50+ Passive Income Ideas / Examples
If you’re like me, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of quitting your 9 to 5 job and see what else life has to offer.
After having entertained the idea myself for years, I finally took the plunge, but not before I researched all the passive income streams I could think of!
Not only researched, but actually tried and tested some alternative income ideas that interested me.
I wanted to be sure that once I walk out on my office job, I’d never have to look back again.
And I never did look back!
Now, I’m ready to spill the beans on some of the best passive income ideas that could allow you to earn more money on the side and eventually design the life you want for yourself.
What’s Passive Income?
Some like to define it as “making money while you sleep”, others think of it as “making money without lifting a finger”, but neither definition is entirely accurate.
Unless you inherit a fortune, we all know you can’t make money without any input of time, effort, or even assets that you already own.
A more realistic definition of passive income is getting recurring income for an activity that you only do once, or generating income from activities that you do anyway.
Why Should You Care About Passive Income?
- It can supplement your current income;
- It can take off and allow you to achieve financial stability;
- It can allow you to retire early.
There are a lot of ways to get off the hamster wheel and get paid over and over for work that you do once, and I discuss them in the examples below:
1. Start a Blog
This may sound too generic, but bear with me!
Starting a blog won’t bring you the big bucks right away, but if your blog manages to become influential and reach a large enough audience, you can monetize it.
Whether you monetize your blog through advertising or sponsored content, you can hook yourself up with some nice cash flow in a relatively short amount of time.
It’s true that text-based content is somewhat saturated and highly competitive, but new success stories of bloggers surface every day.
If you manage to tap into a less explored niche and build an audience, you can be on the road to turning your side hustle into a reliable source of passive income.
2. Write a Book
It may sound surprising, but paper-based books have made a comeback.
If you’re a talented writer with a great idea for a book or cookbook, you should take the time to sit down everyday and write.
If your book is successful, you will earn royalties for every copy that is sold.
This is something that I’m also passionate about and I’m a 100 pages into my first science-fiction novel!
3. Write an eBook
If you already have a platform like a blog or personal website, selling an eBook to an already existing fanbase is much easier.
Whether you’re a financial consultant or an online marketer, a successful eBook can help you to increase your readership base and become more popular.
4. Create an Audiobook
You already wrote a book or an ebook, why not make an audiobook version of it too? Some people prefer listening to audiobooks while commuting or travelling.
5. Create a Content Curation Site
Organizing public domain information can be another idea for a passive income website. Finding information today is not a problem, but finding information that’s organized and easily digestible is difficult.
Whether you create a database of certain companies within an area or a database of certain specialty stores within an area, or you’re gathering research papers on certain health conditions, a curated content site can be a source of passive income if you monetize these databases.
6. Create an App
If you already work in IT, this will be a walk in the park for you and could bring you in some serious dollars.
Even if you’re not a tech guru, but you have a great idea for an app, you can have it built by professionals and market it yourself.
Of course, you’ll need some money upfront to pay your programmers, but apps aren’t as expensive as they once used to be.
7. Create a WordPress Theme or Plugin
This too is something that IT professionals can get behind. You can sell your theme on Themeforest for as much as $60 per purchase. Same goes for WordPress plugins that you can sell on Codecanyon.
Creating these will take some time upfront, and even after you’ve published your product on these platforms, you’ll need to provide support, add new features, fixes, or security patches where applicable, but it’s not going to be a full-time job.
8. Create Custom Software
Once again, if you have an idea for a software that addresses an issue, you can get it made and sell it for a license.
Whether it’s a billing software, a security software, or other type of software, it should be solving a problem in a specific industry or it should be something that addresses a general issue that people deal with everyday.
9. Lean into Stock Photography
If you have a talent for photography and you routinely snap pictures with you camera, you could try your hand at stock photography.
You can sell your photos on Stockphoto, Depositphotos, 500px or other similar platforms and earn money every time your photos are downloaded.
If photography is something that you do anyway, it’s an excellent way to monetize your hobby.
10. Become a Web Hosting Reseller
If you’re a web designer, a nice way to supplement your income is to offer web hosting services to your clients.
Web hosting companies like BlueHost or InMotion Hosting offer customizable white label reseller plans from as low as $15/month with everything needed to provide hostings services for your clients.
11. Rent Out Your Apartment
If you own several properties, it makes sense to rent them out either to tourists or locals.
But you don’t always have to own more properties to be able to rent them out. If you live in a city with thriving tourism, you can put up your apartment on airbnb every time you go on vacation.
In places like Milano, many Italians will take advantage of week-long events like the Milano Design Week and rent out their apartments to tourists while they move in with their parents for the week or go on a vacation.
12. Rent Out Your Stuff
An apartment is not the only thing you can rent out. If you own expensive specialized tools that people may need, a truck, or a moving van, you can rent them out.
If you have a truck that can be transformed into a food truck, you can do that too and rent it out for festivals and fairs.
You’ll need to do some maintenance work, but it’s not something that will tie up all your time.
13. Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great monetization strategy, which consists in placing links to products or services on your blog or website and getting paid a commission after each sale that goes through thanks to your link.
If you already have a website or a blog with lots of traffic, this monetization technique is a sure-fire way to make more money.
From Amazon to Semrush, there are several lucrative affiliate programs that you can get behind..
14. Invest in Dividend-Paying Stocks
Investing in high-yield dividend-paying stocks is another example of passive income stream. By acquiring stocks in a company, you can get a portion of the profits in the form of dividends.
Some companies like L’Oreal allow their workers to acquire stocks in the company, which they can get at a preferential rate.
So, if you work for a global company that has this sort of programme in place, you should take advantage of it.
Otherwise educate yourself on financial news sites and apps about dividend-paying stocks and smartly invest your money.
15. Create an Online Course & Membership Site
Do you have some skills that you can teach others? You can create a website dedicated to your online course and have people sign up on a membership basis. You can create videos, e-books, tutorials, etc.
If you don’t want the hassle of building and maintaining your own website, you can upload your videos on platforms like Skillshare and get paid every time a student takes a class. Some Skillshare teachers earn as much as $40,000 a year.
16. Launch a Business and Have Someone Else Run It
As with some of the other examples of passive income in this list, launching a business requires that you already have some money available that you can invest.
You can think big, of course, but you can also start small like a photo booth business and hire someone to take it to weddings, parties, fairs and other events.
But you can think big and launch a personal shopping concierge service like Big Apple Buddy, which is a service created to ship US products that don’t have international shipping anywhere in the world.
For example, if someone in Switzerland wants to buy Allbirds running shoes, which sell only in the US and Canada, Big Apple Buddy purchases the product and ships it for a fee.
Besides the initial investment, another challenge with this idea is finding people that you can trust to run the business for you.
17. Create Stock Videos and HQ Stock Footage
Remember the stock photo example? You could do the same with videos!
With videos being highly popular, you can make small abstract videos, brand reveal videos, travel or food-related videos that you can sell on platforms like iStock or Videohive.
18. Create Stock Music and Sound Effects
Images and videos are not your thing? No worries, there’s always music! If you’re a master of sounds, you can make stock music, soundbites and sound effects to sell on platforms like Audiojungle or Shutterstock.
19. Design Icons, Logos or Illustrations
If photography, video, or music are not something you’re good at, but you’re into designing, you can design logos, fonts, icons or illustrations and sell them on platforms like Depositphotos.
20. Create a Reviews Website Focused on a Niche
People love reading reviews before they make a purchase, and that’s regardless of the type of product or service they need.
You can create a book review website and hook it up with Amazon’s affiliate program or create a website that’s focused on cosmetic products, restaurants, video game reviews, or anything else you are passionate about.
21. Sell Merchandise on Your Website or Blog
This is actually a way to monetize an existing blog or website. If you have a blog about cooking, you could sell cooking-related merchandise, or if you’re a nutritionist with a blog, you could sell supplements or health products that you approve of.
Make the process more automated by opting for drop shipping, so you won’t have to deal with inventory and shipping related tasks.
22. Create a Product and Sell it Online
This isn’t a strictly passive income business model, but it could become passive if you manage to automatize the manufacturing and shipping process.
Think of a product that solves a problem and set up an online shop for it on Shopify. It could be anything from a water filter bottle to a solar phone charger, the important thing is to address a need and find a way to streamline the manufacturing and shipping of the product.
23. Invest in Cryptocurrencies
If you’re not familiar with cryptocurrencies, it might be a advisable to invest first in more stable income opportunities, and only then experiment with cryptocurrencies. You know, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.
Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, so if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t invest into obscure cryptocurrencies that no-one has even heard of.
24. Create Merchandise Designs
Creating merchandise designs and submitting them to platforms like Zazzle or CafePress is another passive income opportunity for designers.
Zazzle even allows you to set your own royalty rates, while CafePress allows you to create an online shop where you can sell your own branded merchandise and get paid a royalty fee for every purchase that goes through.
The advantage of these business models is that you don’t have to deal with inventory or order management.
25. Create a Product or Service Comparison Website
Piggybacking on the review website idea, you can add a nice touch to an existing reviews website by adding a side-by-side comparison where you highlights the features, pros and cons of each service or product.
This works best for niches where there are products or services with a lot of similar features and people may have a hard time deciding on a product.
From tech devices to web hosting there are a lot of topics you could cover.
26. Launch a Drop-Shipping Business
A drop-shipping business runs on auto-pilot is easily my favorite of all the passive income opportunities I’ve mentioned.
The process behind drop-shipping is simple:
- Decide on items you want to sell and connect with third-party vendors;
- Create a storefront for them on Shopify or BigCommerce;
- Drive traffic to your store;
- Have the third-party vendors ship the product directly to your customer;
- Collect a fee for the facilitation of the transaction.
In order for this business model to be really successful, your online store needs a good reputation and a higher traffic volume than that of the individual vendors.
27. Become a Video Game Tester/Reviewer
You’re an avid gamer? You also have a sizeable follower base? Why not monetize your passion?
You could test video games for bugs and do quality assurance for different companies, or simply review video games.
This is not technically a passive way to make money, but it’s getting paid for an activity you do anyway, so it’s there really.
28. Try Peer-to-Peer Lending
I haven’t actually tried this and it does sound a bit strange, but it is a thing apparently.
The idea is to lend small amounts of money for a 4-6% interest, and since more people are lending small amounts of money, the risk is spread out.
I wouldn’t call this my best passive income idea, but perhaps I’ll give it a try and update you on my findings.
29. Invest in Crowdfunded Real Estate
Through crowdfunding, real estate investors can access the real estate markets with small amounts of money (as little as $500) and reap significant financial returns.
Investors can choose the real estate projects they want to invest their money in, and the risk is spread out both for investors and developers.
Popular real estate crowdfunding platforms include Fundrise, iFunding, Realty Mogul, and CrowdStreet.
30. Start a Vending Machine Business
I heard this idea go either way — some had great success with starting a vending machine business, others not so much.
If you’re good at outsourcing the leg work and maintenance, and you can land great locations, this can be a lucrative endeavor. If not, this idea may not be for you.
31. Open a Self Service Car Wash
This too is a business model dependent on a good location and it needs an upfront investment that is not negligible.
But if you have these locked down, a self service car wash is a potentially good idea to earn money on the side.
32. Open a Self Service Dog Wash
This alternative income stream can work well as a complementary service to an existing vet business, dog grooming business or doggy daycare.
People who don’t want to invest in tools like a dog hair dryer or don’t want to make a mess in their homes when washing their dogs, would probably be happy to take their dog to a self-service dog wash.
Just like with vending machine businesses or car washes, you need a good location, which in this case means an area with lots of pets.
33. Open a Laundromat
This is one of those businesses that can easily run on autopilot after some initial investment, but I don’t actually know if it’s profitable.
I could imagine a laundromat somewhere near a university campus or in an area with tourists, and maybe as a service adjacent to a dry cleaning services, so someone could oversee the entire operation.
Other than these aspects, I can image a laundromat becoming successful, especially if it’s a bit techy, like you can get a message alert on your phone when your clothes are ready for pick-up, and no-one can willy-nilly remove your clothes from the dryer.
34. Become a Digital Publisher
Becoming a digital publisher involves creating a publishing platform and dealing with marketing.
The products and services are submitted by authors or members, and you go halfsies on the profit.
You could create a digital publishing platform for online courses, stock photography, apps, software and so on.
35. Buy an Existing Online Business & Flip It
See an online business that has potential, but it’s not quite successful? Do you perhaps know what it’s missing?
Flipping an online business, then outsourcing the work and taking a backseat is also a great approach to making residual income.
Even minor tweaks like increasing conversion rates and speed optimization can increase traffic and monthly profit.
If you have an eye for these kinds of things and you’re great with online marketing, flipping a business can be much easier than launching one from scratch.
36. Become a Social Media Influencer
Clearly this side hustle is not for everyone and not all specialties are social media-friendly, but if you’re charismatic and have a sense of humor, you can pull it off.
You don’t necessarily have to dive into fashion to become a social media influencer,
Instagram celebrities have emerged even in unlikely domains like medicine.
For example, Dr. Mikhail Varshavski known as Dr. Mike is a New York-based family physician with 2.9 million followers on Instagram and 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube.
Once you have enough followers, you can sign advertising deals to feature sponsored content on your Instagram feed or YouTube channel.
It’s not technically a passive income stream, especially not while you’re still building an audience.
However, once you’re an established social media influencer, you’ll be able to earn money by simply adding a hashtag to your Instagram post, as in #[insert brand name of whatever product you’re pitching].
37. Become a Silent Partner
Investing in a business as a silent partner is another efficient way to create a stream of passive income. It does carries some risks, therefore, we recommend investing in businesses have already proven successful and are looking to expand.
38. Create a Classifieds Website
When you start a classifieds ads website, you’ll have to put in a lot of work, especially to market and make it rank in search engines, but once you get that done, there are various ways to advertise it and turn it into a source of residual income.
39. Create a Free Software and Ask for a Donation
You can create a free online software like a PDF to Word converter tool or other tool that people might use regularly. Instead of offering it for a fee, you could ask for a donation via PayPal.
I’ve seen several websites like these, but I cannot attest to how lucrative this model actually is.
40. Buy Domain Names and Resell Them
This is one of those money-making ideas that’s highly dependent on luck, but if you have a knack for creative brand names, you could potentially be making money by buying up domain names and reselling them later.
41. Create a Lead Generation Website
A lead generation website is somewhat similar to an affiliate marketing website, but instead of driving sales, you’ll need to focus on generating leads.
You need to set up a well-ranked website for targeted keywords and a high-conversion inquiry form. Every time a lead registers, you’ll get paid.
42. Create a Coupon or Deals Website
Consumer purchase decisions in the US are strongly influenced by coupons. Everyone likes getting a good deal, so actually a coupon deals website can become very popular.
Like many other sites in our list, these deals websites make money through affiliate marketing.
43. Create a Job Boards Website
Job boards charge companies hundreds of dollars for a job listing, so this passive income opportunity can be very lucrative.
Give a twist to your job boards website by having sections dedicated to helping prospective employees prepare for an interview, offer them insider scoops, and CV templates.
44. Rent out Your Garage Space
Have a garage space or storage space that you’re not using? Rent it out! In busy cities parking places and storage spaces might be hard to come by, so why not take advantage of this and make some money on the side?
45. Create a YouTube Channel
Like being in the spotlight? You can easily make yourself the star of your own show!
Just like bloggers, YouTubers can also make money from advertising either through YouTube’s own advertising system or by pitching sponsored content.
You can be sponsored directly by your audience through platforms like Patreon, but you can also feature sponsored content like VPN services, or online learning platforms like Brilliant or Skillshare.
The key to financial success through YouTube is to build a large audience and make hundreds of videos.
Whether your channel will be an educational one like Simon Whistler’s Today I Found Out or a comedic channel like Casually Explained, in the beginning, you’ll need to put in some sweat and toil.
With enough subscribers, you can reap the benefits of your work over and over.
46. Create a Niche Marketplace Website
Marketplace websites are also popular advertising platforms. If you can narrow down a niche that could get you a sizeable chunk of visitors and members, you can easily monetize that website either by selling ads directly on your site, through AdSense or affiliate marketing.
47. Create a Property Rental Website
Just like with other membership websites, a property rental website can also serve as a means to monetize your website beyond membership fees.
48. Buy a Rental Property
Real estate investments are the easiest and most stable way to make residual income. If you buy a rental property, there are a few factors that you have to consider like buying the property in a popular area, finding reliable tenants, and doing some maintenance on the property from time to time.
49. Create a Guide Website & Directly Sell Ad Place
Another way you could make money from a website is to create a tutorial or how-to website, and sell ads directly to companies whose products you may feature on your website.
Whether it’s a DIY-type of website or a website dedicated to a certain niche, if you’re good at explaining complicated stuff to people and making easy-to-follow guides completed with images and even videos, you’ll attract a lot of visitors.
This will take some time and effort to create until you can take a backseat, but it will pay off on the long run.
50. Create a Calculator Website
Whether a mortgage calculator website or a personal loan calculator website, these sites are in fact niche affiliate websites or they’re converting traffic into leads.
If you can identify a niche where a calculator or conversion type of website could be useful for people, you can say hello to your new source of residual income.
Some of the examples discussed here will require months, if not years, of upfront work. Others ideas can be implemented only if you already have some savings that you can invest.
Some of my examples can be carried out only if you have the technical chops for it, others require know-how in a specific field.
The Bottom Line
Not all examples will work for everyone, but some examples may work for some, and hopefully, you too can get inspired by this article to come up with your own passive income idea that will allow you to reinvent yourself or retire early.
Best of luck!Updated on: March 2, 2019