9 Passive Income Ideas That Can Make You Money on the Side

Need to make a bit of extra money? These passive income ideas can help you rake it in without too much effort.

It never hurts to have a bit of extra money coming in, particularly in 2024. With inflation still hitting businesses and individuals alike, a bit of passive income can go a long way in shoring up your financial situation.

Where is the best place to start, though? If you’re looking to make a bit of money on the side, there are plenty of avenues online that can help, especially given the increased functionality and popularity of AI platforms like ChatGPT.

In this guide, you’ll learn about a few passive income ideas that can put you on the path to financial security.

Best Passive Income Ideas

While there are a lot of ways to earn passive income, we’ve focused below on tech-focused avenues that allow you to use online tools like website builders and social media management platforms to make it easier. Here are our best picks for passive income ideas:

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1. Sell online

One of the best and most popular means of making popular income is to sell something online. Between Amazon and Temu, ecommerce spending is high across the board, which means there’s a lot of potential for you to get a piece.

When we say “something,” we really do mean “anything.” Selling online has become quite expansive over the last few years, with passive income seekers offering everything from products and artwork to courses and advice. All you have to do is set up an online store, and you’ll be able to sell pretty much anything directly from your site.

If you need help setting up an online store, you’re in luck. Tech.co has done some extensive research on the best ecommerce website builders, which can help you build your site, marketing your products, and generally manage your online selling business.

2. Affiliate marketing

If you don’t feel like selling your own products online, we don’t blame you. As far as passive income goes, it’s pretty labor intensive, between all the shipping, processing, and actual production of products. Fortunately, affiliate marketing is a great way to earn a bit of money with a bit less effort on your part.

Essentially, affiliate marketing allows you to earn money by recommending products. You simply create a customized link that, when other people click it and make a purchase, will give you a percentage of the purchase. It’s ideal for influencers that have a big following and want to recommend products to their fans.

As for how to get started with affiliate marketing, you’ll have to find an affiliate program that allows for these kinds of partnerships. Amazon is likely your best bet to start off, as it allows for a simple affiliate link system and obviously offers plenty of products to get you started.

3. Create content

If you’re a good writer or a knowledgeable expert, there’s a good chance that content creation is your best path to passive income. By starting a blog — and more important regularly updating it — you will grow a substantial following that can translate into revenue.

Again, though, this certainly isn’t a very “passive” way to make money at first. You’ll need to be consistent and engaging to build an audience, which obviously takes a lot of effort in the beginning.  But once you’ve grown your audience a bit and established a brand, you’ll be able to leverage your following into sponsors and other revenue streams for you and your business.

Obviously, you’ll want to have some writing skills to go along with an interesting niche, but starting a blog isn’t that hard from a technical standpoint. Website builders for blogging are easy to find, with some options even being free, although you’ll have a hard time getting noticed without a paid plan,

4. Sponsored social media posts

Content creation is the only way to make passive income that is funded by sponsors. In fact, if you’re better at social media than creating content for a blog, sponsored social media posts could be your meal ticket to some serious money on the side.

Again, this method of earning passive income requires you to have a big following to get any traction, so you’ll have to put in some effort building up your likes, your follows, and your subscribers.

Once you do, though, you can reach out to sponsors that might be willing to pay you on a per-post basis. These payouts are typically based on the number of engaged followers you have, so make sure you’re being consistent on social media to keep those numbers up.

5. Develop an app

Mobile apps are serious moneymakers if you can get it right, which is why there are so many available across the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Whether you create a mobile game that users absolutely love or can tackle a necessary function that will keep users organized and productive, the app functionality has to be popular enough to — say it with me — garner a large following.

There are two ways to monetize the app. You can either have in-app ads for your free app, which can be frustrating but will definitely get more users online. Or, you can create a paid app, which will charge users a fee every time they download it. Obviously, this will keep your numbers a bit lower, but you will make more passive income this way, if it’s popular.

6. Dropshipping

If none of the options above appeal to you — because they’re either too much work or just don’t sound right — drop shipping might be the way to go.

Drop shipping is the process of having an online storefront, but instead of having to store inventory, you simply arrange to ship sold products to customers directly from a separate supplier warehouse. You don’t own or create products, you’re just the middleman between wholesale prices and needy customers.

Even better, the process of drop shipping can be effectively set up to be fully automated, so you’ll really be getting passive income in the truest of senses.

7. Design an online course

Online education has become quite popular over the last few years, particularly given the pandemic got everyone inside and learning on Zoom. As a result, there are plenty of online course options that you could explore, if you have something to teach.

As far as making money goes, there are a few options. For starters, you could just charge for your course, which is obviously the most straight forward way, although might curb your initial student counts, particularly if you aren’t an actual teacher. Conversely, you could go the freemium model direction, which would see you offering some courses for free, with more in-depth information available for a fee.

But Amazon doesn’t sell courses, so where can you do this? Well, there are plenty of online course sites that can help you get started, including Coursera and Udemy.

8. Sell Your Designs

If you have an artistic streak, one path to passive income could be creating original designs and selling them through an online store such as CafePress.

Once you’ve created a design, all the work is pretty much done. Simply upload it to a merchandise site that allows for custom designs, and buyers will be able to purchase t-shirts, badges, mugs, tote bags…pretty much anything, with your design.

To attract the most attention, you can either create unique, eye-catching designs, or lean into meme culture, hopping on whatever happens to be trending that week. Both are valid, although one may prove more artistically fulfilling!

9. Narrate Audiobooks

Do you have a nice voice? Can you have friends hanging on your every word has you regale them with the tale of your last minute rush to catch a flight?

Well, in that case, audiobook narration could be for you. You don’t need much to get started in the world of narration – a clear speaking voice and a decent mic are the essentials – and you can pitch yourself to authors on sites such as Amazon’s ACX service.

The once humble audiobook industry is expected to be worth $35 billion dollars by 2030. Maybe some of that cash could be yours?

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.
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