What is mailbox money? Mailbox money is another term for passive income, and these days, technology is making it easier for everyday people make money in their sleep. Mailbox money is a smart way to increase your income because it doesn’t require a ton of time from you, and you can still keep your day job.
There are lots of reasons why generating passive income is important. Maybe you want to pay off specific debt, like student loans or credit cards, or perhaps you need to save money for a house or a trip. For some, the goal of mailbox money is to figure out how to quickly scale it into a viable business so they can quit their day jobs for good.
What are Some of the Best Ways to Build Passive Income?
True passive income is making money at any time of the day without having to constantly tend to it. There’s no such thing as a 100 percent easy, effortless gig. If there was, everyone would already be doing it.
Creating passive income requires work, but the bulk of the work is mostly done on the front end, or in the beginning. Once that part is done, the idea is to then sit back (with minimal maintenance) and let the checks roll in.
The trick to building strong passive income is to diversify. Cast a wide net and try a number of different things so you can see what works well for you and what doesn’t. Diversifying and creating multiple streams of income may also help increase your income.
As with any type of work you do, gravitate to what you’re capable of, and what you enjoy. In my case, I’ve created multiple streams of passive income through Airbnb, selling products on Amazon and putting extra money away in a number of investments, including Acorns, Fundrise and Ally Invest.
Here’s a rundown of the best ways to make mailbox money.
Got an Extra Room? List it on Airbnb
One of the best things about the Internet is the blossoming share economy that millions are embracing.
One of the pioneers in this space is Airbnb, which allowed people from all over the world to open up their homes to travelers for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
Making passive income by renting out a spare bedroom or your entire home is easy. Take some awesome photos of the space, give it a brief description, and post it.
I listed my place on Airbnb because I was traveling over the holidays and within two days, my apartment was almost fully booked for the dates I was offering.
Tips for Your Airbnb Listing
I cleared out all the clutter in my place, opened all the windows and then took photos.
I also wrote a thoughtful description of my apartment based on what I thought travelers would want to know, such as, how close it is to public transportation, popular restaurants nearby, and the level of noise in and around my building.
I also turned on Airbnb’s smart pricing because I wanted Airbnb figure out when to raise and lower the price based on other hosts in my area.
Smart pricing is when Airbnb basically sets the price range for you, based on a number of factors, such as the day of the week the traveler is booking (weekends are typically pricier) and what other hosts in your neighborhood are charging.
If you’re worried about not having someone to drop off the keys or clean your place while you’re away, Airbnb’s hosting dashboard allows you to connect to locals in your area who are vetted and willing to help.
A nice part of opening up your home to Airbnb is that you have full control of the calendar, which means you can turn Airbnb “on and off.”
Create a Website or Blog
Creating a website or blog is a great way to build your brand and these days, websites are so easy to create (there are templates you can use), anyone who says it’s too complicated is just giving excuses.
If you’re good at something or know a lot about a particular topic, share it with an online community, grow your traffic and following, and then monetize it.
Are you good at cooking with healthy spices your Indian mother used to make for you when you were a kid? A website giving the best recipes with these spices would be a logical place to start.
Are you a whiz at fixing cars? Make some videos of how to do your own oil changes and throw it up on your site or even YouTube.
People who have successfully done this are called influencers, and the internet is chalk full of them. These are the people who have deemed themselves an expert in their field and have the content to back it up.
How to Build a Website
Sites like Bluehost give you the tools to create a website easily and quickly.
Before you dive in to creating the actual website, take some time to create the plan. What do you want your website to convey to the world? What kind of content will you have on it? Once you map this out, choose a template that best fits the content. Remember to keep it simple. You can always add more bells and whistles to your site as you get going.
Once the site is up, you’ll need to figure out:
- How to generate traffic to your site
- Build an email list of subscribers
Once this happens, you can start thinking about creating a course or choosing affiliate products to promote and sell.
Create an E-course
If you have your website and created a solid following and traffic, an e-course could be the next natural step.
You don’t necessarily have to have a website to create a course. However, you’d definitely be at an advantage if you already have a site that generates traffic and has subscribers because you could easily market your e-course to them.
People who go down this route usually have a skill they are already utilizing, and sometimes say the idea for the e-course sprouted from their community or from friends and colleagues constantly asking the same questions.
For example, when I tell people I sell products on Amazon, they always want to know how I did product research and how I sourced my products. Those two topics could be potential e-courses.
Creating an e-course can be done in a number of ways. A big consideration for how to convey your e-course depends on what you’re teaching.
If it’s a course about how to restore old motorcycles, video might be your best platform. If it’s a course about how to write for blogs or how to become a virtual assistant, a written e-course might be just fine. If it’s a course about how to do product research for a product to sell on Amazon, a screen share recording tool might be the best way.
A few places you can start your research is on Teachable.com, which is a company designed to help you create and sell online courses. A basic plan starts at just $39 a month.
Promote Affiliate Products
Secret: This is how bloggers and online influencers make a nice chunk of their mailbox money.
In my opinion, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to build passive income. If you have a product or service and want to let others know, why not “share” the profits with an affiliate?
Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing arrangement in which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.
Basically, if you have a website and want to promote products and services you think your audience will purchase, it can be an easy way to make more mailbox money.
Consider How Much Traffic and Subscribers You Have
There’s no real benchmark for how much traffic you need to have before selling affiliate products, but it would probably need to be in the few thousands each month. Be realistic — if you only have 20 people coming to your site each month, you’re not ready for affiliate products.
When your email list has about 1,000 subscribers or more, you’re ready to start selling some affiliate products.
You can sign up for an affiliate network and check out the kinds of brands they partner with, and what products or services they offer. Some well-known affiliate networks include Commission Junction, Clickbank, Impact Radius and Amazon Associates.
If You Don’t Know Enough About Affiliate Marketing
If you feel intimidated because you don’t know that much about digital marketing, that’s okay because there are companies that have sprouted up, just for this reason.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is one of them. They help you understand “how to build a six-figure blog without millions of visitors or selling your soul.”
There are also resources online that can help you understand more about affiliate partnerships. Check out affiliate marketing Facebook groups, as well as conferences (Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas is a big one) that are all focused on affiliate marketing and networking.
Invest Your Money
Hopefully you have an IRA or 401(k) that you contribute regularly to. If you don’t, this should be on your list of financial goals. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), open an IRA with Vanguard, which has low fees, compared to other investment companies.
After you open the account, make sure to max out contributions for the year, which is currently at $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older.
In addition to your long-term investments, consider more ways to invest your money with peer-to-peer companies, such as Fundrise, which is a crowdsourced investment service that allows you to invest in commercial real estate with as little as $500.
You can choose from a variety of investment options, from shorter to longer-term goals.
They also offer a 90-day satisfaction period, so if you’re unhappy for any reason within 90 days, they will buy your investment back at the original investment amount.
You’ve most likely heard of Lending Club, which is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers low-risk portfolios. In short, Lending Club is an online company that matches two types of people — those who want to borrow money and those who want to lend it.
Lenders can earn as much as 25%, although the average is usually between 3-8% for most investors.
Keep in mind that with any type of investments, there are risks involved, and Lending Club is no different. While your investment can certainly yield higher percentages than a traditional savings account, it can require more research and work from you to fully understand the loans and make an informed decision that best suits your goals.
In case you haven’t heard of them, Ally was one of the first online banks to offer low or no fee checking and savings accounts and an ATM fee reimbursement for using any ATM within their network. They now offer what’s called Ally Invest, which is a great option for investing in low-cost ETFs and stocks.
They offer two types of investment accounts, one for the hands-on investor called Self-Directed Trading, and Ally Invest Managed Portfolios, which is recommended for those who want to have it be more automated.
You can get started with a minimum investment of $2,500. Ally has an annual advisory fee of 0.30% for all balances.
You can find out more in our Ally Invest review.
For handy investment apps, Stash is a popular option to help grow your money. You can sign up for Stash and start investing with as little as $5. They offer a number of different kinds of investments based on your goals and help you pick an investment strategy that aligns with your personal interests and goals.
Acorns is another app for investing your change from purchases you make on your debit or credit card. The app automatically invests the money for you, and you can set it to invest as little or as much as you want. I started with $20 in 2013, and today I have over $500. This is a convenient way to give your savings a little boost.
Sell your Unwanted Stuff Online
If creating your own website, affiliate marketing and an e-course are too much of a commitment for you, there are easier ways to make money in your spare time that anyone can do.
The two big honchos of online selling are Amazon and eBay, but there are other platforms that are geared to specific items, like Decluttr, which helps you get rid of your old CDs, DVDs, games, books, and cell phones.
It’s free to sign up, and they’ll send you a free shipping label to your first box of stuff you send to them.
Put Your Car up for Rent on Turo
If you have a fun car that just sits in the garage, or if you don’t drive much, snap some nice photos and rent your car to make some extra cash. This is just like Airbnb, but for your car.
I’ve heard of people purchasing multiple cars just to rent it on Turo. They use the money they make from Turo to pay off the car.
For customers, it’s a cheaper alternative to renting from traditional companies like Enterprise or Hertz.
Similar to Airbnb, users must have a profile and are rated and reviewed by others. There are options for auto insurance that renters can choose.
A Full Mailbox
Sometimes the hardest thing about a project is just getting started. Whether you decide to rent out a room or invest some extra money, set aside time on your calendar and be prepared to plan and do your research.
Creating chunks of time in your calendar to execute your tasks is the best way to get things done so you can fill your “mailbox” with extra money this year.