Betterment – Betterment was the first robo-advisor to launch, almost ten years ago. They’ve automated the entire investing process, so all you have to do is watch your portfolio of assets grow (over the long run, of course). They do charge a .25% annual fee of your account total, so if you’ve got $100,000 that’s being managed by Betterment, you’ll pay just over $20 per month.


Non-fiction e-books that educate your potential audience on specific topics like finance, online marketing, and business are going to make you more money than fiction books. Of course, there are always exceptions and you could write the next Harry Potter book, but if you want to create some residual income opportunities quickly, I would suggest you go for what sells first!

When most people think of investing opportunities, they think of stocks, bonds, and precious metals. While these are still some of the most common ways to invest, the platforms have evolved, and there are more options than ever. Gone are the days of mountains of paperwork, high brokerage fees and unattainable account minimums. Now you can invest on your own terms.


Earn rental income. One of the more common ways that people earn passive income is by buying and then renting out property. These can be homes, apartments, land, or even individual rooms within your home. To do so, you'll have to find a property to rent out, determine a fair rental price by looking at comparable properties in your area, and then act as a landlord for your renters. You can convert this income source into truly passive income by hiring a manager to act as a landlord for you. However, this may not be economically feasible until you have several rental properties.[1]
I will share what we did, because it’s an incredible success story. We used an existing tax loophole where if you sell your primary residence (after having lived there at least two years) you get to keep your profit tax-free. So, we stair-stepped. We bought house after house, at least two years apart, used the profit money to pay down on the next house (so on and so forth, yadda yadda) building up equity as we went along… and now, we own a $600,000 house debt-free. And now we are using our paid-off home as leverage to borrow money to buy commercial buildings to rent out. I like commercial because it’s a BUSINESS transaction… kids, pets, other wear and tear that you see with residential rentals is nonexistent. People take care of their business space much better than residential. You have to be in a good area for renting out commercial – a thriving business community – to make this work. But that’s how we “made it”, and though it took 15 years, we will have residual income to take care of us when we’re old enough to retire. People made fun of us for moving so much, but who’s laughing now? 😉 Oh, and our child only had to change schools once (and we wanted to anyway) because we stayed in the same general area as we moved around. We were careful not to disrupt his life too much. 

Once your audience has grown and you have validation that you’re offering them value, there are many ways to create passive income. You could sell digital products like ebooks or courses, take up affiliate marketing in which you promote other company’s products and earn a commission when you sell that item to your audience, build a community and charge people to be a part of it, create software and sell that, among other avenues. Ask your audience directly what would serve them best, or look at what they’re saying on Twitter, Facebook or other websites, to find out what problems they have and how you could help solve them.
My favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.
The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Physical real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.
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?)
How to Monetize: Affiliate marketing works well when you discuss products on your blog. For our fish tank blog, we would link to all the things you need to buy for an aquarium and then when people click on that link and buy that item (and other items they purchase with it with some exceptions) you get a percentage of the purchase. Amazon Associates is the best-known affiliate marketing program, but there are others like Impact Radius, ShareASale, Commission Junction, ClickBank and Rakuten too.
However, this situation tends to create additional problems for the freelance and gig economy as a whole. Fifty-seven percent of freelancers already report having cash flow issues. Additionally, 58% of freelancers have also had troubles with getting paid on time. This is troublesome, because while income may not always be constant, expenses certainly are.
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Maybe such a business is owning a McDonald’s franchise or something. If one has the capital (Feasibility Score 2), then the returns might be good (Return Score 6). But the Risk Score is probably under a 5, b/c how many times have we seen franchise chains come and go? Like, what happened to Quiznos and Jamba Juice? A McDonald’s franchise was $500,000… probably much more now?
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. 

However, investing in passive income streams isn't as easy as it looks. Most online passive income strategies, such as e-commerce, are effective and profitable only after you have built up a substantial following. And they take a lot of time, and sometimes, money, to make them work, unlike passive investing in low-cost index and other funds in the stock market.
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.

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.
This is separated intentionally from “information products,” because here I’m referring specifically to secondary value creation. If you can write a popular blog and get people reading it, you can sell ads. Alternatively, if you write a niche blog about vegetarian, gluten-free cat food, you can use special affiliate links to different websites, and get paid when people buy through those links. There’s lots of great blogs making tons of money doing these two things (I know of people making millions referring credit card signups), but please note that unless someone is writing and distributing the content for you, this is not passive income. It takes a lot of work to drive traffic. Some of the smarter people I know doing this have hired content writers and set up a bunch of sites, but they invest a TON of time on SEO, finding the right topics, etc.
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!
4) Treat Passive Income Like A Game. The only real way to begin your multiple passive income journey is when you are making active income. The initial funding has to come from somewhere. Hence, treat passive income as a game that has various levels. If you fail to achieve one level, it’s not the end of the world since you still have active income and can restart. Furthermore, a game is meant to be played with integrity. Using shortcuts (non passive income streams), someone else’s income as a supplement (spouse), or one-offs (capital gains) does not count. The primary purpose of any game is to bring enjoyment to the player and beat the boss.
If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.

We have decided to invest in 2 ETFs, a multi asset allocation ETF (Fixed Inc, alts and div paying equities) and a preferred stock ETF. This will cover almost 45 percent of our deficit. We will be extremely diversified, can access the markets at a very low cost and the investments are liquid. On this pool of $, we have no plans to invade principal unless the investment grows by 20 percent, which we think is unlikely given the characteristics of the investments.
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.
I've now only got an SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real-estate-rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don't miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes and another mortgage, and dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn't believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn't be comfortable raising my son there.
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.
For me, this has worked out brilliantly. Because I had passive income streams set up, I didn’t have to worry about generating sales immediately, raising funds from investors so that I can eat, etc. I could take my time, try out 100 different opportunities, and ultimately settle on a business that suited my needs (the one that I’m running now), which allows me to live and work wherever I want and whenever I want, and is, for the most part, fully autonomous. But I didn’t always have passive income — in fact, it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of learning (do yourself a favor and read Rich Dad Poor Dad — iBooks Link Here) before I had anything worth mentioning.
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In 2012, even I wrote a 150-page eBook about severance package negotiations that still regularly sells about ~35 copies a month at $85 each (2nd edition for 2017) without any effort. In order to generate $2,975 a month or $35,700 a year in passive income as I do now, I would need to invest $892,500 in something that generates a 4% yield! To earn $10,000 a year in passive income would therefore need roughly $250,000 in capital.

Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!
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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.
Or you could do joint ventures/strategic alliances for your business or for other businesses and make residual cash flow for $0 investment.. that’s what I do lol. No money, no risk, little time, 20+ years working from home. Just connect companies and take a %, use the Internet to do it locally or globally, be the intermediary & connect companies…. ;-)
I have not. While I am intrigued with the possibility of making online income, it seems to be less passive then how I want to spend my time. Regarding your blog / site, you have done quite well for yourself. However, you have to keep pumping out content or your site would eventually go out of business. That sounds like more of a commitment then I would want. Regarding your book sales, it is probably relatively passive now, but certainly was not when you were writing the book. Now if you love it, great. Just not for me.
The term “selling” probably doesn’t need much explanation, but it’s where value is transfered one time in exchange for money. Heart surgery, baguettes, and designer jeans are all ways to sell value. This one would probably the least optimal of all, at least for passive income, if it weren’t for an exception. This is because once you sell a normal commodity or service, you can’t re-sell it. Here’s the exception to this: software or digital goods can be duplicated with a very low marginal cost(now that we don’t use CDs, you can duplicate it with a cost of $0.00), and therefore, technically can be “sold” advantageously over and over and over again. This is why Microsoft grew to such a profitable company, and why I love selling digital goods.
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If someone stole my hard work and passed it off as their own, I’d be livid and would pursue them to the ends of the Earth for full restitution. A man I hired to work with me registered my preferred domain name of my business and has re-registered it in subsequent years. That’s bad enough; I’m mad as hell. The worst aspect of his behaviour is that I don’t know WHY he has done that; I paid him the fee we had agreed on and thanked him for his input. We also got along perfectly well during the project so far as I know, so I don’t see what his problem is.
I prefer assets that make me a high return for the lowest amount of work possible (semi-passive involvement). And assets that pay me in several unique ways. Cash flow is only one way RE makes money for me. I also get principal reductions, appreciation, tax advantages (depreciation), and I control the rental increases on a yearly basis. Plus a majority of the capital is provided by the secondary market on 30 year fixed low interest rate debt.
That strategy seems waaaayyyy less risky than actively picking stocks of supposedly “reliable” stocks that issue dividends, which could be cut at any time due to shifting industry trends and company performance. Dividend investing feels like an overly complex old-school way of investing that doesn’t have a very strong intellectual basis compared to index investing.
When you invest in a dividend-paying stock, you are buying a share of the company and you literally become part-owner of that business. As the company grows and generates extra cash that it doesn’t necessarily want to re-invest, it might decide to return some of the extra cash to the shareholders in the form of dividends. And because you own a fraction of the company, you will receive a portion of the cash!
As todays business world becomes more and more web focused, creating passive income streams online should be one of your main focuses when building a business in the new economy – whether you’re doing this on your own, or with the help of virtual assistants that manage your blog, or even handle the marketing of your site – you’ve got to love making money while you sleep!
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.
3) Create A Plan. Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” You must create a system where you are saving X amount of money every month, investing Y amount every month, and working on Z project until completion. Things will be slow going at first, but once you save a little bit of money you will start to build momentum. Eventually you will find synergies between your work, your hobbies, and your skills which will translate into viable income streams.
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