One thing successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they’ve found ways to make money while they sleep. They are pros when it comes to passive income and probably have several streams of it coming in.
If you’re struggling to master one stream of income, even if it’s an active one, the concept of making money while you sleep might sound like the most unattainable thing possible.
I’m not going to lie. It can take some work. But, earning passive income is possible for anyone.
- Invest your money in the stock market
- Rent out a room in your house
- Start a blog and earn affiliate income
- Create a product to sell
- Create an online course
- Real estate
- Drop shipping
- Start a YouTube channel
- Sell stock photos
- Write an ebook
- Sell on Amazon FBA
- Buy an existing website
- License music
- Design and sell custom merchandise
- Sell an app
- Create a membership community
- Rent out your vehicle
- Save money in a high-yield savings account
- Peer-to-peer lending
What is Passive Income?
When people talk about making money while you sleep, they’re talking about passive income. It’s money you are earning while you aren’t actively working for it. You have to set it in motion, but once it’s going, it can continue moving with minimal effort.
If you are like most people, your current job is not earning you passive income. You are trading time for money.
When you only work like that, you end up capping your earning potential because time is limited. There are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, and so on…
Warren Buffet said it best, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”
That’s a hard truth, but it’s why you’re reading this article right now.
Before we go on, let’s get one thing straight — all passive income requires some initial investment.
That investment comes in one of two forms:
You have to put forth one of those things before you see any gains.
Remember that you shouldn’t trust anyone who is trying to sell you a magic pill. They don’t exist. You have to work to get paid, but you can earn money while you sleep with the right work.
Ways to Earn Passive Income
You’ve likely got the gist of it at this point. You know it’s time to work smarter, not harder.
So here you go… real, legit, non-scam, honest, wholesome ways to make money while you sleep.
1. Invest Your Money in the Stock Market
I’m starting with this one because it’s probably the most obvious source of passive income. Investing takes money to get started, and you can do it through a traditional brokerage like Fidelity or Charles Schwab.
If you feel like you don’t have much money to get started, there is now a wealth of micro-investing apps that eliminate that barrier.
Micro investing produces micro results, but it’s one way new investors can start earning small amounts of passive income. To boost that income, you’ll have to start making larger investments.
2. Rent Out a Room in Your House
Perhaps this isn’t the most glamorous way to make money while you sleep, but it’s a good first step if you feel like you don’t have a ton of time or money to invest in other ideas.
Airbnb is one of the best options for renting a room (or your entire house) to out-of-town visitors. Living in big cities or tourist destinations opens you up to a higher earning potential. Besides passive income, this can be a nice way to offset the cost of your mortgage payments.
3. Start a Blog and Earn Affiliate Income
Big bloggers, like the ones with six-figure income reports, make blogging look super easy. They write, post photos, share stuff on social media, and live dreamy lifestyles on boats or while backpacking through Europe.
These people are real, and they’ve put a lot of work into getting where they are now.
Not all bloggers are going to get to that point. In fact, the vast majority aren’t going to reach a six-figure a-month paycheck.
Part of that is because they quit right before things pick up. The other part is that not everyone can make that much money from a blog… just like not all coffee shops will turn into massive corporations like Starbucks.
But, the average blogger who puts time and energy into growing their blog can earn passive income from it.
Bloggers can do this in a few different ways, but affiliate marketing is what most people think of first.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
This is one of several different blog monetization methods. It’s when you place a special link in your blog posts for a certain product or company. Then, when one of your readers clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you earn a little money (aka affiliate income).
Weeks, months, and even years after you publish those posts, people can still click on those links and drive your income. That’s the ‘make money while you sleep part of it.
Before you can start earning with affiliate marketing, you will need to make a major time and energy investment in your blog. You will have to grow your audience and page views to a certain point before you can use affiliate networks.
There’s not one number to shoot for. A lot of this depends on your blog.
Actually, some of the bloggers earning high amounts of affiliate income don’t have massive numbers of page views.
One great example is our good friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner at Making Sense of Cents. She regularly earns around $50,000 a month with affiliate marketing, and she teaches her exact strategy to other bloggers in her course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
You can read our full review of the course here.
Still, Need to Start a Blog?
We got you! Anyone can start a blog. Remember that it’s a labor of love (and sometimes frustration), but it’s mostly a lot of fun.
If you need help getting started, like with the technical aspects, Launch That Blog is a free service from Millennial Money Man that:
- Helps with the installation and set-up process of a WordPress blog
- Teaches you how to use your brand new blog
- Helps you make it look awesome
- Makes sure you have the essential tools ready to go
The only thing you need to pay for is hosting, which is just $2.95 per month through Bluehost.
Learn more at How to Start a Blog with Launch That Blog.
4. Create a Product to Sell
If you have a blog, creating your own product is another really great way to earn money while you sleep. The initial investment is the time it takes to create and market the product. You also have to build trust with your audience so that they know they’re going to get their money’s worth.
Bloggers can sell all sorts of things through their blogs, like:
- Courses (read more about this in the next point)
Our friends Cody and Julie over at Gold City Ventures are super side hustlers that make money selling printables on Etsy! They’ve had so much success that they even created a course sharing their best Etsy hustle secrets. Check out their Etsy course here.
After you’ve created your product and started marketing it, there is some general upkeep required to continue driving visitors to your site.
Having an email list is a must-have to market any kind of product. This will continue to passively convert visitors to your site into paying customers.
One of the best parts of selling your own product is that you are in complete control of it — from the creation process to marketing to selling. You are your own boss here.
5. Create an Online Course
Selling online courses is a way to share valuable knowledge with others. Your course should be something you’re an expert on, and it should be something that you know people will benefit from.
That’s why Mike Yanda and Bobby Hoyt, founders of Laptop Empires, created the Facebook Side Hustle course. Those two are basically Facebook ads gurus, have earned decent money running them and realized a course would show others how to start this profitable side hustle.
When you create a course, the investment is definitely effort. Course sales are a lucrative way to engage your audience and offer them some genuine, real-world help.
6. Real Estate
Investing money in real estate is likely always going to be a serious source of passive income. That’s because, like time, the land is finite. People always need places to live, brick-and-mortar stores need a place to set up shop, and so on.
Here are three ways to make money while you sleep with real estate:
- Rental properties. This can increase your monthly cash flow with rental income and can be residential or commercial.
- Fix and flips. Here you are purchasing properties that are in need of work, then fixing them up and selling them at a higher price.
- REITs. That stands for Real Estate Investment Trust. It’s investing in commercial real estate for average people (non-millionaires). Fundrise is a great platform to check out.
7. Drop Shipping
An estimated 2.14 billion people shopped online in 2021, and that is the highest number to date.
This is why starting your own e-commerce store with a platform like Shopify can help you earn passive income.
With drop shipping, you:
- Start with building a website (you can do this through Shopify).
- Add products to your website that come from certain manufacturers.
- When a person purchases that product, it ships from the manufacturer, not you.
- Pay for the products but earn more than the sales price.
Drop shipping is unique in that you don’t have to source and store inventory. You just build and manage the site.
Once your site is built and marketed properly, you can start selling products and earning money while you sleep.
8. Start a YouTube Channel
Like bloggers, not all YouTubers are going to get rich. That’s just the reality of the situation. But, YouTube is a fun way to tell stories, create DIYs, offer tutorials, and more.
You earn money on YouTube with:
- Ad revenue. Links on your videos bring viewers to products and services they can purchase.
- Sponsorships. Not entirely passive, but you can get paid to promote products and companies you believe in.
- Creating your own products. This could be swag, courses you sell through your website, etc.
9. Sell Stock Photos
Depending on the site, you can make between 20%-60% of the cost of downloading content.
10. Write an Ebook
With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, newbie authors can write and sell ebooks to earn passive income. The investment here is obvious — you have to actually write a book!
When you self-publish, you are in complete control of your book. But, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It requires knowing what readers want to read, learning how to market your book, and more.
Fortunately, there are people offering great, real-world advice on how to get started.
11. Sell on Amazon FBA
FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. It’s a service from Amazon that lets individual sellers find products they’d like to sell, have them delivered to Amazon, then lets Amazon take care of the selling and shipping of the product to customers.
You can sell all sorts of things through Amazon FBA, like:
- Retail arbitrage
- Wholesale items
I have a relative who recently quit their day job as a licensed CPA after making over $25,000 in their first year of selling used books through Amazon FBA. This was by working just a few hours a week sourcing books (Amazon has a tool to make it easy to find ones to sell).
When you consider that Amazon handles selling, shipping, payments, and customer service, you can see how it’s pretty passive.
12. Buy an Existing Website
From what you read earlier about starting a blog, you probably know that it takes a lot of work and time. It can take months before your site starts earning you a profit. Some people expedite this process by purchasing existing websites, which can run $1,000+.
You can find existing blogs and websites for sale on Flippa, which gives you information like:
- Name and link to the site
- Age of site
- Type of website
- Monthly net profit
Just like any monetary investment, you’ll really need to research each site before proceeding.
13. License Music
Just like selling stock photos, selling music you create is another possible source of passive income. Websites that sell your music do charge a commission, and you earn money when someone buys your music to use in YouTube videos, video games, ads, etc.
Here are some popular sites for selling your music:
14. Design and Sell Custom Merchandise
Creative people looking for an outlet that allows them to earn passive income can design images to sell on shirts, posters, coffee mugs, hats, phone cases, and more.
Once you do the design work, the following websites can create and sell the products for you. This is often referred to as print-on-demand, and there are several websites where you can learn to get started.
The websites include:
15. Sell an App
For those of you with coding skills, creating and selling an app is another option to make money while you sleep. You invest with your skills and the time it takes to create the app, but once you’ve made it, you earn passive income when the app sells.
Even sales of mobile apps listed for a buck or two add up over time.
16. Create a Membership Community
One of the best aspects of online entrepreneurship is the ability to connect with people all over the world, which lends itself perfectly to creating a membership community.
A membership site is where people pay to access exclusive content through your website or social media group or to connect with other people in your group.
If you have a website already, you can add a plugin such as Membermouse to design and set up memberships. Each time a member joins, you are paid whatever the sign-up fee is, plus renewals.
You can set up recurring payments at any interval you like, and most members will keep renewing as long as they feel like what you’re providing has value.
The key to a successful membership community is to keep the content fresh and to actually provide a service to each member.
Technically, the actual recording of a podcast is not considered passive since you do need to be awake while recording. However, there are other revenue streams you can build into your podcast once you’ve started growing your audience.
This can become the passive income portion of podcasting.
Like a blog, podcasters can earn money from affiliate marketing. As you start growing your number of subscribers, you can share links to products through newsletters, on your website, or using your social media channels.
There are also opportunities to sell sponsored content through a podcast or merchandise with your podcast logo blasted all over it. Membership communities are an easy way to tie into a podcast since you can charge subscribers additional fees for exclusive content.
18. Rent Out Your Vehicle
We’ve all heard of rideshare drivers, but did you know there are services available for people to rent their vehicle when it’s not in use?
If you have a vehicle you don’t have to use every day, then consider renting it out so you can earn money when you don’t need it. With the current rental car shortage impacting the United States, there’s never been a better time to join a carsharing group.
There are several companies offering this service, including:
Some of these carsharing options are limited to big cities or near major airports, but it’s worth a try to see if your vehicle could be put to work for you while you’re out of town, on vacation, or if it’s a car you don’t drive every day.
19. Save Money in a High-Yield Savings Account
A standard savings account at a bank typically pays out a measly 0.01%. While it’s great to have savings set aside in an earmarked account, there are other alternatives to the standard accounts.
Look for high-yield savings accounts or certificates of deposit as an option for parking your savings.
While high-yield savings accounts aren’t earning as much interest right now as they have in previous years, they’re still paying out higher interest rates versus a traditional savings account.
Before choosing this option, be sure to understand how long your money has to remain in the account and the minimum deposit amount required.
Fortunately, there are multiple online options for high-yield accounts, including:
You can also check out options at your local bank or credit union.
20. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending, or P2P, is when you loan money to borrowers who might not be able to secure funding through traditional lending channels.
In the past, if you were interested in investing in P2P lending, it was difficult to evaluate the risk and projected growth of each and every individual. However, thanks to new technology, there are websites that take care of this detailed work for you.
Sites like PeerStreet let you lend capital (money) to people who are borrowing for specific industries, such as real estate. You set your investment amount, research where you’d like to invest, and if successful, you earn monthly interest.
Step-By-Step Guide to Making Money While You Sleep
Now you know 20 ideas to make money while you sleep. That said, we also know sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
Here’s a quick look at the steps needed for earning passive income:
1. Know What Kind of Investment You Want to Make
Remember the beginning of this article? Earning passive income takes some kind of investment, monetary or time/energy.
If you want to invest your time and energy: Take the skills, passions, or interests you already have and use them to pick a passive income stream. Take blogging, for example. Think about what you’d like to blog about, read blogs on that topic, and start engaging with other bloggers.
If you can make a monetary investment: Understand how much money you have to work with and which projects are interesting to you.
2. Research Your Options
Starting any business or investment should only come after learning as much as you possibly can about each option. You should understand the risk, initial investment, earning potential, etc.
Research takes time, but it protects whatever type of investment you make.
3. Start Working
Even investing in the stock market takes some work. It includes finding a brokerage, purchasing shares, etc. For other sources of passive income — again blogging as an example — you have to start your blog before you can start earning.
When it comes to passive income requiring effort upfront, this is where you’ll spend most of your time. It can get daunting, but use your goals for motivation.
4. Maintain Your Source
All passive income requires occasional maintenance and upkeep, whether that’s growing your online traffic, adjusting your stock portfolio, or tweaking your courses.
This is minimal work considering what you’ve already done, but it ensures that you continue to make money while you sleep after your initial investment.
5. Repeat the Process
It’s been said that most millionaires have seven sources of income. This isn’t all active work either. Remember, there are only so many hours in a day.
Your first source of passive income is the starting point. Keep finding new things to invest your money and time in. Keep turning that wheel to see your wealth grow.
The Final Word on Ways to Make Money While You Sleep
If you want to improve your financial health, earning passive income is critical. Take the time to think about opportunities that best fit your skills and investment capabilities to determine the ideal choice for you.