Last week I talked about using my state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to try to get a job. That went very badly; they were not equipped to meet my needs at all. I had hoped for help getting a home-based job, and the counselor said the agency’s job was to get disabled people out of their homes. I said I thought their job was to help disabled people make a living.
Last fall I took a one-night class at the community college on how to build a web site. It was enough information to get me started. I figured that was the first step toward home-based freelancing, having an internet home for my various ventures.
Near the end of the class, the teacher taught us about affiliate marketing. Let’s use my new site as an example—I’m going to start a bicycle tour planning service on Vancouver Island. I will also have a tab for a blog where I tell stories from my own tours to help get people excited about trying a tour themselves. I’ll help people figure out what they need to pack, and of course I’ll recommend my favorite equipment. I like Axiom bike luggage. It’s handmade in Canada and it holds up on the road. I like the idea of touring with Canadian-made equipment because it makes me look like a local; people who might jack me for my US passport will move on and bother someone else.
Let’s say I recommend the Axiom Kootenay, the pannier set I use on tour. I can put in a link to the Axiom website where people can order that model bag. Before I set up that link, I contact Axiom and ask if they have an affiliate marketing program. Let’s say they do, and they sign me up. Now, for every bag someone buys using that link on my site, I get a small kickback for the referral. Typically for a $200 item, I’d get maybe a $7 or $8 advertiser reward.
I was squirming in my seat as I processed this information and the teacher asked if I had anything to say. I said, “Yes! Why doesn’t the Department of Vocational Rehab give people this information? This is the kind of stuff disabled people need to know! This is how we can help ourselves by making passive income.” The teacher agreed heartily.
As he closed the class, he said he made about $36 per student after the college took its cut of the class fee. With just 6 students, that was about $216. While he was teaching, though, he made about $72 an hour from his various web site affiliate marketing links. He told us this to illustrate the power of affiliate marketing.
I think it’s criminal that this isn’t one of the first things they teach you about at DVR orientation. The great thing about affiliate marketing is you don’t have to have money to make money. You can build and maintain a web site very cheaply. I paid $12 for my domain and $12 a month for tech support. That’s an investment many people can make. It’s not like my friend whose every idea for a money-making venture begins with “You buy a van…”
This is the kind of help I was looking for when I went to DVR. I figured they’d have resources on jobs that can be done in the home, passive income strategies, and low-investment or subsidized entrepreneurship opportunities. That’s how people with disabilities can be independent. Shunting us into low-wage manual labor jobs keeps us dependent and harms our health. Maybe independence for their clients isn’t their goal.
I bet there are lots of other ways for people with disabilities to make passive (or active) income that I haven’t heard of. Do you have things you’ve discovered that people with disabilities need to know about? Share your secrets; you may give another reader a hand up.