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.
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!
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.
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.

But first, let’s about talk passive income! What is passive income? There are many different definitions out there, but mine goes something like this: Passive income is all about building online businesses that can work for you, that allow you to generate income, and grow and scale, without a real-time presence. In other words, you don’t trade time for money. You build something up front that can continue to work for you over time.

As a general rule, the passive activity loss rules are applied at the individual level. Although Internal Revenue Code Section 469 was enacted to discourage abusive tax shelters, its impact extends far beyond shelters to virtually every business or rental activity whether reported on Schedules C, F, or E, as well as to flow through income and losses from partnerships, S- Corporations, and trusts. Generally, the law does not apply to regular C-Corporations although it does have limited application to closely held corporations.
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!
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.
My esteemed marketing colleagues initially balked at the idea of creating products that generate royalties, so I can understand how creating something from nothing might be daunting for those who aren’t even in creative roles. However, realize there is this enormous world out there of photographers, bloggers, artists, and podcasters who are making a passive income thanks to the Internet.
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.
Before you buy any property, an inspection by a professional and independent home inspector is essential. Even if your potential purchase has just undergone a beautiful renovation, you must find out if the wiring and plumbing are all up to code. In most areas, it’s illegal to operate a rental property with any code violations. A top-quality inspector will be able to estimate the remaining life of the roof, HVAC system, and hot water supply, as well as find any defects in the structure, such as dry-rot in the attic.
That strategy seems waaaayyyy less risky than actively picking stocks of supposedly “reliable” stocks that issue dividends, which could be cut at any time due to shifting industry trends and company performance. Dividend investing feels like an overly complex old-school way of investing that doesn’t have a very strong intellectual basis compared to index investing.
Starting a blog is one of the most popular side hustles to earn online income. This is because whether you have 10 people or 10 million reading your content, the amount of your effort to write an article is the same. Websites have low start-up costs and you can literally buy your domain, launch your site and have a few pages created in less than an hour. You won’t start making money right away, but you will be building towards that first $1 of income.
I just started out with Affiliate Marketing (idea # 8) and it is not as easy as people make out to be. For me, the hardest part so far, is learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and driving traffic to my website. I’m only 3 months into it, but I am confident that the site will begin to generate some incom., I have to give it 6-9 months, so we’ll see.
Residual income is money that is earned on a recurring basis, typically as the result of a single original action. Rather than earning an hourly wage, residual income is typically generated through an initial investment of time or money with the goal of earning continuous payments. Once the initial investment, product, or service is made, the ongoing income that is earned is generally passive in nature.
All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of AWM, unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.
If you're curious about starting a blog, read this guide. I used Bluehost to get started with a website because it's super cheap - a free domain name and $2.95 per month to host it. I love Internet businesses because of this extremely low overhead and huge income potential. Our Bluehost deal is specific to our site, so if you want to start a website, make sure you get our $2.95 hosting deal from Bluehost.
In real estate, your passive opportunities are in private lending and rental properties. Private lending commonly involves lending funds to a real estate investor or business in exchange for a set return and length of time. (Full disclosure: I am co-partner of a turnkey investment company.) Turnkey rental properties allow the investor to be as hands-off as they like. This means a turnkey company purchases, rehabs, tenants and manages the property. To truly make this a passive investment, turnkey companies do all the work for you.
Thanks for the info…I kind of figured it is really not that expensive to live if you are not an extravagant person. I could definitely figure out how to funnel expenses through a part time business…I think I keep thinking along the lines that I’m going to be paying the same tax rate after retirement, but reality is you could get pretty lean and mean if one focused on it. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being utter panic mode, how worried are you about your “pile” lasting through a 50 year retirement now that you are a couple years into it? https://www.biznews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/passive_income.jpg
Lending Club is a platform where you can lend your money to other people. You’re the bank. Each note is only $25, so you can invest $1,000 and lend money to 40 people. There are many grades of loan (from safest to riskiest) and investors earn, on average, between 5% and 7% annualized returns. For more information, check out Investing and Making Money with Lending Club Peer-to-Peer Lending and my real money Lending Club Portfolio.
Passive income is an incredible tool that everyone should include in their retirement plans. With traditional investing you have to rely on the stock market to increase your investments over time. The longer you have your money invested, the more your money will grow. The stock market does not produce passive income, except in the form of dividends. Most dividends are extremely small and produce small returns on investment. The bulk of stock market returns come from an increase in stock market prices. The only way to realize those increase in value is to sell stock. Retirement calculators that use the stock market as an investment plan on you running out of money when you die because you have to sell all your investments to keep bringing money in.
I've now only got an SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real-estate-rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don't miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes and another mortgage, and dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn't believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn't be comfortable raising my son there.
I do remember you mentioning that & how it was your ticket to exit softly and give you time to build the passive income side. Most likely when I do exit it will either be through a sale of the business which would come along with a employment contract or if a worthy successor(s) can take it over, then the business is just another annuity throwing off income. Anyway, I’d enjoy writing a guest article after I survive the next few weeks of work and weddings.
Skillshare is more of a social learning platform where you can teach real-world skills. The range of skills that you can teach is only limited by your imagination - from board game strategies, garment construction, cooking tutorials, travel hacking, and relationship tips. I even saw a course on how to build a grown man's wardrobe. Creating a class on Skillshare is free. For each student who enrolls, Skillshare takes a 30% fee (Similar to Udemy). You are also provided a unique teacher referral link that lowers the fee to 15% for students who enroll via your referral. Note that all online courses on Skillshare go through an approval process based on specific criteria. https://image.slidesharecdn.com/passiveincomepromoslideshow-171117120611/95/passive-income-pros-and-cons-1-638.jpg?cb
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.
I read about early withdrawal penalties on IRAs/401Ks very often. Almost always with a statement of “locked up” or “can’t touch” until 59.5. I’m sure you and well informed readers as well know about SEPPs in regard to IRAs/401Ks. For those that don’t SEPPs aren’t perfect but they are a way to tap retirement funds penalty free and I will be using in the future as I have over half of my equity investments within retirement accounts. South of a mil, North of a half. Let me add that I think your blog is outstanding.
I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.
If you are not able to get a mortgage on the property, there are still a few options available though rates can be fairly high. You might try approaching the seller for owner financing where they sell the property to you on monthly installments. This might not be possible if there’s a mortgage on the property since many carry a “due on sale” clause. If you do go this route, make absolutely sure you get a notarized contract with all the details.
I just graduated college in May and was fortunate enough to secure an entry level consulting position that pays 55k/yr (a little less than ~35k after 401K, other benefits, and the lovely taxes that government bestows upon us). I started from “scratch” with my finances and have ~$2.3k in an online savings account. Since starting work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had an aggressive savings plan (saving around ~40-50% of my monthly income). However, I’m going to become even more aggressive and live off 1 paycheck a month (and save the other paycheck) like you have suggested in many of your blog posts.

However, affiliate marketing isn’t as simple as just placing some links in your texts and hoping to make a sale. To be successful, you’ll need to follow some best practices. First of all, always disclose that you use affiliate links or your readers may feel as if they have been misled. Choose to link out to products that are relevant to your niche and your content. Ideally, you will only link to products and services you can personally vouch for.


I decided to develop some passive income streams late in 2009 and started with writing an ebook… It took me 10 days to setup, writing the book, creating the pdf, wrote the sales page, created the website, registration on Clickbank, etc. It sold so well, on complete autopilot, that I used the ebook content to create a membership site and over 1,100 people have been through the membership site.

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!! 🙂
It’s funny, Peter Lynch says before putting any money in the stock market, make sure you own real estate. It’s a rare investment that allows you to own an asset while borrowing a large portion of the value at an extremely favorable interest rate. However you are right, real estate investing does not offer passive income in the truest sense of the word. Great guide!

The organizing principle behind this grouping, appropriate economic units, is relatively simple: if the activities are located in the same geographic area; if the activities have similarities in the types of business; or if the activities are somehow interdependent, for instance, if they have the same customers, employees or use a single set of books for accounting.
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.

However, affiliate marketing isn’t as simple as just placing some links in your texts and hoping to make a sale. To be successful, you’ll need to follow some best practices. First of all, always disclose that you use affiliate links or your readers may feel as if they have been misled. Choose to link out to products that are relevant to your niche and your content. Ideally, you will only link to products and services you can personally vouch for.


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.
Freelancing is on the verge of going mainstream. Thirty-six percent of the international workforce now freelances, at least part-time. There are also 40.9 million adults in America who are self-employed. Clearly, freelancing is catching on. But with rapid growth come certain challenges, one being an increased competition for well-paying job and price reduction by those who think they can afford low-bidding at least for now.
Unless you live nearby and genuinely enjoy doing maintenance work, you will probably want to hire a property manager to oversee your investment. Do some research on any potential management company. You should look at the number and type of properties the company manages, as well as how many properties each individual manager handles. If this last figure is higher than 250, it’s likely your property may not get enough attention.

6) Always Remember That Everything Is Relative. The best way to determine worthwhile passive income streams is by comparing the likely return (IRR) with the current risk-free rate of return. If I round up, the 10 year bond yield is at 3%. Any new venture should thoroughly beat 3% otherwise you are wasting your efforts since you can earn 3% doing nothing.


But nowadays, there is so much opportunity if you search for brand-suitable domains and also keyword-rich or otherwise popular names on the myriad of new domain name extensions like .io, .at etc.  And I should know, because I’ve paid several domain squatters a king’s ransom to purchase these sorts of domain names in the last few years!  Continue reading >
Like many, I was first really turned on to the idea of passive income by Tim Ferriss. In The Four Hour Work Week, he describes the system he developed with BrainQuicken, where the marketing, shipping, reordering, banking, and even customer service of the company was on complete auto-pilot. I found this idea intoxicating. The idea that Tim could travel the world learning to tango and staying on private islands while money just accumulated in his bank account seemed like some strange fiction — surely, this isn’t how people actually live, is it?
Renting value is exactly what you do when you go to work every day. This is a great way to adhere to our rule against one-time consumption, although you can only rent something to one person at a time (drawback). By renting something, I can generally avoid degradation of the value, or at least lessen it. By renting you a house, I’m charging you for the value of the shelter and comfort, and in fact incur pretty minimal decrease in value as your usage of the house causes wear and tear. When you’re done renting the house, there’s still plenty of value left to rent out, and the fact that you’ve enjoyed a year or two of value doesn’t much matter to the next willing consumer.
It seems the idea of creating passive income streams online is in a boom, partly due to millennials who wish to retire at an earlier age than previous generations, says Jonha Richman, partner at JJ Richman, a global investment firm. The rise of online platforms like YouTube have made it easier than ever to try your hand at an online venture. Podcasts about passive income, such as "Smart Passive Income" or "The Side Hustle Show" have become immensely popular.
However, this comes back to the old discussion of pain versus pleasure. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. When our backs are against the wall, we act. When they're not, we relax. The truth is that the pain-versus-pleasure paradigm only operates in the short term. We'll only avoid pain in the here and now. Often not in the long term.
Skillshare is more of a social learning platform where you can teach real-world skills. The range of skills that you can teach is only limited by your imagination - from board game strategies, garment construction, cooking tutorials, travel hacking, and relationship tips. I even saw a course on how to build a grown man's wardrobe. Creating a class on Skillshare is free. For each student who enrolls, Skillshare takes a 30% fee (Similar to Udemy). You are also provided a unique teacher referral link that lowers the fee to 15% for students who enroll via your referral. Note that all online courses on Skillshare go through an approval process based on specific criteria.

Investing in coins and collectibles: Buffalo nickels and Spiderman comic books are good examples of coins and collectibles that can rise in value, and thus offer opportunity for passive income investors. You'll need to get up to speed on the value of any coin or collectible under consideration, but once you do so, you're on the way to price appreciation on a commodity you'll be paying a lower price to buy, and will garner a higher price when you sell.
I just graduated college in May and was fortunate enough to secure an entry level consulting position that pays 55k/yr (a little less than ~35k after 401K, other benefits, and the lovely taxes that government bestows upon us). I started from “scratch” with my finances and have ~$2.3k in an online savings account. Since starting work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had an aggressive savings plan (saving around ~40-50% of my monthly income). However, I’m going to become even more aggressive and live off 1 paycheck a month (and save the other paycheck) like you have suggested in many of your blog posts.
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.
It was easier recouping the lost $60,000 in rental-property income than I expected. For so long, my primary mindset for passive income was rental income. Having $815,000 less mortgage debt but still generating roughly the same amount of passive income with a much larger cash balance feels great. Further, my passive-income portfolio got even more passive, which is good as a stay-at-home dad to a newborn.

If it is one thing I would like to say is that I sold my first item on Ebay in 3/14 after being unemployed for 2 months. Since then I have discovered the bottom line secret of making money online… The secret is this – *There is no secret. Any legit idea/stream/online business can be made a steady stream of income. IF you are willing to put in the effort.
Wow! What an awesome list! My favorite is the stock photography because I love photography. I have had some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand. Then, find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both ShutterStock and iStockPhoto. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!

It takes the “books I’m reading” area you often see in blogs (within Amazon affiliate links) to a whole new level. not only is this great for you, but it’s extremely helpful for your readers who may be looking for additional resources related to your niche. Plus, they may come across products or services they weren’t originally looking for while on your resources page.


I’m hoping to have about 10g saved by this time next year, which I know is nothing huge but seeing as I’m at 2.5g right now and owned 3 dollars to my name on Aug.9 I’m pretty happy with my progress :). But at my age, without a stable career, while working part time and having to go to school full time, what is a realistic path I could pursue to create passive income online, or even income that requires effort such as writing, but one that is more flexible than working in a stationary low-paid position for 10 dollars an hour? I need to work for now to show taxable income for the government to get my residency, but after that I know my time could be better served than earning 8 dollars an hour, I’m just not sure where to go from here. I considered flipping domain names, or penny stocks, or sports gambling, but again that’s not passive income and in reality they are more or less just forms of me gambling.
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.
×