Am I A Failure When It Comes to Earning Passive Income?

The vast majority of you are extremely friendly and supportive, and it’s something I am infinitely thankful for.  Occasionally, however, someone will criticize me, and sometimes it’ll be harsh.  I received such a comment recently, on my November income report blog post.

Instead of becoming defensive or feeling offended, I welcome this criticism.  In fact, while others may reply to such a comment and quietly bury it, I want to bring it to your attention and reply to it publicly, out in the open.

Here was the comment in its entirety, from a reader named “Rocky”:

“I need you to think about something really long and hard, because I think it’s costing you quite a bit of money…

You need to follow through with things from start to finish. You seem to get excited and riled up about something, and then a month or two later you move on to the next thing, RIGHT WHEN YOU”RE ON THE CUSP OF MAKING MONEY.

Buddy, I just feel bad for you, honestly. It seems like you put in a great deal of work initially with all of these things, and then you just let them fall apart at the tail end because you don’t want to create backlinks, or you don’t want to do this last extra thing, or you’ve found something else to be excited about.

I’m actually most impressed that you’ve been able to build any kind of income with the way you bounce around, so congrats! But look: you could have made so much more by just sticking with one thing and following it through.

So good luck, I really do wish you the best, and I hope this problem isn’t hindering you in other parts of your life.”

I’ll start off by saying, Rocky makes some really good points. What he’s saying may definitely be true for some people, however, I don’t believe he knows me well enough.  I think he’s confusing “adding new projects” with “giving up on old projects.”  I haven’t really given up on anything – most of it gets placed on the back burner, and I revisit it periodically.  Just because I don’t constantly write about adding backlinks to my site for the niche site duel doesn’t mean I’ve stopped doing it.  I only give up on a project if I really believe it’s not going to provide sufficient value in the future.

I’ll be the first to admit – I have entrepreneurial ADD (attention deficit disorder).  No, this isn’t a medically diagnosed condition.  I love trying out new projects and experimenting with new ideas.  One of the greatest things about making money online is that you can do it in a way that works for you. It’s amazing.

Let’s say after I started my InfoBarrel earnings challenge, I did nothing but write articles until I reached my goal – I stayed focused, did not allow myself to be tempted by another project, and wrote tons of articles.  Would I be better off now?  Maybe.  Would I burn out and eventually not feel like doing anything?  Probably.

Why I Think Jumping From Project to Project is OK

Some people need to stay focused on one thing in order to be successful, but I don’t think it has to be that way for everyone.  Here’s why I think it’s okay to multitask and jump from one project to another:

1) Diversification

This is probably the most practical benefit.  If you put your heart and soul into one way of making money, and that gets taken away from you somehow, you’re in a bad position.  If you purely relied on a few big AdSense sites for your online income and your AdSense account mysteriously got banned (it’s happened to people before), you would be in pretty bad shape.

However, if you had a mix of items in addition to these AdSense sites – Clickbank affiliate sites, Amazon sites, articles on InfoBarrel (or eHow, Hubpages, etc.), you wouldn’t be hurt as much.

2) Planting Your “Passive Income Seeds

This is similar to diversification, but allow me to draw an analogy.  When a farmer wants to feed his family for the upcoming season, he does so in a very methodical way.  He plants his seeds in one plot of land, and moves onto the next plot, and continues planting (I have no experience with farming or even gardening, so please pardon my lack of a good description in this analogy).

What the farmer doesn’t do is plant one area, and spend all of his time watering it, adding any necessary chemicals, etc.  He does this eventually, but his first order of business is to plant all of the seeds.

This analogy isn’t perfect, but I’m hoping it will illustrate my point.  When you’re building niche websites, the growth of a particular website often comes with the passage of time.  I’ve seen this with my InfoBarrel articles – there are many that have no backlinks, however they continue to earn more and more simply because they have aged and this has caused them to move further up Google’s search engine rankings.

With niche websites, I love to plant my “passive income seeds.” What may seem to be a group of incomplete websites today, may in fact be a powerhouse of passive income earnings a year from now.  Once you introduce outsourcing into this picture, this becomes an even more powerful model.

3) Enjoyment

This currently isn’t my full time job, nor is it something that I need to do to support myself financially.  That’s not to say I don’t want it to someday, but I do this now because I enjoy it.  It’s much more of a hobby to me than it is a job.

With that said, I want to go about doing it in the most enjoyable and interesting way possible.  For me, that involves jumping around and trying new things.  Variety is the spice of life (cliché alert), and that’s what I live by when I work on my passive income projects.  Maybe I could be making more money if I stuck with one project and followed it through to the end before looking at anything else, but I don’t think I would.  Why?  Because I’d get bored.  When I’m bored, I’m not working at my optimal level.

I’m not the only person like this either – it’s very likely that you’re this way too.  I’ve recently come across Christina from who has the same problem – and just like me, the variety is what excites her and keeps her motivated to continue.


At the end of the day, you need to do what works for you. If you produce a better result by always staying focused on one project, then this is how you should do it.  If you need variety, then seek out that variety and make it work for you.

And to respond to Rocky’s last sentence in his comment: no, this behavior doesn’t hinder other parts of my life.  I’ve been in the same type of work (accounting/taxes) for over 5 years (this may soon be changing!) and I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost 7 years.  I know when focusing on one thing makes sense for me and when it doesn’t. :)

So what do you think? Am I failure?  What are your thoughts on jumping from project to project?

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34 Responses to “Am I A Failure When It Comes to Earning Passive Income?”

  1. They’re harsh words but they ring true Eric – I wish I got the same comment and so thank you for sharing.

    We have this huuuuge resource that’s the web where we’re literally bombarded with new information every second we’re on it.

    It’s easy to jump from subject to subject; it’s one of the hiccups we have being young and impressionable.

    When you think about it: people that are successful online generally come from an expertise that they’ve mastered.

    If we’re just bouncing subject to subject than we never get to the point of mastering it.

    For example, you’re a CPA – so I’m thinking: why don’t you have a CPA blog? It’s what you’re inherently good at (even if you don’t like it at times) but you have all that information stored in your head.

    This isn’t to tell you to go off and start up another project but I think it’s one of those perfect examples of “do what you’re good at”.

    It’s going to be hard to stick to just one project but we have to put up those blinders sometimes to get the job done – just plow right through it.

    A support group will be great (and although I’m not doing this as a pitch, Pawel’s business group seems like it will really help with getting everyone focused since you’d be accountable to the group).

    With that being said – setup systems that prevent you from diverting your attention; just grind through it til it’s all done.
    Murlu recently posted… How do YOU find niche blogging ideas


    Eric G. Reply:

    Great points, Murray, and I know everything you’re saying is correct. My overall point though was that this isn’t a problem that requires fixing – my passion is exposing myself to a variety of topics, so that’s the path I want to pursue. I realize it has flaws and that maybe I’m not going to reach my full potential, but at the end of the day, this whole online passive income thing is about making money AND enjoying my time. :)

    You could argue that you’re trying to make as much money now so that you can enjoy your time later (or set yourself up to maximize your income later), but I’m arguing that there’s a way for me to make money now AND enjoy my time now. I’m still comforted by the fact that my hard work now will also be more valuable later, and at some point, I won’t need to work as hard. I want to want to work (if that makes sense?) though, so it’s important that I enjoy my time both while I’m working and while I’m not working.

    This is definitely not an argument against your comment – I’ve sort of just gone off on a tangent here and I’m making a general argument. Back to your comment though – I like that you said: “If we’re just bouncing subject to subject than we never get to the point of mastering it.” What if it were possible to become a master of “bouncing subject to subject?” What if I become a master of creating niche sites, but not necessarily with regard to a specific topic? I think there are several ways you could spin it. I may be an “expert” at accounting, but if I don’t enjoy it, I don’t see the point in wasting my time on it (not to mention, it’s a more difficult niche to monetize unless I’m actually providing accounting services). I spend 8+ hours a day with accounting – it’s certainly not something I’d want to come home to.

    Okay, I feel like this comment is long enough, with enough tangents. Hopefully there’s a meaningful reply buried in there somewhere. 😛


    Steven | Business Diaries Reply:

    I share the same mindset. Jumping from project to project keeps everything interesting to me. And like you mentioned, sometimes we can be surprised by how much one thing grows while we are working on another thing.

    I know this might not be true for everyone. But I think the ADD mentality can have its benefits in our fast-paced and ever-changing world.

    I see no reason to fight change. If I have a passion to create a new blog, and I know it’s not just a whim, I’m going to go ahead and embrace it.
    Steven | Business Diaries recently posted… How To Write A Killer First Post


    Murlu Reply:

    I hear exactly what you mean Eric – maybe my thought process is a bit screwed now because all it ever seems like I’m doing is working now – in some ways, I’m loathing blogging because I’m losing connections with what I used to do.

    I enjoy the work because I know it pays off in the end and it’s a hobby of mine but then again, is it worth losing everything I built up prior to it just to have it pay off in the end?

    It’s almost like retirement – you work 50 years or something and you finally get to have fun – I don’t like that.

    Probably why I haven’t been posting as frequently; not letting the blog die but just taking time to actually enjoy myself instead of having it as another job.

    So I hear ya man – maybe the “bouncing” is really what makes it all fun – I know, in my own mind, that going subject to subject really keeps everything exciting and that’s the whole point of it all – to have fun.

    Eric – you’re becoming a Red Mage 😛 (final fantasy humor right there hehe).

    Maybe we should just stop worry and let everything fall into place – it generally does over time – it’s how much fun we have during the process that really matters.
    Murlu recently posted… How do YOU find niche blogging ideas


    Eric G. Reply:

    I didn’t get the “red mage” reference, so I looked it up:

    “Red Mages typically cast both Black and White Magic and can also wield swords and equip armor that normal Black and White Mages cannot. They are, in essence, among the more versatile characters of the series. However, their versatility comes at a high price: their stats are usually low, and they cannot cast higher level spells or use stronger equipment. They can learn many spells, but not the strongest, and equip some heavy armor, but not all of it. Thus, the Red Mage is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none.”

    I think you may be right… 😛 Hopefully I will use the “jack of all trades” approach to my benefit.

    DMace Reply:

    I am CPA as well, and if I had to spend time writing about taxes or auditing after a 12 hour day, I know I would have quit IM a long time ago.


    Eric G. Reply:

    I’m with you 100% on this. :)

    Christina Crowe Reply:

    Hey Murlu,

    Awesome comment, and you provide some pretty sound advice there.

    However, I think it really depends on what exactly you’re doing.

    For instance, I was working on an eBook several months ago and, if I kept putting it off, I knew that it would never get done. So, I dedicated several weeks to finishing the job, and I can now say that the work paid off. The eBook was something I’ve always planned on writing and eventually launching – and then I made it happen.

    However, if you’re working on several projects that aren’t really necessary to the success of your business and you’re simply working on them because you enjoy to do so, I think it’s alright to switch between them every now and then to keep the excitement going.

    In fact, I think it’s necessary – for, without motivation, you’re less likely to get whatever you want done and more likely to procrastinate. As a result, you spend more time procrastinating and telling yourself to finish the project than actually taking action and getting the project done.

    Just my thoughts anyway. Of course, others are welcome to disagree. :)

    Christina Crowe recently posted… eHow Experiment 06- Analyzing Keywords and Tracking Results


    Eric G. Reply:

    I do think that when you have a bigger project that has a measurable point of completion (like an eBook), it makes sense to dedicate specific time to it in order to finish it.

    Contrast that to niche websites, where you may honestly never technically finish them – you can almost *always* add more content and backlinks, unless you hit #1 on Google and you’re satisfied.

    Even with big projects though, you can multitask if you plan it appropriately. For example, if you have 3 hours of free time each day to do work, and you figure you have about 10 hours left on the eBook, you could force yourself to dedicate 2 hours per day strictly on the eBook (and you’ll have it done within a week). That still leaves you an hour each day to work on other stuff.

    I can definitely see both sides to the argument though.


    Christina Crowe Reply:

    That’s a good point Eric. The ebook might get done slower, but at least you’ll be enjoying your time.

    For me, when I was creating my ebook for the first time, I just wanted to get it out of the way once the freewriting was done (writing without editing). I enjoyed the freewriting aspect, so I mainly designated a few hours each day for months at a time to get that done.

    However, when it was time to start writing drafts and do some major editing, I was so over-run with work that I just wanted to get it finished. If I would have written for a few hours each day, the “pain” would have been prolonged and I probably wouldn’t have lasted as long. I also probably would have made up tons of excuses along the way and just pushed the ebook aside altogether.

    Just by telling myself, “After a few more days, you’ll be finished and will never have to work on this ebook again,” helped me keep going. I spend days from the moment I woke up at 8am to the moment I went to bed (and sometimes even later) at 11pm just working on the editing process to get it done as quickly as possible (only stopping to eat, shower, and use the bathroom).

    Now that the hard work of writing the ebook is all taken care of and I have the ebook on autopilot, I couldn’t be happier with the end result – and I don’t regret one bit the hard work that went into it.

    Christina Crowe recently posted… Why Do You Blog Be Honest Now…

    Karlos Reply:

    Well, I seem to have the same issue (I don’t want to call it a problem) with having multiple projects at one time. At the moment it is 3 projects.

    The problem I would argue is that you do not really know what works and what does not when you start out. So why not start multiple things and find out which plant needs more watering to grow into a beautiful plant?
    I totally agree with you Eric that as long as You feel in control of the projects you are handling then it is OK. Rocky might also be right that he is stating that once someone is out of control of his projects (like me sometimes :-) than it might become a problem.



    Eric G. Reply:

    Exactly – you might have 10 good ideas, and only 3 of them have true potential. You might not be able to find those 3 until you try all 10. While 10 may be a lot to control at once, maybe you decide that you can handle 5 projects at a time. So, you do them in two batches of 5.

    At the end of the day, you might find that this approach allows you to reach your “golden” projects more efficiently.

    Ultimately, it all depends on how much you can handle and control at one time. Thanks for the comment, Karlos. :)


  2. Thanks for the mention, Eric! :)

    Do I think you’re a failure? Well, you already know my answer – absolutely not.

    But everyone reading this should also keep in mind that not everyone is the same way. What may work for some people may not work for you and vice versa.

    For example, I originally tried sticking to one project at a time when I first became an entrepreneur. One month, I decided that I was going to focus on eHow and write about 5 articles a day for a few months.

    Well, I did and managed to write over 100 articles. But after exactly my 113th article, I crashed. I couldn’t write anymore. I was so sick of writing articles in the same format over and over again that I stopped writing altogether for months.

    I think after my fourth month break, I went back into action and created my blog Cash Campfire. But those 4 months were absolutely wasted, when I could have continued to add to my portfolio and increased my income.

    Personally, I like diversity. Whenever I tire from one project, I always have another that will capture my attention. But I don’t completely abandon my old projects. I simply go back to them when I’m ready.

    While sticking to one project at a time may help some people advance more quickly, it simply doesn’t benefit me. I like to feel excited about what I do, and, for me, that requires a lot of variety.

    On a side note – like Eric – my personal life is not at all suffering as a result of my entrepreneur preferences. In fact, they’re not at all related, and I’ve been happily in my relationship for over 5 years. 😉

    Christina Crowe recently posted… eHow Experiment 06- Analyzing Keywords and Tracking Results


    Patrick @ Make Money Buzz Reply:

    Such perseverance! I cant imagine writing 113 articles!

    I’m reading a book on Kaizen that might help people like us (seems like you are doing it already). It’s about doing small things to achieve big things. For example you tackled over 100 articles by just writing 5 per day. My description doesn’t give Kaizen justice but there is more info on it here
    Patrick @ Make Money Buzz recently posted… Little Update on How Things Are Going


    Christina Crowe Reply:

    Hey Patrick,

    I checked out that link you gave me, and that looks like a very interesting practice. What’s the name of the book your reading?

    I just might pick it up myself. :)

    Christina Crowe recently posted… eHow Experiment 06- Analyzing Keywords and Tracking Results


    Patrick @ Make Money Buzz Reply:

    The Book is Called “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer. I find it pretty interesting but I’m wishing there was a little more how-to type stuff in there. Either way it is interesting and motivational
    Patrick @ Make Money Buzz recently posted… Little Update on How Things Are Going

    Christina Crowe Reply:

    Cool! I’ll check it out on Amazon. =p

    Christina Crowe recently posted… eHow Experiment 06- Analyzing Keywords and Tracking Results

    Eric G. Reply:

    Well Christina, I certainly think we’re on the same page. I really think the diversity prevents that burn out that you experienced.

    Glad to hear your personal life isn’t affected by it. :)


  3. Hey Eric,

    OMG, I suffer from the same thing! I actually started my blog partly because I come up with so many ideas and strategies and I figured if I was only going to half ass them (since my enjoyment comes from the creative part not the labor part) then I might as well write down what my idea is. Maybe it will keep me on track, maybe it won’t but at least it is out there.

    I’ve been talking to Vinay from Abstract Living and he just got an awesome VA. I think that might actually be the cure for guys like us. Create something awesome, put in tons of work into the framework, and hire cheap effective labor to do all the work on it. I’m going to try saving up some poker money to hire one and see how it works with some of my current projects.
    Patrick @ Make Money Buzz recently posted… Little Update on How Things Are Going


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Patrick,

    Great point about the blog – I think blogs are great for sorting out your thoughts and finding some accountability with the tasks you plan to complete.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to outsourcing to a VA – I think this is HUGE for people like us, who have no problem with the creative side but maybe struggle a bit with executing on ideas.

    The challenging part is getting the VAs to do exactly what you want them to do, and to do it in a way that doesn’t incur too much cost.

    Thanks for the comment!


  4. Eric,
    I don’t think you’re a failure just because you are adding projects to your plate.

    I can understand coming from the mindset of someone who is also working full time and running a blog as well. I always feel that time is actually on my side because I don’t depend on my blog for income. I can diversify and do things at my own pace. I actually feel that this attitude is good for the long term success of my blog.

    I’m less likely to burn out in 2-3 months. I’m actively planning on being around in the years to come. I know that the fruition of my projects will come in several months time and not several days.
    Richard recently posted… Speed up Your Website


    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree 100% – Diversification allows you to stick around for the long haul and puts you in the position to still earn a lot in the future.

    Thanks for the comment, Richard!


  5. Nice article Eric. I’m also really loving the new site design by the way.
    Brandon recently posted… Can Everyone Get Good At This


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Brandon, I appreciate it.


  6. Hey Eric,

    I agree with all the comments voiced here, but with my own take. While it’s not necessarily a problem to bounce around from project to project, what if you were to burn out from lack of focus or being “spread too thin?” Granted, diversification helps a LOT in not becoming bored, but what I’ve realized in the past several months exploring passive income, blogging, investing, and a number of other pursuits is that an overload of information can lead to inaction and questioning of my goals, etc. It gets frustrating when you have great ideas and are pumped up about it, but then other obligations (even if it’s to your other projects) crop up and you lose that same drive.

    Anyway, not really sure where I’m going with this! Enjoyed your candidness.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Brett – I do think you make a good point about being “spread too thin.” That’s definitely a problem on the diversification end. If you take on too many projects, you do run the risk of having too much to handle.

    It really all comes down to knowing what you’re able to take on, and knowing how you work best. Some people need to focus on one thing, while others like to take on 3-4 projects. Then you get the occasional crazy guy (like me) who enjoys working on 10+ projects simultaneously.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brett.


  7. I think “controlled diversification” would be a good way to put how I have to work. I need several different types of projects to keep my mind engaged, and this goes both for my freelance and business/passive writing as well as my creative writing. I’m at my best when there’s several projects to jump to, but you don’t want to get so many irons in the fire that you feel too spread out (which is a mistake I’ve made a few times). When you get that controlled series of projects, then it can work out extremely well, at least in my experience, but that’s my own take. I expect others to be different.
    Master Dayton recently posted… Freelance Passive Writing Income- And a Vacation Update


    Eric G. Reply:

    I think this is exactly right, Master Dayton. Similar to what Karlos mentioned above, “control” is a key aspect to whatever your approach is. If you can only control 1 project at a time, maybe that’s your limit. If it’s 5 projects, then 5 it is. Obviously, it depends on the complexity of the individual projects.

    Being spread too thin is a problem to watch out for when you’re jumping around, but you have to ask yourself – what’s the worst case scenario? It may just be that you need to pause your work on 1 or 2 projects, which isn’t the end of the world. No harm done, most likely.


  8. I think one really important thing you touched on is the fact that you do this because you WANT to, not because you need a project to make you a bunch of money right now.

    Personally, I’m going to use InfoBarrel to fund other projects because I like the idea of experimenting with a bunch of different concepts and see what works. If something makes me a pile of money that’s great, but if I’m not enjoying myself I had might as well go flip burgers at a fast food joint or something.

    I also think some degree of balance is important – doing 20 things at once would probably be stressful and counterproductive, but that’s something we all have to figure out for ourselves.

    I’m moving back to Winnipeg in a couple days and then will be blogging again to stir up my routine(and hopefully give it a more sustained effort this time)


    Eric G. Reply:

    You seem to be on your way to turning InfoBarrel into a huge “cash cow,” which I think will give you great flexibility in trying other projects.

    Finding your balance is huge – I’m glad to hear that you’re going to do some more blogging to mix it up a bit.

    Thanks for the comment Andrew!


  9. Lurker here, interested in creating a website about my passion and also just started the 4HWW… all of which somehow landed me on this site which I’ve bookmarked haah

    What I’m reading is that regardless of what anyone tells you, you’re going to believe what you want to believe.

    Human nature. Hopefully it works out for you! I’ll be keeping tabs on this site and your progress :)


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Dan, glad to have you here as a reader. :)

    You’re totally right – people will believe whatever they want to believe, for better or worse. You just have to hope it doesn’t come back to bite you when all is said and done!


  10. Well, the idea is that you can have a higher success rate if you stick with only one project. And that’s true for most people. But some can do more, and they should. That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring our initial projects, we’ve just fine tuned them to take less of our time.
    Antonia recently posted… The Power Of Conversational Hypnosis Review



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