Personal Finance

34-year-old making $49,000 a month in passive income: What I always tell people who want to build successful side hustles

Photo: Ryan Hogue

In 2016, I was working two jobs as a senior web developer and an adjunct professor. On the side, to help me get by, I was a freelance web developer. I knew almost nothing about business.

Today, I've built more than 10 passive income streams, including multiple e-commerce brands, a YouTube channel and an online school. Combined, these businesses bring in about $49,000 a month in passive income. I've learned a lot about how to create a profitable company.

I always tell people that if they want to build successful side hustles and passive income streams, they need to stop believing these three myths:

Myth #1: You need to spend money to make money

This is a common piece of business advice. If you want to open a retail store, for example, your expenses would include monthly rent, purchasing goods — to stock shelves and then re-sell to customers — and employee wages. That's a traditional way of doing things, and an expensive one.

My favorite online business model is print-on-demand. I started my print-on-demand side hustle on Amazon in 2017 for $0 and I've since expanded it to offer my products through Etsy, Walmart, and eBay.

DON'T MISS: The ultimate guide to earning passive income online

Print-on-demand lets me sell items like t-shirts and coffee mugs with custom designs on them. I don't pay a dime for any of the inventory until after a customer places an order, which helps me keep costs low. 

After I get an order, I pay a company like Printful, which specializes in printing and shipping products to fulfill the orders for me. After paying the printer, and marketplace referral fees for Amazon and Etsy, then I have a profit left over. 

Myth #2: You can make passive income without putting in the work

Outside of dividend investing, building passive income streams will always require time and dedication. There is no shortcut to success. I worked many early mornings and late nights on my side hustles, especially early on.

While I am still very involved in the day-to-day management of my businesses, I know many people who have been able to step away from day-to-day operations — after they hit an income threshold they were happy with — while continuing to benefit from their previous work. 

Building my profitable passive income streams required a lot of discipline. I had to learn to be okay with the idea of delayed gratification. But in the end I'm so glad I put in the effort. 

Myth #3: You need a team to help run your business

I'm not against having a team, but in my experience, it's not necessary to have one to be successful. Seven years in, I'm still able to do this on my own, thanks in part to how many different tools are available for entrepreneurs right now. 

For example, for the first two years I ran it, I spent three to four hours every day on my Amazon Merch business in order to help it grow. Today, thanks to advances in automation, I only work one hour per week on it.

I'm a big fan of tools like MyDesigns. It uses AI to automate design creation, generate SEO-friendly product listings and publish my products in bulk online. All of this makes it possible for me to come up with and offer more new custom items, and it's cut the most tedious work out of the equation. 

Being strategic with these tools have helped me stay on top of everything, while also letting me leave work behind whenever I want or need to. That way I can truly live the life I want.

Ryan Hogue is a former web developer and adjunct professor who quit both jobs to run his e-commerce business. His YouTube channel teaches people how to earn passive income using "Ryan's Method."

Hogue is also an instructor in CNBC's new online course, How to Earn Passive Income Online. The course provides an overview of common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

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