There is no such thing as passive income?

It is amazing how fast time goes by. It is almost half year has passed since I decided to work on passive income this year.

To be honest, I have not put in enough effort in getting passive/semi-passive income businesses off-ground. I rarely put in more than 2-3 hours per week on several of these projects. Let me list all of the things that I have worked on this year:

  1. Selling stuff on Amazon FBA – I started off with sending used items that I already owned. Most of things got sold within first few weeks but rest are slow moving. The hard part is to find more things to send to Amazon that can be sold for profit. It was also labor intensive work to pack and ship inventory. My brother is still working on this, I will help him when I can but I think I am completely done with this.
  2. T-Shirt on Merch by Amazon – My t-shirt designs are not that great, so far I have sold maybe 5 shirts. Also it may appear that this is passive income but from what I am reading, you need to advertise your shirts to really sell any. I have started to advertise on Pinterest. Let’s see how it goes. This doesn’t take much time, so I can continue working on this.
  3. Apps – I am still learning to make Apps in Android but this seems like the most legit way to generate passive income. I have several ideas for Android apps, that’s what I will focus on. My goal is to release my first app, IBS Food Tracker in next 3 months. This app will be useful for me too, as apparently I have IBS. I was looking for a simple IBS Food tracking app but none were that good. Right now, I am taking this course on Android dev.

There is another good reason to focus on Android apps, even if I never finish my apps, at least, I will learn a new skill that can help me get a job if nothing else.

 

Meditation Timer App

Meditation App in Google Play Store

I have made several Android apps but never really finished them. Recently, I have been playing with Phonegap/Cordova. These tools let you write your app in html and javascript, and then compile for different platforms such as Android or iOS.

Also lately I have been trying to meditate everyday but it is hard to find time for it. Of course, you don’t need anything for meditation but a timer is nice. At first, I was using an hourglass, my goal with timer is to meditate at least long enough for timer to go off. Problem with hourglass was I would keep opening my eye to see if I meditate enough or not.

So I looked for meditation apps, and there are thousands of them. Many very polished but too complex. You need to tap several times before timer starts. Then there were others which seemed simple but asked too many permissions or showed ads.

So I build a simple timer app using Cordova. It has no settings, as soon as you open app timer starts. When timer reaches 0, it vibrates for half a second. Now you can either continue to meditate or stop your meditation. Another feature I wanted was to slowly increase timer until it reaches 15 minutes. This is exactly what my app does.

At first, I was using it for myself but I decided to polish it a little and release it on Google Play. It is embarrassingly simple, and I doubt anyone else really needs an app like this. But if you do, then here you go: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chaosplay.meditator

The tragedy of 100% code coverage | IG Labs

It is funny how things turn around. ​ For fifteen years I have been preaching TDD (Test-driven development, or as it used to be called: test-first approach), or at least for developers to write some unit tests. However, in recent times I have found myself saying more often, “Why did you write that test?” instead of, “You should write a test.”

Source: The tragedy of 100% code coverage | IG Labs

 

This is something I struggle with too. I see too many unit tests written to cover single line methods. Sometimes, static method calls are moved to wrapper methods for unit tests. It seems to make code cluttered instead of making it easy to read.

You don’t need a web developer

Times Square at Night

Occasionally, when people find out I am a programmer, they ask me if I will build  them a website or an app on the side. As I spend all day programming at my work, I rarely have motivation to continue programming after work.

However, talking to most people, I realize they don’t need a programmer; most of their needs can be met by a simple SaaS solution. Recently, I directed a few friends to WordPress.com, SmugMug, Shopify, etc. They all were happy with the results and ease of use. Also I am glad they talked to me because one guy was ready to spend a few thousands on a developer for a WordPress-based site.

Here is my recommendation for various SaaS solutions for various business needs:

A website to show business information

WordPress.com

This is my number one recommendation when the goal is simply to show simple business information. Sites hosted on WordPress.com as opposed to self-hosted version cannot install custom themes or plugins. But in exchange you get one of most stress-free website for as low as $36 per year.

Squarespace

This is my second recommendation especially if you want visually modern looking website. Its visual editor let anyone customize beautiful themes. Highly recommended if you have large beautiful pictures of your place of business.

A website for photographers

SmugMug

For a photographer, I recommend SmugMug. Though you can also use SquareSpace or even WordPress.com if your goal is to only show off your portfolio.

But SmugMug provide additional photographer centric features such as private galleries, ability to order prints, and even sell digital prints.

A website to sell

Shopify

It seems that Shopify is gold standard when it comes to ecommerce SaaS solutions. Also it provides beautiful templates and a lot of customization options. And when your business grows bigger, there is a huge community of Shopify developers who can help you integrate your online store with your back-office systems such as ERP, CRM, etc.

BigCartel

Personally, if I was selling something online, I would start off with BigCartel, mostly because it is cheaper and seems to provide as many options as Shopify for new online businesses.

Email Collection for Marketing

Mailchimp

Email is still one of most effective marketing medium. You should be collecting email addresses of visitors to your website. Mailchimp provides very clean and easy to use interface for collecting emails and sending out newsletters.

Good news is that Mailchimp has integration for all of above SaaS website solutions except SmugMug.

When You Really Do Need a Developer

Ok sometimes you really need a software developer or developers. Here are some reasons when you should look to contracting or even hiring developers:

  1. Your product is a software, a website, or an app. If you are selling such a product you probably already know that you need programmer or multiple programmers.
  2. You want to build iOS or Android app. A lot of people in service industry have asked me for a simple apps for their businesses, such as appointment schedulers for a hair salon, or a simple app to show special menu for little mom n pop restaurants. Personally, I haven’t found any easy way for business owners to create their own.
    1. NOTE: Most businesses don’t need a simple app to show just information about their business. Instead focus on a good website that is equally useful on cellphones as on desktop.
  3. You want to integrate your website with ERP, CRM, accounting software, etc. I have worked on Magento integration with various systems. Let me tell you, it is not easy or simple. Even as a developer, I was pulling my hair out.

 

 

 

Passive Income – April Update

My passive income experiments, so far, haven’t been very productive. One reason might be because I switched team at day job a couple of months ago and I was trying to catch up with new team, so ended up putting in extra hours at the day job. Thus leaving me with less time in the evenings for my side projects. Now they moved me to another team, so I might have long work days for next few months again.

Then to be honest, I have been working on multiple items at once. I should focus on one project at a time.

Anyways here is a quick update on my experiments:

T-Shirts on Merch by Amazon

So far I have had zero success on Merch by Amazon. My t-shirt designs have been mostly simple text based. There is so much hype about Merch by Amazon, I was thinking it was a sure bet. I also used up my free bing advertising credits but still no sales.

Now I am going to delete a few older t-shirts and create new designs that I want to wear. Also going to experiment with Facebook Ads. Probably, for each t-shirt, I will have $10 advertising budget. If t-shirts doesn’t sell, I will delete the t-shirt and try a new design.

Amazon FBA

So it looks like things that gonna sell, sell within a week. Rest of inventory is still sitting, and haven’t had a sale in more than a month. I have given up on this, instead going to support my brother with his retail arbitrage experiments.

Freelance Web Development

This is not really passive but I had one project earlier in the year where I outsourced most of the work on UpWork.com. So it was semi-passive. But this is not something that can be scaled while working full-time. I had several phone calls afterwards with client to explain various things. For now, I will not accept anymore such projects.

Blogs/Websites/Podcasts

I had added Google Ads but since then removed them. Ads do make your blog look cheap. And Google Ads pay minimal. I am going to focus on building traffic on blogs first before adding any ads.

Also I have been thinking of building informational websites for various topics. Not blogs but simpler websites hyper focused on one topic. It is sort of a way for me to learn more about topics I care about such as history, philosophy, science. I could create quizzes or other learning activities too so that users can keep track of what they have learned.

Then lastly I have been looking into Urdu podcasts. I sort of want to copy Side Hustle School idea but podcast in Urdu to promote entrepreneurship in Desi community.

Apps

This is probably the most realistic way to generate passive income but I have not done anything here. I really should focus on building simple apps, if nothing else, I could learn a new skill.

Going Forward

In order to better focus, my top priority would to work on t-shirt designs. Make one new design per week, and use $10 advertising budget to decide if it is good or not. After I have created the t-shirt for week then I will focus on next project.

Next I cannot decide at present if I should focus on blogs or apps. Blogs or informational products are easy, you just create content that interest you. But chances of generating passive income is very low.

Apps building is a new skill for me to learn but there is higher chances of generating income. Plus it could help me become better programmer at my day job.

Error: xcode-select: error: tool ‘xcodebuild’ requires Xcode, but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

I have been playing with Cordova lately and was getting this error when building iOS version:

Error: xcode-select: error: tool 'xcodebuild' requires Xcode, 
but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

Even full install of Xcode didn’t fix this error.

The solution was to run following command to use full Xcode instead of command line tools version that I had installed earlier:

sudo xcode-select --switch /Applications/Xcode-beta.app/Contents/Developer

Passive Income 2017 Q1 Report

Beach

So far Passive Income experiments are not going good.

Amazon FBA

Initially, I had success with selling old books and video games on Amazon using FBA. A lot of stuff was sold within a week. But the stuff that didn’t sell within a week is still there after several weeks.

Then I sent in three more shipments to Amazon FBA. They lost all three shipments. After 4 weeks, they issued me reimbursement for lost items. To be honest, they were fair with pricing and it almost was awesome. Then a week later they found my lost shipments and reversed reimbursement. This is double sucks because first I cancelled my Amazon Seller Pro account trial. So now each item sold, cost me extra dollar.

Then on February 26th, Amazon FBA fees went up.

At this point, I am not really interested in further experiments with FBA or retail arbitrage.

Freelance Web Development

This has been one of most realistic experiment in semi-passive income. I had only one client but I outsourced almost 75% of her project. This saved enormous time, and I would say that is pretty passive. But since then I haven’t tried to pick up another project. It just seems like too much responsibility. I don’t want deadlines outside of my regular job.

T-Shirt Design

Just last week, I was accepted into Merch by Amazon program. There is 10 t-shirt limit on me for now. Many sources on web seems to imply that Merch by Amazon is the best place to sell t-shirts online. Some people claim they make $10,000+ during holiday season. I haven’t made a single sale yet but we will see.

Blogs

I have added Google Ads here and on some other blogs. But I should really focus on building traffic first. This blog is getting about 70 unique sessions per month. Photography and programming related posts seems to be most popular here. But any chance of making realistic money from this blog is not there.

Apps

I have been programming couple of Android Apps. This is tough for me because while I enjoy programming I find it harder to code after work. Also I don’t really enjoy UI design and Android development is mostly UI programming. I am also playing with Cordova so that I can use same source and compile app for both Android and iOS.

Microstock Photos

I haven’t uploaded any new stock photos since last year but I continue to sell some. I received 1099 from Fotolia and was surprised to see that I made $15.

However, I don’t plan to do more stock photography at this time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Trip 2017

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Beach San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of Old San Juan from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Soldier's Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal Soldier’s Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of sea from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Sunrise at Hulakula, Maui, Hawaii

I learned of Mark Manson through his blog, especially this post, 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Purpose. Since then I have been on and off following his blog. He usually has a lot of good advice, so finally I decided to get his book. Makes it easier to have all information in one place.

I had no idea what Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was about. It was an impulse purchase, perhaps to support his blog. It turns out to be a really good book. As a semi-regular reader of his blog, I sort of knew what his philosophies were. Still it was good to read everything in one place.

He is not encouraging to not care about anything but to care about things that matter. It is human nature to care. But a lot of us start to worry about things that don’t matter. Sometimes, it is because we have nothing to care about. For example, elderly lady in retirement home who has all her needs met, would get really pissed if her coupon is not accepted at super market because that is all she got.

Sometimes, we care about useless issues because real issues are too hard to deal with. For example, unemployed person may go back to school for their 3rd degree just because they are unable to get a job.

The basic idea is everyone cares about something but is it the right thing. His philosophy is very similar to Stoicism or even Buddhism philosophy.

The book is written well and easy to read. If anything negative, I would say that he is a bit verbose. Some of stories in it dragged on a bit too long. For example, when he was in his principle’s office, it was clear about what was going to happen but he dragged on that scene a bit too much.

Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are interested in some sort of self-help book.