Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
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?
While all the ideas in this article can and do work, you can’t go in half cocked. Just putting up a niche website and expecting people to magically come and click on your ads won’t get you very far. Instead, you’ll need to put work into building an audience. You can put a course up on Udemy in a few hours, or a theme on ThemeForest, but unless you market it, you won’t sell very many copies. 
Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”
As we’ll discuss, passive income opportunities are usually limited-time only, and honestly, over half of what you try won’t work. Diversification is your friend. Having many sources of income — at least 7 including your “day job” — is an important hedging strategy. Personally, I have been working at it for a long time, and I’ve had many failures in trying to build my portfolio. I’ve done a few apps for BlackBerry (come on, it was 2009), contemplated writing a book, started a bunch of blogs and forums, and joined countless affiliate programs. Here are the ones that are currently working right now.

Investing is arguably the easiest way to make passive income.  The problem is most investments sound good in theory but don’t work out so well in practice.  And if you don’t have much experience or access to capital, let alone the time to work it all out, it can seem more or less impossible.  However, there is one smart way to invest that just might work.  Continue reading >


Many people choose not to take this route because they get intimidated by complex applications and technology. The truth, however, is that you don’t need a fancy platform or special software to create a powerful online course. Your lessons can be sent out as emails, followed by action plans and/or video tutorials. This approach can be even more effective as most people check their email on daily basis. In fact, that’s the exact approach I took with some of my freedom eCourses.
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).

Though it requires a huge up-front investment (well, at least 20%), real estate is awesome, because it’s (usually) pretty stable, and it’s a triple-whammy: you make money by leveraging a bank’s money, you can rent it out with almost no work at all day-to-day, and the value of the underlying asset INCREASES. This is why so many people flock to AirBNB to rent out their apartments when they’re going on vacation, too. It’s pretty passive, you don’t have to own the asset, and you just hand over keys and hire a cleaner before/after. The value of your apartment is untouched. By contrast, imagine buying a plane and renting it out to people for tours — you pay tons of money to maintain it, and after 20 years, it’s value is almost nothing. The exception is if you can manage depreciation and somewhat automate the value-delivery. If you have an expensive tool (like a 3D printer) and charge people to come over to your house and print things on your 3D printer, it’s pretty passive for you to answer emails and open the door, so I give it a “Semi to yes” for passivity.

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.
Money from dividends, for example, are taxed at a lower rate than money from a job. A business owner who works in the company she or he founded would have to pay more self-employment payroll taxes compared to someone who merely had a passive interest in the same limited liability company who would pay only income taxes. In other words, the same income earned actively would be taxed at a higher rate than if it were earned passively.
Nonpassive: Businesses in which the taxpayer materially participates. Also, salaries, guaranteed payments, 1099 commission income and portfolio or investment income are deemed to be nonpassive. Portfolio income includes interest income, dividends, royalties, gains and losses on stocks, pensions, lottery winnings, and any other property held for investment
Get paid to take surveys at home by signing up with one or more survey websites. All you do is answer questions and voilà, you get paid. Another way to earn extra income is to participate in focus groups. Companies hire focus groups as a way to test out a new product before it hits the market. Why? Because they need to make sure it will make money; they want a high return on their investment. Surveys and focus groups may not make you a millionaire overnight, but you can earn hundreds of dollars each month by giving your opinion on products and services.

While it is important to find something that you love to do and turn it into a money making business, you do have to be cognizant of the return as you pointed out. There are many opportunities that I found and tried out that at the time seemed great. But when I took a step back, I realized that I was working a lot for very little income whereas other things I love doing brought in much more money.
As todays business world becomes more and more web focused, creating passive income streams online should be one of your main focuses when building a business in the new economy – whether you’re doing this on your own, or with the help of virtual assistants that manage your blog, or even handle the marketing of your site – you’ve got to love making money while you sleep!
Absolutely Federico. I still invest in real estate but no longer carry the misconceptions that it’s passive income. Fortunately, I’ve held my real estate properties long enough that they cash flow even after paying for management but it was a lot of work in the beginning. Real estate is a great investment but passive income investors should look to REITs and other investments rather than direct investment.
If someone stole my hard work and passed it off as their own, I’d be livid and would pursue them to the ends of the Earth for full restitution. A man I hired to work with me registered my preferred domain name of my business and has re-registered it in subsequent years. That’s bad enough; I’m mad as hell. The worst aspect of his behaviour is that I don’t know WHY he has done that; I paid him the fee we had agreed on and thanked him for his input. We also got along perfectly well during the project so far as I know, so I don’t see what his problem is.
I also noticed that in your passive income chart at the bottom that you don’t include your internet income other than sales from your book. Is there a reason for that? Do you not consider is passive because you are actively blogging all the time to create it? Or do you just not want readers to know how much money you generate from blogging activities?
Great breakout of some common items that are (mostly) accessible to individuals. My biggest issue with p2p is the ordinary interest it generates and the ordinary tax that we have to pay. That really takes a bite out of the returns. Fortunately, I opened an IRA with one of the providers to juice the return with zero additional risk. 6-8% nominal returns over a long period of time will make me very happy. It should end up as 5-7% of the portfolio anyway, so nothing too significant.
Like I mentioned earlier, coming in late in the game can be an advantage if you listen, learn and provide solutions for what seems to be missing. Even coming into a market with a minimal viable product, you’ll have the advantage of being able to get deep into the customer experience to shape your product or service to what it should be, again, all based on what you’re able to measure and learn.
Ebooks are one of my favorite sources of passive income. Now, you can do this the simple way and just publish it on Amazon's KDP. Or, you can go all out and build yourself a book funnel. Book funnels are powerful, but they won't be fully passive. For example, if you do a free-plus-shipping offer for your ebook (converting it into a physical book), you'll need to create some one-time offers (i.e. extra training) and up-sells (i.e. an audiobook). But, a book funnel can be very powerful.
Affiliate marketing is a simple way to earn a bit of extra money from your personal website or blog. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is simply including special links to some products or services on your website and in your content. When your readers click those links and make a purchase, you earn a fixed percentage commission from that sale. Most publishers sign up with affiliate networks that connect them with brands seeking for an affiliate. The same networks will also monitor your commissions and schedule your payouts.
In Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup, a fantastic book about how today’s entrepreneurs and startup companies are approaching the way they create and innovate, Eric talks about how vital it is to use validated learning and scientific experimentation to be able to steer a company in the right direction. In other words, to use customer feedback and quantified data analysis (of real, non-vanity metrics) from a minimal viable product to make decisions and pivot a business one way or another.

A freelancing service is something that can, with the right strategy and action, turn into something more productized and passive. Brian Casel, featured guest on SPI Podcast Session #158, talks about how he was able to turn his stress-inducing one-on-one design service business into something that was actually more productized, passive, and profitable. I highly recommend you listen to that episode if you have a service-based business and you feel stuck.
Stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, annuities, etc. are great ways to earn passive income. If you're not financially savvy, you'll want to hire a financial advisor who'll help you choose the right investments for you. You may want to take a couple of finance classes to understand what your advisor is speaking about when he/she recommends an investment strategy. Done right, investments can pay off for years.
Crowdfunded real estate companies like Fundrise are similar to today’s peer-to-peer lending companies. Like Lending Club and Prosper, they offer a platform that matches real estate investors with investment choices. They help people looking to invest money in real estate in a passive manner. Also, investors can avoid bargaining with sellers. No need to get involved in the transfer of ownership and management of those properties either.
Self-publishing has the potential to be a very lucrative source of income. However, it does involve both an investment of your time and finances. It’s very important that you get the right help from the beginning. There are many considerations that may be outside of your expertise. Rory Carruthers, a sought-after book development, book launch, and book marketing consultant, says that six-figure launches require careful orchestration and planning. “Bestsellers aren’t just born out of great talent. They are also a product of thought-out marketing and well-orchestrated book launch campaign. It’s no longer enough to just write a good text. You need to think one step ahead and warm up your audience to the book even before you finish the first draft,” he said.
I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.
Even if you don’t have the skills right now, it’s possible to develop them. Envato Tuts+ has a load of great courses that teach you how to make WordPress themes, Photoshop actions and so on. If you invest a few months into learning the necessary skills, you might well be able to carve out a spot for yourself in the Envato Market or in our new curated website Envato Elements. 
P.S. I also fail to understand your fascination with real estate. Granted we’ve had some impressive spikes along the way, especially with once in a life time bubble we just went through. But over the long term (see Case Shiller real estate chart for last 100 years ) real estate tends to just track inflation. Why would you sacrifice stock market returns for a vehicle that historically hasn’t shown a real return?

From what he describes, creating passive income definitely does not sound easy. It requires a serious ramp-up -- often requires 80- to 100-hour workweeks in the beginning, says Flynn. But once up and running, and depending on the content, some sites take fairly minimal maintenance. Green Exam Academy, the LEED exam study site he launched in 2008, takes just him four to five hours a month to maintain but brings in $250,000 annually.


Flynn has created many different products. While his LEED exam is what got him started, he has both earned a commission from selling other people’s products and offered a commission to others who would sell his wares, and also recently created his first software, SmartPodcastPlayer.com, after realizing that most online podcast players offered only the basic stop/start/volume features. He hired a development team to create a superior one, which was a success from day 1. “We sold out 250 beta licenses in less than 24 hours, because I was addressing a need but also, I had built up an audience and trust with them … When you build that amount of trust with your audience, whatever you come out with, they will love.”
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.
It’s not just the little guys like me who are being squeezed by the constant updates. Even YouTube’s top creators have expressed frustration with changes to the YouTube monetization platform. It’s constantly changing and evolving, so you must be willing to adapt. Plus, it helps having a blog so you’re not relying on a single platform or your income.
7) Never Withdraw From Your Financial Nut. The biggest downfall I see from people looking to build passive income is that they withdraw from their financial nut too soon. There’s somehow always an emergency which eats away at the positive effects of compounding returns. Make sure your money is invested and not just sitting in your savings account. The harder to access your money, the better. Make it your mission to always contribute X amount every month and consistently increase the savings amount by a percentage or several until it hurts. Pause for a month or two and then keep going. You’ll be amazed how much you can save. You just won’t know because you’ve likely never tested savings limits to the max.

Creating passive income is the key to retiring, especially retiring early. If you want to retire early with the stock market you will have to save a huge amount of money, because that money has to last so long and retirement calculators depend on you using your investment to fund your life. With passive income you will have income coming in as long as you own the investment, without every eating away at the principle invested. Creating passive income may take more work than investing in the stock market, but I think it is well worth the extra effort!


One of the most important assets you have is your credit score. By taking care of it and pursuing the steps to improve your credit score, a world of opportunity can open up for you. If you need a loan to buy that rental property or some quick funding through a business credit card, a good credit score will help you get approved so you can build passive income.
John has a daily (yes, daily) podcast where he features an interview with a successful entrepreneur. Now, John enjoys many hundreds of thousands of downloads per month, he’s written a book, has products and has opened up a ton of opportunities for sponsorships and partnerships that wouldn’t have come otherwise. He’s not the first person to have a show dedicated to interviewing rock star entrepreneurs—not even close—but he’s definitely the fastest to see these kinds of results.
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