Looking for passive income ideas that actually work?
I tried many different ideas over the years and many did not work out.
If you want to learn legit ways to make passive income then keep reading.
In This Article
- What is Passive Income?
- Top Passive Income Ideas
- 1. Dividend Income
- 2. Invest in Real Estate
- 3. Invest in Land
- 4. Create Software
- 5. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
- 6. Music Rights
- 7. Be an Angel Investor
- 8. Peer to Peer Lending
- 9. Pay Off Your Debt
- 10. Rent Out Your Spare Room on Airbnb
- 11. Start Drop Shipping
- 12. Write a Book
- 13. Earn Income From Affiliate Marketing
- 14. Start a Lead Generation Website
- 15. Sell Products on Amazon
- 16. Make an Online Course
- 17. Create YouTube Videos
- 18. Start a Business
- 19. Vending Machines
- 20. Sell Your Photos
- 21. Create a Mobile App
- 22. Put Ads on Your Car
- 23. Buy a Laundromat
- 24. Purchase or Open a Batting Cage
- 25. Use Your Graphic Design Skills
- 26. CD Laddering
- 27. Rent Your Stuff to Others
- 28. Become a Social Media Influencer
- 29. Invest in Local Business
What is Passive Income?
Passive income is income you earn from doing little to no work. You’ll have to do some upfront work, but then the money just comes in.
Some income is truly passive, which means it needs no attention from you. Other sources of income are passive but you need to delegate any work that needs to get done.
One way to maximize passive income is to have multiple income streams coming in. In other words, don’t just choose one option, choose two or more.
Having multiple income streams is good for two reasons:
- You have more money coming in
- If one income source goes away, you’re not left without a paycheck
Keep that in mind as you read our list of ideas for passive income.
Top Passive Income Ideas
As you start researching, keep in mind the types of passive income that are in line with your skills and your passions.
Read on to find your best ways to earn money while you sleep.
1. Dividend Income
Many investors, including Warren Buffett, earn money by owning shares in stocks that pay dividends.
Dividend income is money paid to shareholders of stocks in the form of cash.
Every quarter–or sometimes monthly–companies that have dividend-paying stocks issue dividend checks to stockholders.
You can reinvest those dividends to buy more shares of stock. Or you can take the money as a paycheck and live off of it.
This is one of the most popular of all passive income ideas since it is truly hands off.
Any time you invest money in the stock market, it’s important to do your research.
You want to know what you’re doing, so you choose stocks that have a solid history of good performance.
Investing in index funds that hold dividend-paying stocks is one option.
Index funds are funds that hold stocks from several companies so that not all your eggs are in one basket.
Also, many successful investors choose to hold what are called “blue chip” dividend stocks.
These are stocks in companies that have a long history of success. Think Coca Cola or 3M.
If you go this route, make sure to diversify your portfolio by investing in companies in different sectors.
This is own of the most popular ways for building wealth and has a long track record.
2. Invest in Real Estate
Another great passive income idea is to invest in real estate.
The most common way to invest in real estate is to buy a home and rent it out. This can be profitable, but unless you hire a property manager, it is not very passive.
It can be nice because you have a physical asset that you have more control over and the cash flow is consistent as it comes in monthly.
I tried this traditional route but it was too much of headache trying to find new tenants and maintaining the property.
Looking for a better way to get passive income with real estate, I decided to check out crowdfunded real estate.
Many of the platforms out there require you to be an accredited investor.
An accredited investor needs to have a net worth of $1,000,000 or make over $200,000 per year ($300,000 if you are married).
I wasn’t an accredited investor at the time, so I knew I needed to search out other options.
One company that I came across is called Fundrise.
It is a like a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) but better. Fundrise has low fees and with as little as $500 you can get started and invest in real estate.
Are you an accredited investor? Check out Crowdstreet which has had over 2.4 billion invested through their platform with an IRR of 17.3% since 2014.
3. Invest in Land
Did you know you can earn passive income by investing in land? Of course, you can buy land and rent it out, such as farmland.
However, you can also participate in crowdfunded land ownership and rental.
Companies like Acretrader allow you to purchase shares of farmland. They handle all of the work of administration and property management.
You earn the profits from the farmland being rented out. Rent for the farmland is paid upfront to reduce the risk of loss from crop failure.
AcreTrader boasts about their up to to 11.5% annual return! That is worth checking out.
4. Create Software
Have you thought about using your skills to create software to sell? Spencer Haws created a software program called LongTailPro.
LongTailPro is a keyword research software that helps you find the right keywords to get high converting traffic to their website or blog.
In fact, Spencer makes over 10k a month by selling his LongTailPro software.
By partnering with other bloggers and advertising LongTailPro on his own blog, Spencer marketed his software in niches he knew would benefit from the software.
One interesting thing about Spencer’s story is that he hired out via Upwork for all of the development of the software. So he didn’t actually create the software he sells.
He had the idea for what he wanted the software to do, but he hired someone else to do the work of creating the software.
So, even if you don’t necessarily have the skills to make a software program, you can still make this passive income with digital products source work for you.
5. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
This option won’t make you rich, but it is a way to earn passive income with very little risk.
When you choose to open a high-yield account with an online bank, you often earn a higher interest rate that with a traditional bank.
This is because online banks have much lower overhead than brick and mortar banks. That means they can pass higher profits on to you.
One popular online bank is CIT Bank, which pays a much more competitive rate than many traditional banks.
Having a high yield checking or savings account can be a good way to earn consistent passive income.
Again, the returns are low, but they are a steady way to get free cash back.
6. Music Rights
Did you know you can get royalties from music or movies you didn’t take any part in creating?
Royalties are money actors, singers and other artists get when they create a song, TV show or movie.
Sometimes those artists want to sell future royalties because they need a lot of money right now.
So they sell a portion of their future royalties to investors. The investors make their money back with profits.
Companies such as Royalty Exchange work to connect artists with investors.
7. Be an Angel Investor
Angel investors provide funding for small startup businesses or entrepreneurs. This could be a great passive income idea if you have a lot of extra cash laying around.
When you invest with companies like AngelList, you can invest in specific startups, or you can invest in a basket of startups that is designed similar to an index fund.
Minimums for Angel investing products on AngelList range from $1,000 to $500,000.
8. Peer to Peer Lending
Have you ever heard of peer-to-peer lending? This is kind of like crowdfunded real estate investing.
With p2p lending, a group of investors get together and invest money that is loaned to borrowers.
As the loan is paid back with interest, you as the investor make money.
For instance, a borrower with excellent credit is less of a risk for you to lend money to than one with poor credit.
You could choose to invest in lower-risk loans if you want to minimize your chances of losing money.
Just know that investing in the lower risk loans will result in a smaller profit.
If you are looking for a lower risk option with a decent return, check out Worthy Bonds. They offer $10 bonds and pay a 5% return.
One unique thing about them is that your money is liquid, so you can take it out at any time.
9. Pay Off Your Debt
A lot of people don’t think of paying off your debt as a form of passive income. But think about it this way.
The less money you’re paying in payments to creditors, the more money you have in your pocket each month.
On top of that, getting out of debt quickly can increase your income streams even more because you’re not wasting money on interest charges from creditors.
If you want to get out of debt faster, there are companies that can help you do that. For example, you could check out Credible, which offers low rates.
10. Rent Out Your Spare Room on Airbnb
Does your house or apartment have a spare bedroom? If so, you could make some passive income by renting it out on Airbnb. Airbnb is a popular alternative to regular hotels.
This is because it’s often cheaper than regular hotels and provides a more “homey” feel for guests.
Of course, there is some maintenance involved with this passive income source. You’ll need to be sure the rooms are cleaned after a guest leaves.
However, you could hire a maid to do that.
My friends Steve and Annette Economides make over $1000 per month renting out their spare bedrooms.
11. Start Drop Shipping
It seems that everyone is shopping online these days. Because of that, drop shipping has become very popular. What is drop shipping?
Basically, it’s where you create a site that advertises other companies’ products.
A buyer would order the product from your site, which is set up to send the order to the manufacturer of the product automatically.
Then the company that makes the product is responsible for shipping the item to the client.
With drop shipping, you don’t have to worry about carrying any inventory. You’re simply a go-between of a client and a company that makes a profit.
If you’re interested drop shipping, consider using a platform like Shopify to sell your digital products.
12. Write a Book
Have you thought about writing a book and then selling books to produce residual income?
I did this with a book that I wrote. You Can Retire Early will show you how to make the right money moves so you can retire early.
For each book or ebook that sells, I get a 10% royalty.
Of course, there is the initial work of writing the book. But after that, you can sell it on Amazon, which, of course, is a major sales platform.
Also, you will want to do some marketing. The more marketing you do, the more chances you have of selling your book.
If you’ve got good content that could help or entertain a lot of people, you might want to consider book writing as a form of potential passive income.
13. Earn Income From Affiliate Marketing
Do you have a blog or website? Or are you thinking about starting one? Many blog owners make money by selling affiliate links on their blogs.
Here’s how it works. You link to a product or service on your blog. Then, when someone purchases that product or service through your link, you get paid.
Websites are easy to start, too, if you don’t already have one. In fact, I can show you how to start a blog in less than ten minutes.
You’ll need to get hosting service for your blog so it can be seen on the internet, but that’s inexpensive when you get a deal.
Then sign up for affiliate programs and start promoting them with in your content. This can be a great side hustle or even a way to get a full-time income.
It took me about 6 years before I started making a livable wage with my blog.
14. Start a Lead Generation Website
Another way to make passive income is to create a lead generation website.
The point of a lead generation website is to pass leads on to local businesses. You can also use your page to advertise.
For instance, let’s say you want to create leads for local realtors. You could start a blog that talks about owning a home or about real estate investing.
The site would contain links where people could contact you if they wanted more information. Then you’d pass that lead on to local real estate agents.
This is what’s considered a “warm” lead. It’s not total cold calling. Instead, the person came to your site and is seeking out more information.
Professionals in any arena will typically be excited about warm leads.
However, it’s important to know that making money this way requires your articles to be high ranking in Google searches.
And that means you’d have to learn about search engine optimization.
15. Sell Products on Amazon
A lot of people are earning passive income by setting up a shop on Amazon.
You have the option to sell your own products on Amazon and ship them yourself. But that’s not true passive income.
Instead, you could have Amazon send out the products for you. I have a friend who has done really well with this.
He earns well above the six-figure mark selling his products online.
16. Make an Online Course
Do you have information you can share that would help others? Maybe you know how to kill it in investing or paying off debt. Or perhaps you can teach someone a skill.
You can pass that information on to others by creating an online course. Your course can include a variety of teaching techniques.
You can do it all via video, or via e-books or emails. Once the course is created, any sale is passive income for you.
You can design the course so that the information is automatically sent to the customer after they pay.
The money you charge for this digital product goes into your pocket.
17. Create YouTube Videos
I’m sure you’ve heard of–or probably even watch–some of these people making big bucks by posting YouTube videos. They post a video, and the video contains ads.
As the video creator, you earn money from the ads within the videos you create. The key to earning money on YouTube is growing a large audience.
You’ll want to spend some time reaching out to people who like similar content to what you publish on YouTube.
Ask them to subscribe to your channel. Doing this will increase your YouTube following.
Once the initial work is done, you’ve got a passive income source on your hands.
18. Start a Business
Owning a business is one of the best ideas to make passive income. You can start a new business or purchase an existing one.
Companies like Biz Buy Sell list hundreds of online businesses for sale. The businesses range in price and in the genre.
In order to truly be passive, make sure to hire the right people to run the operations so that you don’t have to.
19. Vending Machines
Organizations such as gyms or dance studios love having vending machines available for clients or workers.
You can visit these places to see if they’ll let you install vending machines their clients can use.
If you have the right types of snacks in your machines, you could make some big money.
Once you get approval to install the machines, ask workers or clients what types of snacks they want in the machines. This information could help you increase sales.
To make this really passive income, you can hire people to restock the machines for you.
20. Sell Your Photos
Are you good at taking pictures? Would you like to make money from your photos?
Companies and website owners purchase stock photos from sites such as Deposit Photos to use for their online stores and blogs.
Open a Deposit Photos account, and once your photos are approved, clients can begin downloading them for use.
You get paid each time someone purchases one of your photos for use.
The more photos you have uploaded on the site, the more money you can earn.
Note that photos that contain people doing everyday things are the ones that earn the most money.
21. Create a Mobile App
Are you good at tech stuff? Do you have some unique ideas for mobile apps? Why not use those skills to earn some passive income?
Once the app is created and published, you earn money every time someone downloads your app.
Every app on your phone is making money for somebody, somewhere. For instance, Joel Comm made over $1Million from his iFart app.
And imagine the kind of money people are making from gaming apps such as Candy Crush.
You might not get to the million-dollar mark, but even if your app brings in a few hundred dollars a month, that’s still some decent money.
22. Put Ads on Your Car
Did you know some companies will pay you just for driving as you normally do every day?
If you live in a major metropolitan area and do a decent amount of driving, you could earn money by having advertisements on your car.
Companies such as Wrapify wrap your car with ads and then pay you for your daily driving.
Usually, the companies want vehicles that are in good shape with no dents or rust. These types of cars are easier to make advertising wraps adhere.
23. Buy a Laundromat
Owning a laundromat is another popular passive income idea. Cities everywhere have laundromats for people who don’t have in-house laundry facilities.
Here is how you could make owning a laundromat into true passive income:
- Buy an existing laundromat from someone interested in selling
- Hire a reliable and trustworthy person to manage the store
- Take home a paycheck
Start-up costs for laundromats can be pretty high, as commercial washers and dryers aren’t cheap.
For that reason, you’ll probably be better off financially if you buy an existing laundromat.
24. Purchase or Open a Batting Cage
Baseball is one of the most popular sports for kids in America. However, there aren’t a ton of batting cage facilities in most areas.
Starting a batting cage from scratch can be very costly. You’ll need a building, and the equipment to run the store.
Buying an existing batting cage might be a better bet if you can find one.
Again, you’d have to find a good manager to do the work of managing the store. If you like sports, this might be a great passive income idea for you.
25. Use Your Graphic Design Skills
You might have some ideas for great sayings that can go on shirts or mugs. Or just great designs.
The cool thing about sites like Redbubble is that all you have to do is create your store and upload your designs.
They handle all shipping, payment and customer service. When your designs sell, they send you a monthly check for your portion of the profit.
26. CD Laddering
Bond and CD laddering is when you own a bunch of bonds and/or Certificates of Deposit.
You spread out their maturity dates so they come due at different times of the year. Then you’ll have cash coming in from them throughout the year.
Note that bonds and CDs typically don’t earn as high of a return as other investments. However, they are usually much lower risk too.
Bond and CD laddering can provide a sure and steady passive income stream for you.
27. Rent Your Stuff to Others
What about earning passive income by renting out stuff you own? Craigslist can be a great place to advertise your items for rent.
Products that you could rent out:
- Tools and ladders
- Party tents
- Tables and chairs
- Utility trailers
- Log splitters
- Cleaning equipment
You can even rent out your car when you are not using it with a company like Hyrecar.
If you’re going to choose this passive income idea, be sure to have all renters sign a contract.
That way, you protect yourself and your equipment in case something goes wrong.
I’d consider charging a refundable security deposit to protect yourself in case someone damages equipment too.
28. Become a Social Media Influencer
While this does take a lot of upfront work, this can become a great revenue stream once the money starts rolling in.
To be fair, this is not for everyone. If you like being in front of the camera and speaking your mind, then this might be a path to consider.
Big brands pay a lot of money every day to social media influencers in order to get their brand in front of the influencers following.
29. Invest in Local Business
Mainvest is a crowdfunding company that helps you invest in local brick-and-mortar small businesses.
With Mainvest you might have the opportunity to invest in coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, and more.
The minimum to invest with Mainvest is just $100, and you don’t have to be an accredited investor to join.
There are no investor fees with Mainvest.
While most passive income ideas do not take effort to maintain, it can take effort up front to get it going.
Some options like buying dividend stocks require minimal work, while others like buying a rental property can involve more work on a regular basis
In order to generate passive income, you will need some capital to get started.
Once you have capital, you need to research and choose the best passive income idea for you.
While some options like crowdfunded real estate start at $10, others like buying a single family property could require over hundreds of thousands to get started.
The most popular ways to get passive income include stocks, real estates and bonds.
Recently investing in businesses as well as crowdfunded equity have become popular passive income opportunities.
Active income is where you need to continue to work in order to make money. The best example of this is working a traditional corporate job.
You only get a paycheck if you work. True passive income does not require work for continued income.
Passive income isn’t just for the wealthy. Everyone has to start somewhere. And there are many ideas you can start for less than $1,000.
Don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from achieving your goal to have passive income–even if you want a lot of it!
Decide on four or five that seem right for you. Then get to work earning some passive income!