From what he describes, creating passive income definitely does not sound easy. It requires a serious ramp-up -- often requires 80- to 100-hour workweeks in the beginning, says Flynn. But once up and running, and depending on the content, some sites take fairly minimal maintenance. Green Exam Academy, the LEED exam study site he launched in 2008, takes just him four to five hours a month to maintain but brings in $250,000 annually.
Absolutely Federico. I still invest in real estate but no longer carry the misconceptions that it’s passive income. Fortunately, I’ve held my real estate properties long enough that they cash flow even after paying for management but it was a lot of work in the beginning. Real estate is a great investment but passive income investors should look to REITs and other investments rather than direct investment.
Many people choose not to take this route because they get intimidated by complex applications and technology. The truth, however, is that you don’t need a fancy platform or special software to create a powerful online course. Your lessons can be sent out as emails, followed by action plans and/or video tutorials. This approach can be even more effective as most people check their email on daily basis. In fact, that’s the exact approach I took with some of my freedom eCourses.

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.[1]
“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.
If your research really does determine that there is some amazing market niche that until now has miraculously gone unnoticed and unserved---dog owners who wish to help their dogs lose weight naturally, for example---sooner or later, word is going to get out that there's money to be made there, and someone is going to create a better ebook or info course or product that serves that market's needs better than yours does, and who markets it better to them than you do. You can't manage this competition while sipping margaritas all day from your paradise restaurant on Fiji. You'll soon see your market share go down the drain---just like all those Açai cleanses. . .
Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t do both. You can manage your own commercial real estate rentals and flip houses while you have someone else help manage residential rentals. You can invest in REITs and real estate crowdfunding. You’ll get the higher returns of active management while benefiting from the diversification and ease of passive income through other sources.
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.
Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.

But then figure out your unique selling proposition, what advantage you can offer that the market currently lacks. “My advantage in the passive income marketing space is that I’m not afraid to share my failures or where my income comes from,” says Flynn, who details his impressive income every month. “Transparency is huge,” he says. Referring to the personal bio on his LEED exam site, he says, “You might think I’m not benefitting from putting my story on there, but it helps me establish a relationship with people there. I’m someone who went through the same experience people went through on the site.”
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.
At some point in every value chain, value has to be created by a real human. No argument there. However, who says that a human has to deliver that value? Some very smart humans put in the work to create Google, but for the most part, they don’t have to do any work to deliver value to you, whether it’s search results or GMail or Maps. Your landlord put in a lot of work to afford the apartment you live in, to remodel it, and even to find you as a tenant. But now, he doesn’t have to do any work to deliver value to you: you wake up every morning in the apartment whether or not he works.
Now, if you choose to deliver part or all of your course in video format, you can use professional video hosting sites like Wistia or Vimeo. Beside giving you the option of removing the hosting company’s logo, these services also provide analytics which can show you how effective your video is at holding your audience’s attention. Alternatively, you can use litmos, a learning management system that enables you to create an online course with your own branding, domain name, and landing page. There is no percentage cut taken from your revenue like Udemy. Instead there is a monthly fee for their service.
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.

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?
I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.
Do you have stuff in your basement, attic or garage that's collecting dust? If you do, pack up the SUV or car and kids and go to a flea market. You could make a couple of hundred, even thousands, of dollars, depending on what you're selling. You'll want to go to flea markets every weekend or at least every other weekend. Make an event out of it, and show your kids how easy it is to earn money selling their stuff.
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.

Rentals, just like stocks, throw off cash. With rentals we call that cash “rent”, and with stocks we call it dividends. A significant difference however is that the S&P 500 has appreciated at ~6% per year (above inflation) for the last 100 years…..Real Estate has had almost 0 growth above inflation. So are rents higher than dividends? Maybe, maybe not. But unless you got one heck of a deal, the delta in rent over dividends will have a very tough time making up for the 6% per year difference in appreciation.


Hi Sam! I loved your sentence, “There’s so much information in my head that I need to write it down or else I might explode.” That’s exactly how I feel! I never thought of myself as a writer, and especially not a blogger, but recently I’ve started dabbling in it and it feels so nice to get everything out! I’m dedicated to helping others succeed with personal finances, and there are plenty of “how-to” sites, but it’s important to get people thinking and motivated to prepare, plan, and save!


This is separated intentionally from “information products,” because here I’m referring specifically to secondary value creation. If you can write a popular blog and get people reading it, you can sell ads. Alternatively, if you write a niche blog about vegetarian, gluten-free cat food, you can use special affiliate links to different websites, and get paid when people buy through those links. There’s lots of great blogs making tons of money doing these two things (I know of people making millions referring credit card signups), but please note that unless someone is writing and distributing the content for you, this is not passive income. It takes a lot of work to drive traffic. Some of the smarter people I know doing this have hired content writers and set up a bunch of sites, but they invest a TON of time on SEO, finding the right topics, etc.
Some people take it automated well before the year is up. When it converts, it converts. If you target the right people and you're able to create the right message that appeals to your audience, you might just hit a home run. An automated webinar often involves the creation of a webinar funnel. That includes, not only the webinar, but also the email sequences, and possibly a self-liquidating offer, and maybe some done-for-your services and up-sells. 

What I’m doing: I view passive income as funny money to keep myself sane during this long journey. I estimate 2-10 years to get to my goal depending on how active I am. The dollars created are just points one can accumulate. I’ve made passive income goals for each passive income type and check in at least once a year like I am now to make sure I’m on track. Passive income is also carefully managed to minimize tax liability. When you can build a buffer for a buffer, you are then free to take more risks. 

Everything passive first takes active energy. The time to put in the effort is when we are young and not ravaged by disease or burdened by family obligations. I remember being able to snowboard from 9am until 4pm every day for a year. Now, I’m lucky to last from 11am until 2pm without wanting to go to the hot tub and drink a bucket full of beer! If we can appreciate how lucky we are when we are young, we’ll be able to maximize our vitality and live financially freer when we are older.
I think that rental real estate is not perfectly passive income. Landlords need to make a lot not only in order to list the property, but also to keep reliable tenants. So, I would say that it could a challenging job, for people, who have rental real estate but not a source of passive income. Maintenance and management costs that should to be also considered.

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.
One great way to generate a passive income is through affiliate marketing. Now, this does depend on the size of your list. Yes, size matters when it comes to your list. Especially if you're looking to make some serious money and do it on autopilot. But, list-building takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. And you need to add value to your list or you become obsolete.
This was a very inspirational article! I too spent 20+ years in a high-stress career selling a high-end product under a 100 percent commission plan; that is, no salary! I realized, after racking up millions of frequent flyer miles, that there had to be a better and less-stressful way of making a living. My goal was to design my own lifestyle free of corporate shackles, which required a pre-determined amount of passive income.
I see you include rental income, e-book sales and P2P loans as part of your passive income. Do you not consider your other internet income as passive? Is that why it’s not in the chart? Or did you not include it because you would rather not reveal it at this point? (I apologize if this question was already answered – I didn’t read through all the comments, and it’s been about a week since I actually read this post via Feedly on my phone)
My returns are based on full cash purchase of the properties, as it is hard to compare the attractiveness of properties at different price ranges when only calculating down payment or properties that need very little rehab/updates. I did think about the scores assigned to each factor, but I believe tax deductions are a SIGNIFICANT factor when comparing passive income steams.
Hi Sam! I loved your sentence, “There’s so much information in my head that I need to write it down or else I might explode.” That’s exactly how I feel! I never thought of myself as a writer, and especially not a blogger, but recently I’ve started dabbling in it and it feels so nice to get everything out! I’m dedicated to helping others succeed with personal finances, and there are plenty of “how-to” sites, but it’s important to get people thinking and motivated to prepare, plan, and save!
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