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15 Realistic Ways to Make Money While You Sleep (Step-By-Step Guide Included!)

15 Realistic Ways to Make Money While You Sleep (Step-By-Step Guide Included)

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One thing that successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they’ve all found ways to make money while they sleep. They’ve mastered passive income and probably have several streams of it coming in.

If you’re struggling to master one stream of income, even an active one at that, this whole make money while you sleep thing might sound like the most unattainable thing possible. Not going to lie, it can take some work. But, earning passive income is possible, for anyone.

Back up a little… 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.

For most people, your job, right now, 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 infinite. 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 that’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:

  • Money
  • Effort

You have to put forth one of those things before you see any gains, and don’t trust anyone who is trying to sell you a magic pill. They don’t exist. You have to work to get paid, but with the right work, you can earn money while you sleep.

You’ve got the gist of it. 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. But 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 open 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 getting to where they are now.

Not all bloggers are going to get to that point, like 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, and the other part is because, well… 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 this 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 that bloggers use to earn income. It’s when you place a special link in your blog posts for a certain product or company, and when one of your readers clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you earn a little money, or 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, but remember 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 they know they’re going to get their money’s worth.

Bloggers can sell all sorts of things through their blogs, like:

  • Printables
  • Swag
  • Ebooks
  • Courses (read more about this in the next point)

After you’ve created your product and start marketing it, there is some general upkeep required to continue driving visitors to your site. Having an email list is another must have to market any kind of product. These two things 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, marketing, and selling process. 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, but 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, land is finite. People always need places to live, brick and mortars 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. This 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

By 2021, it’s expected that 2.14 billion people will be shopping online, and that will be the highest number ever.

That’s why starting your own e-commerce store with a platform like Shopify can help you earn passive income. The way drop shipping works is:

  • 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.
  • 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. 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.

Listen to Episode 34 of the Laptop Empires podcast to learn how Talaat McNeely of His & Her Money started and grew their YouTube channel.

9. Sell stock photos

For professional and amateur photographers, you can sell your photos to stock photo sites like Shutterstock, SmugMug, iStock, and more.

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 letting Amazon take care of the selling and shipping of the product to customers.

You can sell all sorts of things through Amazon FBA, like:

  • Books
  • Retail arbitrage
  • Wholesale items
  • DVDs

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 can tell 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

For creative people looking for an outlet that allows them to earn passive income, you 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:

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.

The step-by-step guide to making money while you sleep

Now that you know the options, here’s a quick look at how to get started.

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 what skills, passions, or interests you already have and use that to inform your choice of passive income. Take blogging, for example, think about what you’d like to blog about, read blogs on that topic, and start engaging with those 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. Starting working

Even investing in the stock market takes some work. That’s 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.

For passive income requiring effort up front, 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 that 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.

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