The Passive Income Myth

I love side projects, I’ve written post after post about how important they are. They build your portfolio, grow your skill-set, and make you a better shipper.

While following along with the “Stanford meets YC and has a How to Start a Startup baby”, I had a miniature epiphany. A side epiphany, if you will.

If you’ve spent any time on hackernews, you’re aware most developers would love to build something that generates passive income. Its possible, but I think its mostly rare for the main reason that side projects, are just that, side projects.

Some things, like books and products you can sell (fonts, photoshop brushes etc.) probably can earn more & have a longer shelf-life, but are not really broad enough to relate to the point I’m making.

The generic idea of “passive income” is that you do some work, and when you’re finished, your work generates income, with minimal if any maintenance.

I have projects that do this (the money is pretty minimal). But when I reflect on them, and why they haven’t grown more - one thing that stares back at me, lack of passion. I built them to solve a problem, and they accomplished that. But I didn’t care about the problems past a certain point. This lack of passion undermines any efforts to generate substantial income, passive or otherwise.

How do side projects become full time projects?

Revenue isn’t usually created by just having a product. It’s by getting people to pay for the product, and to keep them happily using it. That isn’t passive income at all. That is a business. That’s driven by passion to solve a problem. To help other people utilize your solution, and make the experience amazing for them. It’s everything beyond coding.

Choose side projects you’re passionate enough to work on full time - should you be so lucky.


Now read this

Shipping Projects.

You will never reach an unknown destination. It’s that simple. Shipping side projects is difficult. Really difficult. You sacrifice a metric shit-ton of your free time, building a project you may never finish, never use, and never even... Continue →