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.
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.

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!
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.
The appeal of these passive income sources is that you can diversify across many small investments, rather than in a handful of large ones. When you invest directly in real estate, you have to commit a lot of capital to individual projects. When you invest in these crowdfunded investments, you can spread your money across many uncorrelated real estate ventures so individual investments don't cause significant issues.
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.
I get excited every paycheck because I know my investments are going to increase by a decent chunk. I use Mint to keep a close eye on what the current value is at and make goal marks to hit. Every time I hit a goal, I do a little happy dance and decide what I want my next marker to be and when I want to hit it by. I’m nowhere close to being financially independent or even debt free, but it’s exciting to see the ground work being laid and watching it grow.
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!

The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.
Speaking from our own experience, you can’t be a passive McDonald’s franchisee. Every McDonald’s potential franchisee will need to complete at least thousands of hours of training before he/she would be approved to acquire a franchise and only if he/she has the financial resources to acquire a franchise. It could take years before one would get a single store franchise. Until the franchisee eventually has acquired multiple stores and established his/her own management team, the franchisee would have to put his/her nose to the grindstone and work his/her ass off every day. I won’t call it a passive investment by any stretch of imagination.
There is a big misconception about rentals & people thinking that it’s passive.. rental income is far from passive. Many people flock to buy rentals as a way to “retire rich” but realize shortly thereafter that it really isn’t that easy or true.. Ask me how i know. I have bought a lot of houses from tired and burnout landlords. Luckily, there are better options out there.
What if there was a way for you to effectively make money while you sleep? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Even for the biggest workaholics, there are only so many hours in a day. If only you could get paid multiple times for something you did once—that’s exactly how passive income works! Thanks to technology, the potential to create multiple income streams is even easier than ever before. We’re no longer held back by the limitations of a traditional 9-to-5 job, and financial freedom is at our fingertips. Even if you already work a full-time job you can still improve your financial health with passive income.
Some people take it automated well before the year is up. When it converts, it converts. If you target the right people and you're able to create the right message that appeals to your audience, you might just hit a home run. An automated webinar often involves the creation of a webinar funnel. That includes, not only the webinar, but also the email sequences, and possibly a self-liquidating offer, and maybe some done-for-your services and up-sells.
Brian had found a huge need for web design in the restaurant and food truck space. After getting tired of working with client after client, he decided to turn his service-based business into a product-based one. He made his services more standardized and productized. He eliminated all his client work and created templates and products to serve that market instead. And it’s been going great for him.
So how do you get started with the EP Model? First, you need to be an expert in the eyes of those you’re looking to serve. And again, you don’t need all those qualifications and credentials. A lot of people gain expertise and credibility just by sharing their experience learning something, which is something I’ve done on SPI.com. If you think about it, many people in the personal finance or fitness space establish their authority by sharing their journey and their process. They do it by sharing their experiences—and you can do the same thing, too.
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.

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.


(Of course, you can also always get passive income by buying-and-holding US Treasuries, which are paying out around 4.2%. The BLS just reported inflation at 3.6%. No one's going to get rich with that level of passive income net of inflation. And according to Shadow Government Statistics, the real rate of inflation you and I are actually experiencing---including at the grocery store checkout line, at the gas pump, and at the doctor's office---not the massaged statistics the government puts out, is actually much higher, perhaps up to 11%. So government bonds could actually be not passive income---however meager---but passive losses.)
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.
The “Fulfilled by Amazon” program is another really popular passive income idea that’s being promoted a lot in 2017. Basically, you create a physical product (or buy one in bulk from China) and have it shipped directly to Amazon. Amazon then lists it on their website, sell it and deliver it. They obviously take a decent cut but they’re doing most of the intensive work.
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.
If you have a spare bedroom, you can find a roommate or list the space on AirBnB for travelers. Having a roommate is the more passive of the two, as being an Airbnb host will require more work in the form of turning over the room between stays. This is a super painless way to earn $500 to $1,000 a month without much effort – you may even be able to cover your mortgage payment with this extra income!
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.
Thanks for the great article…although I have to point out many of the items listed are not passive but active, such as selling bodily fluids, writing blogs or resumes, and collecting bottles and cans. To be truly passive, the income source must require no effort on your part (after initial setup). Real estate, dividends, P2P lending…these are truly passive income sources.
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.
Well, after that scheduling fiasco, I simply decided that someday would be today. With this new focused goal of being financially independent from medicine in mind, I decided to start devoting what extra time I had to real estate and businesses – in essence, ways to create passive income. It took some effort, but I found that time wherever I could – reading books during downtime while on call, listening to podcasts in the car, and watching YouTube videos while walking my dogs to name a few.
Writing an e-book is very popular among bloggers, as many have noted that “it's just a bunch of blog posts put together!” You will not only have to make an investment of time and energy to create the e-book, but market it correctly. However, if marketed correctly (through blogging affiliates in your niche, for example), you could have residual sales that last a very long time.

Another way to reduce the work needed when buying rental properties is to buy turn-key properties. Turn-key rentals are already repaired, already rented and already managed by a property manager. Buying a turn-key rental property is as easy as talking to a turn-key rental property about what they have in inventory, picking one and setting up closing. I would still complete due diligence on any turn-key rental property provider to make sure they are a good company. I am considering buying a turn-key property myself and I discuss the process here.
I had the same experience when my name’s frequency on the call schedule dropped for reasons that no one would discuss and were not easily discerned except by those in the know (who were staying mum). I went and found another job…. and I wish that I had found something with passive income – it’s been several years now that I’ve been working 2-3 part time jobs and I’m trying to figure out what my other thing is going to be… still working on that, but I am thankful that there are others out there discussing side gigs and alternatives to medicine.

Here’s the truth: a successful business is something that successfully solves a problem. And that business can make more money in two ways: solving more people’s problems, or solving bigger problems. The cool thing about the EP Model is that sometimes these products don’t even have to be yours. You can generate income by recommending other people’s or companies’ services or products. This is called affiliate marketing. It’s actually how I’ve made most of my money since I started in 2008.
Why? Because you’re working a 42 hour week and that’s probably your earnings ceiling unless you add other income streams. 4 hours per week is best for me, since I have domestic responsibilities I’d much rather be addressing: Still, when I get the chance, I love working my socks off on something I enjoy, which is helping and teaching other people to be successful. It’s more fun and more productive to share 🙂
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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!! 🙂


Control: With the stock market, you are at the mercy of the fund and management. With private lending, you control who you invest with, the rate of return, the length of time you want to invest and approval of the asset your money is secured by. With rental properties, you are in control of what you buy, the improvements that will increase rents and what costs are passed onto the tenants, such as landscaping and shared utility expenses.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
Thanks for asking. https://passiveincomemd.com/what-is-passive-income/ gives a good summary of the definition I use. But in brief, it’s income that isn’t proportional to the time you physically put into acquiring it. It doesn’t mean it’s not without work or effort. It’s just that most of the work is done up front and it continues to pay off long after that initial effort. Real estate fits into that box. There’s definitely a spectrum but compared to what we do as doctors, where our compensation is directly linked to our time, most of these things are quite passive.
I just found your site & so far I like what I see. I am 50 years old & will be retiring at the end of Jan 2019. I turn 51 the following month. I will have a pension income of $60,000 per year & an additional $5,400 from a survivors benefit. I was able to save $200,000 in a deferred comp program through my employer & wish to know what to do to generate a passive income? I can leave it in the plan which will generate about 3.5% or invest it. My concern is the tax liability of taking out a large sum from that fund & leaving me less to invest. I do have an opportunity to invest in a bar/restaurant with family (my main concern) that currently generates $120,000 annually for an absentee owner. It would be a 3 way partnership if I did that. I do like your idea of creating my own product such a blog with a goal of $12,000 to $18,000 passive income I feel that may be my best option. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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