I made an App

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

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.

Free Stock Photos for Blogging

Usually I use my own photos on my blogs. But my collection is not that big and needed some photos for one of my other blog but none of my photos matched the subject. So I have been started using these sites for free stock photos:

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://unsplash.com/
  3. https://pixabay.com/
  4. https://stocksnap.io/

Photo by Kristian Karlsson, https://stocksnap.io/photo/8F830E9235

Passive Income 2017 Q1 Report

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.

Returned Surface Pro 4 & Bought Wacom Intuos Draw

After about a month of use, I decided to return Surface Pro 4. I had i5, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD version. It was plenty fast but not significantly faster than my 5 years old laptop. But performance was not my main concern. It was lack of lap-ability, the reason for returning it.

I wanted to make it my main laptop but it was not always comfortable in lap. Cannot use it easily with one leg on knee. It was not easy to use in bed. It needs a keyboard like Surface Book for it to be a full laptop replacement. For now, I will wait and see what happens with Surface Pro 5. Perhaps, I will get Dell XPS 13.

After returning Surface Pro, I missed drawing on it a lot. I was bumped until I discovered Wacom Intous tablets (Affiliate Link). These tablets let you draw on computer and cost less than a $100. I will be using it for my T-Shirt design ideas.

drawing on surface pro 4

Amazon Selling Report

My first shipment to FBA was pretty small, 6 books and 1 video game.

Video game was Tomb Raider. It was sold within a few hours of going live. Previously, I have sold popular video games on Amazon but shipped games myself to buyer. That would normally take a few days to sell.

Then 3 out of six books were sold within first week. One of these books was listed for less money as Merchant Fulfilled previously for many months.

amazon sales report

Well so far I am in red. But I sent my second shipment this week. This contained 19 books and 1 kitchen item. Looking forward to seeing how fast the new books sell.

 

Learning 2017

In past few days, I have spent incredible amount of time learning about various business ideas I am working on this year. In fact, I didn’t get to write any blog, public or private, since January 9th.

Selling Private Label on Amazon

This seemed like an easy way to make semi-passive money. However, it requires a lot of upfront effort and cost. My brother is helping me with this but I think this should not be our first step. Selecting products for private label is easy. We are using JungleScout webapp. It helped us narrow down several promising niches. The next steps would be:

  1. Find manufacturers on AliBaba.com. Filter by Gold and Trade Assurance.
  2. Order samples.
  3. Order UPC codes ($250 for only 10 UPCs with $50 annual renewal fee. There are also 3rd party resellers that offer UPC). Also we can bypass UPC requirement if we can get Brand Registry. But Brand Registry approval process requires your product with the brand logo on it.
  4. Create the product listing on Amazon and get FNSKU.
  5. Design packaging with FNSKU and send final order to manufacturer. Use Air for shipping. It would cost more but it would be faster and avoid dealing with Customs.
  6. Once order arrive use inspect and send to Amazon.
  7. Start marketing on Amazon using PPC.

We might be moving on this slower than our initial plans. The other option is to order product first with our branding. Then apply for Brand Registry. This would save us at least $250. If we do this then we will not have FNSKU until after product is designed and shipped to us. So we will have to attach labels for the first batch of products. Then we can update our packaging design and incorporate FNSKU in it.

Retail Arbitrage

So while searching on how Private Label works on Amazon, we came across Retail Arbitrage.

I have been selling my old games and books on Amazon for a while but never used FBA before. So first we created a test FBA shipment, the process is a little confusing but in end everything went smoothly.  One video game sold within couple of hours of going live.

Pro account give you access to Amazon Seller App. The app lets you scan items and tell you how much you can sell it for on Amazon and if you are allowed to sell it. So we will try Retail Arbitrage though we don’t want to invest too much time in this as this is not passive at all.

Some readings:

  • http://www.sidehustlenation.com/amazon-fba-clearance-arbitrage-shopping/
  • http://www.sidehustlenation.com/amazon-fba-retail-arbitrage-six-figures-in-year-one/

T-Shirt Design

I am still learning to design and use Photoshop.

But I am thinking instead of selling my T-Shirts just on RedBubble and Private Label just on Amazon, why not create a real brand that we can grow.

So I am thinking about setting up a Shopify store. Shopify let you push products to Amazon so you can easily manage your products from one place. I can still use FBA to fulfill orders for Private Label.

Then for T-Shirts, I can use Teelaunch or Printful and integrate that with Shopify. These service will automatically fill orders. This should be better in long run. And once my brand is registered with Amazon, then I can push products directly to Amazon too.

To avoid $30 per month fee of Shopify, I could use WooCommerce. That is another area I need explore.

 

 

 

 

Android App Idea

My app idea is pretty simple. Basically, I want to create a voice based chat bot. There are already many APIs from IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon that you can use for text conversations. You add voice to text and then text to speech and you got yourself “Her.”

But there is more to this app. It should help one become a better speaker. By converting speech to text, then we can run various analysis. It can show crutch words or sounds. It could calculate rate of speech or high pitch.

Finally, it could offer suggestions to users on improving their speech.

Passive Income 2017

One of my goal this year is to create a passive income stream. I always wanted to be location and time independent. In past, I have attempted many times to create passive income streams. Such as writing novels, stock photography, affiliate marketing, etc. But usually I gave up on such projects within a few months.

This time I hope to continue building passive income streams at least for the full year. Also, plan to blog about my progress to keep myself accountable.

Passive Income Ideas

T-shirt Designs

If you read any entrepreneur forums or subreddits, t-shirt design is such a common idea for first time entrepreneurs that it is almost a running joke. Most people don’t really make any money from it.

But I got interested in it because of two reasons. First, I have always been interested in arts. I paint once in a while, draw semi-decently, and enjoy photography and other visual arts. So t-shirt design seems related to my other interests.

Second, I just bought the Surface Pro 4 and I have been enjoying painting/drawing on it.

So far I signed up on RedBubble and uploaded a modified photo to get familiar with the process. I plan to practice drawing on Surface Pro and upload at least one design every week. Here is my portfolio link on RedBubble.

Online Sales Through FBA

This is not really passive but I have read enough online threads about people that are running their eCommerce businesses through FBA semi-passively. FBA stands for “Fulfilled By Amazon.” Amazon offers this service where merchants can send their inventory to Amazon’s warehouse and Amazon handles shipping and almost everything else.

Out of all of ideas here, this seems to be the most realistic and achievable.

Right now, I am still researching products.

Blogs

I have been blogging since early 2000s. I just never seriously monetized my blogs. Chaosplay is my oldest blog. My resolution this year is to write a blog post daily, even if it is never published. I have three blogs right now but I will mainly focus on this blog.

This blog will focus on my progress with passive income generation in addition to photography and videography. I think a blog with focus on income generation maybe easier to monetize and rank higher in search engines.

In a way, this seems like one of those sites where people teach how to make money using FBA while their main source of income is their courses. Hopefully, I will be as open about my progress as possible without giving up any competitive advantage and at the same time my main passive income would come from other sources. But even if I fail at my other experiments, at least, I can be honest about it and people can learn from my mistakes.

My plan to monetize this blog right now involves mostly affiliate links. Maybe in future, I can have sponsored ads.

Consulting/Freelancing

Freelancing is not really passive. I receive many requests for simple websites regularly. I just don’t have time for it. But now I am working on a system to outsource work. Currently, I have one client and I created an Upwork account to outsource the work. If everything goes smoothly it could be considered semi-passive work.

Android Apps

I am also working on an Android apps. The app is mostly for learning Android; it will be free and open source. However, I will place ads in it or maybe have some premium features.

Ordered Trial Products to Sell Online

One of my goal this year is to create a semi-passive income stream. And I am considering selling online especially on Amazon using FBA program. In theory, it means find a few good products to sell, ship those to Amazon’s warehouses, and let Amazon ship them.

We ordered some trial products from AliExpress.com. Now we wait for a few weeks before these items are delivered from China. When items arrive, I will list these on Amazon and eBay and see how that goes. For now we will ship ourselves. But eventual plan is to use fulfillment service.

Also The Amazing Seller blog is very useful. A lot of useful tips about selling online and on Amazon there.