29 Smart and Simple Passive Income Ideas for 2024 – Shopify

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Passive income may not make you a millionaire overnight, but it can supplement your salary and help you build wealth over time.

Through investments, royalties, rentals, and revenue, passive income is money you earn without the need for ongoing work. It’s not linked to a regular job and doesn’t require your constant attention. This means more freedom, flexibility, and cash for you.

Explore these passive income ideas to strengthen your financial portfolio.

29 passive income ideas

  1. Start a dropshipping store
  2. Create a print-on-demand store
  3. Sell digital products
  4. Teach online courses
  5. Become a blogger
  6. Sell handmade goods
  7. Run an affiliate marketing business
  8. Sell stock photos online
  9. Become a social media influencer
  10. Buy a rental property
  11. Invest in the stock market
  12. Rent out your spare room
  13. Rent out your car
  14. Lend money to peers
  15. Earn while shopping online
  16. Buy and sell websites
  17. Start a YouTube channel
  18. Invest in REITs
  19. Sell designs online
  20. Invest in businesses
  21. Rent out unused space
  22. Create a job board
  23. Create no-code apps
  24. Earn royalties through inventions
  25. Record audiobooks
  26. Invest in vending machines
  27. Build and sell spreadsheets
  28. Open a high-yield savings account
  29. Rent out your parking space

What is passive income?

Passive income is often described as earning money with minimal effort. This usually means earnings from investments, like an Airbnb rental property, dividends, interest on savings, or leasing equipment.

But passive income can also refer to ongoing earnings from something you’ve previously created. It could be sales of a digital product, like a prerecorded online course, or commission produced by affiliate marketing content, such as a YouTube video.

Passive income streams typically require an initial effort to set up but need little daily involvement to maintain.

Passive income ideas

1. Start a dropshipping store

Dropshipping is a great way to make money from anywhere, even if you’re starting with a small budget.

In a dropshipping business, you set up an online store where customers browse and buy products. When you receive an order, you forward it to your dropshipping supplier, who ships the product.

steps explaining the dropshipping process
The dropshipping business model.

Dropshipping suppliers handle everything from manufacturing to packaging to fulfillment. And, since you don’t need to send money to your supplier until your customers pay, this passive income business has limited cash risk. You can use an app like the DSers to find trending products in different niches to sell in your store.

How to start: Use Shopify to start a dropshipping business and sell products from your own online store.

2. Create a print-on-demand store

If you’re an artist, designer, or entrepreneur, print-on-demand can be a profitable, passive way to monetize your creativity. It involves working with suppliers to customize white-label products like t-shirts, posters, and backpacks, and selling them on a per-order basis.

Similar to dropshipping, you only pay for a print-on-demand product after you sell it. There’s no buying in bulk or inventory. In other words, print-on-demand stores are a good passive income stream because:

  • You can create products quickly and put them up for sale in minutes
  • Shipping and fulfillment are taken care of by your supplier
  • Once your store is set up, you can automate marketing and sales processes

How to start: Choose a print-on-demand company to create customized products.

3. Sell digital products

Digital products are assets, tools, and pieces of media that consumers can’t physically touch. These include downloadable or streamable files such as ebooks, templates, and PDFs.

Digital products are great passive income sources because they have high profit margins. You only have to make the asset once, and you can sell it repeatedly via your online business. There’s no storage or inventory needed.

You can sell as many digital products as you want. Many creators scale passive income from digital assets by selling kits, printables, files, and other materials professionals can use.

How to start: Use an app to give customers access to your digital products.

4. Teach online courses

It’s easier than ever for educators to create an online course. Whether it’s marketing, illustration, or entrepreneurship, you can create pre-recorded courses and start selling with few limitations. You can sell online courses repeatedly without holding any inventory or stock, generating passive income.

Teaching online requires some upfront investment in time. You’ll need to outline your course, record it, and create downloadable assets like templates for students to walk away with.

Whichever way you look at it, teaching an online course is a great way to generate income at a low startup cost, other than an investment of time.

How to start: Create a mini-course with a few hours of content to test demand for your lessons. Then, research online course platforms like Teachable or Courses Plus.

5. Become a blogger

Starting a blog can be a challenging venture, but the blogging business model has shown stability as a passive income model over multiple decades.

It takes time to build a blog. But if you create quality content and promote it through your platforms, you’ll build an audience big enough to generate a significant income stream.

Earn passive income from blogging by:

  • Selling affiliate products
  • Creating sponsored posts
  • Selling your own products
  • Running ads through Google AdSense

The best part? You don’t need any design or coding skills to start a blog. With a content management system, running a blog is easy.

How to start: Sign up for a relevant affiliate program and add monetized links to your blog content.

6. Sell handmade goods

There are hundreds of online sites you can sell on. Some have specific niches, like video games or handcrafted goods, while others let you sell whatever you want. Popular sites include:

  • Faire
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Ruby Lane
  • AliExpress

The upfront investment is twofold. You’ll need to invest in materials and time to make and sell DIY goods like pottery or clothing. You’ll also want to create an online store to house your products.

Selling from your own store reduces the fees you pay on each sale, plus you can create a brand for yourself. The benefits of building a brand compound over time as you grow an audience and connect with more customers. It’ll help you sell more over time and make money online.

How to start: Browse popular products on major online selling sites to understand what makes handmade goods successful.

7. Run an affiliate marketing business

Affiliate marketing involves recommending a product or service to an audience. It’s a great source of passive income because you earn a commission whenever someone uses your referral link to buy the recommended product or service.

Online entrepreneurs become affiliate marketers for a few key reasons:

  • It’s easy to execute. You just handle the marketing side of things. The brand will develop products and fulfill orders.
  • It’s low risk. There’s no cost to join an affiliate program. You can sell established profits without any upfront financial investment.
  • It’s scalable. Affiliate marketers typically don’t hire extra help. You can introduce new products to an audience and create campaigns while your past work makes money in the background.

Earning money with affiliate marketing can be a rewarding way to add new revenue streams to your business. All it costs is your time. Once the hours are invested, you can reap the rewards continually.

How to start: Become a Shopify affiliate or check the requirements of your preferred affiliate program.

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8. Sell stock photos online

Unlike many passive income ideas on this list, photography is a service-based business, which typically means you get paid for your time. You must be at an event or photoshoot to make money with photography, which, even if you’re making a good living, can be tiring after a while.

However, if you’re a full-time photographer (or own a camera), you can generate passive income from photography by selling photos online. Stock photo sites like Pexels, Shutterstock, and other online media houses will pay for high-quality photos and videos.

Shutterstock homepage featuring a search bar and background image of the ocean
Stock photography website Shutterstock.

If you run your photography business on Shopify, you can also easily tie in digital products like prints or print-on-demand products like shirts and hats, giving you even more passive income streams, so you can work less and make more.

How to start: Understand the image requirements for major stock photo libraries and devices. Also, consider which stock image subjects you could specialize in.

9. Become a social media influencer

To become a social media influencer—someone who can sway another person’s buying decisions—you’ll need to build a community of people who enjoy similar topics.

Are you a comics fan? Create an Instagram account and start posting consistently about the latest Marvel and DC shows. The same applies if your interest is in sports, scuba diving, home décor, or lifestyle culture.

If you have an engaged audience, leverage that engagement to support a variety of passive income ideas. For instance, you could partner with large and small businesses to promote products to your followers. Or, make money by selling your own merch.

How to start: Find brands that fit your socials using Shopify Collabs, then build affiliate relationships to get paid for what you sell.

10. Buy a rental property

Real estate investing is one of the oldest ways to build long-term passive wealth.

If you have the capital available, you can invest in apartments, land, or renovation projects, and benefit from the appreciating value.

You could also lease your property for rental income. Since the job of being a landlord is pretty active, however, you may need to hire property managers to handle tenants and maintenance to keep your income passive.

How to start: Check the local laws and rules for investment properties in your area.

11. Invest in the stock market

Although the stock market might have a steep learning curve and can be confusing, it’s a great way to build lasting wealth. A common mistake most people make with investment funds is thinking short-term instead of playing the long game to reach financial goals.

The goal of investing in stocks is to diversify your portfolio and reduce risk. You can do this by investing in mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and high-dividend stocks that earn you capital gains over time.

s and p 500 graph showing gains and losses over time
S&P 500 index.

How to start: Open a brokerage account at a registered financial institution. It’s recommended that you also speak with a financial adviser to help plan and hit your passive income goals.

12. Rent out your spare room

Maybe you don’t have the startup capital to invest in rental properties. But, do you have an extra room in your apartment? Or are you going on a three-week road trip and don’t want to leave your house empty? You can partner with a rental company like Airbnb to rent your free space.

Airbnb connects homeowners with people who are looking for their next getaway. People prefer Airbnb because they’re sometimes cheaper and often more convenient than hotels, meaning a high demand for your free space as an Airbnb host.

While renting out one spare room to earn passive income is great, renting out ten is even better. If you want even more income from Airbnb, you can (depending on local laws) buy apartments for the sole purpose of renting them out. You should note, though, that renting your space out often requires work upfront. You might have to furnish or renovate your space before putting it up for rent.

How to start: Check similar short-term rental listings in your local area to gauge nightly prices.

13. Rent out your car

Your home is not the only thing you can rent out to earn passive income. You can also rent your car with a service like Turo. If you use your car to work for ride-sharing companies like Uber, sign up with platforms like Carvertise or Wrapify to earn extra money by selling advertising space on your vehicle.

Another way to turn your car into an income stream is to look for someone who needs a car for Uber or Lyft. So instead of actively driving around in your free time, you can pull up a Netflix show while your car works for you.

How to start: Read through Uber’s driver requirements.

14. Lend money to peers

Have extra cash that’s not working for you? Try peer-to-peer lending as a passive side hustle. Peer-to-peer lending involves lending money to borrowers or small businesses.

Interest rates for peer-to-peer loans are usually based on the borrower’s history. The return on these loans is typically around 5% to 6%. The more you lend, the higher your cash flow will be.

How to start: Sign up with a loans website like LendingClub, Prosper (for individuals), or Worthy (for businesses) that connects borrowers with lenders.

15. Earn while shopping online

Cashback reward sites allow you to generate passive income when you shop online. After signing up, you don’t have to do anything aside from shop to make money from these sites. The more you shop online, the more points you gain, and the more passive income you can make.

A note of caution: don’t exceed your monthly spending budget in an attempt to earn more rewards.

How to start: Set up profiles on cashback reward sites like Swagbucks, MyPoint, and Rakuten.

16. Buy and sell websites

Websites on just about any topic you can think of are often put up for sale. The best part? A lot of them make a healthy income through affiliate links, ads, memberships, or products.

Buying an existing site is a great way to own a business that already has some sales and traffic coming in. Once you complete your purchase, you also get access to seller support and can negotiate hand-over terms with the seller to ensure you’re able to maintain the website.

How to start: Browse website marketplaces like BizBuySell and Flippa to get an idea of availability and pricing. Also, consider how you will negotiate a sale price when you find a website you’d like to buy.

17. Start a YouTube channel

It’s not too late to start a YouTube channel. A whopping 2.7 billion people around the world use YouTube every month. That’s a lot of eyeballs to capture for passive income. The catch? It’s a lot of upfront work for little to no return in the beginning.

Yet, if you’re a long-term thinker and don’t mind frontloading your efforts, the income potential of a successful YouTube channel is high. Affiliate sales, sponsorships, branded integrations, and ad income can all add up passively as you accumulate content, clicks, and views and grow your audience. You can even easily spin off into starting a podcast and earn more money through sponsorships.

How to start: As you create your first videos, read up on how to optimize your content and make money with YouTube.

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18. Invest in REITs

What if you don’t have money to buy entire apartment buildings? Can you still earn rental income? Yes, you can.

With a minimum investment of $500, you can use a real estate investment trust (REIT) platform to invest in a variety of real estate assets—and earn more passive income as the assets appreciate. A REIT is a company that owns and manages profitable real estate. It’s a great way for smaller investors to pool their money to afford investments they wouldn’t be able to afford by themselves.

As a long-term investment, real estate investment trusts are one of the best income ideas to look into if you have startup capital. Besides upfront capital, getting started also takes some in-depth research. This isn’t an investment you want to walk into blindly.

How to start: Choose a popular REIT like Fundrise.

19. Sell designs online

Design marketplaces like 99designs, ThemeForest, or Creative Market are great places to generate a passive income stream by selling digital designs online. Whether you use a website builder to build website themes, logos, branding resources, templates, illustrations, or even fonts, these platforms offer a built-in market that is already looking for design resources.

creative market homepage showing a collage of exmaple websites
Creative Market.

If you wanted to start selling designs on Creative Market, you’d first need to apply and wait for approval. From there, you get your own storefront, where you can start selling your branded designs.

How to start: If you’re not a graphic design pro, try starting with an intuitive design tool like Canva.

20. Invest in businesses

Thanks to modern solutions, investing in historically inaccessible business opportunities is now possible. Platforms like Mainvest make it simple to invest passively with a $100 initial investment, without any investor fees.

Your expected returns? As with any investment, it depends. But Mainvest aims to earn you anywhere from 10% to 25%. You don’t even have to vet the businesses yourself. Mainvest takes care of the vetting process for you. You simply invest the capital to get started.

As a passive income idea, this is a great, safe way to step into the business investment world and learn as you go.

How to start: Before putting your money in a business of other type of investment, ask yourself these questions.

21. Rent out your unused space

Have a basement or garage you aren’t using? Rent it out as storage space!

The storage industry is projected to grow to as much as $64 billion by 2026. In other words, this isn’t an income idea that’s going away anytime soon. You can store a variety of items, including cars, boats, RVs, or even business inventory.

Using storage rental platforms is also a great way to avoid liability issues, as they provide safe payment options, contracts, and storage provider and client information.

How to start: Create a local classified ad or use a storage rental platform like Neighbor, Peerspace, or StoreAtMyHouse.

22. Create a job board

A job board is a great way to earn passive income as an online entrepreneur. These websites are used by employers to promote job vacancies to job searchers.

Job seekers can look for new job opportunities online or in-person. You can charge employers to post on your job board and offer premium features like sponsored jobs or unlimited access to your candidate database.

Even if you don’t want to design a job board from scratch, you can buy a job board theme and start generating passive income right away. Now, building the website is the easy part. Creating awareness of your job board is where the bulk of the work is.

Once you get the flywheel going and your job board becomes established with return customers, you can count on a large part of your income to be passive.

How to start: Check out sites like ProBlogger, Dribble, or Construction Jobs for inspiration.

23. Create no-code apps

The fact that any novice can create a basic to advanced mobile app with today’s no-code tools is beautiful. Platforms like Appy Pie, Adalo, or Bubble make it possible to get started.

To start, you’ll have to decide whether you want to create a website or mobile app. Besides the concept of the app (what niche it will serve and what problem it will solve), there’s also monetization to think about.

You can generate passive income with a mobile app using:

  • Subscriptions
  • Ads
  • Pay to download
  • A marketplace model

How to start: If you aren’t sure what problem your app should address, here’s a list of research tools to help you get started.

24. Earn royalties through inventions

Inventors aren’t a thing of the past. You can make passive income through your unique inventions. Though this isn’t a passive income route that’s talked about often, it’s a real one.

Getting started is probably one of the hardest parts of the inventor’s journey. You want to make sure you have a worthy invention that’s useful and solves a problem.

If you want to outright sell your invention, sites like Invention City can help you get started. Depending on the deal you strike, you can passively earn a percentage or payouts from the income generated through your idea once it’s on the market.

How to start: Start by checking out the US patent website to make sure your idea hasn’t already been created.

25. Record audiobooks

Audiobooks have to be created by someone. Why can’t that someone be you? Once you break into the industry, it’s possible to create passive income in the form of royalties—which is how most audiobook narrators get paid.

To successfully make income from audiobooks, there are a few things you need to master first. These include learning:

  • How to audition
  • Proper narration technique
  • What niche you’ll work in
  • Some editing skills

How to start: Audiobook platforms make it easy to get started and land your first few gigs. Check out sites like ACX to learn what you need to make it in the industry.

26. Invest in vending machines

Ever wonder who takes care of all those vending machines that are always stocked? The owner of those machines is earning (semi) passive income from your snack and soda cravings.

Starting a passive source of income through vending machines requires an upfront investment of time and money. You’ll need to secure areas where you can install your machines, rent or buy the machines themselves, and organize stock replenishment.

How to start: Marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay, and BizBuySell can help you gauge the upfront investment you’ll need to buy your first set of machines (as well as how many you can afford to start).

27. Build and sell spreadsheets

Some of us are natural-born spreadsheet masters. If that’s you, it’s possible to put your spreadsheet skills to work to earn passive income.

Whether you create spreadsheets with Excel or Google Sheets, there’s a market that will pay for you to create spreadsheets for all kinds of purposes: budgeting, profit projections, habit tracking, or even P&L spreadsheets that business owners don’t want to create from scratch.

How to start: Connect the Digital Downloads app to a Shopify store to give customers a place to buy and download your spreadsheet templates.

28. Open a high-yield savings account

A high-yield savings account generates passive income by offering a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts. By depositing money into this account, you earn interest over time without any additional effort. Some high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposits offer over 4% APY.

This interest is essentially “free money” that accumulates as your savings grow. Although the returns may be lower than other investments, high-yield savings accounts offer a safe, low-risk option for beginners to start earning income and building wealth.

How to start: Check out the current interest rates for savings accounts with banks in your location. Look for special offers available to first-time customers.

29. Rent out your parking space

Renting out unused parking spaces can generate passive income, requiring minimal effort. By listing your available spot on a parking-sharing platform or through local ads, you can monetize the empty space.

Renters seeking convenient parking will pay a fee, creating a steady stream of revenue with low maintenance, while you enjoy the financial benefits.

How to start: Check out Spacer and other parking space marketplaces. Or, write an ad for general marketplaces such as Craigslist.

How to choose a passive income idea

Finding a passive income stream that fits your lifestyle will give you the best chance of success. Use these criteria to judge how much time, money, and effort you want to invest—and how much you can expect to earn in return.

  • Assess your skills: Take an objective look and your skills and interests. For example, if you’re good with cameras and photography, selling stock photos online could be an ideal way to monetize existing effort.
  • Assess your resources: The more assets you have to invest, the more “passive” your income streams can be. Making passive income with no money means initially relying on your skills and time to generate capital.
  • Evaluate your financial goals: Define what you want to achieve financially. Are you looking to just cover a small hobby expense, or are you trying to replace your full-time income? Your goals will greatly influence which passive income streams you pursue.
  • Consider time commitments: Some passive income ideas require a considerable amount of time to set up, such as starting a YouTube channel. Others, such as high-yield savings accounts, can be started in minutes.
  • Start small: Don’t overwhelm yourself by starting too many passive income streams at once. Begin with a single idea, then consider exploring additional streams once you’ve had some initial success.
  • Monitor and adjust: Once your passive income streams are up and running, monitor their performance. Use data insights to tweak and improve your streams or consider diverting your efforts to more lucrative options.

Find the right passive income idea for you

There is only so much time in a day, and finding ways to make a lot of money more efficiently can give you flexibility in your personal finance to hit the next level. That level might be taking a nice vacation or buying that awesome pair of shoes, but whatever it is, adding passive income streams with different underlying economics can give you the freedom to explore it.

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Passive income ideas FAQ

How can I make $1,000 a month in passive income?

To make $1,000 a month in passive income, diversification is key. You can invest in dividend-paying stocks, peer-to-peer lending platforms, or rental properties. These investments generate regular income without requiring your active involvement.

How to passively make $2,000 a month?

To passively make $2,000 a month, create your own assets, like a dropshipping business or a YouTube channel to have more control over your income. You can also buy up vending machines or create a job board to earn money while doing this active work.

What is the easiest form of passive income?

The easiest form of passive income is likely investing in index funds or dividend stocks. These options require minimal management, and you can start with a small initial investment while reaping the benefits of compound interest over time.

How can I make passive income with no money?

To make passive income with no money, you can leverage your skills or knowledge by creating digital products, like ebooks or online courses, and selling them through self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle or Teachable. Once created, these products can generate income with minimal ongoing effort.

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