It’s Getting Better – Passive Income & Business Report

Just as we remember Paul McCartney singing, “Yes, I admit, it’s getting better,” we must remember John Lennon’s rejoinder, “It can’t get much worse!”

My huge Google organic traffic slide halted during the third quarter 2013 and there’s even some good passive income news to report. So, for now at least, things are looking up.

cat looking up

My passive income

Passive income, just in case you don’t know, is income that you can earn in your sleep – not income where you’re swapping hours for dollars. I was first introduced to this exciting business concept by Tim Ferriss’s 2008 book The 4 Hour WorkWeek.

Last quarter (April to June 2013) I was delighted to report I exceeded my passive income target of $3000 by nearly a grand. My passive income target for this quarter (July to September 2013) was an ambitious $4000. Let’s see how I’ve done…

Sales of my e-books

My first tentative foray into the exciting world of passive income was selling e-books on this site. So far, I’ve created two:

Here are the sales of these e-books from the last four quarters:

My product 2012 Q4 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3
Running a Web Design Business $375.24 $511.21 $470.14 $338.22
How To Get Clients $232.09 $26.47 $110.38 $21.20
Total: $607.33 $537.62 $580.52 $359.42

Quite a disappointing quarter for e-book sales and I’m not entirely sure why. The drop in Google traffic will have something to do with it, of course.

Affiliate sales

Another way you can earn passive income through your website is by promoting products through affiliate links which will earn you commissions.

I earn money through products I use and then write about here. For example, I use the Genesis WordPress theme framework which drastically cuts down website development time and WPML – a WordPress plugin that makes multi-lingual websites.

Here are my affiliate earnings from the last four quarters.

Affiliate product 2012 Q4 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3
Genesis WordPress theme $778.79 $76.94 0 $653.12
WPML WordPress Multi-Lingual plugin $315 $397 $509 $345 VPS hosting $85 $340 0 0
A2 VPS hosting $170 $170 $85
Bluehost shared hosting $130
GoDaddy domain name registration $17.43 $31.66 $35.43 $27.82
E-Junkie shopping cart system $7.20 $10.80 $3.60 $14.40
Aweber email marketing and delivery $29.40 $37.20 $38.00 $43.50
iContact email marketing and delivery $355.99 $137.97 $442.00
Tara’s logo course $199.50 $33 $34
Others $117.59 $98.26 0 12
Total: $2003.70 $1499.33 $1231.03 $1214.84

You could say that they are holding up nicely, but I’m slightly disappointed by the direction these figures are taking.

I’m pleased to say that my Genesis earnings have come back and that WPML is holding up nicely.

But I’m not doing so well with the hosting commissions. As they can pay $50-$120 per sale, web hosts are a good thing to promote through a blog that talks so much about web design and development. I have articles on recommended shared hosts for WordPress and recommended VPS hosts for WordPress which have supplied a lot of income over the last few quarters.

Again, I can blame the drop in Google traffic but I’m not entirely sure why these figures are slightly down. Anyway, I will continue to promote affiliate products only when I have recently used one that I’m happy with.

Udemy, Udemy, Udemy!

There’s no doubt of my biggest passive income earner. I now have three paid courses on the online learning platform Udemy:

This has been a particularly good quarter on Udemy because I launched a new course Running A Web Design Business. Promoting this course to my existing 7,000 followers earned me $1421.20 in one week.

Over the last three months my Udemy courses have brought in $3617.10.

It’ll be interesting to see how Udemy holds up over the coming months. We’ve all been in the online income game for long enough to never count on anything.

But, for the time being, Udemy looks like it could consistently bring in thousands of dollars of passive income over the coming months. If you’re interested, here’s an article on how to sell video courses with Udemy.


All together the Udemy income along with the e-books sales and the affiliate commissions brought in a grand total of $5191.36 in passive income in Q3 2013.

I’m really pleased I exceeded my target so handsomely. God knows if I can do that again. :)

Business report

Specific business targets

Here are my specific targets that I set three months ago and more targets for three months’ time.

Target Q3 2013 target Q3 2013 actual Q4 2013 target
Passive Income $4,000 $5191.36 $6,000
Monthly unique visitors 30,000 22,500 30,000

I’ve set a ridiculous passive income target of $6,000 for the next quarter.

And, as my traffic drop has now thankfully bottomed out, I think that 30,000 visitors a month by the end of the year is easily achievable.

General business targets

Last quarter I had only two business targets: to create another paid-for Udemy course (Target Achieved!) and to write and publish a Kindle book (X Target Missed!)

I’m determined to succeed with Kindle so you’ve got to believe me that a Kindle book will be coming soon.

So, here are my new business targets. During the next quarter I will:

  • Create another paid-for Udemy course
  • Write and publish a Kindle book
  • Create a free WordPress plugin
  • Launch a new exciting web app

Quite a lot there. But hey, what’s the point of having goals if they’re not big ones?


These are just weird…

Indicator 31st Dec 2012 31st Mar 2013 30th Jun 2013 30th Sep 2013
My Twitter followers 1884 2093 2353 2425
My YouTube Channel, subscribers 280 409 599 773
My YouTube Channel, video views 143,049 183,271 231,097 273,007
Facebook page Likes/Fans 339 406 491 525
Subscribers to 5488 5949 6130 6249
Udemy followers 9064

There are some interesting movements here. You’d expect these follower numbers to rise consistently as long as you’re engaging regularly with the particular platform but that’s not the case. I’ve been regularly posting to Twitter and quite enjoying my Facebook page recently and yet these aren’t growing as fast as they used to. Another of the mysteries of this quarter. If anyone has any ideas as to why this is, I’m all ears. :)

And you’ll see I’ve added another metric to the list there – Udemy followers.

Of course, these are just numbers and social follower numbers don’t mean anything without engagement. But, it’s interesting to see how they’re getting on.

Personal goals

There’s been wonderful weather in London recently and that makes the locals happy!

I’ve been more-or-less pleased with my personal development – my Tai Chi and meditation are going well and, although I try to eat healthily and not drink too much alcohol, I still think I could do better in this regard.

I’m trying to balance work and play so I’ve been getting out and meeting people as well as staying in and working hard. I’m looking forward to our Meetup tomorrow in London.

Previous passive income and business reports

H1 2012
Q3 2012
Q4 2012
Q1 2013
Q2 2013

You can do it

I hope you can see from these reports that it is possible to earn a reasonable trickle of passive income from online activity.

I was delighted to hear that you guys wanted me to continue these reports last time so I look forward to the next one – the year end report.

As always, I look forward to reading your comments about this quarter and let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

Download my 2 free e-books and 2 free MP3s on running an online business & getting clients

Plus a list of my 12 favorite resources for online business

two free books and two free mp3s and a list of favorite online tools


  1. Anonymous says

    Many thanks Rob,
    I always find these inspiring

    To carry on quoting from the same song “Me hiding me head in the sand” but “You gave me the word, I finally heard”

    That bloody Udemy finally got cash out of me. $399 dollar PHP course for $10. They found my level in the end! I’m quite impressed with them.

  2. says

    Hey Rob, just starting to dabble in this world myself so interesting to see how it is for someone who has been at it for a little while. I have only been blogging for 6 months and done a little affiliate marketing. It is a tough game. I have thought about ebooks and courses as they obviously mean a lot more income for us. I shall have to read some more of your posts and see how you have been doing it.
    I connected with you on twitter too @madlemmingz

  3. says

    Interesting results, Rob. I know that Kindle is getting difficult to succeed at now that everyone and his brother is trying their hand at it. I wonder if it’s similar with affiliate products. But that is awesome about Udemy! I’d been thinking one could make a lot more by selling their info products (courses) directly. But your results are quite impressive!

    Carry on!

    • says

      Hey, Louise. I’ve heard a lot of people say that about Kindle. They say you’re better off writing a few Kindle books in order to reap rewards. Sounds like a lot of work.

      Yes, I was thinking of doing video courses and selling them myself as well, then along came Udemy. I still could do that but I’m not sure – Udemy’s kinda easy!

  4. says

    Hi Rob,

    It was great to read this article, quite inspiring really. It’s strategically planned and implemented well. Good to know how you manage the source of income on your site, and your willingness to share this to us(greatly appreciated).

    This is really helping me a lot to put things together for my future plans. 😉 I can’t wait for your next online course on Udemy, hope you’ll give us idea on what it would be. (cross fingers – HTML coding).

    I wish you all the best to achieve your business goals for the next quarter. :)

    • says

      Hello Monette, thanks for popping by and leaving a comment and I’m really pleased you found the article inspiring. That really makes my day!

      I’m sorry I’m planning on a Photoshop course next. :( But I’d also like to do a simpler WordPress one that will contain HTML. In the meantime, if you have any questions about HTML, ask away! :)

  5. says

    Hi Rob, What fantastic results. The amount of things you achieve in a quarter puts me to shame :) . I see you took some php courses you mentioned you might – how is that going?

    • says

      Hey Tara, thanks, although I don’t really think it puts you to shame! :)

      So far I’ve done two PHP courses on Udemy but I wouldn’t say I’ve turned into a PHP whizz as a result. Far from it, in fact. I want to take the WordPress plugin course next and write a WordPress plugin. The problem is I’m quite busy with client work at the moment.

      By the way, it’s my Meetup this evening if you fancy a quick trip down to London:

  6. says

    Hello Mr Cubbon,
    We connected earlier. Stopped. No time. January 2013, Mother sick. July, Mother died, 103.
    Burried in Calgay Alberta. Total exp. $20.000. Free(-er) do work. How much to join? I will
    consider that after Your reply.

    • says

      It’s a good idea for passive income, Rahat, but I am really creating all my WordPress on Genesis now so it wouldn’t be right for me to do a child theme. Are you thinking of doing this, Rahat?

  7. says

    I also think that you should prefer udemy courses than kindle. Who reads nowadays!? Video is always better. If I have to chose between video and an ebook, I will always chose the video. Success, Rob!

    • says

      I think you’re right, George. At least I’ll definitely be making more money with Udemy than with Kindle. However there are few larger market places than Amazon so it’s good to be there. With KDP Select it is possible to get your book priced free for a few days. While this does not make you any money, it does get you fans that might buy your products in the future as well as improve your brand.

      I agree, I prefer video to e-book but I do enjoy reading Kindle books as well. To your success! Rob

  8. says

    Hi Rob,

    This is quite inspiring!

    Someday, I’ll do the Udemy. However, my target this year are my kindle books. I’ve set up my shopping cart already. So you can tell I’m pretty serious about developing a product.

    So what would you recommend? Do you think it’s better to hook up your kindle book thru ClickBank or Amazon Associates than having your own eStore plugin your WordPress? I know ClickBank deals with 60-days money back guarantee and prolly this is less paperwork? You tell me. I’m all ears!

    Anyway, great post! I’m on my way to read your next post.


    • says

      I think companies like Clickbank are only good idea if you’re selling a PDF e-book – or something like that. But for kindle you are probably better just to let Amazon do all the selling. I would just link to it from your blog and from your email newsletters – although I know you can get some widgets from the Amazon site to stick in your sidebar as well.

      At least, these are my plans for Kindle, Angela. :)

  9. says

    I enjoyed reading your post and congrats on another succesful quarter. I’ve recently started a blog and am in the process of building my own passive income. This post is truly inspirational.

  10. says

    Hi Rob,
    Just checking in after many moons. My blog has been generating more affiliate income (in laughingly small amounts). BUT it’s completely passive, since I haven’t written new material in months. My mailing list has grown to 75, although just between us, I think it was a fraction of the spam CommentLuv I was getting until I changed the settings. My site just went to Pagerank 3. So pretty interesting, as time passes, with almost zero recent effort. Your site and content are always an inspiration.

    • says

      That’s good, Astro Gremlin, however I would continue blogging as much as you can – if not on that site then on at least one other. The passive income will stop pretty soon otherwise.

  11. says

    Hello Rob, you have inspired me to work out my passive income and also make a note of, and start tracking, my ‘indicators’. I was pleasantly surprised by my income, although not substantial it is a start and just shows that you can make extra money if you put your mind to it. Like you it was helped by launching my first on-line course in July on Udemy (where we first met) and making a concerted effort to build my YouTube Channel. Keep up the good work :) Jennifer

    • says

      Hey Jennifer, this comes as a result of reading far too many business books which go on about the importance of tracking and targetting. It is important but sometimes I can get a bit too geeky about it. Some of the ‘indicators’ maybe cosmetic but we’ll see.

      Definitely, we both need to create more videos on YouTube and more courses (free and paid) on Udemy because it all helps. :)