As I plan my personal domination of the world wide web, I love listening to passive income success stories from those who are crushing it in various niches. Not only is it inspiring, but hearing what has worked for others provides guidance for aspects of their business model I can incorporate. So in this post, I thought it might prove useful to break down a website and see exactly how they started, what they’re doing, what is working, and the lessons we can learn.
I am addicted to the Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn. Pat is killing it online, making $50k+ every month from different online ventures. His insights, information, and training are awesome, but what I really appreciate is how down to earth and humble he is while sharing it. Yesterday, I was listening to session 24 where he interviewed three different online entrepreneurs on how they’re making money online, without being in the making money online niche. I especially enjoyed the first interview with Keith Snow from Harvest Eating so I thought it would be educational to break down exactly what he’s done and what he’s doing.
Chef Keith Snow is the founder of Harvest Eating. He began with a YouTube channel, cooking up fresh, local, seasonal recipes in his kitchen. He also created a community website at http://www.harvesteating.com to go along with it where people could chat with him, ask questions, and share ideas with each other. Over time he added in various monetization strategies. First, YouTube invited him to become a YouTube Partner which entitles him to share a percentage of the advertising revenue they collect when visitors view his videos. Later, people suggested he try to sell the recipes to accompany his videos. At first he thought they were crazy, wondering why anyone would pay for a recipe when they could just watch the video of him preparing it. But he eventually gave it a shot, creating a membership section of his website where people pay $4.99 per month for access to all of his recipes and other content. (Although now the recipes are free to everyone and membership provides other benefits.) Members even get welcome kits delivered to their door that include items such as a signed, personal letter from Chef Snow, a bumper sticker, and even sample food products (more on this below). He currently has over 1,000 monthly paid subscribers.
As the years have passed, he’s continued to innovate, adding new products to Harvest Eating that will not only add value to his community, but also create marketing opportunities and additional income streams.
- Naturally, he produced a cookbook compiling the local, seasonal recipes everyone had come to love.
- He sells his own line of sauces, seasonings, and other food products. Keeping with his theme of local ingredients, he ensures that his products contain only ingredients sourced from within the United States rather than imported, as with other manufacturers. This does mean his production costs are often higher, but by selling direct from his website rather than through stores he maintains a healthy profit margin.
- In addition to his videos, he also started a podcast where he interacts with his audience, answers questions, and shares tips and advice.
- Sponsors came knocking, asking to advertise to his dedicated niche audience through his various mediums.
- He had an iPhone/iPad app developed where people can access his videos, podcasts, and recipes wherever they are. The app sells for $1.99.
- Finally, he’s even branched into TV with a show on RFD TV, as well as a Roku channel that costs $4.99/month.
All this from a guy who probably started out just loving to cook! Inspired yet?
Passive Income Strategies Used
Let’s quickly recap the various passive income strategies Chef Snow is using to build his brand, monetize it, and create passive income in the process:
- YouTube videos – As a partner, he is paid every time one of his videos is viewed. (He currently has over 5 million views.)
- Membership Website – Loyal viewers, listeners, and visitors support Harvest Eating through either a monthly, annual, or lifetime membership for access to all recipes, videos, and other site content. (He has over 1,000 paid members.)
- eCommerce – Cookbook, sauces, seasonings, and more are available for sale.
- Podcasting – Currently over 100 episodes with listeners from around the world.
- Advertising – Sponsors pay to advertise on his website, videos, and other outlets.
- Apps & Software – $1.99 iPhone/iPad app that contains access to Harvest Eating videos, podcasts, and recipes.
That’s an impressive lineup of income streams! It’s equally impressive to think how passive several of these income streams are. In the podcast, Chef Snow shares a great story about how he spent two weeks traveling around France, Switzerland & Italy with a sponsor, all while passive income continued to flow from his various endeavors. Of course all of these income streams took significant hard work upfront to develop, but the foundation has been well laid and the production of new content to keep the machine cranking requires relatively few hours per month. And perhaps best of all, Chef Snow is his own boss and gets to do what he loves, so I bet much of this hardly feels like work at all!
One other lesson to take away is that you don’t need a huge audience to generate sustainable passive income. The local, seasonal food niche is fairly small but as with most niches, it’s not the size that matters but rather their engagement. Chef Snow keeps his community engaged by reaching out through multiple avenues (video, audio, iPhone/iPad, membership site), personally interacting with them online, sending each new community member a personal welcome letter, and much more. Harvest Eating demonstrates that if you provide your audience with the great content and great value they desire, then in return they’ll provide you with the loyalty and support you desire.
I highly recommend checking out session 24 of the Smart Passive Income podcast to hear the interview in its entirety for yourself!
So what lessons can you take away from this case study? Is there one thing you’re especially intrigued by or would like to add to your website? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!