Passive income—the hurt, harm, and broken promises

Hey friend,

If you’ve been in the entrepreneurial world for all of two seconds, you’ve already been inundated with an avalanche of “passive income” clichés.

First, there are all the coaches and course creators “working” from the beach, the pool, the balcony, and the private jets … hyping the freedom of their epic and glamorous “laptop lifestyles.”

Then, there are all the multi-level marketers and affiliate marketers (i.e. folks selling someone else’s product/service/offering) … hyping the notion that they “retired their husband” and that “making money in your sleep” is the ever-illusive answer to work/life balance.

And then there are the millions of Facebook and Instagram ads (selling software, memberships, ebooks, masterminds, conferences, summits, and 1-on-1 services)… hyping their “easy” answer to success, their “one-click” sales funnels, their “guaranteed” step-by-step plans, and their “never seen before” shortcut to $50k in 5 days (that’s miraculously 50% off if you invest within the next 5 seconds).


And when did the online marketing industry transition from “selling the customer what they want and need” to “selling the customer an illusion of success that’s the exact opposite of what it really takes to build a truly profitable and sustainable business?”

Because just so we’re all 1000% clear …

Even though our online Branding School generated over $1.4 million dollars in sales within the last few years, we’ve *never* worked from the beach, or the pool, or any other tropical location (because #realtalk: When it’s time to hustle, we hustle. And when it’s time to play/rest/heal we *leave our laptops behind* and we focus on playing/resting/healing).

And even though Scott and I quit our day jobs and started our branding studio 7.5 years ago, neither one of us are “retired” and we still work while we’re awake to make money in our sleep.

And even though we made over 6 figures our first year in business (when we were a branding studio), grew our team/studio to multiple 6 figures, sold $12,000/month worth of $67 mini classes, launched a Branding School that made $63,000 on its first launch, and have experienced multiple 6-figure Branding School launches and over $200,000 in evergreen sales since then … NOTHING we’ve ever done or created was easy, simple, guaranteed, or miraculous.

Side Note: If you haven’t listened to our Mistakes + Failure episode from our Nobody Talks About This podcast series, then you need to do so ASAP. In it, we meticulously breakdown our 7.5-year entrepreneurial journey with very personal behind-the-scenes details that go beyond “what you saw” to the messy reality of “what you didn’t see.”

All this to say: Nothing about our success (and the continued growth of our business) has been “passive.”

Passive income is defined as, “Money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it.”

And yet ... no business model in the world will ever *keep growing and improving* unless you continuously lead it, update it, strategize for it, market it, sell it, and care for it. Which is why the whole “set it and forget it” online marketing myth is NOT a reality for any product you sell, ad you run, funnel you create, team you hire, or customer you serve.

This is why, for the past 6 months, we’ve actively reimagined and rebuilt every single layer of Branding School 2.0 (so it can keep growing and improving).

And why we invest time, energy, and resources into actively strategizing and creating organic and paid marketing campaigns (so they can keep growing and improving).

And why we’ve spent 7.5 years actively upgrading our customer service, operations, team, sales process, systems, and leadership abilities (so we can keep growing and improving).

Because “passive income” (i.e. earning money with little or no effort) does NOT exist within the realm of sustainable and profitable entrepreneurship.

So instead of chasing after it and wondering why it’s always, always, always out of reach … this is what we’ve focused on instead:

  1. Recurring revenue (i.e. “revenue that is predictable, stable and can be counted on in the future with a high degree of certainty”).
  2. Exponential revenue (i.e. a NEW term we came up with to describe revenue that doesn’t need you—as the business owner—to be the only one marketing, selling, and delivering the offering in order for it to succeed).

Annnnnnnd because I’m so freaking passionate about this topic, I decided to do something a little crazy again. Which means, even though I had no plans to create any bonus material for this specific email when I sat down to write it …

I created this brand NEW “real revenue” worksheet for you as an extra gift.

This in-depth assessment (and the self-guided brainstorming prompts) will help you analyze your current business and reimagine new ways in which you can increase your earning potential without sacrificing your sanity, health, marriage, or integrity in the process.

Because even though passive income is NOT real and the myths—and broken promises—surrounding it have caused more hurt, harm, and confusion than you can even imagine …

You are still allowed to want more for your life and better from your business.

Which is why my 5-part “revenue challenge” for you today is this:

  1. I want you to actively look for new ways in which you can outsource, automate, and remove the never-ending list of to-dos and tasks on your plate.
  2. I want you to actively analyze your behind-the-scenes data (including your current revenue, overhead, schedule, and ROI) to see where you’re professionally undercharging and personally overdoing, overgiving, and overcommitting.
  3. I want you to actively imagine new ways in which you can market, sell, and deliver a 5-star product/service *without* being the one marketing, selling, and delivering every single layer of that product/service.
  4. I want you to actively assess your current revenue streams and whether or not those products/services are as predictable and stable as you want them to be.
  5. I want you to actively celebrate and honor your desire for more for your life and better from your business without any generational, societal, or cultural patterns of guilt/shame.

Oh, and remember how I talked about the importance of “CEO time” earlier on in this email series?

Well, this 5-part mini challenge + our NEW worksheet, Recurring and Exponential Revenue: The Modern-Day Alternative to “Passive Income” should give you looooooots to dig into during your CEO time this week.

And as excited as I am for you to dig into it all, I’m even more excited for you to report back on what you uncover, reimagine, and decide to do next.

With all our love,
Elise + Scott

PS: If this “Unhidden” email series is speaking to you on a DEEP level week after week, then let us know! Whether you email us back, comment/message/tag us on Instagram, or forward this email on to a friend … ALL of it helps us create more and better content for you in the future.

And for that ... I see you, I thank you, and I love you.

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