9 Passive Income Ideas Ranked
Make My Losses Your Gains
I grew up relatively poor compared to my peers, but a scholarship allowed me to get a degree. That’s when I realized a degree no longer guaranteed financial stability.
I landed a job as a small town reporter earning less than a sanitary engineer (garbage man). Instead of slinging trash, I was slinging words, and I liked it, but I was broke as a joke.
With my 150,000-mile Honda Civic and a Macintosh, I set out to find new revenue streams to support my meager life as a writer.
After much searching, I found only one answer: Passive Income.
“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” — Warren Buffett
I’m not in love with money. I just like to make enough to forget about it. That’s what the passive income lifestyle is all about.
- More time
- More space
- More financial security.
Now the Countdown, Starting with 2 Old “Passive Incomes”
#9 — Real Estate — Real estate involves big gambles and lots of sweating over brick-and-mortar properties and the well-being of tenants living or working inside them. This is often anything but passive. Next!
#8 — Investing —I remember scoring some stocks on a tasty dip, then watching them “rip” upward, only to see them dip right back down. In reality, you need lots of pocket change to make any real income, as well as time and luck (so this is more like passive gambling).
Of course, many people have become very wealthy using the above 2 methods, but I like income with less gambling and sweat equity.
The Honey Pot of Passive Income is Online
Let’s check-in with the projected growth of e-commerce revenue:
Back to the old Honda…
In the mid 1990s, an email landed in my inbox from my older brother. It linked to a new thing called a “website” with something I’d never seen online: a picture!
The first face to stare back at me from a website was a picture of Spock from Star Trek.
It seemed “logical” this World Wide would soon become the center of media and commerce. So, I left my newspaper job and setup shop online.
I started a simple web hosting company, which soon paid my bills like my newspaper job could never. Then, I began collecting website renewals with zero effort.
I discovered passive income.
Over the years, this gave me the freedom to try other passive income models. After all, the more passive income streams, the merrier!
Results may vary, but here’s what actually worked in terms of my own profitability…
Countdown of 7 Top Online Passive Income Ideas
#7 — Print-on-demand Products like T-Shirts
This is fun, but I quickly found a lot of competition. I finally garnered a tiny bit of success designing shirts for niche audiences (basically, my family using one of my sons drawings). Not much money, but fun.
#6 — Etsy (and similar)
If you have something original, and you can digitize it, this can be a steady stream of passive income. Real example: my wife designed a sewing pattern for a purse, posted it as a digital download, and has been collecting side-income ever since.
#5 — Affiliate Programs
These can be tricky… Here’s the thing that I’ve seen required for success here: You first build an audience, or have a webpage ranking high on Google. Only then can you sell services through Affiliates Programs (without having ads eat up all the profit). Also, it’s important to choose a good program. Example: I tried an Amazon store and posted content that brought lots of traffic and orders, but I ended up making around $20… The items I was promoting weren’t pricey enough, and honestly Amazon doesn’t offer a huge return on sales. More on this at the end…
#4 — Content Creator
This includes creating a Youtube channel, writers here on Medium, basically making “content.” Back in Medium’s heyday during a year ago, I wrote one article that made over $2000 (my record). But this year, it’s been far from that…Thus, income as a Creator can vary wildly. One idea is to get deals with businesses who need content on a monthly basis (not quite passive but close). And I’ve also seen success with brand deals in exchange for promotions, but none of this compares to these next 3 ideas…
#3 — E-books
Here’s the one we all hear about. All the coaches have one, all the influencers want to write one. This is a valid passive income source, because once you write in post the book you can promote it forever and collect income whenever it sells. However, e-books are also a nice free offering to entice people to join your email list, to then upsell with more books or the next 2 items…
#2 — Online Courses
We all have something we’re good at, something we could teach others. Teaching a course is all about choosing a subject that you can convey well to others, and that others enjoy hearing from you. At that point, you can proceed to the last item, which is also the most lucrative…
#1 — SaaS Reseller … but what the heck is Saas?
This is the Crown Jewel of Passive Income, as it can translate to monthly income that continues for years without any additional effort. SaaS stands for Software as a Service. This means you’re helping businesses find the services they need to stay afloat. Whether it’s a website, a mailing list, a shopping cart or whatever — becoming a reseller (or affiliate) through SaaS opportunities has provided me the most returns with minimal effort. But wait, as they say, there’s more!
The Best Plan is to Mix the Previous 5 Ideas
If you’re creating great Content, people are more likely to listen to your referrals. Here’s an example: A photographer becomes a Content Creator (posting photos on social media and blogs, talking about photos on podcasts, etc.). Then they offer a free E-book to sign up for their mailing list. Next, they start sending useful tips to their audience, with offers to take their new Course on photography, all the while promoting trusted equipment and services through Affiliate and SaaS channels.
You could then go take a vacation, or keep working your regular job, while still making passive income doing something you love. That’s it!
👋 Hey! If you liked this, get more free tips at Passive Income Explorers.
Standard disclaimers: This is not financial advice, and meant for educational purposes only.