Author Archives: Joseph MJ Smith

19 July 2018 - 12:34 pm What I’ve Learned from Starting a Passive Income Business

I’ve always had quite an entrepreneurial mindset and before starting University I planned several small businesses here and there. None really had any direction and my business knowledge was far from vast so they ultimately came to very little. But then I set myself an aim during my first year of studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Sheffield. If I could find the time I would set up a small business with the specific aim of making money passively to help me with general student living.

So after a lot of research, scrapped ideas and becoming a bit impatient I decided to finally put all my new knowledge to good use and mix a couple of hobbies of mine. I finally started something. I love cooking, especially outdoors over an open flame. I also enjoy web development and thought it was about time I took the plunge and made myself a website. The end result was my business – King of the Coals.

King of the Coals is a purely informational website where I write articles about cooking outdoors and barbecuing. Here’s an example about which woods are the best to cook with. The site makes money (almost exclusively) from affiliate links. I don’t sell any products, I have no need to keep stock and if I wanted to I could never touch it again and I would expect it to make me a noticeable amount of money each month for the foreseeable future.

Whilst having a passive income is certainly a very nice situation to be in it didn’t come easy. Most of the summer of 2017 was spent using up any free time I had to create the site and fill it with over 140,000 words of content and counting. But as I knew a lot about the content, the writing was the least of my worries. What really challenged me was everything else that I hadn’t expected. I had to learn how to host a website and integrate it with WordPress. I taught myself Photoshop, Illustrator, Google Analytics and several keyword finding software packages. I had to familiarise myself with the basics and then the nitty gritty details of SEO, link building and social media marketing. I learnt the importance of solid branding, keeping track of any financials, and even got experience negotiating with companies around the world. I could even say I’m nearly an expert on internet copyright laws due to another website stealing content only a couple of months into the life of my site.

But I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from all of this is the importance of just starting.

All of these new skills and experiences that I have learnt in the last year or so would never have happened if I had continued to make excuses and had never taken that first step.

The future plans are to keep growing the site to the point where I can hire full time staff and if I choose to, make it my full time job and maybe even turn it into a career. Not bad for a few months work over summer.

In addition to that, all of the skills I’ve learned are massively transferrable and I’ve already used the skills learnt on King of the Coals to help other people with similar projects which you can browse below.

CryptosDecoded – A website for beginners looking to learn about cryptocurrencies.

AltRiders – A website that helps people learn about different forms of alternative personal transportation.

  • About the author

    Joseph MJ Smith

    I am an undergraduate Electrical and Electronics Engineering student and also run my website and business, King of the Coals.