Like millions of Americans, I found myself out of work during the pandemic. At first, I was fired from my job as a waitress. Then I started working for myself as an online fitness coach, but running the business required 10-hour workdays and I only made $1,000-2,000 a month.
So in July 2021, I decided to pivot. I took my entrepreneurial background and started using my TikTok and Instagram accounts to market wealth building tools and online programs.
By October, business had taken off and my TikTok following grew to over 40,000 followers. Since then, I’ve been earning about $8,000 a month in passive income from commissions on my affiliate posts, including ones that are months old and recurring subscriptions to my educational programs. What’s nice is that I now only work two hours a day, mostly posting on social media.
When people ask me how they can start a passive income-generating business, I tell them that it’s a lot of hard work in the beginning, but it pays off in the long run.
Here is my best advice:
1. Automate your business
To make passive income, set up automatic systems when starting your business. This will save you a lot of time as your most essential tasks will run on autopilot.
Create a product that requires limited maintenance
I started my entrepreneurial adventure as a personal trainer. But I discovered that selling a one-on-one coaching service meant that I would always trade my time for money. To generate passive income, you must offer a product that does not require as much energy to create and deliver the product.
Becoming an affiliate marketer solved this problem; I currently sell products and services from other brands that I do not need to deliver myself.
The goal is to create a product once and sell it for a long time with limited maintenance. Some examples: digital courses, online community subscriptions and apps.
Automatically generate sales funnels
A “sales funnel” is the process a customer goes through before making a purchase.
With my business, customers find me on social media and then they get pushed into my sales funnel: they sign up for my mailing list and receive product offers there.
I have a system in place on my website that creates the sales funnel for me; customers are automatically added to my mailing list and introduced to products without me having to do anything.
I use a platform called ClickFunnels, but there are other great options like Builderall or Systeme.
Set up an email autoresponder
The “Rule of Seven” is one of the oldest rules in marketing. Based on research by Dr. Jeffrey Lant, it states that you need to contact a potential customer seven times in 18 months before they are ready to buy a product.
But these days, with so many ads online, you may need to reach out to potential customers even more often to make a sale. I use Aweber to automatically send daily follow-up emails to potential customers who haven’t purchased my product until they either purchase or unsubscribe.
I’ve seen other business owners use GetResponse and Mailchimp to send automated emails.
2. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
I see a lot of people trying to completely reinvent the wheel with social media posts to put their business in the spotlight.
But after acquiring 109,100 TikTok followers, I learned that the key to going viral and growing your following is to study what works for others. Of course, you want to be original, but you should post content that people already find interesting.
Use this process to put your own spin on social media posts:
- Study what other people in your niche are talking about. For example, if you sell wellness products, is there a particular conversation going on in the wellness space that you could add, or questions that people always ask in the comments section which you could answer? Use this information to specify your message or the information and advice you will share.
- Pay attention to the formats used. Do your successful competitors post a lot of spoken-word stories or a lot of dancing covered in on-screen text advice? Are their captions long or does the content of the post speak for itself? Take note of formats that resonate and think of ways to do something similar.
- Focus on hashtags and sounds that grab attention. Save the sounds and hashtags you see on the platform you’re working on. Add these elements in the desired format to get your message in front of as many people as possible.
To stay on top of trends, I regularly watch TikTok marketing creator @secretsocialari, who shares her strategies for going viral and building an engaged audience.
3. Focus on solving a problem
The main objective of any business is to sell a product or service. But at the end of the day, nobody cares what you’re selling – people care about their own goals, their own dreams, and their own problems.
You want to indirectly market your product in a way that highlights how it can help meet your audience’s needs or achieve a goal.
4. To sell to your audience, interact directly with them
Individual posts on Instagram or TikTok are great for providing value and entertaining your audience, but it’s nearly impossible for your audience to get to know each other. you through these organized messages.
Having a connection with your audience is important. As people get to know you, they begin to trust what you say and what you sell, which will lead to more sales.
I interact directly with my audience by responding to their comments and posts, or going live on Instagram and TikTok. It gives me a chance to build a personal connection with them through real back-and-forth conversation.
5. Be selective about what you promote
If you’re considering starting an affiliate marketing business, here are the top things I recommend looking for:
- High gravity: Gravity means the number of people actively promoting the product. If this number is high, you know the product is good.
- Low reimbursement rate: If a product has a high refund rate, it means a lot of people aren’t happy with it, so you want to avoid them. Promoting products with high refund rates can diminish your audience’s trust in you.
- Recurring subscriptions: These are the best types of products to promote because you will receive a commission each month whenever the subscriber renews their subscription.
- Positive reviews: I always Google for affiliate programs I’m looking for before deciding to promote them. I want to make sure it’s a highly valued product.
I also sell products that I have personally enjoyed, such as the online course I used to start my business.
Shannon Smith is an affiliate marketer who teaches others how to make money online. Follow her on TikTok @hustlewithshan and @shanxxxsmith.