Updated November 20, 2022

41 Best Passive Income Ideas to Make Money

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How do the rich get richer? Passive income. And you don't always need money to start. Here's how to fund your early retirement.

If you want to build wealth, you could spend all your waking hours at work.

Or... you could simply make your money work for you.

Passive income is the set-it-and-forget-it way to make money long term. With passive income, you can earn money while on vacation, spending time with family, and even in your sleep!

But getting started can be tricky. It takes time and effort to set up multiple streams of passive income--and not all of them may work for you.

In this guide, find out the top 40 best ways to earn passive income. Plus, check out how much you could earn with each passive income idea.

What is Passive Income?

Ever dreamed of making money while you sleep? That's passive income. Passive income is money you make when you're not actively working. Ideally, it should generate income on an ongoing basis and shouldn't require too much effort to maintain.

Passive income can be separated into two categories:

  • Investing some capital into assets that can grow (investing in stocks, rental properties, business, etc.)

  • Putting in time and effort to create something that will earn money (creating a blog, product, music, book, etc.)

The truth is that all passive income will require some work - don't expect to make money by doing nothing. But choosing good strategies and putting in the effort will result in positive outcomes.

Read on for the best passive income ideas, whether you have start-up cash or have time.

How much passive income do you currently earn each month?

What passive income ISN'T
  1. Your job - Passive income is supposed to bring in income without active effort so you can spend more time on hobbies and with loved ones
  2. Side hustles - Again, passive income is not active
  3. Consulting - You need to be able to step away from the work and still make money with passive income streams
  4. Investing for speculation - Stock appreciation is not income because you only see the return if you sell the investment (exceptions are dividends and cash on cash returns)

Passive Income Ideas with an Upfront Investment

The following passive income streams require investing some money upfront. Depending on the income source, your upfront investment could be as little as $5. Find the right one for you below.

1. Auto-Invest with Robo-Advisors

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 11.00% -15.67%[1]

Robo-advisors automatically invest for you. They pick investments for you and manage your portfolio, so you don't even need any investing knowledge or practice. Just sit back and let the investing platform do all the work.

Just answer some questions about your goals and risk tolerance, and the software algorithms will create an investment strategy for you. All you have to do is fund your account.

A lot of robo-advisors don't have a minimum, so you can open an investment account even if you don't have a lot of money.

See our complete guide to the best robo advisors.

Difference between residual income and passive income
Passive income is money earned when you're not actively working. Residual income is a type of passive income. Residual income is money you continue to receive even after all the work is done (such as song royalties, YouTube ads, or stock photo downloads).

2. Real Estate Crowdfunding

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Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 10% - 15%[2][3]

With real estate crowdfunding, you pool money with other investors to fund properties together. The platform will automatically invest your money in different properties, so there's little to no learning curve.

You can earn returns from dividends (generated by rental income) and when the property appreciates in value. This is generally a longer-term investment of at least five years.

These real estate crowdfunding sites are open to everyone:

  • Fundrise: $10 minimum. Invest in diverse new and stabilized projects across the US.
  • DiversyFund: $500 minimum. Focuses on multi-family buildings to collect rental income.
  • Rich Uncles: $5 minimum. Focuses on commercial rental properties and paying dividends.
  • RealtyMogul: $5,000 minimum. Focuses on small-balance commercial real estate opportunities.

Another benefit is that you don't have to deal with tenants, repairs, and other headaches associated with owning rental properties.

Investing in real estate is a great way to diversify your portfolio. Historically, real estate investment has seen a higher return compared to the stock market.

Another option for real estate investing is to invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) on the open stock market. These are companies that buy and manage real estate projects. The difference with these is that you can sell your share of the stocks at any time.

3. High-Yield Savings Accounts

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 0.30% - 3.25%[4]

Earning interest on money you already have is arguably the most effortless way to generate passive income. Online savings accounts pay more interest and have less fees than traditional banks.

Sure, an APY between 1% and 3% may not net you thousands of dollars. But if you continually save more money, your interest will compound over time with zero risk.

A savings account is an ideal place to park your emergency fund and money for short term goals.

Bonus Tip: Many banks also offer cash bonuses for opening new accounts. This is an easy way to get some extra cash in your pocket. Check out the current bank promotions.

4. Peer-to-Peer Lending

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Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: 6.7%[5]

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms let you lend money to individuals who don't qualify for traditional bank loans. You'll earn returns as people pay back the loan with interest.

However, there is the risk that a borrower won't pay back the loan. You can lower the risk through diversification by investing in multiple loans in micro amounts.

Here are two popular P2P lending sites and their lender requirements:

  • Prosper: $25 min investment in each loan;[6] gross annual income of $80,000; net worth of $80,000 (California residents have higher requirements.)[7]
  • Upstart: $100 min investment; you must be an accredited investor (net worth of $1 million or an income of $200,000 or more in the last two years)[8]

Does passive income get taxed?
Yes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does tax passive income, though the amount varies depending on the type of income and profit earned. Your tax adviser can help you understand how passive income will affect your taxes.[9]

5. Dividend-Paying Stocks

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 1% - 2%[10]

Dividends are company profits that are shared with stockholders. Companies often pay dividends as cash, but sometimes they pay them as shares of stocks. These stocks are lower risk and can provide a steady stream of passive income, combined with capital appreciation.

You can decide what to do with the dividends. You can either withdraw or reinvest the dividends to compound the growth.

Typically, more established companies offer dividend-paying stocks. However, there's no guarantee that a company will consistently pay dividends.

If you're not sure what to invest in, you can invest in a dividend index fund. Index funds are a basket of lots of different stocks, so you're instantly invested in a wide variety. Dividend index funds contains companies expected to pay higher dividends than average. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) also pay dividends.

You can invest in high dividend stocks with any online brokerage. Here are the best free stock trading apps.

6. Pay Down Your Consumer Debt

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Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: Varies by your debt interest rate

It may not be a flashy option, but paying off high-interest debt is always a smart move.

Think about it this way: If you completely pay off a credit card that charges 15%[11] in interest, you've just earned 15% on your money. That's pretty significant! You're unlikely to find an investment with returns that high in such a short amount of time.

If you cannot pay your debt off in full, consider refinancing debts, such as student loans or personal loans with high interest rates. Any money you can save on interest is passive income.

You can use online budgeting tools like Mint or YNAB to help with debt payoff planning.

Another option to pay off credit card debt faster is to do a balance transfer. This is when you transfer your current debt to a new credit card with a 0% APR balance transfer promotion. This way, you have some time to pay off your debt interest-free.

7. CD Ladders

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Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 0.09% - 0.83% (Average CD rate)[12]

Certificate of Deposits involves putting away your money for specified period. Typically, the longer term you commit to, the higher interest rate you earn.

But if you don't want to tie up your money in the long-term CD, consider CD laddering. You split your investments into different CDs with different rates and lengths. As each CDs matures, you can take out your money, or reinvest into another CD.

And if CD rates go up, you can reinvest into a new CD with a higher rate.

With an FDIC-insured CD account, your principal is safe (up to $250,000). However, your buying power may decrease over time due to inflation. Still, a CD will give you better returns than holding your savings in cash or in a non-interest-earning account.

Here's what your ladder strategy may look like:

  • $1,000 in a 1-year CD at 2.30%
  • $1,000 in a 2-year CD at 2.50%
  • $1,000 in a 3-year CD at 2.70%
  • $1,000 in a 4-year CD at 2.80%
  • $1,000 in a 5-year CD at 2.90%

After the first year, you can withdraw the money plus interest in your 1-year CD. You can then reinvest all that into a 5-year CD. Another year later, your 2-year CD will have matured, and you can reinvest that into another 5-year CD. And so on.

8. Bond Ladders

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 4% - 7%[13]

Bonds are fixed income investments that pay you fixed-rate interest payments over a set period of time. When the bond matures, you'll get your principal back. Unlike stocks, there is very little risk, so it's smart to include some bonds in your portfolio.

Bond ladders work like CD ladders. You purchase bonds of different amounts and maturities. As each bond matures, you collect the interest payments and can reinvest the funds in another bond (if you wish).

The idea is to have a series of bonds with staggered maturity dates so that you always have liquid funds and earnings. Ideally, you keep reinvesting the funds to generate more growth.

Can you make passive income with no money?
There are plenty of passive income ideas that don't require an upfront investment. This usually means sacrificing your time (like creating an e-course or starting a blog) or renting items you already own (like renting a room, equipment, garage space, etc.). Just remember that not all passive income ideas are guaranteed to work, which means you may be putting forth effort without reward.

9. Invest in Small Business Inventory

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: Specified by retailer

Kickfurther.com has a unique crowdfunding concept where you help a company purchase inventory. The company specifies a rate of return and an expected time frame to sell.

Essentially, you are buying the inventory on consignment. You actually own the products. Once the products sell, you'll earn your share of the profits.

All buyers also get their own Kickfurther site, so you can help sell the inventory on your own. If you sell items directly from your store, you'll receive extra 5% commissions.

You have to do your own due diligence and research the companies. Kickfurther has a thorough screening process, but there is still a risk of the products not selling.

10. Refinance Your Mortgage

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: Depends on your mortgage and refinance rate

If mortgage rates have decreased or your credit score has improved, refinancing your house can save you money. A lower interest rate can help you save hundreds each month.

Generally, if you can lower your rate by at least 1%, it's worth refinancing. For example, on a $300,000 mortgage, the difference between 5% and 4% interest could be over $300 a month. Over the life of the loan, you can save tens of thousands of dollars.

You can then take that extra savings to pay bills, invest, or save for retirement.

11. Wrap Your Car in Advertisements

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: $196-$452 per month[14]

If you don't mind driving a car that looks like a mobile billboard, you can get paid to wrap it in company advertising. Wrapify and Carvertise matches you with available campaigns and pays you to wrap your car and drive it around.

You can choose how much you wrap your car (panel, partial, or full). Partial wraps pay on average $196 - $280 per month, while full wraps pay on average $264 - $452 a month. You could easily make a few extra thousand per year.

If you live in a big city, this is an easy way to earn passive income while driving your normal daily commutes. You can earn better rates if you drive during "high traffic times."

12. Rent Your Car on Turo

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Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: Use Turo's Carculator to find out

If you have a car you don't use on a daily basis, you can make money by renting it out to those in need.

Turo is the Airbnb of car sharing. You list your vehicle, add pictures and available dates, and set the price. There's no penalty if you turn down a request to rent, so it doesn't hurt to keep your listing active as an extra passive income source.

Turo even provides liability insurance coverage for car owners up to $750,000.[15]

13. Rent Your Home on Airbnb

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: ~$900 per month[16]

If you have an extra room or you don't live in your home year-round, consider listing it on Airbnb. This platform connects private renters with travelers looking for a place to stay.

Rentals can be either a shared room, private room, or entire house. You set the availability and price.

Keep in mind, there is some work required. You'll be responsible for keeping the place clean for guests, as well as taking care of any problems during their stay.

Guests pay through the Airbnb platform before their stay, so you don't have to worry about payment. Hosts pay 3% to the platform.[17]

You might consider renting out your spare bedroom or house to long term tenants. Becoming a landlord will guarantee a more consistent stream of passive income. But choose your tenant carefully and make sure you screen them properly.

Roofstock is a marketplace that easily lets you buy a property online. You can buy a house already with tenants. Unlike REITS, with Roofstock, you actually own the house.

14. Rent Storage Space

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: Depends on location and size of storage space, but check out Neighbor's listings to get an idea

If you're not sure about sharing your place with strangers, you can rent a part of your home to store people's stuff instead.

Have an extra bedroom, garage, attic, or basement? Sites like Neighbor lets you list your extra space and earn income when someone rents it for storage.

This lets you make money on an empty room that would otherwise just collect junk. A garage in Los Angeles can rent for $100 - $200 per month. This can provide a consistent passive income stream.

15. Earn rental income from unused space

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 60-100% increase in existing rental income[18]

Already dabble in real estate investing? PadSplit is a housing marketplace that connects property owners with residents who need an affordable place to live.

With PadSplit, real estate investors can "optimize" their properties for more space and more income.

It's a win for residents, too. People living in PadSplit homes get access to invaluable resources like job matching, telehealth, and credit repair assistance.

16. Rent Parking Space

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: Depends on location, availability, and number of parking spaces[19]

Got an extra parking space? If you live in a metro area with great access to local hotspots, you can make extra cash by renting your unused parking spaces.

Apps like CurbFlip and Pavemint lets you list your parking spots. Drivers reserve your spot and pay online through the app. You can offer bookings daily, weekly, or monthly.

17. Ecommerce Drop Shipping

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Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: ~$1,000-$5,000 per month[20]

Drop shipping is a low-cost way to get into e-commerce. You don't need to carry your own inventory, you just sell other people's products.

You just handle the marketing and maintain your e-commerce store.

However, this business model isn't as easy as it sounds. There's lots of competition and it could be hard to make your site stand out. Your profit margins are also low since you're not selling your own goods.

If you want to consider this, Shopify is the most popular platform. Oberlo is a Shopify dropshipping app that was built to make it easy to find and add products and ship them directly to customers.

18. Invest in rental properties

Difficulty level: Easy
Potential earnings: 22.99% (Fundrise)[21]

Did you know you could buy and flip houses from your laptop? Real estate consistently increases in value over time. But the cost and work involved are out of reach for most investors.

Enter real estate crowdfunding apps. These platforms are a good source of passive income. They'll do the research of purchasing undervalued properties and fixing them up to rent out the real estate at a profit.

Every app is a bit different so do your research and pick the right one for your investing style, financial timeline and budget.

Passive Income Ideas with Upfront Time Investment

Got time and a passion project? In this section, you will invest your sweat and hard work instead of money. Building your brand with a blog, Instagram or book can pay off in the future.

19. Start a Blog

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Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: $200-$2,500 per month[22]

A blog takes a lot of time and hard work to start monetizing. However, a successful blog could be one of the most rewarding side hustles, and even turn into full-time work.

As you build an audience, you can earn money from affiliate marketing, selling ad space, sponsored posts, and more. But it's not completely passive as you'll have to keep on writing new articles and looking for partnerships.

Try to find a niche rather than being a general "lifestyle" blogger. Think about your interests. Even if you're not an amazing writer, everyone has insights to share. Just make sure the content is high quality.

Some popular topics that make good money include:

  • Health and fitness
  • Business and marketing
  • Parenting / Baby
  • Budgeting / Personal finance
  • Crafting and DIY
  • Technology
  • Self-improvement / Relationships

20. Create an Online Course

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: ~$200-$500 per month for the average instructor[23]

If you have a special skill or professional certification, you can create an online course and teach others.

There are plenty of platforms that allow you to create online courses, market them, and sell to consumers around the world. Plus, they take care of all the technical setup for you.

Three reputable websites are:

  • Teachable: Customize a domain to host and promote your course. You can post PDFs, images, videos, and audio files to enhance your courses.
  • Udemy: Create your own video course; has an established user base of over 50 million students.
  • Skillshare: Teach a creative skill with video lessons. Teachers are paid on a royalty system.
  • Coursera: The platform partners with educational institutions and companies to create courses. To make a course, your university or company needs to have a tie up with Coursera.

21. Create an Alexa Skill

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: Payment is based on your skill's customer engagement[24]

Just like smartphones have apps, Alexa-enabled devices have "skills", like setting alarms, playing music, getting weather report, and more.

If you are a developer, you can create your own Alexa skill on just about anything. Think of something that solves a problem. Some ideas are:

  • Games that users can play
  • Food and drink recipes
  • Work outs and guided meditations
  • Daily vocabulary or new language learning
  • Trivia of your favorite books and shows

Skills can be either a one-time purchase, consumables (users buy, use, and buy again), or subscriptions.

Amazon offers free courses to teach you how to make an Alexa skill.

22. Start a YouTube Channel

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: ~$800-$1,400 per month[25]

Making YouTube videos does require a lot of work and effort, but it can be very lucrative once you have a following.

Most likely, you won't make anything in the beginning. But even one viral video can generate continuous passive income through ads. The most popular types of videos include:

  • Video game walk-throughs
  • How-to guides & video tutorials
  • Product reviews
  • Shopping & beauty
  • Fitness

It takes time to grow your channel. And you'll need to frequently create fresh videos to keep your viewers engaged. But many people have been able to turn their YouTube channels into a full-time job.

60% of people prefer online video platforms versus TV, giving you a large audience to choose from if you are already a video marketer.

23. Write an eBook

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: 35%-70%[26]

Ever dreamed of being an author? You can easily publish your own eBook using Amazon's self-publishing tool.

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing is a free program. The process is really simple and you can earn up to 70% royalties on your ebooks with each sale.

You'll be responsible for formatting, cover design, and your own marketing. But you'll be taking advantage of Kindle's huge customer base.

You can even use Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to turn your e-book into an audiobook for distribution on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. You'll be able to choose your own professional audiobook producer.

If you don't already have a following, non-fiction e-books like "how-to's" tend to fare better than fiction novels. For fiction novels, mystery/thriller books sell the best.

Semi-Passive Small Business Ideas

Being your own boss is tough but rewarding. You work on your own schedule and terms. Get inspiration below and to build your empire.

24. Create a Podcast

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: $30-$44/hour for full-time podcasting[27]

If you have a good speaking voice and can tell an engaging story, you can host your own podcast with just a little bit of equipment.

Your podcast can be about almost anything. Here are just some examples of things you can talk about:

  • Teach a language
  • Share books and shows recommendations
  • Find strange news from around the world
  • Interviews with local small business owners
  • Answer weird questions people are too afraid to ask

After you have a following, you can monetize your podcast by including affiliate advertisements, sponsors, or selling your own products.

25. Invest In Small Businesses

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: As much as 24%[28]

Investing in startups can be a good way to support a small business while earning some passive returns.

With equity crowdfunding, you actually own a small piece of the company. You'll earn returns when the company is acquired or goes public. The business might also have a dividend agreement that pays investors a share of the profits.

These three equity crowdfunding platforms are open to non-accredited investors. You can become an angel investor even with very little capital. Since the minimums are low, you can invest in a few businesses to limit your risk.

  • Wefunder: As little as $100 to invest. Wefunder does charge a 2% processing fee.
  • SeedInvest: Min investments as low as $200. SeedInvest also charges a 2% processing fee.
  • LocalStake: Invest in local food & beverage, consumer products, and retail companies. Typically $250 or $500 min. No processing fee.
  • MainVest: Fund local entrepreneurs with as low as $100. MainVest doesn't charge investors any fees.

Note: This does have some risk because startups are more likely to fail. But the potential return can be higher too. Search for businesses you want to invest in and be sure you understand the terms.

26. Buy an Existing Business

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: Varies, but try Flippa's business valuation calculator to get an idea

Don't want to start a new business from the ground up? You can buy an online business or blog that's already making some revenue.

Then, you'll earn income by creating content and marketing the site. If you don't want to run the entire business yourself, you can always hire freelancers to help.

Here are some marketplaces to buy existing businesses:

  • Flippa: Bid on blogs, websites, and e-commerce businesses. Keep an eye out on the thousands of listings on sale every day.
  • BizBuySell: Buy established businesses and franchises.
  • SocialTradia: Buy existing Instagram accounts with some following.

27. Sell Digital Files

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Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: Depends on what you sell, but many people make $100+ per month

Got a knack for art and design? You can create digital products, such as printable wall art, coloring book pages, crochet patterns, invitations, or thank-you notes. You'll make money with each download.

If you're not artistic, you can sell things like budget spreadsheets, Lightroom presets, blog templates, meal plans, etc. The opportunities are endless.

The great thing about digital product sales is that you don't need to run to the post office to ship, making it a side hustle with a very minimal time commitment.

Etsy and Creative Market are some of the best places for digital products like graphic design files, fonts, and templates. There are tons of other online marketplaces for specific niches.

Pro tip: You can always hire a designer or artist on a freelance site like Upwork, Fiverr, or Guru to design the product. Then, just market and sell it.

28. Sell Stock Photos

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: 15%-20%[29]

If you fancy yourself an amateur photographer, why not take the opportunity to profit from your photos? You can upload your pictures on a stock photo website and earn royalties whenever someone buys it.

An added benefit is that you can make money multiple times on the same picture. Some of the best websites to sell stock photos are:

Pro tip: Some sites don't require exclusive royalty rights. So you can even list your photos on multiple stock photo sites for more exposure.

29. Sell Your Music

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: ~50% of your streaming revenue[30]

Got an original song, jingle, beat, or sound effect? Sell your music online and earn royalties every time someone uses it.

Some popular platforms to sell music are:

  • SoundCloud: Monetize songs with ads (like YouTube). SoundCloud Premier pays 55% share of net revenue.
  • Epidemic Sounds: A music subscription platform for content creators. Music artists are paid up-front and split streaming revenue 50/50.
  • Bandcamp: If you already have a following, this platform allows you to sell directly to your fans. Fans have paid artists $528 million on Bandcamp.

30. Sell on Merch by Amazon

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: 13%-37% of the item price[31]

If you're already a content creator with a fan base, Merch by Amazon gives you another way to reach your audience. It's a print-on-demand service that allows you to easily sell your branded designs on t-shirts and hoodies.

All you have to do is upload your design. Merch by Amazon takes care of the rest, including production, shipping, and communicating with the customer. You earn a royalty each time someone orders your item.

There is no upfront cost for you at all.

Note: You have to request an invitation to join the program. Because of the popularity, they do screen you and it could take months to be approved.

31. Affiliate Marketing

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: ~$100 per day[32]

Already have a blog or website with a decent amount of web traffic? Consider affiliate marketing for a truly passive revenue stream. Some people make thousands per month just from affiliate links.

You recommend products or services by including links on your site. Every time someone clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you earn a small commission.

The Amazon Associates Program is the most popular affiliate programs for beginners. Other popular ones are:

You can also contact companies you want to support and ask to join their affiliate marketing program.

32. Run Ads

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: Depends on your audience, content, and more factors

Another way to earn passive income on your website or blog is to sell ads. Advertisers will pay a lot of money on blogs with a lot of traffic.

There are two ways you can do this:

  • Display ads: These are ad banners on top or the sidebar of your website. An easy way to get started is Google AdSense. A downside is that you'll have ads clogging up your site.

  • Native ads: This kind of ads match the look of your content. For example, you can slip in ads in your blog articles or videos. These ads are not so obvious and often pay a lot more.

33. Buy and Sell Domain Names

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: $80-$700 per month[33]

You can buy domain names (website addresses) at a low cost and then sell at a profit. You can come up with your own names, or buy an existing domain name from a site owner who no longer wants it.

You'll have the best chance of making a decent profit if you buy popular or generic domain names. Many businesses are after generic names and will pay hundreds or even thousands for the domain.

There are a number of domain flipping sites. Start with these four:

34. Buy Vending Machines

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: ~$300 per month[34]

Vending machines are a great way to start a side business without a lot of startup costs or overhead. The hardest part is finding the best location to put the machine.

A used vending machine could cost just $150 to $400. After that, your only other cost is replenishing inventory. You'll have to take time to restock the machines, so this venture does require some active work.

35. Buy a Laundromat

Difficulty level: Moderate
Potential earnings: $100-$1,500 per day[35]

Buying a laundromat can be a great passive income opportunity. After all, people need to do laundry no matter how the economy is.

Self-service laundromats require very minimal supervision. That makes it an ideal physical passive business that can generate a lot of cash flow each month.

You'll likely need to put down 25-40% of the purchase price.[36] If you finance the rest, your revenue can most likely cover the monthly payments. It's literally an investment that can pay for itself.

Physical business ideas to earn passive income:
  • Self storage facility: Location and condition of the storage units is important
  • Auto car wash: You'll need to invest in equipment like a pressure washer, dryers, cleaning solutions, etc.
  • ATMs: You'll need to purchase a machine and put in money. Choose a good location.

36. Create an App

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: Depends on what type of app you make[37]

If you know programming (or can pay for a software engineer) and have a great idea, try creating an app.

There's an app for almost everything today, so do your research first. After it's created, you'll also need to market it so it doesn't get lost in the millions of apps in the Google Play and App Store.

You can earn passive income by offering a premium version, ads, in-app purchases, or selling a subscription.

37. Be a Social Media Influencer

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: ~$2,900 per month[38]

Popular on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook? Depending on the size of your following, social media influencers can earn good money by promoting products or services for other companies.

However, it can take a long time to build up a large enough following to attract sponsorships. You usually need at least a 5-digit following and plenty of engagement on your posts.

It's best to have a niche or particular aesthetic. And be sure to consistently post creative content!

38. Lead Generation

Difficulty level: Difficult
Potential earnings: ~$15 per hour[39]

A lot of small companies don't have time or don't know how to bring in new clients online.

If you're good at SEO and digital marketing, you can offer services to local businesses to help them bring in leads. This means helping the business rank on search engines, Google ads, and/or social media marketing.

This is called lead generation. The main goal is to develop a list of potential customers.

Industries that pay the most for lead generation include lending, mortgage, life insurance, contractors, and home service providers.

Easy Passive Income Ideas

Need a super easy side hustle? The following ideas can be accomplished while watching movies on Netflix or on-the-go. If you need something that's super low effort, these are the routes to take.

39. Get Paid to Take Surveys (Easy)

Many sites offer surveys in exchange for cash. You can get paid to share your opinions on products and services you already use.

Don't expect to get rich, but it's an easy way to make some extra money online while watching TV on the couch.

Try some of these reputable survey sites:

How much you earn will vary with each website. For example, Survey Junkie pays $1 to $3 per survey on average, while Swagbucks pay $0.40 to $2 per survey. Inbox Dollars could even pay up to $5 per survey.

Want to literally make money while you sleep? Participate in a sleep study. Researchers usually pay people a couple hundred dollars per night.

40. Save up to 30% off your electricity bill

This idea is closer to passive saving than passive income but who doesn't want to save as much as possible on their utilities?

The Rocket Money app negotiates lower rates, finds refunds and even cancels forgotten subscriptions on your behalf. This includes gym memberships, slow but overpriced wi-fi, computer programs and more. For things like electricity, the app searches for better power rates in your area and locks in better rates for you.

Simply connect your bill by logging in or by uploading a photo of your bill. They'll unleash an expert team of discount hunters to contact those pesky companies charging you. Once the negotiation is complete, you're notified of the update and how much you'll be saving.

41. Credit Card Rewards

If you already use credit cards for everyday expenses, a rewards credit card can earn a little passive income. This is a no-effort way to earn extra money on things you normally buy.

Cashback cards give you a percentage back on everything you buy. Travel rewards cards let you earn airline points to help save you money on travel.

In addition, credit cards often offer bonuses for new applicants. You can get bonus cash or points after spending a certain amount within a certain time.

But don't overspend just to earn more rewards. Make sure you can pay your bill in full or you'll be charged high interest.

42. Cashback for Online Shopping

Do you shop online often? Use a cash-back website to effortlessly earn some extra money when you make purchases. This is perhaps the easiest way to take your first steps to making passive income.

Instead of purchasing directly on your favorite stores' websites, just shop through a link on one of these cash-back sites.

Three common reward programs include:

  • Swagbucks: Earn points when you shop online, take surveys, watch videos, and more. Trade in your SB points for gift cards or cash back from PayPal.

  • Rakuten (formerly Ebates): Standard deals offer between 2%-5% cash back on purchases. But there are often double-cash-back specials and other incentives. You'll get cash back in the form of quarterly checks or PayPal payments.

  • Earny: Add the Chrome extension and earn up to 20% cashback when shopping online. It even offers refunds if prices drop after you make a purchase.

43. Cashback for Dining Out

The Seated app gives you rewards for dining out.

Just simply make a walk-in or reservation with the app's partner restaurants. After you have dined there, just take a picture of the receipt with your phone and upload to the app. You can get up to 30% back.

You can use your rewards points for gift cards for Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Delta, Nordstrom, and more.

How many passive income streams should you have?

There are a ton of options on this list. Which one should you go for? And how many?

Well, there is "no size fits all approach" when it comes to passive income streams. Your number of income sources should reflect your talents, interests/hobbies, career and financial goals, and your bandwidth. That said, exploring 2-3 income streams is a good start.

For instance, try to supplement your full-time job with stock investments and a weekend side hustle like writing a book or uploading Youtube videos.

Or if you're a freelancer who primarily works from home consider renting out your car and investing on real estate crowdfunding platforms.

The options and combinations are virtually endless.

Diversifying your income generated from human capital with rental properties, income-producing securities and business ventures are important to your financial future.

Remember to know your bandwidth and what you can balance. You don't want to lose focus on your existing income streams.

How to minimize your taxes on passive income

Passive income is important for a brighter financial future but you'll keep an eye on your tax liability.

For some income streams, you can reduce your potential taxes by creating a business and setting up a retirement account. You have to be a legitimate business to qualify for this strategy.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Register with the IRA to receive a tax identification number for your business
  2. Contact a broker (like Charles Schwab or Fidelity) to help you open a self-employed retirement account
  3. Decide which type of retirement account works best for you (solo 401(k) and SEP IRA are very popular options)

With a traditional 401(k) or SEP IRA, you can get a tax break on this year's taxes. You can stash 100% of your earnings up to the annual maximum into your solo 401(k). SEP IRA lets you contribute at a 25% rate.[40]

What Experts Say

As part of our series on saving and investing, CreditDonkey assembled a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions:

Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Passive income is the holy grail of achieving financial freedom. There are a ton of ways to make different income streams no matter your financial situation.

For the passive income options that make the most sense for you, think about what you have on hand - whether that's cash, skills and/or resources. Once you choose a method, the key is to stick with it. Continue to remind yourself of your reason.

Earning a passive income is possible if you make a plan, put in the time, and have a strong work ethic. There's no guarantee as to how much you may earn. But if you diversify your efforts and build multiple revenue streams of passive income, you can make it into a reality.

Additional Resources


  1. ^ Backend Benchmarking. The Robo Report Fourth Quarter 2021, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  2. ^ "How High are Real Estate Crowdfunding Returns [Case Study]": My Stock Market Basics, 2018.
  3. ^ "How much can I earn on my money?": Groundfloor, 2022.
  4. ^ CreditDonkey. Best High Yield Savings Accounts, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  5. ^ "Why do peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms fail? The gap between P2P lenders' preferences and the platforms' intentions.": Electronic Commerce Research, 2021.
  6. ^ Prosper. Is there a minimum investment required?, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  7. ^ Prosper. State Financial Suitability Requirements, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  8. ^ SEC. Accredited Investor, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  9. ^ IRS. Topic No. 425 Passive Activities Losses and Credits, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  10. ^ "S&P 500 Dividend Yield": Nasdaq Data Link, 2022.
  11. ^ "Average Credit Card Interest Rate": CreditDonkey, 2019.
  12. ^ FDIC. National Rates and Rate Caps as of October 17, 2022, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  13. ^ "Historical Returns on Stocks, Bonds, and Bills: 1928-2021": New York University Stern School of Business, 2021.
  14. ^ Wrapify. How much can I make, Retrieved 2/1/2022
  15. ^ Turo. Insurance & vehicle protection for Turo hosts, Retrieved 11/20/2022
  16. ^ "How Much Are People Making From the Sharing Economy?": Earnest, 2021.
  17. ^ Airbnb. How much does Airbnb charge Hosts?, Retrieved 4/3/2022
  18. ^ "PadSplit Announces 179% Revenue Growth in 2020": Cision PR Web, 2020.
  19. ^ "How much can I potentially earn?": Pavemint, 2022.
  20. ^ "Is drop shipping worth it?": BlueCart, 2022.
  21. ^ "Track record": Fundrise, 2022.
  22. ^ "How much do bloggers make?": Fit Small Business, 2020.
  23. ^ "How much do Udemy instructors make?": Teaching Guide, 2019.
  24. ^ "Alexa Skill": Amazon, 2022.
  25. ^ "How much do YouTubers make?": Influencer Marketing Hub, 2022.
  26. ^ "eBook Royalty Options": Kindle Direct Publishing, 2022.
  27. ^ "Werk It Survey: What Podcasting Pays Now": WNYC Studios, 2019.
  28. ^ "Past Performance": WeFunder, 2022.
  29. ^ "iStock Rate Card, effective January 1, 2022": Getty Images, 2022.
  30. ^ "Here's how indie artists will make money with SoundCloud Premier": The Verge, 2018.
  31. ^ "Royalties": Merch by Amazon, 2022.
  32. ^ "How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing? (2020 Stats)": Scaleo, 2020.
  33. ^ "What Is Domain Flipping: Definition, Cost & Providers": Fit Small Business, 2019.
  34. ^ "We interviewed 20+ vending machine owners. Here's how much they make.": TheHustle, 2020.
  35. ^ "How much does the average laundromat make in a day?": Laundromat Resource, 2022.
  36. ^ "How to finance a Coin Laundry": Laundromat Resource, 2022.
  37. ^ "Average app revenue by Store Category": SurveyMonkey Intelligence, 2016.
  38. ^ "HypeAuditor 2021 Influencer Income Survey": HypeAuditor, 2021.
  39. ^ "Average Lead Generator Hourly Pay": PayScale, 2022.
  40. ^ IRS. SEP Plan FAQs, Retrieved 2/1/2022

Holly Zorbas is a assistant editor at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Holly Zorbas at holly.zorbas@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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How much passive income do you currently earn each month?
63% None, but I'm working on it!
15% Less than $500
4% $500 to $1,000
11% $1,000 to $5,000
6% More than $5,000
Source: CreditDonkey. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
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