10 Passive Income Ideas
To Make Money Whilst You Sleep
There are a lot of passive income ideas out there and some are more passive than others, but anything that is making money whilst you have fun with the family and whilst you sleep is a great idea!
Obviously, anyone can apply these ideas, you don’t need to be a mom but I specifically chose these because they can be slotted around your ‘mom duties’. Don’t feel that you have to go and get yourself pregnant to enjoy the benefits of passive income 😀
First of all a two disclaimers:
Passive income is not an honest description of what it actually is, there is always going to be some work involved. I like to think that passive income is a minimal effort income stream vs a time for money income stream. Something like coaching or teaching, or more regular JOBS involves you rocking up and being present and for that effort, you get some money. Basic time for money.
Passive income often requires working for free initially but then you put your thing out there and it takes little maintenance and makes you money – if it all works out!
I am a big believer that everyone should have some passive income ideas implemented to supplement their main source of income, you never know when things are going to go pear-shaped and that passive income stream could be the thing that saves the day.
I also have a number of friends who started their side hustle or set up passive income streams that grew substantially so they quit their day job!
Second disclaimer – this post does contain affiliate links, that means that if you make a purchase through my link, I get a small percentage of the sale, at no cost to you. <– yay for passive income!
10 Passive Income Ideas
ONE – Write A Book
Books are the classic passive income idea. Takes quite a bit of work and effort up front but then you can get payouts for years to come. And now with Print On Demand (POD) and self-publishing, breaking into the bookselling market has become a lot easier.
My first book, Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-Schoolers was even easier than sitting down and writing from scratch. I had been blogging for fun, for years. I collated a number of blog posts, cleaned them up, formatted them for consistency and turned it into a book! Taa-daa!
First I launched it as a kindle book, hit the #1 spot on all 12 Amazon stores for its category and got me ranked in the top 5 for Montessori books across the board. Once I had established the ranking, I released it as a paper book. Now the paper version outsells the kindle one.
It took me 6 months from concept to #1 spot, it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears – formatting for Kindle is no picnic! But it was absolutely worth it. 5 years on my book royalties for that one book, cover all my business expenses.
What you need is… to write a book (obviously!)
If you decide to self-publish, you will need to pay for editing. Depending on your skills, formatting and book cover design might be something you need to out-source too. This can all be a bit daunting but it can be done quite cheaply too.
If you decide to go the traditional publishing route, you will probably need an agent and thick skin, rejections are a certainty in the publishing world!
With either route, marketing will be the key to your success and you should start looking at that before you have even finished your manuscript. Traditional publishers look at your social media presence before signing the deal these days and you will be expected to do a good chunk of publicity yourself.
Writing a book isn’t the easiest or quickest passive income idea but it comes with other perks such as leveraging yourself as an expert in your field. Kindle books/ebooks can be put together quite quickly. They don’t have to be long but the content has to be amazing. Putting a book out that is basically all dribble is going to damage your reputation and do nothing for your bank balance!
If Kindle is the way you want to go, I highly recommend checking out Dave at Kindlepreneur, loads of great information over there.
2 – Affiliate Marketing
This is one of my very favourite ways to make money and takes very little effort! It does help to have a social media presence and an email list BUT it’s not the be all and end all if you don’t.
What is affiliate marketing? This is how it works:
- You find a product or company you love.
- You sign up for their affiliate program.
- You get assigned a special link which has your affiliate tag built into it.
- You share your link with the world.
- Anyone who then buys through your link gets tracked and you get a percentage of the sale.
How is absolutely fab that?
The percentage varies greatly, Amazon is between 4 to 8% so not a great kick back BUT they have everything under the sun for sale so it is easy to find items that fit your target market, whether it be yoga mats or lawnmowers! PLUS once your reader lands on Amazon, if they make any other purchases, not just the item you linked to, you get the credit for that sale too.
Some programs I’m an affiliate for pay 50% of the sale. When it is a $2000 program, that is a nice chunk of money in the bank. Go and check programs you have taken in the past and see if they have an affiliate scheme, it is often listed in the footer of the website or email the course owner and ask!
This brings me to another point – you really should only promote service/products you have used and love. People are buying because of your recommendation, if you are promoting something that is actually shite, your reputation is going to go down the pan too. On the flip side, if you recommend something and people love it they are more likely to take your recommendations in the future!
To get started, think about all the products and services you use and check out if they have affiliate programs. There are some rules to learn, make sure you check out all their terms and conditions (yes, that means reading all that boring jargon) but it’s better to do that than for fall foul of the FDA guidelines. For example, you can’t use Amazon links in emails or ebooks, yet other businesses are fine with you emailing their link.
There are also places link Clickbank and Shareasale which is a portal for affiliate companies. Once you log in you can find companies to become an affiliate for, you need to apply to each company individually but all your earnings are pooled into one place.
3. Print On Demand Merchandise
You can pretty much print anything on to anything these days! And if you have any artistic ability you could be leveraging your creativity and getting your work out there. Whether it be cute sushi roll artwork or goth vampires that are your thing, chances are there is a market for it!
There are a lot of places you can get you good printed on demand, the great thing is that many of them also take care of all the processing and shipping too! FTW!
All you need to do is to upload your designs, decide what you are going to put them on then pop them into your shop. Places like Cafepress and Zazzle have storefronts built in so you don’t have to build a website. You will want to do keyword research and write killer descriptions so that your products get found. Other places include Redbubble, Printful – which integrates with Etsy, Threadless, Blurb and Amazon merch (currently just T-shirts but I hear they are bringing in other items soon)
Going niche with these is a good idea, if you are into OAPs Roller Derby for example, then set up a shop targeting just that and then market to your OAPs Roller Derby network.
Using a POD service means that you won’t make as much profit but they do all the work for you bar the marketing, so there is no need to worry about shipping and customer service.
4. Drop Shipping
This is an interesting model… with drop shipping you run a retail store but you don’t hold any inventory. Say what?
This is the basic nuts and bolts…
You take money from the customer for a product. Then you buy that product from a 3rd party (usually a wholesaler) and they ship it to your customer directly, so you never actually see the product.
The great thing about this is that as long as you have an internet connection you can do it anywhere. You don’t need to worry about a warehouse full of stock and there are endless choices for the products to sell.
The downside is low-profit margins, inventory issues – what happens if your wholesaler goes belly-up overnight or they screw up the order, you are the one who will get the angry customer! Shipping costs can be a nightmare to calculate if you are using a variety of wholesalers.
It’s also not completely passive as you have to deal with the orders coming in but you can scale it up and down to suit your available time. I have a friend who makes a few thousand a month doing this and puts in about 30 minutes work a day.
Shopify has some good training if you want to get started with drop shipping as your passive income idea.
5. Digital goods
This is another of my favourite methods and one I accidentally fell into!
If you don’t know my backstory, the very short version is that I was selling fabric and my own paper sewing patterns on Etsy. The Tohoku earthquake happened and overnight, sales dropped to zero. It appeared that no-one wanted to buy nuked fabric and patterns!
I turned all my paper patterns into digital patterns and also added the Montessori cards I had made for my son to the shop and they have been selling in my Etsy store ever since! I also have patterns on Craftsy – if you are creative, and new to Craftsy go and sign up for the 7 day Craftsy Unlimited free trial to get an idea of the types of courses you could be making!
One big lesson I learned from this is that people will pay the same for a digital product as they would for a paper one because they want it NOW. That instant download is your leverage, so don’t price your digital goods cheaper than your physical ones.
If you are a teacher or homeschool or you make teaching materials for whatever reason, Teachers Pay Teachers is a great place to list your products. It is a HUGE search engine for people looking to buy teaching goods! I have training in The Wonder Mom Success Club specifically for getting started on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Other digital things you could sell, planners, clip art (Creative Market is great for this), fonts, spreadsheets set up for a specific purpose, scrapbooking, recipes… let your imagination run with this one!
6. Monetize your blog
If you are a blogger and you are not monetizing your blog WHY NOT?
Many bloggers, blog for the love of blogging but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be making money from it too! I have heard the notion that every post should be making you money but if you are blogging for the love it, the pressure to monetize EVERY post will soon zap the love for your writing – ask me how I know!
But there are ways to monetize your blog without going all out hard sell.
Affiliate marketing, that I talked about above, is perfect for blogging. You can easily add a product to a post if you are talking about it anyway or if that feels weird, add a section at the bottom of the post with the affiliate disclaimer and a list of things that you used. Readers will often thank you for this because they prefer to buy from a trusted recommendation rather than buying blind.
The other main source of income for bloggers are ads and sponsored posts.
What you can make here depends very much on the amount of traffic you have and your social media following. The more traffic, the more leverage you have.
You can sell ad space on the side of your blog or some blog themes allow you to insert ads between posts. I think you need to be careful not to overdo it, there is nothing worse than landing on a blog and getting bombarded with ads left, right and centre.
If you do have a decent amount of traffic, Google Adsense might be worth looking into. Once it is set up, you don’t need to do anything, just enjoy your bank balance. That said, it needs a lot of traffic to make decent money from Adsense. There are also ad networks such as Mediavine but you do need to meet the traffic threshold before you can apply.
The other option is for sponsored posts. This is where a company will pay you to write a blog post about their product. Again, ethics come into play here, I personally don’t review anything I haven’t used so I expect a sample or access to the software (Like with this Visme post about making branded infographics) and only review products that I think my readers will be interested in.
I get approached a LOT for this kind of thing but you need to be wary. Anyone approaching you, tell them up front that you will be stating that it’s a sponsored post (following the FDA guidelines) and that you will NOT include backlinks. This will immediately clear out any dodgy companies that you do not want to be taking money from!
Often these people are looking for cheap backlinks to raise their own SEO ranking but when you give them that link, it damages your own SEO and ranking. You only want to be giving backlinks to recognized, trusted sources.
Secondly, if they don’t want you to mention that it’s a sponsored post but they are paying for the post, that raises all kinds of red flags. It might be tempting to take the money but for the long term, it really isn’t worth it.
There are plenty of companies that will pay for a review post and it all be above board, you just need to be wary of the sharks.
7. Online Courses
Putting together an online course does take some work up front but they can be left to run on evergreen once you have run for the first time. You can also include masterclasses and workshops in this section.
A masterclass or workshop is usually a one video training, possibly with a workbook/PDF whereas a course is usually a number of videos covering different areas of a topic.
Think about the areas that you are qualified or knowledgeable in if you get stuck, use The Passive Income Generator to come up with some ideas, and make sure you do the section on validation too. You want to be making something that people will buy!
A lot of my clients feel that video is going to be a big scary process but these days it’s easy to do and you don’t need to go all out pro when you are starting out.
You can record yourself using free software like Loom which allows you to record yourself or your screen, the videos are saved in the cloud so then you can take the video and embed it into your site or you can download it and use somewhere like Udemy or Teachable to set up your course.
There are courses available for every topic under the sun, so whatever you are an expert in there is a high chance there is a market for it.
8. Sell Your Photos
Love photography? Then get your photos up on some stock photo sites!
There are loads of stock photos sites out there, I have 100+ listed in this post, not all of them take submissions but the majority do. The commission isn’t that high so you will need to be selling a lot of images to be making a nice income but if the fun is derived from taking the pictures than you can always view this as new equipment pocket money!
The big payouts come if your images are chosen for commercial purposes or you get hired to do commissioned work. I have a friend who makes a few thousand dollars a month from his stock photos and had a couple of his photos used as book covers.
You never know who is looking for that exact image you have captured!
Again, keywords are super important when you are listing your image, you want your prospective client to find your image. Plus the quality of the image, people don’t want “snaps” they want professional looking images.
9. Sell audio tracks
If you are musically talented then you can make the most of those talents and sell your music online.
Just like stock photos, people need stock music too. Music and jingles to use for intros and outros to podcasts and videos or background music to ads and videos.
If meditation is up your alley then meditation tracks could be one of your passive income ideas, either just the music or selling the music so that meditation teachers can add their own guided meditation too. Here are a few places to get started with Envato Market, Stock Music, Premium Beat and Pond 5.
I haven’t got a musical bone in my body so this is not something I’ve tried, I imagine you will need some kind of recording equipment, I know Mac comes with GarageBand and that is probably enough to get you started.
10. YouTube Video
If making videos sounds fun to you then you should seriously consider setting up a YouTube channel.
To make money from this is can be done by having ads on your videos. YouTube recently changed the rules, you now need 10,000 views to enable ads on your channel, it sounds like a lot but it doesn’t take that long to hit it and you also need to be signed up with Adsense.
You have a small amount of control over the ads and where they are placed but pretty much it is YouTube that makes the decisions using AI to figure out what would be the best ad to show that specific viewer.
Traffic comes into play again here, you need a decent amount of traffic and subscribers to be making a decent amount of money so you want to be focusing on building your brand and how to get your content viewed. SEO and keywords are vital, YouTube is a huge search engine, you need to nail those keywords to come up in a search.
Don’t poo-poo the idea though, there are plenty of YouTubers now that are earning thousands of dollars per video. This might not have been a job option when you were at school but it certainly a financially viable one these days.
The other way to make money on YouTube is doing sponsored videos. You will need a reasonably sized following before you can get these but if you focus on a specific niche you have a good chance of making it happen. Look at the kids who do the unboxing videos. The video below has made an estimated $111,000 to date and will continue to make money each time it is watched.
This channel has loads of videos uploaded and they obviously spend a good amount of time making each one, they also have over 12 million subscribers. Traffic is king, but if you find something that people love watching, you are laughing all the way to the bank!
I am 100% positive that you are capable of taking one of these ideas and running with it, if there are one or two that you like the sound of but you’re still not sure on the topic, then sign up for the free Passive Income Generator.
Not only will you come away with a bundle of great ideas that are specific to your skills, knowledge and passions you will also learn how to validate the process and make sure that the ideas you want to run with can and will make you money.
These are certainly not the only ways to make passive income but they are ideas where you can combine your expertise and passions to make money. I’d love to know what you fancy trying or if you are already doing some of these…