TPM 116 | Passive Income For Musicians

 

You don’t have to tie yourself just to one way to earn your income. As a musician, you need all the extra money you can get. Why not earn passively on the side? In this episode, Dr. Tonya Lawson, a professional clarinetist turned SEO specialist, offers new knowledge to build a passive income for musicians. She still passively earns from her website and reveals to us how she did it. From Search Engine Optimization and leveraging AI to creating digital courses, Dr. Tonya provides a wealth of value and wisdom for musicians to live the life they deserve. So, don’t skip this jam-packed episode and learn to start to build a sustainable and profitable business with Dr. Tonya Lawson today.

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Passive Income For Musicians: Generate Wealth Through Your Website With Tonya Lawson

I am so happy to be here with Tonya Lawson. We’re going to talk about ways to expand income for musicians and some little-known and not often-tapped-into ways to do this that involve the internet. Before we dive into that, I want to have Tonya tell a little bit about her story, her background as a musician, and how she stumbled into this area of SEO and expanding musician’s income streams while also working as a musician.

I’m so excited to be here. I got started when I finished graduate school. I did my Bachelor’s in Music Education. I did my Master’s in Doctorate in Clarinet Performance. When I finished graduate school, I applied for 50 university positions. That was a lot. I needed a job. I made the final 2 in 2 positions, took interviews, and in both cases, they hired someone with more experience. That’s pretty obvious, fresh out of graduate school.

I was like, “What do I do now?” I started building a private music studio, and the next year, there were only two positions in the entire United States available. I applied for both of them. Once again, I made it to the final two, and they picked the better fit. It was at an HBCU, and I was like, “I’m going to keep working on my music studio,” and that went well for me. I did a little gigging. I was teaching lessons full-time, which I still do, and I love it.

I fell in love with teaching, but the area I am in is the national area. We are allowed to go into the schools to teach music lessons. I’m a clarinetist. We pull students out for part of the band class and teach lessons in the schools during the school day. It makes it very convenient for parents. To my knowledge, Tennessee and Texas are the only two states that do this. I may be wrong.

I’ve never heard of that. That is so cool. I wish we had that in California.

I’ve only taught in Tennessee and Texas, so I’m familiar with it, but they had this moment where they thought about ending that program. I freaked out because I had built a full studio. What would I do if they got rid of lessons in the schools? Would all of these students still take it? I said, “I don’t need to keep all my eggs in one basket. I need additional income streams.” I got to looking into blogging. It was popular at the time.

I started a blog. It wasn’t doing anything. I then took a course on search engine optimization. I learned a little bit and realized my blog wasn’t going to ever make money the way it was designed. I started a coffee website, a niche website to learn from, and that coffee website still makes me money now, then the pandemic hit, and everything ran amok. The good news is I had already been familiar with technology and everything.

Transitioning my studio online was not a big deal. I kept most of my students, so I was one of the lucky ones, but I had extra time because I was working from home all the time. What did I do? I started another website. Now, I have a total of three websites. I have my personal website, TonyaLawson.com, which is my business website. I have a coffee website, and I have a gardening website now that is starting to bring in just a little bit of money. It’s still a pretty new website.

I have these passive income streams now. I know you’re big on multiple income streams because we don’t need to keep our eggs in one basket. Multiple income streams are great, but if you can make some of them passive, as in, you do the work one time, and they continue to make you money, that’s even better.

Let’s break this down. How does your coffee website make money?

All three of my websites make money this way. I use affiliate marketing, so I am an Amazon affiliate. I’m a share-a-sell affiliate. I’m also affiliated with some private companies. If you’ve heard of Bean Box, the coffee subscription, I’m a Bean Box affiliate. When people search Google, they might be looking for how to brew pour-over coffee. They come across my article on my website, so that’s a blog post, and it has affiliate links in there.

I’m talking in this article about how to brew pour-over coffee. I might mention that a Chemex brewer is a great tool to use. I highlight the Chemex brewer and put a little Amazon link in there. When they click that link, if they go to Amazon, anything they purchase within the next 24 hours, I get a commission off. It might be that brewer, new camping backpacks, or dishwasher tabs. I also have ad revenue on there. I am set up with an ad company, and they put ads on my website, and I make money every time somebody goes to my website.

That’s a great incentive to get traffic to your website. I’m assuming the traffic comes from you creating valuable articles. Do you promote these articles in any way organically? Do you pay for ads to the articles?

I do not. They are all set up. They’re all optimized to get found on Google through SEO, Search Engine Optimization.

How hard is it to learn Search Engine Optimization? Is it complicated? What are the important things to know to make an article show up higher on Google?

It’s not complicated at all to learn what you need to do. I have a free get-found on Google SEO cheat sheet on my Instagram. Anybody can go and download it. That will get you started. The thing with search engine optimization is that Google is always changing. They are constantly changing what they want and what they think is good.

If you set up your website and everything for SEO a year ago, it might be getting found on Google, and it might not. If you set it up three years ago, all of those are old practices, and they’re no longer relevant. Google has changed quite a bit. They caused a bunch of uproar in the SEO community with their new helpful content update. The best way to describe this update is unhelpful content.

It doesn’t identify helpful content, but what it does do is identify content that is not helpful, and it takes it out of the rankings. This has helped me a lot. I have one article on how to pick the best clarinet mouthpiece. I wrote it years ago now, and it’s always hovered in positions 1 through 5 on Google, but a few years ago, it’s been in the 4 or 6 position instead of the top 3. I was still making sales from it, but not as many.

With this helpful content update, all of a sudden, I noticed on my Amazon that everybody was buying clarinet mouthpieces. I went to look at it because I had forgotten about it. My website is going more business now instead of clarinet. All of a sudden, I’m ranking number one for that, and that’s because I have authority when it comes to clarinet websites. Whereas some of these other websites were ranking even though they had good SEO, they’d never probably seen a clarinet. This new update has helped us creatives, musicians especially. We are experts. We are the authorities, and as long as we’re creating great content, Google is going to put it up there.

This new Google update has helped us creatives, especially on who we are as experts. We are the authorities as long as we're creating great content. Share on X

What signifies to Google that you have “authority” because I know there’s also an authority score for a website and it also plays in how old your website is. What are all those things that Google’s looking at?

You’re talking about two different things. The authority score that you’re talking about, the domain authority, is not a metric by Google. That is a metric developed by Moz. You can look at it because it does guess pretty accurately how well you’re going to rank on Google. They call that your DA. The authority with Google has something they call EEAT. It used to be EAT, but now they’ve added an extra E. That stands for Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

Maybe you post a new blog post, and Google goes through and calls it. They’re looking at that blog post. They’re also going to follow any links in that blog post and see where they go. If I wrote an article on Google’s helpful content update, for example, and I put a link in there to Google’s best practices, they’re going to follow that and go, “She’s quoting us. We’re okay.”

If you wrote an article on how to teach piano lessons to beginners, that article links to the best piano books for beginners, and that links to something else, it’s creating a chain of links that Google can follow that says, “This person knows what they’re doing.” You can also add your personal information, your bio, and any backlinks that are coming to your website. If other websites are linking to your website, that boosts your authority as well. All of these factors combined let Google know you know what you’re talking about.

Let’s get a little Meta. I create a blog post based on our conversation here, then I link to your website. Maybe you link to that article from your website. This is creating a web that tells Google that this is something worth linking to.

Not quite. Very close enough. You create a blog post and you link to my website. That’s good. That’s what we call a white hat backlink. If I then, in turn, link right back to that article on your website, that’s not good because that looks like we paid each other for a link exchange. However, if I then wrote something else, a different article that links back to your website. That would be different. There are a lot of rules that go into it and it can be confusing.

First of all, let me say there aren’t a lot of females out there teaching SEO. It’s predominantly a male-dominated world. It is also predominantly techy bros that are teaching SEO. Honestly, that’s where I learned SEO from, but none of that applied to musicians. It was all about niche websites. That’s why I started with a coffee website because I didn’t see any way I could make that work on my website. As I learned more, I learned how to do certain tweaks to make it work in the creative space as well in a way that these techy bros can’t do because they’re not musicians and creatives. They are very analytical, and I’ve made it work for creatives.

Do you teach musicians how to apply this to their own website?

I do. I have a membership called Creative SEO that I have some great musicians in, and they’re working with it. I keep them up-to-date every time there’s a Google update. When this helpful content update first dropped, a lot of pages got de-indexed, which means they can’t be found on Google. I instantly popped a bonus video into my membership telling them how to check it. They get a new masterclass every month on a relevant SEO topic. I try to stay on top of the trends for them so they don’t have to read through all the tweets and all the techy mumbo jumbo that’s hard to understand at first.

Most musicians would appreciate that, even myself. I’m like, “That sounds very useful. I could use that,” because it does. It feels overwhelming. It sounds simple and a great thing to add to what you’re already doing, but then you’re like, “You got to do it just right, or it’s not going to work.”

The good news is once you get into the system of doing things, it becomes much easier. You can do it so quickly. It takes no time at all. When people first come into creative SEO, if they already have 50 blog posts on their website, I’m like, “Forget about those 50. Start all your new ones here. You can go back later on little by little and edit those 50, but start now doing it the right way.” If they don’t have any blog posts on their website, that’s great. They can start from square one, knowing exactly how to do it.

Maybe musicians are thinking, “That sounds cool, but I’m not a writer. How much am I going to write? How often am I going to have to write?”

I get that. Some people love to write and prefer blogs because there are better writers than a speaker. Other people are like, “I don’t want to do a blog. I have to write. I’m not good at it. I was never good at it.” Here’s the thing, blog posts don’t need to be academic. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t be academic. When I write a blog post, I pretend that I am like we’re talking now. I’m explaining to you how something works, and that’s going to rank higher than academic language.

TPM 116 | Passive Income For Musicians

Passive Income For Musicians: Blog posts don’t need to be academic. They shouldn’t be academic.

 

I am a huge proponent of AI. I know in the music community, everybody’s like, “No, not AI. Stay away. They’re going to be writing music.” AI can be used for good or for evil. Here’s my opinion on it. I use AI writers to come up with a first draft for me. It helps me crank out content quickly. I have a paid AI service that I use because it’s a little bit better. You can even do this with a free version of ChatGPT if you know how to use it properly. I have a whole class on in my membership, too.

With AI writing, I cranked out six new blog posts in a matter of an hour. Now, those are not blog posts that I’m instantly going to publish. I am going to go read through that writing. I changed the language. I sometimes change facts. You are the expert. You’re using the AI writer as an assistant to give you a first draft, and then you go in and make it in your own language. You explain things further if you think they need to be explained.

You say, “That’s repetitive. We’re going to cut that out,” like you would have a first draft of a paper. You make it your own. It can make the writing process a lot easier and also make the writing process a lot faster. In an ideal world, you would be getting one blog post a week out. However, we don’t always have time for that. As long as you’re getting one a month out, it shows Google that you’re consistently adding content, which means you’re not a dead website. If you don’t post in three years, you’re going to go down in the ranking. It does not have to be every week at the same time. It’s not like it used to be.

That’s good to know. That makes it a lot less daunting to think about starting something like this. With musicians, I feel like the obvious thing is, “I’m a teacher of music. I can write a lot about the instrument and technique.” What if you’re not? What if you’re an artist and you’re putting out music? What kinds of things could you write blog posts about that could attract people and get them to click on your affiliate links?

There are tons of things. If you’re an artist and you’re putting out music, affiliate links are great, but you need to be linking to your own stuff. You want them to buy directly from you. That’s even better. Maybe what inspired me to write this or what was the inspiration behind this? Maybe you’re a songwriter. Five things to do when you’re stuck, and you have writer’s block. It’s little things like that.

That opens the door for them to purchase your music or for them to hire you down the road. If you’re that songwriter, maybe you create a digital download like a writer’s block workbook, the songwriter’s block workbook, and then you sell that at a very low cost on your website. Once that’s created and you’ve written this article about it, people find this article. They click through and buy your product. That’s passive income. You did the work one time, and you continue to make money off of it.

I do that in my own business, but I find that musicians sometimes have a hard time thinking outside of the box about how they can do something like that if they’re not necessarily a teacher or have courses to sell.

I understand that completely. Courses are great. I have them. I have three courses. I have an SEO course, a studio building course, and a passive income course. Even in my passive income course, there is a way to teach courses and a way to talk about affiliate marketing and how to make money that way. There’s a way to talk about how to make money off of ad revenue and how to make money off of digital downloads, something as simple as that.

Those are all some good ideas. What is the role of social media in this? Are you promoting these blog posts on social media? Are you building a base on your social media as well, or are you focused mostly just on the website and Google?

I am focused mostly on the website and Google. I have social media, and I do a lot of promotions for my courses and my membership on social media. I’m very business-minded, and I have very specific streams. On my TikTok, that’s more about building a music studio. On my Instagram, that’s all about improving your website and getting found on Google. The websites themselves, the only purpose of which is to get found on Google to get inorganic traffic.

People who find you on Google, that’s organic traffic. They find you when they do a Google search. That is our holy grail because think about it. If you’re actively searching for something on Google, you have a problem and you need a solution to it, or you’re looking to buy something. If they find you, they’re already in that buy mindset. They are warm and ready to go. If you can provide them with what they need, they are there for it. Whereas on social media, you have to spend time convincing people that they need it. The people who find you on Google know they need it. They’re there and ready to buy it.

It’s so much easier to scroll by on social media. You have to work so hard to get their attention to even stop. Whereas on Google, they type something in. There’s serious intent there.

Social media is great. It’s a wonderful short-term driver. When I’m teaching you about blogging, in the beginning, I encourage you to share your post on social media because it will get you traffic faster. Our goal is for organic traffic to start taking over, and it takes a good year before Google starts to trust you and your stuff out there. Over time, you rely less and less on social media, and it’s a great long-term strategy because we don’t have time to be on Instagram 24/7.

Think of organic traffic like a tree, and it takes a while to take root and start growing. Lots of people are like, “That’s going to take too long.” Yes, like a tree, but once it starts growing, it starts growing in all kinds of different directions and gets big fast. You put the work in now, and you’ve got this thing working in the background for you. What about Google Ads? What is your opinion about that?

I have not spent any time messing with Google Ads because I don’t need to. I have traffic coming in anyway. I cannot give you first-hand experience because I’ve not used them. They are expensive. You need to hire an ad specialist if you want them to be effective, and that also is expensive. Most musicians don’t have that money to drop. Google Ads are for big corporations. That’s my personal opinion from an outside view of someone who’s not used them.

I have looked into Google Ads. I’ve educated myself a little bit, but I haven’t taken the plunge because I know that they are expensive. They’re great because someone who’s there has serious intent, but the cost to get them is so much more. I could probably get ten leads from Facebook Ads for the same price as one lead from Google. You better have a good conversion rate if you’re paying that much.

Honestly, ranking on Google is going to get you more traffic faster. I’ll speak for myself personally. When I go to do a Google search, the first four are always sponsored. It says sponsored, and I know that. My brain instantly goes, “What is the first-ranked one that’s not sponsored?” That person knows what they’re talking about.

TPM 116 | Passive Income For Musicians

Passive Income For Musicians: Ranking on Google will get you more traffic faster.

 

Also, it’s going to be more relevant because people can choose to place ads for whatever keywords they want. They can place an ad for something about flutes and things about clarinets because they know, “It’s wind instruments. People might be interested in both,” but that’s not going to be relevant to you if you’re looking about clarinet mouthpieces and they’re talking about flutes. That makes sense. I know that you also talk about ways to increase the income you already get from your studio by adding affiliate options. How do you do that?

Have you ever used Sheet Music Plus?

Yes.

They have an excellent affiliate program. If you are on their bottom tier, which I am and most people are, it means you’re making less than 10,000 in sales. I’m sorry, my studio didn’t buy that much in music. You get an 8% commission. Now, to compare, Amazon might offer you 1%. Sheet Music Plus also doesn’t have all of the rules that Amazon affiliate has. Their terms of service are a lot more lax.

I use Sheet Music Plus links as an affiliate to recommend music to my students. I have a whole set of affiliate links for all of the music books that I use on a regular basis. What I do when I recommend a book to a student is I go in and grab that link. I pop it into a text message and text it to the student or their parent. They buy through that link, and I get an 8% commission off of that.

You can even have a one-page site, almost like a Linktree, that has all the recommended music that you have, and each one of them is an affiliate link. You could easily send that to any student.

Now, you can’t do that with Amazon. That goes against Amazon’s terms of service, but you can with Sheet Music Plus. The way I got around that with Amazon, for example, was when I wrote that article on the best clarinet mouthpiece. The reason I wrote it was because the articles that were ranking at number one were recommending mouthpieces that were cheaper and worse than the ones that come with clarinets. All my clarinet players out there are going to instantly know what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to name brands because we’re not going to have any libel situation on here. They were terrible, and they’re ranking number one. I was like, “I can instantly outrank these people.” I wrote this article, and three days later, I was number one. Some other good writers who know SEO got in there, too, and that’s when I dropped down to 5, and I’m back to 1 again. What I do is when I need a student to get a new mouthpiece, they need to upgrade. Parents always have questions.

I thought of every question a parent has ever asked me about it, and I put it into this blog post. All I do now is text the student or the parent a link to that blog post and say, “I want this student to get this mouthpiece. Here is an article I wrote explaining it all.” It answers their questions. They buy the mouthpiece. Often, they’ll get new reads in a ligature as well. It brings in a fair amount of commission, and this isn’t like being sneaky or weird. I’m having students buy what I need them to buy to be successful in the first place, and I’m getting a commission off of it. It’s not costing them anything more.

I do plenty of that thing in my business as well. It’s stuff that you would recommend anyway. You are connecting these people to this brand. Why shouldn’t you get a commission off of it? It seems completely fair to me. What are the restrictions with Amazon? I know that one thing is you have to make a certain amount or make sales within a certain amount of time, or they shut your account down.

Amazon has two different affiliate programs. They have their Amazon Associates Program, which is designed for bloggers and people with websites. They have their Amazon Influencer Program, which is designed for social media. I’ve never qualified for that program. I tried after my Instagram following got above a thousand. You’ve got to have a huge audience to qualify for that program. Now that you can put links in your social media post and Instagram.

You can build an Amazon influencer storefront on their website where people can go and buy your suggestions, but with that program, you only get a commission off of the product you recommend. With Amazon Associates, which is designed for websites, the content has to be in a helpful article. It can’t be a list of things you recommend. I wrote the article on the best clarinet mouthpieces, and I picked 5 or 6 to put in there.

I wrote a little blurb about each one, the pros and the cons. It is more of an informative article, and that’s what Amazon wants. You do have to make three sales within your first six months of being an affiliate. You can’t get your mom to go buy something because Amazon knows. I don’t know how they know, but they know. They know who’s related to you.

They probably know because you’ve sent them a package in the past from your account.

A tie-in with Meta, too. I’m not sure, but they know. If you don’t make your first three sales in six months, it’s not a big deal. You don’t get accepted into the program. You simply reapply, and it starts over. You can make three sales in six months. I did not qualify the first time I applied. I had no idea what I was doing, but the second time I applied, I did qualify. Now, I get an affiliate check from Amazon every single month.

Can you send these links in emails, or do you have to send a link to the blog post from your email?

You would have to send a link to the blog post because to meet their terms of service, the links have to be able to be tracked. If you send it in an email, you can get kicked out of the program.

For me and other musicians, our bread and butter is our email list. We want to be able to recommend things to our constituents on our email list, but maybe what we do have to do is create the blog post and send them from the email to the blog post.

That would work. What you could easily do is create a blog post. You have a guitar in the background there, so let’s say that you’re recommending Christmas music for guitars for children. Write an article on it and put those Amazon affiliate links in it. In your email to your newsletter, it would be like, “Christmas time is coming up. If you want your child to have stuff to do over the holidays when they’re bored, there are a number of great Christmas tunes for guitar out there,” and keep going on about it then highlight that Christmas tunes for guitar and link it to your blog post. That will take them directly there in a very natural way. That’s not, “Go buy this.”

Is there anything against you putting in your email, “Click here to learn more about it?”

No.

You can’t link directly to Amazon from your email. You can link to your blog post anywhere you want, social media or email. It doesn’t matter.

What are some other ideas or things that musicians could promote as an affiliate?

My music stuff, I believe, has an affiliate if you use that for your studio. I know that Music & Arts is a big chain music store around here. They have an affiliate. For anything you use in your life, Google search that with an affiliate. A lot of times, they already have one existing that you can apply for. I became a Notion affiliate because I was writing an article on using Notion. I was like, “I should make money off of this.” There’s an application process. They had to confirm that I had a blog with a fair amount of traffic and that I had a social media with a fair amount of followers. That is dependent upon the company you’re working with.

What if you have other interests? For me, I’ve been very interested in low-carb eating. I am an affiliate for a few different low-carb products that I love. Is there any way to work that in as a musician, as you’re talking about lifestyle, maybe?

You could. You have to be careful when it comes to SEO with stuff like that because if you start talking about all of these different things on your website, Google’s going to get very confused, but if you draw a blog post here and there, that would be a great one to use with social media. If you want to do a day in the life on Instagram and your Stories, you can talk about your favorite bar and put your affiliate link in there. A vlog on YouTube would be a great place to incorporate that as well.

I assume you could also start another niche website like you did with your coffee. Sometimes you link to that like, “I reviewed this bar over here on my other website that I loved, and I’m eating it now.”

You could if you wanted to put that time in. My gardening niche website is solely because I love to garden. I live on a quarter acre. On my quarter acre, I have very little yard. It is all gardens, flowers, vegetables, native gardens, and fruit vines.

I don’t know what your focus is on your site, but that’s a whole thing. I only have a quarter acre to work with, and this is what I did with it.

My site is TheSuburbanGarden.net. It’s all about backyard gardening.

Do you also encourage musicians to explore other interests that they have to create a niche website?

There is this common belief in the music field that you have to be very academic, and you have to be into music all the time. That’s not true. Honestly, having outside interests makes us more interesting people in general. The people who follow me on Instagram, the best traffic I get on Instagram is just from damn the life post. When I was in my Stories, I was like, “It’s Friday, picking up my groceries.” It’s a little boring stuff like that, but it helps us connect with each other and if you have interests outside of music.

Having outside interests makes us more interesting people. Share on X

I’m Catholic. I teach a Catholic Formation class at my church, and I don’t talk about it a lot, but I might have a crucifix in the picture, or I had a picture where I’m holding the Propers of the Mass. People will reach out and be like, “Are you Catholic?” It’s just something they relate to. We relate to what’s common between us. Having an interest outside of music is completely normal and a good thing. Sometimes, it’s good to escape from the monotony that can be music.

I agree, and it is part of our brand, like our own personal interests and how we can connect with other people. Musicians might be thinking, “This all sounds amazing. How much time would I have to spend on this to make a difference and build some passive income over the next year? How much time am I going to have to spend per week?”

That depends on whether you have a website or not. If you don’t have a website, you’re going to have spent a lot of time in the very beginning creating one. I’m plugging my membership again. There’s a whole set of beginner courses in there on how to do that if you don’t have one already. Honestly, if you use AI writers in the beginning, it might take you two hours per blog post. By the end of the year, you’re going to be cranking out a blog post in 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how long it is. I can crank out a 1,000-word blog post in 30 minutes. The longer ones are over 3,000 words. It took me about an hour.

That’s huge. That’s a pretty long blog post. What is Google looking for? Is it okay with 500-word blog posts anymore, or do you need to have a minimum?

Google has no saying on how long a blog post must be, but I preach something called epic content. What I mean by that is when you write a blog post around a topic, you need to think about any question anybody might ask about that topic. You need to address it in that blog post because you don’t want them leaving your website to go find answers to another question they have somewhere else. You want them all to be there. It is a very long blog post. I also usually put a table of contents at the front with jump links. All they have to do is see the table of contents. If they want to know one little part of it, they click it, and it takes them instantly there.

That table of contents is so useful. That’s awesome. Is that similar to what used to be called a pillar post or is a pillar post more about focusing on these few posts that are your thing? You want to be known as an expert in that, and people come to your site for that one thing.

I love that you asked that question because I wrote an email to my email list that’s going out on that exact topic, pillar content. We hear the term pillar content all the time. It’s 1 term that has 2 distinct meanings. In the social media world, pillar content is what makes you, you. Pillar content for me would be I’m a dog mom. I’m into passive income. I love to garden.

TPM 116 | Passive Income For Musicians

Passive Income For Musicians: Pillar content is what makes you YOU.

 

In the blog world, your content pillars are the areas in which you write around. Say you’re a music teacher, and your website has content on how to run a music studio, how to teach beginners, repertoire recommendations, and maybe piano games. Those are your content pillars there. We also, in the blogging world, now call those silos.

Your blog posts on that website are all going to fall into one of those four categories. It might be a post about the business side of running a private music studio. In that same category, it could be how to make sure you get paid on time, how to deal with difficult parents, on teaching beginners, and how to keep children on the spectrum engaged in piano lessons.

You’re having groupings of content in different segments. You can ask, “What are the spokes that maybe go around this one thing?” Also, coming up with that makes it easier, so every time you’re not like, “What am I going to write about?” You look at those things like, “What angle I’m going to take this time?”

That’s what is so important. You nailed it right there. What angle am I going to take? There are going to be 1,000 blog posts out there on how to teach piano lessons to beginners, but how to work with nonverbal autistic beginners? How do we teach beginners to curve their fingers? Put your own spin on how to do it.

Maybe if we were talking about songwriting, like how to write a good Christmas song? How do you know how to come up with songwriting ideas? How do you outline a song? Coming up with ideas of not just plain old songwriting.

As you’re saying all that, my brain’s going. You can take all these ideas and create worksheets for each one and put them into a workbook, and you have a digital download that you can now sell passively on all of those posts. Call this Songwriter’s Workbook.

What price do you usually charge for those workbooks?

For digital downloads, it depends on how much content is in them. They could be as low as $9 to $49. It depends. You don’t want to price things too low. First of all, when you’re pricing something, make it an odd number. Odd numbers stick out to people. You can also price anchor it and sell it for $49, but if you buy it in the next two hours, you can get it for $29 and save $20.

When you're pricing something, make it an odd number. Odd numbers stick out to people. Share on X

Let’s say people do this for a year. What income can people expect to start earning in these different areas of passive income?

It depends. For ad revenue, it’s based on page use. It depends on how many people are coming to your website. I’ll use my garden blog. I’ve been working on it for about months. I wouldn’t have even put ads on, had it been my first website. It’s too young, but since I already have an ad network, I just stuck them on there. It’s like making $1. It’s several months old. It’s just starting traffic, but I have made several Amazon sales on it.

In your first year, you’re not going to make a lot. In your second year, you’re going to make more. In year three, you’re going to be making consistently. This is a long game but think about it like an investment. You put $100 a month into your retirement account. You don’t have a lot, but over the years, you got a lot more. It works like compound interest.

Are you continuing to feed all of those sites? You have your coffee site that you’ve had for a long time. You said you could probably get away with doing something once a month. Is that about what you’re doing to keep that one going?

I’m going to be honest. Do what I say, not what I do. My coffee blog has not been touched in months. However, it’s going back in. I’ve been working on some big projects, and I have trouble saying no. I have a private music studio of 50 students. It’s a lot, and my business has been growing, so I’ve been suffering from growing pains. I’ve done some outsourcing now, and that’s helped.

The coffee blog is back on the schedule, and I have three blog posts scheduled for the next couple of months going out. In the garden blog, I was doing four posts a week religiously all summer. There’s only been a couple of months going up lately. I try to get 2 to 3 posts a month on my TonyaLawson.com.

That’s a lot when you add all those up. That’s what I was saying.

It is a lot, and I had to make some decisions. It’s like, “Out of these three blogs, which one’s going to get ignored?” The coffee blog had the lowest potential, so I started ignoring it. Ironically, after this helpful content update, I’ve started making more coffee sales again. I’m like, “I’ve got to get more content on there and let Google know it’s still alive.” I’ve not touched it in months, but I’ve sold coffee grinders and coffee beans on Amazon. That’s how passive income works.

That’s very cool. This has all been super helpful. Is there anything else you want to tell musicians about passive income, affiliate income, or anything else that you feel is important that we didn’t cover?

The most important thing about it is you have to try it. It seems daunting at first, but it isn’t what you get in there. As with anything, if you don’t try it, you’re not going to make money off of it. If you try it and it flops, at least you know you tried.

How can people get to know more information about your membership that you mentioned a couple of times if they want to dive in?

It’s TonyaLawson.com/Creative-SEO, or they can find me on Instagram at @Dr.TonyaLawson. They can message me over there. Any of that will get them there, and I’ll be happy to talk to them. I’m having a Here For The Booze virtual Halloween hangout on the Thursday before Halloween. That’s free. Anybody can come and ask me questions about websites. Costumes are optional.

That’s very cool. You’re doing a lot. I’m very impressed with all you’re doing. Do you ever think, “I wish I would have gotten one of those professor jobs?” or are you feeling like, “Maybe I found my niche doing this instead?”

I didn’t mention that. I did find one of those, and I hated it, so I left. I do teach adjuncts because I teach adjuncts online, and I enjoy it. It’s music appreciation, but I did. I taught at a university full-time for two years, the same one that I’m an adjunct at now. I taught Clarinet, Clarinet Choir, all the women’s technique classes, Music History, and Music Theory. I did it all, and it was not for me. It was all red tape. You always had to be very academic and snobby. It wasn’t my thing. Honestly, I make a lot more money teaching private lessons than I ever made as a full-time professor.

You read it here, and I’ve heard this from a few of my guests saying they wanted to get the doctorate, and that was a big deal. They wanted to become a professor, they did it, and it wasn’t what they thought or it didn’t fit them. There’s prestige around that, but that doesn’t mean that that’s right for you, and that doesn’t mean that’s the pinnacle of your career. Keep your mind open. I love it. I hope that our readers will check out your website and connect with you on Instagram. Thank you so much for everything that you taught us.

Thank you for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.

 

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About Dr. Tonya Lawson

TPM 116 | Passive Income For MusiciansDr. Tonya Lawson is a professional clarinetist turned SEO specialist who specializes in helping freelance creatives build out passive income streams so they can live the life they deserve.

Not only is Dr. Lawson a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, but she also maintains a large private studio, runs 2 niche websites, and creates digital courses that provide musicians with the knowledge they need in order to have sustainable and profitable businesses.