Passive income can be one of the most rewarding things to have in your life. Imagine – money you earn by no (or very little) ongoing effort after it’s established. Sounds great right? Knowing where to turn and how to spend your time can be challenging though. Check out the top passive income producing opportunities in 2021.
Passive income refers to income you get month after month with very little time invested, or no additional time investment. It can be a powerful way to diversify your income stream and even free yourself from the day to day rat race. You’ll have more time and money to focus on your passions, and less time you have to spend slaving away at a dead end job.
Review the passive income ideas below and choose the one that’s a good fit for you. You’ll be happy you did! This is not to say that these don’t require work – they do, and all passive income does. You have to set up the income stream, and in some cases, you need to do some maintenance to keep that passive income flowing. It’s important therefore to choose something you don’t hate. If you hate it, you won’t do the maintenance, and you may not even put in the work required to get the income established.
1. Sell on Gumroad
Gumroad is a website that allows anyone to put together a piece of content and sell it. Think about a subject you know more about than almost anyone else. Think of what you’re passionate about. These are all good candidates for a Gumroad product. If you’re a bartender, write a guide on how to be a “Home Mixologist.” If you’re a landscaper, write a guide for “Zone 5 Shrubs that Flower.” You can go on and on.
Gumroad takes a very small commission on the products you sell, and it’s a great platform overall. You can modify most things about the product and even drive traffic to your Gumroad product using affiliates. It’s worth checking out.
Below is a link to an example of a Gumroad product. As you’ll see, you can create a product for just about anything 😉
2. Create an Online Course
Hopefully you took the advice to create a Gumroad product and now have a developed piece of content on something that you know a lot about. Why not turn that Gumroad product into an online course? You can do just that with platforms like Thinkific, Coursera, and Udemy. These platforms are easy to use, and you can make a lot of money building a course on whatever you know a lot about. These are usually more work than some other options, but you’ll have the added benefit of being able to be discovered as a subject matter expert for the topic you build a course around. If you’ve ever taught something to someone else, you probably know enough to make a course, and monetize your knowledge.
3. Create an Ebook
Maybe you created a course on Udemy or a Gumroad product. If so, you can certainly adopt that same content for book form and sell it on Amazon and other places. Amazon makes it super easy to publish your book in Kindle format, and offer it for sale on their martketplace. That’s an insane amount of potential exposure for you. If you combine all of these platforms, you can become a bonafide expert in your subject matter and drive sales to your various products from each of the others. Consider the strong and weak points of each format and find a way to send customers to other platforms. For example, you can use a Gumroad product to drive customers to a Thinkific course, and then use that course to drive Kindle book sales on Amazon.
4. Start a Podcast
Now that you’re an expert on a subject (see 1-3 above), you can take the next step and build a podcast which will attract an audience of like-minded people to listen. Make good, genuine, and regular content and this can attract not only lucrative sponsors, but it can serve as another tool that you can use to drive customers to your Ebook, online course, and Gumroad product.
Starting a podcast is easy. There are great guides online, and all the major platforms make it really easy to start and submit your podcast to them. Make sure you’re consistent, and that you get a decent microphone. Nothing will kill a good podcast faster than bad audio. There’s an affordable starter kit linked below.
5. Start a Substack Newsletter
It seems like everyone has a Substack these days. You can too, particularly if you’ve done any of the first four ideas in this list. The important thing is to keep your newsletter fresh (commit to being regular), and write content that people want to read. If you create a Substack newsletter and get 1000 people to subscribe at $10 per month, that’s $10k. Pretty neat!
6. Start a Website
This website started as an income diversifying side hustle. It’s grown to encompass much more than where it began, and that’s a great thing. You too can start a website and start earning a little money on the side. The primary ways to make extra money from a website are affiliate links and advertising. Affiliate links (like those found on this page) allow you to make money from referring buyers to a company. The company pays a finders fee for the visitor, and the visitor isn’t impacted whatsoever. They simply see the same website with no additional costs. It’s a great deal for everyone, and some people make a good living off of referral links. Advertising allows you to make money off of the traffic your website gets. Visitors will see ads, and you get paid if they click on it. For an example of an ad, see the top or bottom of this page.
The key with websites is to find a niche that you enjoy, because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the beginning creating high quality content. If you don’t care about the content, it’s impossible to find the motivation to keep going. Most websites will take at least a year of consistent effort before they start producing income. From there, the sky is the limit though. Many of the websites you visit make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.
7. Create an Event
This is a love it or hate it industry, but there can be real money in events. If you’re good at organizing a lot of moving parts, and are detail oriented, event management may be for you. You can create anything, from an arts event to a music festival. Start small, and you can rapidly grow a good event to produce tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few weeks to a few months of work. For some quick math, imagine if you create a local art and music festival and 10,000 people come the first year. If you charge each of them $20 to get in, that’s $200,000 of revenue. Assume that 50-75% of that is eaten up with costs, you’ll still have $50-$100k of profit in the first year.
Every festival and event you see was started by someone, either with aspirations of making a little money, or just a lot of passion for the subject of the event. Events can be pop-up, or annual, depending on what you’re trying to make. The key though, is community. Make sure you engage with them early and often in an authentic way. You can build great events, it just takes a vision, and a lot of hustle.
8. Sell SEO / Social Media Services
There are so many people who are completely intimidated by the idea of building a website or managing social media accounts. It’s really easy though, and there are tons of great platforms that allow even newbies to create great looking websites and social media posts. If you’re technically inclined, this can be an amazing side hustle. People (usually older people) will happily pay you to build and maintain their website or manage their social media for their business.
Search Engine Optimization takes a little longer to learn, but it’s no more complicated than web development. You’re basically just learning what search engines look for in websites, and making sure your clients’ websites have those features. It’s easy, and the need is huge. Stay away from questionable tactics though – the most important thing to know about SEO is that the search engines have whole teams of people who spend all day trying to figure out how to find the best content. You’re not going to trick them, so use only white-hat techniques and make sure you are building great content above all else. Social media management requires a solid understanding of how the social media algorithms work, but you can read about it and pick it up really quickly.
Each of these isn’t truly passive, as you have to do some work, but it’s really not complicated or time consuming, which is why we included it here.
9. Flip a Rental as an AirBnb
There can be huge spreads between the cost of a rental house or apartment and what that same place would go for on AirBnb. The trick with this is to find great places in the locations people want to stay. You can then rent the property, furnish and decorate it and put it on AirBnb. You’ll manage the listing and make the difference between the AirBnb rent what you rented it for. This can be as high as 2x to 3x the monthly rent if you do it right.
Make sure you are clear with the landlord about your plans though – some leases have clauses that will prevent you from doing this. Look for small time landlords, rather than big agencies. They’re the most likely to have a willingness to do this.
10. Sell Tee Shirts with Your Designs
If you’ve got an eye for design, and can turn that design into a basic Photoshop file, you can sell tee shirts with your designs on them. There are some great platforms out there that let you do this – Merch by Amazon is a great example. You upload a design, and get a cut when someone orders it. You’ll never have to actually touch the product – pretty sweet if you ask me!
Other sites to check out include Spreadshirt, Printify, and Teespring. Each platform has positives and negatives, but they’re each a good place to create cool designs and sell merchandise with the design on it. If you’re successful, you can build a really nice business and brand doing this with long term staying power and lots of customer loyalty.
11. Personal Sales
It may not seem like passive income, but if you have an outgoing personality, simple personal sales can be an amazing side hustle and source of recurring income. Find a product you love that’s made by a small company. Reach out to the company and ask if you can be a sales rep on a commission only basis. They’ll likely be ecstatic to hear from you with an offer like that. You’ll only want to do this for a small company though, as large companies control every aspect of how their product gets sold. By finding a small company, you’re finding someone who’s likely just not had the time to try selling the product the way you will, but has a lot of passion for their products. This is the best possible situation – they get to focus on the product, and you get to make money helping to sell it.
Make sure that you negotiate a deal that works for both of you. Sometimes it’s appropriate to ask for residual sales on an account if you land it, sometimes not. It’s probably worth asking for though, and that’s what makes this a passive income idea. This will allow you to earn recurring revenue as the accounts you land re-order. All that’s required to get started is a laptop and a phone. Get out there, sell the product and watch the money roll in.