18 Passive Income Ideas To Help You Make Money In 2022

Passive Income Ideas: Asset Building

As the name implies, asset building requires the upfront time and effort to build an income-generating asset. While it may not carry the steep financial costs of investing, it does come with the risk that the assets you invest your time in creating may not sell.

Digital Products

Digital products can be anything, from ebooks and lesson plans to mobile apps—even NFTs. What’s key here is that you spend time building them once and then are able to sell the same asset again and again online. You can take a totally passive approach to the digital products you create, or you can devote time and money to marketing them.

Music and Photo Licensing

If you’ve got a creative streak, you can turn your photographs or music into a stream of passive income by licensing it to stock image and music sites. Other content creators then pay for the rights to use your creations. Musicians can sell their songs on sites like and Pond5, while photographers can sell their images on sites such as Alamy and Adobe Stock.

Custom Designed Products

By uploading original designs to print-on-demand websites like Teespring, Redbubble, CafePress and Zazzle, you can earn passive income each time someone orders a t-shirt, coffee mug or other physical product emblazoned with your design. Even better, you don’t have to handle the printing, storage or shipping, reducing much of the frustration of selling physical goods.

Affiliate Sales

Affiliate sales are passive income generated when someone makes a purchase after clicking a link or using a referral code that you publish on a website, video or podcast. You’ll generally earn a flat rate commission or a percentage of their purchase.

You can find affiliate links for just about any type of product or service, meaning you could make passive income from anything from mattress reviews to software evaluations. Keep in mind, however, that this space is very competitive, and most successful affiliate marketing requires high-quality ongoing content production.

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What is not passive income?

As we mentioned, passive income is often misunderstood and confused with side hustles. While a side hustle or second job is a great way to boost your income streams, unless it’s operating in a way that allows you to step further and further back (while earning more and more cash), then it’s not truly passive.

Your passive income is not…

Your job – The idea of a passive income stream is to boost your regular earnings or allow you to retire early. Your main job is not a passive income stream.

A side hustle – While a side hustle can potentially generate passive income, they’re more often an example of active income as they require your attention and effort to maintain. However, if your side gig allows you to step back over time without losing traction, this could become passive income over time.

Consulting – Consulting is an excellent side gig or online business if you have a specialist subject that you can share with the world, but it’s not a source of passive income. If you want to make passive income by coaching or consulting, you need to build your practice with others who could take on the hands-on element while you step back and enjoy the benefits.

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Investing for speculation – You’ll often hear people tout investing in the stock market as a source of passive income. However, we disagree that investing for speculation is one of the best passive income ideas for one simple reason… Stock appreciation is not income. That said, investing in high dividend-yielding stocks is an example of passive income as this provides you a regular income injection without you needing to do anything.

A good trick for figuring out whether an investment is passive income or appreciation/speculation is whether you’ll see a cash on cash return like dividends (passive income) or if you only get a monetary benefit once you sell the investment (appreciation).

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5. Sell a course online

Reddit user u/wawedewawe – who is a teacher by profession – explains how he managed to sell worksheets that students can use for personal studies. This is one example where someone earns passive income from selling online courses.

If you’re skilled in a particular field, you can also create an online course for people who need knowledge on the same. Whether it’s an eBook, audio or video syllabus, most of your work will involve creating the study material. You can then distribute it through sites like Coursera, Udemy and SkillShare for pay. Once the course is out there, you can sit back and earn passive income from everyone who is interested in taking it. Focus on something that you have a passion for and has a relevant market so you won’t get bored of managing the course, it could be anything from personal finance to video game design and more.

Needless to say, you’ll need to be an expert in the field. Otherwise, you may find it extremely hard to sell a course if its content isn’t great. For example, if you’re a professional film producer, you can create a videography course for freelance videographers.

Earn cash back on credit cards

If you’re still using cash or a debit card for your purchases, you’re potentially missing out on a lot of free money. As long as you’re spending money on the things you buy anyway, why not use one of the best cashback credit cards that provides easy cashback rewards on every purchase?

Learn How to Apply See rates and fees Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months $0 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 a year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases Benefits and Drawbacks Benefits cash back at U.S. supermarkets Annual fee of . Terms apply. Drawbacks No travel rewards Grocery rewards are capped Rewards dollars can’t be used toward the minimum payment due Card Details Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 a year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.74% to 24.74% (variable) Terms apply

Put your passive income to work

Once you’ve found the perfect passive income opportunity that fits with your lifestyle, skills, and passions, it’s important not to let that extra cash get lazy. Make sure every cent is working for you by placing the money you earn into a high-interest bank and letting it continue to work no matter what you’re doing.

It’s also worthwhile to reinvest some of your passive cash back into the business. For example, you could buy additional vending machines or another storage unit to give you more passive income opportunities and boost your investment.

No matter how you choose to boost your income, make sure it works around your schedule, and don’t be afraid to try a few different options. There are no limits to the number of streams of income one person can have, so mix things up and enjoy the returns.

You’ll be sipping mimosas on the beach in no time.  

Strengthen your financial future with these passive income ideas

Passive income can really help elevate your earnings and fill in the gaps that your 9-to-5 job can’t fill on its own. If you’re looking to create an additional income stream so you can strengthen your financial future, the ideas on this list can help you do that.

And it’s OK if you like your full-time gig too. The work that goes into earning passive income tends to be manageable when paired with a 9-to-5. So, yup, you can do both. 

Whether you’re looking to start a dropshipping store, start your own agency, or create profitable content, you’ll find that there’s money to be made in all these areas. All you need to do is get started.

Invest $5

A lot of people get scared off from investing because it sounds intimidating or like you need a lot of money to get started with a traditional brokerage. But it’s simple to get started these days and the required minimum investment to begin is often only a few dollars.

Stash is a good example of an easy place to get started. 1 For as little as $5, you can make your first investment in two minutes and learn how to become a confident investor over time. 2 Plus, you’ll have access to over 40 different investment options, so you can invest in what matters to you most.

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What Passive Income is not

❌ Your job

Obviously. The whole idea of passive income is to supplement, augment or get you out of your job so you can retire, travel or spend more time with loved ones.

❌ Side hustles

Side hustles are great ways to make money, but not all side hustles are passive. Side hustles are usually active, and maybe with systemization, they can turn into passive income streams.

If you need to continually invest the same (or more) amount of time for the same amount of financial output, the venture is not passive. Be careful here, because remember, in the beginning, a passive income stream could require more time, money, or work than it produces.

You have to evaluate the passive income opportunity in its long-term state for you.

❌ Consulting

Consulting is just another job – perfect for a side hustle, but not exactly passive. For consulting to be passive, you’ll need to build the practice with other people, and be able to step away from the work eventually.

❌ Investing for speculation

Here’s where I split hairs. I do not consider stock investments for capital appreciation only to be passive income. Why? Because stock appreciation is not income. On the other hand, investing in stable companies that throw off cash in the form of dividends is definitely a passive income strategy. The difference is, are you getting a cash-on-cash return, or will you only see a return if you sell the investment?

Also, investments like cryptocurrencies and commodities are reserved for price speculation. There are many times when these investments should get some allocation of your portfolio, but investing like this is not a stable passive income strategy unless you are earning yields or grit bot trading.

How to Get Started

While it can be tempting to want to pick five passive income ideas to get started with I’d really encourage you to pick one in the beginning. You need time and the ability to focus to really a grow a passive income stream. Master one thing before moving on to the other.

It’s going to take a substantial amount of time or money in the beginning but I promise earning passive income is everything it’s cracked up to be! Pick an idea, make a plan, and dedicate yourself until that income stream comes to fruition.

Passive Income Business Essential # 1—A website with blog

A website is the first essential of any profitable passive income business done online.

There are a few free options like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com. Those are great options for some, but I don’t recommend that path for three important reasons:

  1. When you use a free service, your domain name will almost always be an “extra” extension to the service provider’s own domain. For example, if I created SPI on Tumblr, the web address would be http://smartpassiveincome.tumblr.com instead of https://www.smartpassiveincome.com.
  2. You have fewer customization options for design, functionality, and revenue. For example, I know that with free WordPress.com sites, you are limited to using only certain plugins, and you aren’t allowed to advertise.
  3. When you build your business on someone else’s platform, your business is vulnerable to any changes they might make. For example, if Tumblr closed tomorrow, you would lose your business entirely.

These three reasons alone are exactly why I recommend going with a self-hosted website. You have more control, it looks more professional, and you can truly call it your own. (For help setting up your website, check out my free Build Your Own Brand course, mentioned above.)

8. Invest in vending machines

Vending machines can be decently profitable. If well-stocked and located in a safe and high-traffic location, an average vending machine can generate up to $400 per month in passive income. Reddit user narrates how he started with six vending machines and managed to add 14 more in just one year. With such growth you’re already looking at $8,000 per month of passive income.

That said, maintaining vending machines does need a bit of work. You have to take a few hours of your week to restock them and collect money from the machines. Plus, they’re prone to vandalism. So, the cost of maintenance may be something worth keeping in mind.

3. Focus on solving a problem

The main goal of any business is to sell a product or service. But at the end of the day, no one cares about what you sell — people care about their own goals, their own dreams, and their own problems.

You want to indirectly market your product in a way that highlights how it can help meet your audience's needs or help them achieve a goal.

How to Start Building Passive Income

There’s no magic trick that turns your time directly into money. Instead, you plant seeds so your money will grow, even when you’re sleeping or at the park walking your dog.

The initial downtime you put into passive income can be as involved as starting a blog or as simple as logging into a robo-advisor platform and investing $100. You can earn passive income whether you’re an entrepreneur with a brilliant business plan, a talented artist, or just happen to have extra cash to invest.

1. Start building a nest egg

Remember earlier I said to create passive income you need time, money or skills? Let’s start with money. Open a high-interest savings account and park even $100 dollars in it. Boom, you just made passive income!

It may not be much, but you’ll earn interest on that money and many online banks even offer cash bonuses for opening accounts. Our favorite right now is CIT bank.

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2. Assess your skills

When I started GoodFinancialCents I was a Certified Financial Planner looking to grow my business and answer common client questions. I figured out that I could use these skills to create great content online, and that I could make money with this blog over time.

I have friends who were stock traders and now have communities around that skill or write for financial publications. Other friends have gotten good at management, and now are building career websites.

What are you good at? What are you passionate about? Take a quick inventory, and research the ways others have used those skills to build income streams.

3. Assess your time, money and effort. Be realistic about your commitments

Time is a tricky one, because it’s our most limited resource. Trying to make more money or create passive income can be a trap because it usually requires you to learn new topics or new skills, and that can be a time suck. Remember, you may have to bite the bullet in the short term, but in the long term your goal is to minimize your time investment.

Are you fully committed? Current work, family and social activities eat up a lot of time. If you don’t have much time, you’ll need to lean more towards investing or getting someone else to do the work for you.

In this guide, we’ve labeled each idea with an effort level (1-5, 5 requires the most effort) to help you match your current abilities to the idea.

4. Ideate and choose

The final step is to put some ideas down on paper and choose how to begin. We created the following list to help you kick off your brainstorming. To help with that, we’ve created this list of ideas to get you started. Here’s to your wealth and freedom!

Which passive income source is best?

The question of which passive income source is best depends on several factors, but some of the most important include the amount of money you have to invest, the total opportunity size, your interest and ability in the area, the amount of time you need to invest and the potential to succeed. Typically, the lower the barriers to entry, the more crowded the field of competitors and the lower likelihood of success.

So you’ll need to weigh the opportunity against these factors and see which passive income strategy works best for you. But it can be helpful to have natural ability and an interest in your target area, because these can help motivate you in the early days when things are likely to be tougher.

There are passive income opportunities for people who are starting out with some money and even those who have no money to start.

How can I make passive income with no money?

If you have little or no money to start, you’ll have to rely mostly on your own time investment to power you through, at least until you build up a little money. That means focusing on passive income sources that take advantage of the following traits:

  • An area where you’re an expert. Here you can build your expertise out into a useful product or service for consumers, e.g. design, software coding and others.
  • An upfront work-heavy opportunity. You’ll need an opportunity that requires a time or work investment, such as creating a course, building out an influencer profile or other options.

In effect, you’re substituting your time for your lack of capital, until you can get enough capital to expand your set of opportunities.

How can I make passive income with money?

Money can provide you with more passive investment opportunities. If you have money to invest in a passive opportunity, you have not only the opportunity set above but a new range, too. Money is a prerequisite for taking advantage of the following passive income areas:

  • Investing in dividend stocks or REITs. Investing in stocks means you need money upfront, but you’ll receive some of the most passive forms of income around.
  • Save with bonds or CDs. Other purely passive activities include buying bonds or CDs.

Here you can use your money to make money with little or no effort on your part, if that’s what you’d like to do. Of course, you could pair your money with a lot of time investment to move into an even more lucrative niche, too.

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