What Is Passive Income?

what is passive income?

In simple terms, passive income is making money without being actively involved — the holy grail of financial freedom.

But this doesn’t mean there’s zero work involved.

In most cases, creating a passive income stream requires serious work at the start — like writing a 30,000-word e-book or creating a video training course from scratch!

But once that work is complete, you can hunker down and watch the dollars roll in as people invest in your masterpiece:

passive income masterpiece

The toughest part of creating a passive income stream is finding either the time or the money to invest.

If you have the capital, you’ve got a head-start in this game.

If you don’t have much money, you’ll have to invest some good ol’ fashioned blood sweat and tears at the beginning.

How to Make Passive Income

There are two main ways to make passive income:


This is how the majority start out as most of us don’t have too much money to mess around with. Starting a business is one of the most efficient ways to grow and expand your passive income streams.

Here’s why:

  • Systematisation – The ability to develop and perfect processes that create results.
  • Automation – Outsourcing and systematisation enable you to take a back-seat approach.
  • Scale and leverage – You can grow quickly after you establish a system and introduce automation into your business.
  • Income potential – No caps on income, unlike a traditional salaried job.


Investments are an equally fantastic way for you to generate passive income and diversify those income streams.

Some obvious benefits include:

  • Compounding returns – Your return on investment can grow by the year as the value of your investment increases.
  • Minimal work – In many cases, the upfront work required is next to nothing.
  • High ROI – The possibility of incredible returns from small investments.

What This List Doesn’t Include

Plenty of posts out there list things like survey-filling, cash-back cards and savings accounts as passive income ideas.

That’s ridiculous.

You won’t find any of that nonsense on this list!

I hardly consider even conventional investing strategies to be passive income.

Here’s why:

A typical dividend stock investment yields a pitiful return of 2-4%.

And those are the good ones.

So, if you invest $20,000 of your hard-earned cash, you can expect to see a yearly return of around $400.

That’s $33 a month.


This type of investment only makes sense if you have hundreds of thousands to play with. And even then, there are far superior ways to invest your money.

45+ Real Passive Income Ideas that Don’t Suck

Ok, here we go. This article is over 10,000 words long so you’ll probably want to add this to your bookmarks!

I’ve split the ideas into four main categories. If you want to skip through to a category, check the contents section below where you can click through to your desired part of the article.

Each passive income idea is finished off with three counter circle metrics (not shown on mobile). Cost of launch, difficulty level, and profit potential.

Please note that for some of these metrics, I’ve had to apply a “best guess” estimate based on the research I’ve completed.

So don’t take them as gospel!

Let’s get started!


Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a business model with passive income written all over it. The only model of business where you can truly be your own boss.

Other businesses involve taking on clients, providing customer support or working to strict project deadlines.

But with affiliate marketing, you get paid for recommending products and services you believe in through affiliate programs.

When someone buys something through your recommendation, you receive a commission from the sale of the product at no extra cost to the buyer.

If anything, affiliates can save consumers money by offering special discounts that aren’t available directly through merchants.

Definitely one of my favourite forms of passive income!

The Niche Affiliate Website

A niche affiliate website is a site that solves a very specific problem. The very definition of niche is “relating to products, services or interests that appeal to a small, specialised part of the population“.

The basic gist is creating and ranking a website that targets a specific set of low-competition search terms. These terms need to have a problem that can be solved with a product or service you can recommend.

The website should have great content that answers all the questions people have on your topic. You can then refer people from your site to relevant products and services.

If anyone makes a purchase on the merchant website, you make a commission.

Here’s an example:

niche affiliate website

Herpes Secrets is an affiliate website in the health niche that was recently sold on the popular entrepreneur marketplace, Flippa for $7500.

Herpes is sadly a widespread health problem that attracts a lot of searches.

But on the plus side, this niche website provides helpful tips and promotes natural herbal remedies that help minimise the effects of the virus.

Content quality is average, nothing too crazy going on here.

This website generates a respectable $1-3k in profit every month. And grossed over $50,000 dollars in profit last year.

It’s worth noting that the sale price for this site is exceptionally low. Websites are usually sold for between 12-36 times their average monthly recurring revenue.

But in some cases, you’ll find sites (like the one above) that go for a much lower price, for various reasons.

You might think someone must be crazy to sell something that makes $2k a month for $7.5k but many of these business owners already have multiple streams of income and don’t have the time to manage everything.

The bottom line

It’s no secret that niche affiliate sites have huge passive income earning potential. Small niche sites typically make between one to five thousand a month and it’s not uncommon for affiliates to have multiple niche sites on the go, all generating a respectable profit.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Authority Blogger

blogging passive income

Everyone talks about how blogging is a saturated market these days. And it is. But most people don’t finish what they started when they launch a blog.

They get stuck in technical trenches or distracted by the dizzying array of marketing strategies for getting traffic.

And you know what? I don’t blame them.

Becoming an authority blogger is tough.

First off, you need to hone your writing skills, figure out email marketing, social media, SEO, landing pages, conversion optimisation and the list goes on.

No wonder most people don’t make it to the top.

But if you keep going, the rewards can be astronomical.

Reaching the top end of the blogosphere can result in a site that produces hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

Yes, from a blog!

And most of this money is usually passive income.

Blogger income falls into two main categories. Promoting affiliate offers and creating training courses and other paid materials. Some do both.

FAQ – What separates an authority blog from a niche affiliate website?

An authority blog has more focus on branding, influence and quality.

These blogs also usually have a key differentiator. From creating truly epic content to approaching a topic from a fresh angle or bringing something entirely new to the table.

Authority blogs also generally target broader topics because they can land powerful links from other industry influencers that’ll help them rank for super competitive keyword terms.

Niche sites tend to focus more on content that will directly convert visitors into buyers.

Buyer guides and product reviews are commonplace with niche sites — they usually have less focus on branding, influence and content quality because they target keywords that are easier to rank for in the search engines.

However, Google has been demoting many lower quality niche sites as of late, forcing website owners to focus more on authority niche sites that deliver more value.

The bottom line

Authority blogging isn’t rocket science. While there’s a pretty steep learning curve to get to an elite blogging level, taking the time to master the fundamental skill sets can result in life-changing passive income streams.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Lead Generation Website

Lead generation sites are similar to niche affiliate websites, but with a unique twist.

Instead of driving sales for businesses, you send them leads instead.

This can be done in all types of industries. From dentistry to accountancy and plumbing.

One example of a lead generation site is What Storage — a UK-based self-storage directory that generates leads for storage companies.

Getting paid for leads is much easier than driving sales.

Why? Because the “lead” only needs to register their interest for you to get paid!

Leads that turn into customers can be worth thousands in lifetime value for local businesses so they won’t hesitate to pay you well for your referrals.

Once you have a website like this ranking in Google for targeted search terms and you’ve set up your conversion funnel, it’s practically fully automated.

Hello, residual income!

The bottom line

One of the easier passive income ideas on this list. Local businesses, in particular, tend to struggle with digital marketing. Creating a website that generates leads for these businesses will have them fighting over your referrals and paying you well for your efforts.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Content Curator

content curator

Content curation is the art of collating and organising information in a skilful manner.

We love places where we can find the best content on any given topic, all in one place.

Part of the beauty lies in the simplicity of this strategy.

Curators don’t need to create tons of new content. They’re rewarded for researching, carefully collecting and organising data for people.

Curating content also adds value for the reader by presenting information in a new, powerful way that makes it easier and more enjoyable to consume.

This isn’t a passive income strategy on its own, but it’s an awfully useful tool you can use to publish content that people will love, without having to be a bonafide expert in something yourself.

Here are some examples of great content curation pieces: 

The bottom line

Content curation is a powerful strategy that businesses in all industries use to create content that people can’t help but bookmark and share. It is a strategy that can be used to grow a loyal audience without having expert knowledge and can be applied to many of the passive income ideas on this list!

The Price Comparison Website

Unless you’ve been living in a cave until now, you will have used a price comparison website at some point!

We use these sites when comparing flights, hotels, insurance, credit cards, loans and more.

The websites we usually come across are the giants of the price comparison world, but what if we take that idea and apply it on a smaller scale?

Let’s say we find a niche that’s full of products with confusing features and benefits — take the PC niche as an example.

Most of us have no idea what all the performance specs actually mean!

Am I right?!

You could create a niche site with detailed reviews on specific types of PC’s, breaking down the benefits of each spec.

It’ll have a beautiful design, super clean interface and be aimed at novice PC users.

You would also populate the site with other helpful content like tips and tutorials.

Of course, you’ll monetise the site by referring readers through Amazon affiliate links for them to go ahead and make a purchase.

Anytime someone makes a purchase through your referral, you make a commission.

Check out these amazing low-competition keywords I found:

The green colour at the end signifies that the keyword competition is fairly low, which means it shouldn’t require too many links for you to rank on the first page for that keyword.

These traffic numbers are only based on US searches alone. Plenty of opportunities here for building a thriving passive income producing review site in the PC niche.

The bottom line

Observing the market and finding out what works on a large scale can be replicated on a smaller scale without too much effort.

Niche price comparison sites can be a great way to drive traffic from low-competition keywords and generate passive income from your product reviews, tips and tutorials.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Coupon Website

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

Ever come across a coupon website and wondered how they actually make money?

Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, the coupon code industry is the strongest influencer of consumer purchase decisions in the United States…

Who knew?!

Most of us don’t spend much time on coupon websites. We grab the code we need and we’re off!

These sites make money through affiliate marketing.

After clicking “unlock” to grab your code, a cookie is placed in your browser. This cookie allows the merchant to see if you were referred by an affiliate, in this case, the coupon site!

So the coupon site is paid a commission when you buy something.

Coupon sites are great because they provide direct value to the consumer in the form of product discounts.

They’re also really profitable.

Why? Because people searching for coupons are usually just about to buy something.

The toughest part of building a successful coupon site is search engine optimisation. Most sites have low-quality links built because people don’t really link to discount sites.

Coming up with creative angles for link-building will give you the edge over your competition here.

The bottom line

Coupon websites offer great value to consumers and can make a killing if ranking well for a variety of search terms. Oh, and once established it’s 100% passive income. There may be a very small amount of ongoing tasks (like emailing your list with deals) but nothing that can’t be outsourced.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The X Calculator

A really simple passive income idea.

Picture the number of times you’ve searched for a word followed by “calculator”. Have you ever noticed that some of the sites that come up are small niche sites?

I noticed this recently when searching for “US mortgage calculator”.

Here’s the first result that came up:

The calculator itself works really well. The bottom of the form has two buttons that refer you to a loan broker called Lending Tree.

After doing some digging, I discovered that Lending tree has a Pay-Per-Lead affiliate program that pays up to $35 per qualified form submission.

Oh, and check out the terms this little website is ranking for…

This small site attracts almost 200,000 visitors a month!

Let’s say they convert a measly 1% of their traffic into leads and get paid $10 per lead.

That’s $10,000 a month.

They could be converting 10%+ of their traffic into leads which would mean this site produces over $100,000 a month in completely passive income.

Pretty nuts, right?

The bottom line

A calculator ranking for some high competition keywords generates more monthly profit than most small businesses do. This demonstrates the versatility of the affiliate marketing business model.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

Investing Passive Income Ideas

investing passive income ideas

Smart investing is a sure-fire way to grow and diversify your income as well as build your passive income assets.

But as discussed earlier, traditional investing generates ghastly returns. Let’s not waste time investing crazy amounts of money for measly monthly recurring revenue.

Instead, we should consider the following passive income ideas…

Want to save this post for future reference? Download a PDF version that you can read in your own time.

The Silent Local Business Partner

Investing your money in local businesses can be risky. But if you do your homework properly, it can be an amazing way to earn residual income.

The key here is to find business owners that have already created success with their existing setup and are looking to expand. Sometimes they just need that extra cash flow so they can grow.

In return, you’ll receive equity in the business.

The great thing about this strategy is that you get to negotiate the equity stake, so it’s possible for you to land spectacular deals.

When it comes to investing in businesses like this, make sure they pay shareholders on at least a yearly basis (owner distributions). Some businesses like to keep their profits in the company, not what you want!

The bottom line

A successful investment as a “silent” shareholder in a local business can provide a tidy yearly sum of passive income. Investing in the right people is crucial. You must do your homework!Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Real Estate Investor

real estate passive income

You can’t go too far wrong with real estate investing. It’s one of the safest places to put your money and is a “go to” investment strategy for many seasoned entrepreneurs.

More specifically, I’m referring to buying rental property.

Again, this is one of the passive income ideas where you really need to know your stuff if you want to succeed.

Successful rental investments involve mastering the following:

  • Finding the right properties – Understanding what makes a perfect investment opportunity is key to finding them.
  • Using good debt – Knowing how to leverage money from the bank as well as other investors will help maximise your cash flow.
  • Finding great tenants – Bad tenants can be a nightmare. There are certain demographics you’ll want to avoid when renting out your properties.

The bottom line

Executed in the right way, rental real estate can be one of the most reliable ways to make passive income. Doing your homework is crucial to success with this strategy as you could easily lose money without proper research and guidance.

Related: Have money to invest but real estate not your bag? Check out the best ways to invest 10000 post. Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Airport Parking Investor

airport parking passive income

You’d have never guessed this passive income idea!

Investing in airport car parking is a safe way to put your money away as the aviation industry continues to grow thanks to the growth in international travellers (in the UK).

It produces a higher ROI than traditional investment strategies. Up to 12%, in some cases.

Airport parking is estimated to be worth $12.5 billion annually, with demand regularly outstripping supply in the majority of UK airports.

Investing in parking spaces is similar to investing your money in real estate. You fully own the parking space(s) when you make an investment.

Parking spaces have huge projected capital growth, thanks to massive market demand. Great potential for further increasing your ROI and recurring passive income.

The bottom line

Car parking investment is a superior alternative to investing in traditional stocks and bonds. The aviation industry is booming and is only set to grow further. Demand for parking spaces is huge so this is a solid passive income investment with respectable returns.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential


REIT stands for Real Estate Investments Trust.

It’s a safe, reliable way to invest money and acquire ownership in houses, apartment complexes and commercial properties.

I’m not particularly fond of this one because the returns aren’t that great but it does offer a number of benefits compared to traditional investing.

There are two main types of REIT’s:

  • Equity REIT’s – Allow investors to own properties and generate revenue by renting them out.
  • Mortgage REIT’s – Allow investors to own mortgages, purchase them from lenders and loan money for mortgages. Profits received come from interest earned on mortgage loans.

REIT’s are a great option for investors because:

  • Regular shareholder dividends – Required by law to maintain dividend payout ratios (amount paid to shareholders relative to company profit) of at least 90%.
  • Less tax – REIT’s pay zero tax on dividends paid to shareholders.
  • Less volatile – Great market track-record for long-term share appreciation and inflation protection.
  • Low capital requirement – You only need $500+ to start investing.

Most REIT’s pay monthly dividends to shareholders. 4-7% is a typical return on investment. That’s $20 a month if you invest $5000 with a 5% ROI (see what I mean?). You need to invest big money to enjoy anything that comes close to respectable returns.

The bottom line 

REIT provides an easy-access passage to real estate investment. There’s almost zero work required compared to directly investing in property yourself. On the flip side, you won’t make anywhere near as much passive income.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Digital Business Investor

digital business investor

Why go through the torment of building a business from scratch when you can buy something that’s already making money?

There are hundreds of passive income generating businesses for sale at any one time online. Flippa and Empire Flippers are the most popular platforms for people to buy and sell internet businesses.

Here’s a pretty sweet example:

This online cigar Dropshipping business was listed with no reserve price and sold for an astonishing $3000.

That’s $3000 for a business that generates an average of $2200 in profit, every month.

But this site was is an exception to the rule in terms of price as the owner was getting married and had to sell the business at very short notice.

For a few thousand dollars, you can snatch an online business that makes between $1-5K per month in profit.

When you compare this to other ways of investing your money, this blows everything else out of the water.

Yes, you’ll need to do a heck of research so you don’t get tricked by an internet fraudster. And yes, you’ll need to learn the fundamentals of marketing so you can run and grow a business after you buy it.

But for your troubles, you can enjoy an ROI that’s impossible to achieve through traditional investment methods.

The bottom line

Investing in established online businesses is one of the fastest ways to diversify and grow your passive income streams. The average return on investment is higher than anything else I’ve come across before.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

Consulting Passive Income Ideas

residual income ideas

Consulting is a way of providing your expertise to a business or an individual customer. As a consultant, your role is to solve problems by helping people get from their current situation to their desired situation.


Consultants are hired for three main reasons:

  • Speed – Getting to the goal faster.
  • Lack of skill/knowledge – People/businesses don’t know how to get to their desired goal on their own.
  • Proven system – People want to follow a tested system that they know works.

The following passive income ideas all fall under the Consulting umbrella.

Let’s get started!

(I’ve recently written a compact review on a highly popular consulting course by a guy called Sam Ovens — feel free to check it out!)

The Backseat Headhunter

I came across a post on Quora by an IT recruitment business owner and thought it could be an awesome passive income idea.

If you aren’t familiar with “headhunting”, these are the guys that find candidates for job vacancies.

They usually focus on high-profile vacancies at the senior management level (they make more commission this way).

Speaking of commissions, a headhunter can expect to make anywhere between 15-30% of a candidates annual salary for each one that lands a role. For an IT cybersecurity director on $150,000 a year that’s $20,000 at 15%. For one person!

Getting up and running

The expenses for this business are minimal. A laptop, phone, internet connection and a subscription to LinkedIn Recruiter is all you need to get started as a headhunter.

The process involves identifying suitable vacancies and finding matches for those vacancies through LinkedIn. You would then reach out to the prospects you’d find and go from there.

From a passive income perspective. You could incorporate a company and come up with a proven process for getting vacancy leads and landing deals with employers.

By going through this yourself, you’ll establish what works, and what doesn’t.

And if you can do this, you can employ and train other people to do it for you too.

You can find the original post with full details here (it’s the post by Nick Tsappis).

The bottom line

There’s a great fortune to be made in recruitment. Headhunting is a low-cost, high-profit business model with huge scope for outsourcing, creating passive income opportunities.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Coaching Business

Dreamt of being a coach or consultant? Passionate about helping people overcome something?

While this isn’t exactly passive income, many successful coaching businesses are run by just one or two people.

Here’s an example: 

Meet Brittany Brown. She owns a coaching business that helps people overcome binge eating.

Brittany has very cleverly taken a personal trauma and transformed it into a viable business. No special qualifications or certificates required.

Brittany’s business operates a three-step process: 

  1. Identifying the problem(s)
  2. Conducting a strategy session.
  3. Taking on clients for her transformation program.

Her site isn’t optimised for the search engines. Instead, she gets her traffic from Facebook advertising. Facebook ads are perfect for this type of business because the targeting features are very advanced.

Brittany’s business was featured in a popular consulting training testimonial. Through this training, she was able to grow her business from $5,000 a month, all the way up to $30k+, per month.

The bottom line

While not entirely passive, a coaching business is an awesome way to share your existing expertise with the world. And get paid really well for doing it!

Many of us don’t realise the personal obstacles we’ve overcome are valuable lessons for other people that have similar issues. You don’t need formal qualifications to build a thriving business.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Local Business Marketer

Local businesses are struggling to keep up with the pace and expansion of the internet. And they’re seeing fewer customers come through their doors as more people discover better deals online.

Businesses are willing to pay good money for someone to manage their social media presence.

You can offer your services as a consultant and charge a monthly retainer fee for creating and managing social media for local businesses. Then you can outsource the grunt work to a freelancer while you sit back and watch the residual income roll into your account.

Type of work involved

The actual work involved in managing social media accounts isn’t much at all.

Tools like HootSuite and IFTTT allow you to schedule posts, monitor activity and respond to updates automatically. You can schedule an entire weeks worth of content in under an hour!

The bulk of the work will be initially reaching out to prospects and conducting consultations, but once you have a few clients on retainer, it can be pretty passive.

The ability scale with this type of business is huge. One or two people can quite easily manage twenty clients if they outsource things efficiently. Twenty clients x $1500 a month = $30,000 a month.

The bottom line

Social media marketing is brimming with opportunities. Most small businesses have no clue how to generate leads or increase their digital presence. This type of consulting has huge scope for scale and plentiful passive income opportunity.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

Other Passive Income Ideas

other passive income ideas

You’ve reached my favourite part of the article!

This section is filled with weird, wacky and wonderful passive income ideas that I’ve come across and learnt about over the years.

Some of these little-known businesses are raking in a fortune by exploiting gaps in the market. Most of them benefit from having low overheads and high-profit margins — the essence of online business!

Let’s go!

Want the best ideas from this post? Download a handy-dandy PDF version containing the 7 most profitable ideas for creating passive income.

The Vacation Property Broker

I came across this business while checking out some of the domains for sale on Flippa. This is something I hadn’t come across before and it sparked my interest as I noticed the site was making an average of $5000 a month over the last three months.

So here’s the gist: 

Beachfrontwest.com sells villa bookings to holidaymakers in the Dominican Republic.

They partner with hotel type organisations that manage villa’s in touristic communities, and list these properties on popular vacation rental sites like HomeAway.

Average profit per sold booking is $500-800.

A typical booking involves answering queries and confirming down payment details. Also, requesting pre-payment, and emailing reservation details to both hotel and customer.

Why don’t these hotels list on Airbnb type sites?

According to the owner, they do list on instant booking sites like Expedia and Booking.com but the hotels are too busy to deal with the general queries and questions they get from customers that book through platforms like Airbnb.

This is essentially operating on the affiliate marketing business model, but instead of going through one of the many travel affiliate programs, they’ve cleverly negotiated deals directly with hotel suppliers.

This is huge.

Why? Because a typical affiliate program in the travel niche pays around 3% for bookings like this. So you’d usually be making under $100 per booking instead of $500-800.

Day to day operations for this type of business could be easily outsourced to a virtual assistant.

So instead of spending time on the phone with customers, you can pour yourself a freaking Peroni because you’re generating sweet passive income!


UPDATE: Unfortunately, the website is no longer live but I’ve kept this idea on the list because it provides unique insights. 

The bottom line

A perfect example of a business spawned from a gap in the market. Companies are willing to outsource the management of vacation rental bookings, and they’re willing to pay good commissions for someone to do it.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Dropshipping Store

dropshipping passive income streams

Ahh, Dropshipping. A revolution in physical product sales.

A product fulfilment method where the “dropshipper” doesn’t hold stock of any items.

Products are only purchased when the customer puts an order through. The supplier then ships the product directly to the customer!

Some of the benefits include:

  • No shipping or returns handling – Suppliers manage shipping, returns, inventory and stock levels.
  • Less risky – You don’t need to purchase stock in bulk that might not sell.
  • Low startup cost – You don’t need to invest in inventory up front.
  • Location independence – A Dropshipping business can be run from anywhere with an internet connection.

With these benefits in mind, Dropshipping is definitely one of the more difficult residual income ideas on this list.

Put it this way:

You won’t be throwing together a store on Shopify and making thousands of dollars next week (despite what all those course owners may have you believe).

But if you’re willing to dedicate 6-12 months to building something, the rewards can be titanic.

Here’s an example of a store that someone is selling:

Hazzler is a dropshipping store selling products from a range of categories, from Tech and Gadgets to Home and Kids.

The site is currently for sale on Flippa and generates $10,000 in monthly revenue with $3000 of profit.

Traffic is generated through Facebook ads and they use Shopify to power their site.

From a passive income perspective, a store like this can be grown by a single person then outsourced to freelancers to manage day-to-day operations.

The bottom line

Dropshipping is a fantastic business model that takes most of the risk and frustration out of selling physical products. Finding great suppliers, competitive products and effective marketing are the crucial cogs to a concrete Dropshipping business.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

Related: If you’re looking to get into e-commerce and don’t know where to start, check out Amazing Selling Machine — they’re one of the leading course creators in this space and come highly recommended. I signed up for the course myself and have written a review if you’re interested in finding out more. 

The Outsourced Local Business

This is one of the more creative passive income ideas I recently thought about…

Build a website based on iPhone repairs. Get it to the top of Google for various related search terms.

Keywords like “iPhone 6 repair” get thousands of searches every month. Many of these keywords have super low competition.

Make the website beautiful. Stunning. Gorgeous!

Aim for a design that invokes the same feeling of quality that the official Apple website has (but don’t steal).

Offer an exquisite service

Offer a concierge-like service for the broken devices. You could send out special padded boxes for people’s phones with free fully insured shipping or offer a super fast turnaround time.

By doing this, in combination with a clean, user-friendly website — you’re able to charge more for your services.

You want the sales process to be sublime. Fluid. No questions asked from the customers because you’ve covered everything.

Once you’ve taken payment, redirect your customer to a page that tells them where to send their phone (along with any other details they need).

The iPhone repair business receives the phone, fixes it all up and sends it back to the owner.

This entire process can be fully automated. The only thing you’ll need to do is settle your commissions with the device repair business once a month. Oh, and you can hire a VA to handle any admin/customer support/payments if required.

The bottom line

Many brick and mortar businesses have barely scratched the surface when it comes to driving online sales. Outsourced online services will help them bridge this gap and earn you a hefty dose of residual income in the process.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Job Board with a Twist

Create a website dedicated to helping candidates improve CV’s, land more interviews and get better jobs.

This will be a lot of work at the start but keeps the level of risk down as you won’t be paying a developer thousands to design a bespoke job board site for you.

Once your site starts gaining traction (i.e starts ranking for relevant keywords and getting traffic), introduce a job listings section.

Now you can easily convince recruiters to post jobs on your site as your website is already full of potential candidates!

Most job boards charge hundreds of dollars for a single job listing. You can start low and steadily increase prices relative to the site’s popularity.

The bottom line

Apart from a few main big players, there aren’t many sites dedicated to helping candidates land better jobs. Especially not in specific niches. Using content marketing to grow the site from scratch lets you test out this passive income idea on a shoestring budget.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Stock Photographer

Stock photo websites like ShutterstockGetty Images and Stocksy will pay commissions when you make sales of your photos.

Stocksy pays one of the highest commissions, up to 50% per photo.

You need to create a professional portfolio of images if you want to make any real passive income from this idea.

Your photos also need to be approved before they’re published. And each stock photo site has different conditions that need to be met for successful photo submissions.

The good news is the work only needs to be done once. When your pictures go live they can be bought, again and again, netting you a tidy little commission each time — cha-ching!

The bottom line

If you’re a photographer, this can be a nice little way for you to earn a few bucks in passive income every month. Don’t expect to make a living from this strategy though as there isn’t a lot of money in this.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Foreign Language Business

Speak more than one language? Any of the passive income ideas listed so far can quite easily be replicated in a foreign language.

When it comes to search engine rankings, foreign language’s tend to have WAY less competition compared to English.

If you speak another language, and you’re planning on starting a business that involves search engine rankings, I would compare keyword competition for both languages before making a decision.

If you can put in less work and get the same results, it’s a no-brainer, right?

The bottom line

Starting a business in a foreign language can be a super smart move if you’re looking to rank a website for competitive search terms in Google. English keywords have (by far) the highest competition for rankings out of any language.

The Digital Course and Membership Site

One for the more seasoned digital entrepreneur. This is tough to pull off. It’ll take a while to setup. And you might cry with the amount of content you need to get this one going.

But it’s massively passive once the work is complete!

I say it’s worth busting your balls creating a video course and tons of written content if it’s going to be one of the best of its kind.

And your customers will thank you for it by paying you $1000+ without asking for a refund, basically ever.

If you’re an expert in any specific niche, you can’t go wrong creating a comprehensive course.

Some essential steps for finding a profitable niche include:

  • Identifying a market with enough demand.
  • Testing your product in the marketplace before you create it.

Many course topics are saturated with content already so doing your homework is essential.

To make sure people are willing to pay for your product, you can set aside a budget of $250 and set up a fake sales page. This page will be used to drive targeted traffic from your platform of choice (e.g Facebook ads).

You can create a sales page in a few hours and split test different price points to see what works best.

What’s more, you can keep any would-be buyers on an email list so you can get in touch if/when you release the product for real.

(If you’re looking for great landing page software, check out the case study post I published on two of the most popular tools — Clickfunnels VS Leadpages.)

The bottom line

Creating a course and membership site is time-consuming and painful at first. But once you’ve created the content you can enjoy a reliable stream of residual income for years to come.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Retainer Writer

Start a writing business without doing any writing.

Wait, what?

Ever heard of ghostwriting?

Many writers outsource their client work and have it ghostwritten by a freelancer.

This is a “white-label” service where a writer can put their name on something they haven’t written themselves.

Launching this business would involve negotiating writing retainer contracts with businesses. This can all be done remotely. You can find gigs for writers on sites such as ProbloggerContena and Blogging Pro.

Is it lucrative?

Some businesses pay hundreds of dollars per article.

Once you land contracts with businesses you can outsource the work to a ghostwriter.

After you’ve secured a few retainer contracts, and found some reliable ghostwriters, you can sit back and watch the residual income flow into your bank account!

The best way to do this is to start a freelance writing business, take on clients and complete the work yourself. If you’re successful, you can start taking on staff and provide services for clients as a writing agency.

The bottom line

If you have decent writing skills you can start a retainer writer business. Mastering your pitch will put you in a position where you can land awesome writing gigs. You can then complete the work yourself as you establish yourself in this space, and from there, the sky is the limit. Outsourcing is key to creating a passive income stream from this idea.

Related Content: How to Secure Epic Remote Writing Jobs Using ContenaCost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Backseat Translator

Another one for the multi-lingual readers! If you’re able to read and write fluently in another language, you’ve got a valuable asset that can be put to good use.

Translation services are in high demand right now as more content is being produced in languages other than English.

You can start off by providing your own translation services to people as a freelancer.

Getting your hands dirty will help you understand the business from the ground up. Once you’ve figured out a process that works, you can document it and start thinking about outsourcing.

After you’ve established a proven process for acquiring clients, you can outsource your work to other translators so you can move from active to more passive income.

Did some really quick keyword research and stumbled onto a goldmine of translation keywords with crazy buyer intent and low competition…

That’s an average of $9.71 cost-per-click. This means advertisers are willing to pay nine dollars for a single click to their website from people looking for translation services.

The bottom line

Translation services of all types are in high demand. And judging by the competition, this demand isn’t being met! This is a business that can be started, grown and outsourced relatively quickly. Hello passive income stream!Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Problem Solver

When it comes to earning residual income, a little creativity goes a long way. And the ideas I’ve shown you so far have hopefully got you excited, pumped and fired up to get started.

Being a problem solver, in general, are the stem cells of successful business.

It’s a logical way of thinking. An approach that you take to obstacles. A mindset, if you will.

Businesses provide solutions to problems faced by people. The best way to build a business is to develop a product that serves a hungry market.

How do you find a hungry market?

By finding out what problems exist in the marketplace. 

What problems do people have? What obstacles are businesses struggling with?

If you can effectively identify these things, you’ve got an unlimited, untapped pool of business ideas with a high chance of success.

The bottom line

The birth of a business idea should come as a direct response to a need in the market.

You can identify a market need by researching problems. Building a successful business isn’t some mystical formula based on pure luck. It’s a perfect half-way meet between market demand and your product/service that provides a solution.


Another interesting little idea I came across on one of my late-night Quora binges!

SRDS stands for Standard Rate and Data Service. They own direct mailing list information that people can use to identify large groups of people sharing a common interest.

The idea involves the following: 

  1. Identify a “hot market” by finding people that share a common interest as well as purchase history. (For example, Golfers. Passionate about the sport and lots of money to spend!)
  2. Devour 10 books on the market you’ve chosen (sounds a lot but should only take 3-4 hours each to skim read).
  3. Extract golden nuggets of information from books and refine into exceptional content that you can use to create an incredible info-product (could be e-book, training manual, even a training course).
  4. Write an awesome sales letter that highlights the secret info you’ve learnt. It’s gotta be really good. if you don’t get this right, you won’t convert.
  5. Contact a list broker (check reviews to find a good one), tell them about the list you found on SRDS and say you want to rent 5000 contacts.
  6. Mail your physical sales letter to 2000 people as a test to gauge interest. If you get a decent response (make quite a few sales), rent the entire list and send your sales letter to everyone.

Get ready to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now, this may sound crazy far-fetched but people have been doing this with huge success for a while now. And just think, how many people still use physical letters? 

Almost nobody!

Read the full post on Quora here.

The bottom line

A clever idea that utilises the now under-used direct mail strategy. This won’t produce passive income but has the potential to legally generate an enormous sum of cold, hard cash in a short space of time!

The SAAS Company

The rise of the internet has given birth to the SAAS company.

SAAS (Software as a Service) is a subscription powered business model where the consumer pays a monthly fee in return for a service.

Building a SAAS company is definitely one of the toughest passive income ideas on this list.

It requires some start-up capital and months/years of dedication. But it beats putting your money into a company as an angel investor in exchange for a measly 1% stake in a business.

SAAS companies come in all shapes and sizes in different industries.

Here’s an example:

ConvertKit is a SAAS company that specialises in email marketing for bloggers. They provide a platform for bloggers to create and manage their email marketing campaigns.

They have payment plans based on the number of subscribers you have, starting from $29 all the way up to $79+ a month.

Just 1000 customers paying $29 will already bring you up to $29,000 a month in MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue).

Between January and February 2019, Convertkit grossed over $1.2 million dollars.

Don’t believe me?

You can check out the metrics for yourself here:


The Juicy Details

The costs of building a SAAS company is down to the degree of outsourcing required to build your MVP (Most Valued Product).

If you can actually design the product yourself, it’ll cost you WAY less money. That said, many successful SAAS companies outsourced their entire technical design process.

Two ways of financing your SAAS:

  • Ryan Shank outlines how he built his SAAS business for under $40k in just a few months in this article.
  • Dave Mytton describers how he built his SAAS company for under $3k in this article.

Quite a contrast right?!

The bottom line

A SAAS company is a superior alternative to investing your money in other start-ups. While you do need to dedicate a few months/years of your life to this, the passive income rewards can be huge if you create a service that sells really well.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Hacked SAAS

Similar to a normal SAAS company but with a unique twist that brings affiliate marketing into the mix. These software companies use other business models to maximise their earnings.

Here’s an example:

Domcop is a useful tool that groups together expired domains with good SEO metrics.

They aren’t a domain registrar (like Godaddy), they just have powerful search features that help people find the expired domains they’re looking for (a perfect example of “the serial organiser” implemented well).

Like any other SAAS, they charge a monthly subscription fee to use their service. But they also use affiliate marketing to generate additional revenue.

When searching through Domcop, you have buttons that take you to the domain registrars to bid on or purchase the domain. Each one of these buttons is an affiliate link!

A clever way you can combine strategies from business models to maximise revenue.

The bottom line

Passive income ideas aren’t limited to one thing at a time. While it’s important to focus on one thing when building your business, you can still use strategies from other business models to maximise your revenue.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

 The Online Marketplace

Did you know you can create an online marketplace website in a matter of hours?

Think Airbnb for “niche”.

Most people assume this takes weeks/months and requires an entire team of developers to pull off but it can be done in a seriously short space of time.

These types of sites allow people or businesses to list their services.

Here’s an example: 

Studiotime.io is a marketplace where people rent out their music studio’s on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Bet you didn’t know a site like this even existed!

A great example of a marketplace website from a creative angle.

It was created by Mike Williams. And he took this thing from idea to draft product in the best part of a day!

After finishing the website design in just a few hours, Mike set out to get his first few sign-ups. He used Craigslist, Twitter and Product Hunt to generate some buzz for the official launch of this marketplace.

Studiotime makes money by charging a monthly subscription fee to music studios.

Hello, passive income!

Fancy building your very own marketplace site in just a few hours?

This video I found on Youtube walks you through the process from start to finish:

The bottom line

Airbnb sparked a revolution in the way we book accommodation. The same concept has yet to be applied to various niches. Online marketplaces serve a huge need for people with specific shared interest from all over the world. And they provide great passive income opportunities thanks to the monthly subscription fee model.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Kindle Publisher

kindle publishing

Kindle publishing has been around for a few years now.

But did you know people have been raking in thousands of dollars in passive income every month by publishing Kindle e-books?

This chart shows the growth in e-reader ownership from 2010-2014 in the US:

Those numbers have probably waned off a little now but there’s still huge demand for books on Kindle.

Kindle is clearly the market leader in this space. Making money with this involves self-publishing books on the Kindle marketplace.

What’s more, these books don’t have to be that long as most only sell for two to five dollars.

Doesn’t sound like much, right?

Would you believe that people outsource the writing of these e-books and have created six-figure incomes from publishing and selling these books on Kindle?

It blew me away too.

Especially considering how low these books sell for in the Kindle marketplace.

I came across some great resources while researching this idea, including an entire “how to” guide on building a thriving Kindle publishing business on Reddit:

The bottom line

Kindle e-book publishing is a quirky idea for creating a passive income business. While much of the content on this topic is a few years old, there’s no denying the tremendous amount of people that still buy and read e-books on their Kindles.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Short-Term Let

Got some guest rooms that are always empty? Maybe you’ve got a holiday home that you don’t use for most of the year.

Websites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO allow you to list your properties to rent for as long or as little as you want.

Renting out your space on a short-term basis makes more money than a traditional lease. This experiment by Paula Pant runs through the pros and cons of renting your space on Airbnb.

While a lot of this stuff can be systematised, there’s always a risk of cleaners not showing up or even people throwing orgies at your place of dwelling. We’ve all heard the horror stories!

Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimise risk. You’ll also want to check your local laws as it’s actually illegal to offer short-term lettings in some places.

Overall, renting out your space can provide a tidy sum of passive income.

The bottom line

Renting a place you own never comes without risk, but with proper due diligence, you can enjoy a steady stream of residual income from your property.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Car Rental

Does your car spend most of its time sitting on the driveway?

You can make hundreds of dollars a month by renting out your car to people by the hour, day or week. Sites like Turo and Hiya Car are marketplaces where you can list your car and find customers.

I found a Maserati GranTurismo on Turo for $128 a day! FUN!

While the income is pretty passive, you’ll have to communicate with customers and do hand-overs. Hiyacar actually offers a keyless solution which allows for a more hands-off experience.

The bottom line

Renting out your ride is an easy way to make extra cash on the side. Just don’t expect to make thousands of passive income dollars from it!Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The Storage Space Rental

Did you know you can rent out your garage space?

Think AirBNB for your car.

A Colorado-based company called STOW IT is changing the face of vehicle storage by connecting people that have space, with people that need it.

Their service enables you to rent all types of storage space from single car parking to double garages and entire warehouses!

Unlike traditional storage companies, STOW IT doesn’t lock anyone into contract agreements and listing your space takes only a few minutes on their website.

The bottom line

If you’ve got some free space you could be making an extra few hundred dollars a month in residual income by renting it out to someone.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential

The App

Creating an app is definitely one of the more popular ideas people have when it comes to starting a business.

However, most people have no idea where to start and don’t anticipate the complexity involved.

Creating a successful app is tough. Competition is high. And it could take you years.

But the rewards can be gargantuan.

So how much does an app cost to build?

The cost of an app depends on a variety of factors including: 

  • Who you hire to design your app (offshore developers/well-established native agency)
  • The features of the app (design, ratings system, API requirements and more)
  • The type of app you’re creating.

An app can cost anywhere from just a few thousand bucks all the way into the millions of dollars. There are way too many variables to give you any solid numbers. The easiest way to get a ball park figure is to use the following methodology:

The cheapest way by far for development is going offshore but you’ve really gotta watch out for unqualified developers.

I came across a really neat site called Code Mentor X.

These guys specialise in connecting people to the top 2% of freelance developers, helping to ensure you don’t pick the wrong person for the job! All developers they recommend go through a strict vetting process before being approved.

You also maintain the cost-saving benefits of using freelance developers instead of big brand agencies.

Being on a tight budget means you can’t have it all: 


The best way to go navigate your idea process is to find out what’s worked for other businesses.

Researching the most popular apps will give you invaluable insight and perspective into what works, and what doesn’t. After establishing what works, create something similar with a unique twist. You’ve really gotta nail the key differentiators here!

If you’re interested in finding out more accurate costs for apps, check out this handy app calculator.

The bottom line

Building an app is always going to be a gamble. The journey can be painful and expensive. But the passive income rewards can be massive! Reaching success with an app can mean millions in monthly recurring revenue. Big league passive income potential.Cost of LaunchDifficulty LevelProfit Potential


So there you have it! More passive income ideas than you can shake a stick at!

You’ve got no excuses not to get started now. All that’s left for you to do is to execute. The world is yours for the taking and I truly hope you take action after you read this post.

Every business idea has pros and cons. You’re never going to find something that’s purely positive, and even then, positive and negative are subjective things.

There will never be a perfect time to get started. Perfect is now.

Now get out there and make some passive income!