While we all may dream of some future world where we can make money with no discernible work, that is sadly not the reality we live in. But there are ways to generate extra money. Passive income streams allow you to take your money, your intellectual property, your physical property, or your creativity and put them to work behind the scenes to bring in extra income while you work on other things.
While it may not replace a full-time job, a source of passive income can pad a savings account, give you that little extra boost to take a vacation, or give you the financial freedom to not sweat the bills every month.
In this article we’ll look at 15 legitimate ways to bring in passive income, for all types of people with all types of skills and passions.
1. Launch Your Own Blog…Or Buy One
If you love writing or photography or have a passion to share something with an online community, launching a blog can be a fun way to bring in passive income. Whether you have recipes you want to share with the world, animal photography that you think people will love, or have extremely strong feelings about who makes the best backpack for travelers, starting a blog can be a fun, therapeutic, creative outlet.
And while writing and maintaining a website can be a lot of work, and building a digital following takes time, the ability to monetize a blog has never been easier.
Google AdSense allows you to instantly place ads on your site that will connect with your audience and immediately start generating income. And what’s wonderful about a blog is that once out in the world, if the content is well optimized for search engine results and connects with an audience, it will continue to generate revenue.
Don’t want to go into all the work of launching a blog but want to start generating revenue off of one? It’s always possible to go the old capitalism route and purchase one. If the audience is there, you can start generating income immediately.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Another powerful way to earn passive income is through affiliate marketing. People with websites or large social media followings can become members of affiliate networks, where you refer your audience to products or services and then earn a commission, either by referring traffic or by converting visits into sales.
ClickBank has a nice list of affiliate partners who will work with you to generate income on a large or small scale.
3. Make YouTube Videos
People with a creative itch who prefer the video medium can always create YouTube videos, which, once published, can be linked with Google AdSense to start making passive income for all the views it generates. Again, creating online content like this can take time, but once published, this content can become a generator of passive income for you in perpetuity.
The formula is simple enough: Make fun video content, find an audience, make money.
4. Rent Your Car With Turo
Turo is a newer service that allows you to convert your car into a source of passive income by letting people rent it for a day or multiple days.
Especially if you live in a city and have a car you don’t use often, Turo can be a fantastic option for finding some value in a car-sharing marketplace. All you need to do is get the keys to the renter. Turo insures the vehicle, so you’re making money without doing a thing.
5. Rent a Room on Airbnb
Short-term rental properties are a fantastic source of income (more on that to come), but if you have a spare room in your house, renting it on Airbnb is a solid way to bring in extra income with no work needed other than changing the sheets and tidying up the room before the next guest.
6. Self-Publish an e-Book
Self-publishing a book is another way to take that creative content you’ve got inside you and use it to bring in extra income. If you’re an expert on something, or have written something longer that’s just taking up space on your hard drive, self-publishing has never been easier.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct service will allow you to put together a beautiful e-book and start selling it in less time than you’d ever think, and with a little push (and some luck), it could connect with an audience and start bringing in a lot of money. Not every book will be a bestseller of course, and marketing will be up to you, but the good thing is that self-publishing will give you a much higher percentage of revenue per sale than putting the book out through a traditional publishing house.
7. Peer Lending
One of the more exciting ways to generate income online is by participating in a peer lending network. Companies like Lending Club and Kickfurther allow you to evaluate online businesses and traditional brick and mortar establishments, then invest as a sort of “silent partner” with the possibility of a nice return on investment a few months down the line.
If you like the idea of investing in small companies with aggressive growth goals, have capital to spend, and want to get a solid return on your money, peer lending might be for you.
8. Post an Online Course
If you’re an expert in something, especially if you have done training as part of your job, posting an online course can be a great way to bring in extra money. Companies like Udemy and Skillshare allow you to post online courses on a wide range of topics, and make money every time someone purchases your course.
Skillshare boasts that top earners make over $100,000 annually just by sharing expertise online. While a newcomer may not generate that income that quickly, filling gaps in their coverage and having a can-do attitude when it comes to sharing what you know can get you a long way.
9. Put Money to Work in the Stock Market
This is an oldie but a goodie — a timeless way to make passive income is to take your money and put it to work for you in the market. Like with anything, there is risk, but for smart people who are careful, there are good ways to earn money through the stock market.
If you want to get started and don’t know much, you can read up on:
- An introduction to dividend stocks
- A guide to investing in mutual funds
- Understanding the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500
10. License Your Photos With Shutterstock
Have folders full of photos on your laptop? If you submit photos to Shutterstock and are approved, you can generate income every time your photo is licensed through their service.
Especially for those of you who take strong photos of landscapes or travel photos, your pictures can start making you money right away.
11. Set Up an eBay Shop
If you’re a collector or like hunting for deals, eBay can be an effective way to bring in extra revenue. While there is labor in the form of listing, shipping, and providing customer service, those tasks can be hired out once a shop gets to a certain size, and eBay works hard to make sure it’s as easy as possible to sell through their online marketplace.
12. Reselling Gift Cards
While it doesn’t seem like gift cards could be a key to all that much money, people who are aggressive and smart about the practice can make quite a bit of money.
Some people search for discounted gift cards (Target offers one for a nice discount) and then sell them at a profit. Sites like Swagbucks allow you to earn gift cards for taking online surveys or providing online feedback to retailers, and those gift cards can be used or sold.
There are also sites like eBates, which allow you to make purchases and then get a cash back card from the retailer in the form of a gift card, which can then be sold on to another consumer, letting you take money on top of things you’re already buying.
People have found ways to have full-time jobs simply by using sites like eBates, selling on the products they buy on a personal website or on eBay, and pocketing or selling on the gift cards they get back from the retailer. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can make the money.
13. Start an Online Store With Drop Shipping
You might think it’s necessary to have your own product or inventory to start an online business. Not so! Plenty of manufacturers allow people to set up online stores (Shopify is an easy way to do it quickly), and act as a middleman to connect with customers and do the marketing work for them.
Find a product you believe in, develop a beautiful website, find customers…and the rest of the work is done for you. Orders come in, the manufacturer takes care of inventory and shipping, and you just make sure the customer is happy with the service. Here’s a good primer on the practice.
14. Refer Riders and Drivers to Uber
If you have an online following (even if it’s just your friends on Facebook) you can share a referral code to Uber and make money for free rides any time someone signs up for the service using your code.
Just share your personal referral code (it’s located under “Free Rides” in your Uber app), and once they download Uber from the app store and take their first ride, you can get a $5 credit to your next ride.
If you’re an Uber driver, you can generate a lot more income by referring riders and especially drivers to use the app. The rewards vary by city, but if you find your referral code (located in your driver app), and sign up a person to drive for Uber, you’ll be rewarded with some cash right in your bank account. Sign up more people, earn more money.
15. Invest in Real Estate With Fundrise
Real estate investing may seem like something only for the super rich, but companies like Fundrise allow you to get in on the fun without being someone who inherited multiple real estate investment trusts.
Fundrise is a company that allows normal people to get in on the real estate investment market by letting them group up together to invest in properties. You can evaluate interest rates, survey a property, then join online investment groups to get in on the market and start earning residual income.
Make Money While You Sleep
Passive income isn’t some dream where you can just click a few buttons and start earning money. Work will go into it, but the beauty of these passive income sources is that once the initial work is done, the earnings keep coming in. It’s about being smart with your property — your money, your home, your car, your writing, your photography — and leveraging it to earn more for you on top of what you’re bringing in elsewhere.
This list is full of smart ways to go and get that extra capital, but by no means is it comprehensive. Think about what you have, what you’re passionate about, and how you can put it to work earning you that extra cash. Get to work on it, then put it to work for you.