2) Find Out What You Are Good At. Everybody is good at something, be it investing, playing an instrument, playing a sport, communications, writing, art, dance and so forth. You should also list several things that interest you most. If you can combine your interest plus expertise, you should be able to monetize your skills. A tennis player can teach tennis for $65 an hour. A writer can pen her first novel. A finance buff can invest in stocks. A singer can record his first song. The more interests and skills you have, the higher chance you can create something that can provide passive income down the road.
There are a couple of problems with direct investment in real estate though. It’s expensive to buy even a single property, a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s no way most investors can build a portfolio of different property types and in different regions to protect from those risks when you have all your money in just one or two investments.
Amazon affiliate program is a great way to promote physical products through a reliable, trustworthy, and well-known online store. The fact that everyone knows Amazon is probably their biggest advantage. On the downside, commissions are fairly small - they start at 4% for most products and can go as high as 8% depending upon how many sales you make. However, when you send someone to Amazon, you earn a commission on whatever they buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, whether they end up buying the product you promoted or not. So, for example, if you promoted a book but the person you sent to Amazon ended up buying an expensive camera as well, you’ll get the commission for both the book and the camera. This can add up.
Do you think it’s possible to build a blog from scratch, outsourcing the work from day one (assuming I have some cash that can cover the initial expenses until the blog generates enough income to at least break even)? In other words, do you think you could you have spent your $500 max per month for the writer, social media expert, etc to build your blog to the point it’s earning the same amount of money it does now?
Question: You mention receiving $200k of passive income a year, but your chart shows half of that coming from real estate holdings, and reading between the lines it appears that you hold mortgages against those holdings. Then you conclude that $200k/yr of passive income should be enough to live comfortably anywhere in the world. So are you subtracting your real estate expenses (taxes, insurance, mortgage payments, maintenance, remote property management company fees, etc.) when you report your passive income from those properties? Really I think it’s the net (after taxes and everything) that tells us what is left over to “spend” on living, right? When I set up my spreadsheet to retire early at age 47, I calculated the after-tax income I would need to live. Then I compared that to my income streams (estimating tax on the taxable income streams) to measure the surplus/shortfall. Also some good advice from GoCurryCracker: If you can minimize your taxes so you’re in the 15% tax bracket, you can possibly receive tax-free long term capital gains. I agree with your philosophy that time is more important than money as we age. I am not sure I agree with a philosophy that is fixated on needing such a large income, and would rather minimize taxes if it’s all the same on the happiness meter. Furthermore, having 20 plus income sources in the name of diversification adds stress and requires more management (TIME!). I think this is fine for those of us while young, as we have the energy to work hard. But as time becomes more important, the extra headache of managing, planning, and buying/selling our assets becomes a resented hindrance on par with the resentment we felt when working for an employer and fighting traffic each day to go to a job we hated. Every thing we own in actuality owns us, by virtue of its demands on our time and affections, and that includes investments. It also includes our home, and is a good reason for downsizing. As long as we have food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our bodies, what more do we need? I think we need to consider freeing ourselves from the weight of the chains of managing too many ventures. Personally, I plan on investing in no more than 5 simultaneous ventures ever, with the exception of some IRAs that I just plan to let sit for the next 20 years (and therefore no thought or anxiety required).
Also, if you pursue an income stream like affiliate marketing, your blog can be a source of content that allows you to link to affiliate sites in a way that is seamless and natural. For example, if you are an affiliate marketer for a company that sells productivity tools, you can blog about your own struggles to stay on top of your to do list. Then, you can mention how much those tools have helped you.
Hey Alison! thanks for taking the time to check out the post! I specifically outlined the post so it would follow a specific structure. This is so readers know what to expect and it helps with the flow of the piece. I’ve actually just finished up a (shortened) PDF version of the post that includes a bonus idea not mentioned here. I’ll be adding this to the post shortly! You’re right on the ebook suggestion — could easily have been made into one. I noticed that you linked to it from the millionaire blog post, thank you so much. Kimberly and I really appreciate the mention.
Peer-to-peer lending ($1,440 a year): I've lost interest in P2P lending since returns started coming down. You would think that returns would start going up with a rise in interest rates, but I'm not really seeing this yet. Prosper missed its window for an initial public offering in 2015-16, and LendingClub is just chugging along. I hate it when people default on their debt obligations, which is why I haven't invested large sums of money in P2P. That said, I'm still earning a respectable 7% a year in P2P, which is much better than the stock market is doing so far in 2018!
Even if each patron only contributes a very small amount each month, it can still be a huge source of income. Take a look at the Patreon page for Kinda Funny, an internet video company. They have over 6,209 patrons which means an average of just $3 a month would be a monthly income of almost $19,000 – plus they get cheerleaders that are always happy to spread the word on their brand.
A month later, the direct deposit hit my account. The next month brought another. I found myself greatly motivated to keep learning real estate, to understand what some of the terminology meant and the different ways to invest. Now that there was some money on the line, I became more interested than ever. Next thing you know, I had invested nearly $100,000 in total in various crowdfunding ventures.
To your point about Municipal Bonds, my concern is tax reform. While everything is mostly being worked behind closed doors (and likely wont ever see the light of day). There is still the chance they propose to limit the amount of the tax free nature of these bonds. While I dont sen panic in the streets, I do see a scenario where bond prices get additional pressure because municipalities have to increase rates due to people putting their money to work elsewhere.
Hi Sam! I loved your sentence, “There’s so much information in my head that I need to write it down or else I might explode.” That’s exactly how I feel! I never thought of myself as a writer, and especially not a blogger, but recently I’ve started dabbling in it and it feels so nice to get everything out! I’m dedicated to helping others succeed with personal finances, and there are plenty of “how-to” sites, but it’s important to get people thinking and motivated to prepare, plan, and save!
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.
Amazon affiliate program is a great way to promote physical products through a reliable, trustworthy, and well-known online store. The fact that everyone knows Amazon is probably their biggest advantage. On the downside, commissions are fairly small - they start at 4% for most products and can go as high as 8% depending upon how many sales you make. However, when you send someone to Amazon, you earn a commission on whatever they buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, whether they end up buying the product you promoted or not. So, for example, if you promoted a book but the person you sent to Amazon ended up buying an expensive camera as well, you’ll get the commission for both the book and the camera. This can add up.
Thank for this extensive work. When you make extra money you need to think simple. First thing you should consider is whatever you do must be safe enough that you don’t lose your initial investment as well. Also, look at the ways you can reduce your costs. This could be car insurance savings or paying back expensive loans or card balances. Saving is making money as well.
One of the best ways to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts on their Dashboard so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.
Once your audience has grown and you have validation that you’re offering them value, there are many ways to create passive income. You could sell digital products like ebooks or courses, take up affiliate marketing in which you promote other company’s products and earn a commission when you sell that item to your audience, build a community and charge people to be a part of it, create software and sell that, among other avenues. Ask your audience directly what would serve them best, or look at what they’re saying on Twitter, Facebook or other websites, to find out what problems they have and how you could help solve them.
This is the basic mistake they've made: they've fallen prey to the belief that money and meaning are two totally separate things. They've chosen to make their money from something that feels completely meaningless to them (some business they care so little about, they just can't wait to get away from it and minimize their involvement as much as possible), which they hope will buy them the freedom to do something they actually care about.
I personally haven’t tried any of the below methods so I can't speak from experience to how they work. In my mind, the most lucrative way is through building a REAL business online and providing your visitors with great value. However, after some thought, I decided to include these here because, quite often, the biggest roadblock for many is a mental one: believing that making money online is possible. From my experience, once you have made your first dollar, or even your first cent online, the world is suddenly a different color.
There are many comments about it being impossible to break into real estate with little money, or needing help from the bank of mommy and daddy. It is possible. I bought my first property, a multifamily, 6 months after graduating college, with a garbage job I got 3 months before and barely 7k in the bank. It’s now two years later and I’ve purchased a second this summer. Regarding management, I self-manage like most ‘small time’ landlords. Unless you own a massive apartment buidling, there’s no need to professional managment. Like another comment mentioned, I’ve only ever gotten heating issues or other minor things, for which I have a handyman to take care of. Aside from that, it’s fairly passive IMO. Dividend investing doesn’t require 100k either. It’s just an example the author used. I invest un securities with dividends ranging from 2-12%, and hedge/balance according to risk. Higher dividend % isn’t always better, but there are some good deals you can find. I think the key is to realize that you don’t need to stick to just one form of passive investment. Sure, 10 properties sounds daunting, and a $1M portfolio seems impossible, but you can combine both, as well as other passive income strategies. And ofc, the more risk you are willing to take on, the higher the potential reward (and loss). I day/swing trade, but wouldn’t advise this. It’s also not passive, I spend a massive amount of time researching and analyzing the technicals, but it’s worth it for now, as I’m fairly consistnet with profits. I have not tried blogging, and am not sure I’d be any good at it. I dabbled in ecommerce but found it was too time consuimg, but I know people who were able to quit their 9-5s from ecommerce. I’m sure no matter how much debt you have (i have 30k unsecured debt) or how little you think you make, there is a way to start investing today, even if it’s starting small.
“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”
What I find most interesting is the fact that I had never considered options like LendingTree or realityshares for other income sources. Investing in property has been too much of bad luck for people that I know personally, so I am interesting in getting involved in a situation where I would have to be dealing with maintenance issues or tenants. There are services for you to do that, but I had not come across any that didn’t eat most if not all of the earnings. Then again, I live in the NY area. Investing in the midwest would not be reasonably possible for me, directly, but reading about realityshares is something I am going to look into further. That might be a real possibility.
Awesome article…if this does not give somebody a clear roadmap, they probably were never going to get there in the first place! I’m kind of like you trying to figure out where to place “new” money and maturing CD’s in this low interest environment. Rates have to go up eventually…I dream of the days again where you can build a laddered bond portfolio paying 8%. I plan for a 5.5% blended rate of return, with big downside protection.
Now, if you choose to deliver part or all of your course in video format, you can use professional video hosting sites like Wistia or Vimeo. Beside giving you the option of removing the hosting company’s logo, these services also provide analytics which can show you how effective your video is at holding your audience’s attention. Alternatively, you can use litmos, a learning management system that enables you to create an online course with your own branding, domain name, and landing page. There is no percentage cut taken from your revenue like Udemy. Instead there is a monthly fee for their service.
This one may seem simple, but that’s only because it is. If you were to move your savings from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank with a low-interest rate and into a high-yield savings account online, over time you can make a surprising amount of extra cash. Online banks are FDIC-insured just like the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, so your money is just as safe.
Notes are loans against properties that can also be used to create passive income. Most people assume the bank or mortgage company they get a loan with, keeps that loan. Most notes are sold to investors, usually as mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Some notes are sold to individual investors as either performing or non-performing. Performing notes mean the borrowers are making payments and non-performing meant the borrowers are behind or have stopped making payments. When you buy a note, you become the bank and start collecting payments every month. There is a lot of money to be made with performing and no performing notes and they are a great way to create passive income.
One of the most appealing options, particularly for millennials, would be #12 on your list (create a Blog/Youtube channel). The videos can be about anything that interests you, from your daily makeup routine (with affiliate links to the products you use), recipes (what you eat each day) or as you mention, instructional videos (again with affiliate links to the products you use). Once you gain a large following and viewership, you can earn via Adsense on YouTube.
The more residual income you can build, the better off you’ll be. In fact, it’s said that the average millionaire has 7 different streams of income. By creating passive income streams that generate money while you sleep, you’ll build wealth faster and diversify the ways you’re able to make money – which helps protect you from the loss of any one individual income stream.
Who doesn’t like some down and dirty affiliate fees?!  Especially if you realize it can be even easier to make money this way than with an ebook.  After all, you simply need to concentrate on pumping out some content for your own site and getting the traffic in, often via Google or social media.  Unsurprisingly, most people can enjoy their first affiliate sale within 30 days of starting a blog.  Continue reading >
Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
I just wanted to say how nice it is to see such a positive exchange between strangers on the Internet. Seriously, not only was this article (list) motivating and well-drafted, the tiny little community of readers truly were a pleasant crescendo I found to be the cause of an inward smile. Thank you, everyone, and good luck to you all with your passive income efforts!! 🙂
Quick story: Remember that $1.18 I found in the couch? Even when that increased to $30 to $50 a day, it still wasn’t enough to live on. So I looked for other options. In August 2008, after people started to know who I was and how I could help them pass the LEED certification exam through my blog, I wrote an ebook. It included all the information I knew about passing this exam, and I sold it on my blog for $19.95.
Perhaps a coworker purposefully tries to make your life miserable because they resent your success. Maybe you get passed over for a promotion and a raise because you weren’t vocal enough about your abilities, and mistakenly thought you worked in a meritocracy. Or maybe you have a new boss who decides to clean house and hire her own people. Whatever the case may be, you will eventually tire.
In which socio-economic neighborhoods do you want to buy? I know real estate investors that have done very well buying and renting in lower-income neighborhoods. For me, it was a huge mistake. I fell into the trap of thinking, “I can buy a house for about half the cost as what I would pay in a better neighborhood.Even if I get slightly lower rent, say 70% as much, I’m still making a higher return.”Wrong!The money you lose on tenant turnover, unpaid rent and repairs far outweighs any benefit to buying property at a discount. Now, I always recommend to investors to never buy a house somewhere they wouldn’t want to live. If the business does poorly, you may end up living in one of your homes.
You don’t have to invest individually to take advantage of dividend paying stocks (i.e. investing in an ETF like DVY, which currently has a 3.16% dividend yield – almost 4%). And while your math is indeed correct, there is more to dividend paying stocks that just the math. The reason the companies pay dividends is typically because of their underlying strength, steady growth, etc. These companies can be good investments for the long run. As such, it might not make sense to sell.
One of the most appealing options, particularly for millennials, would be #12 on your list (create a Blog/Youtube channel). The videos can be about anything that interests you, from your daily makeup routine (with affiliate links to the products you use), recipes (what you eat each day) or as you mention, instructional videos (again with affiliate links to the products you use). Once you gain a large following and viewership, you can earn via Adsense on YouTube.
Hi, it’s probably been brought up before, but the statement “you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5” is incorrect. You can touch the traditional 401k accounts with a SEPP (substantially equal payment plan), and not pay the 10 percent penalty. You can also touch a Roth without the 10 penalty using the same strategy, although I understand you will pay taxes so you lose the Roth’s advantage. When I found this out, I stopped contributing to Roths because I wanted to retire early. Who knows if they will even live to age 59.5? So many people don’t!
There are a couple of problems with direct investment in real estate though. It’s expensive to buy even a single property, a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s no way most investors can build a portfolio of different property types and in different regions to protect from those risks when you have all your money in just one or two investments.
The terms on private money loans can also vary from very short (a couple of months or even weeks) to years. Once the money is loaned to an investor the passive income will come in as long as the investor can meet their obligations. The work with private money lending comes in the beginning when choosing a private money lender and if the loan ever goes into default.
And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.

Some good writing here! I am a realtor myself and frequently get in touch with clients that consider buying a realty estate a conservative of investing. I once heard of a transport company in Vienna, Austria, which focused their entire profit on buying eventually every house available in the downtown for about 80 years. That must be some of a passive income!

To your point about Municipal Bonds, my concern is tax reform. While everything is mostly being worked behind closed doors (and likely wont ever see the light of day). There is still the chance they propose to limit the amount of the tax free nature of these bonds. While I dont sen panic in the streets, I do see a scenario where bond prices get additional pressure because municipalities have to increase rates due to people putting their money to work elsewhere.
One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. If you sign up and link up an investment account with $1,000+ within 40 days, you get a $20 Amazon gift card. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.
I actually spent a year and a half working as an affiliate marketer (mostly selling drumming related products – lessons, kits ect). 5 years on and one of my one page sites (which I’ve not touched) still nets me about $150 a month. I won’t be retiring off that but only really now appreciate the reverse pyramid approach to entrepreneurship (working for nothing initially but later being paid without effort!)

There is a big misconception about rentals & people thinking that it’s passive.. rental income is far from passive. Many people flock to buy rentals as a way to “retire rich” but realize shortly thereafter that it really isn’t that easy or true.. Ask me how i know. I have bought a lot of houses from tired and burnout landlords. Luckily, there are better options out there.


Yes, good point about not blatantly copying other people’s hard work. I should have said in my original post that I would NEVER do that. I have eight years’ of University education behind me which resulted in three degrees, including a Masters. If I learned one thing at college, it is that plagiarism is, as you say, SO not cool. Not the done thing. I plan to give full attribution to the originating author and paste a link to their website on my website so my subscribers can follow up the data with the source if they choose to.
Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest, having emerged onto the scene just within the last few years. Most people have heard of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and a very similar concept exists for real estate. Developers are always looking to raise capital to fund their projects. Through the various online platforms, investors have access to these projects and can choose to invest in both residential and commercial properties. See the List of My Favorite Crowdfunding Sites. https://www.listenmoneymatters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/buy-online-business.jpg

The term “selling” probably doesn’t need much explanation, but it’s where value is transfered one time in exchange for money. Heart surgery, baguettes, and designer jeans are all ways to sell value. This one would probably the least optimal of all, at least for passive income, if it weren’t for an exception. This is because once you sell a normal commodity or service, you can’t re-sell it. Here’s the exception to this: software or digital goods can be duplicated with a very low marginal cost(now that we don’t use CDs, you can duplicate it with a cost of $0.00), and therefore, technically can be “sold” advantageously over and over and over again. This is why Microsoft grew to such a profitable company, and why I love selling digital goods.
Use your base to build your audience, and when you’re starting out, take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a big following to give more personalized help to your first fans. “The people who are starting out — that’s their advantage,” says Flynn. “They have the opportunity to speak directly with those people few coming their way to find out what their problems are and give them the special treatment that bigger brands might not be able to do.”
In February 2007, Pat Flynn was working at an architecture firm making $38,000 a year. He mulled boosting his earning power by getting an architecture license, but the process would likely take six to eight years. When he heard about getting a credential in sustainable design and environmentally friendly building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), he decided to go for that, as no one in his department had it. The one problem? The exam was so challenging, just one-third of test-takers passed.

What I’m doing: I view passive income as funny money to keep myself sane during this long journey. I estimate 2-10 years to get to my goal depending on how active I am. The dollars created are just points one can accumulate. I’ve made passive income goals for each passive income type and check in at least once a year like I am now to make sure I’m on track. Passive income is also carefully managed to minimize tax liability. When you can build a buffer for a buffer, you are then free to take more risks.
This is such a fabulous piece. Thank you for your amazing efforts here. I was wondering -any initial thoughts on what one would charge an employer to post a job (for the idea about creating a site to help people with their resumes, etc)? I need to research for sure but was curious if anyone has any ideas on this. I have a background in the corporate world in management and recruiting and have been tossing this idea around for a while but am stuck. Thank you!
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