7 Creative Passive Income Ideas That Don’t Involve Investing

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Benjamin Franklin smiles on a $100 bill because he is providing passive income
David Biagini / Shutterstock.com

For most people, our primary — if not only — source of income is our jobs. But some clever folks figure out ways to keep making money without constant effort.

Those people have passive income streams. What is passive income? It’s a flow of money that is either self-sustaining or sustained with less work than a job.

For instance, dividend stocks, rental property, CDs and annuities are examples of how to generate passive income. All of these, once established, are more about occasional maintenance than work. And you probably see a theme here: A lot of the most valuable ways to make passive income sound like a retirement investment.

All of the things usually considered the best passive income require money you might not have. If you want to generate automatic income by investing your time or property instead of money, here are seven passive income ideas that make the most of your creativity, skills and assets.

1. Write an e-book

Everybody has a story to tell, or something they know particularly well, even if they don’t immediately realize what it is. That makes writing an e-book one of the most accessible passive income ideas — because these days, anyone can publish.

Of course, the ease of publishing is a double-edged sword: That means lots of competition. So, you’ll want to spend as much time figuring out where and how to market your book as you spend writing and editing it. We previously wrote about self-publishing in “How to Make Money Writing and Publishing Books.”

If you don’t want to handle the cover and layout, you can pay someone to do it for you through websites like Fiverr.

2. Create a course

If you’re thinking about how to create passive income but decide you’re a better presenter than a wordsmith, you have options. Maybe you’d rather offer up advice through video lectures and other online learning instead of writing it in a book.

Or try both: The material from one can provide the foundation for — or be partially repurposed for — the other, giving you twice as many passive income opportunities for the same work. When it comes to how to make money online, recycle wherever it makes sense.

Platforms like Udemy offer an enormous audience of people who may be interested in what you have to say, and they provide many of the tools to create and present the content of your course.

If you’ve ever tutored or trained someone on a specific topic, you’ve got a head start. But if not, there are certainly crash courses for people who want to make crash courses. We previously covered how to develop your own course in “Jump-Start an Online Teaching Business in 9 Steps.”

3. Sell stock photos

Maybe words in whatever form aren’t your bag. That’s OK — they say pictures are worth a thousand of them. Up next in passive income ideas: selling your photography.

Businesses — including self-publishing and educational businesses — need photos to help market what they do, and few hire photographers directly. Instead, they just purchase the images they want from stock photography websites such as Shutterstock or Foap.

You can sell your own images to these websites, and if they’re popular enough, you may continue to make money off them years later.

If you already have a professional camera and gear, great; if not, check out our story “How to Shoot Pictures Like a Pro With Your Cellphone Camera” as a starting point.

4. License your music

If you’re still wondering how to make passive income with your creative talents, here’s another idea: music. In much the same way people and businesses license photos, they license music for personal videos, shows, films and advertisements.

Two marketplaces to sell your music are AudioJungle and Pond5.

5. Create an app

What if you’re more logical than creative? There are passive income options for you, too. Try creating your own app to publish for Apple or Android devices.

It could be an informational app, a game or some kind of utility. You might charge a price for your app, sell a subscription service or premium version, or display ads.

There are even services to help you build an app without needing any programming knowledge — although those tend to be apps made by people who are also figuring out how to make money online. In other words: not free.

6. Rent out your car

If you’re not willing to invest time or money, you can still earn passive income with something you already own. How about your car?

Services like Turo allow you to loan your car to strangers when you’re not using it. You provide photos, pricing and restrictions such as mileage limits. In turn, people book your car and coordinate a meeting. You get to play car rental agency, hand them the keys and rake in the money.

Check out our story “How to Make Extra Money Renting Out Your Car” for more details.

7. Rent out extra rooms

Instead of a vehicle, you can also rent out space using sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. The process is similar: You’ll have to provide photos, pricing and rules, and to list availability. Then, people will contact you and book your property, and you’ll be playing hotelier to make extra cash.

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