5 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 you 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 the lottery or jail time!). 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. Sounds interesting? We've listed some of the best passive income ideas below.
Best passive income ideas
Here are some of the best ideas to make you 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.
While not as simple as using a stock site, you can also sell music and sound FX through iTunes and SoundCloud. Or, you could set up your own site and sell content through it.
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 poker. 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.
The main publishing outlets accept .doc files (check out some free alternatives to Word) or let you convert them to an EPUB format. But you can also use the free Sigil eBook editor.
Amazon has tools for comics and kids' books, too.
Once you've got a file, you need a platform. To get listed on Amazon, you'll have to take the Kindle route.
For everywhere else, there's Draft2Digital and Smashwords. These platforms distribute to a whole host of stores including Barnes & Noble and Apple Books.
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 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.Check out our complete guide to publishing an eBook for more tips.
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 out 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 to iOS, Android and PC at the same time – a must if you want to maximise 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 by 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.
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.Sounds interesting? We've got guides on creating a website, how to make money blogging and how to make money on social media to get you started.
The last of our passive income ideas 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.
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 whilst at university.
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