Who among us doesn’t wish they could make money for doing nothing? Well, with passive income you can get pretty close. And it’s not just for people with a lot of money for large financial investments. With these passive income ideas, you can build wealth and achieve financial independence without already being rich. 

What is Passive Income?

Passive income is money you earn without active involvement in the process. It could include investing, royalties, and some types of sales. Passive income streams typically take upfront work to set up at the beginning, but limited effort to maintain. There is some overlap between sources of passive income and side hustles, but passive income isn’t something like driving for Uber. Anything where you are paid for your time is active income.

Benefits of Earning Passive Income

More Free Time

Your time is precious. Using a passive income stream rather than an active side hustle will free up more of your time for the things you enjoy that don’t earn money. 

Financial Security

If something happens to your day job, other sources of income can help keep you afloat until you find another one. It’s also a good idea to help pay off debt more quickly than you would if you only had your day job. 

Location Flexibility

You can earn passive income from anywhere.

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The Best Passive Income Ideas Requiring an Upfront Monetary Investment

Rental Properties

Investing in rental properties could mean anything from buying a building and renting out apartments to long-term tenants to listing your guest room on AirBnB. If you want to buy a property for investment but don’t have thousands of dollars to spend, check out crowdfunded real estate sites like Fundrise and CrowdStreet. 


You can also invest in commercial real estate including but not limited to offices, warehouses, retail stores, data centers, cell towers, and hotels.  with real estate investment trusts (REIT). REITs allow anyone to invest in real estate assets through mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETF). 

Minimalist icon of a house


High Yield Savings Accounts 

High yield savings accounts are what they sound like: savings accounts with higher than usual interest rates. They let you earn significant money on interest alone. FDIC-insured accounts protect the first $250,000 of your money. You can get started with a bank or non-bank online platform. 

Growing money bags

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

CDs aren’t the most exciting type of investment, but they are easy to start and low-risk.

When you put your money in a CD, you set a time frame and you can’t touch your funds until then while your interest grows. That time period can range from months to years. The longer the duration, the more interest your financial institution will pay.

A graphic of a certificate

Invest In A Business

You can invest in small businesses without playing the stock market. If you know of a business you’d like to invest in, provide them with the funds they need in order to grow. Even if you don’t have the high net worth required to traditionally invest in businesses, you can provide services such as social media consulting or operational consulting in exchange for a share of the cash flows. You can even buy a percentage of the business and be a silent partner if you have the capital and meet any qualifications they have.

An office building

Dividend Stocks and Index Funds

Dividend-paying stocks pay investors quarterly or annually and often allow investors to reinvest the dividends. Index Funds are a great choice for investment beginners. When you add money to an index fund, the money is used to invest in all of the companies that make up a particular index. The fees are low, the risk is minimal, and they give you a more diverse portfolio than investing in individual stocks. 

A graph of stock prices

Peer to Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending, also known as crowd lending or social lending, connects people who need to borrow money to people who are lending it. It can be risky, but it has a high rate of return potential. 

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Domain Name Flipping

Domain name flipping is buying domains and waiting to sell them once they become more valuable. 

Domain Name Cash Parking

Cash parking is placing advertisements on parked domain names to earn passive income from the ad revenue. It’s similar to affiliate marketing in that you earn money based on how many users land on the parked page and click on the ads. The ads could be based on words in the domain name or traffic that it’s drawn in the past. You can receive payouts by PayPal, direct deposit, or check.

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The Best Passive Income Ideas Requiring an Upfront Time Investment

Sell Stock Photos

If you like to take photos, you can sell your pictures to companies like Shuttershock and Adobe Stock to use as stock photos and make money from the residuals long after you’ve taken the picture. 

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Publish an E-book

You don’t have to be a big-time author to self-publish e-books and earn money from the sales. The subject could be any interest that you have knowledge about. Popular categories include: 

  • Crafts
  • Fitness
  • CookBooks
  • DIYs
  • Career and Finance
  • Fiction

Open Book

License Your Music

Licensing your music means that in exchange for the rights to use your music in a project, people and companies pay you. Here are six different ways that you can make money licensing music:

  • YouTuber
  • Wedding/Videographer
  • Indie Film Soundtrack
  • Indie Film Trailer
  • Corporate video
  • Advertisement

Diagonal line of headphones

Affiliate Marketing

You know those listicles that recommend products and link to where you can buy them? Those are affiliate marketing posts. Affiliate programs pay marketers a commission every time a reader clicks on one of those links to make a purchase. Most affiliate marketers stick to a niche and have a strategy for the types of companies they link. 

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Design T-Shirts

Print-on-demand sites like Teespring, Bonfire, and Printify can take care of the production and shipping for you. That makes it much easier to earn money from your original designs.

T-shirts in different colors

Start a Dropshipping Store

Dropshipping is a growing ecommerce business model. Dropshippers source items from manufacturers and sell them on their own online store. When customers order an item, the manufacturer is the one who ships it to them.


Sell Digital Products

A digital product is an item that is produced, sold, and used digitally. Some examples include: 

  • Ebooks
  • Online Courses
  • Templates
  • Printables
  • Guides and Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Commercial-use music
  • Scripts
  • Planners
  • Photos
  • Apps
  • Fonts
  • Blueprints
  • Animations
  • Plugins and Extensions

Since you can sell digital products almost indefinitely once you’ve created them, they generate passive income and are much easier to get started with than physical products. 

A microchip-like designSemi-Passive Small Business Ideas

Buy ATMs

The ATMs at bars and restaurants have high fees because a lot of them are owned by individuals who use them for investments. You can be one of those individuals and pocket those fees. 

Start a Vending Machine Business

Vending machines operate in a similar way. If you buy in bulk, you’ll be able to save on the snacks and drinks you purchase for your machines.

Monetizing a Blog

Blogging about your hobby or area of expertise and monetizing it with sponsored posts, Google Adsense, and affiliate partnerships is a great way to get paid for something you like doing anyway.

Become a Brand Ambassador

Influencers and brand ambassadors have become an important part of the digital marketing world. Companies partner with them by giving them free products or gift cards for their products and paying them to post about them to their followers. 

Social Media Web

Rent Out Your Car

With Turo and other competing sites, you can rent out your car for others to drive. It’s like Uber meets AirBnB. 

Advertise on Your Car

Turning your car into a moving billboard is a low-effort way to earn money. Sites like Free Car Media, Wrapify, Carvertise and StickerRide pay drivers for driving around with advertisements on their car. However, keep in mind that some platforms have mileage requirements or only partner with delivery drivers. 

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Beware of Scams

Everyone wants to make money while they sleep. Of course, plenty of people run scams that bill themselves as passive income opportunities. Steer clear of anything that asks you to pay an unreasonable amount of money upfront, asks for credit card information too early, or doesn’t have a legitimate-looking website. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 


Try Many Methods, Keep the Good Fits

The first passive income stream you try might not be the best fit, but don’t let that discourage you. If you keep your eggs in different baskets, you can find the ones that work faster. 

Get Your Taxes in Order

You still have to pay taxes on passive income. If you’re unsure how it might work for your latest venture, it’s a good idea to consult with a tax attorney or advisor. Setting up a formal business structure like a sole proprietorship or an LLC is also a good thing to consider.


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Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh is an in-house content writer for Sav. They live in Chicago with their cat, Polly. Yes, Harsh is their real last name.