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.

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.


Agreed but I might consider a blended portfolio of large and small cap stocks using low cost mutual funds (I found a fidelity large cap fund FUSVX with a net expense of .035% that has also delivered 17%+ YTD gains, some are dividend some are growth stock in the fund) UNLESS you’re close to retirement. This way you get the growth upside on small cap paired with the stablilty of some large cap stocks while maintaining balanced ricks. 

If you have a spare bedroom, you can find a roommate or list the space on AirBnB for travelers. Having a roommate is the more passive of the two, as being an Airbnb host will require more work in the form of turning over the room between stays. This is a super painless way to earn $500 to $1,000 a month without much effort – you may even be able to cover your mortgage payment with this extra income!

Depending on how many rental income properties you have and your experience with home improvement, you may be able to do a lot of the maintenance yourself. You likely won’t be able to fix everything but it will be worth it to learn a few common repairs to do yourself. Typically, plumbing and electrical maintenance will cost the most since work is generally restricted to licensed members of the trade unions.


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.

For those willing to take on the task of managing a property, real estate can be a powerful semi-passive income stream due to the combination of rental and principal value appreciation. But to generate passive income from real estate, you either have to rent out a room in your house, rent out your entire house and rent elsewhere (seems counterproductive), or buy a rental property. It’s important to realize that owning your primary residence means you are neutral the real estate market. Renting means you are short the real estate market, and only after buying two or more properties are you actually long real estate.
Peer-to-peer lending means loaning money to other people. Specifically, you lend money to people who don’t qualify for traditional financing. Companies like Lending Club and Prosper offer returns in the range of 4-10%, which are a lot higher than a typical saving account. You will be able to select the right investment for you, based on your risk assessment strategy.
You can earn royalties from online books sold on the Kindle Publishing Platform, and even create comic books through Amazon-owned ComiXology. That's not to mention you can build Alexa skills, sell computer software, Android apps and more. These income sources are not likely to be used to fund the "base family budget," offering a great opportunity to save, Barnett says. That means directing those monies not into a personal account, but auto-drafting them into an investment account.

Build a list in a particular niche and tell them stories. Create a bond. Build a relationship with them. It's important. Then, when you've created a bit of culture, start marketing affiliate products or services to them that you think they might like. Just be sure that you personally vet out whatever it is that you're selling to avoid complaints if the product or service falls short.
When you have several rental income properties, you make your money two ways. The most obvious is the revenue stream created by rental income. So long as the amount collected in rents surpasses the amount paid for mortgages, taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and property management services, you will reap a well-sown harvest of rental income each month. The other way you can profit is by increasing the value of a turnkey rental property and mining the equity that you build. You either can take low interest loans against the equity or sell a property outright if you have others that will continue producing a good stream of passive income.
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!)
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.
​I’ve been into home décor lately and I had to turn to Etsy to find exactly what I wanted. I ended up purchasing digital files of the artwork I wanted printed out! The seller had made a bunch of wall art, digitized, and listed it on Etsy for instant download. There are other popular digital files on Etsy as well such as monthly planners. If you’re into graphic design this could be an amazing passive income idea for you.
Yes, good point about not blatantly copying other people’s hard work. I should have said in my original post that I would NEVER do that. I have eight years’ of University education behind me which resulted in three degrees, including a Masters. If I learned one thing at college, it is that plagiarism is, as you say, SO not cool. Not the done thing. I plan to give full attribution to the originating author and paste a link to their website on my website so my subscribers can follow up the data with the source if they choose to.
WordPress themes aren’t the only things for sale through the Envato Market. You can also sell stock photos through PhotoDune, stock footage through VideoHive, sound clips through AudioJungle, anything graphic related though GraphicRiver, web and app development resources through CodeCanyon, and 3D elements through 3dOcean. There are a huge amount of options here for anyone with the skills to create resources.
I own 11 rental properties and they require a lot of work to buy, repair and rent. Once they are rented the rental properties become much more passive and my 11 rentals produce over $6,000 in monthly income. Real estate investments like REITs, turn-key rental properties and private money investing are much more passive investments, but they don’t produce as high of returns as I get. There is usually a trade-off on how much money you make on your investments versus how much work you are willing to do.

Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 
If you are unable to search actual sales through the assessor, you can use properties currently listed for sale in the MLS. The problem here is that the asking price may not be a true reflection of what the property is really worth. You’ll want to be even more skeptical of high- and low-values in this list and I would discount all prices by at least 5% to find market value.
Now that you’ve chosen your market, find a way to start sharing your message, whether it’s a blog or podcast or Youtube channel, or whatever platform makes the most sense for your target market. Flynn says this is where you’ll start to build a fan base — and collect subscriber emails. You don’t need to get the whole world to follow you to make this work out financially. Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly wrote an article about 1,000 True Fans, which basically says that if you have 1,000 people paying you $100 a year, that’s a $100,000 a year. “You don’t need to serve everybody,”  says Flynn.
I wish I had more time to put into real estate. Given the run up since 2012, I may even be interested in selling my condo that I currently rent out. I need to get it appraised to really see what it’s worth, but I think conservatively it’s gone up ~50%, although rent is probably only up ~10% or so. I am bullish on rents going up in the future… mostly in line with inflation, or perhaps even slightly faster due to constricted credit and personal income growth which should provide a solid supply of renters. At this point, I just don’t want to manage the property. I’ll probably look into a property manager as my time is likely worth turning it into a nearly passive investment.
In order not to succumb to that, Flynn says it’s important to know your motivation. “Passive income is important to me not just for the financial security but so I can spend time with my family,” he says. “I’ve been able to work from home and witness all my kids’ firsts. I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and that's what drives me and gets me pushing through those hard times and why I keep creating new products and why I want to help other people do the same thing.”
3) Create A Plan. Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” You must create a system where you are saving X amount of money every month, investing Y amount every month, and working on Z project until completion. Things will be slow going at first, but once you save a little bit of money you will start to build momentum. Eventually you will find synergies between your work, your hobbies, and your skills which will translate into viable income streams.
The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Physical real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.
We pitched to an angel investor group. They were very excited about the idea but wanted to know who amongst us (doctor, accountant, salesman) was doing the coding. When they heard we were outsourcing it, the wind went out of their sails immediately. They did want to meet with us again once we brought a coder on board but that person proved elusive to find. Coders in our area are looking for the steady paycheck, not willing to gamble on a startup.

Passive income is an incredible tool that everyone should include in their retirement plans. With traditional investing you have to rely on the stock market to increase your investments over time. The longer you have your money invested, the more your money will grow. The stock market does not produce passive income, except in the form of dividends. Most dividends are extremely small and produce small returns on investment. The bulk of stock market returns come from an increase in stock market prices. The only way to realize those increase in value is to sell stock. Retirement calculators that use the stock market as an investment plan on you running out of money when you die because you have to sell all your investments to keep bringing money in.

Roofstock – Investing in rental properties is one of those passive income ideas that can be extremely intimidating, especially when it comes to finding tenants. Roofstock lets you buy properties with as little as 20% down that already have tenants living in them. That means you start getting paid from the first day of your investment. You don’t even have to physically visit the properties!


Many new real estate investors take out a conventional mortgage on their first property, paying between 10% and 30% as a down payment. While a higher down payment will decrease your payment and increase your immediate cash flow, it will likely reduce your return on the money you put up. Most with good credit scores should be able to get a conventional mortgage though interest rates on rental properties are usually higher than owner-occupied home loans.
Use your base to build your audience, and when you’re starting out, take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a big following to give more personalized help to your first fans. “The people who are starting out — that’s their advantage,” says Flynn. “They have the opportunity to speak directly with those people few coming their way to find out what their problems are and give them the special treatment that bigger brands might not be able to do.”
I wanted to specifically call out one particular strategy within equity investing that bears mentioning – dividend growth investing is when you focus on stocks that not only pay a dividend but have a history of strong dividend growth. When I was first building my portfolio of individual stocks, I focused on buying companies with a history of dividends, a history of strong growth, and financials that supported a continuation of both.
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.

I just sold my 80th ebay item and things sure are different. Now, I don’t wait for my money because I have a card. I know exactly what to do upon choosing an item to sell which takes me 1/10th the listing time. I’ve developed an eye for items that sell on Ebay through osmosis. THE POINT OF MY COMMENT IS …… if you want to make money online remember one thing, you best be ready to work! Work Work Work! Because through those efforts you will have an intimate understanding opposed to a theoretical (or “TALKATIVE/CONVERSATION) Understanding….
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.
At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!
Can you expound on the use of publicly-traded REITs as a passive income source? I’m 31 years old. No children. No wife. No dependents. (I am the closest thing to Ebenezer Scrooge you’ll ever see). My monthly expenses amount to less than $2,000 per month (most of which go to pay student loans) . I have a decent job making over $55K per year. I also have a $60K inheritance coming my way in a few weeks. I am absolutely crazy about achieving absolute financial independence, which for me would require a passive income of over $2000/month to cover my living expenses. I could achieve that in a mere couple of years if I were to save excessively and dump my savings (and inheritance) into a Mortgage REIT via the stock market, most of which are shelling out above 10% returns in dividend payments. Is this a good strategy for me? Or am I being too hasty and assuming too much risk?
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.
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
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!
×