50 Best Passive Income Ideas to Earn Money without Ongoing Effort

Passive income refers to money you make with little to no ongoing effort. Technically, there aren’t many truly passive ways to make income, but there are several ways to earn more with little work on your part, such as:

  • Renting out your extra space
  • Selling digital printables
  • Writing ebooks
  • Buying a car wash
  • Investing in self-service storage units
  • Flipping websites
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Membership-only websites
  • …and many others

Of course, there are also many small business ideas that can help you earn some extra cash as a side hustle or even as a fresh career. The difference is that some small business ideas require ongoing effort on your part, so the income you earn isn’t passive. For instance, if you start a podcast and earn revenue from sponsorships, that’s technically not passive income as you don’t earn it unless you produce the episode.

How to Earn Passive Income: 50 Passive Income Ideas

Piles of coins growing sprouts - investment or income earning concept

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To help you discover the passive income idea that’s right for you, we’ve listed dozens of ways to earn passive income below. Whether you start a small business and earn non-passive income or you take the leap and pursue one of the passive income ideas below, the key is to choose something you’re passionate about. You’ll also want to have a solid marketing plan to promote your business and set it up for success.

The passive income ideas in this list may require some initial work or setup, but overall, they can offer a relatively steady form of income without you constantly having to work for it. 

To categorize the ideas, we’ve split this list into offline and online passive income ideas:

Offline Passive Income Ideas

1. Invest your money: Investing money may sound overwhelming to you if you’ve never done it before. However, technology has made investing easier than ever, with some tools even investing your money in the best potential ways for you. Try apps like Robinhood or Stash to get started as a beginner. Or, work with an investment advisor who can help you set up and maintain your investments. 

Book reviewer reading a book

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2. Get paid to review books: If you read a lot in your spare time, you could get paid to take a few minutes to leave a review for the books you read. The US Review of Books and Kirkus pay freelancers to review books.

3. Rent out extra parking spaces: Make money on unused parking spaces. Rent your garage, a street spot in front of your home, or extra spaces in the parking lot of a business you own. This can bring in additional money with no work on your part, becoming a truly passive form of income. Neighbor and SpotHero are just two of several marketplaces that help you list your spaces.

4. Rent out your home: List a vacation property on Airbnb or VRBO to bring in rental income when you aren’t using it. Alternatively, you could list a guesthouse or unused finished basement for people to rent short-term or long-term.

5. Rent stuff in your home: You can make money off various items in your home that you don’t always need, too, like baby gear, tools, or sporting goods. There are numerous marketplaces that allow you to list your extras, like Fat Llama and FriendWithA

6. Sign up for new bank or savings accounts: This idea is one to use only when you need a new bank or savings account rather than a consistent form of making money. However, it’s relatively quick and simple. Use Nerdwallet to find bank accounts with bonuses for new sign-ups. Banks usually have new offers each month ranging from $100-$300 in bonuses just for signing up and meeting additional requirements.

7. Refer customers to businesses: Earn money by referring ideal customers to businesses looking for leads. You can do this by asking local businesses if they have any referral bonuses. Or, some people earn a living making referral websites that generate leads to send to target businesses.

8. Create a business for someone else to manage: Start a business with the idea of selling it to someone else eventually or hiring someone to manage it. You’ll take most or all of the work off your hands while making money. 

9. Use a cash-back credit card for purchases: Use the credit card that earns the most cash back for all your purchases. As long as you’re diligent about paying it off each month, you’ll reap the benefits of the free cash without paying interest. For example, a credit card that gives you 5% cash back for all purchases could give you an easy $50 if you spend $1,000 on it each month.

Three people in a uniform with cleaning appliances - cleaning business concept

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10. Subcontract services: Start a service-based business, like pet sitting, house cleaning, or after-school tutoring. Contract with workers who can adapt to various scheduling needs to ensure that all your customers get taken care of. Once you’ve established a healthy business and contractor crew, your work will become mostly hands-off. 

11. Rent extra outdoor space: Do you have acreage that goes to waste? If so, consider renting out your space for others to use for their tiny homes, campers, or photo shoots. Just be sure to check local regulations before doing so.

12. Buy a franchise store: Invest your money in a franchise store that you can oversee while others manage and work in-store. Check Franchise Direct for current opportunities.

13. Cook for others: If cooking is one of your favorite hobbies, join Traveling Spoon to become a host who cooks for others in your home. Or, start a catering business and hire employees to prepare and serve the food.

14. Start a garden: Gardens do take work to start and maintain, but they can also be a form of somewhat passive income once they become well established. Sell your foods at local farmers markets, to nearby supermarkets, or to your neighbors. You can also turn the fruits of your labor into other products that you can sell, such as dried herbs, canned jellies and pickles, spices and herb blends, and more.

Automatic car wash

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

15. Buy a car wash: In terms of passive businesses, a car wash absolutely fits the bill. After its initial setup, you won’t need to do much more than maintain its equipment.

16. Become a landlord: Invest in properties that don’t need a lot of work and rent them out to individuals, families, or businesses for a steady monthly income. 

17. Invest in companies: Put investment money into small local businesses with promising growth potential in exchange for a percentage of the company. You’ll continue to make additional money once you recoup your investment. 

18. Rent out your car: Let others use your car when you’re not using it, and charge an hourly or daily fee. You can also use a marketplace like HyreCar to rent your car to rideshare drivers who need a reliable vehicle to complete their work.

19. Own a storage facility: Storage units are excellent passive income businesses. Customers manage most of the business operations by caring for their own units while you can focus on collecting rent money and maintaining the quality of your units.

20. Use your car as a billboard: Advertise for companies on your car with decals and wraps. If you’re already a rideshare driver, you can use Nickelytics to make extra money each month by adding advertising to your car. Other companies like Wrapify allow anyone who meets its driving requirements to add advertisements to their vehicles for money.

Online Passive Income Ideas

21. Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular ways to make money online with a website. Add affiliate links to your blog posts and website pages to make money when someone orders something from those links. A successful affiliate marketing website can take some time and content-building to grow enough to earn consistent money, but once it does, it doesn’t take as much effort to maintain.

Woman reading an ebook on an ereader or Amazon Kindle

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

22. Write ebooks: Write ebooks to sell with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. The service publishes and markets your book for you, and you keep a portion of the profits.

23. Flip websites: Buy websites that are already earning some money, add more content to make them even more successful, and sell them for a higher price. Flippa is one of the best marketplaces for this form of investing and selling.

24. Make money playing games: Plenty of people enjoy playing games via livestreams on Twitch, where others can follow them to watch them play. Depending on how many viewers you have per stream, you can earn hundreds of dollars per month for playing your favorite games.

25. Try peer-to-peer lending: With peer-to-peer lending, investors have relatively direct access to borrowers without a middleman financial institution standing in the way. As a result, you can keep more of the interest a borrower pays for your investment.

26. Sell stock photography: Sell photos or digital art with places like Shutterstock to earn continuous royalties when someone uses your photos as part of their subscription or buys them for a one-time fee.

27. License your music online: Music creators can sell the rights to their music from their own website or join a site like Bandcamp that helps artists sell their music to production studios and other creators. 

Woman recording online course content at a desk with a computer and camera

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28. Sell a course: Create instructional courses for Udemy or your own website. You can choose to sell a mix of different course lengths to appeal to more users. For example, offer one course that features a single section of a larger course for $25, while the full course might cost $250 or more. 

29. Sell printables: Open an Etsy shop to sell printable items, like planners, chore charts, worksheets, and calendars. Printables can be sold over and over again for continuous income without continuous work. 

30. Multi-level marketing: Multi-level marketing can be a good fit for some people, especially those who take time to market their business and those who get in on the ground floor of an up-and-coming MLM. As their business grows, they begin to have more sellers on their team, allowing them to earn money when sellers underneath them make money. Some of the most popular multi-level marketing companies include Avon, Young Living, and Rodan + Fields. However, be mindful of the income structure and the risks involved. Many people end up in debt after joining an MLM due to constant pressure to purchase more inventory to maintain a certain level in the hierarchy — and thus how much money they can earn from each sale. The Federal Trade Commission offers a useful guide to help you determine if an MLM is right for you.

31. Sell your designs on products: Create designs for others to add to products they want to buy, like t-shirts, bags, and mugs. CafePress and Zazzle are two examples of print-on-demand sites to use. 

32. Make digital greeting cards: Design digital greeting cards to sell on your website or on Etsy for others to buy. You might even offer a printing service for an additional fee.

33. Create a newsletter or job board: Start a premium newsletter or job board with exclusive opportunities for paying members only. Patreon makes it easy to start your own subscription service. You can even create various tiers for different options.

34. Sell website themes: Sell unique website themes for WordPress or other website creators or content management systems using an Etsy shop or a shop on your website. You might also offer a package for custom theme orders for a higher price.

35. Create software or an app: After the initial time investment of creating software or a mobile app, you can continue selling the final product for as long as you’d want to. However, be sure to make a plan for regular updates as needed.

Taking a photo of a meal for a meal plan or recipe

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36. Sell digital meal plans or recipes: Nutrition experts can make weekly or monthly meal plans and recipe collections to sell on their websites or a marketplace like Etsy. Canva has meal-planning templates you can use for inspiration for your meal plans’ designs.

37. Create a paywall for your website: Do you have premium content to share with your audience? Include it on your website behind a paywall so only paying customers can view it. Use a plugin or a membership management program like Pelcro to set it up.

38. Sell lesson plans or worksheets: Teachers can sell lesson plans and worksheets to other teachers or homeschooling families on Teachers Pay Teachers. Many educators offer sets of worksheets for as little as $1.00, but with frequent downloads, their profits can add up quickly. 

39. Make money shopping: Earn money for shopping online with Swagbucks, Ibotta, and other shopping apps. These apps partner with online retailers to pay shoppers a commission simply for using their links and making purchases.

40. Invest in cryptocurrency: Unlike traditional money, cryptocurrency isn’t directly influenced or affected by inflation. Therefore, it could be a wise investment if you’re looking for a way to grow your money over time. Robinhood can help you start investing as a beginner.

41. Sell written content: Whether you already earn a living as a freelance writer or enjoy writing as a hobby, this passive income idea can work well for you. Join a content platform, like Constant Content, that lets you sell content to buyers. If you allow non-exclusive rights to your work, multiple buyers can purchase the same piece of content from you. Or, you can start a blog or podcast on a site like Substack that’s supported by your subscribers.

42. Create a membership-based website: Similar to adding a paywall or starting a membership-only area of your site, you could create a membership-only site. For instance, create a site for your online courses that only members can access with a subscription, or make a paid forum for professionals in your industry.

43. Start a paid membership Facebook group: Some Facebook groups are also only for paying members, but you’ll need a membership management area off of Facebook for subscribers to sign up. Then, you can approve only paying members who join.

A row of city scooters for scooter-sharing service

Image by ernesto from Pixabay

44. Invest in city scooters: If you’re looking for a truly unique opportunity to increase your income, invest in city scooters with Go X. Invest your money online to buy a scooter fleet at a Go X location and receive a portion of that location’s proceeds when people rent them. You might also consider starting your own scooter-sharing business.   

45. Join Amazon FBA: Do you have something you want to sell on Amazon? Consider signing up for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), which takes care of the packaging and shipping for you. You’ll send your items to an FBA center, and Amazon handles the rest, including returns by the customer. Selling in this fashion could allow you to keep more of your profits without worrying about overhead costs.

46. Let others share your internet: Download the Honeygain app to share your extra internet bandwidth with businesses that need more. Receive your payments via PayPal or in cryptocurrency. 

47. Run an online store: Sellvia makes the process of creating and managing an online store so easy that virtually anyone can do it. Set up your store, choose what you’d like to sell, and the Sellvia team fulfills your orders without you needing to stock anything.

48. Buy a successful blog: Look on Flippa or other website marketplaces for a blog that’s already earning lots of money each month. Buy one that stands out to you and continue building it to keep growing its income. 

49. Use money-making apps: While apps don’t tend to bring in a lot of extra money each month, they can bring in some easy, passive income. Try Swagbucks to earn money with surveys or games or Dosh to get cash back when you shop using your mobile device.

50. Run ads on your website: If you have a website, sign up for Google Ads to get ad placements on your website for extra income. Google Ads can even automatically place ads for you in optimized positions for the best chances of boosting your income.

From creating and selling apps or software to selling meal plans and recipe collections, affiliate marketing, selling digital greeting cards or designs for products, operating an automatic car wash, starting a cleaning business, renting out parking spaces or property, and more, there are many passive income opportunities for the entrepreneurial-minded to take advantage of.

Browse more online business ideas if you’re ready to begin a side hustle in addition to earning passive income. Whatever type of income-producing opportunity you pursue, promoting your business is the key to success. Installing social media share buttons on your blog or website is an easy way to start growing your audience and building brand awareness.

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