You’ve got a steady paycheck from your 9 to 5 job and that’s cool.
But deep down inside you know you’ve always wanted more. More money. More freedom. More flexibility. And so you finally decide that it’s time to take action.
This article breaks down 23 ideas for how to generate passive income while keeping your full-time gig. So you can finally get more than you’ve ever dreamed of.
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What is Passive Income?
Passive income is money you earn that doesn’t require you to do a lot of “active” work to continue making it. In essence, you can do most of the work upfront and put some additional effort along the way to earn an income.
For example, if you create an online course, you just need to update its content to keep the money flowing.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “make money while you sleep.” That’s the biggest draw that entices people to earn passive income.
You can create something (a blog, course, ebook, videos, or an online store) that generates money even when you’re not working. Or you can make passive income investments (property or stocks) that allow you to earn passively.
Active Income vs. Passive Income – Which Is Best for Me?
In theory, all of your income sources carry similar weight. But when it comes to achieving financial freedom, passive income leaves active income in the dust.
You see, active income is the money generated from all those efforts you’re currently making. And you need to keep working in order to continue earning an income. If you quit, you don’t get paid. Your time literally equals money.
And then you have passive income. An income that doesn’t require you to work actively. And the money continues to flow in for years and years. If you’re looking to design a dream life where you are financially free, it might be better for you to focus on passive income.
Just remember, while you might be able to build a passive income stream with a small investment, you’re not making any less of a commitment than someone investing their time. Making passive income comparable to income earned from active efforts requires a good amount of work upfront.
How Much Passive Income Can I Earn?
You can make as much or as little passive income you want. However, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll need to put in some hours, effort initially, and capital to create a passive income source.
The good news is that nailing these things early allows you to sit back and enjoy the financial rewards for years to come.
You may invest as little as $100 in the beginning, then reinvest your profits until your passive income grows to a sustainable figure. With a high recurring income, you can make enough money to live off of.
23 Passive Income Ideas 2021
1. Start a Dropshipping Store
Dropshipping is one of the most profitable passive income sources you’ll find online.
With dropshipping, you can find trending products on marketplaces like AliExpress that you can then sell online to customers around the world. You can sell products in various dropshipping niches from fashion to home decor to beauty.
The magic in dropshipping is that you build your own business and control how much you charge for the products. In fact, out of all the passive income ideas on the list, dropshipping is the one where you have the most control over your earnings.
A close alternative to a dropshipping store – but one with a lot more input into product selection and quality control – is buying products wholesale to sell on your store. Using a wholesale marketplace you can connect with local, US-based suppliers, purchase products at wholesale prices, and sell them on to your audience. You can even combine this option with dropshipping by holding some products and dropshipping others.
2. Run a Blog
The most popular passive income stream tends to come from blogging. Blogging has helped countless entrepreneurs earn passively through affiliate links, courses, sponsored posts, products, book deals, and more.
It’s true that it can take quite a bit of upfront work to build a successful blog. However, it’s one of the most sustainable ways to generate an audience through organic and social traffic or by building an email list.
The biggest perk of creating a blog is that you can turn that one asset into several different streams of income. So if you’re looking for an easy passive income idea, blogging might be the perfect option for you .
Desirae Odjick, Founder of Half Banked, explains: “I started my blog to make talking about personal finance more approachable, and as part of that, I tend to share a lot of personal stories. They often included shout-outs to the tools that I was using and found helpful, so it was a natural transition to add affiliate links as I joined those companies’ programs. Now that I’ve been covering personal finance for almost four years on my blog, those links reliably bring in four figures every month as people discover my articles and start to get their finances in order – and I feel fantastic recommending them, because I do personally use all of my affiliate products. It’s a great way to add passive income to your business, especially if you don’t have passive products of your own to sell (…yet!)”
3. Create a Course
Selling online courses is one of the best passive income ideas of 2021.
That’s because we’re still seeing massive sales growth for course creators. Whether you decide to sell a course on your own website or on a platform like Udemy, you’ll find customers who want to learn your insider tips and tricks.
If you’ve followed tip number two and built your own audience, selling your course on your website can help you control how much passive income you earn. Finding your customers is up to you.
That will be a bit easier if you sell on course platforms like Udemy, but your course may be heavily discounted during certain periods. This will affect how much passive income you earn.
Sumit Bansal, Founder of Trump Excel: “I started a blog about Excel Spreadsheets in 2013. I did it as I was learning a lot about spreadsheets and thought it would be a good way to share my knowledge with others. It slowly started getting traction in two years, it was getting 100K+ pageviews a month. I decided to create an online course and see if it would fly, and it did. I made good side income for a few months and then decided to do this full-time and launch more courses. Since then, the blog has grown a lot and I have been featured on many prominent sites and publications such as Problogger, YourStory, GlassDoor, CEO Magazine, etc.”
4. Instagram Sponsored Posts
If you love Instagram as much as I do, you might want to turn your scrolling time into posting time to help you skyrocket your passive income.
The best thing about Instagram is that you can literally create fan pages for absolutely anything. Whether you love travel, fashion, beauty, home decor, or something really peculiar like outrageous dog grooming…
… you’ll find a committed audience.
The secret to getting a ton of Instagram followers is to be super consistent with the type of content you post. So be sure to stick to one niche so that people who follow you can count on you to deliver more content just like that.
In your Instagram bio, be sure to add your email address. As your account starts to grow, so will sponsored posts requests, allowing you to make money on Instagram. The more Instagram engagement your posts get, the more people will reach out to you so be sure to create engaging content.
5. Create a Print on Demand Online Store
With ecommerce being one of the most popular ways to make passive income online, it only makes sense to give a shout-out to print on demand.
Print on demand allows you to sell your custom graphics on products like t-shirts, clothing, mugs, canvases, phone cases, bags, and more. The best thing about this is that you can build your own branded products.
The only downside is that you need to be savvy at graphic design because the margins are often too thin to outsource the designs affordably. However, if you create that unique winning design, your sales will take off. Plus, it won’t hurt sales since you won’t be competing with anyone but yourself. Don't hesitate to start right away with Shopify!
How profitable is print on demand? Find out the answer in our collaboration with Wholesale Ted, where we compare dropshipping with print on demand.
Veronica Wong, founder of Boba Love, shares how her love of bubble tea helped her earn passive income: “I’ve been drinking bubble tea for as long as I can remember, so combining my love for boba with my love for design seemed like a perfect fit. I started designing and selling bubble tea apparel and accessories last year and the journey has been incredible. With Printful handling the production, fulfillment and shipping, I can focus on marketing and building my brand. I’ve connected with boba lovers all over the world and recently reached 10k followers on Instagram. I’m just starting my journey to earning more passive income, but Shopify and Printful make it very easy and I am very optimistic!”
6. Create an App
We might only be on the sixth passive income idea on this list, but you probably noticed a trend: Creating stuff tends to lead to passive income. If you’re a developer or programmer, you might want to try creating apps as a passive income stream.
You can go about it in two ways. First, you can charge a fee for people who want to buy your app. Second, you can make your app free and monetize with ads. My fiance did this a few years ago and still makes a side income from his app to this day.
He bought code from CodeCanyon. Then, he used a tool called Eclipse and installed the Android Development SDK to make modifications to the code to create his own unique app. You can monetize your app in a number of ways, including running in-app advertising, offering paywalled content, and charging for premium features.
7. Invest in Stocks
When you look at the world’s richest people, it’s pretty safe to say that stocks have played a big role in their deep, endless bank accounts.
While the act of investing in stocks is pretty passive, the research that goes into it is active. Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day, but he’s not reading your average mystery book. Nope. He reads business’ annual reports. By reading annual reports each day, he better understands whether or not a business is performing well, which helps him improve his ability to invest in stocks.
\Stock investments can help you earn passive income that stretches far beyond what your value at your 9 to 5 job is worth. So, consider this passive income idea if you like reading about the performance of various businesses.
8. Buy Property
Depending on where you buy and when, real estate can be a good way to make passive income. In popular cities like Toronto, there has been a steady increase in property value – 9.36% during 2020, the highest growth in Canada since 2016.
By buying pre-construction condos, you may find some lower cost properties that’ll increase in value by the time it’s finally built, allowing you to sell the property once it’s complete for a profit.
As with all investments, it can be risky, so it’s best to speak with a real estate agent if you’re new to the game to help you buy the right investment property.
Shawn Breyer, Owner of Breyer Home Buyers, shares: “My girlfriend, now wife, graduated law school with $173,000 of school debt and we set the duration of the loan to be paid over 15 years, which made our monthly payments come out to be $1,459 per month in payments. We wanted to use rental property cash flow to cover our monthly law school debt. Our first decision was to buy a duplex and live on one side while we rented out the other side. This alone saved us the $1,350 in housing expenses that we had prior to buying the duplex. Instead of allocating that money towards extra principal payments on the school debt, we saved that money and bought another duplex two years later. This acquisition added $650 in monthly cash flow, which we snowballed into a third property. The three properties provided us with an extra $2,500 per month in savings and income that we were able to then put towards extra principal payments. The beauty of this approach is that our tenants are paying down our law school debt and if we were to lose our jobs or have a medical emergency, then we can rely solely on the rental income to pay for the school debt for us.”
9. Host Airbnb
If you followed step number eight, you can choose to list your condo or home to rent on Airbnb.
What’s interesting is that you don’t actually need to buy a new property to make Airbnb passive income. You can also rent a room in your current home or apartment if you have a spare room.
Also, Airbnb has recently expanded into “Airbnb Experiences,” which allow you to host events, meetups, and tours in your city. You can choose to treat it as a side hustle as well, though it won’t be passive income.
Martin Dasko, Founder of Studenomics, makes passive income renting his condo on Airbnb. He explains,
“I decided to give Airbnb a shot when I stayed in one on a visit to NYC. I loved the concept and wanted to get in on it. I put my condo up for rent and was surprised by the demand. I was able to charge $169/night (in downtown Toronto). My biggest win came when a company contacted me because they were sending a few employees to Toronto. They booked the unit for the entire month. I didn’t have to worry about finding new guests. The beauty of Airbnb is that you can turn it on and off as you please. When you’re looking to make some extra cash, you can put your place up for rent. You can also rent out that spare bedroom.”
10. Build your Own Website
Building your own website can be a reliable source of passive income.
Some folks create marketing agencies and outsource the work to freelancers. Others, like a couple entrepreneurs on this list, create online courses to share their knowledge and educate others. You can also sell products – digital or physical – online. New to online selling? Here are some ideas for what to sell on the internet.
However, by building your own website, you gain more control over what you sell and how much money you make. It’s one of the best beginner passive income ideas as there are a variety of tools to help you create a website (no coding required). You can then spruce it up by adding a theme, logo, and other UI elements. Ultimately, your success lies in your hands, enabling you to take your brand wherever you want it to go.
Software engineer and Flipped Coding Owner Milecia McGregor earns passive income by helping people become web developers. She shares, “I have an online class that people pay for every month and they learn all the front-end development languages and I add new material every month. My biggest win with this class so far was when one of my students got their first web developer job. They came back and thanked me so much that it gave me a happiness I hadn’t experienced before. I’m planning to get 200 students in my class this year and help them all get that first paying gig.”
11. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the best passive income opportunities available today. The upside to it is that almost every big brand has an affiliate program so you can sell some pretty popular products and rake in the dough.
The only real downside is that you only make a commission of the sale. Some programs like Shopify’s affiliate program allow you to earn up to $58 per referral, which is a decent income. Other online companies only give a measly $5-$10 in referral bonus.
So, you’ll want to make sure you do some research into the best affiliate marketing programs before you get started. Blogging tends to be the most cost-effective way to make recurring affiliate commissions without having to spend money on ads.
Sireesha Narumanchi, Founder of Crowdworknews.com, shares, “I started my side hustle as a blogger a little over two years ago and this has been the most incredible journey so far. As a content creator, most of my income is from affiliates and it’s totally passive. It wasn’t easy to juggle my job and business but it was totally worth it. I do put in a lot of hours researching, crafting, and working on business strategies, but once my content is done, it generates income passively again and again. The immense pleasure of helping people and showing them that there is a choice of working from home and earning a decent income is my trophy at the end of the day.”
12. Sell your Videos
If you always find yourself in the midst of drama and excitement, you might want to pull out your phone and hit record. Doing that can help you make some passive income. The latest video marketing stats indicate that people are obsessed with video content, so you should be able to find an audience for your films.
Why? Because you can sell that video to a news site. And if the video takes off, you can make some recurring money for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. Of course, the easiest way to get in on the action is to be at public events such as protests, demonstrations, and festivals.
Wherever there’s controversy, you’ll find opportunities for your content to be sold. And if you’re good at producing entertaining content, companies will pay you to create viral videos along with offering a share on overall earnings.
Peter Kock, Owner of Seller at Heart, shares how he made passive income uploading videos to popular websites: “I uploaded a few videos to Newsflare and Rumble. When my content gets bought, 50% of all revenue generated gets wired to my personal account. My videos were featured on MSN, AOL, Yahoo, Daily Mail, The Guardian, etc. With Newsflare, I made over $4,000 so far and still I’m getting royalties for videos uploaded a few years ago.”
13. Flip Websites
Do you love building websites and online stores? If so, you could make passive income selling them.
You’ll likely need to get your first few sales (to prove that your store is awesome). But if you’ve got great design skills and build out some of the content on your website, you could find someone who’d be willing to buy your store.
If you’re looking for a place to sell your website, you could try out Shopify’s Exchange Marketplace. On the platform, you can sell your newly built online store or your advanced six- or seven-figure store. It’s the perfect platform for website flipping.
14. Company Stocks
Yup, your 9 to 5 job can also become a passive income stream. No, it’s not the hours you work. However, your company stocks or any company-matching retirement plans can help you score some pretty decent passive income.
I actually used this passive income method to pay for the downpayment on my condo. And it only took two years. Of course, you’ll likely need to invest some of your own money too, but the extra bit that the company adds in is a nice perk if you’re willing to try it. (And trust me, few people ever do.)
If you’re starting a new 9 to 5 job, be sure to ask for company stocks as part of your hiring package. You’ll thank me later.
15. Create YouTube Videos
YouTube is the passive income stream that just keeps on giving. From sponsored videos to ad revenue, you’ll find that you can make recurring income from your YouTube channel.
The secret to creating a successful YouTube channel is creating content on a consistent schedule for a long time. That’s it. If you stick with it for the long haul, you’ll eventually start reaping the passive income rewards.
Already have a YouTube channel? Check out our article, How to Make Money From YouTube, for ideas on how to monetize your video content.
Matthew Ross, the Co-Owner and COO of RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard, started his passive income journey on YouTube: “Back in 2013, my business partner and I were extremely interested in wearable technology (Garmin watches, Fitbit activity trackers, etc.) and decided to start a YouTube channel that would review these types of products. We really just enjoyed testing out the watches and thought we could earn a little advertising money on the side. In total, we invested about $5,000 creating the channel and purchasing the products to review. However, around that time, the wearable technology category exploded and we started making more money than we ever imagined. Needless to say, I managed to turn my hobby into a business. We’ve been able to grow top line revenue to over $2.5 million dollars, we’ve hired ten full-time employees, and we recently moved the company’s headquarters to a new state-of-the-art 7,000 sq. ft office in Reno, Nevada. Today, our websites and YouTube channels attract over four million visitors per month combined.”
16. Sell your Photography
While being a photographer may seem like an active income business, it’s actually not. Photographers don’t only make money from taking photographs. They sell them too.
Stock image sites, magazines, and canvas printing for your clients are some of the ways you can make the big bucks in the photography biz. All you need is a great camera to get started.
But these days, you can even use your phone to take photos and sell them to make passive income You could even take high-quality product photos and market them to ecommerce businesses. All you need is a good product photography course, a smartphone, and some inspiration to get going.
Jacob Hakobyan makes passive income with his photography business Shotlife Studio. He shares, “Having profound business education and what some may consider as very stable office jobs, we felt that we had the potential to do more. Not financially, but spiritually. As a brother-sister-husband trio, we started Shotlife Studio simply because we all had a common love for photography, and there was an added thrill of leading a business of our own. With our CPA knowledge coming to aid, we prepared a clear strategy on the growth of the business and managed to double our profits from year to year, reaching a five-figure side income.“
17. Help Businesses Bring in Clients
Are you a savvy marketer or salesperson? If so, there are tons of businesses who will pay you referral fees for bringing them more business.
Real estate agents are always looking to help more people find a home they love. Freelancers, DJs, photographers, and other solopreneurs will often be willing to pay a referral bonus for finding them a client that signs a contract.
So if you love helping people make money, you can start building passive income through your connections. All it takes is a couple of emails or messages and you could earn passive income for very little effort.
18. Write an eBook
Ebooks exploded onto the scene in 2009 and 2010 and are still a hugely popular content medium. Even though they first became popular a few years ago, there’s still a pretty good chunk of people who make passive income from writing ebooks to this day.
Sure, it’s an insanely competitive market. But if your writing chops are stellar, you could find yourself with a decent slice of the profits. By creating how-to ebooks on popular niches and marketing them, you could build a fanbase of loyal readers.
Allie McCormick makes passive income by creating ebooks. She explains, “In 2016, when I was pregnant with my son, I started an Amazon Kindle Publishing side hustle to hopefully earn just $500/month by the time he was born so I could avoid going back to the office. While I didn’t quit working immediately, 18 months later I had a six-figure passive income business that enabled me to do so. Biggest win? This business still runs mostly on auto-pilot to this day. I work on it 1-2 hours weekly and take 3-4 weeks off at a time while still raking in the dough!”
19. Sell your Stuff
Looking to follow Marie Kondo’s advice and start decluttering your home? Well, you might want to turn that clutter into cold, hard cash. We all have those piles of boxes filled with stuff we haven’t thought about in years.
You can either hold onto the stuff for a chance to end up on an episode of Hoarders or you can sell it online to help you make passive income. You might have to dig deep, but you will find that you have some items that are worth some serious cash.
So if you don’t know where to start when it comes to passive income, your closet might be your best bet.
Nicholas Christensen, Founder of Lottery Critic, shares how he makes passive income selling family members’ stuff: “I am the ‘eBay whisperer.’ It started off with me volunteering to declutter my elderly aunt’s house. Over 60 years of stuff had to be sorted, dumped, donated or sold. I found a box with a huge doll inside. She turned out to be an antique Shirley Temple doll in pristine condition (had to Google it). I did my research, sold it on Ebay and split the proceeds with my cousin. Word got out to other family members and I had a nice side gig. It’s still ‘work’ and the extra cash is nice.”
20. Sell Digital Products
If you’re looking to create your own products instead of selling someone else’s, you can create digital products.
You can create a Shopify store to sell your digital products online. Digital products can include ebooks, online courses, PDFs, custom graphic designs, stock photos, or other digital goods.
Selling these products is the epitome of passive income, as the entire process can be automated on Shopify with instant downloads.
Kelan and Brittany Kline, the duo behind The Saavy Couple, tells us, “Last month we launched a Shopify store with a few digital products to sell to our readers. Specifically, we made The Budgeting Binder to help people learn how to organize their finances and start to budget. Since the launch, our shop has made us over $1,500 in sales and continues to grow each week. Since all of our products are digital this income is completely passive. As long as we continue to funnel readers to our shop we continue to get sales.”
21. Use Passive Income Apps
Passive income apps work exactly as they sound – you install them on your smartphone and perform a few actions to earn money. The actions can range from doing everyday activities such as watching videos to turning a small financial investment into a passive income stream. There are plenty of apps to start putting your mobile device and time to better use. Some good ones are listed below.
- Fundrise – Fundrise lets you invest in real estate projects with an initial minimum investment of $1,000. It comes with the option to take quarterly dividends, which serve as your passive income.
- InboxDollars – InboxDollars offers cashback for doing activities that you’re likely to do anyway, such as shopping, watching TV, and searching the web. The cashback and the $5 bonus for signing up are your passive income.
- Dosh – Dosh gives you the option to link your debit and credit cards to its system. When you pay for something using these cards, you earn passive income in the form of cashback.
22. Create an Audio Track
If you have some audio skills, why not put them to work? An audio track can be something as simple as a jingle or a podcast intro. Making audio tracks for other people’s use is a great way to earn extra cash, as people are constantly looking to brand themselves with the right sound.
You can license your tracks out on platforms like SoundCloud and Audiosocket if you want to create full songs and earn some passive income via royalties. All you need to do is research your audience and find out what kind of content is trending. From there, you can quickly start building your portfolio of tunes. You never know — it might transform into something bigger.
If you find your passion for creating audio, you can experiment with a wide range of different products, from intros and outros to full albums and mixing samples.
23. Rent Out Unused Space
Space is a valuable commodity that most of us don’t have enough of. Whether you’re currently only using your storage room part-time or having extra space in your home, there are tons of ways to create some extra income with that unused space. For instance, you can rent out storage spaces on sites like Neighbor.com, so people have an extra place to keep their belongings.
If you have room in your garage or even an extra parking space, you can rent these out simultaneously. If you’re booking a space for an event, and you don’t need it all the time, you can look into sites like ShareMySpace where you can advertise your available square footage to anyone who needs it.
Alternatively, you can offer employees and professionals without an office a great place to work comfortably. This way, you’ll earn passive income while the renters will get a comfortable work environment. It’s a win-win!
FAQs About Passive Income
- How can I generate passive income ideas?
You can generate passive income ideas in a myriad of ways. For instance, you could write down all the things that interest you and research how other people build businesses around these things. Another idea is to brainstorm how to solve a common problem you have and build it into a passive income idea.
- What passive income ideas can I start with little money?
There are many passive income ideas that you can start with little money. These include dropshipping, affiliate marketing, print-on-demand, and selling your unused things.
Passive income can really help elevate your earnings and fill in the gaps that your 9 to 5 job can’t fill on its own. If you’re looking to replace your 9 to 5 income so you can quit your job, the passive income ideas on this list can help you do that.
And it’s okay if you like your full-time gig too. The work that goes into earning passive income tends to be manageable when paired with a 9 to 5. So, yup, you can do both.
Whether you’re looking to start a dropshipping store, start your own agency, or create profitable content, you’ll find that there’s money to be made in all these areas. All you need to do is get started.
What are some passive income ideas?
23 Passive Income Ideas for 2021:
- Launch a dropshipping store
- Start a blog
- Create a course
- Run Instagram sponsored posts
- Open a Print on Demand store
- Build an app
- Invest in stocks
- Buy a property
- Become an Airbnb host
- Start a website
- Earn with affiliate marketing
- Sell your videos
- Flip a website
- Ask for company stocks
- Launch a YouTube channel
- Monetize your photos
- Bring clients to businesses
- Write an ebook
- Sell your unwanted stuff
- Create digital products
- Use passive income apps
- Create an audio track
- Rent out unused space
Which of these passive income ideas will you be trying out today? Comment below!
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