Passive Income Ideas to Make Money on the Side

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

The idea of sitting back and not doing much of anything while you earn money is kind of the definition of living the dream, right?

That’s passive income, something that earns you money without necessitating active (or at least sustained) involvement. And as impossible as it might sound—it isn’t.

There are indeed ways that people can make passive income for a nice monthly cushion. (And who knows, maybe even more than a cushion!)

We got the chance to talk with entrepreneurs about passive income ideas that they rely on and recommend to either supplement—or totally change—the way you make money.

As Simon Dlugowski  founder and CEO of MySocialNerd.com, says, no matter your chosen industry as an entrepreneur, “Passive income is always a possibility, and believing is the first step!”

1. Blog About Your Expertise

Specialized blogs offer a place for you to share information about your expertise (and that really could be anything from movie reviews to basic computer programming.)

Cristian Rennella CEO and cofounder of elMejorTrato.com, says, “My area, for example, was finance. I always liked it and I started to write about it nine years ago on my own website. Even today, articles from so many years ago still continue to generate visits and, consequently, income.”

He adds that if you study a little search engine optimization (SEO) to learn the basics, and publish on your own social networks, you will start getting hits through Google.

Alok Rana, founder of LoudTechie, gives a few more tips for blogging to increase income, selling ads, and getting into affiliate advertising. “Let’s assume you joined an affiliate program with GoDaddy, the hosting company,” Rana says. “GoDaddy will provide you an affiliate link with which you will get a commission as a reward on every referral you bring in as a member or sales. Reviews work best.”

Trent Silver, millennial career and personal finance expert, and co-founder of StickerDoo.com, recommends looking into the Amazon affiliate program.

“This is the most lucrative way to earn passive income nowadays. Several of my friends have set up these simple sites that typically offer reviews or side-by-side comparisons for products found on Amazon. When consumers search for a product using a search engine, the affiliate site will come up. When these shoppers end up purchasing their Amazon product through the affiliate site, Amazon will cut the affiliate in with commission.”

He adds that friends have earned $200 per week to $10,000 per month using Amazon’s program.

2. Write an E-book

Overall, this was the most frequent and popular answer from entrepreneurs. If you want to get even more in-depth with your expertise—write an e-book. It simply involves having a story or being passionate about a subject or process.

Sure, it could be an amateur sci-fi novel, but it could also be your tips on starting a small business or managing a payroll.

Personal finance blogger Ming from Earn More Live Freely talks about the endless possibilities of self-publishing, using something like the Amazon Kindle eBook.

“Just years ago, becoming a published author was unimaginable for most people,” she says. “Now, everyone can write a book and publish online—and even selling a few units every month with minimal marketing and promotion efforts on your part makes for passive income.”

3. Simply Purchase a Website

Jeff from Jason Coupon King bought a website for $6,000 off Flippa.com. Seems like a nice chunk of change … but it really paid off.

“The website, at the time, was making about $450 per month,” he shares. “I know a little about SEO and web design, so I redesigned the IU and improved the SEO. And in about five months, the site was making about $700 per month. And in about 10 months, I recouped my initial $6,000 investment. So, now the site earns about $800 per month as passive income.”  

4. Upsell Pre-Existing Clients

If you already offer a service, have a website, or have clients in whatever field you’re in, find a sustainable and passive way to give your clients even more of your goods.

Zondra Wilson of Blu Skin Care LLC makes passive income doing online subscription consulting, teaching people to care for their skin. But she notes that it wouldn’t have to stop there. Assess your industry, she suggests, and you could expand your possibilities.  “A personal trainer, for instance,” she says, “may create a passive income stream by selling a line of vitamin supplements that clients would purchase monthly.”

5. Get Subscribers for Your Online Content

Rob Ristagno of Sterling Woods Group says a quick tip for monetizing your online content is creating “a product pyramid” for your website or blog. “If you create the right funnel of content, moving casual readers of your website or services toward paying subscribers, you can sit back and let your content do the majority of the work for you.”  

He adds that with the right offerings from your web space, the returns on digital memberships require very little investment after you’ve put the pieces in place.

6. Create an Online Course

If your skill or expertise you’ve created content around is in high demand, create an online course.

Nick Malekos, growth marketer of LearnWorlds, says the e-learning market is estimated to grow at $240 billion by 2023, and he suggests it’s an industry every entrepreneur and digital nomad should consider.

“Creating and selling online courses or a training and networking membership site is a great way to monetize your skills,” he says. 

7. Purchase Good, Old-Fashioned Property Rentals

This is the old brick-and-mortar classic when it comes to passive income—but if you have the extra capital, purchasing property you rent and manage can be very, very lucrative.

As realtor investor Tony Figurelli of SORS Homes says, “The monthly rental payments that come in for the initial investment and upkeep can’t be beat if you structure a good deal.”

8. Try “Robo”  Investors

Might seem counterintuitive to put your investments in the hands of a machine, but online “robo” investing, like Betterment, works.

Put money into an account, choose the level of “risk” you are willing to take and an algorithm does the rest of the work to keep your portfolio together and growing. Plus, the fees are much lower than what you’d have to pay an actual person to do the same work for you.

9. Sell Stock Photos and Digital Products

Videos, music, apps, plugins, or themes are all products that take some upfront work but bring in income over time.

Jeff from Good Financial Cents speaks to the benefits of stock photography: “Photography websites such as Shutterstock and iStockphoto can provide you with platforms to sell your photos. They may offer either a percentage or a flat fee of each photo that is sold to a site client.”

After creating an online portfolio, one photo can be sold multiple times.

10. Don’t Throw Anything Away!

How many of us have started writing or invested in a site or subscription service and lost hope? But press pause before you throw away or choose not to renew.

Jason Lavis, managing director of Out of the Box Innovations Ltd., says, “Often, it seems like something isn’t working and it’s tempting to abandon the project. For example, we might let domains expire, or delete drafts for e-books or manuals.”

But that really might not be the smartest move.

“I’ve found that sometimes websites mature with age and build traction on their own,” Lavis adds. “The search engines use age as an authority signal, and over time, good content will attract natural backlinks. For the cost of a domain renewal of $10-$20, you might find out later that you’ve got thousands of monthly organic visitors—traffic that can be monetized.”

Not bad for something you nearly tossed in the trash bin, right?

***

While sometimes passive income takes a little work or investment of time or funds up front, usually the work pays off and pays off again. Even if you start small, you’ll get the hang of it in no time if you stick to a solid plan.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

Our Picks

Ready to Grow Your Business?