The “Passive Income” Lie: Puking Your Guts Out On The Product Launch Rollercoaster

I still remember the moment I decided to write my first ebook.

I was out in my yard, mowing around the raspberry bushes and listening to a podcast. The host was explaining how he published his own books and sold them from his website.

Ah, the siren song of “passive income.”

Stop trading hours for dollars.

Make money while you sleep.

Build it once, sell it forever.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

I sure thought so. Until that point in my life, I’d always assumed that earning extra income meant putting in extra hours.

“Normal” for me was juggling 2-3 jobs, scrambling to meet deadlines while popping prescription antacids.

After a decade of 60-80 hour weeks, I was *tired*, and the idea of hopping off this treadmill, of doing work ONCE and getting paid forever, was a breath of fresh air.

So that was it—instead of busting my hump on never-ending client projects, I was going to invest that time into writing an ebook that I could sell over and over again.

I even knew what my topic would be.

As a software developer, I knew that programmers love them some productivity tools.

And the newest, shiniest tool on the block was a code editor called Sublime Text.

A few weeks prior I’d written a blog post about Sublime and watched in amazement as it went viral—50,000 page views in a couple short days.

I pulled out my little MacBook Air and started pecking out my very first book, a programmer’s guide to Sublime Text, written by a programmer in Sublime Text.

Three months later, I launched a “beta” version of the book—and brought in $2,000.

That much money would have taken me 70+ hours to earn as a freelancer.

I was on top of the world! This was going to be my ticket to freedom—freedom from the 9-5 grind, freedom from logging long evenings and weekends on client projects. I could clearly see how I could turn my little publishing biz into a full-time income that would eventually allow me to quit my job.

And then began the downward slide.

As the hoopla of my launch faded, so did my sales.

I was expecting some drop off, but what really shocked me was how far they fell—and kept falling.

I couldn’t understand it.

My website traffic was growing.

My email list was growing.

My audience loved what I was doing.

Everything was going UP except my sales.

Since the launch went so well, I had an idea that I could publish another book and launch THAT too.

Then I’d have two books out there. I’d generate twice as much interest, and I could sell them as a package to prop up my sagging revenue.

Took me 5-6 months to write that second book. I’d get up at 5 a.m. and write until it was time to clock in at the day job.

Finally I launched it, and this time I brought in $6,000. Fantastic! This is going to work.

Except within a couple of months, my income was in the toilet again.

The second product hardly even made a blip on my monthly sales, and the trend was still DOWN.

To say I was discouraged is an understatement.

I’d poured months of work into these two products—years even. I’d built a large audience that loved all the tips and tricks I was teaching them.

But still it seemed like the only time I made any money was during product launches.

Now that I’ve been around the ol’ online marketing block a few times, I’ve seen this pattern repeated over and over.

Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs are trapped on this same product launch rollercoaster.

I read recently about an author who made $25K+ on his launch, only to see his revenue drop to just $1-3K per month after that.

And after that you can expect sales to slow to a trickle or even peter out completely.

Sadly your kids still need to eat and your ISP really likes to be paid for all that bandwidth you’re gobbling up…

That means another product, another launch, and another spike of income.

Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound real “passive” to me.

It sounds an awful lot like “trading hours for dollars,” only now those dollars tend to come in big, unpredictable lumps instead of being spread out in a nice, steady stream of income that you can depend on.

Well I’m happy to report that my story didn’t end with me discouraged and down in the dumps.

It took me a while (and some trial and error), but eventually I found a technique that allows me to ensure that the sales keep rolling in months and even years after my product launches are over.

Yes I still see that same spike of income when the product first goes live.

But instead of dropping to almost nothing after that, the sales continue at a comfortable and predictable pace.

To cite one example, I launched a product recently that kicked off around $45K during the launch.

And using this technique, within 5 months the course had earned another $40K—nearly equalling the launch earnings.

If this product sells for 2 more years it will bring in another $120K—and the product’s total revenue will be 5X what it earned during the launch.

The tool I use to generate this kind of drumbeat-steady, long-term income is:

Email courses.

Not super sexy, I know.

But I’ve seen repeatedly how a well-planned email course can turn a flatlining product into a cash-producing “perpetual motion machine.”

The reason these courses work so well is they allow you to capture “lightning in a bottle” by employing many of the same effective marketing techniques that made your product launch successful in the first place.

I’m out of room here—more on this soon.