17 Best Passive Income Ideas

Best Passive Income Ideas

Passive income is not a new concept, but it has exploded in popularity recently. Thanks to the internet, passive income is no longer reserved for the stock market, real estate, and those with big budgets. Here are the 17 best passive income ideas for 2019 that you can actually start today.

  1. E-book Royalties
  2. Audiobook Royalties
  3. Capture Stock Footage
  4. Sell Stock Photo
  5. Create Stock Music
  6. Design Stock Vectors/Clip Art
  7. Selling Fonts
  8. Print on Demand
  9. Writing Articles on Paid Sites
  10. Blogging
  11. Affiliate Marketing
  12. Music Streaming
  13. Selling Beats Online
  14. Selling Sample Packs
  15. Preset Packs
  16. Online Courses
  17. Monthly Subscription Membership Site

For each of these passive income examples, we will discuss how it works and how you can get started. We’ll cover startup costs, necessary skills, and how you can start generating income right away! Before all of that, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what passive income is.

What is Passive Income?

passive income ideasYou may have heard passive income called by one of its other names; residual income or leveraged income. These terms all essentially mean the same thing, or close enough for our purposes here. Put simply, it’s an income that is generated for you all the time, without you doing the work for it.

Okay, don’t get the wrong idea. You will have to do work!

Money is not going to just fall into your pockets.

The idea is, you do the work one time but you can get paid for that work over and over. Potentially, you could be paid an infinite number of times.

If you are stuck in the mindset of trading hours for dollars, then this concept may be a little bit difficult to grasp. You’ll need an example.

How Passive Income Works

Let’s use a medium everybody knows; books. Specifically, e-books. Since they are often self-published.

An author writes a book. That author then self-publishes a digital version of that book on amazon, in the form of an e-book that sells for $3. Let’s assume that every time the e-book sells, the author makes $1.

If that book sells 1,000 copies this month, the author has made $1,000. If it sells the same amount of copies next month, they will make another $1,000, for a total of $2,000.

In theory, this could repeat that cycle for 12, 24, 36, or any other amount of months/years. The author is not doing any new work to sell these copies (except maybe some marketing!), but the total amount paid for the work keeps rising, with no hard limit to exist.

Some e-books on amazon still sell as well, or nearly as well today as they did when published 10 or more years ago.

That’s a lot of pay for one piece of work.

This is the idea of leveraged, or passive income.

What are the Advantages of Passive Income?

In the previous section, we demonstrated how with passive income, one piece of work has the potential to create nearly unlimited income. But, what are some other advantages of passive income that make it worth investing time into?

I’m glad you asked.

1. Safety

If you were to get injured today and be unable to work for the next 3-6 months, what would happen to your family? Would you be able to survive that long? For most people, the answer is a definitive no.

With passive income, you have a safety net. If you get hurt and can’t work, that residual income check will still come in, because the initial work has already been done.

2. Stackability

We discussed how one piece of work can create unlimited income.

What if you had multiple pieces of work that were all creating that income each month indefinitely?

And what if that freed up time for you to continue to generate passive income?

What if you had 100 different passive income sources?

How about 1000?

3. Freedom

If you’re tied to a job, then you’re also tied to a location. Few people are able to leave where they live and travel at any time they wish.

Those with passive income can.

Ok, by now you’re probably convinced that passive income is pretty freaking awesome. So, let’s get into how you can actually get some for yourself!

17 Best Ways to Make Passive Income

1. E-book Royalties

Earn audiobook royalties passive incomeSince we used e-books as our example when explaining what passive income is, it will be the first residual income idea on the list.

Once you write an e-book, it can be listed on any online marketplace, the largest being Amazon. That e-book can sell a potentially unlimited number of times, meaning there’s theoretically no cap to your earnings.
If you had multiple e-books selling in decent numbers each month, you might replace your full-time income with just royalties!

Your book could be about anything at all. It could be fiction or non-fiction.

Non-fiction will probably be easier to market as a new author with no following.

Despite what many think, you don’t need to be a top expert to write a non-fiction book. You just need to know more than the people who will be purchasing your book.

Your book could be on any subject at all. If you have more skill than the average person in almost anything, then you could write a book on it. It doesn’t have to be long, 10,000 words is perfectly acceptable for a short non-fiction e-book.

This is one of the lowest barrier of entry options presented on this list. If you have a computer and you know english, you have everything you need to write your e-book.

When it comes time to publish, you can find graphic designers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork who will design your cover for next to nothing. Be sure to check out some of their previous work to make sure they’re quality!

2. Audiobook Royalties

Audiobook Royalties best passive incomeWhile we’re on the subject of royalties, let’s talk about another kind. Audiobook royalties work the same way as e-book royalties. The narrator and author both get a percentage of each sale of that audiobook forever.

If you enjoy doing interesting character voices you may try narration fiction audiobooks of any genre.

If you like to learn and would like to read informative books as you record, maybe non-fiction is better for you.

One of the best parts about getting audiobook royalties, is that you’re not quite as responsible for the sales of the project. You should definitely do as much as possible to help your projects sell since you get paid each time it does. But, you can narrate audiobooks that are already successful as e-books, ensuring that you will make good money down the line.

Audiobook narration takes a bit more of an investment to get started in. You’ll need a microphone, a computer, a good place to record, a DAW (program to record in), and probably some plugins for your DAW software.

If you think you have the right voice and you can read out loud very well, then you may look into it. Check out our article on How to be an Audiobook Narrator for more information.

3. Capture Stock Footage

stock footage best passive incomeIf you love recording videos, or you have a large library of video clips you’ve recorded, you may think about submitting your shots to a stock footage website.

Today, people need video clips for all sorts of things. Sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram all use video to hold our attention, and it works!

We spend an obscene amount of time digesting video content.

Brands use videos to advertise. Vloggers pump out endless streams of video content. Bloggers use video to drive the point home for articles on their websites.

What do all of these have in common? They all use stock footage.

You upload your video clips to a stock footage website. When someone needs a clip of whatever your video is presenting, then they download your clip and you get a commission.

Of course, not every video will be accepted to a stock footage website. Even if they are accepted, there is no guarantee anyone will download your video clips.

However, many people have found success selling their stock footage. The key is to get unique clips in a series that tell a story together. They must also be very high quality and clean.

Shooting clips in 4k is a HUGE plus since 1080p will be outdated soon.

It’s possible you already have a decent camera available to you. High end smart phones today house powerful enough cameras to shoot 4k at high frame rates.

So, it’s possible to sell footage recorded from your i-phone.

If you want to be serious about your stock footage though, you’ll need to purchase a mirrorless camera and lenses that have excellent video capability.

Once you have some footage, head to blackbox.com and get started on your path to selling your first stock footage clips.

4. Sell Stock Photo

stock photo one of the best ways to make leveraged incomeEven though video has been on the rise and has become our main form of content intake, pictures are still used on every website, social media page, and every email on the web. All of these pictures have to come from somewhere, and many of them are stock images.

It’s likely you have a library of thousands of photos that you’ve been taking for years. It’s also very likely that none of these are any good for stock photo!

Of course, maybe you’re actually a practiced amateur photographer. In that case, your photos might actually make the grade, and you may have hundreds of photographs already that you can use to begin to generate passive income.

Our phones are powerful enough today that you could take photos good enough to sell as stock photos with your Galaxy or I-phone. While this would be sufficient to get started, it’s also rather limiting. If you want to really get pro with it, you’ll need a mirrorless camera and lenses.

For photos, an older camera will suffice. The newest technology isn’t necessary, and a used mirrorless, or even DSLR may be a cheaper way to get you into the professional side of photography.

You can sign up to be a contributor to stock photo sites like i-photo, Getty images, story blocks, and shutterstock.

5. Create Stock Music

stock music - how to make residual incomeIf you record or produce music, then stock music may be an excellent way to profit from tracks that you’ve already finished, as well as future tracks.

Stock music is used on YouTube videos, advertisements, websites, and anywhere else where someone needs a license to use music.

YouTubers are a great example because they use stock music on all of their videos. One video may contain several stock music tracks. Each one of those track downloads made its producer some money.

Stock music websites will take any genre of music. Seriously, any. But, you need to have high quality songs available in .wav form.

If you think your tracks can make the cut, you can submit them to sites like EpidemicSounds.com or artlist.io

6. Design Stock Vectors/Clipart

design vectors for best passive income businessSticking with the stock site ways of creating passive income, we have vectors and clipart. If you like to dabble with programs such as illustrator and Gravit, then this might be the perfect idea for you.

You design any type of image in an illustrator type program. Then you upload the image to a site such as vectorstock.com. When someone downloads your image, you get paid.

Of course, you need to make high quality images that people are actually searching for if you want anyone to buy them!

Your images could be banners, generic logo templates, or detailed drawings of anything you enjoy making.

All it takes to get started is a computer, an illustrator program (you can try gravit for free for two weeks through this link), and a good eye for design.

One of the keys to selling your images will be to properly tag them, so make sure you take care when doing so!

You can also submit your vectors to most sites that take stock photos like shutterstock.com, and storyblocks.com.

7. Selling Fonts

sell fonts for passive incomeI know this seems a bit crazy, but if you’re into graphic design and you design your own fonts, you can sell them online.

People need all kinds of different fonts for all sorts of different applications. Every time they choose to download yours, you’ll get paid.

You can sell fonts through a font foundry, or a font reseller. Foundries are producers of fonts, font resellers are essentially middlemen between the customer and wherever the fonts are created. You’ll need to do some research into which route is better for you.

One foundry you could sell fonts with is fontspring.com. A reseller you could sell through is fonts.com.

To get started, you need a steady hand with beautiful handwriting, a way to scan your handwriting or brush strokes, and a computer with a graphic program like Gravit.

8. Print on Demand

print on demand - easy passive incomePrint on demand allows you to start an online e-commerce business selling many different kinds of merchandise. What makes it great, is you don’t need to actually have any inventory, and it takes little to no investment to get started.

With print on demand, you design an item you want created. This could be a t-shirt, a phone case, a hoody, a pair of leggings, or one of many other items available.

You design the item, then market it.

Once you get someone who is willing to purchase your item, the fulfillment company you’ve chosen will make your item, pack it up, and ship it straight to your customer. They will take the cost of their services from the total amount the customer paid. The markup is yours to keep.

You get to set the prices of your merchandise, so this markup could be $5 on an item, or it could be $15.

There are many fulfillment sites to choose from, such as Printful.com or Printify.com. Read our article comparing the Top 5 Print on Demand Companies to learn more about which companies are the best.

All it takes to get started is to sign up to a fulfillment site, design your shirt, then get sales.

9. Writing Articles on Paid Sites

medium passive income sourcesSome websites that host articles will actually pay you for how many readers you get each month. These are usually membership sites, where the money to pay contributors comes from members and advertising.

Two popular examples of paid article sites are medium.com and vocal.com

You can write an article about absolutely anything that interests you and publish it on one of these sites. If people read it, you’ll make some money. It’s that easy.

Well, the hard part is actually getting the readers.

On these sites are publications. This is like an online version of the print magazines we had “back in the day.” Dang it, I’m getting old.

These publications have monthly readers, so if you can get your article in one of them, your readership may explode right off the bat.

To find one of these publications, try google searching for “Top Medium Publications.” Right now, the top three are freecodecamp.org, The Mission, and Hacker Noon.

To get a spot in one of these publications your article will need to be relevant to their readers, so don’t just submit any old article. Do a little research, and try writing articles to fit a particular publication.

10. Blogging

blogging - best ways to create passive incomeOk, hear me out. It sounds cliche. But, it does work. If you’re reading this, you’re proving it right now.

A website that gets regular monthly visitors provides you many options for creating passive income.

You can do use advertising groups to post ads in the sidebars and you get paid for views. Better than that, you can make deals with specific companies, relevant to your niche, that will pay much more to get advertising space on your site.

Companies with products relevant to your readers will pay you substantially to write posts or do reviews featuring their products.

Affiliate marketing lets you promote products you use and would promote for free, but instead you’ll make a cut of the sale for the connection.

If you have your own products such as e-books or audiobooks, you can sell them on your site, thus increasing your ability to generate passive income by stacking multiple income streams together. Now you’re on the right path!

11. Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing - how to make residual incomeThis one works best if used together with number 10, blogging. Most people think of Amazon when they think of affiliate marketing. While this is affiliate marketing, it’s really the tip of the iceberg.

Many companies offer an affiliate program. It’s worth doing a search for “affiliate program” for any product or program you use and believe in. You may be surprised to find out that they’ll pay you for telling people something you’re already telling them!

Even if you don’t have your own blog or website, you can still use affiliate marketing. You could post an affiliate link with a description about why you use a particular product to your social media page. You could also post it to relevant groups.

Make sure you only promote products and services you actually use and truly believe in, or you’ll ruin your credibility.

12. Music Streaming

music streaming make passive income onlineSites such as Spotify will pay you for people listening to your songs. It’s fraction of a penny per listen, but if you have a following for your music you could rack up tens of thousands of listens per month. This could equate to thousands of dollars of passive income each month.

Each streaming service has different payout amounts, so do your research before jumping on the first one you can.

Remember that it’s going to take some marketing on your end to build up a large listener base if you want to make real money from this. You’ll probably need good music too!

13. Selling Beats Online

selling beats online - leveraged incomeMaybe you’re not producing full tracks, but just beats. In that case, you can either sell or lease your beats to artist for them to record on.

There are many ways for you to get started with this. First decide if you want to sell, or lease your beats.

If you sell a beat, you’re selling an exclusive license to one artist. You will not sell that beat again. You will set the terms for selling, such as price, royalty arrangements, and/or production credit either in the song or accompanying it.

If leasing out your beats, you can sell each one many times over. You’re only selling a license for the right to use your beat in their finished production. There are usually different price tiers that offer different levels of streams or sales. If an artist goes over that number, they would have to buy a new license in a higher tier.

You can sell your beats through sites such as beatstars.com. This is an all in one platform where all you really have to do is upload your beats. However, there is a ton of competition here and it’s probably not the most effective method for selling your beats.

Your best bet is to start a website where you can host and sell your beats from. Then use social media to promote yourself as a producer. Find facebook groups and similar places where artists are.

Do not try to sell your beats right off the bat. Instead, build relationships with artists. When they need beats, they’ll remember you.

To get selling faster, you could use some paid advertising. This would require some marketing know-how and a good ad. If you do it right though, it could start generating sales for you right away.

14. Selling Sample Packs

selling sample packs onlineIf you’re a producer and you’re already selling some beats, or even if you aren’t you may try making your own sample packs. You can record original sounds, chord progressions on any synth, or interesting loops. All of these can be put together into a sample pack.

You can sell sample packs on sites like ADSR.com without too much hassle. If you step up to a higher level you can also sell on major sites such as loop masters or the producers choice.

Make sure to only use quality sounds, and export everything in .wav format for easy use and high quality.

15. Preset Packs

how to make passive income with preset packsThis is the last music suggestion on the list. This fits perfectly if you’re doing any of the other music suggestions as well.

If you use any of the popular software synths such as Massive or Serum, you could make passive income by selling packs of custom made sounds.

All you have to do is create many different sounds on any synth of choice. Export the sounds as whatever custom filetype is used for that synth. Put them all together in a zip drive, and you can now sell your own preset pack.

Sites that sell loops and sample packs also sell preset packs, so you might try selling yours through sites such as ADSR.com.

16. Online Courses

online courses types of passive incomeIf you are very experienced or knowledgable in any subject and you think you can teach it, then you could be creating passive income by creating and selling online courses.

Your courses could be on anything you know enough about to teach. Maybe you’ve been practicing photography your whole life. In that case, you could teach courses on how to take the best photos, how to use photoshop, how to sell stock photos (see what I did there?) and any other related subject you can think of.

There are two main ways to sell your online courses.

You could host your own website and sell your courses directly from there. The downside of this is that you’re fully responsible for marketing your course. The upside is you can set your own price and make 100% of the profit.

There other way to sell your online courses is by using an online course website. Two great sites to try are Udemy.com and Skillshare.

17. Monthly Subscription Site

membership sites passive income examplesA monthly subscription site could be one of many different types of sites. For example, you could offer daily workouts for a monthly subscription. Maybe your site offers training in martial arts, or some sort of mastermind group.

No matter what your site offers, if you can show the value in it, then people will pay each month to continue to receive that value. 

This is one of the harder options to build and grow. You’ll need a website first. More importantly, you’ll need a very concrete and repeatable product to offer your members that provides a value higher than the cost of membership.

Once you have these two things, now you just need to find paying members! You may use social media or paid advertising to start building your following.


Now that you have so many different options for how to make residual income, it’s time to get started. Pick one of these methods and go all in.

If you need help getting started or have any questions or comments, leave them below or reach out by email at Dean@TheFreelanceResource.com.