Earn money doing nothing? Yes, please! If you're looking for passive income ideas to increase your monthly cash flow without devoting a lot of time and energy, you're in the right place. Here, we'll share 12 of the best passive income ideas we've come across. Some of these ideas do require a minimum investment but it will all be worth it when you're bringing in additional income without lifting a finger.
12 Passive Income Ideas You Can Put to Work in 2021:
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income comes from projects or products that make you money with little to no maintenance. Essentially, it's money you earn from assets you control. While passive income ideas might require some effort up front, the beauty of passive income is that the time investment is minimal.
Types of Passive Income
Generally speaking, there are four types of passive income:
Cash-flowing assets require an investment up front but will create income over time. This includes things like investing, real estate, business lending, and buying existing businesses. While it takes money to get started with these passive income ideas, the payout can be pretty great.
Share or Sell Assets
With this type of passive income, you earn extra money from renting out or selling things you already own. This includes passive income ideas like rental properties, becoming an Airbnb host, renting out space in your garage, or selling the time you're going to spend doing something anyway (like playing video games).
This type of passive income involves creating something that you can sell to others to generate an ongoing income stream. This could mean building an app, writing an eBook, or creating an online course.
Reverse Passive Income
The fourth type of passive income is "reverse" passive income. With this type of passive income, you're not really earning money but instead are saving money by cutting down on existing expenses. We haven't included any reverse passive income ideas on this list, but it includes things like refinancing your mortgage or student loans or working with your existing lenders, utility providers, and credit cards to reduce your monthly payments.
How Much Money Can I Earn?
Most passive income ideas aren't get-rich-quick schemes. It takes time to build up steady streams of income. However, depending on how you choose to go about it, you could earn anywhere from an extra hundreds of dollars to an extra hundreds of thousands.
How Many Passive Income Ideas Do I Need?
As many as you want. If you have the time and money to invest in multiple income streams, go for it. Just be sure that you develop a passive income strategy so you're not spending too much time on one income stream to the exclusion of the others.
12 Passive Income Ideas
There are tons of different passive income sources to choose from. Here are 12 of the ideas we're loving right now.
With the proliferation of apps like Robinhood and Acorns, investing has never been easier. From high-dividend stocks to REITs to bonds, investments are a great passive income stream. The stock market doesn’t have to be a scary place. Let's take a closer look at a few different ways you can turn a profit by investing.
Bonds or CDs
Bonds and CDs (certificates of deposit) are low-risk ways to start investing. In exchange for low-risk, you're also going to see low returns. CD and bond rates aren't great right now; you might even be better off just putting your money into high-yield savings accounts (generally, online savings accounts offer better rates). However, if you're interested in getting some extra money over time, these could be worth looking into.
Index funds are typically a mix of stocks or bonds for a specific market. They can be liquidated in 1–3 business days but that liquidity comes with a higher risk tradeoff.
Stock can either be high- or low-dividend. Stocks typically have a higher return potential but, like most investments, that high return comes with high risk.
Money market investment funds are short-term debt securities and are typically pretty stable. They're low risk (and low return) but can also be easily liquidated.
Real Estate Investment
Investing in real estate can come in different formats. First, buying a home itself is an investment. But you can also use an app like Fundrise to invest in REITs.
2. Create and Sell an Online Course
Creating an online course is a wonderful way to build passive income. You'll need to put in the effort to create the course upfront, but there are several online learning platforms available that make creating and delivering your course really easy. Online courses also provide the additional benefit of establishing you as an expert or authority in your industry or niche.
3. Build an App
Building an app is one of our favorite passive income ideas and it's often overlooked. Like creating and selling online courses, building an app requires time and energy up front. After you have your app built, though, you can sell it in an app market forever and ever. You can also create Alexa skills and earn ongoing income from those sales. Building an app or skill requires a bit of technical know-how, but if you've got the skills you should give it a try.
If you want to turn this into a side hustle instead of a passive income idea, try hiring yourself out to build apps for businesses. There are app builders on the market that make it ridiculously easy—you just need to have an eye for design.
4. Rent Out Properties
If you have a property that you're not using, from an entire home to unused space to your parking spot—even your tools!—you can earn rental income by renting it out. You can hire a property manager if you have homes you want to rent out to make that a truly passive income without having to deal with tenants yourself. Renting out unused space in your home or garage or renting out your car is a little less passive. Still, it requires a minimal amount of time to manage so we included those ideas here.
5. Publish eBooks
If you have knowledge or expertise in a specific area, you can generate a decent passive income by writing and publishing an eBook (or creating other digital products) on the topic. Again, this will require an investment of time upfront to write the eBook, but Kindle Direct Publishing makes it really easy to publish, market, and sell your eBook.
What we love about this passive income idea is that it requires no money at all to get started. You simply write your eBook, publish it using a free eBook publishing tool, and set your price. Even if you just charge a dollar or two, if your eBook is helpful, you'll start earning a nice passive income.
6. Sell Stock Photos
This is one of those passive income ideas that's got a little bit of work to it. But, if you love taking photos and you're going to be doing it already, why not earn some income from it? There are stock image sites that you can use to sell your photos and videos, netting you a bit of income for every sale. And, with the high quality of photos from newer smartphone cameras, you don't even need a fancy DSLR to take stunning photos that sell.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is another great way to earn income without a whole lot of effort. Start by finding a niche that interests you and build a website for it. You'll want to use SEO tools to find the right keywords that are going to bring traffic to your site. Next, look for affiliate marketing programs to join or check out brands you already love to see if they have an affiliate program. Once you've chosen your niche, set up your website, and have signed up for an affiliate marketing program, it's time to create content using your affiliate links (so you can earn commissions on sales). While you'll probably want to update your content to keep it accurate, you can pretty much just let things run while you earn extra cash.
Bloggers can easily work affiliate marketing into their blogs to turn a side hustle into a passive income option.
8. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending simply means offering money to individuals. While you can do this with friends or family, there are also sites like LendingClub that make it easy to do. You get to help some out with their financial needs and get back your investment plus interest.
9. Flipping Domain Names
Have you ever had a brilliant idea for a domain name only to find that someone else has it and now wants you to pay thousands of dollars to get it from them? Flipping domain names is an excellent way to earn passive income. If you're a creative type who can come up with great domain names, go ahead and buy them up. Then, list the domain names you have for sale on a domain marketplace and wait for someone to buy them.
A quick word of caution: flipping domain names isn't without risk. You could easily end up stuck with domain names that won't sell. Be sure not to spread yourself so thin that you lose tons of money each year to domain name renewal fees.
10. Advertise on Your Car
If you own a car and drive around a bit, try advertising on your car. Start by finding an advertising agency that does car advertising. They'll likely ask you where you drive and how many miles. If your driving habits are a match for one of their clients, your car will get an advertising wrap. This basically turns your car into a mobile advertising campaign—you just get out a drive as you normally do.
11. Vending Machines or ATMs
Do you ever wonder who owns vending machines or ATMs? It could be you! You can buy or rent an ATM and place it either in a location owned by you or someone else's location (in which case you'll need to share the profits). You'll earn a profit each time the ATM is used and the user is charged fees. While you will need to stock the ATM with cash, you can hire a business or someone you trust to do that for you.
Vending machines are another great passive income idea. Just stock it with goodies that you've purchased in bulk (to lower your costs) and place it in a high-traffic location. Like an ATM, you'll need to share profits with the owner of the location where you want to place your vending machine and outsource restocking.
12. Watch TV and Movies (or Play Video Games)
Seems too good to be true, doesn't it, earning money from watching movies and playing video games? Companies like InboxDollars and MyPoints will pay you to watch specific programs. If video games are more your thing, you can stream yourself playing the video games you were going to play anyway on platforms like Twitch or YouTube Gaming, setting yourself up to become a gaming influencer.
Passive Income and Taxes
No matter where your income originates, you're going to need to pay taxes on it. You can reduce your tax liability by incorporating yourself as a business and setting up a retirement account to defer taxes on your earned income. We highly recommend reaching out to an accountant who can help you stay on top of your taxes so you're not stuck with a painful surprise come tax time.
Setting up a passive income stream is a great idea for everyone. No matter where you are in your life, having extra cash on hand just makes things a little easier. With these passive income ideas, you'll have no shortage of opportunities to earn money with minimal effort. Interested in more passive income ideas? Check out these passive income apps!