Many home business owners and side-giggers are constantly on the lookout for passive income streams. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it generally refers to opportunities that require very little effort to generate some extra cash or you put in the work one time and they continue to earn on their own with little further effort for an extended period of time. Finding the right passive income ideas that meet your skills and schedule can greatly increase your income.
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income can mean different things to different people. While some people would lead you to believe that you never have to do anything to continue making money from the idea, that rarely – if ever – happens. The vast majority of the time, passive income is never truly “passive.”
With a lot of passive income ideas, there’s going to be some work at the beginning to get it set up. Sometimes it’s complex, like putting up a website. There may be a little updating or promoting to do to keep your chosen program active and out there along the way. Maybe it’s more simple and you just need to use a certain website, app or card to earn some extra cash doing something you are doing anyway.
The great thing about passive income, though, is that you generally front-load the work. Once you’ve got it going, you won’t really need to do anything besides maintain it. That’s where the term “passive income” kicks in.
The point of implementing these avenues is to not only increase your earnings, but also provide you with a buffer during slow times, a little nest egg for investing or emergencies and/or your rainy day fund. You might crank up your passive income streams and see huge payoffs, or you might just build some ease into your income situation. Either way, extra money is always a good thing.
Earn Passive Income While Shopping
We all have to shop, whether it is for groceries or clothes. The following programs will allow you to earn cash back when doing so.
Ebates – Receive quarterly payments by check, Paypal or charity donation (and sometimes Amazon store credit) when making online purchases. This one earns me a nice chunk of change for my online purchases and referring friends.
Top Cash Back — I sometimes do a little bit of “gift card ninja-ing” to maximize my cash back. First, I go to Top Cash Back and click through to shop at a gift card mall called Raise. Raise offers discounted gift cards, and when I go there through Top Cash Back, I get 2% off. Then I’ll take my discounted gift cards and use them to do my online shopping through Top Cash Back or Ebates to rack up the cash back.
Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout 51 will allow you to earn cash back while grocery shopping. You have to eat, and you might as well get some cash back while you do it! Ibotta in particular has some great options that go beyond grocery stores, too.
Discover Card has long given up to 5% cash back to their customers. Take your rewards in cash, Amazon.com store credit, gift card or donate it to charity.
Prescription Transfers will often earn you in-store gift cards at nationwide pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and even Kmart and Target. Many grocery stores with an in-house pharmacy will offer even better offers to transfer your prescriptions to them. Check online for current offers.
Use Walmart Savings Catcher – I love apps like SavingStar and Ibotta, but I frequently forget to check them for savings. And when I’m running to the store for one thing – that turns into 20 – I don’t take the time to coupon and check the sale ads. Therefore, I have become heavily dependent on Walmart’s Savings Catcher app. They check the local ads and give me the lowest price despite my laziness.
Passive Income Ideas for Earning Online
Swagbucks will allow you to earn points for watching videos, completing short surveys and more that can be redeemed for cash and gift cards. More than $120 million in gift cards and cash has been paid out to members to date!
Start a website and earn money through affiliate marketing and direct advertising. Once your content is up and your site is bringing in traffic through search engines, they can sometimes continue to earn almost hands-off for years. The key is to make sure your website content is high quality and optimized for search engines.
Become an author by self-publishing a book on Kindle. It doesn’t have to be long, or even a novel — if you have a skill or some insider knowledge on something that other people want to know, you can write up a guide and sell that. Think about the things that are easy for you that seem hard to other people, or something you can do that you get a lot of questions or comments about. Look at Fiverr for a graphic designer to make your book cover, and for someone to do the formatting so it’ll meet Amazon’s requirements.
As a freelance service provider, there are a number of opportunities to add residual passive income streams with services your clients need to run their businesses effectively. Webhosting and email newsletter services are two popular choices that can offer monthly payments as long as your referral remains a customer.
License photos, videos or music for use by others and you can earn indefinitely from one piece. For example, there’s a huge market for stock photos right now, so if you have a knack for photography, you could turn an afternoon of shooting into months or even years of residual income.
Dropshipping – Not up my alley, but some people are finding great success with it. Check out our expert tips here to see if it’s the kind of thing that will work for you.
Create and sell apps, website themes, and plugins. This is especially great if you’re already a coder or if you want to learn how to do it. What better way to pay for your new hobby than to start selling the things you create?
Design T-Shirts – Every time I see a cool t-shirt on Facebook or Teespring I think I wish I would have thought of that! If you are creative or catchy, sell your wares on Cafepress, Society 6, or Zazzle with no out-of-pocket expense. It doesn’t just stop at t-shirts, though. You can sell your designs on any number of home goods, from blankets and pillows to mugs to cell phone cases. What I love about these sites is that you don’t have to manage the inventory. A huge bonus!
Passive Income Through Digital Products
If you’ve never thought about digital downloads before, this might seem like scary, uncharted territory. But the truth is that there’s a huge market right now for digital downloads — this is things like affirmation tracks, printable worksheets, online courses, and more. Think about your areas of expertise and see if any of these ideas strike your fancy. With so many ways to sell and so many options for making it happen, there’s no reason not to!
One of the most important parts of success with selling digital products is your use of effective keywords. Make sure you use a variety of words and phrases that people might use to search out your product, and use those keywords in your listings and descriptions.
Sell Printables and Digital Downloads – We have spoken with several ladies lately finding passive income success selling digital downloads on Etsy. You can also set up an e-store on your own website with Woocommerce, or try a niche site like Teachers Paying Teachers. What I love about this concept is that you do the work once, you load it into the shop, and then there’s no limit to how many you can sell, with little to no effort from you.
Another idea: create an online course that teaches a specific skill. If there’s something you know how to do that other people want to know, you can teach it online! And the best part is, there’s no limit to how many courses you can sell. You can create your course at Udemy. The “drawback” is that you won’t make as much money as if you marketed and sold your course on your own, but the benefit to Udemy is that there are tons of users looking for courses there, so you can even choose not to market at all and still make some money.
Make sure you have an interesting title for the course and that the course description has good keywords in it so you can be found in searches. You can further promote your Udemy course if you want more income, or just “set it and forget it” and let Udemy and searches do all the work.
For a self-hosted course, I like using Teachable, but there are several course platforms you can use. Decide whether you want to use text lessons, audio files, video files, or a mix for your lessons. Once you’ve created the course, you can sell it for years to come.
Another way to “deliver” your course is to do it over email. It’s a simple way to teach, and the other benefit to an email course is that you can add affiliate links to other products or services, which will then give you a kickback every time someone buys. I love affiliate marketing!
A similar idea is to create a membership site where people pay a monthly subscription for your knowledge or goods. You can do this pretty easily by setting up a simple opt-in page (most email service providers give you free landing pages) and then using a private Facebook group or a course platform like Teachable as the actual membership site.
One quick tip for selling things online: use Pinterest to get some extra sales! If you can get good pins circulating that bring people back to your shop, you’ll have a “set it and forget it” marketing machine bringing you sales! You’ll get more traction with a service like Tailwind to keep things fresh.
Earn With Banking and Insurance
Retirement Investments can not only increase in value over time, they can also come with tax advantages for the self-employed. Look into options for investments like the IRA and the Roth IRA.
Savings Accounts and CDs earn interest (i.e. free money) over time. You can have CDs that are short-term or longer-term, and while you won’t be able to “touch” that money, it’ll be earning more for you than it would be in a regular (more accessible) savings account.
Peer-to-Peer Lending is big business these days. You essentially are acting as the bank, lending and earning interest on personal loans. This opportunity does come with risk! Prosper allows you to invest as little as $25 and you can view the borrower’s credit history, loan descriptions, personal testimonials and more to make sure you’re limiting your risk.
Several banks offer cash bonuses for new customers opening savings or checking accounts. For example, Capital One is currently offering a $25 bonus for opening a qualifying checking or savings account.
Allstate will send you Safe Driver Bonuses quarterly if you don’t have an accident. You can’t get much more passive than that. You can also save on your deductible if you don’t have any claims for a specified period of time.
Do a search on your State Treasurer’s website for unclaimed property in your name. You can also search for unclaimed money from the federal government right here. I know several people who have “found” hundreds of dollars in refunds and credits that they wouldn’t have received otherwise.
Earn For Renting
Rental properties have long been a way to earn an income without punching a clock 40 hours per week. Real estate investing isn’t for everyone, but it’s a go-to “passive income stream” for a lot of people. Never underestimate the value of a great tenant.
Rent your car when it’s not in use with a company like Relay Rides. Cars are simply too expensive for some people to own, but renting from the big car rental services can be pricey. This is a great option for helping people when they’re in a pinch, and you get kickbacks, too.
Have a lot of items that are great for hosting? Party rentals can include tents, tables, chairs, cooking equipment and more. If you’ve got a ton of plates, napkins, or glasses, those might make good party rentals as well.
Car washes, laundromats and vending machine businesses all allow you to earn income by “renting” your equipment to customers. If you aren’t using it, you might as well make some money off it and let someone else benefit from it too!
As you can see, very few of these passive income opportunities require no work at all, but many require very little. These certainly won’t replace your full-time income without becoming a full-time job themselves, but they can be a great way to pad your bank account with a few well-crafted moves and more thought-out decisions.