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Looking for an income boost? More free time? A better work/life balance? With costs on the rise, and free time seemingly dwindling by the day for most, many are looking for practical ideas about how to increase their income.
One of the most popular concepts people usually end up investigating is that of passive income. On the surface, it sounds perfect – an income that’s generated without you seemingly having to lift a finger. Or even wake up, in some cases. But like most things in life, it’s often dismissed as being too good to be true.
Either that, or a brief investigation will result in tantalizing ideas that seem fantastic until you realize that they are only likely to start generating income years from now after you’ve invested mountains of your hard-earned cash, and thousands of hours.
People also often mistake the concept of passive income for so-called side hustles. But let’s be honest, side hustles are almost always better labeled as second jobs. Yes, the income is going up, but so is the hard work, the hours and at the same time, the free time is in decline.
What Is Passive Income? (And What It Isn't)
Passive income is not a ‘second job’ or ‘side hustle’. It isn’t something that should take up yet more of your time.
But at the same time, we need to be completely frank – it’s not a magic tree of money that you need merely shake to solve all financial problems.
We’ve seen scores of articles and posts suggesting marvelous passive income ideas, yet many of these are either too brief to be useful, or wholly impractical for the average person. (For example, we saw one article casually suggesting a good passive income idea is to buy a few houses and rent them out. Hmmm… why didn’t we all think of that?)
So in this article, we’re going to get real. We’re also going to get bang up to date. We’re going to give you our five absolute best ways of generating a real passive income, without having a spare few million in the bank, an armful of degrees, or an extra 10 hours spare a day.
What Do We Mean By Wealth?
It’s easy to confuse words like ‘wealth’, ‘rich’, and ‘affluent’, and when many people search for practical passive income streams, what they’re looking for is never going to match their immediate needs or expectations. This is because such income streams are not get-rich-quick solutions. No one is likely to have overnight wealth after watching a couple of videos and reading an article or three.
What we mean by ‘wealth’ is having the peace of mind that comes from having regular income streams which not only provide enough money to be able to cover outgoings such that you don’t have to worry about paying bills or dealing with unexpected expenses, but go beyond this.
Because it's dangerous to rely on a single income stream. Having one job that takes up most of your working time means playing a risky hand. Businesses collapse, illness may affect the ability to work, pandemics happen, and if that one single income stream is disrupted, or ends, many people will very quickly find themselves struggling badly.
The Benefits Of Having Passive Income Streams
In a recent survey, 51% of Americans have less than three months’ worth of savings, 56% could not cope with an unexpected $1,000 expense, and 25% have no savings at all.
Simply put, relying on a single income stream is not sensible, it’s not practical, and it’s not worth risking in today’s uncertain world.
Wealth is having enough to keep going when other things don’t. It’s knowing the money will keep coming in, whatever else happens. It's being able to sleep peacefully at night. It may even be having the option to reduce working hours and gain personal time for family.
The Problem With Some Passive Income Ideas
With so many excellent, and perfectly feasible ways of generating automated income streams, it’s frustrating that there is so much information about it that is either out of date, confusing, or written by people who assume everybody has vast sums of money to spare. Or virtually nothing to do all day but work hard on developing the idea.
We’re going to look at this differently. We’re going to focus on five legitimate ways in which virtually anybody can create a passive income without the need for countless hours or a bank balance like Elon Musk’s.
Top Five Passive Income Ideas (That Anybody Can Do) In 2022
These five practical ways in which virtually anybody can increase their wealth through passive income projects are not in any specific order, since there are pros and cons to each. We’ll make these clear, as well as make sure you have enough information to make a decision and be able to go ahead and start making progress with it.
We know these all work, because between us all here we have used every single one of these – and of course still are. That’s the beauty of a passive income stream – they just keep on going. So, let’s dive in, and start making money.
Amazon Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing has been around for years and is a proven way in which many people are very easily able to generate a significant second income (or in many cases, make it their main income).
Very simply, you partner with a merchant, and then through any of several different ways, you promote selected products of theirs to your target audience. Whenever anyone purchases that product, you get a percentage cut of the sale. Effectively the merchant gets free targeted marketing, and you’re getting a steady income without having to do very much at all.
You don’t need to have any stock, nor have anything to do with the processing of orders, dealing with transactions, customer service support, or indeed anything except for worrying about how to spend/invest all that extra money.
Amazon is the largest single retailer used by people for affiliate marketing, and they have a very well-established scheme that enables you to get up and running very quickly. So how much can you make from Amazon affiliate marketing? Well here are their current commission rates for the most popular categories:
As you can see, if you decide to focus on Amazon Games you can receive a rate of 20% from each sale. Since an average product price in this category is around $35, you could get $7 for every sale you generate.
Looking to make an extra $500 a month? You’re looking at 71 sales a month, or just a little over 2 a day. With a decent audience size, that’s certainly more than possible.
With Luxury Beauty offering a 10% rate, this too is a highly profitable area, but don’t overlook those categories offering lower commission rates, because you’ll often find that you can make a higher number of sales, and those 1% and 2% rates add up.
Not forgetting that this is something that works automatically, even while you sleep.
So how do you get started with this? Here’s our best approach:
- Sign up for the Amazon Affiliate program by visiting https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
- Although you can use email lists (if you already have one), we find the best approach is to have a WordPress-based website (cheap, simple, and responsive). This may take a little bit of time to get set up, and then to add some content, but this doesn’t have to take long, and if you already have a website then you’re virtually set.
- Install the AAWP Amazon Affiliate plugin for WordPress. This makes life so much easier and helps you to pull the latest products, lists, and offers directly from Amazon, according to your categories and filters, and then display the products exactly how you want them to appear. Just head over here and choose the plan that suits you most – the $49 option is usually ideal for most people.
Choose which pages you want the Amazon listings to appear on, and select from any of the (fully customizable) templates that come with AAWP. We like the comparison tables (see below) and the bestseller lists. Remember, this data is pulled directly from Amazon, so is always completely up to date. Once you’ve installed the plugin and chosen the templates, your work is done.
It really is as simple as that. Over time you can choose to add further pages and insert more adverts, but that’s up to you. If you are serious about making even more money look at adding regular blog posts (or inviting people to write guest blog posts or even use a small percentage of your Amazon income to pay for people to write posts for you, and then add more pages). You could even encourage visitors to sign up for a newsletter or mailing list, and then include Amazon affiliate links in that.
For a completely passive income, just create, plugin, insert and go. You can work on it as little or as much as you want to.
Oh, and if you do need any help or advice with using our AAWP plugin (unlikely as it's so simple and well documented) our friendly support team is ready and waiting to help.
Create A Dropshipping Store
Dropshipping is similar in some ways to affiliate marketing, in that it involves selling products you don’t own, don’t store, and don’t ship to customers, while taking a percentage cut of every transaction.
The way it works is that you have some kind of platform – a WordPress website is ideal – and list whatever products you choose from a catalog provided by a dropshipping service. When a customer clicks ‘Buy’ on your website, the order is sent to the dropshipping company who then packs the product and posts it to the customer.
As this usually involves only your brand logo and details being included on the packaging and invoice slip, the customer simply assumes it has come directly from you. However, you didn’t actually have anything to do with it, and didn’t have to lift a finger!
It’s a very simple process and doesn’t necessarily involve spending anything if you choose to, although investing a small amount of time definitely makes a big difference.
The process involves:
- Choose a dropshipping provider (or use multiple providers if you want an even bigger range), and choose the products you want to be able to sell. These products are usually heavily discounted.
- List the products on your own website, including a markup (this is your cut).
- Plan how to spend your money!
In reality, if you want to make some serious money you’ll need to do a bit more than this, but if you’re just looking at creating a passive income stream that requires minimal input from you, this doesn’t have to take long at all, and once up and running it pretty much works by itself.
To begin with, let's think about where you’re going to be listing your products. You have three main choices we’d recommend. This can include having your own website, using Amazon, and using eBay. There are pros and cons to each. Obviously, with selling products on Amazon and eBay you have no website to build or maintain, but you will need to budget for the listing and selling fees involved.
Having your own website is our preferred approach, and we like using WordPress sites as they’re quick to build, easy to maintain, and look good.
There are other ways of listing products, such as email newsletters for example, and over time you may decide to expand where you’re listing these.
So what about the dropshipping company? There are many of these, but one of the best is Sellvia. Once you’ve signed up you get a 14-day free trial, after which it’s $39.99 per month.
If you have a WordPress site you can install their plugin which will allow you to quickly and easily import product listings and categories, and you can even set it up so that top-sellers, new products, popular products, or best buys are imported, updated and featured on your site all without you having to do a thing.
The products available are from a wide range of categories, from fashion to gadgets, home and garden to beauty, and kids to pets. As an example, we spotted this wireless silent gaming mouse. You could list this product on your website (or Amazon, eBay, etc), for $28.99. This is what your customers would pay. The order gets sent directly to Sellvia, and they ship it out to the customer. You get charged the discounted price of $7.49 and get to pocket the difference of $21.50. Sell five of those mice in a day and that’s an extra $100 a day – all without you doing a thing.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? So what’s the catch? The only possible downside is that you are completely reliant on another company processing orders, and shipping them out. Your customers have no idea a dropshipping company is involved – they think they’re dealing with you directly, and you alone. So if a product arrives that’s wrong, faulty, or damaged, or it arrives late or goes missing, it's your reputation on the line.
For this reason, we strongly recommend going with a reputable dropshipping company. You can find some very cheap ones where items come from China, but this can often mean long delivery times, and real problems when things go wrong. Sellvia is US-based, so you’re in safer hands. If you’re in the UK we’d recommend Avasam.
Develop Online Courses
Don’t skip this idea just because you don’t have years of experience teaching or lecturing! This is actually a surprising way of generating a passive income that so many people can do.
Most of us have interests, hobbies, jobs, or areas of experience that many others don’t have. That’s part of what makes life interesting. You don’t have to be an expert to have enough experience and have gained enough knowledge, to be able to teach others how to at least get started.
From painting to photography, DIY to car mechanics, sewing to yoga, and almost anything in between. If you have spent a good proportion of your life already learning and improving within any particular field, then the chances are high that there are many people who would be happy to pay to learn from you.
In fact, the chances are extremely high. A recent survey carried out by Global Industry Analysts found that the e-learning market is likely to reach $325 billion by 2025. People are signing up for courses every day, learning new skills for work, or improving their own interests and hobbies.
Getting started is very straightforward. You’ll need to begin by choosing an area of interest to develop a course in. Keep this focussed. Don’t focus on watercolor painting, for example, choose a specific style of watercolor painting. Perhaps old buildings, or skies.
Then plan a structure for your course. What would be the best way of starting? Perhaps equipment and tools. Then write down the headings or ‘lesson titles’ that would make sense for someone to work through to be able to then put it all together and achieve the end goal.
You don’t need outstanding equipment to create a course. If you have a phone that can record video, this is fine, although you may want a separate microphone to make sure your voice is clear. Video editing is going to be very straightforward. Your courses aren’t necessarily going to be fancy. Some shots of you talking, then perhaps some shots of whatever it is you’re demonstrating.
The process of signing up, giving your course a title, typing up your lesson titles, and then uploading your videos is very straightforward. You then add any resources needed, set your price, and publish.
The great thing with this is that once your course is published, people can sign up and work through it without you having to be involved at all. People can be watching your videos while you sleep, eat or walk the dog, and you’re earning money every time.
We would recommend though that you keep an eye on messages as students may post messages asking for further information, but generally, you can be as hands-off or as hands-on as you wish.
Creating multiple courses can also help, as people may finish one of your courses and then want to move on to your next topic.
Quite apart from becoming a passive income stream that really works, many people have found that they can earn more selling courses than their main job. It’s certainly very typical for tutors to make between $1,000 to $10,000 per month, and topics range from programming languages to parenting, interior design to magic tricks, and music to math.
Just taking a look at the categories on Udemy alone will likely inspire you to appreciate the value your life experience and knowledge already offer.
Sell Digital Products
In a way, this has some similar overlap with the online courses, but doesn’t require you to be on camera! Digital products can include a range of different things, but the most popular are either ebooks or software.
Of course, if you don’t know how to program you might choose to just stick with the ebooks. But if you have a really good idea for a software utility or app you may decide to hire a freelancer to produce the actual software for you, and then you can sell this yourself.
But let’s assume for now you’re going to focus on ebooks. This is a good idea since a recent survey by the American Association of Publishers put ebook sales to account for 19% of all global book sales.
These are surprisingly easy to produce. If you're familiar with the topic already (perhaps using the skills or experience you've identified having considered the courses idea above) then this makes it a little easier. But if you’re prepared to spend a little time upfront carrying out research you could quite easily create an ebook on almost any topic. That’s one of the beauties of the internet.
Let’s say you decide to write an ebook about barbecue recipes. Step one is to spend some time online searching for good recipes, and making notes about those you think would be good to have in your ebook.
Once you have enough (it doesn’t have to be a 600-page tome – often 3,000 words is plenty) use your favorite desktop publishing software to write up the recipes, including images. Don’t forget to be aware of copyright, and only use your own photos or those which are Creative Commons licensed, or for which you've paid the appropriate royalty fee.
Add a cover, an introduction, and perhaps links/references to other sites or resources, and then save it as a PDF.
Once you’ve spent the time creating your ebook, and you've uploaded it, you can sell it over and over again. You’ll probably want to market it, of course, so you may decide to use an existing marketing list if you have one, your website, or use advertising such as Facebook Ads.
Create A Print On Demand Store
If you have the skills needed to create graphic images on the computer or have a mind that can come up with clever slogans or witty sayings, then this could be an easy win.
With a print-on-demand setup, you create the image (either a vector style logo, more detailed image, photograph, or just text), and upload it to the service you decide on. Your image can then be displayed on anything from t-shirts and mugs to phone cases and hats.
These are just digitally created proof images, but whenever a customer decides to purchase an item, your image is printed onto a blank product, and then shipped straight to the customer. You, of course, then benefit from your share of the sale.
Effectively you have to do nothing once you have created the image or slogan, and uploaded it to the print on demand store.
Having said that, if you want people to actually see your products you’ll need to market them. If you have a website, blog, or social media profile you can use this.
Because the images are visual, using a social media channel is an easy and effective way to achieve this. Using suitable tags you can reach target markets quickly, drop them a link, and wait for the sales. There are many good print-on-demand services, but our favorites include Printful, Spod, Printify, and Teelaunch.
Not only is it very possible for virtually anyone to create a solid passive income stream, or even multiple passive incomes, it’s very much to be encouraged.
Recent times have shown us just how rapidly and unexpectedly life can change, and relying on a single source of income is just too risky. With costs escalating, people are needing to earn that extra cash, but without sacrificing hours of precious personal time.
These five ideas have been proven to work by us, and by many millions of others. You don’t need a fortune or an endless number of spare hours. You can tailor these to your own available time and budget. You may even find they become more profitable than your normal job, as have many others.
Life is uncertain, but with these passive income stream ideas you can sleep easy, wake up wealthier, and enjoy a little more freedom, and a few more luxuries!