Maybe such a business is owning a McDonald’s franchise or something. If one has the capital (Feasibility Score 2), then the returns might be good (Return Score 6). But the Risk Score is probably under a 5, b/c how many times have we seen franchise chains come and go? Like, what happened to Quiznos and Jamba Juice? A McDonald’s franchise was $500,000… probably much more now?
My favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.
For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
As I mentioned in a previous post on the 3 Types of Affiliate Marketing Explained, the way I earn money with affiliate links in ALL of my online businesses is by promoting only products that I have used, and only what I would recommend to my friends who want to achieve similar results. I feel that anyone with an audience has a responsibility to do the same thing.

Passive income is a great tool for building retirement income faster, paying off debts, and, ultimately, retiring early and comfortably. If you have passive income during your retirement years, you potentially could live as well as you did during your peak earning years. Passive income is money you earn without doing actual labor. Often times, it comes from investments, such as in rental properties, stocks, bonds, annuities, and other investments.
I just graduated college in May and was fortunate enough to secure an entry level consulting position that pays 55k/yr (a little less than ~35k after 401K, other benefits, and the lovely taxes that government bestows upon us). I started from “scratch” with my finances and have ~$2.3k in an online savings account. Since starting work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had an aggressive savings plan (saving around ~40-50% of my monthly income). However, I’m going to become even more aggressive and live off 1 paycheck a month (and save the other paycheck) like you have suggested in many of your blog posts.
One of the great parts about the online world is that a website and its domain name is like real estate - It can go up in value over time. In fact, sometimes just the domain name without the developed business can be worth quite a lot to some people. Of course, like almost anything mentioned here, the necessary know-how is required. If you’re willing to put some time into it, then you can earn a nice online income. So far I sold 4 domain names with an average price tag of a couple of thousand dollars. Nice income, considering I bought each domain for around $10….If this income stream interests you, check out flippa.com - It’s one of the best marketplaces I know for selling websites or domain names.
Sam…just read this article and I want to say that this is the best posting on passive income I have ever read…in a blog, article, or book. Thanks for making a difference and being an inspiration as to how it can all be accomplished. One of the great benefits of the internet is that people are willing to share their stories and experiences with each other online. If we had this when I was working professionally (20-40 years ago), it would have saved me from making some rather poor financial decisions that affected my retirement income. In a way, the internet is making up for the loss of financial security in the loss of The Defined Benefit Plan for retirement. Bravo!
Even if you don’t have the skills right now, it’s possible to develop them. Envato Tuts+ has a load of great courses that teach you how to make WordPress themes, Photoshop actions and so on. If you invest a few months into learning the necessary skills, you might well be able to carve out a spot for yourself in the Envato Market or in our new curated website Envato Elements. 
The first time I did affiliate marketing was way back in the day on my architecture exam website. I connected with a company that sold practice exams, which gave me $22 for every person who bought one of their exams via my site. Since then, I’ve generated over $250,000 simply by recommending that product alone. Again, this is a product that was not mine, but one that has still been helpful to my audience. This was all done with thousands of visitors a month. Not millions, or even hundreds of thousands.
The capitalization rate approach to real estate valuation is much more straight-forward but may not give you a true market value. The cap rate is simply the annual net operating income (NOI) of the property divided by the cost or value. Net operating income is the amount left from rents after all expenses are paid but before taxes and interest payments.
What I like about p2p investing on Lending Club is the website’s automated investing tool. You pick the criteria for loans in which you want to invest and the program does the rest. It will look for loans every day that meet those factors and automatically invest your money. It’s important because you’re collecting money on your loan investments every day so you want that money reinvested as soon as possible.
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.
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.
The terms on private money loans can also vary from very short (a couple of months or even weeks) to years. Once the money is loaned to an investor the passive income will come in as long as the investor can meet their obligations. The work with private money lending comes in the beginning when choosing a private money lender and if the loan ever goes into default.
While building apps for Apple (or Android) mobile devices can be a lucrative way to generate passive income online, it's not as easy as many people make it seem. Beside the fact that it’s hard to get your app noticed among the millions being released every year, most people expect apps to be either free or very inexpensive. In fact, a recent study found that only 11% of apps are paid for. The number of paid apps will only decline over time as more players join the market. The key, like many of the business model mentioned here, is to be strategic and creative from the very start. There are a few ways to monetize your app and keep it free for users. Examples include advertising, premium services, and sponsors.
In February 2007, Pat Flynn was working at an architecture firm making $38,000 a year. He mulled boosting his earning power by getting an architecture license, but the process would likely take six to eight years. When he heard about getting a credential in sustainable design and environmentally friendly building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), he decided to go for that, as no one in his department had it. The one problem? The exam was so challenging, just one-third of test-takers passed.
For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
Be aware that before your passive income stream can start making money, you have to spend many hours creating it, including building the website itself. You must also monitor your sales to see if you must make changes, take steps to ensure that your website appears near the top of the results page of search engines, and periodically add new content to keep visitors coming back.
Invest in dividend securities. Some stocks provide shareholders with regular payouts called dividends. For very large, old companies, these dividend payouts are made for consistent amounts and can amount to a substantial income if you own a large number of shares. Look for companies that are very established and have been paying dividends for a long period of time (more than 10 years). You should be able to find this information with a quick online search.[5]
Making legitimate passive income isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the best passive income ideas might take a little time to set up but can start cash flowing within a couple of months and will provide a consistent monthly income for years or more. The most important point is just to get started. You make exactly $0 on the passive income sources you never start.
But when so many turn down leasing one and one-half acre for one Wind Turbine for each 80 acres, that lease certainly does not materially affect the rest of the Farm or Ranch grazing pasture and the lease pays much more than the farm crow or grazing pasture lease, just because some lawyer said the lease was too long: 30 years plus 30 year option = 60 years, and the wind turbine company has selling production/electricity contracts for the next 150 years – which is needed to obtain financing!

Track Your Wealth For Free: If you do nothing else, at the very least, sign up for Personal Capital’s free financial tools so you can track your net worth, analyze your investment portfolios for excessive fees, and run your financials through their fantastic Retirement Planning Calculator. Those who are on top of their finances build much greater wealth longer term than those who don’t. I’ve used Personal Capital since 2012. It’s the best free financial app out there to manage your money.
It is very important to understand that contacting a “professional” to learn how to do this only results in them trying to sell me crap properties (whether high end or low end). I’ve tried contacting realtors out of state, and they attempt to sell me crap or someone else’s problem. No one has a vested interest in actually helping someone or teaching them about how to get an out of state rental. very frustrating. I could go out tomorrow and buy a rental in my city, but that is the last place I want to own one. Anyone? Are there an real people on here?
No argument here. It’s not for everybody. Just like you can’t imagine taking risks or finding the energy to be creative after you get home from work, I can’t imagine trading 40% of my waking life for money, leaving me with no time to actually spend the money I made. Even when building startups, I believe that I’m trading time for asset creation (which is why I still receive checks every month from my last startup). Nothing against you if 9–5 is how you choose to live, and in fact, I’m very happy for you if it makes you happy. Just know that you have a choice!
Another benefit, which many online entrepreneurs do not even consider, is that you don’t need to create the whole product before launching it. You only need to create a small portion of your actual content, and complete it only after you get your first member during his membership - that means you get paid IN ADVANCE of actually creating your site content. It also means that you can modify your content based on LIVE feedback from paying customers. More importantly, this is a great way to VALIDATE your site and ensure you create a product based on what customers want, not just what you think they want.
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.
It’s been almost 10 years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good income stream online now. Financial Samurai has given me a purpose in early retirement. And, I’m having a ton of fun running this site as well! Here’s a real snapshot of a personal finance blogger who makes $150,000+ a year from his site and another $180,000 from various consulting opportunities due to his site.
I do remember you mentioning that & how it was your ticket to exit softly and give you time to build the passive income side. Most likely when I do exit it will either be through a sale of the business which would come along with a employment contract or if a worthy successor(s) can take it over, then the business is just another annuity throwing off income. Anyway, I’d enjoy writing a guest article after I survive the next few weeks of work and weddings.
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.
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.
Instead of working in the service framework, passive income necessitates that we build (or otherwise acquire) something that inherently contains value, which can then be easily and repeatedly transferred to others with little or no work. Plain and simple, we have to create or buy valuable assets, preferably ones that deliver their value automatically. There are a lot of ways to do this, but they all fall into the 3 categories above, and realistically, a lot of them look like different flavors of the same thing. 

But nowadays, there is so much opportunity if you search for brand-suitable domains and also keyword-rich or otherwise popular names on the myriad of new domain name extensions like .io, .at etc.  And I should know, because I’ve paid several domain squatters a king’s ransom to purchase these sorts of domain names in the last few years!  Continue reading >

2. Focus on income-producing assets. Internet growth stocks may be sexy, but they provide no income. To build a large enough passive-income stream to survive, you must invest in dividend-generating stocks, certificates of deposit, municipal bonds, government Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, and real estate. You're free to invest in non-income-producing assets for capital appreciation too. You just want to earn reliable income when the day comes to leave your job.
I actually spent a year and a half working as an affiliate marketer (mostly selling drumming related products – lessons, kits ect). 5 years on and one of my one page sites (which I’ve not touched) still nets me about $150 a month. I won’t be retiring off that but only really now appreciate the reverse pyramid approach to entrepreneurship (working for nothing initially but later being paid without effort!)
Passive income is defined as income-generating activity that is independent or loosely dependent on time commitment. Just so we’re on the same page, here, there’s no such thing as making money without creating value (I wish), and creating value takes time and effort. So, you are technically transacting time for money, in a way. But passive income is where we separate or at least alienate the proportional relationship between time spent and money made. It’s where there is no longer a fixed ratio, and if there is, it’s not a 1:1 ratio, but more like a 10 or 20:1 ratio of man-hours-worth-of-time to actual time. As another side note, knowing how much your time is worth both to you and on the open market is a valuable piece of information for guaging how effective your passive income activities need to be.
However, this comes back to the old discussion of pain versus pleasure. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. When our backs are against the wall, we act. When they're not, we relax. The truth is that the pain-versus-pleasure paradigm only operates in the short term. We'll only avoid pain in the here and now. Often not in the long term.
Fundrise – With a minimum investment of just $500, investors of all types can make crowd-funded real estate investments through Fundrise. This means you get the benefits of being a landlord without actually having to deal with owning or managing the properties yourself. Even though we own 2 rental properties, we recently began investing in Fundrise ourselves. We love it because there is no “accredited investor” requirement, making it far more accessible for the average person than the other two options below. Follow the link above to learn more, or read our full review here.

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 mostly passive once you have it all set up, but it does take a lot of work at the beginning. Real estate investing also requires occasional maintenance. Currently, we invest in a couple of rental properties and earn about $500 profit from each per month. You can read more about my rental properties at MoneySmartLife.com: How and Why I Became a Landlord.
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.
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.
There are really two ways to invest in real estate, direct purchase of property and investment indirectly where you don’t have full control of the property. Direct purchase involves a larger up-front cost but generally higher potential returns. Indirect investment can be made through real estate investment trusts (REITs) or tax liens but does not involve the immediate or direct ownership of the property.

The term affiliate marketing has taken a bad rap over the years, primarily because people are abusing just how easy this is to do. Internet marketers are finding products they don’t even use because they come with a sweet commission, and are spamming everyone until they either buy, or unsubscribe. This is also known as the dark side of affiliate marketing.
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Even if each patron only contributes a very small amount each month, it can still be a huge source of income. Take a look at the Patreon page for Kinda Funny, an internet video company. They have over 6,209 patrons which means an average of just $3 a month would be a monthly income of almost $19,000 – plus they get cheerleaders that are always happy to spread the word on their brand.
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.
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