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$6,000 in Completely Passive Income from One Book (The Automated Book Sales Funnel Method)

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Passive income.

The holy grail of online (and offline) business.

Everybody talks about it, but the reality is most “passive” income isn’t passive at all – instead it forces the creator to continue to spin the wheel (at least intermittently) to keep the money flowing…

Well, in 2014 I did something mostly by accident that has led to over $6,000 in completely passive income.

And this is from just one of my books.

Take a look:

Income generated from a single book

passive_income_from_tcgtpwywThe graph above is a snapshot of The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing since my launch in November of 2013 to now. If you remove 2013 and 2015 numbers, I made over $6,000 from the book in 2014 alone.


I’ll show you:

See the graph and the numbers above? They all refer to a particular phase of my book launch and promotional efforts. Here’s what happened:

#1. Book launch. This was the first month of pre-orders and the launch of the book itself. I made about $1,000 at the launch of my book. Not bad but not great – certainly not enough to retire on. Although for a first time effort (for a concerted book launch), I was pretty happy.

#2. Book promotion. For the next 3 months I promoted the book on my blog and began guest posting about the topic on other sites. This didn’t do too bad for me as you can see, generating another $1,000 in cashflow, but guest posting and promotion is a LOT of work, and as you’ll see, doesn’t really drive sales if you stop…

Here are a few examples of guest posts:

Is Pay What You Want Pricing for You? (Gumroad.com blog)

Pay What You Want Pricing – the Ultimate Sales Strategy (Medium.com blog)

The Essential Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (MarketingforHippies.com blog)

#3. The dry spell. During this time I stopped promoting my book. As you can see, I made about $0 during this month of time. However, behind the scenes, I was working on something that would change everything for me: I decided to turn my book into a free 7 day crash course.

#4. The automated book sales funnel. Since I launched the crash course, I’ve been able to add over 1,000 people to my email list as well as generate $6,000+ in sales. This is completely passive – I haven’t touched this automated sales funnel nor put any effort into promotion whatsoever (except for the one-off podcast that asks me about PWYW pricing).

Why these numbers matter

  1. Passive income is possible, but it takes putting in the right amount of effort up front and in the right way.
  2. You can make money from your writing. I don’t believe in being a starving artist – neither should you.
  3. Unconventional practices work. I don’t use fixed prices nor do I use Amazon. Instead, I let my readers choose what they’ll pay for my books – whatever is fair to them. The results speak for themselves.

How to apply this to your book

Step 1. Write your book

Pretty self-explanatory…

Step 2. Create your book sales page

If you’re using Amazon, this would be the Amazon sales page. Or if you’re using a platform like Gumroad, you can just as easily use their sales pages…although I prefer to create my own sales pages so I can have more creative freedom in terms of design and layout.

Here’s an example of The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing sales page.

Step 3. Develop your free email series

Create a series of emails on your book topic by pulling content from your book and re-engineering it for email. This means summarizing major points and reducing total text (people don’t want to read a novel in their inbox).

Organize the points you’ve re-engineered based on a logical sequence. So for the Pay What You Want Crash Course, I lead people through a logical progression, starting with proof that it works (case study), followed by WHY it works, HOW it works, and then ways to implement it (strategies). I also throw in bonus templates so people can start putting this knowledge into action right away (highly actionable is always good).

Step 4. Add these emails to an autoresponder program

Put these emails into an autoresponder program. I use ConvertKit, but you can also use Mailchimp (about $20 / month to start), Aweber, Drip, or many other options.

Step 5. Create your signup page

A signup page is a place where people can signup to get access to your email series.

I use NewRainmaker which is an all-in-one web hosting and CMS platform created by the incredible people at copyblogger.com. Although, at $1,000 per year this is a bit pricey. So for something less expensive, I recommend LeadPages.net (where you can get a simple website or splash pages setup in minutes) for as little as $30 / month, or even less expensive (but definitely more work), choose a hosting service like Webfaction.com (about $100 / year), buy a premium theme from Themeforest.net (about $40), and host and manage your own website.

Step 6. Send people to your signup page for your free email course

I did about 10+ guest posts to spread the word about PWYW pricing, each one linking back to my free course on PWYW pricing. These guest posts are on predominant websites that drive a lot of consistent traffic my way. I don’t like to waste time creating content for websites that dont’ have engaged users (hint: look at comments on a website to determine engagement). I’ve also done dozens of interviews on the subject, as well as written some content for my own blog.

Step 7. Sit back and let the passive income roll in

Note: if passive income DOESN’T roll in, it’s most likely an issue with your (1) sales page (does this sales page make me want to buy?), (2) email course (are you creating engaging content that makes readers want more?), (3) traffic (are you getting the right people to your site?). Every month you should make tweaks until you’re making consistent cashflow from your automated sales funnel.

Free Template, Video Training and eCourse

If you’re interested in seeing the exact template I use for my own automated book sales funnel, you can grab your copy here:

The Automated Book Sales Funnel Template

As a bonus, you’ll automatically be registered for my free live workshop on book launch strategies (only people who register get access to the live event or the recording afterward).

Finally, while it’s great to put a books sales on autopilots, it helps to have a massively popular book to begin with.

This means you need to launch your book the right way.

So if you’re interested in launching your book to bestseller, checkout my new free eCourse:

Zero to Bestseller (free 5-part ecourse).

This is the exact process I’ve used to launch multiple bestselling books including: Dan Norris’ The 7 Day Startup (20,000+ downloads and still selling about 40 – 60 copies per day, more than 6 months after launch) and David Nihill’s Do You Talk Funny, among many others.

Your Turn

Now that you’ve had a peak behind the curtain of what makes many of my books run on autopilot, what do you think?

Are you going to use this for your next (or current) book?

Why or why not?  Share below!

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  • Great post Tom, love the step by step approach, my only questions would be, what type of content do you post on guest posting, your blog and social media – does the content relate to each other or is every platform unique in its content?
    I.e. do you use the same content over the different platforms or create different types of promotional content for each platform?

    • Just updated the post to share some examples.

      I target my writing for the audience I’m writing for…so the Gumroad audience is analytical and wants a reason to use a feature that Gumroad provides. Therefore, I focused on numbers and stats.

      For my own blog, I knew my readers would care more about the why, so that’s what I focused on (with additional posts on the stats as well, but from the perspective of ‘why’ first)

  • I also have questions about guest posting. As much as I love writing, I often have a hard time finding places that I can write for. Any suggestions there?

    Oh, and in reference to the questions via email… I haven’t done anything like this. Reason? I don’t have a good product yet that allows me to talk about it a bunch of times. I’m still in the process of making it. =P

    • Grace, great question.

      I started on smaller blogs before I got a feel for blogging, then I reached out to bigger blogs like Paidtoexist.com and Fizzle.co with pre-written articles that I thought would appeal to their audiences. I got lucky because both were accepting and liked my article.

      The key is to offer well-written, remarkable content (as in – something new and interesting with a compelling hook or perspective) for blogs that accept guest posts.

      Let me know what else you’d like to know…may have to write a blog post about this 🙂

  • Awesome and epic post Tom! Thanks for sharing.
    This is extremely convenient for me because I’m about to launch an email course for my authority site. I struggle with the idea for PWYW because my niche is students, who often only want things for free. I suppose I should test the waters to see if it works!

    the “upsell” for my course will be a course to provide more indent hand video tutorials.

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