When it comes to generating passive income, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Additionally, many guides or articles that give tips for creating multiple income streams aren’t for young adults or students, and focus primarily on older demographics who earn full-time incomes.
However, when I was in college, I was always looking for new ways to make money as a student. I was also fascinated with various passive income ideas, and I found it frustrating that most of the resources I stumbled across were not feasible for students.
So, in order to help other students with similar financial goals, I’ve decided to break down some passive income ideas for students that have low barriers to entry and can actually produce income.
I’ve personally tested and used plenty of these ideas during my time as a student, so I know they work and can help you create a new income source.
Let’s get to it!
The Best Passive Income Ideas For Students
I’ve been experimenting with creating new income sources ever since I launched my first blog back in high school.
And, I’ve also tried lots of passive income ideas while I was finishing my degree in college.
All of the ideas in this list have potential to increase your income. Just note that all of these ideas take some time, and some of the ideas require being 18 or having a parent help you out, so keep this in mind!
1. Print On Demand Stores
One fun and potentially lucrative passive income idea for students is to open a print on demand store.
‘Print on demand’ refers to a model in which the items you sell are manufactured on demand as your customers order them.
Popular print on demand items include mugs, clothing, prints, or anything where you can upload a graphic to a product and market it.
I started an Etsy POD shop while in college to test out the concept, and was actually able to sell some Spongebob mugs by marketing them organically on Instagram.
The entire process was actually so easy.
Basically, I just signed up for Printify which lets you design POD products for free, connected it to my Etsy shop, and there you go…I had a POD store!
It was also crazy because I managed to generate two sales by creating an Instagram page for my Etsy POD business and posting content to gain a few followers.
Honestly, I think POD has immense potential, and it’s one of my favorite passive income ideas for students because it also teaches you design skills and how to market your store.
POD stores aren’t limited to sites like Etsy, however.
You can also turn to other popular POD sites like Redbubble or Society6, which allow artists to upload their designs to a variety of products and earn commission for sales.
Starting a print on demand business will require a lot of upfront work, but you can turn it into a passive income stream over time as your store gains reviews and you grow a social media following for your brand.
Extra Reading – How To Start An Etsy Sticker Business.
2. Use Passive Income Apps & Websites
Another easy passive income idea students can try is to use various passive income apps and websites to make money on autopilot.
When I was a student, I actually used several data collection apps and reward apps to generate small amounts of cash every single day.
At the time, I didn’t have a lot of money to invest, but I still wanted to create a system that could at least earn me beermoney every single month.
I ended up getting involved with phone farming, and amassed a small farm of burner phones that watched ads all day to earn me upwards of $50 a month.
Even if you can just make gas money by using your phone and laptop, this is a great beginner passive income idea that anyone can start.
Some passive income apps you can turn to include:
- Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel – Earn up to $50+ per year for joining Nielsen’s two different panels!
- S’mores Lockscreen App – Earn $0.10/day or more for having the app installed on your lockscreen (Android only).
- Mobile Performance Meter – Earn $0.10-$0.30/day for having the app run in the background of your phone (Android only).
- MobileXpression – Receive $5-$10/month for running this app in the background.
- Honeygain – A popular app that lets you sell internet bandwidth for passive income.
If you combine all of these free apps, you can easily make $20-$40 in passive income or cash back every month without any effort.
As long as you’re comfortable with selling your data, there’s no reason to miss out in hundreds of dollars a year in potential cash.
3. Invest In Real Estate
While investing in real estate is a popular suggestion for diversifying one’s income, it’s rarely mentioned as a viable way to make passive income as a student.
There are a variety of ways to invest money in real estate, including real estate crowdfunding or putting your money in REITs (real estate investment trusts, which is basically a mutual fund but for real estate).
Additionally, while many mutual funds or ETFs can have high minimum investment amounts that are possibly out of the range for most students, many real estate platforms have lower requirements.
For example, investment platforms like Fundrise have $10 account minimums for investors, which is perfect if you’re just starting to invest as a student
Historically, Fundrise returns around 8-9% annually, and it only charges 1% per year in fees. Overall, it’s a very beginner-friendly way to invest for income generation.
You’ll have to be 18 years or older to invest on your own, but this isn’t a problem for college students.
Keep in mind, you should always do your research when deciding to invest and you should never invest more than you can afford to lose or if you will need access to your funds in the near future!
Sign up with Fundrise and start building real estate investing wealth!
4. Start A Blog
Another one of my favorite passive income ideas for students is to start a blog. And this is also one idea I started back in college that has now turned into my main income stream!
It took a while to get here; in my first year during school, This Online World only made $1,700.
But I kept on creating content and improving this blog. And in 2021, This Online World earned $92,000. It’s on track to do double that amount for 2022.
My blog earns most of its income from Mediavine ads and affiliate marketing, but bloggers also make money from sponsored posts and selling products.
In fact, Mediavine ads make $500 a day or so in mostly passive income since many of the articles that earn were written years ago.
As student, I think it’s very feasible to create a blog that earns $100/month with just a few months of work, and as your online income grows, you can begin to outsource various tasks to slowly make this process passive.
And as my personal experience shows, this passive income idea might start out small, but it has the potential to turn into a full-time income stream if you put in the upfront work.
Starting a blog is also a great way to learn new skills, expand your network, and to gradually earn income.
Plus, starting a blog is also a relatively cheap endeavor as you only have to pay for web hosting, a domain name, and possibly a premium WordPress theme.
My suggestion is to go with SiteGround for your blog hosting since it’s incredibly reliable and affordable.
If you take this side hustle seriously, there’s no reason you can’t recoup your initial investment or turn a profit within a year.
I honestly think this is one of the best passive income ideas for students, and it has an incredibly high earning potential!
Extra Reading – 45 Blog Niche Ideas – How To Choose Your Blog Topic.
5. Start Investing
Another method to earn passive income as a student is to invest some of your extra money into dividend-paying stocks or ETFs.
The best part is, you really don’t need a massive investment portfolio either to begin generating passive income with dividends.
For example, spare change apps like Acorns automatically round up your purchases and invest the extra money into ETFs:
So, for example, if you buy a slice of pizza for $2.25, Acorns would round up to $3 and invest the additional $0.75 for you.
If you prefer choosing your own investments, you can also enjoy commission-free trading with M1 Finance. It also has a robo-advisor option where you invest in various “pies” that contain various ETFs.
The bottom line is that investing is an accessible passive income idea for students, even if you start out with a humble investment amount.
Extra Reading – How To Make An Extra $1,000 Per Month.
6. Sell Courses
It might seem strange to sell courses to people while simultaneously spending most of your day in lecture halls, but I firmly believe that there is a lack of content creation by young adults and plenty of room to excel in the market.
If you’re particularly skilled in something, you can probably make money teaching other people.
Platforms like Udemy have made it incredibly easy to design, package, and sell courses, and while this student passive income idea requires upfront work, once a course is done, it’s done.
You also don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make a course: check out this one on college survival I found on Udemy:
The course has been purchased at least 36 times, and there are plenty of other niches where students could share their experiences and create a course.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to finding ways to make more money.
7. Play Games For Money
While it might surprise you, it’s actually possible to play video games for money, turning a potential hobby of yours into a nifty passive income stream.
That’s right: there’s actually numerous apps that pay you for playing games on your mobile phone or even your computer.
This means your next gaming session can potentially turn into some small amount of cash or even free gift cards.
Some of the most popular gaming reward platfoms include:
- Mistplay: One of the most popular gaming apps that pays you with free gift cards for playing new Android games.
- Gamehag: This platform lets you earn free Steam games, gift cards, and other gaming rewards for playing PC games.
- Rewarded Play: Another app like Mistplay that lets you earn gift cards for trying different Android games.
- Swagbucks: A popular paid survey site that also lets you make money by playing games, watching ads, and shopping online.
- JustPlay: This gaming app lets you earn free PayPal cash for playing new Android games.
You won’t get rich by using these gaming apps, and it’s more of a passive side hustle than full-on passive income idea for students since you’re still spending time gaming.
But if you already game every day, you might as well earn some freebies at the same time!
8. Sell Study Notes & Textbooks
Ethics aside, this was one of the easiest side hustles I found during college, and was truly a great way to make $50-$100 a semester without any effort.
If you have electronic textbooks, test banks, or lecture notes, you can sell them to students who are about to take the course you just completed.
I bought textbook PDFs for $10 and then resold them for $10, and usually broke even or turned a profit for each course.
All it took was setting up an alert on local classifieds for each course code and to periodically check my college Facebook group for requests. Easy grocery money every single semester!
I never sold test banks, but I know people who did and they made very good money. Overall, this is a very simple passive income idea for students, especially if you’re in college and have taken some pretty tough courses.
Granted, this is definitely a questionable side hustle, but I’d rather supply my fellow students with a $10 PDF than have everyone buy a $300 edition from the bookstore. That’s my logic, anyways.
Extra Reading – How To Make $50 A Day.
9. Rent Out Assets
When I lived with a bunch of friends in college, we never had enough room to park at our house.
Eventually, we found a house in our neighborhood that was willing to rent out their driveway to us for $30-$40 a month. They didn’t have a car in their house so for them, it was the easiest couple of hundred bucks they ever made.
If you have a valuable asset you don’t use, you can find a way to rent it for passive income.
Websites like Spot Hero make it easy to rent out unused parking spots, but you don’t have to draw the line at parking.
If your house is nice enough or has some space, you can use Airbnb to rent out a room if your city has major events going on (just don’t let your landlord know).
You can also consider platforms like Neighbor and rent out spare space in your home for people to store their items.
Alternatively, websites like Fat Llama let you rent out almost anything you can think of!
Party equipment, bikes, music gear/amps, and a variety of other items are frequently listed on these marketplaces, so there’s plenty of opportunity!
You need some assets of value for this student passive income idea to work. But this is about as passive as it gets!
10. Start A Business And Franchise
I’m going to share a pretty cool story from two students who actually graduated from the same school as me.
In 2015, two students from my town started Canadian Barbecue Boys, a BBQ cleaning service in which people can have their barbecues serviced and cleaned to function as if they were brand new.
After generating some press coverage, the company was actually featured on Dragons Den, the Canadian equivalent of Shark Tank, and the entrepreneurial duo even secured a deal.
Fast forward to today, and Canadian Barbecue Boys has grown by 400% and expanded all across Southern Ontario.
The company now hires college students to run the BBQ cleaning service in new areas of operation, and I imagine this has been a fundamental part of their rapid growth.
I know other business models/college friends who have done something similar.
Someone I know worked throughout school as a district manager for a window washing company, which implemented the exact same strategy: establish proof of concept, grind to get a business off the ground, and then outsource the work and keep some of the profits.
I imagine the owners of Canadian Barbecue Boys are still quite busy, but you get the idea: you can start a business and grow your revenue through outsourcing.
This isn’t the purest form of passive income by any means, but it has the potential to be (as well as the potential to change your life).
Extra Reading – Passive Income vs Active Income.
11. Start A YouTube Channel
If you’re still wondering how to make passive income as a student, I think you should consider making money on YouTube.
Like blogging, YouTube is competitive. However, it’s certainly possible to start a channel when you’re a student and turn it into an income source.
In fact, my friend Ben (who we’ve featured on This Online World before) actually paid off a significant amount of his student loan debt thanks to his YouTube channel!
YouTube isn’t a fast money maker, granted.
However, it is a viable passive income idea for students if you have a fair amount of spare time on your hands and are willing to put in many months (or years) of work.
I started a YouTube channel in 2020, and it is hard work. However, you can grow steadily if you regularly put out videos and promote your channel.
In fact, after two years, my channel has grown to over 16,000 subscribers and now makes about $1,500 per month in advertising revenue, so I know this idea works.
Plus, starting a YouTube channel will teach you how to film and edit videos, as well as how to get into digital media and, possibly, affiliate marketing.
In fact, I think this is one of the most educational passive income ideas for students, and it can open so many doors and career opportunities, just like blogging.
12. House Sit For People
If you know people who travel frequently, one unique passive income idea for students that you can try is to house sit for people.
Several of my friends did this during college for people they knew. It was an easy cash gig that didn’t require doing much work. And, you can keep up with your studies and daily life while house sitting.
Taking care of people’s pets and plants requires a bit of work. But again, this is largely passive income since you can go about your daily life and schedule while still getting paid.
13. Use Reward Apps
One final idea to earn passive income as a student is to use reward apps that pay you with cash or gift cards for shopping.
This is one strategy I’ve used for years. In fact, reward apps are the main way I earned passive income in college, and I still use many apps to this day to get free money.
Several reward apps I recommend for students include:
- Rakuten: My favorite shopping extension that pays cash back for shopping at thousands of retailers.
- Pogo: Pays you with small amounts of PayPal cash every time you make a purchase.
- Drop: A popular app that pays you with free gift cards for shopping at your favorite stores.
- Fetch Rewards: The leading grocery rewards app that lets you earn free gift cards.
These apps won’t pay hundreds of dollars a month in passive income. But if you want to get paid to shop and need an easy passive side hustle, I definitely suggest trying these apps.
Extra Reading – Best Apps Like Fetch Rewards To Earn Free Gift Cards.
Tips For Earning Passive Income As A Student
Now that you know some popular passive income ideas for students, here are a few tips to keep in mind that can make the entire process much easier to get started:
- Start Out Small: When I was a student, my first passive income sources were my phone farm, a few dividend stocks, and this blog. I barely made anything at the start, but over the years, my income streams kept growing as I learned more and optimized.
- Stay Consistent: Like I just mentioned, some passive income ideas can takes years to fully develop. So, stick with whatever idea you’re choosing, be it a blog, YouTube channel, or some online business.
- Set An Income Goal: How much monthly or annual income do you want to earn from passive sources? Different ideas have different income potential, so pick one that matches your goal!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re wondering if these sources of passive income for students are legit or where you should start, this FAQ section should help outline some next steps.
1. What’s The Best Passive Income Idea For High School Students?
In my opinion, the best way for high school students to create passive income is to start a blog or YouTube channel.
No other ideas teach you as many skills and improve your resume, and after some hard months of work, you can build recurring income with both assets.
I mean, since writing this post originally, This Online World has grown to over $9,000 in monthly advertising revenue alone!
I now blog, freelance write, and make YouTube videos for a full-time job, so you never know where you’ll end up after starting this kind of thing!
2. What Are The Best Passive Income Ideas For College Students?
Since college students are usually 18 or older, I think investing in real estate or dividend-paying stocks are excellent ways to build passive income.
Again, you can invest with platforms like Fundrise with only $10, so it’s very beginner-friendly for new investors.
And if you prefer investing your spare change and would rather invest in ETFs than real estate, you can try out the Acorns app.
I think college students should really focus on building good habits, learning how to think about money, and getting comfortable with the idea of putting their money to work.
You can grow passive income while in college, and never think that you can’t make a difference even if you only have a spare $50 to $100.
Extra Reading – The Best Assets To Buy In Yours 20s.
Disclaimer: This is an edorsement in partnership with Fundrise. We earn a commission from partner links. All opinions are my own.
3. Who Should Do This?
I think creating passive income as a student is an excellent goal, and it’s something I was interested in from a very young age.
However, I also want to stress that you should focus on your studies and health as well.
I really don’t like school, but it’s still important to do well and to learn as much as possible so new opportunities stay open when you graduate.
When you’re a student (especially in college), it’s also important to take care of your health, so don’t let this slip in the pursuit of passive income!
Extra Reading – 20+ Jobs That Pay $5,000 Each Month.
Creating any sort of income stream is going to require upfront work. You either need to work to earn capital that can be invested, or you need to rely on sweat equity.
However, you don’t have to wait until you have a full-time income or are older to start diversifying your income.
It’s possible to make passive income as a student, and while you might not make thousands of dollars right out of the gate, the power of compound interest and time are on your side.
So, I hope this list of passive income ideas for students has helped provide some inspiration to get started! It might be a grind, and the results will take a while to kick in, but the effort is certainly worth it.
For additional reading, I also suggest taking a look at this post on how to pay no tax on your passive income.
You can also checkout my recent YouTube video on different passive income ideas for beginners:
Lots of the ideas in this video were ways I actually made passive income as a student, so be sure to give this one a watch (and to subscribe to the channel 😉 ).
Catch you guys in the next one!
Looking for other money-making ideas? Checkout:
- The Best Ways To Make Money With A Laptop.
- How To Make Money Doing Nothing.
- The Best Paid Survey Sites For Teens.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please use our contact page to get in touch!
Real estate investing seems to be good choice. One of the many benefits of investing in real estate is being able to generate wealth through appreciation, building equity, and hedging against inflation. It can also provide cash flow with passive income from rental properties.