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 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.


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.


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.

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

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 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:


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.