7 passive income ideas to make money in your sleep
You snooze, you lose? Not necessarily. Check out our top five passive income earners that will help you make money while you sleep.
Making money in your sleep sounds like the dream for most. But sadly, there's no shortcut to getting rich overnight (that doesn't involve winning the lottery). Earning a passive income is definitely the next best thing.
Passive income brings in extra cash after the initial work has been completed. That way, the earnings aren't tied to a set amount of regular working hours. The key is to focus on low-maintenance side hustles that sell several times.
While they can be fun projects for some extra funds, these passive income streams can even grow into small businesses. Interested? We've listed some of the best passive income ideas below.
Best passive income ideas
Here are the best ways to make money in your sleep:
Sell stock content
Secondary content is in high demand. From images to music, video and sound effects, people are willing to pay for good content. If you're creative, this could be a great option for you.
How do you create content?
You can start by going through work from previous projects. You may already have a ton of unused pictures and video footage.
If not, get creating! Take photos, film short clips or create new music.
You could even combine creating content while socialising. For example, you can take a picture of the hot chocolate your friend is enjoying or film the sunrise on your way back home from a night out.
How to sell your content online
To sell your content online, you have to upload your work to several stock library sites. Users will browse these sites to find content they want to pay for.
Keep in mind that royalties are typically quite low. In order to start earning good money, you'll need to build up a bank of work. It's also worth checking what's trending or is always in demand and focussing on those themes.
You don't need to be a pro to successfully sell stock content. In reality, niche ideas are in great demand. You could think of ideas for photos, logos, jingles, stickers, icons, buttons, and banners. The sky's the limit!
Online libraries for stock content
Here are some of the best websites to sell your stock content:
- Shutterstock – Photos, videos, illustrations, music
- Getty Images – Photos, videos, illustrations, audio
- Dreamstime, Adobe Stock, Picfair – Photos
- Patternbank – Fabric designs
- LINE – Emojis, stickers
- Dafont, MyFonts – Typography
- Envato – Everything from graphics to web themes and music.
Write an eBook
If you love writing, eBooks may be a great passive income stream for you. The online publishing process is relatively straightforward and risk-free.
Online publishing could bring you passive income and set you up for any future jobs. A link to your eBook on your graduate CV looks pretty impressive.
How do you write an eBook?
If you've already written some short stories, this is a great place to start. Alternatively, you can check what's currently selling well for some inspiration.
Check the best-seller lists but don't just focus on fiction. There's a chart for everything, from politics to computing. If there's a topic you know a lot about (perhaps something related to your studies or a hobby), use it.
And don't forget about your social media channels. For example, if you have a strong online presence posting about skateboarding, why not write a guide on how to skateboard? You can then use your channels to promote the book.
Once you've got a file, you need a platform. To get listed on Amazon, you'll have to take the Kindle route.
How do you get your eBook on the market?
Being discoverable is crucial for making money from your ebooks. Simply writing some words and adding a cover doesn't make it a best-seller. You'll need to really focus on getting it noticed.
In this digital space, people often do judge a book by its cover. That's why it's important to spend time making it look professional. There are many examples of free image editing software you can use to do this.
Also, your book's description needs to include keywords to boost your chances of it being found online. Doing so will encourage sales.
But, most importantly (with Amazon anyway), you need to get your book lots of genuine reviews. The easiest way to do this is to leave a note at the end of your book asking readers to leave a review. You could also ask your friends and family to read your book and leave one too.
Alternatively, you can gift a free copy of your book to book bloggers or people on BookTok in exchange for a review on their platform. This way, you can get your book in front of an audience that enjoys reading.Check out our complete guide to publishing an eBook for more tips.
Start a website
Creating a website or blog about a topic you're passionate about is a great way to start earning money in your sleep. If you have any special hobbies or interests you want to write about, this may be a great chance for you to start earning a passive income.
Best ways to make passive income from a website
Many ways to earn money as a blogger are forms of passive income. For example, if your website starts getting views, you can join an advertising network to add display ads to your site. For every time someone views a page on your site and sees these ads, you'll get paid.
As mentioned below, affiliate marketing is another way to earn money passively. Adding affiliate links to your blog posts puts them in front of people who may be interested in buying whatever it is you're promoting.
The best way to get people to actually buy something through your affiliate links is by creating content that is aimed at people with a 'high buying intent'. For example, a dedicated review on a product, or answering the question "Is x worth it?", will attract people who are probably already considering buying it. Your blog post can convince them!
Depending on your niche, you can also create your own digital products to sell. If people are reading your site because they're interested in the topic, they may also be interested in buying an eBook or course. You only have to make it once to sell it over and over again.
Here's what our content editor, Nele van Hout, discovered after she started a website as a student:
During my time at university, I started a travel blog to spice up my CV for when I graduated. While it did help me land a graduate job, it also turned into a passive money maker.
Through SEO, my blog receives thousands of views every day. I was able to join an advertising network called Mediavine, which puts ads on my site. Everytime someone reads an article and sees the ads, I get paid.
Since I am able to recommend hotels, tours and travel passes in my blog posts, I earn commission on every sale made through my links. There are weeks (even months) where I don't have time to add new articles or update old ones, but I still earn money from my blog every single day.
Another way to start earning passive income is by promoting someone else's products or services and making commissions on sales. If you already have a website or social media following, this could be an excellent opportunity to earn some extra cash.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate marketing-based websites are basically sites or blogs that plug products and businesses. In exchange, they receive a percentage of any sale made through their links.
You need to add special tracking links on your own website, or use them on your social media channels. If someone uses your link to buy the item, you get a referral fee.
Best of all, you don't have to deal with sorting or shipping the products. The stores take care of that themselves.
Affiliate marketing has the potential to become significantly more than a passive earner for you. However, you'll need to invest a lot more time and effort to get to that stage.
Loads of retailers have affiliate programmes. To make things easier, you could join a network. Once you've signed up, you get access to a range of stores and products. This means you'll spend less time clicking and more time making money. Awin is a good network to check out.
Best ways to make money from affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing works well if you already have an established website, store or social media account. You could try and find products that tie in seamlessly with your existing posts to get started.
To earn more through affiliate marketing, you can post dedicated reviews on your blog for anything you buy online and include 'buy now' links. Or you can add a page for a 'bookstore' featuring your favourite titles and the reasons you rate them.
Good reviews are to the point. They should be more than a single paragraph, but long enough to include relevant details about what you liked about the product and why it's worth buying. Always be honest when writing reviews and also share things you didn't like. That way, your readers will be able to make an informed decision.
Rent out your car parking space
If you have a parking space available but aren't using it, why not rent it out? This works especially well if you live in a city or near commuter links or businesses.
How to rent out your parking space
Before you rent out your car parking space for a passive income, check whether you're actually allowed to do so. Do you own the space or have permission from your landlord to rent it out? Can you park there without a permit? These are important things to consider beforehand.
Once you've made sure you can legally rent out the parking space, you can list it on websites such as JustPark and ParkLet. These websites usually take a cut from your earnings, so check the details before signing up. You could still end up making over £200 per month this way.
Our full guide on how to rent out your parking space has all the information necessary to get started.
This passive income idea is a classic: selling print-on-demand products. From t-shirts to baby bibs, there are lots of stores that sell customisable gear and gadgets.
How to sell print-on-demand products
One of the best-known marketplaces is CafePress, which sells just about anything that has a blank surface.
Upload your best illustrations, photos or jokes, and pick which products can be customised with your art. If someone buys an item, you get a cut of the sale. Similar to affiliate marketing, you don't have to worry about manufacturing, stocking or shipping anything.
You don't even need any ideas of your own. If you're fresh out of inspiration, you can promote other people's custom products for a referral fee.
Go for cute or funny images, logos and quotes that work on multiple products. The simpler, the better.
It's also a good idea to get snapping your creations and promote them across social media. Get your friend to wear a t-shirt with your prints and share it with your followers.
Build your own app
While it's definitely handy to know how to code to make an app, it's not always necessary. You may not become a millionaire with it, but it's definitely one of the coolest passive income ideas.
How to build an app
Knowing how to code does make it easier to create an app. But if you have a good idea, you can also hire someone who does or use MIT's free browser-based App Inventor. This website lets you drag and drop 'building blocks' instead of dealing with complicated code.
If games are your thing, it's possible to create professional apps with next to no coding. You'll need to get your hands on a 'game engine'. These help you design, develop and deploy apps right from your desktop.
There are several to choose from, including a free app called Unity. This is drag-and-drop friendly and supports multi-platform publishing. Once built, you can launch it on iOS, Android and PC at the same time. This could help a lot with maximising potential sales.
How to make money from apps
You can make money by charging for your app, having in-app purchases (extra lives, hints or episodes) or running ads.
However, you'll lose a chunk of each sale to in-store fees. And, for Google Play and the Apple App Store, you'll need to pay a developer fee upfront to list your app.
It helps to be an avid app user for the market you're going after. Having a couple of cross-platform phones/tablets is handy, too. But luckily, there are plenty of ways to test on virtual devices if not.
Take note of what you don't like about the apps you regularly use, or if there's a feature that isn't already out there. Finding a niche is hard, but it could be your way into earning some steady passive income.
If you're serious about making money while you sleep, you'll need to push at least a couple of apps out there.
Most of the sales platforms we've mentioned are free to list with, but they'll each take their cut in their own way. It's always best to check before you sign up.
There may also be international tax forms to deal with if you don't want the relevant government taking a share of your earnings. In the meantime, learn about UK tax rules.
Need more inspiration? Check out our guide to the best small businesses you can start while at university.