How To Move From Services To Passive Income

Have I ever told you the story of how I broke free from 100% client work and grew my passive income?

I founded my business, Marketing Words, as a copywriting agency in 1999 leaving behind a legacy of various marketing-related jobs.

Life was amazing, goals were met, revenue doubled year after year for several years. All was well, until it wasn’t. The 2008 recession began and over the next 3 years Marketing Words lost half of its revenue. To say I was scared is like calling Godzilla a lizard.

At this point I had only dabbled in course creation and had zero experience with earning passive income. I had a single product in printed book form that had to be shipped (on print-on-demand back then). Thanks to my business friend, Jill Whalen, I cut my teeth on affiliate marketing by setting her up as an affiliate for my lone course.

She was my only affiliate and the two of us managed to make a very decent financial showing.

A few years went by until another online friend, Lynn Terry, introduced me to the Novice To Advanced Marketing System (NAMS) conferences in Atlanta. As I made my way to the next workshop, I noticed many of the speakers were talking about passive income and recurring income.

During that first NAMS conference that I attended in 2010, it dawned on me that — if I could make $20,000 a year on a single course that I didn’t really promote that much — I should be able to make significantly more if I DID promote it using affiliates.

That turned out to be true! Not only that, I also became an affiliate for numerous other products and promoted those to my ever-growing list.

Adding passive income was an enormous turning point in my business. It gave me a revenue base that was more reliable and ushered in more freedom so I wasn’t constantly chained to my computer.

What Is Passive Income And How Do You Earn It?

There’s the mistaken notion that passive income means it requires no effort at all. Uh… no. That would be what I call coma income 🙂 I like the definition on Dave Ramsey’s blog.


Passive income is money you earn in a way that requires little to no daily effort to maintain. Some passive income ideas — like renting out property or building a blog — may take some work to get up and running, but they could eventually earn you money while you sleep.


To put it another way, passive income only becomes passive after you set things in motion.

As I complained about not having enough time or energy, I kept saying I wanted to put more passive income ideas into play, but client work took over and I began to rest on my laurels. While my passive income was stable at that point, it wasn’t growing.

A Major Shift In Lifestyle Caused Panic

While he had been dreaming about early retirement for years, my husband officially announced that he wanted to quit work at age 55. I didn’t want to be left behind while he was out on our boat or at the beach or exploring the Grand Canyon, so the passive income tickle came back.

I decided to create a long-term plan to reach specific goals over the next three years. I wanted to get to the level of passive income so that I wouldn’t have to be saddled with hands-on client work instead of playing with the hubby all day and making money while I slept.

When I started, I honestly felt exhausted and trapped. After the thrill of implementing passive income ideas settled a bit, my mind went to “I don’t have any time to add the work of earning passive income!”

Remember, passive income is only passive AFTER you create it. Up until that point, it does take some work.

Outlining What Was Stopping Me

My mind was moving way faster than the rest of me could keep up with, so I decided to make a list of what was stopping me from achieving the goals I so badly wanted. What was sucking up a lot of time during my day? What was on my wish list? If I could recreate my business any way I wanted, what would I change?

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Here are the first two big roadblocks I faced.

  1. Too much time doing admin work such as scheduling client projects.
  2. Too many copywriting clients that take too much time.

How could I handle these? I decided to:

  1. Hire a Project Manager.
  2. Stop actively promoting services.

Yes, it took a while to find the right Project Manager. And yes, it was scary to stop promoting the copywriting services cold. They still remained on the Marketing Words website, but I didn’t mention them in blog posts, on social media, in podcast interviews I was a guest on, during webinars, etc.

Taking those two steps gave me the time I needed to focus on ways to earn passive income. you don’t have to be so drastic, but you will need to make room in your schedule somehow. That might mean shaving a couple of hours a week off your client work, getting up a couple of hours early, staying up late, working weekends or whatever it takes to lay a foundation of affiliate income.

Passive Income Strategies Paid Off

And, lo and behold… taking action worked! For the last several years I’ve earned over 6 figures a year in passive income alone, not including minimal client work, speaking fees, etc.

  • Were there times I wondered whether I would make my monthly revenue goal? Yes.
  • Was it sometimes tempting to start promoting copywriting services again because I knew that paid well? Yes.
  • Am I glad I stayed the course and kept my focus on implementing passive income strategies? YES!

The freedom I have today has been built over the last decade one step at a time. I learned my lesson not to dabble in passive income, but to incorporate it into practically everything I do.

For the last several years, I’ve worked about 3.5 days a week. Sure, if it’s a cold, rainy day I might choose to work a few hours, but that’s a choice, not something I’m forced to do in order to meet deadlines.

What about you? What are your passive income goals?

What (specifically) do you want from passive income?

What’s keeping you from earning more passive income?

How can you make passive income a priority in your business?

This is how I chose to go about it:

  • I looked at the end result first. I created a plan for what I wanted to happen and when.
  • I chose the timeframe. For me, it was a 3-year plan with incremental increases each year so I could make a smooth transition.
  • I created a list of what it would take to make these goals a reality. For me, that meant reconnecting with affiliates, pursuing new affiliates, creating new products, adjusting my email schedule.
  • I searched for affiliate products from others that would work well with my list.
  • I asked people what their biggest problem with ______ was and what solution they wished was available. Then I looked for affiliate products that filled the bill.
  • All this time I was developing automated promotions using YouTube videos, content upgrades, and specific blogging strategies when trying to fill a funnel.

I can’t stress the importance of consistency enough. Passive income is like anything else in your business. When you plan and take action, you get results.

I recommend that you start with one singular, very specific goal, such as “Earn enough to pay my electric bill every month.” Then move up to “Make enough to cover my car payment.” Or perhaps enough to pay your mortgage.

If you start with a huge goal (make enough to stop having hands-on clients) you will most likely get overwhelmed. With each baby step, you increase the amount of passive income you want to bring into your business.

If you make a plan and follow it through, you can start to see regular passive income within 30 to 60 days. And every little success gives you the encouragement and confidence to grow your freedom and income.

Have questions about affiliate income or passive income? Talk to me below! 

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