There are two basic ways to make money. The first is the traditional way: getting out of bed in the morning and going to work for it. But the second way, using the best passive income streams, is a lot more fun because it means you get to earn money while you're sleeping, reading a book, in the middle of a lake on your kayak, or anywhere.
Once you've got them set up, the best passive income ideas require little to no active effort from you. Most of these require a bit of startup capital, so your first step will be building up some savings. After that, get ready for your money to start making you money!
How to create passive income opportunities with no money is a bit trickier and narrows your options. However, there are still a variety of ways to make passive income and increase your cash flow.
Top 30 best passive income streams
Without further ado, let's dive into 30 of the best passive income streams! (Be sure to also check out our list of great passive income books!).
Investing is one of the most common ways to make passive income. Over the long term, the stock market has consistently generated steady returns, even if it has ups and downs in the short term.
There are a couple of ways to earn money from stocks. You could buy high-dividend stocks for regular cash payouts based on company earnings. Or, hold onto ordinary low-dividend stocks and let them grow in value until you're ready to sell at a profit.
Investing in stocks is one way to avoid having to make an active income by simply growing your money, and expanding your portfolio.
It's also possible to buy shares of REITs (real estate investment trusts) and earn a share of income from the real estate projects they hold.
Either way, you can get started as an investor with as little as $100!
An annuity can give you the opportunity to make passive income. You can purchase an annuity from an insurance company. It's an investment that you pay into now in exchange for funds later.
Annuities are not the simplest form of passive income, though, and you should do further research. To find out more about annuities, visit this article from annuity.org.
Other investing opportunities
There are also mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and index funds that you can continually invest in, in order to get a large profit later. You can begin with any of these using Robo-advisors or an investment advisor.
2. Crowdfund real estate
As mentioned above, REITs are a simple way to earn a share of income from real estate, but with those, you don't get to choose specific properties to invest in. If that sounds interesting to you, the next level up is contributing to crowdfunded real estate.
Through programs like Fundrise and RealtyMogul, you can buy a stake in specific real estate projects from the comfort of your couch and earn a share of the income from them.
However, most platforms require a minimum investment of at least $1,000 and sometimes more.
3. Own rental properties
Rental properties are one of the best passive income streams. But if you're not up for the job of screening tenants and being a landlord, you can turn this into a passive income strategy by hiring property managers. Of course, property managers are an added expense, but it takes a lot of work off your hands.
Owning rental properties is not without risk. For instance, the property could stay vacant for too long or repairs might cost you a lot of money. Even so, with caution and due diligence, owning real estate can be very lucrative.
Learn more about how to get started with real estate as an investment.
4. Buy bonds and/or CDs
Bonds and CDs (certificates of deposit) are two of the very low-risk best passive income streams. The tradeoff for this safety is usually fairly low returns and having your money committed for a certain amount of time.
There is usually a penalty if you need to withdraw early, so make sure you don't need the cash soon.
With bonds, how much they pay mostly depends on how stable the bond issuer is. U.S. savings bonds are guaranteed by the government and are very safe. Corporate bonds depend on a variety of factors to determine their risk factor and interest rate.
5. Publish eBooks
When it comes to how to create passive income with no money, you'll have to invest effort upfront instead. The best passive income streams like this and the next few only become passive over time.
Self-publishing books on Kindle is one popular way to monetize fiction or nonfiction writing. Actually, writing the book will require the most time and effort, but it's also one of the best passive income sources. You'll probably also want to research some marketing strategies to get your title out there.
After that, you get to sit back and make sales! Even if you only charge a couple of dollars, it can add up as people continue buying copies for years into the future.
6. Build a niche affiliate website
A great source of passive income is to build a website. The upfront work of this method includes finding a niche to write about, creating an attractive website, researching keywords that will drive traffic to you, and joining affiliate programs. Once it's set up, you'll earn ongoing income from any affiliate sales your content generates.
You might want to make occasional updates to keep the site active and update keywords. When it comes to websites like these, think small and specialized. Review websites for a specific type of product can be successful and easy to monetize.
7. Create apps or software to sell
If you already have tech skills, think of a program that would improve people's lives or be fun to use. Even simple apps can be successful.
For instance, look at the story of Flappy Bird: an extremely simple yet addictive game that went viral and at one point was earning its creator $50,000 a day from ad revenue.
The Flappy Bird story is an exception rather than a rule, but it demonstrates that you don't have to build the fanciest, most complicated apps to earn a profit.
Once your app is available for sale, there's little ongoing work besides making any necessary updates. There are lots of resources where you can learn how to build an app to make money.
8. Sell stock photos
One of the easiest and best passive income streams to start is selling stock photos. Although this isn't a passive income idea that will usually make you rich, it is relatively easy.
Once you've done the work of taking photos and listing them on a stock photography site like Shutterstock, your photos can bring you a little cash on the side for years to come.
These days, most smartphone cameras are capable of producing high-quality images. So you don't necessarily even need to upgrade your equipment (unless you're already a hobbyist photographer and have a DSLR on hand!).
Think about the types of photos companies might want to use for websites, articles, etc. The subject matter might not always be the most exciting, but getting paid is exciting, right?
9. Own a vending machine or ATM
This is one of the more unusual ideas that not as many people realize is possible. You find vending machines and ATMs everywhere but might not stop to consider who owns them! And it's a great passive income resource.
When you buy or rent an ATM, you can place it in a location you own or negotiate to share profits with someone who has property in a more lucrative location.
You make a profit from ATM fees charged each time someone uses the machine. You're responsible for keeping the machine stocked with cash, but you can turn this into a passive income source by outsourcing this work to a trusted third party.
A vending machine business is similar. You'll want to place it somewhere with a decent amount of foot traffic, and you can outsource the restocking of snacks or drinks inside the machine. Inventory costs can be very low when you're buying in bulk, so it's a chance for a decent profit margin.
10. Flip domain names
Domain names are like the real estate of the internet: everyone wants a good one, but there's a limited supply. Most people want a .com domain that's memorable and relatively short, so it's easy for people to type.
If you're a creative type with a little business acumen, a good passive income hustle could be buying domain names you think could be profitable and in demand and listing them for sale.
You can often do this relatively cheaply, but it's not without risk since you could find yourself paying for a domain name that just won't sell.
11. Sublease to roommates
If you currently own a house or apartment (or are in the market for one), renting to roommates can drastically increase your passive income.
For the cost of sharing a spare room, you'll add hundreds of dollars to your monthly income. Which is a form of "house hacking," which is essentially canceling out your mortgage payments with rental income.
If you don't want a full-time roommate and live in a popular area, you can list a room on Airbnb open to shorter-term travelers. You'll just need to do some cleaning between stays.
Renting your room on Airbnb is one of the most lucrative and best passive income ideas to try! In fact, you may be able to earn more renting weekly rather than monthly.
12. Rent out your car or parking space
When you're not using your car, why not let it make money for you? You can offer your vehicle for short-term rentals to travelers on a service like Turo.
Or, you can help someone out with their own side hustle journey by making your car available on HyreCar, where it can be connected with drivers for services like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart. Insurance is built into these services, making it less risky to have a stranger drive off with your car!
And if you live in a high-traffic area, like a city or beach town, you can even rent out your driveway. It's a great idea if you have a two-car driveway, a guest parking spot you rarely use, or you have a space but not a car!
13. Install money-saving apps
There are a lot of apps available today where you can earn cashback, find coupons, etc. Most require some ongoing effort, so they're not passive. However, Dosh is an example of a totally passive cash-back app.
Just link a card in the app, and if you spend money at an eligible store or restaurant, you'll get money back automatically.
Similarly, Paribus will work behind the scenes to scan your email inbox for online shopping receipts and issue partial refunds if the price drops shortly after your purchase.
14. Earn credit card rewards
Who doesn't want to earn money just from doing their normal spending? A lot of credit cards offer sign-up bonuses and a certain percentage of cashback for various purchase categories.
It's one of the best passive income streams to earn extra money or save up credit card points to use toward travel.
The one caution of this passive income method is that you have to be careful and disciplined with your spending.
Treat it like a debit card, and don't spend more than you have in your bank account. That way, you'll be able to pay your balance in full each month and avoid getting into high-interest credit card debt.
15. Rent out your tools
Sure renting out your tools may be one of the more unique passive income ideas, but it can be a great way to earn cash. When it comes to renting, you can look beyond your home and your driveway and into your shed!
Offering community rentals of some bigger-ticket items like lawnmowers, power tools, etc., can be a great idea on multiple levels.
It allows everyone in your neighborhood to get things done efficiently, without each shelling out thousands of dollars for individual sets of equipment that only get used once in a while.
You can try to organize something like this locally (as long as you trust your neighbors!) or try out a peer-to-peer rental app.
Beyond tools, you could list things like camping equipment, kayaks, furniture in college towns, etc. Just make sure to consider any legal implications if you rent something that could lead to injury.
Be sure to get your copy of the book, The Side Hustle Guide!
Housesitting is another semi-passive income idea since housesitting isn't all just literally sitting around. Depending on the arrangement, you might be living at the property while the owner is away, or it might just require you to stop by to get mail, water plants, feed a cat, etc.
The beauty of this is that if you have work you could get done online, you can do it at the same time while you house-sit—essentially making two income sources at once! You can also housesit as a way to travel for free.
Making a profile and getting verified on a website like TrustedHousesitters can help you start finding gigs around the world, especially if you have some references.
17. Get cash back for online shopping
If you tend to do a lot of your shopping online, you can save a ton of money with a single click, thanks to online cash-back portals. Rakuten, formerly called Ebates, is the big one in this space.
Just install their cash-back button on your browser, and you'll be notified when you're on websites where cashback is available. It's one of the best passive income sources and requires almost no work.
Thousands of retailers participate in Rakuten's program, from clothing stores like Macy's to travel booking sites like Priceline to electronics retailers like Microsoft.
18. Lend money to peers
Just like you can get a loan for a car or mortgage and pay interest on it, you can be the lender who charges interest. If you have some liquid funds that you're able to part with for a while, this is another way your money can make money.
There are a variety of P2P (peer-to-peer lending) websites where this can be done with contracts and personal verification methods to help make sure that borrowers and lenders are legitimate.
However, there's still a risk that a borrower can default on a loan, so don't put all your eggs in one basket here.
It's also not usually a good idea to do this with your personal friends and family unless you're prepared to consider it a gift. Plenty of relationships are ruined over borrowed money.
19. Keep your savings in a high-interest account
High-yield savings accounts are a very secure place to keep your money. However, the drawback is that you usually won't earn significant amounts of passive interest income.
Sometimes you can get up to 5% on limited amounts at credit unions or other special accounts like Netspend.
Otherwise, you can usually expect to see 1-2% on regular online savings accounts. These rates are partially determined by the Federal Reserve's target interest rate, so they can go up and down.
20. Buy a blog
Instead of starting a blog from scratch, you may be able to buy one that's already earning income. Then, you can turn it into passive income by outsourcing the labor to writers and digital assistants.
Some active management and communication might be necessary, especially as you try to scale. However, if you focus on putting out evergreen content with monetized affiliate marketing, this can turn into a very lucrative passive income idea.
It can take a couple of years of hustling to start bringing in a significant amount of passive income each month. If the best passive income streams were easy, everyone would do them! But with enough determination and creativity, you can set your future self up for a life of kicking back while the money rolls in.
21. Sell a course
Did you know you can create your very own online course to sell? Whether you are a fantastic cake decorator, can declutter and organize like nobody's business, or know how to play an instrument, you can create and sell a course for it!
Selling courses is one of the best passive income sources. Once you create your course, your earning potential is unlimited.
Course platforms to use
There are many platforms you can use to get started, but Udemy and Teachable are among the most popular to use.
You will have to invest some money for monthly fees depending on the type of plan you go with. However, teachable has a free basic starter plan that you can try out and see how you like it first!
22. Start a vlog
Vlogging is another excellent way to make passive income. However, this requires a bit more footwork than the others, but it also has the potential for a decent payout.
The average YouTuber makes over $60,000 a year! There are many ways to monetize and make passive income from a vlog. For instance, with advertising, affiliate links, sponsorships, and more.
You will continuously create content but can keep earning from videos that you have already made. And since the number of hours watched every day on YouTube is 1 billion, there's a good chance you can earn from your vlog.
23. Sell printables
Who doesn't love printables? Printables are those adorable print-outs you can download and use for just about anything.
You can create anything from health trackers to planners to sell. Design your digital products on sites such as Canva or PicMonkey.
Once you design your printables, you can either sell digital products on a platform like Etsy or on your very own website.
Printables are one of the easiest and best passive income streams to create that continuously earn you cash!
24. Rent out your designer items
Are you a fashionista with a closet full of designer handbags and clothing? Then make some money by renting out those gorgeous items! Rather than selling them for a one-time price, you can rent them out and keep making money on them.
Plus, if you are still in love with that Chanel bag hanging in your closet and not ready to part ways with it, this is an excellent way to keep it while earning money with it.
Get started making extra money with sites such as Rent My Wardrobe and Designer Wardrobe! It's one of the best passive income ideas that can help fund your savings account and fashion habit.
25. Sell custom products with print on demand
Thanks to print-on-demand platforms, you can set up your own store and not even have to carry inventory. Whether you want to sell coffee mugs, shirts, or notebooks, sites like Printify and Printful will help.
You create your design and upload it to any product you want to sell in your shop, and voila, you start earning money.
There are options to sync your print-on-demand products to sites such as Etsy, Shopify, Printify, or your own website store. You can earn hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, so it's one of the best passive income streams to start.
26. Rent out storage space
Do you need extra cash and have some unused space in a basement or garage? You can rent this space out for other people to store their stuff.
Your unused space can even help pay your mortgage or at least some of it! Check out Neighbor.com to find out how to get started.
27. License some music
Are you musically talented? If you spend hours creating new music, it doesn't have to be just a hobby, it can actually make you money.
Licensing your music can make you some cash. You allow other people to use your work in exchange for royalties or commission.
28. Advertise using your vehicle
You may be able to make money just by driving around town or to and from work. There are companies that allow you to place an advertisement on your car to make money.
Getting your car wrapped is a good way to make passive income because once it's done, it doesn't require much thought or upkeep.
However, it's important to work with a reputable company because there are a lot of scams associated with car advertising.
29. Sleep studies or surveys
This gives a whole new meaning to making money in your sleep. You can sometimes get paid to take part in a medical sleep study.
Each study may have requirements for those that participate. Check out this article with all the details to find out more about this process.
30. Open a laundromat
A laundromat is another passive income type of business. It does require money to get started, as you'll likely need to purchase supplies and equipment, not to mention rent or buy a space.
However, laundromats operate on a mostly passive basis, without you needing to do too much as long as you outsource the work. So this is a great way to make an income.
Make more money with the best passive income ideas!
There are so many ways to make passive income that are easy and lucrative. You can start with one and continue to add more so you can earn even more money.
Remember, some of these ideas require more work than others, so decide what is best for you and your schedule and go from there. In addition, find more options for making money passively, and how to budget the money you earn!