Create a website or blog. With the foundation of a good website, you can build traffic (a flow of visitors to your site) that you can then convert into revenue sources later on. First, you have to get the traffic, so start by writing about what you know on your website or blog. If it is interesting, informative, and well written, you may gain consistent traffic to your site over time.
Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
Investing in a business: Another good way to generate passive income is to invest in a business --even a small one -- in return for a percentage of the profits - just like Shark Tank, only smaller. Lending $10,000 to a local business that, for example, is working on a mobile app for Apple phones could lead to a passive income-generated share of the profits when that mobile app starts selling like hot cakes.
Earn rental income. One of the more common ways that people earn passive income is by buying and then renting out property. These can be homes, apartments, land, or even individual rooms within your home. To do so, you'll have to find a property to rent out, determine a fair rental price by looking at comparable properties in your area, and then act as a landlord for your renters. You can convert this income source into truly passive income by hiring a manager to act as a landlord for you. However, this may not be economically feasible until you have several rental properties.
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
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Like many, I was first really turned on to the idea of passive income by Tim Ferriss. In The Four Hour Work Week, he describes the system he developed with BrainQuicken, where the marketing, shipping, reordering, banking, and even customer service of the company was on complete auto-pilot. I found this idea intoxicating. The idea that Tim could travel the world learning to tango and staying on private islands while money just accumulated in his bank account seemed like some strange fiction — surely, this isn’t how people actually live, is it?
If you have specialized knowledge in a certain topic, you can put together an online course to teach others. For example, if you have experience in real estate investing, you can create an online course “Real Estate Investing 101”. The benefit of an online course is that once you create the course material, you can sell it to as many people as you want.