If you love design and you are an artistic person, selling digital products on Etsy could be a great way to earn passive income. Digital products require little maintenance, your customers will simply receive a link to download them (which means you don’t have to worry about shipping and returns handling). All you need to do is spend time upfront to create beautiful artwork! (Easy right?)
I’ve built several businesses since 2008 using one or more of these models. I’ve been featured in magazines and articles across the globe, and since I started my journey I’ve generated over $5M in earnings from these businesses. All of my income and expenses for those businesses dating back to October 2008 have been tracked publicly on SPI.com. You can see 10 years of income reports here. 

Inspired by you, I started a tax/personal finance a month ago. I figured if it works out, it will create a good side income for me. If not, at least I can use the blog to build my brand as a tax lawyer. Other than that, my current investment portfolio is heavily focused on index funds because of its historical performance and tax & cost efficiency. Right now my dividends income every year is about $14,000. I also have a good amount of unrealized capital gains every year from my investment, though I don’t count the capital gains as my passive income as they are paper gains, at least for now.
But, you don't need to go further than that. You can simply write it and publish it and collect the income. That's all. Send out a couple emails to your list (if you have one) or post it on social media, and there you have it. Passive income. Now, the amount of income you receive depends on the quality of the book you've written. How well did you craft the message? How targeted was the information to your audience? It counts.

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.
I rent out a 3 bedroom townhouse I bought back in 2009. My tenants have ranged from students, to the most lovely, most responsible couple who themselves own a home in another state. They take great care of the house, automatically send checks from their bank, and have only had 1 or 2 problems in the last 2 years (the neighbor’s house caught on fire). They’re awesome, and I’m so thankful to have them.
Private money investing involves one investor with money, lending that money to another investor who needs the money. With real estate most private money is used to buy rental properties, fix and flips or even used by turn-key companies to fund their properties until they are sold to an investor. Private money usually is secured with a Deed of Trust against real estate, which provides more security than investing in the stock market. Returns on private money can be four percent or fifteen percent depending on the relationship between the investors and the risk involved.
Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.

Personally, my experience with Amazon thus far has been good - a few of my short eBooks generate steady passive income on weekly basis with zero additional effort from my side. One thing to note though - Amazon pays 70% royalty on each eBook sold only if your eBook is priced between $2.99 to $9.99. Less than or higher than that pricing structure, the royalty decreases to 35%.of your book’s listed price.
I am still working on my passive income, however I like multiple income streams even more. My favorite is capital gains because it is one of the lowest rates. One of the best passive income streams is a pension/Social Security. As I near retirement, I like the concept of it supporting my needs and my 401k supporting my wants. In addition, my brokerage accounts are all at capital gains rates. Don’t misunderstand, I am still working on adding more because I like multiple income streams!
There are a few advantages to taking this approach. First, you get close to 100% of your listed price (minus the transaction fee of your preferred payment gateway). Second, you are not competing with other authors and have the reader’s attention solely on your product. Third, selling your eBook on your own platform is a great opportunity to build a long term relationship with your readers via email. Fourth, you can bundle your eBook with other goodies in order to bump up the value and make it more unique. With so many advantages, it's worth putting up the time and start building your own platform.
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.
Inspired by you, I started a tax/personal finance a month ago. I figured if it works out, it will create a good side income for me. If not, at least I can use the blog to build my brand as a tax lawyer. Other than that, my current investment portfolio is heavily focused on index funds because of its historical performance and tax & cost efficiency. Right now my dividends income every year is about $14,000. I also have a good amount of unrealized capital gains every year from my investment, though I don’t count the capital gains as my passive income as they are paper gains, at least for now.
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.
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.
Occupational therapist Sarah Stromsdorfer founded occupational therapy site MyOTSpot.com three years ago as an online educational resources for occupational therapy students and professionals. She worked on it every weekend, and her site now makes enough income for her to work as an occupational therapist part-time. She believes it will be another year before her site makes enough money for a full-time living of about $4,000 per month. In addition to the digital products she also makes money from ads and online book sales.

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Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t do both. You can manage your own commercial real estate rentals and flip houses while you have someone else help manage residential rentals. You can invest in REITs and real estate crowdfunding. You’ll get the higher returns of active management while benefiting from the diversification and ease of passive income through other sources.

When I buy rental properties I spend a lot of time finding properties, getting them repaired (I use a contractor), getting a LLC put in place and getting them rented. I have my real estate team manage the properties for me, which greatly cuts down on my involvement after the house is ready to rent. Using a property manager is a great way to reduce the amount of time spent on rental properties, but it will cost you from eight to twelve percent of the monthly rents.
First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.

When withdrawing money to live on, I don’t care how many stock shares I own or what the dividends are – I care about how much MONEY I’m able to safely withdraw from my total portfolio without running out before I die. A lot of academics have analyzed total market returns based on indices and done Monte Carlo simulations of portfolios with various asset allocations, and have come up with percentages that you can have reasonable statistical confidence of being safe.


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!
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.
Private money investing involves one investor with money, lending that money to another investor who needs the money. With real estate most private money is used to buy rental properties, fix and flips or even used by turn-key companies to fund their properties until they are sold to an investor. Private money usually is secured with a Deed of Trust against real estate, which provides more security than investing in the stock market. Returns on private money can be four percent or fifteen percent depending on the relationship between the investors and the risk involved.
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.
At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!
I’m a 45 year old business owner who also has focussed on diversifying my income streams. I have a short term vacation rental in Florida that I bought for $390k in 2012 and net rental income for the last three years has been growing steadily. 2015 I am at $70k gross right now but should end up at $80-85k with net around $45k plus we use the place about 35 nights a year.
Vanguard: Vanguard has a minimum of $50,000 and a fee of 0.3%. Rebalancing is done automatically once every quarter and tax loss harvesting is done on a client-by-client basis. We included Vanguard because clients who invest between $50,000-$500,000 have access to a team of financial advisors. Those with accounts over $500,000 will have a dedicated advisor.

You also get to see specific details about each loan, including what the borrower is using it for, the state they live in, how long the pay-off period is, what the monthly payments are, and what rate the borrower will pay. It helps you get a better picture of what type of risk you’re exposing yourself to, and you get to take more control over your investment.
If you go this route, be prepared to put in quite a bit of work up front. All of these products need to be created, tested and perfected for sale. The good news is that your initial investment will pay off multiple times. Also, there aren’t any production costs as you aren’t making any physical products. But you will still need to devote some time to product development and subsequent marketing, meaning that your work schedule may need to be trimmed a bit.

There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.
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.
The comparable sales approach values a property against those of similar properties that have sold recently. Write down characteristics of the investment property including age, square feet living space, number of bedrooms and baths, neighborhood, as well as features like a garage and central air. You then need a list of all the homes that have sold within the last year in the same neighborhood and with the same features.
No argument here. It’s not for everybody. Just like you can’t imagine taking risks or finding the energy to be creative after you get home from work, I can’t imagine trading 40% of my waking life for money, leaving me with no time to actually spend the money I made. Even when building startups, I believe that I’m trading time for asset creation (which is why I still receive checks every month from my last startup). Nothing against you if 9–5 is how you choose to live, and in fact, I’m very happy for you if it makes you happy. Just know that you have a choice!

Love your articles. I think everyone is very different as far as how much passive income they need to meet their goals. I’ve read a lot of your articles and really enjoy your thoughts. I have a masters in finance and understand the math of keeping the debt but my emotions are such that I need to try to finish off paying off my last debt (mortgage) in the next two years. At 34 and only worth 525k I’m doing better than a lot of folks my age but it will be difficult for me to catch up in the passive income game without leverage. That is the main reason I recently created a website to try to bring passive income opportunities in my area to me.


Returns on real estate investing vary and you don’t want to get into the business based on an estimated return but on your own calculation of what is possible for your local market and for specific properties. I have seen pretty common averages between 8% and 12% a year for single-family residential rentals with cash flow accounting for between 0% and 6% of the return.
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