What about $1,000 or even $10,000 extra per month?
Even though that may sound like a nice dream, for many people, it’s a reality! And it could be for you as well.
How so? By developing something called “passive income” – ways to make as much money as possible by establishing systems that would do the work for me. If you’re not familiar with that term, then click here to learn more about how passive income works.
For years I’ve been collecting and trying out lots of different passive income ideas. Some of them have worked with great success, adding as much as an extra five-figures per year to our annual household income. Of course, I’m not alone. The Internet is full of thousands of success stories of real people who are making money on the side – as much as four, five, and even six-figures per month!
Though nearly every idea will take a considerable amount of work up-front in the beginning, once you can get it to the point where your idea can function in auto-pilot, then you’ve got pure gold opportunity!
Want to know more?
Here is my actionable list of passive income ideas for you to give a try! (Note: Affiliate links to follow.)
Passive Income Ideas That I Use:
Saving and Investing:
Saving our money and investing it has been one of the single greatest actions towards moving us along to financial freedom – by FAR! Ultimately we will someday live off of some fraction (3-4%) of our entire life savings, and this will statistically provide us with passive income for the rest of our lives!
There is really nothing fancy about this strategy. Anyone can do it! All it takes is utilizing your tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts such as your 401(k) or Roth / traditional IRA (or others if you live outside the U.S.) and committing yourself to save.
Here are the three main building blocks to this strategy that make it work successfully:
- Save early. The earlier you start saving, the more time you give compounding returns to work their magic and make you rich! In the beginning, compounding returns don’t seem to add up very much. But given enough time, they start to build up your fortune – and fast! After a while the money that starts growing on top of your money out-paces your contributions. That’s when your savings really takes off!
- Save big. The more money you save, the more volume you give compounding returns to work with. In addition, with tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts, you get to keep more money for yourself as opposed to giving it away to the government. Think of it like getting “a discount” for every dollar you save.
- Invest. In order to really push compounding returns to their full potential, you need to invest smart. However, don’t be scared by this. You don’t have to be an expert stock picker to do this. Most smart investors know that if they simply invest in a stock market index fund that follows the S&P 500, they will make roughly 10% per year on average over the long haul. That’s a much better rate of return than parking your savings in an old-fashioned bank account earning hardly any interest at all!
Go to any compound interest calculator (such as this one), play with the numbers, and you will see what I mean. Or you can check out this analysis I did that shows a dollar saved today is worth about $7.61 in the future. This then works out to $0.30 of passive income for at least the next 30 years!
It’s definitely a game changer when you start to think about money differently in this way!
To better help you keep track of your finances and monitor your progress, use a free tool like Personal Capital to make sure you are hitting your goals.
Blogging / Affiliate Marketing:
To build a blog that makes money is a lot like taking an empty piece of desert and turning it into something as busy and glamorous as Las Vegas. In other words – You need to make it a place that people actually want to go to.
Ideally once your blog has traffic and good Internet rankings, you’ll find that several different types of income generating opportunities will present themselves to you. Here are the two most popular methods:
- Direct advertising: You’ll start getting emails and solicitations from lots of marketers looking to work with you on their advertising campaigns.
- Affiliate marketing: More traffic leads to more people clicking ads on your site. Some of the common affiliate partners include Google Adsense, Amazon Affiliates, Commission Junction, Flex Offers, and Clickbank. There are also other avenues such as promoting products from Click Bank, eBooks from fellow bloggers, software, etc.
You can get started blogging for super cheap using a great and inexpensive hosting service like Bluehost. To help you out, we’ve got a complete blog-setup guide with everything you need to know at this page here.
Building Niche Sites:
Niche sites can be an incredible source of income. This is a side hustle strategy that I have been using for years!
A niche site is a website that is built around a very specific topic (hence the name “niche”). The goal is to become an authority of information for anyone looking to learn more about this subject.
For example: You might create a website that is all about the best types of acoustic guitars. Every article would target a very specific sub-topic such as particular brand reviews, which ones popular musicians use, the best strings, must-have accessories, etc.
The way a site like this earns money is through its traffic. The more visitors that come to the niche site, the more likely they are to click on the ads (like Adsense) or buy the products you are promoting (usually through an affiliate service like Amazon or Clickbank).
Unlike a blog where the owner is usually very active and engaging, niche sites are generally more passive. The readers usually just absorb the content you’ve created. This allows you to create multiple sites – building new ones while the older ones mature and generate revenue.
I’ve personally created sites that topped out around $1,000 per month in their prime! Can you imagine how cool it would be to have several sites generating that kind of revenue?
It could happen! One particular blogger that I follow (Spencer Haws from the site Niche Pursuits) quit his job after his collection of niche sites started earning more than his day job.
I’ve written a TON about my experiences with building niche sites. You can read all of the tricks I’ve learned here.
Selling Your Websites:
Speaking of building websites … One of the great things about them is that even though they are digital, these sites are still tangible assets you can sell for REAL money later on.
Yes! Just like a house or a car, you can also sell a website. And for thousands of dollars!
Remember how I said I built a niche site that was earning almost $1,000 per month? After the site tapered off, I eventually sold it for a couple of thousand dollars. Not bad for a part-time side hustle!
The more popular or heavily traveled your site is, the larger the price you can command. Not too long ago, another great blogger I follow named J Money from Budgets are Sexy was offered $1 million for his sites. But get this – He actually declined it because he felt they had more potential to do better!
A very popular way to sell websites is through the Ebay style service Flippa. Keep in mind you can also sell your sites privately; sometimes for more money than you might make through a third party service.
Credit Card Cash Back and Rewards:
Using credit card rewards has quickly become one of my new favorite ways to make a significant amount of passive income. If you’re responsible with your credit cards and pay them off each month, then why not get paid for the things you’re going to buy anyways like gas and groceries?
So far my greatest year has been over $5,000 in cash back and travel rewards! Here’s how I was able to do this:
- Strategically opening certain cards. If you’ve never heard of travel-hacking before, then let me explain this: It’s when you open certain credit cards just to get the big sign-up rewards bonus. Do enough of these in a year, and you can accumulate a large number of points that you can leverage for free vacations. In 2017, we saved over $4,000 on planned travel using this strategy! Click here to learn more.
- Cash-back. As I work my way through my big-bonus cards, I always keep my 2% Fidelity Visa card handy for all other purchases. This card pays me 2% on every single thing I buy – no matter what it is; no limits! I use this card to auto-pay many of my household bills – another way to quickly boost my rewards. I usually have no problem receiving more than $1,000 in rewards with this one.
This is what dividend stock investing is all about. Collect enough high quality stocks, space out the payments, and you could potentially live off of the payments they send you for the rest of your life!
Within the early retirement personal finance niche, there are many bloggers who believe that this is the key to successful financial freedom. A simple example of their strategy would be to have a portfolio of $1,000,000 in dividend-paying stocks with an average yield of 4%. This would equal $40,000 of passive income each year.
If you’re just getting into dividend stocks and looking for something good to read, try:
- “The Ultimate Dividend Playbook” by Josh Peters and Morningstar Inc.
- “The Little Book of Big Dividends” by Charles B. Carlson
Ebooks have become an extremely popular way for amateur writers to become best-selling authors. And they can potentially be making thousands of dollars per month in the process!
Publishing an ebook is a much, much quicker process than traditional methods. Instead of peddling your manuscript to numerous publishers and facing rejection, you simply write your draft in MS Word or Google Docs, proofread it, add a cover and upload it to Amazon. That’s it. The middleman is completely cut out.
There’s a lot to love about writing ebooks.
- Once uploaded, they have the potential to generate income for forever.
- In addition, your audience is all of Amazon. Literally any shopper searching in the niche you wrote about could potentially find and purchase your book.
- If that’s not good enough, it’s also worth mentioning that Amazon pays you a 70% royalty. That’s one of the highest in the industry!
Lots of common writers and bloggers have reported success in ebook publishing. One of the most famous that comes to mind is Steve Scott who has made five figures per month with his portfolio of books. And he’s certainly not alone.
I have personally published a number of ebooks. You can check them out on Amazon here. The title shown to the right / above is my most popular selling one. Believe it or not, the paperback versions of my books have actually sold better than the digital copies (Amazon lets you sell both). Guess it must be a better fit for the audience!
Marketing companies are always in need of detailed information about what prospective customers are into. In return they’ll often offer cash or rewards points just for taking the time to quickly fill out a short and simple 5 minute survey. It’s about the easiest way I can think to make money for doing literally doing nothing more than clicking on a few boxes.
Here’s a few good places where you can get started:
- Swagbucks – get $5 just for signing up!
- Gold Opinions – start a trail membership for $1
- Surveys for Cash – small one-time fee for access.
If you love taking photos or have some cool recordings that you’ve made, don’t just let them sit around on your hard-drive collecting dust. Marketing companies all across the world need new and unique material such as this, and they are willing to pay you a small fee in exchange for its use.
I personally licensed dozens of my guitar recordings through a service called iStockPhoto for years, and it generated a few bucks per month.
More Ideas for Passive Income:
One of the latest ways people seem to be making a killing in passive income is through offering online courses. These can be courses can be in on any number of topics:
- Making more money
- Eating better
- Being healthier
- Blogging / marketing
- … you name it!
Online courses can be in just about any combination of mediums. They could be text, images/diagrams, how-to videos, emails, forums or FaceBook groups, checklists, and many others.
The great thing about this business model is that depending on the type of content it uses, the course can be offered to tens, hundreds, or even thousands people at the same time. You don’t have to personally teach or interact with every single participant.
For example: If you had an ecourse that costs $100 and got roughly 100 people per month to signup, that’s $10,000 of passive income.
One of the biggest examples I can think of in this area right now is Ruth Soukup and her ecourse Elite Blog Academy. In this package, she offers lessons to other bloggers how how to grow their sites and accelerate their earnings. Although she doesn’t reveal how much she earns from the course, I can guess by the several hundred dollar price tag and waiting list that it is A LOT!
Keep in mind: You don’t necessarily need to be a famous personality to be successful. All you need is a lot of great material arranged in an easy to digest package! I’ve seen a ton of incredible income reports published by stay-at-home mom bloggers offering Pinterest courses. It’s amazing how much information you might already know, and how much other people would be willing to pay you for it.
Want to invest in dozens of people’s dreams at once? As an alternative to borrowing money from banks, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has become an Internet platform where everyday people can loan money to other people. This is usually done at very high interest rates that you set. You also have access to the borrowers’ credit rating and back story (reason for needing the money). In return for being the broker, the P2P lender takes a cut of the exchange.
Do you know a lot about a subject but don’t want to start your own website? Other sites all around the web are always looking to pay contributors to write quality articles. Here are 92 sites you can try!
Think you could put together some valuable tool or instructional product such as a DVD, software, podcast, technical paper, etc? If you do, you could sell it on your own website or on a well-known distributor such as eBay or ClickBank.
Short for “application”, apps are becoming a hot commodity with the rise of the smartphone industry. Most apps require less effort to produce than a full-scale software programs and can usually be outsourced for creation to a software programmer for relatively cheap. If you can get your app for sale on one of the popular app marketplaces such as Amazon or Apple, then you have an instant audience of interested customers.
If you know how to do anything with websites, then you could sell your services using a technical consulting service broker. You could also do this over eBay or on your own through referral.
Single Family Home Rental:
A rental property is a staple among classic passive income ideas. As long as you can earn more from your rent income than what you pay on the mortgage, taxes, and bills, then you will have added income every month (for as long as your tenants pay their rent). Check out my exploration of this topic in How Much Money Would I Make If I Rented Out A House?
Rather than leasing out one house at a time, how about collecting rent from +20 tenants at a time? This is one of the investment recommendations made by “Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki and his wife Kim in their most recent book “Unfair Advantage”. Robert Kiyosaki’s advice has inspired other authors who also share in his endorsement and success with the apartment leasing revenue technique. Most notably, author George Antone of “The Wealthy Code” delivers a very descriptive how-to on acquiring residential real-estate and the advantages of using “leverage” (borrowing money at a lower rate than the rate of return you make on the investment) as part of this process.
Commercial Real Estate Leasing:
Have you ever seen the show “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC? Have you ever wondered why Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle never seem to be at work and are always spending time with their 19 kids? It’s because they own several commercial real-estate investments and live off of the revenue they generate (on top of what they make from you watching their show!). Just like people, some businesses find it more favorable to rent the building that they occupy rather than own it. Because of the size of the buildings and other factors, the stakes are usually much greater in owning commercial real estate than they are with single-family homes. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki and his wife Kim are big promoters of using commercial real estate and discuss many examples in their book “Unfair Advantage”.
Bond Interest Payments (or Bond Ladders):
Bonds are payments of debt upon which the interest is paid annually. Similar to dividends, strategies can be applied where a series of different types of bonds are purchased such that the interest adds up to significant monthly income. The book “Higher Returns from Safe Investments” by Marvin Appel describes some great techniques and also has a step-by-step explanation for setting up bond ladders.
Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) can also be laddered in a fashion similar to a bond ladder where various ones will mature (pay out) at different times and at varying interest rates. From my experience, Ally Bank usually has some of the highest rates available. On top of that, it is really easy to move your money in and out.
Everyone knows that if you’ve got some old stuff around the house, you should try to resell it on the popular Internet auction giant. But what about other techniques such as reselling niche and hard to find items, valuable products that may have been poorly posted, or selling for others for a percentage of the winnings. The books “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss and “Get Rich Click” by Marc Ostrofsky feature some unbelievable true stories about regular people who have gotten rich by using this strategy.
A wedding I went to had the most beautiful hand-made and crafty decorations. Where did the copule get them all from? Etsy! Similar to eBay, try selling your crafts on Etsy to people who are looking for just those types of creations.
In the book “The 4-Hour Workweek”, author Timothy Ferriss literally only works 4 hours a week (from his laptop while on exotic vacations) because he has designed an incredible automated system of selling products where all his transactions are fulfilled through drop shipping. Drop shipping is when someone orders something from you, and you turn around and have the product made and shipped directly to the customer. You never see, handle, or do anything with the product. As a seller, this is an incredible advantage because it means that you never have any inventory, overhead costs, storage costs, and very little liability. Once you have a product to sell, you could setup your own web page or setup a store on eBay or Amazon to capitalize on their already-established traffic.
If you are really good at what you do (or at what you know) and can market yourself towards someone who really needs your service, consider performing consulting. Nothing beats good old fashion networking, and these days, networking has gone digital. Try LinkedIn to get started.
Small Business Owner:
Comfortable with risk and have money to invest? Venture capitalists are always looking for people to partner with so that they can get their product or service off the ground. You could become a partner in opening a store, a restaurant, a real-estate purchase, or even the next Facebook. Just make sure you trust the people you invest in and get everything in writing!
Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, Stuart Miles, Michelle Meiklejohn, RTP411, adamr, James Barker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net