TRJ Blog

Passive Income: 5 Online Businesses That Work

This has been a hard post to put down because there is a crazy number of methods where you can make money online. Not all of them will make someone rich of course, but they do add up. However, I figured I better not overwhelm myself by trying to list every single one of them, but rather choose the ones that would actually have a decent return of money over time. 

I will most likely write another post later on the other little ones that do make money, but not as much as the ones on this list.

So, here we go! A list of the profitable online businesses (in no particular order):

1. Affiliate Marketing

In a nutshell, this is you helping someone else make sales and getting a cut. If there is a particular service or product you have tried and found to be of good benefit, you can sign up for that company’s affiliate program to have a unique referral link, and then start telling your followers/friends about it and every time someone makes a purchase through your link, you get a commission. 

Now I have not tried this thing yet because, well, I am just starting out, but mostly people who do make a lot of money out of this are those who have a huge following on social media websites, on YouTube, or on their own Website. So, if you do have a decent number of followers, you might start making money this way.

The most popular affiliate program is Amazon’s; you can sign up and advertise all products that are sold on Amazon and any other Amazon-linked ones like Kindle or Audible. There are some territories that may not be allowed to sign up with Amazon though. A good alternative to that is flexoffers.com, it has a similar affiliate program with variety of categories, and you can sign up from anywhere in the world.

If you would like to read some tips on starting out in this, you can check this article that lists some strategies for a “super affiliate marketer;” it is quite helpful.

2. Teaching

While teaching does not sound like a “passive income” kind of method, there are ways to turn it into one. If you are experienced in one specific field, you can create an online course on a website like Teachable.com or similar ones, where you upload videos of you teaching material of a certain course and every time someone signs up to your course, you get paid.

The good thing about this website in particular (because I signed up and checked it out) is that they provide you with resources to help you make a good course; they even offer a free webinar to show you how to create a professional course to make money. But here is a list of all the other similar websites out there. 

I initially thought that to teach, you needed to be some kind of a professor or have a teaching degree, and you ought to be teaching something academic, but, in reality, you can actually teach anything, from languages to crochet or gardening to makeup, anything, literally. You just need to be good at it and also it kind of needs to be something that someone else will have the interest to learn about. Here is a helpful article on how to start, if you want to create your own course.

There is also another option, if you’re anything like me and are not very comfortable in front of a camera, you can then go for an e-book course where people can download your course as a PDF file instead. There are several platforms where you can put your e-book up for sale and they’re mentioned in this article.

If you think of going through the e-book route though, you can go for a course, or just a guide (how-to), or maybe an actual book (which I’m planning to do at some point).

3. Photography

If you love photography you can use that hobby as a means to make money. But there are 2 types of people who love photography.

Those who are like me. (Yea, I keep telling myself I need a better camera..)

Now I’m pretty sure no one will be paying money to use this photo (by me, in case it wasn’t obvious)

And those  who are actually good at it.

Someone would definitely pay money to use this photo (by my good friend Mahmoud AbdelGhany)

So, if your love of photography is anything like me, I’m sorry to say, this one is probably not for you. If you’re more of a “I-know-what-I’m-doing” kind of photographer, then please keep reading. 

Aside from the fact that you can take on events that require a photographer, as in weddings and conferences and such, which is more of an “active” thing, but from a “passive” approach, you can certainly make money  by uploading your photos on websites like Shutterstock and whenever someone wants to use one of your photos, you get paid.

There are actually plenty of other websites you can use to sell your photos, this article lists the best of them and it also gives an insight on the types of photography that sell the most.

(Side note: I’m working on polishing my photography skills a bit, so I will be sharing some useful tips later on for those of you who are like me.)

4. Drop Shipping

This one to me seems to be the most complicated one on the list, because it requires more planning and a lot of work done before it can become “passive.” It took me a while to get everything about it.

Drop shipping is you selling certain products online that you don’t really own or have. You set up a shop for people to navigate and select their desired product. You contact the supplier who actually has the products, usually a wholesaler or manufacturer, pay them for the products that the customer selected on your shop, and then they ship the product to the customer.

The difference between this and a traditional shop is that with drop shipping, you don’t have to purchase a product until you already made the sale and have been paid by the customer. So, that is less chances of losing money.

The trick with this method is deciding on the niche or the market. Because drop shipping is a widely famous business among entrepreneurs and so some markets have a lot of competition. A high competition means that you won’t have the luxury to set high prices for your products and therefore the profit margin you make may be very small in the beginning which will require more effort on your part to reach more customers. Here is an article on how to choose the products to dropship.

The other trick is choosing the right suppliers to deal with. Because they will be the ones shipping the products to your customers, so they need to be reliable and have a good reputation. The better and more professional the supplier, the stronger the business will become since this will build trust between you and the customers who try your shop and whether or not they will want to buy again or tell others about it.

There is a very informative article with some useful tips on the steps required to build this business here.

If you want a longer, more extensive read to go even deeper in understanding this business, Shopify has a free eleven-chapter guide that walks you through the whole thing. Shopify is also one of the most popular platforms where you can build this shop.

5. Online Shop

Now this is also selling products online, but with a more traditional, less tricky approach. And this one can refer to two types of an online shop: one where you actually create and ship physical products yourself and another where you use a website that takes care of the product and the shipping and everything else and you just provide the designs to print on the products. The latter is the online business method on this list that I actually tried so far and which I will discuss in my next post.

As for the former type where you would sell your own physical products, I have read this step-by-step article earlier by Nat Eliason who built his online tea shop in exactly 3 weeks. You might find it helpful as an insight on how to start one yourself. Though I’m not sure if this actually fits in the “passive income” category.

Anyway, this wraps up the list of passive income businesses you can do online. At least, this is the list of things I know can work so far. And as mentioned earlier, I will share my experience with the online shops using print-on-demand websites in my next post.

Till then, happy days!

Passive Income: 4 Real Estate Investing Options

This post introduces the meaning of passive income, the different sources where you can achieve it, and 4 ways through which you can invest in real estate as a passive income option.

First, What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is income resulting from cash flow received on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it.
Some of them, however, would require quite the effort in the beginning, just to give it the required push to start off, and then it starts giving you that regular income later on.

What Are Some Passive Income Sources?

After lots of research and comparisons, I was able to come up with the below list. I would say most of them are safe methods, ones that has the least amount of risk and don’t really require a crazy amount of money to start. This is not everything out there, but those are the ones I found so far which seemed possible to start with. I will be adding more along the way.

Here are the risk-free ones (in no particular order):

  • Real estate investments
  • Google AdSense/Affiliates
  • Online business
  • Retirement accounts

And then there are the methods which can be a little bit risky, but not so much if you know what you’re doing:

  • Real estate investments
  • Stock market
  • Index funds

Ho Do You Choose The One To Start With?

When it comes to making a choice, you would mostly just need to check which of these options you can afford or which of them you have the access to try and invest in. Also, if you already have some sort of knowledge or know someone who can help you get started.

For me, I decided to start with the real estate investment option. And I have listed the real estate option in both the safe category and the not-so-safe one, this is because investing in real estate has multiple methods, some of which can be risky and costly, but others not so much. I will briefly explain the details of each one below.

The 4 Real Estate Investing Options

1. Buying Property

This is the typical type of real estate investment where you would need to have a sum of money that is enough to buy a property (residential, industrial, or commercial) and you would then decide to either rent it and have a fixed monthly income or renovate and sell it with a higher price.
You can check out this video on how to buy at a lower cost so you can make a profit in reselling.

Usually the trick in this one is that it could take a long time to find a buyer for a property; and if you rent, you may end up with tenants who do not pay. So, it’s got a bit of risk to it if you’re not experienced in that field I guess.

2. Real Estate Funds

And there are three types of funds: there is the Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), the Real Estate Mutual Funds, and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

ETF and Mutual Funds are somewhat similar in many aspects. However, deciding on which fund to invest in would typically rely on the cost vs the profit you will get, and also the flexibility of the trading and how long you plan to hold your shares. If you’re interested in the topic, you can find a more in-depth comparison between the two here

A REIT, however, is a company that owns, develops, and manages real estate properties that produce income. The benefits of investing in REITs include their lower investment entry costs;  and that they are highly flexible, allowing investors to invest in a range of real estate from commercial properties to shopping malls. Check out this article for a comparison between REITs and Mutual Funds including their pros and cons.

Interestingly, I found out that real estate funds were only introduced last year in Egypt (where I live) and apparently there are only two launched at the moment one of them is Naeem Holding fund which provides an annual profit of 26%; and they accept both local and foreign investors with minimum share price of LE 50K. And it looks like there will be more launching soon too. (I am so excited!) More on this here.

3. Online Real Estate Investment

I came across this gem of an option, but sadly I couldn’t find one that accepts funds from where I live (and I will be saying this sentence frequently along the way).

Basically these are online websites where you can buy shares with whatever amount you want, starting with as little as $100 for some websites, and they search for properties to buy and sell and you get an annual profit.

For example, I found this website called Fundrise where you can start investing with $500 and it is not required to be a professional like other websites. This one is limited to investments from U.S. residents only, though. I couldn’t try it, but I have read a lot about it and they were mostly good reviews. There are plenty of other similar websites listed here.

4. Home Construction Companies

This would be investing in a company that builds houses. You can find homebuilder companies in your city or online. And this is the real estate investment option I started with. 

I myself am not a realtor and I cannot afford something like buying a property to rent or renovate and sell, for example. (And I only found out about the Egyptian real estate funds when I was writing this post, so it was a bit too late..)

However, luckily, I found another way to get involved in real estate investments which is through a local construction company where I can buy shares and they use the money I pay along with many other investors to build properties and then sell them; and the investors get a fixed amount of yearly profit.

It was easy for me to choose this one also because I already knew a realtor in that company. I started with the least amount of money to buy only one share for LE 50K (that is about $2800) which is all the money I had on me, literally. And I could have waited until I had some extra money, but I thought the earlier I start, the earlier I will be getting a revenue, and so I just did it.

It is hassle-free and almost risk-free, so it is a good start for me to have some kind of investment to generate a passive income. My plan is that throughout this coming year, I would try and save up money so by the next year I would be able to buy a second share.

(Side note: I would not recommend spending all you have on a single investment option unless you are certain that it is a safe and trusted investment. I did that because 1. I know the people involved and know people who are long-term investors with them, and 2. I knew if I’d kept that money it would have been spent on meaningless stuff especially since it’s SALES season!)

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.

Chinese Proverb

One of the other passive income options mentioned in the lists above which I also find interesting is the index funds. Index funding is a type of mutual fund with a portfolio constructed to match or track the components of a market index. It is said to provide broad market exposure, low operating expenses, and low portfolio turnover.

I’m planning on trying this as a next step. I’m currently still searching for the best index fund to invest in in Egypt. But the good thing is there are options to invest in international index funds even if you are not a resident of the country. Although, it seems to have a more complicated procedure, but it is possible. So, I will be doing more research on the matter and will be sharing my findings in a later post.

The other passive income option which I found possible and somewhat easy to start is the online business. Online business however is an umbrella term for a huge number of businesses that you can try. In my next post,  I will be sharing all the online businesses that most people sort of have agreed to have been the most helpful and which ones I myself have tried so far.

Till then, happy days!

I Quit My Day Job, Now What?

As I approached the last few days of October, which were the last days left for my 30-day notice, I was thinking of what I will do next. To be honest, I was getting a little bit nervous about the idea of not having a salary by the end of the next month. And although I only pay for my own expenses and no one is depending on me financially, I still felt like this was a somewhat risky step, but as is the case with taking risks, you measure the possible losses and the possible gains, and, in this situation, the possible gains to me weighed a lot more.

Now I clearly knew what I did not want to do. But what is it that I do want to do? If there were no obstacles and no conditions and I could wake up tomorrow and do anything I want, what would that be?

Well, I wanted to write and design and read books and be free of the day-job monster! (Did you hear that? that’s the sound of freedom!)

And, beside that, I also want to find a way to use my brain. Yes, that may sound weird, but it was something I realized during my existential crisis discussed here, that nothing I do ever requires me to use my brain. The type of jobs I have been doing since I graduated college were all routine jobs, ones you can do on autopilot. And I had this feeling that this brain that studied physics (which I hated every step of the way), complex mathematical equations, and electronics and coding, deserves a little better treatment; it at least deserves a try.

So what I wished for was to not have to go to work to have an income, to feel some sort of financial security. I wanted to do work that I love and enjoy doing, which may not necessarily pay me well at first, instead of doing work just because it pays me well.

And simultaneously while considering those things, I was spending my free time making designs for my Redbubble store and I noticed that I was actually making some sales. That brought the question to my attention: Can anyone actually live off that kind of business?

And after some online research, I can say the answer to that question is, yes. Some people do make enough sales every month that can become an actual source of income, but I also found that this is not the case for most other people. And for someone to reach that level of sales, a lot of other factors contribute to it. (You can read more about this in My Experience With 5 Print-On-Demand Platforms).

I sort of had an idea that there are ways to make money online because I worked with platforms like Appen and Lionbridge in the past and so I knew that this was possible; however, what I didn’t know, or more like never thought of, was the fact that you can make money from money. Or that you can make money while you are not necessarily working for it. The concept that you should make your money work for you and not the other way around.

I never thought about investing my money, for example. I thought this was something for those business people with suits and ties and lots of money inherited from their rich families or whatever. When I first read about that, I thought, I’m a middle-class citizen from a middle-class family who studied engineering and works in customer service, what do I know about finance or business management or even money? Absolutely nothing! At least, until then.

What I’ve learned as I started to read more on the topic is that you do not need to have a degree in finance or have a business background to know how to manage and make money. In fact, everyone can and should learn how to manage their finances to not only make ends meet, but to be able to go beyond that, to be able to have savings, to be able to have financial security in their life, especially if they have other family members depending on them.

I spent days and nights, searching and researching, reading articles, buying books, watching videos because I wanted to know if this is something that is actually achievable, that there are others who managed to do what is to me just some wishful thinking. 

And after some time I decided I will go for it. I believe it is not impossible and it is not wishful thinking anymore. I can see now that it can be done. Will I be able to do it? Well, this will be my little big experiment. It will take a lot of time and energy not just to work but to learn, but that’s what it takes, otherwise I would be wasting another year of my life and some humble amount of savings on something that I’m not even 100% aware of. 

There are bazillion articles and videos online telling you about another kabillion methods of how to make money. But the question here is not how to make money, it is how to make money in a way that brings more money, how to be smart about it. And if you don’t have enough knowledge and information, you will not be able to do that.

Another thing is how to do that without turning into a money-making machine, because that is definitely not why I started. So, how to actually enjoy the process?

Without passion, you don’t have energy.

Without energy, you have nothing.

Warren Buffett

In my opinion, one can do so by implementing all the skills they have (for me that would probably be, research, handling customers and… English? pretty unimpressive set of skills, but we’ll see how far that gets me.) along with all the activities you love and enjoy (for me that’s writing, reading, and design) and then find a way to use those things to make money.

The money you make from those little skills you enjoy and love is so much different from the typical salary you get at the end of the month doing some mundane job. I know how that feels because the few dollars I got from my design sales were the most precious money I have ever received. I am the happiest person on earth when someone buys something with my design on it. That kind of money just feels amazing. (Or maybe those are just my creative cells overreacting a bit.)

In the next blog post, I will discuss what I started with in terms of online and offline business and how I chose the kinds of business to start with and why I chose them.

Till then, happy days!