2020: Lessons Learned

2020 contained, without a doubt, both some of my highest and lowest points in passive income. I was passively earning the most I have ever earned from Redbubble (Over £1500/Month) and I started up a number of new streams, new TeePublic shops, Merch by Amazon, it’s all on the up.

That was until I got banned by Redbubble. My lowest point in Print on Demand came in October, banned because I broke the rules on an account I completely forgot about. An easy £1500/month, around £20k a year, gone.

Honestly, I try not to think about it. I was a bit glum in the first few weeks, I couldn’t believe it. After scratching around with customer service for a while, I had my hopes up but they were ultimately dashed when I found out I wasn’t getting my banned Redbubble accounts back.

It’s amazing how quickly the human brain can get over things though. I am a stingy bastard, but I’m not too bothered about having loads of money in my life. I have my own flat, I am still renting a room, I am earning more every month than I am paying out, and I can save and invest a little as well.

I thought I’d summarise 2020 with what I have learned in Print on Demand and passive income in general.

You can go from 0-100MPH in about a month if you want to.

Print on demand especially is funny, especially if you’re a seller. You know that if you put more effort in, you will earn more, but the time delays can be very long. One of my Redbubble accounts that I started last year (not the one which got me banned!) ,was based on one niche, which I just saturated with designs. By the end of the first month I made £80, more than I thought I would. At the second month, I made £200.

I always say to people starting out that they should just upload designs. Get to 50 designs and you’ll see sales. Up there it’s a numbers game. Upload one design a day and in a month you’ll have more designs up than most people have.

I’m not sure when I finally realised that Redbubble is a numbers game. MBA is a numbers game. It feels soulless to create art without passion, but my best sellers are all very, very simple. Want an example? This T-Shirt sells on Amazon. You might not even notice at first, but it’s got a spelling error. It’s also just terrible. It’s not a best-seller by any means, but it took about 2 minutes for me to make and upload. I think it’s sold 3 or 4 times.

If you really wanted to, you could create simple designs, not even especially bad ones, put them for sale, and make money. Print on Demand is easy to begin with. It really does just start as a numbers game.

You can recreate success.

I am quite confident that as I’ve been able to make £1500~ a month passively once, I’ll be able to do it again. Why would it only happen the once? I’m not going to give up simply because of one setback.

Though I’m not at the same numbers yet, I’m quite confident I’ll be able to get back to £1000/month by December 2021 withsome effort, maybe £500/month by then with minimal effort. Whether this is through Print on Demand, or through a collection of little streams, who knows. On that note…

Don’t rely on one stream!

I was a fool to put too much effort in Redbubble and neglect Merch by Amazon. MBA has so much more potential that I am only just starting to realise. While I’m not exactly making bank now on MBA, it’s nice to see it growing every month. I’d rather see some increase every month over stagnating at a higher level.

Have a backup plan in case it all goes wrong.

Redbubble banning me didn’t screw up my finances terribly. I am still making more than I spend every month so it’s not as bad a position as others are in. I was lucky to have a casual little job on the side as well to keep me tiding over.

Before Redbubble banned me I was maybe making £200 or so on my casual job, but now I’ve upped that to £600/month at least. That, along with my rental income means I’m at least making something near to minimum wage every month, with only 2 hours a day or so. It’s not bad.

Diversify your areas of interest.

Print on Demand is great, but there’s so much more. It’s very easy to bog yourself down in one area and focus on just that. I neglected my AdSense income, Kindle publishing, stocks and shares, bank account management, microgig opportunities, etc, all because I was chasing a goal of passive-only income.

Passive-only income is great, but at least in the early stages, you can’t rely on it fully. I’m absolutely terrible at getting a real job, so I was lucky to have the little casual job to fall back on, as well as my lodger income.

One thing that the coronavirus lockdown has imparted on many of us is that it’s easier than we thought to work from home. Something to remember is that you really have all the tools you need to succeed; you have your own brain, a computer, and the internet.

Over the next year I’ll be doing what I was doing before, just on different platforms. I’m not too sure what will happen to JeezPod over the next year but I’ve renewed the domain anyway. I’ll likely post another update around February.

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