There’s No Such Thing as Passive Income
(or a Successful Passive Brand)

There’s No Such Thing as Passive Income or (a Successful Passive Brand)”

In the entrepreneurial world, the idea of building a brand and creating passive income has always been the holy grail. Do the work once, set it on auto pilot through the magic of technology and scale, and then see the dollars roll in in perpetuity.

Now that the entire world calls the digital space home, more people than ever are jumping on the passive income bandwagon, hoping to build an online business and find the magical windfall pill.

Perhaps the idea of creating massive brand recognition and passive income has you envisioning four-hour work weeks (sorry, even Tim Ferriss admits he works a heck of a lot more hours each week!) and lounging on a beach with a steady stream of fruity cocktails coming your way.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing.

The reality is whether you’ve created an evergreen DIY course, a webinar, e-book or you’re selling products from an e-commerce site, if you don’t have a warm and engaged audience to sell to, you’re not going to make any money.

Just because you build it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will come.

The truth is that in order to leverage your income and grow your business – work one to many or sell any type of products at scale – it’s imperative that you build, grow and nurture your target audience. You must constantly be focused on providing value to your community and creating brand awareness. And this my friend, takes work.

If you want to build a successful online business selling anything – beauty products, apparel, courses, widgets or webinars – the key is a loyal and ever-growing audience. Building likeability, credibility and trust takes time and consistency. A compelling brand isn’t a one-hit wonder.

This means that in order to create brand loyalty, you need to be in touch, engage and provide value regularly. This might look like weekly emails, blog posts, podcasts, videos, text campaigns, digital events, consistent social media engagement and more. This is how you consistently sell your products and services and ultimately create leveraged, not passive income.

Natalia BensonImage via Natalia Benson

Natalia Benson is a women’s empowerment coach, astrologer and self-proclaimed modern mystic. Through her coaching, online courses and astrology readings she helps women heal their relationship with money and grown their own conscious business.

Natalia has grown her business exponentially over the last few years by creating multiple courses, webinars, oracle decks, a book and several memberships. She is building a model based on leverage, not passivity. She is now working one-to-many via her group courses and memberships and creating more products for direct-to-consumer sales.

She is likely working less than she did in the beginning of launching her business, but making more money. There is nothing passive about Natalia’s business. From daily IG stories and frequent IG Lives to blog posts, videos, emails and her own weekly podcast, Natalia is creating content that helps her target audience and ultimately grows her community. She has honed her visual branding to best express who she is and what she stands for and she showcases it regularly across all of her digital platforms to effectively communicate her brand personality.

All of this takes commitment to her mission and consistency with the value-driven content she shares regularly.

Lingua FrancaImage via Lingua Franca

Founded in 2016, Lingua Franca is a line of sustainably-sourced fair trade luxury cashmere sweaters with hand-stitched embroidery by women in NYC. The sweaters have surged in popularity in the last few years, in part to their powerful social messages and founder, Rachelle Hruska MacPherson’s fierce commitment to activism and smashing the patriarchy.

While she could simply be selling beautiful cashmere sweaters, instead, Rachelle has always leveraged the brand as a platform to inspire and facilitate social change, and a portion of proceeds from all of the products supports activists and organizations tirelessly working for a better world. It is through her creative differentiation, constant engagement and inspiring philanthropic partnerships that Rachelle is consistently growing her audience and building brand loyalty.

Lingua Franca often shares photos on their busy IG account that customers have shared of themselves wearing the brand and they have partnered with other brands like Birkenstock’s and MZ Wallace to flex their creative muscle, give back to organizations they care about and expand their growing community. Pre-pandemic, they held weekly panels, Q&A’s and author nights in their brick & mortar locations and Rachelle sends out a regular newsletter called “The Reading List” filled with some of her favorite things, inspiring stories about the brands and causes Lingua Franca partners with and pictures of activists in action and happy clients.

Lingua Franca could choose to simply sell embroidered cashmere sweaters, but instead, they choose to double down on their mission, actively engage their audience and give back in multiple ways. They are consistently nurturing and growing their community, which ultimately leads to more opportunities and more sales.

As you can see from these examples, if your goal is to increase your brand awareness and sell more of your products and services at scale, then it’s imperative to focus on your mission and your audience – their wants and needs – and how you can best help them. When you create for and serve your community, you will build the kind of trust and devotion that iconic, compelling brands are known for.

And there’s nothing passive about that.