Keep earning even while you sleep

As a freelance trainer – like any individual who sells services – you face the dilemma of how to create a business model that doesn’t wholly rely on selling time for money. If you charge by the hour, for example, there are a finite number of hours for which you can invoice each month; this means that your income will hit a ceiling fairly quickly.

One option is to create single or multiple streams of passive income. This lets people buy from you without requiring your real-time presence. You will need to invest time up front to create products that provide value to your clients, but you can then sell to as many customers as you want without being restricted on time. This means you can even make money while you sleep.

But how can a freelance trainer create a passive income? Surely, we need to be in front of the client to deliver training?

In my experience, it is absolutely possible to create a passive income as a freelance trainer, whether it’s as one arm of your training business or your main source of income. I’ve put together a few ideas below:


Information products

You could create and sell information products such as videos, e-newsletters, white papers, guides and reports. If you are going to charge for these products rather than offering them as a free lead magnet, it’s essential to provide value with practical advice or information that reflect your expertise.

What you create will depend on your audience and the training services you offer. The key is to identify a common problem that your clients face or a want that you can help them to fulfil.



Another option would be to create and sell one or more e-books either through your own website or via a third party site such as Amazon Kindle, Payhip or Blurb. If you write a regular blog, you could even pull together all your blogs on the same topic and sell them as an ebook. Alternatively, if there’s a topic that your clients ask you about time and again, you could make this the focus of your ebook.



When you offer training face-to-face, you’re restricted to a specific location. Many trainers package up their knowledge as an e-course, either selling directly through their website or via a third party site such as Udemy or Teachable. You can record a series of audio or video tutorials, provide workbooks and additional resources to pack in plenty of value.


Membership Programme

Trainer Talk website screen shot

Some coaches and trainers swear by the membership club/programme as a business model that provides a semi-passive income. Clients sign up and pay to receive exclusive new content and resources on a monthly basis or access to member-only content at any given time. All the time a person is a member of the club, they can get access to the content.

Some people support their membership clubs with a forum or a closed Facebook group where they can dip in and out to interact with the group members. This can be helpful for building trust and a lasting relationship.

Through my own membership programme and community of trainers – Trainer Talk – I’m able to connect with and share my knowledge with a fantastic network of people.


Google AdSense and the Google Display Network

Image source: Google AdSense

Anyone with a Google AdWords account has the option of featuring pay per click (PPC) advertising on the Google Display Network.

Essentially, the Google Display Network comprises more than two million websites that are estimated by Google to reach over 90% of internet users. The owners of these websites have signed up to Google AdSense and have agreed to be paid for featuring business adverts in prime positions on their site. Typically, the ads will be aimed at people who share similar audiences to the site hosting the advert.

If you are looking for ways to monetise your website, you could consider signing up to Google AdSense to receive a small payment each time someone clicks on a Google Display Network ad hosted on your site.


Affiliate marketing

Many businesses recommend affiliate marketing as a way to attract a passive income. Affiliate marketing is an arrangement where you agree to market or sell a product or service on behalf of a third party in exchange for a commission payment for each sale or agreed volume of sales. For example, you might promote a work diary or business planner that you particularly like or accounting software that you think your clients would find beneficial.

My advice with affiliate marketing is to only recommend products or services to your audience that you personally like or would use. Trust is such an important part of growing your business that you need to be confident about the quality of affiliate products.



You might also want to consider either pre-recording or running one or more live webinars about a topic that is of particular concern to your clients. You could offer access to the live webinar at a slightly higher price because your virtual attendees will have the opportunity for a Q&A session with you at the end, and then package up a recording of the seminar for a lower price and sell it via your website.



If you decide to sell digital products to create a passive income then it’s important to be aware of the following:

In January 2015, the rules around the European Union VAT changed – the new rules mean that, if you sell certain digital services to consumers in the wider EU, you have to charge them local VAT based on the country where they used the service, rather than where you are based.

There has been a lot of controversy around these rule changes, particularly concerning their impact on micro-businesses and SMEs that fall well below the UK’s tax threshold.

In the UK, HMRC has set up what’s known as the EU VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) to help businesses log and report the VAT they have charged to EU customers.

A good starting point to find out more about EU VAT and VAT MOSS, and how it might affect you if you sell digital products, is the website.


A passive income is never 100% passive

Realistically, it’s virtually impossible to create a completely passive income. Even if you automate your sales and downloads, you will still need to reply to client enquiries and troubleshoot any technical issues.

On a positive note though, introducing passive income streams into your training business can help to keep money coming in, even when you’re ill, on holiday or covering school holidays. It can also give you more time to spend on your marketing, professional development and future training provision, enabling you to grow your business and refocus your energies.

For an example of the kind of webinar you could run as a freelance trainer, why not listen to my webinar, Creating a profitable training business: how to charge what you’re worth, and get paid on time (every time)? Available to download and keep for just £29.


Won't be long!

Share This