When I first learned of passive income, I became obsessed with the idea of creating enough to cover my expenses. That lead me to create this blog. Plus, research dozens of other ways to create passive income. I’m now at a point where I have multiple streams that more than support my family.
What is Passive Income?
There are many definitions of passive income.
This article focuses on the entrepreneurial definition of passive income. Specifically, how you can get paid over and over again from work you’ve done once.
Years ago real estate investing topped any list of passive income ideas. Today there are passive income ideas that require less time, less money, and less risk. And while I have heard stories of individuals creating passive income through network marketing (aka MLM) — the dropout rates of most programs make it impossible to recommend.
With that said here are 17 legit ways you can invest either time or money today and get paid over and over again in the future.
Best Passive Income Ideas
# 1 – Crowdfunded Real Estate
Real estate is one of the primary ways the wealthy have made money for decades. Yet due to the risk, time, and upfront cost associated with real estate it hasn’t been a suitable investment for most.
But that’s no longer the case.
With real estate crowdsourcing, the attractive returns many have experienced investing in real estate are now available to everyday people.
One of the largest crowdfunded real estate sites is Fundrise. With Fundrise you can get started with a minimum investment of $500.
I wrote an in-depth review of Fundrise, which you can read here. What’s especially great about Fundrise is that you see exactly what you’re investing in. So, if it’s an apartment complex in Chicago, you see the exact property.
As Fundrise has strict standards for the types of properties on their platform, you’ll start to learn why that property was attractive in the first place. This is a great way to learn the ins-and-outs of real estate investing, with less risk than buying a property of your own.
If you’re not satisfied with your investment for any reason within the first 90 days, Fundrise will buy back your investment at the original price.
# 2 – Find Out if Stores Owe You a Refund
Not everyone wants to or should invest in real estate.
Fortunately, there are a lot of easier ways to earn passive income.
Paribus is a free app that gets you money back from your online purchases.
How it works is you:
- Sign up for the app
- Paribus then scans your email archives for any receipts
- Once it discovers something you bought drops in price, Paribus helps you get a refund for the difference
What’s great about Paribus is you keep 100% of the savings.
# 3 – Switch to a High-Yield Savings Account
If you’re paying fees to a bank or earning next-to-nothing on your savings, you need a new bank!
Head over to Fiona, which is like a search engine that helps you find the bank that pays the highest interest rate in your area.
When I did this, I found a bank that paid 22X the national average on their savings accounts! Getting a bump in your savings is a low-risk, low-effort way to generate some extra passive income.
# 4 – Earn $39 a Year With This Passive Income App
If you shop on Amazon, ShopTracker will pay you to see your shopping history. To start earning you just have to connect Shoptracker to your Amazon account.
You’ll instantly earn a $3 Visa Gift card, plus another $3 for every month you keep it installed.
Your information is securely stored by Harris Insights & Analytics, a trusted market research firm. You’re probably familiar with Harris, as their Harris Polls are constantly referenced in the media.
You’ll also be glad to know ShopTracker removes your name, shipping address and any personal payment information before reporting your purchase history.
# 5 – Manage Social Media for Small Businesses
One side hustle I started in the past was managing social media for local businesses.
One of the things I really enjoyed, and made the work a lot less stressful, was that my clients were on retainer.
Furthermore, a lot of the work I did was upfront. Then, I would put in one to two hours a week afterwards optimizing.
It wasn’t 100% passive but it sure was close.
I know social media managers who have five or so clients, each paying them $1,000 to $2,000 every month. And after the work is done to get their campaigns set up, they work only a few hours per week on each client.
If you’re interested, Liz Benny has a free-webinar: How To Become A Social Media Manager, Without Knowing A Thing About Social Media.
Liz has a great personality and her work as a social media manager has appeared in places like CNN, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and Entrepreneur.
If you’re looking for a fun-time, plus the opportunity to learn a very valuable skill, check out her free webinar here.
# 6 – Launch a Blog
There’s a number of ways you can earn passive income through blogging. For example, take one of the more popular posts on The Ways To Wealth The Best Investing Books of All Time.
This post is now getting hits for the search term “Best Investing Books”. When someone visits that page and buys one of those books from Amazon, this site generates a commission on the entire order.
That page also generates email subscriptions. When I publish a new post, I can send it out to the email list to increase traffic.
That’s the tip of the iceberg for ways to make passive income from blogging. There’s advertising, affiliate marketing, membership sites, selling products, and more.
That’s why a blog is a phenomenal asset to own.
The Ways To Wealth Exclusive Offer: Launch your blog for under $3.00 with Bluehost. Get a FREE domain ($15 value) and great customer service, too. That’s more than 50% off of the original price of $7.99/mo when you use TW2W’s exclusive link.
If you’re interested in starting a blog, I have a free email course: How To Make Your First $1K Blogging
With this free email course, you’ll discover:
- Day 1: Reasons you should (or shouldn’t) start a blog
- Day 2: How to determine what to blog about
- Day 3: An insanely simple guide to launching a blog
- Day 4: How to make your blog a profitable blog that matters
- Day 5: Top traffic tips
- Day 6: Getting the maximum results in minimum time
- Day 7: Trusted free blogging resources
Enter your name and email address below to signup.
# 7 – Start an Online Course
One of my favorite stories I’ve heard from the past year is that of Teresa Greenway from the book Side Hustle School by Chris Guillebeau.
Teresa, who was on food stamps while taking care of her son full-time with autism, launched an online course all about baking sourdough bread.
In the first two years of launching her course, she earned $86,000.
Teresa launched her course on Udemy. A site which allows anyone to create and host a course.
If you’re interested in making money from online courses, check out the free webinar, “How I Went From A “NOBODY” To A Million Dollar Course Creator.”
The course creator Liz Benny started her online career as a social media manager. However, to scale her business to the next-level, she turned to creating courses for her clients
Her webinar is a must watch, if you’re interested in creating an online course.
# 8 – Maximize Your Cash Back
If you’re using a credit card for your purchases, it makes sense to maximize your cash back.
Say you spend $50,000 a year on your credit cards. Going from an average of 1% to 2% cash back allows you to earn $500 more in rewards every year (of course, only if you pay off your balance in full each month).
Considering some of the top cash back cards offer up to 5% back–this is doable.
You can also earn a good chunk of money from credit card welcome bonuses.
One of my favorites is the Chase Saphire Preferred Card that offers 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in 90-days.
50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points can earn you up to $625 in credit. On top of that, Chase gives you 5,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user.
If you’re able to hit the minimum spend and add an authorized user, you’re looking at $590 worth of rewards.
You’ll then earn 2X points on all travel and dining purchases.
Love to travel?
Check out The Ways to Wealth’s Free 5-Day Email Series: The Beginner’s Guide to Free Travel Through Credit Card Rewards.
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# 9 – A True Passive Income App
Nielsen Holdings, the large publicly traded market research company most known for its TV Ratings, will pay you to download an app.
You just download the Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel App on your phone and/or computer. For each device you’re eligible for, you can get paid up to $50 a year. So, if you have four devices in your household, that’s up to $200 a year.
You’re then automatically entered into their many sweepstakes held my Nielsen. Prizes include vacations and the latest tech. Plus, there’s a $10,000 sweepstakes you’re eligible for every month.
# 10 – Try This Passive Savings App
The Trim app is really a passive savings opportunity, then a passive income idea.
How does Trim save you money passively?
Check out this email I got from Trim the other day:
With no involvement at all, Trim negotiated a discount on my Comcast bill for a power outage.
The app itself lives inside of Facebook messenger.
All you do is sign up, connect an account and their robot will message you ways you can save.
For some of these tasks, Trim’s robot assistant will handle the whole transaction, e.g. negotiating your bill or cancel a subscription.
The average person saves $30 per bill, with Trim now saving its users over $1,000,000 a month total.
# 11 – License a Business Idea
If you have an idea to enhance a product or service–you can get paid to license that idea.
I see this a lot on Shark Tank where Kevin O’Leary loves to buy 100% of a company and then enter a licensing agreement with the entrepreneur. Kevin sells it hard for the fact that the entrepreneur can sit back and collect royalties for every unit that sells.
There’s a great book on the topic, One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work, I read after it was recommended by Tim Ferriss.
If you ever dreamed of being an inventor, grab the book from Amazon or your local library.
# 12 – Earn Money Downloading An App
MobileXpression is a market research company that pays you for downloading an app.
You then earn cash, gift cards, or prizes keeping the app installed.
After MobileExpressions is installed for a week, you’ll get a $5 Amazon gift card. You’ll then get to play their rewards game, which has all sorts of prizes you can win (from another Amazon gift card to an iPad). What’s great is that everyone wins something.
MobileExpressions doesn’t monitor phone calls or personal information. What they’re looking for is the web pages you use, links you access, and the activities you do on your phone e.g. app usage, time on your phone, etc…
You can also uninstall the app at any time.
# 13 – Lease Out Idle Assets
What assets do you own which could be very valuable to someone else?
Maybe it’s a spare bedroom, which you can put up on Airbnb.
Maybe you have an unused parking spot, which you can list on SpotHero.
Maybe your business has a specific type of customer, which to another business could be very valuable.
Your idle or unused assets can be very valuable to someone else.
Take advantage of this when the partnership benefits all parties.
# 14 – Invest in Stocks
One thing you’ll learn when you study the stock market, are that stocks pay out about 2% of its total value each year in dividends.
In 2014, the last time the IRS reported this number, it was 254.7 billion! If you’re not familiar with the concept behind dividends, it can be summed up as cash paid to shareholders.
So, just by being a shareholder of a stock, the company will pay you.
Choosing the right individual stock can get risky.
That’s why instead of buying dividend stocks, I prefer to own the entire stock market and take advantage of both dividends and appreciation.
To quote Warren Buffett,
“Over the years, I’ve often been asked for investment advice, and in the process of answering, I’ve learned a good deal about human behavior. My regular recommendation has been a low-cost S&P 500 index fund,”
If you’re looking to get started investing, I highly recommend you check out Betterment.
What I like, and why I invest my own money, with Betterment is that:
- They only offer a low-cost index fund approach to investing
- Their fees start at just .25% (which is way below industry average)
- Their no-cost, value-added services like automatic-tax loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing make it a truly hands-off approach
- You can start investing in Betterment with just $1
# 15 – Make Money With What You’re Already Doing
Another quick idea that can earn you passive income in the future is to sign up for Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is one of the largest reward sites around, now having paid out over $275,000,000 in rewards.
There are dozens of ways to make money from Swagbucks. Most common are watching videos, using coupons, and shopping online.
The most passive way to earn on Swagbucks is to earn is to change your search engine to Swagbucks search.
Once you set up the search engine, you won’t even realize it’s there. Those who work at a computer and search quite often, earn $10 or so bucks a month.
It’s not much but you’re making money from something you were doing anyways.
# 16 – Make Your 401(k) Passive
Do you invest in a 401k) or another type of employer-sponsored plan? That’s great!
Is that plan optimized with the right mix of funds and the lowest possible expenses?
If you’re not sure, check out Blooom.
What I like most about Blooom is it gives you a free analysis of your 401(k) that can be boiled down to one simple image.
Here’s what mine looks like:
This initial checkup is available at no cost and can be done in just a few minutes.
If you then want Blooom to manage your 401k), they’ll do so for just $10 a month (with your first month free).
A 401k) can be a great source of passive income in the future. Choosing the optimal mix of investments however, is the difference for some between retiring early and working later than they’d like.
Pro tip: Once you create a free account, Blooom has a generous referral program that allows you to earn a $10 Amazon gift card for every friend who takes the free analysis. This in including your spouse, family members, or close friends.
# 17 – Affiliate Marketing
The final passive income idea is affiliate marketing. Here you’re selling others products and services in exchange for a percentage of the sale or a set fee.
Many affiliate programs are even recurring, so you can get paid each month as long as that person continues to be a customer.
If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend popular blogger Michelle’s course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle makes over $50,000 per month from affiliate marketing and was just featured on Oprah’s website.
It also certainly helps to have a website to make passive income from affiliate marketing. Click here to get exclusive pricing on hosting for under $4 a month.