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It's always great to have more money, but what's even better is more time. After all, we only get so much of it.
That's where side hustles come in: With minimal time and effort from you, the right side hustle can create a passive income stream to supplement your income and give you more time to do what you really want. Here are three passive income ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
What Is Passive Income as Per IRS?
Before going any further, let's brush up on the definition of passive income, also known as unearned income. While it may sound like it covers any sort of income that you don't need to actively work for, it's actually a bit more nuanced than that.
As the IRS puts it, there are two types of passive income:
- trade or business activities in which you don't materially (i.e., significantly and regularly) participate; and
- rental properties (as long as you're not a realtor).
The key similarities between the two are that neither involve receiving money from an employer or working on a continual basis. That doesn't mean, however, that passive income means getting paid for nothing.
Rather, it means that you need to put in work now in order to enjoy a steady stream of ongoing, low-effort income later.
How Can I Make Passive Income with No Money?
Rest assured that you don't need to make any large investments in order to start seeing profits. While some types of passive income (such as that from real estate investments) require some significant up-front money, others (such as income from ebook sales) require none.
Ready to start brainstorming your new side hustle and get one step closer to enjoying a passive income stream? Get inspired by these three unique passive income business ideas.
Leverage Your Expertise
If you're knowledgeable on any sort of topic, be it gardening, philosophy, fashion or anything in between, then you can make money from it. Specifically, you can:
- Publish an ebook: Kindle Direct Publishing provides a convenient avenue to do so, and all you need to get started is a free Amazon account.
- Create a course: You have several popular platforms, such as Udemy, to choose from. Simply choose a topic and target audience to get the ball rolling.
- Start a blog: Open one on your preferred blogging platform (whether free or paid) and build a readership to earn ad revenue via Google Adsense. You can even form an LLC for your blog once it makes financial sense to do so.
You'll need to take some time to promote your ebook, course or blog when it's ready. It may be worth paying for advertising on social media or Google to promote. Once people are aware of and see the value in your product, then you'll be on your way to earning passive income.
How much income? On Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, authors can earn up to 70 percent royalty sales. On learning platforms like Udemy, top instructors make well over $17,000 per month. And with blogging, some pros claim it's not hard to make an additional $500 or more per month.
In the end, the amount of money you can make from your expertise largely depends on the initial investment and promotion you're willing to put in. You can start a free blog on WordPress and grow your audience 100 percent organically, or you can pay for a professional-looking blog on Wix and promote it across multiple platforms — it's all up to you and your goals.
Have an eye for design? Then you can start a side hustle as a merchandise designer, even if you've never taken a single design course. All you need to start is one or two attractive designs and an interested audience.
Some successful merchandise designers started with social media pages. For example, Classic Dad started as a social media page dedicated to sharing memes about dads. Now, its site sells t-shirts emblazoned with humorous dad-related designs:
Others eschew opening their own store in favor of selling products on sites like Redbubble and Society6. There, users provide the design while the website provides the products, printing and shipping. No payment is required to start selling on either, and anyone can sign up.
Since these types of sites typically have lots of sellers, promotion is the name of the game. The more you promote your designs across social media, the more money you can make. For instance, some Redbubble designers earn $1,000 per month or more.
With some great designs and lots of promotion, this passive income idea will allow you to open a whole new stream of revenue. For the founder of Classic Dad, his day job pays the bills, but the merchandise he designs and sells covers the cost of family vacations and helps pad his savings account to boot.
Sell Stock Photos
Why not put your camera (or even your smartphone) to good use by selling stock photos online? It only takes a few eye-catching photos to get started, and there are plenty of established sites you can sell from. Some of the best include:
- Etsy (Expert Photography has a helpful guide to getting started)
- Adobe Stock
Once your photos are uploaded and pass any necessary quality control checks (these requirements vary depending on the platform you choose), create a detailed description for each one and add as many relevant tags as you can.
Now all you need to do is sit back and let your chosen stock photo site take care of the rest. The amount of money you make will depend on a few factors — for example, photographers get paid ongoing royalties for macrostock images but not for microstock, and some sites pay higher percentages than others.
As a result, some photographers have made over $100,000 from stock photo sales by putting in blood, sweat and tears, while others make a couple hundred per month with minimal effort.
It's easy to see that profitable passive income side hustles don't require a huge investment on your part. With creativity, drive and perseverance, you can turn any of these passive income ideas into a lucrative income stream that keeps on working (even when you don't).
Just be sure to learn how passive income is taxed to avoid any nasty surprises come April. And as your side hustle continues to grow, you'll want to start researching business entity types so you can choose the right one to file when it becomes more than a fun way to pass some spare time.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.
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