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Money

The Brutal Truth About Passive Income from Side Hustles

Passive income guide

Photo by Tom Bixler on Unsplash (This is a fake side hustle dream)


Youtube and Instagram sell us a lot of fake passive income fantasies.

Don’t even get me started on those cringe-worthy Youtube preroll ads with Lambos and shirtless bros high-fiving in the background. OMG. The Youtube police should make it illegal.

I’ve been working on my side hustle for the last 7 years. It’s gone from earning $0 in the first few years to over 7-figures. I don’t say that to impress you. I say that because there’s a lot of fake side hustle content that gives terrible advice from people who have never done it — let alone been successful at it. Let’s get real for the next few minutes.

A side hustle that generates passive income isn’t as easy as you think. But it’s 100% possible with the right mindset that you will get from these truths.

It takes time

Patience is a huge flaw for many people. They want passive income from a side hustle now or they’ll go on social media and cry that “X platform didn’t pay them this month and is dying.” Boo hoo hoo. *Cries*

No platform is dying. No opportunity is dead — you can still sell a fax machine to my old man and he’d happily buy one. There’s a market for everything.

Passive income is like an iceberg. The first few years are where you hang out with the penguins on top while it’s freezing cold. After a few years you begin to learn there’s a whole other side of the iceberg underwater that you couldn’t see. Once you see the underwater iceberg, all of a sudden, you feel like you’ve unlocked a door into a parallel world.

Forget about the surface-level crap. Stick around long enough to see what lies beneath. That’s where massive passive income hides.

You actually have to get good

Passive income doesn’t come from trying. It comes from getting good. You don’t have to start out as good, but you eventually have to get good. This point is often overlooked.

My side hustle began with writing online. I sucked hard, so I wrote a stupid amount of content. But that’s not going to cut it. Many content creators do the same and never improve.

Velocity of work isn’t enough. I had to get honest with myself. I had to slap myself in the face when my writing became a journal entry dedicated to the Elon Musk success club.

When I realized I sucked at writing I didn’t just keep writing. No. I got help from people who could actually write. Naturally, these people were never going to help an Aussie battler in the middle of the desert that drives a piece of sh*t Honda Civic. Nope.

Instead I quietly did their online courses, read their books, and consumed all of their content. I even tried to emulate a few of them to see if I could bottle some of their secret sauce. Eventually I figured out what worked for me and got good at that niche.

Most people bullsh*t themselves about the quality of their work. That’s why it never turns into a side hustle that generates passive income.

The money at the start will be low

Expectations are a b*tch so let me break it down. The money at the start of any side hustle will be terrible. Actually, the article is titled “brutal truth” so let me be more honest. The money at the start will be $0.

If you hate side hustles that don’t produce passive income at the start, then go buy stocks and forget about side hustles. It’s a perfectly healthy alternative.

Otherwise, know what you’re getting into amigo. I love that the money starts out at $0. It means only those who have the passion and motivation will make it over the hill and get the rewards.

The illusion of passive income, in the beginning, acts as a qualifier. It gets rid of the complainers, trolls, critics — and frankly — the people who aren’t ready, which is completely fine.

Expect to earn $0 for a while.

You need to add value

Just because you have a side hustle, doesn’t mean it has value. Passive income is money you get for creating value. Value comes from solving a problem people have.

If your side hustle doesn’t solve a problem then it’s worth $0. Read that again.

The good news is the problem you solve doesn’t have to be massive. You could simply solve the problem of boredom with hilarious comedy. I see this in the writing world all the time. Bloggers say “why isn’t my content going viral and causing people to fall to their knees and worship me like a god?”

*Looks side to side to confirm the coast is clear*

They wrote a journal entry.

It’s all about them and their hashtag awesome life. What about me? Your writing was supposed to help me. But instead you left me by the curb and let strangers with axes abduct me. See what I mean?

Find a problem. Use Twitter polls and Google surveys to confirm the problem isn’t a fantasy in your mind. Then build your side hustle around it. Solve more problems when you get good at solving one. Now you have earned passive income. Nice.

It will be back-breaking work

My friends think I sit on an inflatable lilo in a swimming pool by the ocean and sip margaritas. Hardly.

The brutal truth is a side hustle involves plenty of back-breaking work. I work on weekends. I’m still screwing around on Twitter at 9 pm when I should be doing Netflix and chill. My side hustle timesheet, especially in the early years, would rip a lot of people’s faces off.

To get over the inertia that is $0 and crossover into the passive income field of dreams, it requires energy and effort (not hustle culture that leads to burnout, though).

You have to make time for it in your calendar

The mistake I see people make is they start a side hustle and then think they can work 15 minutes a week on it. Then as soon as their boss needs something done, they forget all about their side hustle until the holidays.

It’s on the holidays when they get side hustle guilt.

A side hustle needs to be scheduled in your calendar, so you don’t forget its significance and place other people’s requests around it. Otherwise you jump from urgent task to urgent task and forget your own goals.

What gets scheduled, gets actioned. What gets actioned, becomes a habit. What becomes a $0 habit, grows into passive income.

You’ll have to learn from someone smarter than you

Trial and error takes forever. I had to learn from people who were smarter than me. Still to this day I take regular online courses and spend time in member-only communities.

One of my friends did something drastic. He wanted to transition from blogger to running live events. He didn’t have the confidence or the content, so he paid his favorite speaker $10,000 to have lunch with him.

He wanted to make an offer his idol couldn’t resist. Now, my friend was living with his mother at the time and didn’t have much money. But he saw the value in people who had done the thing he wanted to achieve.

His strategy worked. He got the lunch and learned some incredible lessons that set him up for life. What he didn’t expect was that his idol agreed to speak with him regularly from that point on — for free! And his idol even went on his podcast and spoke at one of his events.

Don’t publish content or post your products online and then wait for traffic

Websites and apps that have audiences aren’t going to give you access for free. You have to earn audiences you don’t own by giving value.

The build-it-and-they-will-come mindset destroys many side hustles. Nobody is coming for your content. Nobody is dying to hear what you have to say. You’ve got to sell yourself a bit.

I’ve seen many people online say “screw it.” They think they’re special and the rules don’t apply to them. So they jump from one app’s audience to the next, looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, only to learn rainbows are an optical illusion.

An idea that leads to passive income is meaningless without traffic.

So sit down, park your butt on a platform for a while, and find ways to add value to others. That’s how you build an audience without silly ads (aka low-quality content people have to be paid to consume).

If it were easy we’d all be passive income badasses

Now there’s the brutal truth the Lambo Youtubers don’t tell you. There’s a silver lining though: The things in life that aren’t easy are the most rewarding. They’re better than the money. In fact, an achievement against the odds is the real trophy … not the $100 bills.

Final Thought

People who have failed will tell you passive income and side hustles are a scam and aren’t possible. They only say this because they missed one of the above points. Anyone can quit after a month and use “it’s a scam” as an excuse so they can feel better. Don’t consume content from these people.

Choose a side hustle, get good, take your time, accept $0 in the early days, add value, do the back-breaking work, make time, learn from people smarter than you, access free web traffic by adding value, and remember it’s hard and it’s supposed to be.

That’s the brutal truth you probably don’t want to hear about passive income from side hustles. Now you know. High-five.


This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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Tim Denning
I am an Aussie Blogger with 500M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. You may have seen my work on Medium, LinkedIn, Bitclout, or Twitter.

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