Looking for passive income ideas? We’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’re breaking down the best passive income ideas you can use to build your wealth.
And no, we’re not talking about dumb get-rich-quick schemes or filling out surveys to earn a few dollars a month.
We’re talking about real, legitimate business ideas that can earn you a decent amount of money.
What is passive income?
‘There’s no such thing as passive income’. If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard that, I could probably live off the interest alone.
And it’s just not true at all. Passive income is very real—and very achievable.
The reason for all the pessimism is that most people assume a ‘passive income’ means a completely unearned income that doesn’t require any work whatsoever.
And of course, we all know that’s not possible. But that’s not the right definition.
The real definition of passive income is this: Recurring income that only requires minimal work to earn or maintain, and doesn’t depend on an employer.
So yes, you still have to work for a passive income, but we’re talking about a few hours a month here. No more 40-hour work weeks.
And you’ll also typically have to put in a lot of work initially. Because most passive income sources are derived from some sort of asset(s) that generate ongoing revenue for you for years.
Those assets might be digital products, properties that you can rent out, investment portfolios, or anything else.
But building those assets takes time and effort—and that initial time investment is where you truly earn your passive income.
27 passive income ideas you can make money from
Now we’ve covered what passive income really means, here are 27 of the best ways to generate passive income this year.
1. Launch an online course
Online courses are virtual programs of learning that consist of pre-recorded lessons or live lectures. Students enroll in online courses to learn new skills and/or gain accreditation in a particular field.
If you’re good at something or have knowledge in a certain subject area—be it graphic design, photography, writing, web development, or anything else—you can build your own online course and use it to generate a passive income.
You only have to record/create your course content once, and you can sell access to it over and over again as many times as you want without putting in any additional work, which is why it’s a great passive income source. And the most successful online course sellers earn tens of thousands of dollars a month in subscription fees.
Then, you can start building your syllabus/curriculum in Thinkific’s course creator and filling it out with content. Once it’s ready, set your pricing, publish it to your site, and start selling!
2. Start a dropshipping business
Dropshipping is a specific ecommerce business model in which the seller doesn’t have to keep stock on hand.
It works like this. First, you source products from dropshipping suppliers (suppliers that handle fulfillment), then list those products for sale in your store (you don’t have to buy/hold any stock).
When a customer buys a product from your store, you send the details of the order through to the supplier. They ship the product directly to the customer for you and bill you for it afterward.
Your profit is the difference between the price you sell the product for in your store and the price you pay your supplier. It’s up to you what kind of markup you want to set.
Once you’ve set up your store and automated fulfillment process, it’s a completely hands-off business model. As long as you’re making sales, you should continue to earn passive income from your store for years.
Once you’ve connected your store to Spocket, you’ll be able to browse their catalog of thousands of products from dropshipping suppliers and import them to your store in one click, with automated, on-demand fulfillment whenever you make a sale.
Related reading: 26 Best Products To Sell Online (According To Data)
3. Build a print-on-demand store
Print-on-demand is a specific type of dropshipping business model in which you add your own custom designs to blank products (think t-shirts, mugs, bags, phone cases, etc.), and the supplier prints the product and ships it to the customer on-demand whenever you make a sale.
As with regular dropshipping, you don’t need to hold any stock upfront to sell print-on-demand products, so there are little to no startup costs.
And there’s a huge market out there for custom, artist-designed merchandise, so if you’re a talented artist or graphic designer it’s possible to make a very good passive income from your print-on-demand store.
You can build your print on demand store with Sellfy. It’s a beginner-friendly ecommerce platform with print on demand functionality. Just sign up and choose some products from their catalog, then add your designs to them and start selling.
4. Sell stock photos
Stock photos are images that businesses can license for use in their creative projects by paying a fee to the artist.
Many photographers choose to sell their snaps under non-exclusive licenses. That way, you only have to take a photo once, but you can sell the rights to use it as many times as you want for a lifetime of passive income.
To learn how to get started, make sure you check out our beginner’s guide on how to sell photos online.
You can either build your own store using one of these ecommerce platforms and sell your photo licenses through it as digital downloads. Or alternatively, you can also list them for sale on stock photo websites and marketplaces like Photodune, Envato Elements, etc.
5. Sell stock video footage
Selling stock video is just like selling stock photos except that, instead of selling licenses to use individual photographs, you’re selling licenses to use footage that you’ve recorded.
Stock video footage can be anything from drone shots of stunning landscapes to GoPro bodycam recordings of extreme sports, or anything else you can think of.
If anything, there’s even more demand for stock video footage than there is for stock photos right now thanks to the growth of video marketing and video-based social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube.
As a result, selling stock videos can be one of the most lucrative ways to earn passive income this year. To get started, check out our beginner’s guide on how to sell videos.
6. Create and sell fonts
Fonts are another type of digital product that you can create and sell online for a lucrative passive income.
There are thousands of brands and graphic designers out there looking for unique fonts to use in their projects, so there’s plenty of demand.
Once you’ve made a font, you can sell it an unlimited amount of times, potentially providing you with a steady source of revenue for years.
The first step is to choose a niche (e.g. retro fonts, futuristic fonts, cursive fonts, etc.). Then, design your glyphs either by hand or using computer software, and compile them into a vector font file (OTF/TTF/WOFF) using a tool like Calligraphr.
You can sell your fonts either through your own ecommerce website (which you can build with Sellfy) or on marketplaces like Etsy, MyFonts, Creative Market, etc.
For more information, check out our beginner’s guide on how to sell fonts online.
7. Buy a blog that earns residual income
There are lots of websites out there that earn residual income through things like affiliate partnerships, ad revenue, and Amazon Associates. The most successful blogs can earn tens of thousands of dollars a month this way.
Often, the people who own those sites/blogs will list them for sale on website filipping platforms like Flippa. They’re usually sold for around 30-60x their monthly revenue. So for example, if a site earns $1,000 per month, expect to pay $30-60k for it.
If you have a chunk of cash sitting in your bank account, why not use it to buy a website that earns residual income? That way, you’ll be setting yourself a new passive income stream every month.
With any luck, you’ll have recouped your initial investment within a few years, and from then on it’s all profit. Plus, the website you’ve bought might retain its value so you can resell it later down the line.
8. Start your own blog
If you don’t have a lot of cash to invest into buying an established blog that earns residual income, why not make your own instead? That way, all you’ll need to invest is your time.
It can take months (if not years) to build a successful blog that generates plenty of organic traffic—and there’s no guarantee of results.
But if you can manage it, you can monetize your blog traffic through ads and affiliate offers, then sit back and let it earn you passive income every month. And if you want, you can even sell your blog for a big chunk of cash, then reinvest that elsewhere.
Check out these two posts to get started:
9. Start a YouTube channel
Successful YouTube channels earn a lot of money. Most of that income comes from YouTube video ads, but creators can also monetize their channels through sponsorships, affiliate offers, and more.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Earning money from YouTube isn’t passive—you have to make videos!
That’s sort of true. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to make videos forever to earn an income on YouTube.
If you can make just a few initial videos that rank for popular searches on the platform, they can continue to get thousands of views every month through YouTube search, whether you keep making new videos or not.
At that point, if you wanted to, you could stop making videos completely and just collect the royalties from your existing videos every month.
Or alternatively, you can keep making videos to continue to grow your channel, but outsource all the tasks to others (i.e. a scriptwriter, actor, producer, video editor, etc.) so that it’s completely hands-off for you.
Here are some posts to help you get started:
- How To Promote Your YouTube Channel: 18 Ways To Get More Views
- How To Make Money On YouTube: 12 Proven Tactics
10. Write an ebook
The global ebook market is estimated to be valued at over $16 billion, and it’s still growing.
Talented writers can tap into that market by writing and self-publishing their own ebooks, and then sell them online on Amazon, Google Play, etc.
The most successful ebooks can sell thousands of copies every month, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for their authors. So if you can get your novel into the bestsellers list, you could be set for life.
And of course, selling ebooks is completely passive. Once you’ve written your book, your job is done, but if it’s a hit, the paychecks will keep rolling in.
Related reading: How To Sell Ebooks – The Beginner’s Guide.
11. Record and sell audiobooks
Aside from selling ebooks, you can also earn a passive income by recording and selling audiobooks.
There are a few ways to go about this. The first option is to write your own book, then record an audio version of it yourself (or pay a voice actor to do it for you).
The second option is to turn a book somebody else has written into an audiobook. This is a lot less work as you don’t have to actually write the book, but you’ll need to obtain the audio rights to the work first.
This is typically done by negotiating a royalty agreement with the publisher/author through a platform like ACX.
But you can also purchase private label rights to certain ebooks through online marketplaces that give you complete resale rights, including the right to turn the book into an audiobook and sell it.
Once you’ve created your audiobook, you can sell it for as long as you want and continue to earn revenues/royalties from it forever, with no additional work required.
Check out our beginner’s guide on how to sell audiobooks to find out more.
12. Make and sell Lightroom presets
Lightroom presets are pre-made setting configurations in Adobe Lightroom. Photographers and designers use them to transform their photos in one click, much like filters on Instagram.
There’s a huge market demand for Lightroom presets right now. So if you know how to make them, you can sell them online to create a passive income stream.
Check out our beginner’s guide on how to make and sell Lightroom presets to learn how to get started.
13. Start an affiliate marketing business
Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing in which you promote another brand’s products/services to your audience and get paid commissions on every sale you generate.
Commission rates vary depending on the affiliate program you sign up for, but you’ll typically earn around 5% to 50% on every sale that you refer to the business. These sales are tracked via unique referral links.
You can create a passive income stream by starting an affiliate marketing business. It’ll take a lot of work to get everything set up initially, but eventually, it can be totally passive.
The first step is to sign up for an affiliate platform and browse its listings to find a program that offers good commission rates in a niche with low competition. We’d recommend starting with ShareASale.
The next step is to start driving traffic to your affiliate offers. One way to do this is to start a niche blog (see idea 8) or YouTube channel (see idea 9). But you can also promote your affiliate offers through social media, ads, etc.
Once you’ve devised a strategy that works, you can automate it, then sit back and continue to earn a passive income through commission fees every month.
14. Sell sponsored posts on social media
Sponsored posts are posts that businesses pay you to share on social media.
You might think only celebrities and mega-influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers get paid to share sponsored posts, but you’d be wrong.
In fact, businesses are increasingly turning to micro- and nano-influencers with as little as 100-10,000 followers for their influencer campaigns. And most casual social media users out there meet the bar to sell sponsored posts
It only takes a few minutes to share a sponsored post to your socials, which is hardly work at all, so I’d say this one qualifies as passive income.
To get started, you can create a media kit and sign up for influencer marketing platforms like Upfluence to connect with brands.
15. Rent out property
So far, we’ve mainly looked at passive income opportunities that involve creating some sort of digital product and selling it, or monetizing an audience.
However, there’s another great way to earn a passive income—by buying assets and renting them out.
And perhaps the best thing to rent out is real estate property. Obviously, this is only something you can do if you’re an existing homeowner, or if you have plenty of cash to invest.
You can offer either long-term rentals or short-term rentals. For long-term rentals, you’ll probably want to go through a letting agent. For short-term rentals, you can list your property on Airbnb or similar sites.
Make sure you’re aware of your legal responsibilities as a landlord before you start renting out your home. These may differ depending on where you are in the world.
16. Rent out parking spaces
Aside from property, another option is to rent out parking spaces.
You don’t necessarily need to purchase a large plot of land to get started either.
For example, if you live in a built-up area in the city with limited parking options, you can turn your driveway or garage into a passive income source by renting it out as a parking space to commuters.
Or if you live in a rural area and have a large backyard, you could rent it out as a parking space for RV campers. That’s exactly what Redditor u/ToronadoTrofeo did, and they’re now earning over $615 bucks a month in completely passive income from their backfield.
The easiest way to rent out a parking space is to sign up as a host on Neighbor. All you have to do is clear a space and list it on the platform. You can control when and how renters use your space. And for peace of mind, Neighbor offers $1 million in free coverage.
17. Rent out storage space
There are millions of people out there in need of storage space to keep their belongings safe, such as when they’re moving home or going on an extended trip overseas.
You can capitalize on that market by renting out unused space in your home or garage as storage space. Or you could even purchase a storage unit upfront and rent it out for a passive income.
As with parking space rentals, the easiest way to get started with renting out storage space is to sign up for a platform like Neighbor or Stashbee. Just remember to outline terms clearly in your rental agreement and factor in any legal requirements for your location.
18. Rent out equipment
If you’re like most people, you probably have a ton of expensive stuff gathering dust in your home. I’m talking about things like paddleboards, musical instruments, power tools, sewing machines, DSLR cameras, drones, etc.
Well, all that idle gear could be your ticket to a lucrative passive income.
Platforms like Fat Llama act as marketplaces where lenders can rent out their various items to others.
Not only is this a great way to monetize your possessions so that you’re not sitting on a goldmine, but it’s also a great way to contribute to a circular economy and help others to access what they need without the burden of ownership.
19. Rent out advertising space
If you have some cash to invest, you could consider buying billboards or other advertising spaces in prime locations and renting out ads to businesses. This is an easy way to earn passive income for very little effort.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the funds to buy advertising space, use what you’ve already got. For example, it’s possible to get paid to rent out advertising space on your car with companies like Wrapify or Carvertise.
20. Start a glamping business
Glamping is short for ‘glamorous camping’. It’s an increasingly popular activity in which people stay in more comfortable/luxurious accommodation than tents, like camping pods and yurts.
If you have the funds, you could set up a lucrative passive income stream by starting your own glamping business.
You’d need to purchase a plot of land and install some camping pods/yurts/teepees/domes on it. Then, you can rent each unit out for up to 100 bucks a night, or even more during peak seasons.
Assuming you have five units and achieve a 50% booking rate, that’s at least $350 a week in passive income.
21. Start a car rental business
This is another good option for people who have a good amount of initial funds to invest in building a passive income.
The car rental market is huge. Hundreds of thousands of people rent out cars and vans every week. You can capitalize on that market by purchasing vehicles and renting them out to holidaymakers.
However, keep in mind that the car rental market is competitive. You’ll need a solid business strategy in place if you want to make the venture a success.
22. Put your money in a high-yield savings account
This is perhaps the easiest way to earn a passive income, but it requires you to already have a lot of money at your disposal.
High-yield savings accounts (or high-interest savings accounts) are bank accounts that pay you a higher-than-average rate of interest for storing your cash deposits with them.
A good high-yield savings account can pay interest rates of 5% or more. So for example, if you had $1,000 in savings in your account, you’d earn $50 per year in interest.
Obviously, $50 isn’t enough to live on at all. But let’s assume you had a million dollars to put in the same account. You’d then earn $50,000 a year in interest, which is a lot more liveable.
All that said, it’s important to point out that we’re not qualified financial advisors, and you should always seek professional advice before investing your money.
23. Invest in stocks
If you don’t want to leave your money sitting in a high-yield savings account, you could consider investing it in stocks instead. That way, you could earn more in dividends than you could in interest from your bank.
Again, we’re not qualified to offer specific advice here, and trading can be risky. Always consult a qualified financial advisor before you go down this route.
24. Invest in REITs (real estate investment trusts)
Earlier, we discussed how purchasing and renting out real estate property can be a good way to earn passive income.
But the problem with that is that not everyone has enough funds to buy real estate outright. Plus, you might not want the burden of owning and managing your own property.
That’s where REITs come in. You can get a much less stressful (albeit less lucrative) return on your real estate investments by buying shares in companies that own commercial real estate. In return, you’ll receive regular dividends.
Here’s that disclaimer again: We’re not qualified financial advisors, and investing is risky. Always consult a qualified financial advisor before making any decisions.
25. Make and sell beat
Beats are a type of instrumental music. If you’ve got a talent for music production, you can make your own beats and turn them into a passive income stream by selling them to rappers, artists, and brands.
Related reading: 10 Best Platforms To Sell Digital Products
27. Create and sell a game
Once you’ve built a game, you can sell copies of it over and over again for a long-term income. The only work you’ll have to do is marketing and occasional patches/maintenance, so it’s fairly passive.
But obviously, making a game is hard work. You’ll probably need to have at least a basic understanding of the principles of game design. Plus, you’ll need to know how to use a game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine and have some coding/development knowledge.
27. Start a vending machine business
Vending machines are automated machines that dispense snacks, drinks, and other items. You often see them in public areas like train stations, etc.
If you have some initial funds to invest, you can purchase a vending machine for a few thousand dollars and then set it up in a high-traffic area. There’s no need to staff a vending machine so it’s a pretty hands-off business model that’s almost completely passive.
Once you’ve recouped the cost of your first vending machine, you can consider expanding and purchasing more units. Once you have a fleet of vending machines, you could be earning six figures every year.
Frequently asked questions
There you have it—27 passive income ideas you can use to achieve financial freedom this year.
We tried to include ideas for every budget and circumstance on this list.
If you have a large pot of cash to use, things will be easier—you can invest it into stocks, shares, and REITs and live off the dividends (but you should always seek financial advice from a qualified professional before going down this route).
If not, your best bet is to build yourself a digital asset. That might be a blog that earns residual income through affiliate marketing and ads, a product like an ebook or an online course that you can sell over and over again for a lifetime of passive income, or anything else.
Whichever route you go down, the key to success is consistency, careful planning, and determination. You’ll need to put in a lot of effort initially to get things set up, but if you succeed, the payoff will be worth it.
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