Tuesday, January 5, 2010

True happiness comes from recurring income, not passive income

A participant in an on-line community recently wrote about Tim Ferriss' book "The Four-Hour Work Week". He liked the book, but criticised it for promoting the unrealistic goal of "finding a niche for an online business that will make you money while you sleep. And only takes 4 hours a week".

I agree with him: It's not easy to create a passive income stream on the Internet. But I don't think that's the point of the book.

Unfortunately, I think that's one of the biggest misunderstandings of the book. Too many people latched on to the idea of "instant Internet income", and missed the whole point of the book. It's not about creating an automated business; it's about doing what you love, so that what seems like work only takes a few hours a week.

I've heard Ferriss say as much on a few audio interviews, and I wonder whether the revised version of the book places less of an emphasis on on-line business.

Personally, I think true happiness in business comes from recurring income, not passive income. The difference? Passive income is making money in your sleep, which - I agree - is difficult. Recurring income, on the other hand, is where you have a bunch of loyal followers who want to be part of your network, you consistently deliver great value to them, and they're happy to pay you a subscription for it.

My rental properties bring me passive income. My membership site brings me recurring income. I have to work at the latter, but it's work I love, so it's by far the more fulfilling.


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