Who wants money flowing in day after day whether you work every day or not? Yeah, I thought so.
No, it’s not an Internet myth. Online and offline, people have built their fortunes on the principles of passive income, the basis of which goes back centuries to wealthy families, including the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and others.
These folks knew then (and millions still know today) that you can make more money when you set up systems that don’t require you to be hands-on all the time. While passive income isn’t quite “set it and forget it,” it does allow you to receive income on a regularly while you sleep, play or do anything else.
Even though the passive income method has been taught for countless decades, there is still confusion over what passive income is, how it works, what you have to do to get it, and more.
Passive income has become hugely popular over the last 10 years. However, the pandemic has pushed our craving for making money passively from home to new heights.
Have you been searching online for “passive income ideas?” Let me guess, you haven’t found what you’re looking for, have you?
The problem with most lists of passive income ideas is they include things are enormously complicated and expensive to set up. Can you easily build an app or buy and rent homes? Oh please!
The simple passive income ideas below don’t take much training (you may already know how to create them). Plus, they are all digital so there’s no outlay of cash unless you need to take a course to learn how to implement them.
Here’s one example.
I asked a question the other week about making passive income with print-on-demand products. One comment from a reader was “If you give it all your effort, it could be more than just passive income.” While his comment was meant to encourage, he was a little off base.
He was thinking of passive as meaning you didn’t put your all into growing the income.
Let’s dig in so you can begin to develop passive income strategies that will produce for you month after month.
What Is Passive Income?
The definition of passive income changes slightly depending on who you ask. Some people claim passive income only includes methods that require no effort at all. These include interest income on bank balances, dividends on stocks, etc.
To me, that doesn’t make sense. You still had to do something. You had to open an account and deposit money or buy stocks. There was still an effort even if it was small.
I define passive income as revenue received with
little to no effort after the initial setup.
You will have to do something to kick off the passive income. You may — at some point — have to make a small effort to maintain or grow passive income (such as adding money to an account, sending an email about an affiliate product, etc.). We’re talking about passive income, not coma income.
What shouldn’t happen is that you spend time every day working actively to earn money from these sources. That’s not passive income.
My Passive Income Story
From the time I founded Marketing Words in November 1999 until around 2015, the company was 90% focused on hands-on copywriting services. That was time-consuming. All hands-on services are time-consuming. About 2007, I published my first digital product, an online copywriting course (which has been updated numerous times over the years).
I sold the course to my small email list and I had one affiliate who sold the course to her list. That was it. Between the two of us, I made approximately $20,000 in passive income sales from that digital product over 12 to 18 months. After the initial creation, I sent emails and mentioned the course on social media and a few other places.
When I ran the numbers and saw the potential of just this one course I was hooked! I began looking into other passive income ideas in order to grow my revenue. I piddled around, but didn’t go all out with other passive income strategies until 2015.
Today, my passive income portfolio includes:
- Affiliate marketing
- Course creation
- And more (see below)
How Passive Income Strategies Work
The exact process for generating passive income varies depending on which passive income strategies you choose to pursue. Here are a few of the most popular.
Benefits: If you send email on a regular basis, this is a super-simple, no-brainer way to increase income because it only takes five minutes to set up and hardly any time to implement.
Drawbacks: Nothing much. I suppose you have to remember to update the signatures from time to time to make sure the offers are still valid.
How It Works:
Use the P.S. lower section of your emails (near or below your signature) to insert a special offer or freebie for your readers. You can do this with text or make them look extremely professional with simple Canva designs that don’t take long at all to make.
Insert them into each email and make extra money with every email you send.
Benefits: You don’t have to buy any inventory upfront. You don’t have to store or ship products.
Drawbacks: You don’t have control over shipments. If there is an unforeseen delay in shipping, you would not be able to send a replacement.
How It Works:
Print-on-demand is a partnership that allows you to sell custom physical products (such as T-shirts, PopSockets, mugs, etc.). You create the designs and upload them to any number of marketplaces, including Amazon, Etsy, or eBay.
When you set up a print-on-demand account and connect it to your marketplace (Amazon, Etsy, etc.), sale notices are automatically sent to the print-on-demand company. At the time of the order, they create the physical product and ship it to your customer.
After you create the design (or have someone else create it) and set up your listing on the marketplace site, the rest happens automatically. The cost of the product, shipping fees, etc., are deducted from the order total, and the rest is your profit.
Freebies (Content Upgrades)
Benefits: These can bridge the gap between leads who think they might be interested in a product and paying customers. They come in all different types including ones what are quick and easy to create all the way up to those which are more complicated. These can support a product you created or upsell to an affiliate product.
Drawbacks: Using freebies successfully usually means creating an entire funnel to support the opt-in offer which could be time-consuming.
How It Works:
If you have a product of your own or an affiliate product you want to promote, you can create an ebook, guide, video, checklist, planner sheet or other freebie. People will opt into your list in exchange for your free gift.
The useful information in the freebie (perhaps 5 Best Ways to _____) shows them why they need the product and subtly provides a link and optional coupon code that entices them to purchase.
Benefits: There are no physical products at all. Printables are completely digital. You sell files that customers download and print on their own printers.
Drawbacks: None that I can think of.
How It Works: Printables are created using software you probably already have/use including:
- Adobe InDesign
- And many others
Printables might be in the form of a simple quote styled in a nice script font suitable for framing, a two-page travel packing checklist or even a 20-page printable journal. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of types of printables that are easy to create and quick to sell.
Digital Course Creation
Benefits: Everything is digital, so it’s extremely easy to set up systems for purchase and delivery. You can use your own website or any number of ready-to-use sites such as Teachable or Udemy. Everybody has knowledge they can share that will help others succeed. You can choose simple formats to get started, including video, written lessons or ebooks, audio, and others, most of which can be done initially with equipment you probably already have.
Drawbacks: There are a lot of moving parts to manage at first. In addition to creating the course, you also need a way to sell and deliver the course. If you host everything on your own site you’ll need a sales page, a shopping cart, a payment provider (PayPal, Stripe, etc.), an email / autoresponder service, and a website to host the product videos / audios / lessons, and more.
How It Works:
You use your knowledge to teach others how to do something. The options are endless, depending on which niche you are involved with, how in-depth you want your course to be, the price you want to charge, the type of course (video, audio, ebook, etc.), and other factors.
You can record videos showing one or more cooking methods. You might provide audio lessons about creating a podcast. Have you helped your ADHD child succeed in school with ideas that worked when other methods didn’t? Write an ebook, or do a webinar and record it so you can sell it later.
The ideas are limitless!
Referral / Affiliate Marketing
Benefits: Super-easy to get started! It doesn’t require a website, email list, or any other technology. All you need is people to refer products to. You can even use other people’s contacts / email lists.
Drawbacks: You have control over very little because it isn’t your product or service. The affiliate program creator / manager has the final say about how much you will make in commission, how/where you can promote, and other elements. The affiliate can close the program at any time without warning.
How It Works:
Course creators, software developers, credit cards, meal-in-a-box companies, and all sorts of other businesses want to expand their reach and profits. In order to do this, they offer the ability for people outside their company to sell what the business offers on a commission-only, sub-contract basis.
For example, let’s say you’ve tried the HelloFresh at-home meal delivery service and loved it. Your Facebook friends have been talking about finding a new meal-delivery program to subscribe to. Based on your experience, you could sign up for the HelloFresh affiliate program and earn up to $25 for each new person who places an order through your affiliate link.
Do you have a business following? Almost every business needs a website. Signing up as an affiliate for the hosting company you use (if you like them) will give you a simple way to make a recommendation to those searching for a hosting company while earning recurring commissions every month.
Kindle Books (with KDP)
Benefits: You can create the whole thing (around 30-50 pages) from idea to publishing in less than a week. If you have existing content, you can use that, tweak/update/expand on it and you’ll be finished much faster. Or you can use the no-writing option to make super-short ebooks.
Drawbacks: To make the most, you’ll want to use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program which means you won’t be able to sell the book on your own site, on other book sites, etc.
How It Works:
You create simple ebooks that are only a few pages and length (around 30-50). These are not novels or business books that are 200 pages long.
There are generally two approaches you can take.
- Writing an Ebook –You can write a book from scratch answering 10 or so questions about a specific topic. You can easily find questions just by Googling the topic name (passive income, for example).
If you have existing content from a blog, podcast or elsewhere, you can pull bits and pieces from that, expand on it and cut down your writing time.
Because the Kindle Create software (free) is so improved, it’s easier to use than ever before. In fact, with a little guideance, the whole process won’t take you much time.
- Creating Kindle Books Without Writing – Don’t like to write? No problem! There are Kindle books you can create that do not require much writing, or any writing.
One extremely popular type is coloring books for children or adults.
Where To Get Passive Income
You can absolutely earn passive income offline through bank interest, stock dividends, rental property, and the like. But for the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on online passive income ideas.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Print-on-demand products on various online marketplaces
- Selling digital products or mugs on Etsy
- Creating and selling your own digital courses
- Selling books or T-shirts on Amazon
- Creating affiliate campaigns
The holy grail of passive income is recurring income programs.
These are typically memberships, online software paid for monthly, website hosting, advertising (such as AdSense, Mediavine, YouTube ads), and so on. Pretty much anything that is paid repeatedly.
Recurring programs pay you month after month with
zero effort after you make the first sale.
Beginner Passive Income
While experienced online business people may be ready to jump right into the passive income pool, beginners might be a little hesitant. What’s the best way to earn beginner passive income? In my opinion — without a doubt — affiliate marketing.
The reason is that the majority of the hard stuff is done for you. You don’t have to:
- Create the product
- Build a website
- Pay for or set up a shopping cart
- Pay for or set up an email/autoreponder service
- Grow an email list
The product, website, and shopping cart are all the affiliate program manager’s responsibility. All you have to do is use one of a dozen or more ways to share your recommendation about the product you are an affiliate for, and then collect the commissions.
If you aren’t sure where or how to find affiliate products, or how to know the good programs from the bad, I can help! My Passive Income Jumpstart course walks you through this process. You’ll discover how to investigate and evaluate affiliate programs, as well as implement techniques to make sales. Use code PASSIVE to save $10.
Already Implementing Passive Income Strategies? Here’s How To Make More!
If you are already implementing passive income ideas to grow your income, that’s great! Could you use another idea to help you earn more?
At a women’s beach retreat I attended, I had the opportunity to hang out with one of the ladies for whom I am an affiliate. During a dinner conversation, it dawned on me that I wasn’t sure what products of hers my followers bought the most.
I logged into the affiliate dashboard on her site and saw one particular product that I sold every month. Just a few of them. I also noticed those leads were coming from a blog post that was over a year old and still driving a trickle of sales.
So I decided to send an email to my list. Can you say, “Cha-ching?!” Do you know which products from which affiliates sell best to your list? If not, start logging in and checking. You might find some pleasant surprises that will give you passive income ideas to immediately bring in more cash.
22 Ways To Set Passive Income Ideas Into Motion Every Day
Taking steps to set up sources of passive income and/or promote them is a lot easier than most people think. If you do one or more of these every day, before you know it, you’ll have multiple streams of revenue flowing in!
Whether you are working with affiliate programs or your own products / services, you can:
- Sign up for a new affiliate program and share your link.
- Write and send an email for your own product or an affiliate product.
- Post on social media.
- Add a link inside a blog post you previously wrote.
- Write a new blog post and include links.
- Apply to be a podcast guest.
- Apply to be a guest blogger.
- Record a video and post it on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Sign up for and use Rakuten to earn cash back on your business and personal purchases.
- Create a quick course and sell it on Teachable.
- Use Thrive Architect to create better-performing landing pages.
- Develop an opt-in freebie or guide that highlights an affiliate product, and give it away.
- Use Thrive Leads to insert opt-in forms into your site pages or blog posts.
- Add affiliate links to your backend funnels.
- Host a flash sale on your best-selling course.
- Insert bump offers in your shopping cart for extra sales.
- Sign up for Amazon’s affiliate program and add links to your blog posts or “recommended” page on your website.
- Use Thrive Ultimatum timer to add urgency to your website pages or blog posts.
- Use countdown timers to your last-call emails.
- Contact 1 new affiliate and ask if they would like to promote your products or services.
- Add a P.S. to your emails with a quickie promotion of your or an affiliate’s product.
- Create and host a free webinar with an upsell.
Passive income strategies are well within your reach. What are you waiting for? Get started today and keep the flow going every day. You’ll love the results!