this, I am suggesting you start by working on your attitude and world view and try creating your first stream from the point where you are now. Nothing needs to change, there is no threshold you need to pass, you can start today right from where you are. Getting passive income is not about working harder. It is about following your heart, doing what you love, focusing on important things and especially working smarter.

I also suggest that you'll also follow and read Steve's Passive Income Series, as my posts will be about how I'm following that series.

I Commit to my Passive Income Goal

I am successfully creating a new stream of passive income by December 31st, 2012, that generates at least 1000€ per month on average and endures for a minimum of 5 years. I'm doing this in a way that delivers value to others and I'm having fun. I'm healthy and have plenty of time to relax.