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.

Within six months of selling, however, I had reinvested the proceeds from the home sale and brought total passive income for 2018 back up to an estimated $203,724. I'm not sure I would have sold the house without a clear plan for reinvesting the proceeds, since I'm bullish on the SF housing market long term. However, because I did have a plan, and the challenges of raising a newborn and dealing with rowdy tenants left me feeling a bit stretched, I decided to simplify and sell.


I see you include rental income, e-book sales and P2P loans as part of your passive income. Do you not consider your other internet income as passive? Is that why it’s not in the chart? Or did you not include it because you would rather not reveal it at this point? (I apologize if this question was already answered – I didn’t read through all the comments, and it’s been about a week since I actually read this post via Feedly on my phone)


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.

I wish I had more time to put into real estate. Given the run up since 2012, I may even be interested in selling my condo that I currently rent out. I need to get it appraised to really see what it’s worth, but I think conservatively it’s gone up ~50%, although rent is probably only up ~10% or so. I am bullish on rents going up in the future… mostly in line with inflation, or perhaps even slightly faster due to constricted credit and personal income growth which should provide a solid supply of renters. At this point, I just don’t want to manage the property. I’ll probably look into a property manager as my time is likely worth turning it into a nearly passive investment.

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.
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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.
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.
I have two major dilemmas: (1) Should I wait to start investing (at least until the end of the year where I’ll hopefully have $5k+ in savings) in things like CDs? I ask because a little over $2k doesn’t seem significant enough yet to start putting my money to work (or maybe it is? that’s why I’m coming to you for your advice haha) and (2) I want to invest in things like P2P and stocks but I’m honestly a bit ignorant of how it trully works. I know the basics (high risk, returns can be volatile, returns are taxable). Do you have any advice on how I can best educate myself to start putting my savings to work?
2. You clearly have plenty of money already. Just more padding in your already cushy nest. This is not the story for a lot of people. Your title should be “How to become richer than you already are without working.” But, actually the investment one is the only one that would make money without actual WORK. Running rental properties is a lot of work, and so is running a business, or even a blog. Sooooo…..while there might be some truth to this, I think it’s mostly grass that looks greener because it’s on the other side of the fence.
I own 11 rental properties and they require a lot of work to buy, repair and rent. Once they are rented the rental properties become much more passive and my 11 rentals produce over $6,000 in monthly income. Real estate investments like REITs, turn-key rental properties and private money investing are much more passive investments, but they don’t produce as high of returns as I get. There is usually a trade-off on how much money you make on your investments versus how much work you are willing to do.
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. 

Like we said above, there’s nothing passive about this, but if you can create another type of asset — a system for selling products — then it is. One example is to write a book, and use Amazon Fulfillment Services to automatically print and ship it every time you sell a copy, depositing the money in your account. Another example is Tim Ferriss, who hired overseas assistants to handle everything at BrainQuicken, from the marketing to the reordering. With drop-shipping (having the manufacturer ship directly to your customer), this has become easier, but you should know that it’s still a good bit of human labor to advertise, handle customer service, etc. But, it’s a good option, and you can experiment with automation and delegation as you go along. If you want to know more about this, read The Four Hour Work Week already!
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.
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.
For Tim, that was learning and writing a series of books, which he’s truly passionate about. For me, that’s traveling, learning, and working on startups that are “high risk” or have a long road to generating revenue. For you, maybe it’s spending time with your kids and not having to take overtime when it’s offered to you. In any case, the goal is to spend as little time as possible to cover your basic needs; if you want to spend more time to make more money, that’s always an option — but you want it to be an option, not a necessity.

Investing in real estate: Investing in real estate offers more passive income cash potential - but more risk - than investing in stocks or bonds. You'll need substantial amounts of cash to invest in buying a home -- it usually takes 20% down to land a good home mortgage loan. But history shows that home prices usually rise over time, so buying home a for $200,000 and selling it for $250,000 over a five-year time period, for example, is a reasonable expectation when investing in real estate.

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.


When describing whatever it is your promoting, share your experience! If you can throw in some data or graphs to go along with it, even better. Back when I was more actively writing about eHow, I promoted an ebook that I read which helped quadruple my earnings per article. I created a graph that showed how much I earned before I read the book versus how much I earned after. To this date, that ebook has been one of the most successful affiliate promotions I’ve done on this blog.
Obviously, these are much higher than you’re going to get with most other investments. What’s more is that you can choose a plan that matches your investment strategy, whether your goal is Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-term Growth. You can also look at different real estate projects and choose for yourself which ones to invest in.
Real Estate: I currently own one rental property in San Francisco which I bought in 2003 (2/2 condo), one vacation rental in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe (2/2 condo), and my primary residence. Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth because it is easy to understand, tangible, provides utility, and rides the way of inflation. I recommend individuals try and get neutral inflation by buying their primary residence as young as possible. The power of inflation is just too hard to counteract.
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.

P2P lending is the practice of loaning money to borrowers who typically don’t qualify for traditional loans. As the lender you have the ability to choose the borrowers and are able to spread your investment amount out to mitigate your risk. The most popular peer to peer lending platform is Lending Club. You can read our full lending club review here: Lending Club Review.


For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
One of the great parts about the online world is that a website and its domain name is like real estate - It can go up in value over time. In fact, sometimes just the domain name without the developed business can be worth quite a lot to some people. Of course, like almost anything mentioned here, the necessary know-how is required. If you’re willing to put some time into it, then you can earn a nice online income. So far I sold 4 domain names with an average price tag of a couple of thousand dollars. Nice income, considering I bought each domain for around $10….If this income stream interests you, check out flippa.com - It’s one of the best marketplaces I know for selling websites or domain names.
In expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City, net rental yields can fall as low as 2%. This is a sign that there is a lot of liquidity buying property for property appreciation, and not so much for income generation. This is a riskier proposition than buying property based on rental income. In inexpensive cities, such as those in the Midwest, net rental yields can easily be in the range of 8% – 12%, although appreciation may be slower.

If you’re a YouTube personality, this is how you generate your income. An amazing example of this how Antonio Centeno got 1 million YouTube subscribers. If you’re a blogger who gets a lot of traffic to your site and uses advertising or sponsorships, then you’re also following the AA Model. Got a podcast with sponsorships? Same deal. I talk about successful podcast sponsorships and other ways to make money podcasting here:
Using ad networks like adsense doesn’t prevent you from targeting advertisers directly. In fact, that’s how I started; I searched the net for potential advertisers who advertised products relevant to my content and offered them yearly packages. If you choose this option, bear in mind that you’ll need to provide traffic reports and other site statistics.
For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
Amazing that you saved between 50% to 75% living in NYC…I think that is one thing holding me back…the cost of living here. I’d like to invest in real estate, but I can barely afford to buy a place to live. I don’t need a large income to be happy, but I probably do need an income to support living in NYC as we don’t plan on leaving. The only thing I’m doing at the moment is saving in my 401K, IRA and a I dabble in stocks and P2P lending.
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.

Rentals, just like stocks, throw off cash. With rentals we call that cash “rent”, and with stocks we call it dividends. A significant difference however is that the S&P 500 has appreciated at ~6% per year (above inflation) for the last 100 years…..Real Estate has had almost 0 growth above inflation. So are rents higher than dividends? Maybe, maybe not. But unless you got one heck of a deal, the delta in rent over dividends will have a very tough time making up for the 6% per year difference in appreciation.


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.
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.
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