Now, how do you do it? Building a passive income will require some work up front, but choosing a method that plays to your strengths will yield the most success, and it can even become a fun hobby! Have an aptitude for photography? License your photos to stock photography websites. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to invest? Learn how with a robo-advisor. No matter what your strengths are, we’ve gathered 35 ideas for different ways you can generate passive income and build your wealth.
When a taxpayer records a loss on a passive activity, only passive activity profits can have their deductions offset instead of the income as a whole. It would be considered prudent for a person to ensure all the passive activities were classified that way so they can make the most of the tax deduction. These deductions are allocated for the next tax year and are applied in a reasonable manner that takes into account the next year's earnings or losses.
Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.
Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, which is launching from Penguin/Portfolio in September. It’s a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital at any age. Michael sends manifestos, recommendations, tips, and other exclusive content to his private email list, which you can join at www.ellsberg.com. Connect with him on Twitter @MichaelEllsberg and on Facebook.
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).
Be aware that before your passive income stream can start making money, you have to spend many hours creating it, including building the website itself. You must also monitor your sales to see if you must make changes, take steps to ensure that your website appears near the top of the results page of search engines, and periodically add new content to keep visitors coming back.
Passive income is a great tool for building retirement income faster, paying off debts, and, ultimately, retiring early and comfortably. If you have passive income during your retirement years, you potentially could live as well as you did during your peak earning years. Passive income is money you earn without doing actual labor. Often times, it comes from investments, such as in rental properties, stocks, bonds, annuities, and other investments.
If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).
​If you pay your bills with a credit card make sure it offers cash back rewards. You can let your rewards accrue for a while and possibly put the easy money you earned toward another passive income venture! (Be sure that the card you select doesn’t have an annual fee or you might be cancelling out your rewards). Check out this list of the best Cashback Rewards Cards.
Consider refinancing your mortgage if you haven’t done so in a while before interest rates go up further. Or consider leveraging cheap money responsibly to acquire hard assets. LendingTree Mortgage has one of the largest lending networks online, and they will contact you immediately with their offers. You want lenders competing for your business, and get hard quotes so you can pit them against each other.
So, armed with my real estate license and this desire to help physicians (and create a business at the same time), I started a real estate company called Curbside Real Estate. My goal was to help physicians buy and sell homes by connecting them to trusted realtors and lenders. It started organically, largely through word of mouth. Next thing you know, I was helping doctors from coast to coast. The business was great and I felt I was making an impact helping physicians, but I still wanted to own my own real estate investment properties.

Bravo! Dr. Kim on your courage and innovation and honesty! Medicine has changed from what we knew or thought as kids and continues to change. It requires a constant reassessment to align with our values and dreams. I have seen Robert Kiyosaki speak and tell me I am in the worst tax quadrant which motivated me to join a mastermind group and stretch my mindset on who I am and what is possible. Your blog keeps me heading toward a direction that excites me and balances the intensity of medicine and improves my life. Thank you.


Real estate has another perk: Tax law in the US (and most countries) has been written by landowners. There are some ridiculous loopholes, like the ability to deduct expenses (and maybe even some interest) as a cost of doing business. Also, you can sell the property and buy another one without paying taxes. I won’t go into detail here, but Real Estate is my favorite form of passive income, and it makes up over 50% of my portfolio. See the next section for a breakdown.

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?
Bryan said, "People who have become very wealthy through business have gotten very good at leveraging their time in their pursuit of creating value. They've done that by first creating value, and then automating the process of creating value, so they can scale and provide even more value to more and more people. But it starts with the fact that they already understand how to create value. They understand it so well, that they're able to create that value and then automate and scale the process of creating more of it.
One of the great things about generating passive income via rental properties is the ability to buy properties throughout the country instead of just in your generally locality. Because you will hire others to manage, maintain, and repair the property, you don’t have to be in the same location and can maintain passive ownership from virtually anywhere. That gives you the ability to better choose rental markets where you stand the best chance of profiting the most due to lower local and state property and business taxes.
So many people are seeking lucrative ways to earn income passively, and default to investment properties to do so. Unfortunately, there is a lot of effort that goes into starting a rental property business, especially if you choose to manage your property on your own rather than employ a property management company. That is, however, not to take away from the positive cash flow that is possible from real estate investment if done properly. Thanks again for sharing the realities behind earning “passive” income through your rental properties.
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.

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.
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
Courses are similar to guides but they’re easier to produce for some subjects, especially tech subjects. If you’ve got a computer, a decent microphone and some screen recording software, it’s pretty easy to create high quality courses. You can sell your course through your own site or you can use a marketplace like Udemy to do all the heavy lifting. 
I have already come up with 50 ways that a management company can screw you for profit without you ever knowing(or not finding out for awhile). Did you have an inspection before you made an offer on the property? Do you have a picture of the property you bought? How do you know if that picture shows the house you actually own? or if it even hows the ‘current’ state of the house you own?
So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.
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!
As for me, I started focusing on passive income last year, but have owned rentals for 5 years. $25k now outside retirement accounts in mostly real estate. Looking to invest another $500k cash into real estate to get about $65k, and then 1031 under performers next year to hopefully boost that a bit higher. Heavy in real estate, but feels lower risk than the stock market to me if you have cashflowing properties. Real estate is inflation adjusted, and built in cashflow raise when the loan pays off.

Do you have stuff in your basement, attic or garage that's collecting dust? If you do, pack up the SUV or car and kids and go to a flea market. You could make a couple of hundred, even thousands, of dollars, depending on what you're selling. You'll want to go to flea markets every weekend or at least every other weekend. Make an event out of it, and show your kids how easy it is to earn money selling their stuff.
Revenue sharing sites give you the opportunity to earn money online without having a website or a product to sell. If writing is your hobby, for example, then you can earn extra income by writing high quality articles and submit them to different locations on revenue sharing sites. I must admit I’ve never tried it, but I wanted to get it out as it can be a viable option to get started with.
2. Focus on income-producing assets. Internet growth stocks may be sexy, but they provide no income. To build a large enough passive-income stream to survive, you must invest in dividend-generating stocks, certificates of deposit, municipal bonds, government Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, and real estate. You're free to invest in non-income-producing assets for capital appreciation too. You just want to earn reliable income when the day comes to leave your job.

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The great part about creating truly passive income is the money comes in every month without you having to sell your investment or worry about running out of money when you retire. The returns are also better for me with rental properties, because my cash flow is producing about a 20 percent cash on cash return and that does not even include equity pay down on my loans or appreciation. The appreciation on my rental properties is a bonus for me, while stock market investors are depending on it.
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