This essay is reprinted from my book When Bodies Break: How We Survive and Thrive with Illness and Disability. It appears in Part Two of the Book - How We Learn to Live Well with Chronic Illness and Disability - Chapter 2: Your Passion, Your Purpose and Starting Over.
One of the most profound impacts chronic illness has upon our lives is the loss of sense of purpose, which ultimately leads to the loss of our sense of identity. This isn’t just something I noticed in my own journey with chronic illness; research supports this.
I am passionate about empowering and encouraging others with chronic illness to discover or rediscover their purpose by following their passions, regardless of their physical circumstances. Thankfully, the opportunities available online for this are practically infinite!
I learned about online business in early 2013 by listening to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. Since then I’ve become a strong proponent for building passive income using blogs and other online methods. As loss of income is a major issue for those of us with chronic illness, I hope to be an example for using one's passion to gain a sense of purpose AND financial freedom.
Passive income involves some kind of action, often on-going, that can be done at your own pace which is a blessing for the chronically ill. Here are some ways you can earn income online while pursuing your passion:
1. Blogging and E-books
Blogging and setting up your own website is a great, low-cost way to earn passive income. Attract others to your site by writing articles of interest. If you select topics for which you have a real passion and can write well, you can build an audience over time. The keys are to be patient, be consistent in writing content and get that content out to the appropriate audience – usually through social media.
How do you start blogging? I suggest signing up for a Wordpress.com or other free website to see if blogging is for you. Then start writing blogs about your passions. Seek out blogging podcasts, starting with Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income (search for blogging in the podcast section). Also BecomeABlogger.com is a helpful podcast and site, as is Internet Business Mastery. Eventually you can buy a website on which to base your blog. I went with Bluehost for about $60 the first year, which includes the cost of the domain name.
To turn your writing into e-books, I recommend signing up for Pat Flynn's newsletter, which gives you a bonus free e-book - eBooks the SMART Way. Also, I discovered a great site -AmyLynnAndrews.com - which has step-by-step blogs about writing and selling an e-book.
If writing isn’t your thing, you can always create a YouTube channel focused on topics you’re passionate about. There are many blogs and podcasts out there to guide you on how to build online income this way. If you would like some guidance on finding resources, I’d be happy to help! Contact me at @GetUpNGoGuru on Twitter or via my Facebook page.
3. Affiliate Income
With affiliate marketing, you are rewarded as an affiliate for every customer you bring to the website of a designated business. When I learned about affiliate income, I got excited about its possibilities for earning money passively. The best tutorials on this topic can be found on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, including a 3-episode series on what affiliate income is and all the types out there. (If you are reading this on Kindle, see this page for all the links.)
My tips for earning through affiliate programs:
• If you’re going to put affiliate ads on your site, make sure they look tasteful and don’t clog your site up. I get put off when people have ads positioned randomly through their blog posts (via Google Adwords)!
• Don’t spam. Use affiliate links where they are appropriate to your content and when they benefit your audience. Putting them up out of context on Twitter, Facebook or in emails will not win you any fans.
• Be genuine. I will only recommend something I have used myself or someone I really trust has recommended. You can earn affiliate income with YouTube channels by putting links into your videos and/or the descriptions. Once again, be sure not to alienate your audience. Serving your audience needs to be your main priority to be a success in the long-term.
4. Ads on blogs/YouTube/podcasts
There are a range of ways you can put advertising on your blog/YouTube channel/podcast. You can sign up for Google Adwords. From my experience, they often look quite tacky on a blog and you need a lot of traffic to make any decent money.
With YouTube you can just tick a box to allow ads to come up before and during your videos. This is cleaner than Adwords because YouTubers can close the ads at a certain point. In-video ads are possible but I would limit that to what’s relevant to your content – for instance, when reviewing a product.
5. So many opportunities, so little time and space!
There are thousands of websites dedicated to the topic of earning income online; I can’t do justice to it all here. I’m happy to support you in any way I can to get you up and running, pursuing your passions and regaining your sense of purpose, while hopefully earning income from your toils.
(Editor’s note: be sure to research your sources thoroughly and be discerning before committing to an online income opportunity.)
Cameron B. Auxer, your website creator and blogger, is a certified Holistic Health Educator and writer.