#322: A Realistic Way to Develop Passive Income Streams as a Writer (with Shane Sams)

One of the biggest advantages of being a self-employed creative professional is that you generally have much more freedom and flexibility than you do when working for someone else as an employee.

You can choose whom you want to work with, what projects you take on, when you work and how much of a workload you take on at any given time.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to take on less-than-ideal projects and clients to keep the lights on. Sometimes clients we thought were going to be wonderful to work with end up being terrible.

There are many things you can do to minimize these situations. We discuss many of them in this podcast and in my newsletter.

But there’s one other strategy that can help, and it’s one that most writers and copywriters don’t pursue.

I’m talking about developing passive income streams that complement your core freelance business.

I started developing multiple income streams in early 2008, about two years after quitting my day job and going completely on my own. It started as a way to diversify my income, and in my case it involved selling digital products. And over the next nine years those passive income streams turned into my core business.

So as you can imagine, I’m a big believer in developing passive income. Not necessarily because it could turn into your main thing … but because of how it can add diversity to your income and reduce your overall business risk. Having steady revenue outside of my client work coming in the door every month was very reassuring.

Think about this: how would your decisions about what clients or opportunities to accept be different if you had a steady stream of passive income coming in every month?

I bet they’d be very different!

That’s what we’re talking about today. My guest is Shane Sams, a former high school teacher and football coach who, along with his wife, has created a passive income empire that enabled them both to quit their day jobs many years ago.

In this conversation, Shane talks about how he and his wife were able to build and grow a very reliable income stream in the span of a couple of years. He talks about all the mistakes they made and how they learned from them. And he details the best model for building a reliable income stream.

I found this to be a fascinating discussion, and I urge you to give it a listen, even if you’re very skeptical about this subject.

In fact, on that note I have one quick comment. When Shane’s team approached me about coming on the show, I was very skeptical myself. There’s a lot of nonsense going on in the “make money online” industry. Lots of get-rich-quick claims. Tons of scams. Too many bad people who don’t really do what they’re teaching.

I made it abundantly clear that I wanted to portray a very accurate and realistic picture of what passive income is about, what it takes to succeed, and the hard work required to get it off the ground.

Shane really came through. As you’ll see, he’s very open about all his mistakes and failures. And he’ll be the first one to tell you that this takes a lot of work. The income may be passive down the line, but there’s nothing passive about the work you have to put in up front for months.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

[00:01:08] Shane Sams is a former US history teacher and football coach who stumbled across Pat Flynn’s podcast “Smart Passive Income.” Shane was looking for a way to provide income for his family after he realized he traded away all his freedom for a paycheck. He eventually became interested in creating digital products and selling them online.

[00:05:17] Failed dad blogger turned to website creation, found success selling lesson plans online. Wife started a podcast and email list to market their product.

[00:10:40] Membership model gives customers access to each other through forums, live group calls, and the human connection of a leader or a mission. Community will be the most valuable asset on the internet in the next 10 years. Examples of successful communities are Unchained Writer community where they write together and get feedback and backyard chicken community.

[00:15:39] Problem-agitate-solve method applied to a backyard chicken expert’s training program. Includes a community aspect to the pitch.

[00:18:24] Podcast discusses ideas for building a membership business and how to brainstorm ideas by categorizing passions, learned skills, and lived experiences. Examples of successful membership businesses include $5 dinners and a sheep-farming, wool-dyeing, needle-felting enthusiast who turned her hobby into a profitable business. The key is to follow the process and try different ideas to find success.

[00:27:37] Create minimum viable product first, know your audience, match your content with the product, build an audience specifically targeted for the product.

[00:31:25] Audio, video, or text are the 3 ways to build an audience, with podcasting and YouTube being effective due to their intimate and demonstrative qualities. Giving away content for free is not a problem, as the value lies in curation and organization.

[00:36:37] Get people’s name and email, daily email, old podcasts, free challenges, make offers, standard funnel.

[00:38:29] Make a grid of 168 squares to represent the 168 hours in a week and find time for non-negotiables. Batch and repurpose content to save time for building an online business.

[00:42:28] Memberships bring consistent income and can raise the floor higher than others’ ceilings.

[00:45:39] Identify your unique gifts and ideas, figure out what problems you can solve, and find an idea for an online business through a guided training process. Focus on taking one step at a time and avoid getting overwhelmed. Visit flippedlifestyle.com/ed for more information.

Learn more about Shane here:
Flipped Lifestyle


By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

  1. Grab a free copy of my book.

    It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here
  2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected]

  1. Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.