If you haven’t heard of the concept of passive income, you’re in for a treat. Get it right, and you really can make money whilst you sleep.
Passive income is money you earn long after you’ve completed the thing that makes the money. Good examples are book writing – you write a book once and people will buy the book for years to come. That’s one piece of work, and many many pay days.
Another example would be investments. If you have savings in an account that earn interest, you are earning money on your investment without doing anything. Nice.
Why should I earn passive income?
Earning passive income means you can be less reliant on your main pay-check, as your income is diversified. If you want to start a family, you can have extra money coming in on top of any maternity pay you might receive. Or if you want to travel, you can earn some extra income whatever country you find yourself in, to fund your way around the world.
It frees up your time, so that you can spend more of your time on the things that you enjoy. That could be simply cutting your hours at work to part-time to spend more time with your kids or moving away from corporate life into a job that helps people.
It gives you choice
For me, the main attraction of earning passive income is that it gives you choice. You can choose how, where or what you work on. Where you live. What time you go to the gym. When you take a holiday.
You are freed from the shackles of routine and having to conform to the old-style way of working – the 9 to 5 sat at a desk, in a building someone else has decided is suitable for you to spend most of your waking hours, with a strict 60-minute lunch break in the middle. I find that way of life suffocating.
I’m someone that likes to be in charge of my own time and my own life.
This is why I find passive income so interesting. It has the potential to earn you some extra money right up to allowing you to escape the rat-race and start living your life as you wish.
It’s not easy to earn passive income
Now whilst the above sounds fantastic, and I’m sure many of you are jumping up and down right now saying ‘Yes, that’s me! Where do I sign up!’, know that earning a passive income is not always easy.
And it’s definitely not a get rich quick scheme.
You will need to put in some work upfront to reap the rewards for years to come.
If we go back to our example of writing a book – that book doesn’t get written overnight. There’s the idea to have, the chapters to plan, the characters to develop, the first draft to write, the second first draft to write when you hate the first one, followed by the second draft, then the editing, the proof-reading, publishing, marketing, then, finally some sales…
You get the picture.
Find passive income that works for you
There are a lot of different ways to earn passive income, some of which I talk about below. Some require a lot more up-front work and some require more set-up cash than others. Some require less time, some require more time, some are riskier.
To get it right, you need to find an idea (or a few!) that works for you and your individual skillset. We are all good at different things.
Let me know how you get on!
Here are some suggestions for you, to start you on your passive income journey (they’re in no particular order!).
Rent out a room in your home
A super simple and low risk idea to start with. If you have a spare room in your home that you aren’t using, you can earn from it. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
The easiest way is to rent it out to one person at a time, meaning you have a housemate. You can draw up an agreement specifying a minimum term of say 6 months for example, and whether bills are included or on top of the rental figure.
The benefits of this are that it’s way less hassle – you find someone once, for a good chunk of time, and they may stay years. You can get to know them, and you may well become friends for life!
Similar to the above, but maybe more suitable if you aren’t that keen on having someone else in your home all the time, is to do a Monday-Friday rental. This is really popular if you live close to a big city.
A few people I know who live in London have done this. They usually rent a room to someone who lives elsewhere in the country, but who earns more money by working in London. He/she works in the City during the week then heads back home to their family home at the weekends.
It means you get rental income; your housemate gets a home-from-home during the working week, and you get your house back at the weekend to relax with your family. Everyone wins!
Finally, there is the Airbnb route. This has the potential to earn you a lot more money than a regular housemate, but you need to put in more work. And you need to be comfortable with lots of different people being in your house. It’s less passive, but if you find your groove and the change-over routine becomes quick, it’s worth the extra effort.
Real estate rental / buy to let
Another property idea but this one definitely requires more up-front capital, unless you have a spare house lying around!
Renting out a house that you don’t live in gives you two passive income streams – one from the money you receive in rent and one from the increase in the value of the house, when you come to sell it.
It may well be that the rental income, after all management and maintenance fees are deducted, doesn’t leave you with a huge amount of income each month but, you will still benefit from any increase in the house value.
This one can be extremely passive if a management companies handles everything for you, from finding tenants to maintenance. I have rented houses where the owner has lived on the other side of the world! That’s very passive.
Crowd-funded real estate / property
If making money from property excites you, but you don’t have a spare room to rent, or money in the bank for a buy to let, you could still invest in property via crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding, where a large group of people invest a relatively small amount each in one thing, has been around for a while. I’m sure you’ve heard of Kickstarter, where people pitch their creative business ideas to the public, and people like you or I can invest in the ideas we like and help bring them to life.
Property crowdfunding is the same – investment opportunities are published on special crowdfunding sites, and you or I can invest in ones we like. The initial investment can be pretty low, and you can invest in several property schemes.
Despite property crowdfunding becoming a popular concept only recently, it’s growing in popularity at a great pace.
And to allay any fears you may have, it’s a heavily regulated industry with property crowdfunding companies having to adhere to strict codes of conduct. Look for ones that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
High-interest savings accounts
If you have money in a savings account that you haven’t touched for years, chances are it’s earning pretty much zero interest.
By moving your money into a higher interest earning account, you are generating a passive income.
This one takes about ten minutes to do but, if you get a higher introductory rate for a fixed period, you’ll need to put a note in your calendar to move your money again when it expires.
If you’re in the UK, the best savings accounts at the time of writing are Virgin Money at 1.31% or Marcus (by Goldman Sachs) at 1.3%. Both are online easy access accounts. If you can tie your money up for a fixed period – Atom Bank will give you 1.8% for 2 years or 1.65% for 1 year.
Our US readers could do worse than looking at Betterment. Currently the Betterment Everyday account offers you 1.85%.
We all need to have savings in place, at the very least an emergency fund to cover us should something unexpected happen. So, why not earn a bit more interest on money that just sits in the bank, until we need it?
Dividends from your investments
If you have money invested such as in a private pension or a stocks and shares ISA, you can choose to buy stocks or funds that return a dividend.
A dividend is the distribution of money from a company, to its investors, as a reward for buying into them. Dividends can be paid quarterly or yearly and usually as cash.
You can choose to reinvest this cash into your investment pot, so that it grows in addition to any other returns it might make over time.
If you’re familiar with the term compounding (if you’re not learn about it here) then reinvesting dividends can greatly increase your investment pot.
Or, you can take the dividends as an income. This one is truly a passive income source as other than investing your money to start with, there is no additional work involved.
But, because there is less work involved, the risk is higher. There is no certainty that the companies you invest in will continue to pay dividends or what the value of those dividends might be.
Write a book
Everyone has a book inside them, as the popular saying goes. That could be a book about dogs, on renovating houses, explaining maths for kids, or even astrology.
Whatever you are passionate about, you can write about.
And with the growth of self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to get your book out there and in front of people who may want to buy it.
You can use a self-publishing company such as Happy Self Publishing or Grosvenor House Publishing, who both offer a wide range of services from proofreading and cover design, right through to printing.
As mentioned earlier this one is a big chunk of work upfront but, once the book is published, you may just need to update it every few years, to ensure it’s still relevant. Or not, it’s up to you.
If you’re not sure about writing a book but you’d still love to write, you could set up a blog.
Like book writing it’s not the most passive to begin with but, once you’re up and running, you can cut back on the time required to keep it going, whilst it still earns you an income.
You can get great enjoyment from writing about something you are passionate about, and even more so if you help other people learn a new skill along the way.
If you want to set up a blog, there are a few steps that you need to go through:
- Choose your idea – this is the hardest bit!
- Set up a blog on WordPress (the most popular blogging platform) and Bluehost (website hosting). They work great together and are what this website uses.
- Choose your blog’s style – i.e. the ‘theme’, colours etc
- Start writing and publishing – the fun bit!
- Learn how to attract readers to your blog
- Learn how you can make money from your blog
It can take you a while to get to point 6 where it’s possible to earn some income from your blog. But with consistent writing, time, and increasing your readership it’s definitely possible.
Start an online store
Still in the online arena, but nothing to do with writing – how about setting up an online store?
Ecommerce, or buying stuff online, is still growing at a huge rate – worldwide retail sales online are expected to reach a staggering $29.8 trillion dollars globally in 2023. Wow.
In the same way as setting up a blog, setting up an online store can take a chunk of work up-front, to reap the rewards later.
Here’s the steps you need to go through to set up an online store:
- Choose your idea! Again, the hardest part. It’s better to be as specific as you can and focus on a niche.
- Source your products – when you know what to sell, where will you get the items from? There are many wholesale companies or forums full of advice on where to source your products from.
- Set up your website – buy your domain name, choose your ecommerce platform, set up and customise your store, then add your products and prices. I like Shopify as an ecommerce platform. It’s easy to understand and the support is great. You can do everything you need to set yourself up in one place.
- Promote tour store! Do what you can here – use google ads, Facebook ads, grow your email list, put adverts in magazines.
- When you’ve made a sale (congrats!) ship your product – package it nicely, add a note inside thanking the customer for the purchase and send a shipping notification email. Look professional and your customers will return.
Setting up an online store does involve some work and, depending on your chosen product, more up-front cost for an inventory than some other passive income ideas.
There are also some ongoing costs, such as buying new stock when you run out, the monthly cost of running your website and ongoing work, such as the packaging up and shipping of orders.
If you wanted to avoid the cost of stock you could look into drop-shipping, where you sell the product online and the company who holds it ships it out for you, for a fee.
With online stores once you get into a groove and your processes are set up, the work reduces, and the income continues.
Sell your photography
Photography hobbyists might like to explore taking and selling stock photos.
Lots and lots of people need and hunt out stock photography, from book publishers to website owners to individuals making party invitations. You’ll be amazed at the weird and wonderful things people need pictures for.
And you don’t need to be able to just take photos either. You can be a filmmaker or an illustrator or graphic designer.
Just download their app, send in 3-5 of your best photos and they’ll let you know if you’ve been accepted as a contributor. Make sure you send in your best ones!
They also help with creative briefs which can give you loads of ideas on what photos to take and what is more likely to sell.
I like this passive income stream because you are creating something beautiful once, that can continue to bring you true passive income for years to come.
Make money on your Instagram snaps
If you take great pics on Instagram, did you know you can make money from them?
Using Mobile Prints, you can upload your fav pics in a few clicks and sell framed prints, phone cases, greeting cards and more, to a global audience.
You set the price, then Mobile Prints takes care of the printing and shipping. On the 15th of each month you get paid into your PayPal account. Easy!
You’ll have realised that some of these ideas require time, some require money, and some are easier to set up than others.
But that’s ok! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
If you can make small sacrifices with your time or money now, you have the potential to build one, two or maybe even more passive income streams that will serve you well into the future. You can live a richer life, the way you want to live it.
Which passive income streams do you prefer or what would you like to see added to the list? Let me know below.
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