Here’s a fact about me you might not know: I used to be a self-taught watercolor artist and hand-letterer. And when I first started exploring the world of passive income, I took some of the work I had created as an artist, turned it into digital prints, and automated my shop as much as possible — and that meant I could go to sleep and wake up to sales I made in my sleep! (If you want to hear the full story, you can read more about it in my book.)
‘Passive Income’ has become quite the buzzword in recent years as people gain more knowledge about what it takes to be successful financially and learn what the term actually means (especially the ‘passive’ part). We know you can’t really be passive about starting a new business, but beyond that, we’re often left with dozens of questions swimming around in our minds that hold us back from taking the step to start.
Why passive income?
Here’s the truth: having more than one stream of income is a very smart move, and it’s never too late to start. After all, only having one stream of income is very close to having zero. For your future, for all your dreams and ideas, and everything else you wish to do with your life, multiple streams of income can help you live, feel secure, invest, and enjoy the uniquely adventurous life you envision. That’s the kind of life I’m passionate about, and it’s one I want to help you build, too.
Back when I first started getting curious about turning some of my own 2am ideas or dreams I’ve been keeping on the back burner into real opportunities for income, I was admittedly intimidated about the lift it would require from me. I mean, there’s a reason I left my 9-5. I didn’t want to work myself into the ground. I didn’t want to lose time with Drew, and I was starting to have brand new (and slightly unexpected) dreams of starting a family. I wanted to LIVE. And I wanted to be present for what I was creating! I didn’t want to see my work day turn into a work month and then a work year… and then see all of the time I was so excited about get swallowed up by the work I piled into the margins.
I was excited about ways I could invest my time and energy to build a ship that could steer itself a bit, rather than feel constantly tied to the helm. So, I decided to let the results do the talking. Instead of letting fear hold me back or trying to get it right the first time, I went all in to test what passive income ideas really deliver on saving me time while pouring into the heart of the business.
That’s the sweet spot you’re looking for: what’s going to save you time and make you money?
Now, just because the beginning stages of developing a passive income isn’t technically passive, it doesn’t mean you have to overcomplicate it. A great way to get some ideas on the board that will be way easier to implement is to start by thinking about how you can leverage things you have already been working on, and then automate or expand them!
As we dive into some of my favorite passive income ideas, think about how you can take what you already know, a piece of what you already do, or a side passion you’re loving and use it to help get a passive stream of income going for yourself! Let’s dig into some options.
01. Share What You Love with Affiliate Income
Are you the kind of person who can’t help but tell everyone what you love? Do you have friends who always buy what you recommend? If so, affiliate income is right up your alley! A lot of people think that the only people who find a lucrative and successful stream of income by utilizing affiliate links are the big, popular influencers, but that’s been proven to be false! All you need is an engaged audience, no matter the size. So many people wait a long time to start integrating this into their marketing plan, but why wait when you’ve already built a trusted rapport with your people? The odds are very good that the brands you love have an affiliate program, so you can start getting a kickback when you share what you love with your friends, your email list, and your followers.
02. Turn Your Hobby Into an Online Shop
Don’t underestimate what you likely already have to offer in your own online shop! Whether you’re selling products you already make (perhaps you are a watercolor artist like I was!) or you want to turn your experience and know-how into templates that other people can buy, it’s time to build yourself a digital home base for your work! Don’t believe it’s possible? Hop onto a platform like Pinterest or Etsy and type in things you can create and see if there are other successful business owners, selling things you can create!
03. Monetize Your Content with Ads
When you hit post on social media, your blog, or even your podcast, consider how you could weave an ad strategy into what you share without having to change the content itself! Funny story but when my brother was like twelve, he created a website called Joke City and he had pay-per-click ads on it. He earned so much he had to pay taxes before he was even a teenager. Whether you throw an ad into the midst of a YouTube or TikTok video, schedule an extra post on Instagram for it, or weave an ad break into your new podcast, ads are a smart way to have an impact on your income long after you’ve hit ‘publish’ on a piece of content.
04. Dive into the Print-On-Demand World
In that new online shop you’ve created, you can save yourself even more time by creating offers that are made-to-order, managed, and shipped for you without you having to seal up a single cardboard box yourself! Save yourself a little time while still sharing the designs and ideas you love (on products people are stoked to buy) without the added cost and effort of doing it all yourself or keeping a relentless pulse on stock. There’s very little risk here because all you’re spending is the time creating a new design. Then just upload it and see if it sells!
05. Share What You Know in a Digital Course
Now, speaking of that online shop you created… a digital course would fit ever so nicely on a beautifully designed sales page, my friend! This might be my favorite form of passive income because I get to reach so many people with meaningful, long-term support through digital education — and I can do it all while I’m living my life. Put in the up-front work of writing and creating your course, and then you can share and launch that course over and over again!
06. Invest in a Rental Property or Airbnb
This kind of ‘passive’ income isn’t for everyone, but as someone who has firsthand experience with owning some vacation rentals, I can say it’s a stream of income I’ve really been so thankful for… and have surprisingly enjoyed over the years! We own a few Airbnb properties, our most popular ones are our two condos nestled near the beach on Maui! While there are a million ways to approach this, it’s so worth mentioning here because it can not only be a valuable source of income year-round, but it can be something refreshingly outside of your usual scope of work. And as an added bonus, during the less busy seasons of your year (and with that time you’re saving from passive income) you can carve out time to have a little vacation in your own rental, too! That’s one of our own win-wins we look forward to when we get the chance!
So, remember this as you start to dream about what’s next for you: You don’t need to be a successful business owner, an experienced entrepreneur, or carry any other kind of seemingly impressive title to build more streams of income into your life. Give yourself permission to try, pivot, and find what works for you!