Normally I’m here sharing my art or goodies you can buy in my store but today I’d like to talk to you about being a small business owner/artist. This job title means that I’m doomed to spend a good portion of my time pinching pennies while climbing up success mountain. Trying to take care of an entire family and household with art earnings alone isn’t easy. I’m sure you can imagine some of the money saving things and budgeting that’s going on. I could tell you all about that but I’m not going to. Tonight I want to tell you about “passive income” which can be a nice stepping stone for poor artists trying to afford the things they need to be awesome.
(Heads up there are referral links in this post!)
What Is Passive Income
Now, the words “passive” and “income” together probably bring to mind the idea of “easy money.” It’s not. Get that idea out of your head right now. It should be called “easy(er) pocket change,” but don’t give up on me yet! Pocket change adds up.
As some of you may know Neko Creations originally started on Zazzle – a print on demand website where artists/photographers/and anyone who can make some kind of image can place said images on a variety of items that are then sold to consumers in a global marketplace in return for a small royalty to the creator. I had zero startup cost outside of (lots) my time. I could slap my designs on just about anything and on the off chance someone bought them I’d get anywhere from a few cents to a couple bucks. It added up quickly to a nice $50+ a month check that turned into $200 during the holidays.
This was “passive income.” I’m going to continue to use quotes as I say this because there was very little passive about it. I had to size my images right, spend hours putting them on items in the sometimes clunky web interface, come of with SEO friendly titles, tags and descriptions, many more hours promoting in forums and Pinterest, etc. You get the idea, yeah? So what is passive about it? A year of not updating my Zazzle store/items later and I’m still making money. Since 2013 (3 years) I’ve made nearly $2000. Now, that’s not a lot but it meant that sometimes I was able to help pay for groceries. I was able to pay for hosting on my website. Eventually I was able to buy a better digital art tablet and then an even better one after that.
It was cents and a couple dollars here and there- and it added up to a step up to my goals. Passive in that it’s easy(er) than a full time job and income in that if you save it up it’ll be useful for something.
Now, Zazzle is nice and all and sooner or later I’ll write a post about why you might give them a try and why I no longer use them. Tonight though I want to tell you about a different sort of passive income I’m playing with.
Being primarily a freelance artist some months I just don’t make a lot of money. Not yet anyways, and most months there’s no telling what my wallet will look like. Money still goes out even if it’s not coming in and one of the things I have to pay for once a month is my business phone. Roughly $40 every thirty days. That can be an entire art commission and there are times when I can hit a dry spell and not see one of those for awhile. What’s a girl to do? Sure, I can dip into what I’ve saved up (pennies successfully pinched) or I could try to lower the cost of my phone (pinching future pennies). After some thought I decided to try the middle ground.
I was going to make my phone pay for itself. Sort of.
How? Lockscreen apps.
How’s that work? You install an app, it puts an ad on your lockscreen, swipe to ignore it and eventually make enough to pay the phone bill…
Okay, so it’s a bit more complicated than that. Firstly, you have to do a LOT of research. There are scams a plenty out there, companies that won’t pay you, apps that will kill your phone’s performance, things that will give your personal information to spammers and telemarketers. The list goes on but if you’re savvy you learn what to look for, if not you can rely on reputable websites and read a lot of user reviews. I suggest The Penny Hoarder for some ideas, this post too. Always do your research.
Moving on. These are the lockscreen apps I use and my results so far. Yes, I am using three at the same time. Not all apps play nice together but so far so good. Basically I flick one lockscreen, then the next and then one more. Honestly it’s more secure than the single swipe I was using before, sad lol. Also, these apps each have a different payout system and algorithm to prevent you from cheating. Just go on about your day, unlocking your phone whenever you use it and the change will add up. It won’t pay the phone bill every single month but it will the month you need it the most and there just isn’t any work to be found.
PS, 2 of these 3 are Android only (for now). Sorry about that.
AdMe is my go to. A little clunky but my best money maker. They give you $3 for starting out, and you need $10 before you can get paid. Payments are through PayPal. Occasionally I get a notice that they can’t asses my location and I have to press the back button three times and then swipe it- but this is almost certainly due to my cheap phone and not the app.
Additional ways to earn: For each person you refer (use my code! XmfcijK1A6) you get an additional 50 cents. AdMe also has a mobile browser and all in one social viewer which if installed on your phone will increase your earnings. The browser isn’t bad. I use it for a third of my mobile browsing- they stick a small banner ad at the bottom. The social viewer is clunky and slow but if you’re looking to save space on your phone it’s not a bad idea, it’s ad works the same way.
Clicking ads will not get you anything. No incentive to deal with them.
After 5 days use: Ignoring the $3 for starting I’ve made 92 cents. Yes, so far, that’s only $6 a month if this trend continues. If I used this app alone I would be able to pay for one of my $40 phone bills in 6 months’ish. That probably sounds awful, but hey, that month is essentially free and all I had to do was ignore some ads on my screen. Also, this is just based on my phone useage. Use your phone more and it will pay more. More on AdMe and someone who makes $15 a month with this.
Fronto is my second choice for lockscreens. It’s by far the nicest looking and smoothest working. Payments can be made via PayPal or giftcard. They’re also working on a donation feature.
Additional ways to earn: They too have a referral system that will pay you 50 cents for each person that signs up with your link. The difference between this and AdMe? The person you refer also gets 50 cents so click mine (or use code FCOTE)! Also unlike AdMe when you get to the lockscreen you can either unlock for 20 points (yeah, they have a system to prevent you from unlocking on repeat just for cash) or, on occasion, you’ll see offers to download apps or read articles for more change.
Bonus points? They have a login bonus that pays you 100 points most days and 1000 by the end of the week. 3,375 points equals $1.
After 5 days use: I’ve made 90 cents. Just behind AdMe but soon to surpass them with the login bonus. Some have reported making $20 a month with them.
SlideJoy is another really nice looking lockscreen, it even has themes! Payments can be made via PayPal, giftcards or donation and something I really like about this app is you can scroll through a constantly updated list of real profiles that are cashing out and how. Most people seem to go for the Amazon gift cards and while a lot cash out at $1 to $5 I saw enough $20s in there to make it worth my wild.
Additional ways to earn: This one is kind of fun if you like scratch off cards. Every 5 hours or so you get 6 scratch cards with a set probability of potential rewards (ranging from a buck to $1000). For each one you get no less than 1 point and you have to watch a 20 second video but hey- why not? And if you don’t want to wait 5 hours you can spend those newly earned 6 points to try again. They also have a selection of offers; things you can download or sign up for (don’t do that) as well as a select list of survey providers which, if you’re willing to be patient until you come across one you qualify for, you can wrack up a decent amount. I suggest the Peanut Labs and Clint Surveys ones myself.
They also have a referral system. If you get other people to sign up using your link you’ll get a bonus based on 20% of their earnings for the first month. So for every buck they make that first month you get 20 cents. Click mine!
After 3 days use: This one is difficult to tell, they have a points system which they call Carats and when you have 1,000 carats you’ll have $1. I currently have 976 carats so I’m going to assume that’s about 95 cents. Frugal For Less reports anywhere from 10 to 50 cents a day.
It’s been 5ish days since I first started this quest and so far I’ve made $2.75 ($5.75 if you count the started bonus from AdMe). It’s not a ton but that’s not what passive income is about. With a little rounding up and some bad math that’s very roughly about $18 a month. Use your phone more and earn more. Simple as that.
In about a month I’ll post an update to this but for now, fellow creators, small business owners and people just looking for a little pocket change- that’s all I have. I hope it helps someone out there pay for their phone bill, a cup of coffee, some groceries or that new sketchbook I’ve been drooling over…. Toodles~!