This encompasses everything from eBooks to stock images and even Udemy courses. The idea here is to create a digital good that has value. Why digital? Well, if you’re creating really unique hand-made socks, you can’t just duplicate them and resell them. Furthermore, you have to pack and ship each pair. Both of these things mean that there’s a fixed ratio of labor to income, and we’ve already discussed why that’s not ideal. Digital goods can be duplicated, and we can engineer systems (or use online marketplaces) to deliver them automatically. Awesome.
When I started SmartPassiveIncome.com, I already had experience with a successful, automated online business at Green Exam Academy. A lot of people were providing online business advice at the time, but most were using other people’s businesses as examples, or just spoke theory with no real case studies to back it up. Here, I was able to use my own experience as evidence, and it helped me become more credible right from the start.
I’m not a software developer, and my early software projects (Blackberry Apps) failed because after paying a developer to build the product, I didn’t anticipate needing to update it regularly or provide support for it. For years after that, however, I had a partner who helped me upgrade our software once a year, and provided support if there are any issues (pretty rare). In 2013, we released our third module for Magento (they range from $49–149), and then ended up building a pretty successful SaaS product for Shopify. I left the business to my partner, and it still pays him over $3K a month in completely passive income. He updates the software every few months and answers the occasional customer email. Not bad!
Yet none of these people I've talked to who have this temporarily successful lifestyle seem very happy. They actually seem kind of restless and lost. I've had conversations with several of them to help them determine "what the purpose of their life is" now that they have some amount of money coming in from some little passive venture they don't even care about that much. It all feels empty to them.
Crowdfunded real estate companies like Fundrise are similar to today’s peer-to-peer lending companies. Like Lending Club and Prosper, they offer a platform that matches real estate investors with investment choices. They help people looking to invest money in real estate in a passive manner. Also, investors can avoid bargaining with sellers. No need to get involved in the transfer of ownership and management of those properties either.
Passive income is the Holy Grail for online marketers. It's automatic. Effortless. But, not at first. In the beginning, it's grueling. I liken this to doing the most amount of work for the least initial return. However, over time, as your passive income begins to increase, your reliance on an active income plummets. That's when the real magic starts to happen.
Logan is a CPA with a Masters Degree in Taxation from the University of Southern California. He has been featured in publications such as Debt.com. He has nearly 10 years of public accounting experience, including 5 with professional services firm Ernst & Young where he consulted with multinational companies and high net worth individuals on their tax situations. He launched Money Done Right in 2017 to communicate modern ideas on earning, saving, and investing money.
One great way to generate a passive income is through affiliate marketing. Now, this does depend on the size of your list. Yes, size matters when it comes to your list. Especially if you're looking to make some serious money and do it on autopilot. But, list-building takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. And you need to add value to your list or you become obsolete.
Absolutely Federico. I still invest in real estate but no longer carry the misconceptions that it’s passive income. Fortunately, I’ve held my real estate properties long enough that they cash flow even after paying for management but it was a lot of work in the beginning. Real estate is a great investment but passive income investors should look to REITs and other investments rather than direct investment.

Some people take it automated well before the year is up. When it converts, it converts. If you target the right people and you're able to create the right message that appeals to your audience, you might just hit a home run. An automated webinar often involves the creation of a webinar funnel. That includes, not only the webinar, but also the email sequences, and possibly a self-liquidating offer, and maybe some done-for-your services and up-sells.


I have been a open minded driven dreamer since i was 18. Mix that all in with a complete screw up and you got my identity pretty much grasped…. There have been many different jobs that I have held since graduating High School. A side from my dads asphalt company and one landscaping gig I’ve been in sales my whole professional life. I am 33 years old and I know about the Insurance, Banking, Industrial/Electrical Manufacturing distribution, Telecommunications and Finally “online distribution” AKA: EBAY.
This was a very inspirational article! I too spent 20+ years in a high-stress career selling a high-end product under a 100 percent commission plan; that is, no salary! I realized, after racking up millions of frequent flyer miles, that there had to be a better and less-stressful way of making a living. My goal was to design my own lifestyle free of corporate shackles, which required a pre-determined amount of passive income.
Like many, I was first really turned on to the idea of passive income by Tim Ferriss. In The Four Hour Work Week, he describes the system he developed with BrainQuicken, where the marketing, shipping, reordering, banking, and even customer service of the company was on complete auto-pilot. I found this idea intoxicating. The idea that Tim could travel the world learning to tango and staying on private islands while money just accumulated in his bank account seemed like some strange fiction — surely, this isn’t how people actually live, is it?
However, if I sorted through the data, grouped it into specific subjects, created a simple website, did the Internet marketing necessary to bring the website to the attention of other newbies and sold the re-packaged data (which would now be my own product because I’ve applied process to it), I could save other people from such overwhelm AND make some income for my impoverished self.
For me, this has worked out brilliantly. Because I had passive income streams set up, I didn’t have to worry about generating sales immediately, raising funds from investors so that I can eat, etc. I could take my time, try out 100 different opportunities, and ultimately settle on a business that suited my needs (the one that I’m running now), which allows me to live and work wherever I want and whenever I want, and is, for the most part, fully autonomous. But I didn’t always have passive income — in fact, it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of learning (do yourself a favor and read Rich Dad Poor Dad — iBooks Link Here) before I had anything worth mentioning.
2. You clearly have plenty of money already. Just more padding in your already cushy nest. This is not the story for a lot of people. Your title should be “How to become richer than you already are without working.” But, actually the investment one is the only one that would make money without actual WORK. Running rental properties is a lot of work, and so is running a business, or even a blog. Sooooo…..while there might be some truth to this, I think it’s mostly grass that looks greener because it’s on the other side of the fence.
One great way to generate a passive income is through affiliate marketing. Now, this does depend on the size of your list. Yes, size matters when it comes to your list. Especially if you're looking to make some serious money and do it on autopilot. But, list-building takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. And you need to add value to your list or you become obsolete.
Why did P2P lending get a liquidity ranking of 6? It is quite possibly the most illiquid investment option you listed. You said you rank liquidity by “difficulty level of withdrawing your money without a massive penalty”, and for Lending Club notes, it’s not only difficult and extremely time consuming to sell all of your notes in their super illiquid market, but you would have to sell your notes at large losses to hope to get others interested in buying your notes. On top of that, it is impossible to withdraw your money any other way other than just waiting for interest/principal to pay off every month until maturity in 3 to 5 years. You can’t just one day tell Lending Club “I want to quit, please give me my money back.” One can even argue that it is less difficult to sell a home (in order to “withdraw” the money invested) than to withdraw all of their money from a P2P loan portfolio because it is very possible to sell a home before 3 to 5 years.
Even if each patron only contributes a very small amount each month, it can still be a huge source of income. Take a look at the Patreon page for Kinda Funny, an internet video company. They have over 6,209 patrons which means an average of just $3 a month would be a monthly income of almost $19,000 – plus they get cheerleaders that are always happy to spread the word on their brand.
I’m somewhat embarassingly reminded of Harry Potter and the concept of “Horcruxes” here, in that the goal is to find a piece of your value, and impart it into an inanimate object or product, Voldemort Style (did I really just make a Harry Potter reference?) Anyways, whatever. If you want passive income, you have to think about the value you rent out or own. Or, you need to buy something valuable that other people would like to use (I love the idea of a 3D Printer). Then put it into something that can be sold or rented more passively. Maybe you have a car that sits in the driveway, or a vacation home that is empty half the time. Maybe you just have some funny jokes you could put into a YouTube video and run ads on. At some point, you have to “transfer” the value into something that can work for you — that something is an asset.
A freelancing service is something that can, with the right strategy and action, turn into something more productized and passive. Brian Casel, featured guest on SPI Podcast Session #158, talks about how he was able to turn his stress-inducing one-on-one design service business into something that was actually more productized, passive, and profitable. I highly recommend you listen to that episode if you have a service-based business and you feel stuck.
Use your base to build your audience, and when you’re starting out, take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a big following to give more personalized help to your first fans. “The people who are starting out — that’s their advantage,” says Flynn. “They have the opportunity to speak directly with those people few coming their way to find out what their problems are and give them the special treatment that bigger brands might not be able to do.”

I am 30 years old and am retired. Previously, I made a modest salary as an Army officer. I own three duplexes and a quadplex in central Texas (10 rental units in all), and each of the properties provide me with net rental yields in excess of 15%. The last deal is actually an infinite return as my partner paid the down payment in return for a 50/50 split on a property that would otherwise provide a net rental yield of 18%. The above net rental yields also factor in an excellent property management team who manages my properties while I pursue other investment opportunities. To date, I have never interacted with any of my tenants nor have I ever had to personally deal with any maintenance issues.
I prefer assets that make me a high return for the lowest amount of work possible (semi-passive involvement). And assets that pay me in several unique ways. Cash flow is only one way RE makes money for me. I also get principal reductions, appreciation, tax advantages (depreciation), and I control the rental increases on a yearly basis. Plus a majority of the capital is provided by the secondary market on 30 year fixed low interest rate debt.
The idea behind cashback is simple: you get rewarded for purchasing or using products you plan to buy anyway. Cashback sites pay you when you click through them, go to retailers, and spend. For example, check out eBates.com - There are over 2,000 stores to choose from including Walmart, Target, Sears, Calvin Klien, and others. You also get a $10 gift card after your first $25 purchase. Sign up is free. (If you encounter a cashback site where it’s not, avoid it.
I have a total of three CDs left. There is no way in hell I’m selling them after holding them for 4+ years so far to take the penalty. The CDs are for 7 years. That would be completely counterproductive. As a result, I feel very stuck with ever getting my CD money back if I wanted to. If the CDs were for just 1 or 2 years, I agree, it doesn’t matter as much. But combine a 7 year term with 4%+ interest is too painful to give up.

Can you expound on the use of publicly-traded REITs as a passive income source? I’m 31 years old. No children. No wife. No dependents. (I am the closest thing to Ebenezer Scrooge you’ll ever see). My monthly expenses amount to less than $2,000 per month (most of which go to pay student loans) . I have a decent job making over $55K per year. I also have a $60K inheritance coming my way in a few weeks. I am absolutely crazy about achieving absolute financial independence, which for me would require a passive income of over $2000/month to cover my living expenses. I could achieve that in a mere couple of years if I were to save excessively and dump my savings (and inheritance) into a Mortgage REIT via the stock market, most of which are shelling out above 10% returns in dividend payments. Is this a good strategy for me? Or am I being too hasty and assuming too much risk?

Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 
Our favorite platform for this is RealtyMogul because you get the flexibility to invest as little as $1,000, but can also participate in REITs and private placements – typically not offered to the public. Investors can fund real estate loans to gain passive income or buy an equity share in a property for potential appreciation. Their platform is open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.

Wow! What an awesome list! My favorite is the stock photography because I love photography. I have had some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand. Then, find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both ShutterStock and iStockPhoto. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!

One of the most appealing options, particularly for millennials, would be #12 on your list (create a Blog/Youtube channel). The videos can be about anything that interests you, from your daily makeup routine (with affiliate links to the products you use), recipes (what you eat each day) or as you mention, instructional videos (again with affiliate links to the products you use). Once you gain a large following and viewership, you can earn via Adsense on YouTube.
Stock dividends: Some stocks, especially stocks from big corporate standouts, pay dividends to shareholders based on the number of shares they own, and the percentage of the stock price on the dividend date. For example, if a company pays out 3% on a stock that's trading at $100 per share, you'll earn $3 for every share of that stock you own. Add it up and that can be good take-home pay as a passive investment.
I invest about 5% of my pre tax income in 401k that my employer matches. Have close to 70k in cash in checking. Also,I liquidated around 40k in my 401k and not sure where to invest that in (bonds vs stocks) because of stocks trading at record high. Have a rental property that is paying itself now and I will pay off the mortgage completely in 5 years. My immediate concern is the cash in checking acct that’s not doing much. Thanks for your reply and appreciate your work. I am learning a lot
I’m not a software developer, and my early software projects (Blackberry Apps) failed because after paying a developer to build the product, I didn’t anticipate needing to update it regularly or provide support for it. For years after that, however, I had a partner who helped me upgrade our software once a year, and provided support if there are any issues (pretty rare). In 2013, we released our third module for Magento (they range from $49–149), and then ended up building a pretty successful SaaS product for Shopify. I left the business to my partner, and it still pays him over $3K a month in completely passive income. He updates the software every few months and answers the occasional customer email. Not bad!
For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!

But two months later, with the economy slowing down after the financial crisis, his firm began laying people off, and Flynn was informed that after his current projects were finished, he also would be out of a job. At the same time, he couldn’t help but notice that in the LEED exam forums he had frequented, people were referring to him as an expert and directing questions his way. He began to think he might capitalize on that.

Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
Do you want to earn $100, $1000 — or even more — on the side? You can start earning extra income today with the help of this list of ideas I’ve put together. Spend an hour or two each day working on items that are practical for you, and you can build alternative income sources to help you improve your financial situation  While many of the items on this list are passive income ideas, not all of them are. Some items require you to actively work for success.
One of the easiest ways to get exposure to dividend stocks is to buy ETFs like DVY, VYM, and NOBL or index funds. You can also pay an algorithmic advisor like Wealthfront to automatically invest your money for you at a low fee. In the long run, it is very hard to outperform any index, therefore, the key is to pay the lowest fees possible while being invested in the market. Wealthfront charges $0 in fees for the first $15,000 and only 0.25% for any money over $10,000. Invest your idle money cheaply, instead of letting it lose purchasing power due to inflation. The key is to invest regularly.
Who cares, especially when very conservatively, the ultimate passive income includes a six digit or more base lease, plus an estimated additional six digits or more for rate increases and another six digits for more for various smaller and one bigger technology increase at 25 years. All four (base, rate, smaller and mega technology increases) combined, certainly could yield much more depending upon inflation, rate increases and technology increases?
Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.

The time commitment for real estate investing isn’t as continuous as with blogging but it can be a part-time job if you have enough properties and the wrong tenants. Sacrifice a little return for quality tenants and repair problems right the first time. These two simple ideas will save you a ton of time and turn out to be the more profitable solution over the long-run.
I make a little bit of money off of referring people to services I truly believe in. I never recommend things I don’t personally use, but if I’m going to refer friends to Shopify, products on Amazon, or Udemy courses besides my own, I have no shame making a couple bucks off it. In most cases, these referral sales come from older links within my podcasts or courses, and therefore, are completely passive. 

6) Always Remember That Everything Is Relative. The best way to determine worthwhile passive income streams is by comparing the likely return (IRR) with the current risk-free rate of return. If I round up, the 10 year bond yield is at 3%. Any new venture should thoroughly beat 3% otherwise you are wasting your efforts since you can earn 3% doing nothing.
First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.
Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t do both. You can manage your own commercial real estate rentals and flip houses while you have someone else help manage residential rentals. You can invest in REITs and real estate crowdfunding. You’ll get the higher returns of active management while benefiting from the diversification and ease of passive income through other sources.
Track Your Wealth For Free: If you do nothing else, at the very least, sign up for Personal Capital’s free financial tools so you can track your net worth, analyze your investment portfolios for excessive fees, and run your financials through their fantastic Retirement Planning Calculator. Those who are on top of their finances build much greater wealth longer term than those who don’t. I’ve used Personal Capital since 2012. It’s the best free financial app out there to manage your money.
Do you think it’s possible to build a blog from scratch, outsourcing the work from day one (assuming I have some cash that can cover the initial expenses until the blog generates enough income to at least break even)? In other words, do you think you could you have spent your $500 max per month for the writer, social media expert, etc to build your blog to the point it’s earning the same amount of money it does now?
Investing is arguably the easiest way to make passive income.  The problem is most investments sound good in theory but don’t work out so well in practice.  And if you don’t have much experience or access to capital, let alone the time to work it all out, it can seem more or less impossible.  However, there is one smart way to invest that just might work.  Continue reading >
One of the great parts about the online world is that a website and its domain name is like real estate - It can go up in value over time. In fact, sometimes just the domain name without the developed business can be worth quite a lot to some people. Of course, like almost anything mentioned here, the necessary know-how is required. If you’re willing to put some time into it, then you can earn a nice online income. So far I sold 4 domain names with an average price tag of a couple of thousand dollars. Nice income, considering I bought each domain for around $10….If this income stream interests you, check out flippa.com - It’s one of the best marketplaces I know for selling websites or domain names.
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