“If you want to be rich, you need to develop your vision. You must be standing on the edge of time gazing into the future.” — Robert T. Kiyosaki
Passive income is the holy grail of income generation, allowing you to earn money on autopilot, without sacrificing any additional time to produce those funds. And, time, as we all know, is life’s greatest equalizer. No human being on earth, no matter their race, gender, creed, color of their skin, religious beliefs, net worth, occupation or geographic location, has more time than the next human being. We all have the same amount of time in a day. 24 hours. That’s it.
However, not all of us use the time that we have wisely. In fact, we often squander it. We waste time with trivial pursuits, enthralled in things that don’t help to advance us towards our goals, or steeped in one bad habit after another, wallowing in self-pity and lamenting that there simply isn’t enough time in the day. In fact, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they use their time.
Yet, there’s a level of determination that sets in when we truly want something badly enough. It allows us to supersede the realms of so-called impossibility, able to wield and manipulate the precious seconds, minutes and hours we do have in a day rather than squandering it. But that’s also why passive income is so important. Because we all have the same amount of time in a day, we can only earn so much money when we’re solely engaged in active-income-related endeavors. But we also know that producing any reasonable amount of passive income is monumentally difficult.
If you’ve landed here, then you likely already know that generating passive income online is a behemoth to those that have mastered the art of marketing on the internet. Yet, to most, it also feels very much like a pipe dream. With so many supposed experts championing the next best thing when it comes to earning “millions while you sleep,” where are we supposed to turn to come up with the best ideas for generating hefty amounts of passive income online?
Well, first, you shouldn’t buy into the hype. Don’t allow these network marketers to sell you this so-called dream. It doesn’t quite work that way. You won’t get rich by sending out emails or “driving traffic” to some squeeze page. It will be nominal at best, and when you set your hopes high, you’ll end up getting discouraged like the others. In order to “truly make it” as an internet marketer, you need a huge following. We’re talking tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of email subscribers. Yes, that many.
And, there’s no way to build up a base of subscribers like that unless you’ve been doing this for years and years. The unfortunate truth is that they profit off of your naivety. If you don’t want to have your hopes shattered, realize that you’re in this for the long haul. If you want an eventual life of leisure, able to roam the planet as a digital nomad and make absurd amounts of money online, you have to put in the sweat equity.
Yes, we’re talking years here. Not months.
Best Online Passive Income Ideas
Okay, so if I haven’t discouraged you yet, and you’re still reading, then congrats. You’re likely one of the few that will see things through when it comes to setting up passive income streams. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. It’ll require a tremendous amount of your time and energy on the front end in order to enjoy the benefits of reaping years of income on autopilot. The best part? Passive income is addictive. Once you have one stream online, you’ll search for more.
And after years and years of doing this, I’ve taken advantage of some of the best methods for producing passive income. Each of them entailed a tremendous amount of work, but they were all worth it. If you think you have what it takes, then here are some of the best ideas for generating passive income over time. Just be sure that you set the right expectations and you don’t get discouraged along the way. A little bit of action each and every day towards your goals adds up over time.
#1 — Create a Niche Blog
One of the best passive income ideas you can leverage is to create a niche blog. By creating a niche blog and building out the content, you can effectively drive thousands upon thousands of actively-engaged visitors each and every single day to your site, allowing you to build a large podium and audience to market to.
However, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t easy by any means. It will take you years to do this effectively. And I’m not talking about slapping something together casually and crossing your fingers. I’m talking about 80 to 100 hours of work per week to build something notable. Yes, that much.
But, is it worth it? Absolutely it is. Niche blogs can command vast audiences, and thus opening the opportunity to several passive income streams as you might see fit. Should you decide to sell anything to that audience, you can market a wide array of products, services and information to them. But be wary of what you promote so as not to lose their trust.
You can also install ads on your niche blog, if you so choose to. However, don’t count on getting any considerable amount of money unless you have at least tens of thousands of visitors per day. Real Adsense cash and other marketing dollars will flow in once you’ve surpassed the 100-thousand-visitors-per-day mark.
#2 — Write an Ebook
Another idea for generating passive income is to write an ebook. If you’re an expert in a certain area or topic, especially if it’s highly technical by nature, why not write an ebook about it? You might not get rich by writing one ebook, but they certainly do add up if you write several or more.
Still, you can expect to make a few hundred dollars to a few thousands dollars per month with one ebook depending on how good it is. The more value that you can add through that ebook, the more likely it’s going to be successful. Focus on value here and not on how to do the least amount of work for the greatest return if you actually want to succeed with this.
The best resource for publishing your ebook would be through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Clearly, Amazon is the leader when it comes to digital book sales. However, be sure that you do the proper research before trying to publish an ebook and ensure that your topic has a big audience, but that it’s not too big. You don’t want to get lost in the fray.
Considering that I have over three dozen ebooks out there, I could likely dedicate an entire post to writing, publishing and marketing an ebook, but I’ll have to save that for a future post, as I know that so many of you have written to me about publishing and ebook sales to try to get some insight. I’ll definitely offer up a thorough guide at a later date.
#3 — Produce an Audiobook
I’m an earnest believer in the power of audiobooks. In fact, with the rise of streaming mobile technologies, audiobooks have gained significantly in popularity. It’s easy to stream any audiobook now from virtually anywhere in the world. And now that the ebook market has been fairly saturated, many people are turning to audiobooks
However, creating an audiobook of some worth can seem difficult. What works best here is to take a digital book and convert it into an audiobook. While you could go directly to an audiobook, it’s better to flesh things out in the digital-book realm, get the cover designed and create all the descriptions, then port everything to audio.
With KDP, you can do this simply. After you publish the book, all you need to do is signup to ACX, which is Amazon’s audiobook publishing arm. ACX is the best distribution channel for your audiobooks because, not only will it appear on Audible’s website, but it will also show up in the iTunes store automatically.
Keep in mind, however, that to publish on ACX, you need to be a US resident or business. If not, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to do this. And while there are a lot of considerations for creating a popular audiobook, this is definitely a great passive income stream that will keep going for years and years after you’ve done all the work.
#4 — Create an Online Course
Another great idea for generating passive income is to create an online course. What can you teach others that would help them to improve in critical areas of their lives? Do you have technical skills that you’d be great at relaying? Do you have skills in the areas of web development, graphic design, finance, accounting, legal, marketing or any other field?
The best way to determine whether an idea will fly when it comes to building an online course is to first research other popular courses on a site like Udemy. How many students do the courses have and just how many reviews are there? It’s easy to separate the super popular courses from the rest of the flock.
Do your due diligence and sign up to other relevant courses that you might find on that site or any other site out there. Go through those courses and build a curriculum that makes sense for your own course. Ensure that you take the time to do this the right way and that you don’t just try to slap something together. Remember, this is years and years worth of potential passive income here, so invest the right amount of time into this.
I’ve easily spent thousands of hours creating courses on sites like Udemy, so by no means is it easy. However, if you take the time to add an enormous amount of value, people will remember and appreciate you for it, and it will succeed over time. It isn’t easy by any means, but it is most certainly worth it.
#5 — Build an App
Building an app today is likened to creating a website back in the day. Nearly everyone is building an app. Everyone. For that reason, there are droves of developers that could help you create the right app. But be prepared to invest time and energy into this project, not only on the conceptualization and development of it, but also on the marketing side.
Today, it isn’t enough to just build an app and expect to make millions of dollars from it. Since everyone is doing it, you’ll need to ensure you not only build something great, but that you can also get the proverbial word out. You can make money online with apps today, but it’s definitely harder than it once was, so be sure to set your expectations the right way.
To start the process, you should signup for an iTunes Connect account, which will allow you to publish your apps on the iTunes store. Of course, this is for iOS devices, and if you’re looking to build apps for Android, you’ll have to use the Google Play store and sign up there.
Wherever you decide to publish your app, be sure to put the right amount of time into its conceptualization, graphics and functionality. Be sure that it’s the best possible app that you could create, that it’s simple, easy to use and delivers a significant amount of either entertainment or informational value to consumers.
#6 — Make YouTube Video Tutorials
You aren’t going to get rich overnight by creating YouTube video tutorials, but there’s a lot that you can do with YouTube videos to generate passive income online. The first thing that people think about when it comes to YouTube videos are the Adsense revenue streams. However, don’t get your hopes up unless you expect to have millions of views for that video.
The problem? Adsense revenues are generally quite low and sincerely depend on just how many people view that video. We’re not talking about thousands of views here; we’re seriously speaking about hundreds of thousands and millions of views before you generate any noteworthy passive income.
However, you could also use your YouTube videos to help you generate passive income in a number of other areas. Since YouTube videos generally rank very high and since it’s the world’s second most popular search engine behind Google, you could use your YouTube videos to market any other products that you have to sell.
For example, let’s say you developed a course on Udemy. You could use those YouTube videos to help teach a few tasks for free and then promote your courses during or at the end of your videos. You could also use it to create product reviews and use affiliate links to sell products as well. The limitations are endless when it comes to YouTube.
#7 — Sell Photos on Stock Photography Websites
Another idea for generating passive income online is to sell stock photography on some of the most popular sites such as Shutterstock or iStockPhoto. There are numerous sites where you can sell your photos online, and it’s entirely up to you which resource you end up choosing.
However, you clearly need some photography skills behind you if you want to succeed in this endeavor. It will also be helpful if you’re really good at editing photos with a program like Photoshop CC, if you really want to create photos that will wow others and sell more effortlessly.
You’ll also need to ensure you have a great camera and really understand the ins-and-outs of taking great quality photos. You could, in fact, sign up to a course on Udemy where you can learn photography. Afterwards, once you’ve mastered it, not only can you sell your stock photos online, but you could create your own course teaching people how they could do it on their own.
You should also decide on a particular format that you’re interested in such as portrait photography, landscape photography, lifestyle photography, or any other number that you could choose from.
#8 — Create Printable On-Demand Merchandise
Interested in creating your own printable on-demand merchandise that you can sell online? In fact, you never actually have to stock or warehouse that merchandise yourself. You can use a number of different websites to assist you in building out a complete store of on-demand products that you can then market through any number of channels.
There are numerous sites dedicated to doing just this. For example, you could use a website like CafePress where you can sell anything from t-shirts and clothing, to prints and cards, mugs and ceramics, kids and baby clothes, or even home decor. All you have to do is create uniquely appealing designs and market them to the right people.
Another site for doing something similar to this is Zazzle. Here, you can also sell numerous types of merchandise without worrying about the hassle of fulfilling any of the orders or dealing with customer service issues as they arise. All you have to focus on is the creative process and ensuring that you drive traffic and get sales.
With either of these sites, along with numerous others that exist and might exist in the future, you’ll also receive things like promotional tools and the ability to ship products worldwide without ever actually having to physically make or store a product ever. This is definitely a low-cost way to generate some passive income without all the hassles of running an online store.
#9 — Sell Digital Products Through Etsy
Another way for generating income passively online is to create digital-only products through Etsy, which is by far one of the largest resources for selling arts, crafts and other collectibles online. What type of digital-only products could you sell on Etsy? Think about printable framed graphics for nurseries or motivational pictures for home offices.
In fact, any type of digital artwork could be sold on Etsy. If you end up taking up photography, or you’re an aspiring photographer or professional one, you could also sell your photos through Etsy as digital downloads. From vintage artwork to photography and motivational prints, you could sell any number of style of digital-only products through Etsy.
This doesn’t involve shipping any products, and would remove many of the same barriers that you would find on sites like CafePress and Zazzle, except that you don’t need to print your artwork on any physical merchandise. Customers simply purchase, download and print in the comfort of their own homes.
With Etsy, just like with any other resource online, you need to be able to drive the traffic to your items. If you can do that, and you create genuinely appealing products that appeal to a niche audience, then you’ll likely succeed with generating passive income through a store like Etsy.
#10 — Initiate Email Marketing with Drip-Fed Campaigns
To engage in email marketing, you need a list. You’ve likely heard the saying before that the money is in the list, but it’s not just through any list. You need to ensure that your list includes people that are actively interested in what you have to say and actually opted into your list. In order to do that, you need a way to generate those email signups.
In short, you need a blog to drive traffic to great content that will then capture email subscribers along the way. To do that, you’ll also need to create some type of free offer that you can give away. Whether it’s a report or an ebook or something else, you need to come up with something that will add value to the lives of others if you want to capture those all-important email addresses.
Once you have those subscribers, you have to treat them the right way. You can’t spam them every single day. You should setup a drip-fed campaign that will automatically market and communicate with them based on a pre-configured schedule that goes by the number of days after signup.
During that communication, you could sell any number of things through that drip-fed campaign, but the important thing to do here is to connect with your subscribers. Tell stories and engage with them, giving them some transparency into your life and who you are. Then, and only then, should you try to sell to them.
#11 — Engage in Affiliate Marketing
For most people, affiliate marketing might come at the top of a list on ideas for generating passive income. But not for me. Although I believe in affiliate marketing, I think that some people have given it a bad name by trying to overly-promote and spam products and services.
Clearly, I’m not talking about network marketing or pyramid schemes here. I’m talking about genuine affiliate marketing of products and services that you stand behind and believe in. These things need to add value to the lives of people, otherwise you’re wasting your time trying to promote them.
The problem? If you’re serious about making passive income online through affiliate marketing, you need an audience. And to get an audience, you need a popular online destination where people can congregate and read your thoughts or listen to your advice, something that’s not easy to achieve.
To get really good at this, you have to refer back to the first passive income idea on this list about building a niche blog. You also need to understand a thing or two about SEO. You don’t need to be a grand master, but you do need to address the basic fundamentals and be sure that you’re doing things the right way.
#12 — Build a Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) Business
Another passive income idea is to create a fulfilled-by-Amazon business, also known as an FBA business. An FBA business gives you access to the entire Amazon marketplace and allows you to drop-ship items directly through the world’s largest retailer. However, this isn’t as easy as it seems and it’s not entirely 100% passive.
To build an FBA business and generate passive income, you first need to come up with the right products to sell online. Once you find the hottest selling items, all you need to do is source those items yourself and come up with a better product that you can sell at a better price than your competitors.
You can source products through wholesale sites like Alibaba, or you can go directly to manufacturers with your designs and build things from scratch, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have experience in the manufacturing industry. For importing your items, you could either fly directly to another company to view production and product lineups, or you could simply turn to Alibaba to assist with that.
Once you’ve been approved and sent your products to Amazon, simply sit back and allow them to be sold. You never have to deal with fulfillment, shipping or customers service whatsoever. All you need to do is get your products to Amazon and collect your payments. This is mostly passive, but does involve some input of your time along the way once things have been configure.