In this very intimate entry I’ll reveal to you how my paper engineering hobby turned into a source of passive income, generating roughly $100,000 in 5 years. If you’re curious to know how my journey in paper engineering started, I suggest you read my “Spark of Curiosity” post first.
This outcome might be impressive, or not, depending on who you are and what your ambitions are. For me personally, this was unimaginable when I started, but curiosity lead me down a road of experimentation and very rewarding results.
My intent for sharing this information is to provide some insight about revenue streams which have been successful for me (as a starving artist). More importantly, if you’re an artist or designer reading this, I hope to inspire you to put that entrepreneurial business cap on and reap some financial benefits from your creative labor.
I will base this overview on a five year span (2012 - 2017) when I was actively engaged in these passive income pursuits. Let’s dive into it.
Website Store - $58,968
I took my first step into selling digital products online during September 2012 using the Pulley platform. It was a way to quickly test the online store waters before completely diving in, which I did seven months later by switching to DPD (Digital Product Delivery) the excellent e-commerce platform which I’ve been using since. I began adding tangible products around 2014. One of my main factors towards building a successful online store was growing a mailing list of over 20,000 subscribers. I accomplished this primarily by integrating Campaign Monitor into my website and DPD power store.
Etsy - $1,443
I gave Etsy a try in 2013, which never really took off due to the very niche masculine nature of my products and the primarily feminine audience of the website. The sales I did make here were mostly women buying the products as gifts for their male significant others. I learned a valuable lesson here. When starting an online store it is crucial to know who the target market is and where these potential customers can be reached.
Ebay - $293
I resisted selling on Ebay for a while, primarily due to my memories of how hideous this website used to be a decade ago. Even now, once you get past the somewhat polished home page, the back-end interface is ugly as ever with a user experience that’s anything but intuitive. Anyways, before I get on a design rant, I gave Ebay a try around 2015 with my tangible products, only to get a whopping 11 sales few months later. That was the end of it. Many sellers find success using this platform, but for me it never felt like the right fit.
YouTube - $4,980
Timelapse videos have always been a key component of my paper artistry. I began monetizing these videos on YouTube during 2012. Back then ad revenue was more than double of today’s rates. After learning the ins and outs of this system I’ve developed much respect and appreciation for video creators who are able to make a living using this platform.
Amazon Associates - $424
While I began using the Amazon Associates program in 2013 it never became anything extraordinary in terms of revenue, primarily because most of my affiliate links lead to low price items of tools and materials I personally used, such as paper, glue and X-Acto knives. To generate revenue worth noticing using Amazon Associates you need to drive massive amounts of referral traffic, or hope that your referred shoppers cash out on high-priced items.
Commissions - $36,200
This category is vastly different from those listed above because I was paid for providing a service on a per-project basis. However, as these projects were created outside of my day job I view this revenue as passive income. Without getting into the details of each commission, these were projects I created for several great companies (Audi, Autodesk, Hasbro, and others) which expressed interest in my unique capabilities.
Grand Total: $102,308