The concept of a passive income can be a little misleading: everyone wants to find a way to make money without working for it and that’s what many people hope passive income opportunities represent. In reality, passive income strategies usually involve front-loading the work or the investment: you work very hard at first to create something that brings in money regularly after you’ve got it set up. You’ll still need to work on that project, continuing to tweak and market it, but the on-going work should be less than other business models.
Real estate rentals can be a good example of a passive income idea: you have to buy the property upfront (or take a mortgage and work to pay it off), but once you own it, you can rent it out indefinitely for monthly income. Renting out properties isn’t entirely passive — you have to maintain the property — but it’s close. But there are lots of other passive income ideas that are a little easier to get into than real estate. You can invest time, rather than a big chunk of money, in building creative projects that will bring you a long-term stream of income.
Create Stock Designs or Images
If you enjoy design, photography, or web development, you can create all the designs or images you can imagine and sell them — without having to find individual clients to work for. The stock design industry is booming: creative professionals can sell one piece over and over again, to be used in a wide variety of ways. The industry started with stock photography: it’s been common for photographers to make their past work available for purchase for decades.
But online marketplaces have streamlined the ability to sell stock work of all types. There are sites for selling all sorts of specific work, with some so narrow that they only sell WordPress themes. Going through a marketplace makes selling stock a more passive endeavor, because the marketplace will do a lot of the marketing.
Write and Publish Ebooks
Tools like the Amazon Kindle have leveled the playing field for publishing. It’s inexpensive and fast to publish ebooks, to the point that some people publish hundreds of short ebooks in a year. Just how passive this particular income stream is depends on the audience you’re trying to sell to. Publishing fiction can be a tough route, because you have to convince readers, over and over again, that they want to read what a particular author has to offer. Nonfiction, however — particularly if your ebook solves a problem that people search for information about on a regular basis — can have a more passive sales process.
Publishing a whole stack of ebooks can build up a solid stream of income. If you’re able to work with other writers to publish their books, you can even grow your efforts beyond just publishing what you can produce on your own.
Offer Classes Online
The way we normally think of classes isn’t particularly passive: just grading homework can be a major chore for instructors. But the way most online classes are structured, hundreds of people can take them at one time, which leads instructors to either automate tests and homework or to not require any at all. That allows for an effective passive business model for an expert who has a useful course. You can teach a class once, creating all of your lectures and teaching materials. Then you can offer them, either through a site that collects numerous classes or through your own website. Either way, students will then be able to take the class with minimal work on your part — perhaps just tweaking the course to keep it updated and running the occasional marketing campaign.