Is Passive Income A Myth?

Lynn Terry on Passive IncomePeople ask me this all the time, and they often lean in and whisper it even: Can you really make passive income, or make money online even when you're not actively working? That always makes me smile.

The answer is YES. πŸ˜€

Not only is it possible, it's very important.

You definitely need to make it a goal to create sustainable passive income in your business, and I'll tell you why... with some personal horror stories.

You may have heard that I've been sick lately. I traveled most of August, and came home at the end of the month with a dreaded respiratory virus that was sweeping the Midwest. It took hold as a wicked case of bronchitis, among other symptoms, which landed me in bed and kept me miserable for weeks.

4 1/2 weeks later I finally started feeling like myself again, although I'm still battling a cough and my usual high-energy has yet to return. Still, it's nice to be back to work and back on my feet! So what happens when you're knocked off your feet unexpectedly, and can't work for several weeks in a row?? It depends...

The Reality Behind Passive Income

For me, it wasn't that big of a deal (save being completely miserable of course). I was able to take the time off I needed to rest and recover. I was able to afford doctor and hospital visits, and continue paying my bills and business expenses.

While I missed quite a few emails, missed out on some great opportunities - including an event I wanted to attend, and even lost a few subscribers and customers, the big picture is that an entire month off (without warning or preparation!) didn't make a huge difference. I was able to do it with very little stress or long-term impact.

This is in stark contrast to experiences I've had in the past...

I was once in a near fatal car accident for example, which landed me in the hospital for weeks and home for recovery for several more weeks after. I was only 20 years old, working three jobs, renting an apartment, etc. The result, after a couple months of recovery? I lost everything - my car, my jobs, my apartment - and ended up living in a stranger's laundry room. Yes, I lived in her laundry room. Crazy, I know.

That's the reality of having no savings, nowhere to turn, and getting by week to week.

Making Money Alone Is Not Enough

Fast forward - I got married, started a business then started a second business, partnered in a third, and went from way below poverty level to a healthy six figure income. I had a family, business was great and continuing to grow, and life was good. I'd achieved success! And then, once again the unexpected happened.

During the year 2000 I went through a devastating divorce and my oldest child became incredibly ill. My resources got sucked dry, and I struggled to keep up with client work and meetings and other business obligations. I was going broke, not getting much sleep, and had a hard time focusing on work - much less leaving my child to tend to clients & meetings & business. I lost it all.

That being the second time the bottom fell out from under me, I resolved then and there to never find myself in that place again. Ever.

I was on my own again, this time with two children to take care of and feed, and a bank account that had turned into a black hole. I was overdrawn so any check I did get went straight into that black hole. I busted my ass to get back on my feet.

It wasn't easy, even with my past experience and business contacts. I had to make that dreaded trip to the food bank, and lost 23 pounds in 7 weeks because there wasn't enough food for myself and the children - and they of course came first.

It was during this (dark) time of desperation, heartache and extreme stress that I turned things around. Not overnight of course, but it's when the process began.

Analyze What's Already Working

I have a habit of saying, "Do more of what's working, and less of what's not." Up to that point everything had been working, but only when I had been working.

As I was analyzing my business and trying to figure out the best plan to get out of the hole and back on my feet, one thing really stood out to me. It was the income I earned when I was not working. It wasn't much, but it was consistent.

The source: Affiliate Marketing. It wasn't necessarily called that when I first started doing it (in the late 90's), but this "side income" was easy and consistent.

That's what I started focusing on, while still working with clients to keep "immediate income" coming in of course. I've continued to focus on that in my business since then, and ultimately stopped the service side of my business altogether.

While I focused on Affiliate Marketing to start, I sought out and tested a variety of more passive revenue sources along the way. This is what allowed me to homeschool my children, take care of my grandmother around the clock for two years, and ultimately travel the world and have a lifestyle of freedom & flexibility.

Passive Income = Less Stress & More Freedom

That doesn't mean I don't have to work. I do work, and I ENJOY my work tremendously! It simply means that I have a level of security against life's unexpected events: a safety net. And of course a better, less stressful, more enjoyable life.

Last year I had unexpected surgery. But let me back up and say that this fun little event was preceded by several other unexpected events in the year or two leading up to it - such as having my business massively hacked, finding myself with a HUGE tax debt, and getting incredibly sick with six months of medication with lovely side effects - which ultimately lead to my emergency surgery. As if that's not enough for any one person, my dog (Mylah) died in my lap right in the middle of it all.

Life does not discriminate, and sometimes it can be downright harsh.

You know what they say: When it rains, it pours!

I went in to see my doctor on a Monday morning, and he scheduled emergency surgery for that same week. In between I had to do lab work and get a root canal (before they could put me under). What a week. 😐 There was little time to prep, but I did get the house ready for what should have been a short home recovery.

Unfortunately that was not the case...

I had complications post-surgery, and some kind of X-Files reaction to the anesthesia that affected my cognitive function for more than 5 months. I couldn't keep count up to three, which made the smallest task like making coffee a serious challenge.

This time I did NOT end up living in a laundry room or nearly starve to death. Even with all the financial setbacks, and the ridiculously long recovery, I managed to stay afloat AND pay all the medical bills. THAT is success.

It's Not All Mansions & Margaritas

Sure "margaritas on the beach" is a nice sell, but the reality is a life you can live and enjoy in a state of security - no matter what the universe throws your way.

This time, with the wicked respiratory virus that set me back for more than a month, I was able to crawl back in bed and simply recover. I'm not going to say I enjoyed it, lol, because it was pure hell. But it was certainly a relief not to worry my whole life would fall apart as a result of simply taking care of myself.

I tell you all of this to encourage you to really consider your revenue sources - and your stability and security. I've been hit by some pretty big events, which I wouldn't wish on anyone, but... life happens. And like I said, it doesn't discriminate.

Create A Sustainable Lifestyle

Ask yourself: What can I do NOW, while things are going fine, to make sure I don't lose it all? How can I ensure sustainability in my life and business?

Start by looking at your revenue sources. Where is your money coming from?

Make a list and mark each source "active" or "passive". Active meaning if you aren't present, if you aren't actively working, it stops. Passive Income sources continue coming in when you're sleeping, traveling, sick, or simply not actively working.

Take a closer look at those passive sources. How can you expand on that?

Affiliate Marketing is not the only way to create passive income. It's simply one source. And that's another thing you want to consider going forward, that you have multiple passive revenue sources, and that you don't depend on just one.

You know the old saying about having all of your eggs in one basket! πŸ˜‰ Info products, advertising, books, autoresponders - all great sources for passive revenue as well.

I encourage you to sit down and do some serious evaluation and strategic planning.

I can't even begin to tell you what it means to me to have the luxury of being sick, the time for recovery, taking life's hits without getting knocked down.

I've been there, and it was NOT fun. I now have a sustainable business that provides me with security and stability. And of course being able to travel the world and all that good stuff - those are seriously nice perks as well. :+)

Getting Back To Work...

It's great to be back to work. I have TONS of catching up to do, especially with my inbox (eek! lol), but I can't even complain. This is nothing compared to losing everything and starting back in the hole...

It's especially nice to have my focus, motivation and creative energy back. Over the weekend I was working on some cover graphics for books and info products I have in the works - which are a great way to set up more of those passive income sources! Check out my blog post on CoversCrush to see an example of what I'm working on.

Fortunately I only missed one Brainstorming Hour session during the 4+ weeks I was sick. That was about the only thing I came to my desk for, lol - I love those sessions! Everyone was kind enough to put up with my froggy voice for a few weeks. πŸ˜€

I hope this conversation inspires you, and encourages you to take definitive action toward securing your future - and your life. I was sharing this story with a friend over the phone last week and he suggested I should tell it to the world.

Create Passive Income NOW, Before You NEED It

In case it didn't really sink in, you don't have to be successful or in business for more than 17 years like me to create an awesome lifestyle via passive income.

You don't have to be brilliant or have some mega education either - I didn't even graduate high school. It's not rocket science.

The changes I made to create the life I have now... started in a black hole, during the darkest times of my life. Surely you're in a better position than that right now. Or if you're not, now you know there IS hope.

I strongly encourage you to do the work while you have the breathing room. Don't wait until desperate times. It's MUCH easier to do the work... while you have something to work with, than waiting until you've lost it all and have to start from nothing. Said from personal experience. πŸ˜‰

Unless you're totally paranoid, or an OCD freak of nature, it can be very difficult to get highly motivated when you're complacent. It's hard to muster up the energy and determination to dig in and do something proactive about your future... when you're comfortable. I hope my stories made you uncomfortable, or instilled just enough apprehension to make you want to push yourself just a little bit harder.

It certainly worked on me! 😯 lol. While my life is much easier, and definitely more comfortable now, I'm constantly reminded how quickly the bottom can fall out from under you. Create your safety net now, before it's too late!


p.s. No, Passive Income is not a myth. I'm walking proof of that.

I look forward to sharing more of my resources, tips and experience with you to help you achieve the same lifestyle I have! Make sure you're subscribed by email (below), and also check out my Niche Success Blueprint which will walk you through every step of setting up a sustainable online business.

Prefer hands on help? Join my Private Brainstorming Group where I can work with you personally - and get free access to the Niche Success Blueprint TOO. πŸ˜‰ *cheers*

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Sheri Dresser says


    WOW! I knew bits and pieces but didn't realize you had gone through all of THAT! You are an amazing woman and God certainly has walked through all these trials with you and has obviously blessed you in spite of them. I am glad to know that things are looking up again and that you are getting back on your feet.

    I know what you mean about unexpected things. We had a huge tree fall on our home in early February. Thanks to God we were both ok and not hurt but the house took a huge hit and so did our finances. If we had not planned, saved and had reserves (and good insurance) we would not have been able to weather the situation very well. But God was faithful and helped us get through it all. It has been quite stressful at times, and we are still working through getting the house back together - hopeful to get it done by the middle of November.

    Thank you for posting this today. You confirmed what I have been thinking and realizing we need to get back to doing, and that is that we really need to get even more serious about building passive income streams for the other "storms" that will no doubt come our way at some point in our life. As our pastor often says, "In life, you are either coming into a storm, in the midst of a storm, or just coming out of a storm". So we always need to be ready and prepared.

    Wishing you the best in your continuing recovery. Hope to see you at NAMS in Atlanta in March!


    • Oh wow, Sheri - what a crazy experience! I have a tree outside my office (a sunroom, all windows) that I keep expecting to crash right in on me one of these days. You just brought reality to that recurring thought! πŸ˜› No fun... So glad you're close to having things back to normal!

      I like that saying: "In life, you are either coming into a storm, in the midst of a storm, or just coming out of a storm." That certainly defines my life! lol. πŸ˜€ I think it's a GOOD thing to expect and accept such things. I often say, "The only consistent thing in life... is change." It's wise to never get too comfortable...

      Regarding NAMS, I'll be attending the Marketing Mayhem Live event (see link below) that same weekend, but it might work out for me to fly back into Atlanta that Monday if you're sticking around that long?

    • Oh wow. Thank God you guys were ok.

      Hope you managed to get the house and all back to normal already now. πŸ™‚

      I like that quote: "In life, you are either coming into a storm, in the midst of a storm, or just coming out of a storm."

      As they say, trials make us stronger. Though we don't always like it. πŸ™

  2. Great post, Lynn! I've been in your same boat several times throughout the last 15 years. Your post gave me some inspiration to work on some more passive income, so thank you!

    • Thank you, Kim! I know I'm not alone dealing with challenges, which is one of the many things that keeps me going no matter what comes my way. This is simply that thing called LIFE. πŸ˜›

      I've really enjoyed watching the phases of your life with your children since we connected on Facebook. We DO have a lot in common. πŸ˜€ Your posts often make me smile (even if I don't leave a comment there)...

  3. Thanks Lynn, I too really need to work on sorting a range of passive incomes. This is very motivational.

    • I'm really glad to hear you found it motivating! When I was sharing the story with a friend last week, it made me realize just how much things have changed in my life over the years - and made me grateful for the results of all the hard work I've put in.

      Sometimes it's easy to see only the negative side of things (being sick was NO fun, lol) until you really put it in perspective...

      I will say too, that the biggest challenges I faced and the worst things I went through along the way, ultimately turned out to be the biggest (positive) turning points in my life. They were not enjoyable at the time of course, but in hindsight they pushed me in the direction... that lead me where I am today.

  4. So glad to know you're feeling better! You are SO on point regarding sustainable income. Reading your post was like reading my own story. Life has a way of teaching hard core lessons, ones you definitely don't want to repeat. Been there done that! I'm in the process of doing exactly that... sustainable passive income. While it's not easy, it's doable. I always say it's how you go through the process that determines the outcome and if it is to be, it's up to me!

    Thanks for sharing the way you do... it confirms and allows me to successfully exhale. πŸ™‚ Blessings for a speedy recovery!

    • Thank you, Regina. πŸ˜€ It's SO nice to be back to work. Even though I'm not quite feeling my usual self yet, it's been great to dig back into some creative projects!!

      Creating passive income sources is just as easy as any work - as easy as cleaning out a messy closet even - really. I think the big challenge for most people comes with juggling the passive income creation alongside immediate financial needs, or obligations already on the schedule. It's simply something that has to be fit into the routine, like cleaning out that closet. πŸ˜‰

      Fortunately there are many ways to turn "immediate income" tasks into long term passive revenue sources. It's simply a matter of adding to what you're doing, repurposing what you've done, etc.

  5. Thank you, Lynn, for such an honest and encouraging post! I had no idea that you had been through so much, but it makes it very clear that people do need something substantial to fall back on. Even people who think their job outside the home is secure, may find themselves out of a job with no warning. That has happened to quite a few people at my husband's place of employment. Budget cuts got rid of people who had worked there all their lives.

    Thank you again for your transparency and willingness to help others! God bless!

    • It's happened a lot in this area too, Jessica - and it was really sad to see people lose their homes and for their lives to basically fall apart in such short time. I've been there. It's a scary and stressful place to be. Not somewhere I ever want to find myself again.

      I'm not above living in someone's laundry room again if I ever have to, though (lol). And fortunately the kids are raised and out on their own now, so I only have myself to take care of should things go nutty on me again anytime in the future. πŸ˜‰ But here's hoping that doesn't happen, lol. *cheers*

  6. You could hardly have written a more powerful incentive to "Go Massive Passive" - using your Niche Success Blueprint as a ...blueprint!

    I have been working on review type blogs for a long while and feeling like something was missing so this post comes at a good time for me.

    Thank you Lynn



    • Hi Alex!

      Do you have a lot of these review style blogs? Just curious how much "active work" it takes to maintain those? I have two blogs - this one of course, and my low carb blog. Those two alone are more than I can keep up with sometimes (such as when I was sick, or traveling the entire month of August!) - especially when you factor in my social presence etc.

      Fortunately the actual blog itself (in both cases) is only one part to the whole machine. A good mix of both passive and active revenue sources is ideal, and both blogs (among other projects) provide plenty of opportunities for both.

      • Well there's a fair bit of maintenance to a review blog. There are always new products being added and it you don't include them your site starts to look abandoned!

        Can I ask the same question about Passive Sites using Niche Success Blueprint - once the site has been built, how much aftercare do we do and is that updating the site or for traffic / lead generation?

        Thanks πŸ™‚


        • Hi Alex,

          The days of automated sites are long gone, which is why niche selection is more important than ever - and why I teach it the way I do in the NSB modules. You can't really create a Passive Site, and even back when you could it was for a very limited time (those automated solutions crashed and burned, over and over, if you recall).

          It's more about creating passive revenue sources IN your niche. So you'll have an active role in your business, and ideally *enjoy* it, and also create sources for passive income as well - for those times you can't be actively working. That's the key.

          On that note see: for an example of what I'm talking about. I am basically a "walking tax deduction" with my niche blog. I travel and eat for a living. πŸ˜€

          As for a review blog looking abandoned - is that because you have the dates published? If they are evergreen reviews, I would remove the dates from your posts/pages...

        • Would that also be related to the type of niche you're in? πŸ™‚

          Because I know certain niches where new products don't come out that often. But have review blogs that are still very profitable.

  7. says

    Great article. One of the new top hard work now but passive income later is digital e-book publishing. If you can reach a critical mass they do provide good passive income especially if you drive them from Kindle to your squeeze page onto a well designed auto-responder with offers. That is almost passive but tons of hard work to setup up. In any case great post and thank for sharing.

    Dan Stojadinovic

    • Hi Dan! I was actually just discussing that a few days ago (see link below) and I agree with you that it's a great source of passive revenue - particularly if you create a funnel and really engage your buyers like you mentioned.

      I don't necessarily think it's tons of hard work to set up though. It's definitely worth it. The ROI (return on investment) can be substantial! πŸ˜‰

  8. Marc Norris says

    I know that having a stream of passive income to count on opens up a whole world of possibilities. There have been times I have been sick and out of commission, and I have been thankful for having the money still roll in so that I have time to heal and get better.

    But the whole reason I love passive income is that it give me time to spend with my kids. In the end, they will remember the days that their dad spent with them out at the beach more than any kind of paycheck or corporate title I could ever get.

    • That's SO true, Marc and I feel the same way. It has allowed me to be a full time parent, take care of my grandmother her last two years, and many other things along the way - that I wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

  9. Bill Height says

    Hay Lynn
    Great information, been their done that got the T shirt to prove it many times over. The main point is most don't have a direction to travel. I call it the shiny object syndrome. In a way we all have it but controlling it and pointing in the right direction, well that's another story!

    • That's a great point, Bill. You really do need an objective and a purpose - and to always keep yourself on track and in line with your purpose. We ALL deal with distractions (external and internal both, lol) but the difference is in choosing which things get our attention, or how we prioritize our time and attention. πŸ˜‰

  10. Lynn, thanks for sharing. One of the things I love about hanging out with you is your complete honesty and integrity around the amount of work and dedication it takes to build an online business. No sugar coating - for better and worse.
    Your post has come at a time where I've (finally) stopped tripping around the world for a bit and am re-energised to get things moving forward.

    • I'm so glad to hear that, Fay! πŸ˜€ And thank you. It truly does take work, dedication, perseverance... and a serious commitment to reaching your goals! But it is SO worth it. πŸ˜‰

  11. I love reading things like this and I appreciate your sharing this story Lynn. I knew some of the backstory but none of what had been happening lately; just amazing, yet the way you were able to persevere and survive nicely financially... that's inspiring for anyone. It's still something I'm working on... lots more work to do.

    • Thank you, Mitch. Life can be crazy sometimes - and it does NOT discriminate, lol. There are so many times along the way that I've felt incredibly grateful for the time I invested in making my life easier. It's worth it. And it's an amazing feeling to be living the life you really wanted - instead of sitting around wishing, or still wanting. πŸ˜‰ *cheers*

  12. I think I've read this about 10 times now Lynn, when you first wrote it and a few times since then. I can tell you now I have been working to achieve the same thing! Not a grand millionaires life but just one of comfort and security.

    I've got a way to go but getting closer and closer all the time and I'm looking forward to 2015!

    Thanks for all your wise words of wisdom πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Jedha! You've made amazing strides over the last couple of years, and it's been so inspiring and exciting to watch you start and grow your business. πŸ˜€ I love what you said too. Achieving a level of comfort and security has made a HUGE difference in my life!

  13. Glad that you're feeling better now, Lynn. πŸ™‚

    And spot on about the passive income.

    Having been in a similar spot myself, what I've found is that the hardest part isn't the income anymore (once you reach that passive stage).

    It's getting back into the work once you've been away from it for a while.

    Sometimes it takes a bit of a push. πŸ˜›

    As Newton said, " An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

  14. A truly inspirational story Lynn! There are many reasons I feel so strongly about what I have read. One is an example of a resourceful and very strong woman who didn't freeze in the eye of an adversity but kept going, survived and thrived. That's highly admirable.

    It is all too easy to sink to the bottom due to life circumstances some of which are totally accidental, and so hard to pull oneself up into the daylight. I have been through more than enough in my lifetime. I keep paddling and staying afloat.

    I am in a better position now than I was when I was married - much happier, but still way off what could be seen as finanically secure. There is a lot of work to do in this respect. There is no steady income from my online actitivities to speak of yet. Sometimes I wonder if I am flogging a dead horse. Or maybe I just haven't found the right way to promote what I am doing. Perhaps it is a non-starter in the first place... All these doubts sabotage my progress big time!

    It is indeed scary to be left in a financial hole when we cannot work. I'd love to brainstorm potential sources of income with you - perhaps as an alternative to or to add to what I am busy with already! πŸ™‚

    Thank you for the post - I need to read it again and again, especially when I feel down and low!

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