Smart Passive Income Ideas you can try online

So, you’re sick of trading time for your money and want to earn some smart passive income online?

Do you even know what passive income is?

Either way, you’re sick of your job, sick of surrendering your time and just plain sick of feeling enslaved to giving up all of your most active hours to earn a living. I hear ya!

This is definitely the post for you.

Below I explain briefly what passive income is and how to start making some for yourself on the internet.

I list a series of methods to make this happen not only from research I’ve done but from my personal experience making a regular (and growing) passive income online to supplement my business.

So let’s get into it!

Why Passive income?

You or may not have heard this term before.

Many business experts talk about passive income these days, but it’s always been a term thrown around for popular investing options like real estate and dividends from shares.

Basically, Passive Income is generated through an asset that makes money without you being present. Hence the popular phrase “make money while you sleep”.

With software online we now have the option build websites or set up automated funnels that people encounter and purchase through, with money landing directly in our bank account.

Imagine owning a downloadable E-book that sits on your website and 10 people show up every day, buy the book and download it automatically whilst money get deposited into your bank account. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

The other benefit of passive income is that there’s no limit to how much you can make. When you trade time for money there are only so many hours in the week and your income is basically capped. With a passive income idea or method, all you need to do is reach more people and you can grow to any level!

Passive income is a truly enjoyable and realistic way to make money for content creators and is extremely scalable. But you gotta work hard!

One thing to remember is that nothing is truly 100% passive. All products and assets that generate passive income need some degree of maintenance and updates to remain relevant and keep making money. Even rental properties need repairs from time to time.

So how do you start?

Smart Passive Income Ideas you can Start Online.

Nothing in this list is easy to pull off, there is no such thing as a way to easily succeed in these passive income methods or any money making method. But as you grow and improve your skillsets in these areas it will become easier.

So see which would be the most fun or compliment your skill set the most, as this will make the process more enjoyable and increase your chances as making a decent amount of money.

Let’s get into it!

online courses

Online Courses

Courses are extremely popular right now and seem to be the thing that takes people from a pretty standard income through to the roof to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

Courses are a tonne of work so you want to make sure your audience is truly interested in what you offer. But the earning potential is massive as you could charge anywhere from $19 up to $1000+ for enrolment, depending heavily on the value being delivered.

If you have an existing audience who are looking to learn something, this could be a massive and incredibly smart source of passive income.

By setting up a sales funnel and letting the sales drip in, this option can work well. But most courses tend to make a tonne of sales when they are initially launched so there’s typically a big start to popular courses getting sales.

Here are a few of the most popular platforms you can use to create Online Courses:

If you’re using WordPress, there are also a number of plugins you can use:

While it is a tonne of work, this really is a very popular and high earning form of passive income. But don’t invest weeks or months of time without building your audience and seeing what they want first!

Membership site

Membership sites are the holy grail of online passive income.

You offer almost anything you want here and just have people sign up with a regular fee. You then get paid month after month (or whatever frequency you choose) for them access to your premium content or products.

Imagine that income repeating consistently while you simply maintain your site, if add anything at all!

You can keep this pretty passive too, as a lot of membership sites and software will allow you to slowly release content as people stay enrolled for longer, so the ability to access products and content can grow automatically if you plan things right.

There are a few of the best options for creating a membership website:

You can offer a ‘pay per page’ option with the use of WooCommerce and the ‘Pay Per Post‘ Plugin also. This way you can offer small chunks of premium content for people buy, one at a time. Not bad, right?

Software service

This one is a bit advanced, but can also be a huge payer.

If you can create software either yourself or with a team, then coming up with some online software you can charge monthly or annually for could be a massive source of relatively passive income.

There will always be upkeep but once the main piece of software is built it can operate by itself and tick over making you money. But the more complex the software, the more customer support you’ll need to offer and the more you’ll need to keep onto updates and technical support.

But if you can build a team to cover a lot of this, you can operate in a relatively hands-off fashion and make important decisions to focus on growth.

Affiliate marketing

This is a fun one which is easy to start! With affiliate marketing you basically sell other people’s stuff and receive a commission for it.

You find a program, sign up and start promoting their product, it’s that simple. It’s also a good way to start when you are building your audience as you don’t need to spend the time creating products yourself.

Once you get some regular traffic coming to your website or links, you can promote on autopilot and make sales of just about anything and generate a passive income online.

Some programs give you very little commission (like Amazon, but the range and ease of sales makes up for it) while some give you very large commissions of more than half the product (mostly software and downloadable products).

A decent percentage of my income has come from affiliate marketing over the years. I love how hands off it can be once you get going.

Getting started isn’t difficult, you simply need to take the time to learn the skills of marketing / generating traffic and selling. Learn more about Affiliate Marketing (including how to get started) here or see my top tips for making money with affiliate marketing here.

sell ad space

Ads on website

This one is really passive but not as high earning as some of the options above.

Basically, more traffic usually means you earn more money. As long as you are getting visitors to your site you will earn something. I’ve seen sites with thousands of visitors per day make anywhere from a few hundred dollars per month up to thousands.

There are several different ad types you can choose from

CPC – Cost per Click
Simply display an ad on your website and earn money when someone clicks on that advertisement. There are a number of options but Google AdSense is by far the most popular and best choice for many.

CPM  – Cost per Mille
For every thousand impressions (views) an ad gets on your website you earn a small amount of money. For example, a $2 CPM ($2 per thousand impressions) means you can earn $20 per ten thousand impressions. Add 2 more ads to your page and that becomes $60 per ten thousand visits.

Here are some CPM Networks you can check out:

CPL – Cost per Lead
This means for every lead you generate you get paid. This could be a phone call, a free sign up or subscribe to an email newsletter.

This means you don’t even have to sell anything, but it also means you could have ads all over your website potentially making you nothing if they don’t perform well.

Either way, some places to start are:

Rent space by the month or week / predetermined price.
You can also set a price for adspace yourself and sell independently or use an agency that sells your ad space.

You can set what you earn, although the higher a price you ask for, the less likely you will be to fill the space, and you may need to offer information such as how many impressions the ad gets or is expected to get per month.

Some top agencies offering ad space management are:

This is an old but effective method as many prefer not to deal with agencies but would rather talk direct with the website owner.

Print on demand

This is another method I use to sell small items and create a nice, easy smart passive income source online.

If you have an idea for shirts, stickers, posters, or anything that is offered by a Print on Demands site, then you can whip up a design (or pay someone to) and list it on an existing marketplace!

You can take it a step further and promote these yourself to improve your sales. Below I have some of the best options for selling via Print on Demand:

  • Zazzle – massive variety of products to customize
  • Spreadshirt – large variety, not as big as Zazzle but less competition
  • Teepublic – mostly apparel, stickers and cases for phones & laptops
  • RedBubble – easy to sell on, a decent variety of products
  • Amazon Merch – it’s Amazon, you reach the largest marketplace in the world here!

If you have some basic art skills or can create images to upload, then you can easily start making your own products on these websites and start generating some passive income sales.

Start a YouTube channel

If you start a YouTube channel and grow it to over 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours (hours in the past 12 months) then you can receive a percentage of the money YouTube makes from advertising on your videos.

It’s a lot of work building an audience, creating videos and learning what works for you and YouTube, but it is another incredibly passive way to earn some money.

I do this myself and have also written a post to show you how to get your first 1000 subscribers here.

You can either be in front of the camera, voice only, or simply use music and text to create your videos. It’s a lot of fun and you truly have the potential to go anywhere with it.

stock photography sites

Sell on stock photo sites

Are you a good designer or pretty good with a camera? Submit your images to Stock photos sites to earn a buck!

You probably won’t make a tonne of money with this but it is possible if you get an image that a lot of people use. You can (in some cases) upload the same image to multiple websites also! These can be photos, art, vector graphics or even video.

According to Improve Photography, most people make 25 – 45c per image sold.

Below are some places you can sell with:

Rent out a website

Imagine creating a website that receives a lot of traffic and you had no use for it yourself. Well, find a business which can use it and rent it to them!

This means if you build a website up in a certain niche with highly trafficked content and decent Search Engine Optimization, renting this out to a business is a great win-win and they pay a consistent fee for use of it for their sales.

This means as long as the website performs and keeps your customer happy, you will continue to receive payments. It’s like the internet version of commercial rental property on a busy street.


Digital downloads

This is absolutely huge and almost limitless!

Selling digital products is such a good passive income model as you can easily create a store, upload your file and set it up so that when payment is made into your account (be it Paypal, Stripe, etc) the user downloads the file automatically. All you do is receive the money!

Now, you do need a file to sell though. You can create it yourself or get someone else to, either way, here’s some ideas to get you going:

  • E-books and PDF Guides
  • Design Templates (like Photoshop, Illustrator etc)
  • Premium Videos
  • Music or albums
  • Software or video games
  • Custom designed fonts
  • Stock media
  • 3D models for animation or 3D printing
  • Sewing and knitting patterns
  • Plugins and themes for WordPress and other website software
  • Use your imagination!

The sky is the limit, any kind of downloadable file worth buying can be sold as long as it’s not illegal and not too huge.

Some options to sell online are:

You will need to learn how to get traffic to your store but once you can build that traffic, you can easily optimize your site to sell from there.

I have one idea that is scalable…

…but technically it’s not passive income.

You might not be looking specifically for passive income but instead a business model that simply doesn’t rely on your time.

Well, there are a few ideas you can try which are somewhat active, but incredibly scalable as your efforts can be duplicated and sold to many…

You can sell premium subscription to an ongoing service or kind of media.

This could be a premium version of:

  • Regular videos
  • Email Newsletter
  • Podcast
  • Downloadable products released regularly
  • Blog
  • Music
  • etc

You can setup a membership site, but for this case in particular, you can use something like Patreon.

Tips to get started

So you’ve seen the above tips, but there are some external factors you need to learn in order to help you put it all into action.

It’s one thing to set these up but how do you get people to visit your passive income assets and convince them to buy?

Build an online presence

I highly recommend starting a website and growing you social media so you can build an audience to work with.

This also means that if one avenue fails, you can switch things up and promote to the same audience and you won’t have to start again.

I offer a free email course showing you how to build a website in WordPress and get started on Social Media here.

Start An Email List

People who are subscribed to an email list are far more likely to become buyers than someone landing on your website for the first time or who follows you on social media.

So offer something valuable in return for signing them up and then keep them up to date via email and send out the occasional promotion to get them on board.

You can keep this passive and automated with an auto-responder series like the ones you can build using ConvertKit.

Learn how to sell

The art of selling is a skill in itself and require research, practice and patience to develop.

A few quick tips are:

  • Push benefits instead of features. Most people want an end result and don’t care about the features.
  • Post Testimonials – as people will trust you more when they see other people vouching for you.
  • Be Transparent – don’t try to be vague or hide anything, put yourself out there so people know you’re a real person. This is another trust factor.

There’s a lot more to it than the above tips but they can help you get started.

make some noise

Now get out there and build your passive income.

You can pick one of these smart passive income ideas or choose many and combine them together.

If you focus on building a solid online presence and email list then you will have that nice safe space to sell to and even switch up strategies if things don’t work out, so don’t overlook those tips.

One question – do you already make passive income online?

Leave a comment below telling what you do – or which of these options appeals to you the most.

Otherwise thank you for reading and I hope to talk to you again soon!