This encompasses everything from eBooks to stock images and even Udemy courses. The idea here is to create a digital good that has value. Why digital? Well, if you’re creating really unique hand-made socks, you can’t just duplicate them and resell them. Furthermore, you have to pack and ship each pair. Both of these things mean that there’s a fixed ratio of labor to income, and we’ve already discussed why that’s not ideal. Digital goods can be duplicated, and we can engineer systems (or use online marketplaces) to deliver them automatically. Awesome.

Haha, that is too funny. I wanted to make an app back in the day called “MyShares” (You can probably tell how I cam up with the name at the time). The idea was that I would loan out books and DVD’s and then would never get them back. Then I thought, how cool would it be if I could rent those items out and that would motivate people to bring them back. Obviously, books and DVD’s are cheap, so this isn’t the money maker. The idea that would probably make the most money would be things like tools, ATVs, etc.
That $200,000 a year might sound like a lot to you, but the median home price in San Francisco is roughly $1.6 million or almost eight times our annual passive income. For a family of three in 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development declared that income of $105,700 or below was "low income." Therefore, I consider us firmly in the middle class.
Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).
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?
John has a daily (yes, daily) podcast where he features an interview with a successful entrepreneur. Now, John enjoys many hundreds of thousands of downloads per month, he’s written a book, has products and has opened up a ton of opportunities for sponsorships and partnerships that wouldn’t have come otherwise. He’s not the first person to have a show dedicated to interviewing rock star entrepreneurs—not even close—but he’s definitely the fastest to see these kinds of results.
They also launched an incredible Retirement Planning Calculator that pulls in real data from your linked accounts to run a Monte Carlo simulation model to output the most likely results of your financial future. I strongly suggest you run your own numbers, play around with the income and expense variables, and see how you stack up. It’s all free and easy to use.
Amazing that you saved between 50% to 75% living in NYC…I think that is one thing holding me back…the cost of living here. I’d like to invest in real estate, but I can barely afford to buy a place to live. I don’t need a large income to be happy, but I probably do need an income to support living in NYC as we don’t plan on leaving. The only thing I’m doing at the moment is saving in my 401K, IRA and a I dabble in stocks and P2P lending.
I own several rental properties in the mid west and I live in CA. I have never even seen them in person. With good property management in place (not easy to find but possible) it is definitely possible to own cash flowing properties across the country. Not for everyone and not without it’s drawbacks, but it seems to be working for me so far. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experience with this type of investing.
I get excited every paycheck because I know my investments are going to increase by a decent chunk. I use Mint to keep a close eye on what the current value is at and make goal marks to hit. Every time I hit a goal, I do a little happy dance and decide what I want my next marker to be and when I want to hit it by. I’m nowhere close to being financially independent or even debt free, but it’s exciting to see the ground work being laid and watching it grow.
If you go this route, be prepared to put in quite a bit of work up front. All of these products need to be created, tested and perfected for sale. The good news is that your initial investment will pay off multiple times. Also, there aren’t any production costs as you aren’t making any physical products. But you will still need to devote some time to product development and subsequent marketing, meaning that your work schedule may need to be trimmed a bit.
Creating a membership site is a powerful way to generate online income and scale a service-based business. By having members pay a monthly (or other periodic) fee to get access to a password-protected area where exclusive content is made available, you can transform a site into a RECURRING income-generating business and bring a regular flow of income from the same customer base.
In which socio-economic neighborhoods do you want to buy? I know real estate investors that have done very well buying and renting in lower-income neighborhoods. For me, it was a huge mistake. I fell into the trap of thinking, “I can buy a house for about half the cost as what I would pay in a better neighborhood.Even if I get slightly lower rent, say 70% as much, I’m still making a higher return.”Wrong!The money you lose on tenant turnover, unpaid rent and repairs far outweighs any benefit to buying property at a discount. Now, I always recommend to investors to never buy a house somewhere they wouldn’t want to live. If the business does poorly, you may end up living in one of your homes.
I own several rental properties in the mid west and I live in CA. I have never even seen them in person. With good property management in place (not easy to find but possible) it is definitely possible to own cash flowing properties across the country. Not for everyone and not without it’s drawbacks, but it seems to be working for me so far. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experience with this type of investing.
Investing in real estate: Investing in real estate offers more passive income cash potential - but more risk - than investing in stocks or bonds. You'll need substantial amounts of cash to invest in buying a home -- it usually takes 20% down to land a good home mortgage loan. But history shows that home prices usually rise over time, so buying home a for $200,000 and selling it for $250,000 over a five-year time period, for example, is a reasonable expectation when investing in real estate.
You can’t start charging right off the bat without your audience knowing anything about the value you offer (though you could still indirectly earn money from them with the right ads). “The best way to go in terms of a long-term passive income business [is] delivering value and information for free, and therefore establishing expertise, knowledge and trust with your audience,” says Flynn.
Real estate crowdsourcing allows you to surgically invest as little as $5,000 into a residential or commercial real estate project for potentially 8 – 15% annual returns based off historical data. Such returns are much better than the average private equity, CD, bond market, P2P lending, and dividend investing returns. With P2P lending, borrowers can sometimes default and leave you with nothing. At least with real estate crowdsource investing, there’s a physical asset that’s backing your investment.

Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!
Yet none of these people I've talked to who have this temporarily successful lifestyle seem very happy. They actually seem kind of restless and lost. I've had conversations with several of them to help them determine "what the purpose of their life is" now that they have some amount of money coming in from some little passive venture they don't even care about that much. It all feels empty to them.
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There’s a second downside to this model. Although I’ve done advertising and sponsorships in the past, and have made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so, the truth is it takes a lot of time for this business model to start to generate income for you, because you need to build that audience first. In addition, what happens when you build your audience on a platform that ends up changing its algorithm, affecting how often you actually get seen by the audience you’ve built?

In June, he put ads on his site with Google Adsense, and within the first hour, earned $1.08 with three clicks. He earned $5 the first day, $7 the second, and then eventually began pulling in $15-$30 a day. In October, he created an ebook exam study guide priced at $19.99. By month’s end, he earned $7,906.55 — more than he had ever previously earned in a month.
A perfect example of the Active Problem Solving + Automation concept is in my online courses I’ve created over the years, or my free webinars I’ve created more recently Each of my online courses and webinars are targeted to help people with specific problems, whether that’s in the area of affiliate marketing, podcasting, building a brand, and so forth. I am always improving upon the courses, but they are also evergreen for my audience. 

Active income, on the other hand, involves earning money in exchange for a service. It could be a salary, an hourly wage, commissions, or tips. It’s essentially a trade of your time for a fixed dollar amount. Most people choose to live this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you understand that there will be a limit to how much money you can realistically earn.

Bryan added: "If you make your choices based on, not 'how can I get money for free?' but on, 'What challenge can I put in front of my face that's going to have me step up to be the kind of person I'd rather be?' you're going to start to forget about wanting passive income, and you're going to start to focus on what purpose you truly want to create the world."


Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, which is launching from Penguin/Portfolio in September. It’s a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital at any age. Michael sends manifestos, recommendations, tips, and other exclusive content to his private email list, which you can join at www.ellsberg.com. Connect with him on Twitter @MichaelEllsberg and on Facebook.
Returns on real estate investing vary and you don’t want to get into the business based on an estimated return but on your own calculation of what is possible for your local market and for specific properties. I have seen pretty common averages between 8% and 12% a year for single-family residential rentals with cash flow accounting for between 0% and 6% of the return.
You are valuable. Your time, your work, knowledge, experience, and output are all valuable. In fact, your employer (or your customers, if you’re an entrepreneur), probably pay a lot of money to rent these things from you. The problem is, whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, an artist, an engineer, or even a baker, the value you create is consumed once — then it’s gone. You can only sell a loaf of bread once. You can only sell each open heart surgery to one client. The value trades hands, and now it belongs to the customer — you get paid once.
Within six months of selling, however, I had reinvested the proceeds from the home sale and brought total passive income for 2018 back up to an estimated $203,724. I'm not sure I would have sold the house without a clear plan for reinvesting the proceeds, since I'm bullish on the SF housing market long term. However, because I did have a plan, and the challenges of raising a newborn and dealing with rowdy tenants left me feeling a bit stretched, I decided to simplify and sell.
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).
I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.
In real estate, your passive opportunities are in private lending and rental properties. Private lending commonly involves lending funds to a real estate investor or business in exchange for a set return and length of time. (Full disclosure: I am co-partner of a turnkey investment company.) Turnkey rental properties allow the investor to be as hands-off as they like. This means a turnkey company purchases, rehabs, tenants and manages the property. To truly make this a passive investment, turnkey companies do all the work for you.
You don’t have to invest individually to take advantage of dividend paying stocks (i.e. investing in an ETF like DVY, which currently has a 3.16% dividend yield – almost 4%). And while your math is indeed correct, there is more to dividend paying stocks that just the math. The reason the companies pay dividends is typically because of their underlying strength, steady growth, etc. These companies can be good investments for the long run. As such, it might not make sense to sell.
Crowdfunded real estate companies like Fundrise are similar to today’s peer-to-peer lending companies. Like Lending Club and Prosper, they offer a platform that matches real estate investors with investment choices. They help people looking to invest money in real estate in a passive manner. Also, investors can avoid bargaining with sellers. No need to get involved in the transfer of ownership and management of those properties either. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RyiTG4pPbp4/maxresdefault.jpg
Because you’re publishing an eBook rather than a physical book, the costs are minimal. And you don’t have to print 1,000 copies of your book hoping someone will buy it. Instead, you can write your book, create a fancy cover for $5 using Fiverr and publish through services like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon will handle everything for you, then take a percentage of the revenue you generate.
Personally, my experience with Amazon thus far has been good - a few of my short eBooks generate steady passive income on weekly basis with zero additional effort from my side. One thing to note though - Amazon pays 70% royalty on each eBook sold only if your eBook is priced between $2.99 to $9.99. Less than or higher than that pricing structure, the royalty decreases to 35%.of your book’s listed price. 

I like the way each section has a template or pattern of a heading with a consistent combination of text and images. It does give some order to the huge of information you offer. But I was actually wondering why you did not make this an eBook instead of a blog post? Or create an outline the way Jim Wang of WalletHacks does at the beginning of his blog posts? I think it holds the reader’s attention especially when there is so much information to review and perhaps absorb.

Then came a few recent emails from readers already on their first or second rental properties since I started the blog, thanking me for the encouragement to get going. Others had started their own blogs or started their own businesses. It was then that I realized my favorite part of this whole blogging journey has not been the financial gains (although you won’t hear me complain about it), it’s been the interactions with other physicians who are trying to achieve the same thing I am.
And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”

One of the easiest ways to increase your passive income is to shift your savings to a bank that pays a higher yield on your savings — for example, Discover Bank and EverBank pay almost 1% for your money. Although it doesn’t sound like much (especially in this low interest environment), little things do add up and eventually interest rates will rise.

Bryan added: "If you make your choices based on, not 'how can I get money for free?' but on, 'What challenge can I put in front of my face that's going to have me step up to be the kind of person I'd rather be?' you're going to start to forget about wanting passive income, and you're going to start to focus on what purpose you truly want to create the world."
Writing an e-book is very popular among bloggers, as many have noted that “it's just a bunch of blog posts put together!” You will not only have to make an investment of time and energy to create the e-book, but market it correctly. However, if marketed correctly (through blogging affiliates in your niche, for example), you could have residual sales that last a very long time. 

Non-fiction e-books that educate your potential audience on specific topics like finance, online marketing, and business are going to make you more money than fiction books. Of course, there are always exceptions and you could write the next Harry Potter book, but if you want to create some residual income opportunities quickly, I would suggest you go for what sells first!
I make a little bit of money off of referring people to services I truly believe in. I never recommend things I don’t personally use, but if I’m going to refer friends to Shopify, products on Amazon, or Udemy courses besides my own, I have no shame making a couple bucks off it. In most cases, these referral sales come from older links within my podcasts or courses, and therefore, are completely passive.
Awesome article…if this does not give somebody a clear roadmap, they probably were never going to get there in the first place! I’m kind of like you trying to figure out where to place “new” money and maturing CD’s in this low interest environment. Rates have to go up eventually…I dream of the days again where you can build a laddered bond portfolio paying 8%. I plan for a 5.5% blended rate of return, with big downside protection.
P2P lending is the practice of loaning money to borrowers who typically don’t qualify for traditional loans. As the lender you have the ability to choose the borrowers and are able to spread your investment amount out to mitigate your risk. The most popular peer to peer lending platform is Lending Club. You can read our full lending club review here: Lending Club Review.

If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.
Lending Club is a platform where you can lend your money to other people. You’re the bank. Each note is only $25, so you can invest $1,000 and lend money to 40 people. There are many grades of loan (from safest to riskiest) and investors earn, on average, between 5% and 7% annualized returns. For more information, check out Investing and Making Money with Lending Club Peer-to-Peer Lending and my real money Lending Club Portfolio.
The much loved model for bloggers and content creators everywhere and for a good reason…it’s pretty easy to write a 60-80 page ebook, not hard to sell say $500 worth a month through online networking, guest posting and your own SEO optimized blog, and well you get to keep a large whack of the pie after paying affiliates.  Hells yeah!  Continue reading >
When I started building my architecture-related business in 2008, I made my first dollar through advertising. I’d spent a lot of time and money building the site and getting traffic. Then one day I threw an ad on the site one day, and I made $1.18. Sure, I could find that much under my couch cushions—but that’s not the point! The point is that I was able to build something online, put an ad up, and make money without having to do anything. I learned it was possible, and it motivated me to move forward.
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