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Back in the day, it used to be the norm that you only needed one job to sustain you and your family. About a decade ago, you have to earn higher or work more than one job to achieve that same level of stability. In recent times, even that is not enough – one needs what is termed ‘passive income’ to supplement the monthly budget otherwise, the struggle to make ends meet becomes more tedious.

This is the beginning of a series about what you can do with technology to earn passive income.

What is Passive Income?

Passive income refers to money earned while you are free to do other things. You set things up once, then leave it and it keeps earning money for you over time, sometimes it even increases in worth as time goes by. As long as it requires minimal or no effort for you to maintain it, the proceeds from it can be classified as passive income

What qualifies as passive income in today’s world?

In today’s world, passive income can be gotten from books you have written, company shares you have purchased, rental property you set out for short or long leases. These are further reclassified according to your location so it is best to be very certain where your income lies, especially in terms of taxation. For instance, in the United States of America, income from the purchase of company shares is not regarded as passive income but as portfolio income.

What they all have in common is that there is no instant income from the process – it generally takes a lot of work to be done beforehand, and then you reap the benefits as time rolls by. Some consider setting up a passive income stream as a way of planning toward early retirement – even after they stop working, the income from the process still keeps flowing in. Compared to active income from salaried jobs and contracts, which end the minute one retires or the project ends.

Where does Tech come in?

In this day and age, it is better to work smarter than harder. Creating products that you will work on once, and they keep earning for you over time, seems smart to me. And technology makes it so simple these days.

Income stream #1: Digital Books and Print-on-Demand Publishing

Digital books are books that are read on devices and are not printed out physically. They are usually purchased and read in digital book stores like Kindle or Kobo. Print-on-demand publishing entails only printing the physical books when an order comes in for it, as opposed to printing a lot of books to keep in a warehouse ahead of time.

Using technology, you can now create your book, then submit it for print-on-demand publishing, for free. These publishing firms get a percentage of your income when people buy your books. Most will calculate the cost of printing per copy for you so that you can estimate your selling price well.

Examples of such firms include Amazon KDP, Lulu, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Selar. Selar just lets you upload and sell your digital products in six different currencies, Kobo is a purely digital publishing firm, while Lulu can help you push your books to other platforms like Amazon and Kobo.

So what kind of books can I publish?

Any kind of book apparently. Books are usually categorized into low, medium and high content types.

Publishing low content books as a stream of passive income

The low content type covers those books that have little or no text or content in them e.g. Journals, Planners, Sketch books, etc.

“A low-content book has minimal or no content on the interior pages. These pages are generally repetitive and designed to be filled in by the user. Examples include notebooks, planners, journals, and other similar works.”

Amazon KDP

The medium content book type covers semi-empty books like puzzle books, activity books, coloring books etc. The pages are not repetitive like in low-content book types, and actually include a lot more words – between 7,000 and 15,000 words. Here are three examples: Smarty Kids’ Word Scramble, Kids’ picture book of rare animals, and Kids’ picture book of rare animals (Vol. 2).

Publishing medium content books as a stream of passive income

High-content book types are of course those with lots of thousands of words, on any subject e.g. fiction novels, non-fiction books, photo catalogs, etc.

There are several excellent tutorials on Youtube that will put you through the several aspects of book publishing, from creating your content to publishing using specific keywords. Paul Marles does an excellent job of showing how to create low and medium-content books. Barbara Everett is another stellar reference.

How will I get paid?

This question is usually the first for Nigerians – we have learned the hard way that most of these opportunities exclude us because we have no direct means of receiving our earned revenue.

The good news is that we can get our earnings via Payoneer and PayPal (if you have a business account). Opening a Payoneer account is easy, and getting an ATM card tied to your account is a simple process.


Setting up passive income streams for yourself is the way to rise above the economic strife experienced globally. The first option we explore in this streams of passive income series is book publishing.