I think there are lots of mixed opinions about passive income.
On the one hand, I think everyone likes the idea of being able to make money while they sleep and to create different streams of income.
But, on the other hand, I also think many content creators have warped the meaning of passive income to sell courses or coaching and given it a bad reputation as a result.
So, in this post, I’m going to tackled some realistic passive income ideas for 2021 and beyond.
Specifically, this post will contain:
- Easy Ideas – For immediate income (think passive income apps, cashback rewards, and similar freebies)
- Medium Ideas – Take time to build but become more hands off over time (think starting a blog or learning to invest)
- Hard Ideas – Require substantial upfront investment and time but pay considerable rewards down the line.
Let’s get to it!
Easy Passive Income Ideas
Ultimately, creating a new income source always takes some amount of upfront work.
However, the following ideas are essentially immediate ways to create a new stream of income, even if it’s only a humble amount.
Looking for a unique and beginner-friendly passive income idea? Checkout:
- Fundrise – Start investing in real estate with Fundrise for only $500 and earn passive income!
- Groundfloor – Invest in real estate starting with just $10 through Groundfloor!
1. Mobile Performance Meter
Mobile Performance Meter is a data collection app that pays users for having the app run idly in the background of their smartphone.
Embee Meter states that they collect data regarding mobile service strength and performance that cellular networks are interested in, and that your personal data is never collected or sold.
Embee Meter pays between $0.10-$0.30/day depending on where you live, and users can redeem Meter Points for PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards.
To date, I’ve redeemed $60 from Embee Meter, making it a pretty straightforward but reliable source of extra income:
Embee Meter is only available on certain kinds of Android devices, but most newer models should work! Simply download Embee Meter on the Google Play Store to see if your device qualifies.
2. Cashback Reward Apps
Companies are willing to pay cashback for your loyalty. And, thanks to a variety of cashback apps, you can now make this process mostly hands off.
Generally, to use these apps, you have to connect a credit or debit card to the app to track your spending. When you shop from sponsored stores, you earn cashback automatically.
Some popular apps and websites you can use to automatically earn cashback or save money include:
- Rakuten – Install their browser extension to earn cashback when shopping online. Read our Rakuten review to learn more!
- Drop – Use the Drop app to earn cashback for buying special offers and buying from brands that you already support.
- Honey Extension – Automatically apply coupon codes and earn cashback in the form of Honey Gold for shopping at specific merchants.
- Lolli Extension – Earn bitcoin for shopping at hundreds of popular online retailers.
- Dosh – Earn cashback for shopping at thousands of retailers after installing the app.
None of these will make you rich. But, if you want a low-effort passive income idea, these ones are worth considering.
Alright, one more data collection app for this list of passive income ideas for 2020!
MobileXpression is a bit more finicky than Mobile Performance Meter, but it has a nice signup bonus and reliable earnings to make up for it.
Once you install MobileXpression, you start earning 2 weekly credits that can be redeemed for gift cards at Amazon, Best Buy, or Starbucks.
MobileXpression pays $1.32 per week just for running your phone if you save up for 15 credit rewards, which are worth $10.
However, MobileXpression also has a signup bonus of $5 once you have had the app installed and running for a week.
I mention how to use passive income apps and other tricks in my recent YouTube video as well, and MobileXpression is definitely worth considering if you’re a beginner.Personally, I redeem my points for free Starbucks gift cards as a nice treat, and this app is a nice addition to your monthly income.
4. Fitness Apps That Pay
I’ve written a post on apps that pay you for working out, and while this isn’t passive in the sense that you make money while sleeping, it’s easy to add to your routine if you’re already active.
These apps are fairly simple. They either pay you for your data or pay you for betting on yourself to reach a certain fitness goal.
Some popular fitness apps are:
- HealthyWage – Bet on yourself to lose weight and earn cash. Read our HealthyWage review to get all the details.
- Sweatcoin – A data collection app that pays you for walking.
- StepBet – Another way to bet on yourself to reach a certain number of weekly steps.
These apps won’t make you rich. However, if you’re making the effort to stay active, you might as well earn some passive income in the process!
Extra Reading – The 10 Best Apps Like Sweatcoin.
5. Earn Money for Saving Energy with OhmConnect
Energy companies have a certain capacity than can fulfill with their most efficient plants, and during peak usage times, these companies might have to rely on less efficient power plants to meet their total energy needs.
However, OhmConnect lets power plants to pay users to not use energy during peak times.
OhmConnect users participate in ‘Ohm Hours’ by reducing their energy consumption during peak times. OhmConnect then sells your negative energy consumption back to energy companies, splitting the proceeds with users who saved energy.
Specifically, OhmConnect keeps 20% of the profits and shares 80% with their users.
All you have to do is refrain from using high energy appliances or turning on all your lights, which is what any savvy individual probably does during peak hours.
OhmConnect pays through PayPal once users have accrued $10, and the more energy you save, the more money you earn.
OhmConnect is only available in the following areas and for users with these hydro companies:
- California users with PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric), SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric) or SCE (Southern California Edison).
- Texas users with Smart Meter Texas.
- Ontario users with Toronto Hydro.
If you don’t live in those areas, you can still use OhmConnect to earn tokens, which can be redeemed for sweepstakes or discounts on smart appliances. Not the same as cash, but not awful.
Ultimately, OhmConnect isn’t the most traditional passive income idea, but it can definitely save you up to $100/year (or more) if you diligently reduce your energy consumption.
Sign up for OhmConnect and start saving money on your energy bills!
6. Use GPT Websites in Passive Mode
GPT websites are ‘get paid to’ websites that reward users for completing tasks like answering surveys, downloading mobile apps, or watching videos.
I don’t use GPT websites for anything that isn’t passive, but I occasionally run video portals on an old laptop or in the background of my computer when I work.
GPT websites won’t make you rich, but they aren’t a terrible way to earn a few extra dollars a week.
To date, I’ve earn $100+ from using Grindabuck, and I’ve also experimented with a few other GPT websites to find new passive income streams.
Checkout our Grindabuck review to learn how to earn money for watching videos!
7. Invest in Dividend-Paying Funds & Stocks
This one is truly as simple as it gets for passive income ideas.
There are a myriad of companies that pay out dividends to their shareholders, and you can become a shareholder by buying these stocks or mutual funds/ETFs that contain dividend paying companies.
Your risk aversion and financial goals will certainly play a role in how you start investing, but dividend paying stocks are definitely something to keep in mind as you do some research!
Dividend stocks can also provide a way for retirees to create supplemental income, but you can always have your dividend payments automatically re-invest into your portfolio if you don’t need dividend income immediately.
Personally, I invest in several Vanguard funds and other dividend-paying ETFs, and you can get started with a very low amount as well.
Extra Reading – 5 Ways To Start Investing In College.
8. Invest In Real Estate
Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, are companies that own income-producing real estate. By investing in REITs, you can get a small slice of real estate pie that pays out dividends or through the growth in value of the real estate holdings.
Fundrise and Diversyfund are great for beginners because they let you get started with only $500.
Realistically, this is a viable passive income idea for students and adults alike due to the low barrier to entry. If you want to diversify your income, either option is worth considering.
Signup for Fundrise and start making money with real estate investing!
9. Peer to Peer Lending
P2P lending is what it sounds like.
A group of peers (lenders) pool their money together to lend out to borrowers at various agreed interest rates based on loan risk, the amount borrowed, and other factors.
With P2P lending, individuals investments are typically kept small, so you’re never solely funding a single loan by yourself to avoid disaster if the borrower defaults.
Many investors use Lending Club to get started with P2P lending, and Lending Club advertises their investors have seen 3-8% historical returns (nowadays, it’s more like 4-5%).
Here’s the thing: P2P lending is still risky, and the returns aren’t even that great, especially if you select automatically created portfolios instead of creating your own.
Between the risk of borrowers defaulting and returns that under perform a lot of ETFs or mutual funds out there, it’s a hard sell for me personally.
As my friend Peter from Seller at Heart points out, however, there are other ways to get started with P2P lending.
For example, Reddit r/borrow is a subreddit where lenders and borrowers come together to cut out all the middlemen.
Ultimately, if you can handle the risk and some money to dabble with, P2P lending might be a viable passive income idea in 2020 to try out!
10. Rent out Assets
P2P lending isn’t the only way people can generate supplemental income by lending out their assets.
If you have a vacant space or second residence, rental properties are obviously a great place to start. Some of the most popular ways to make money by renting your home include:
You could also consider renting out your own vehicle.
This does depreciate the value of your car overtime, but you can do the math to figure out if the additional miles put on your vehicle are worth the extra income.
2 popular options for renting your car to make money include:
Finally, (and most passively), you could always rent out other assets you own on platforms like:
- Spot Hero or Parking Panda – rent out empty parking spots or a driveway.
- Rentah – The Kijiji of renting items.
Ideas That Require Upfront Work
While the list of apps and investment options I just mentioned are easy ways to diversify your income without much work, many of them are limited in how much money they can make.
If you really want to get serious about creating supplemental income, you usually have to put in some sweat equity first!
11. Start a Blog
Blogging is not easy money. It never really was, and it certainly isn’t anymore considering how saturated the internet is.
I’ve been blogging for a little over 2 years, and now, my blog earns $1,000 to $2,000 per month consistently:
Between Mediavine ads and a number of affiliate programs, I hope to continue to scaling This Online World over the next few years to reach new revenue milestones.
This isn’t passive income yet, but it gets easier every month.
I now outsource my Pinterest marketing, some content writing, and I’m slowly spending less time on things I don’t like and more time doing what I enjoy.
If you use affordable blog hosting like Siteground and learn the basics of SEO, I definitely think you can turn a profit in under a year if you put in some time.
Extra Reading – 45 Blog Niche Ideas To Get Inspired.
12. Create a POD (Print On Demand) Store
I created my own POD store earlier this year, and sold absolutely horrendous mugs on Etsy.
Ultimately, I only made 2 sales and my POD manufacturer refused to create my merchandise because I blatantly infringed upon multiple trademarks, but hey, these things are just details.
The point is, if I could initiate sales by selling literal garbage on the internet, the barrier to entry really isn’t that high.
Take some time, create a few neat or funny graphics, and design some merchandise on a POD service like Printify or Printful.
Take a few minutes out of your day every now and again to post an image on Instagram and spam-follow some people, and you will invariably drive traffic to your storefront.
Even if 1-2% of people convert, you’ll make a sale every hundred visitors. That’s not too hard to drive from Instagram.
This is probably one of my favorite 2020 passive income ideas since ecommerce isn’t going anywhere, so if you know how to design products, definitely consider Etsy dropshipping.
Extra Reading – 8 Etsy Alternatives To Sell Products Online.
13. Sell an Online Course on Udemy
Udemy is a marketplace where you can pay to enroll in classes to learn more about a specific skill or industry from an instructor.
From learning to code in Python to drawing the perfect sketches, Udemy has quite the extensive array of courses. Additionally, courses on Udemy are generally affordable, with most courses starting from $11.99.
Anyone can become a teacher on Udemy, and you can pre-record lectures to develop your own course material for a specific audience without having to pay.
Udemy has a payout structure that really benefits content creators who can market on an channel outside of Udemy.
Here’s how the revenue share model works:
- Instructor promotions: You earn 97% of revenue on course sales if a customer purchases your course using an instructor coupon.
- Organic sales: Sales driven organically on Udemy result in 50% revenue share.
- Paid advertising: Course sales resulting from paid advertising or affiliate networks result in 25% revenue share.
If Udemy’s payout structure isn’t for you, you could also sell courses through your own blog or by growing a Medium following and promoting your courses there.
Now, Udemy is an incredibly competitive marketplace with over 80,000 courses.
If you decide to sell online courses to hopefully create a new passive income stream, you best be willing to put in some serious work hours and deliver quality!
Extra Reading – Passive Income Vs Active Income.
14. Sell Videos on NewsFlare or Rumble
Once again, I have to shoutout Peter from Dollar Sanity for this passive income idea!
If you have ever captured crazy, hilarious, or endearing videos before on your cellphone, Go Pro, or dash cam, you might be able to make money by licensing your videos.
News agencies or media outlets are always on the lookout for viral video opportunities or high quality content, and they are willing to pay for it.
When one of your videos sells, you earn 50% of the total sale.
How much you earn per video sale depends on a variety of factors, including:
- What media outlet is buying your video.
- How the video will be used.
- The time-frame the video will be licensed for.
Newsflare states that videos typically earn between $25-$100, but videos can earn more if they are licensed by large companies for a considerable amount of time.
Ultimately, if you have some potentially viral video content, you might be able to earn some passive income by licensing the video every few months!
15. Try Domain Parking
If you have ever stumbled across a web page and it looked something like the image below, you might have thought you were on a broken website.
However, websites that have nothing but an advertisement block and search bar aren’t broken, they’re parked domains.
So, what is domain parking?
Well, domain parking is the process of registering a domain name without having any content or service associated with the domain name.
No website, landing page, lead generation offer, or anything. Just a domain name that’s hosted and filled with advertisements.
When users visit a parked website, the webmaster earns revenue on a RPM and CPC basis (i.e. they earn money for advertisement views and for every advertisement click).
You might also wonder: why on earth would anyone ever go to a parked domain?
Well, experts on domain parking typically use a few tricks to buy the right domain names, including:
- Buying aged domain names that have a strong backlink profile (so old backlinks can continue to drive traffic to the newly parked domain).
- Buying misspelled domain names that closely mimic existing websites that are popular (so people mistakenly types the parked URL).
- Buying exact match domains (EMDs) that you wager people will type in directly into their browser.
Buying expired domains or misspelled domains are certainly the most popular way to get started with domain parking, although the misspelling approach is certainly a grey area.
In any case, after some research and domain purchasing, users typically host their domain name with a domain parking service like:
- GoDaddy’s CashParking.
The thing is, as with domain flipping, domain parking requires a lot of know-how, and your chances of success are low if you only buy 1 domain and you don’t do any research.
However, if you already have some domain names that aren’t in use or if you want to experiment for some fun, domain parking could be a neat experiment!
I actually parked Buy Hunting Gear for 1 month after I stopped my dropshipping experiment, and while it didn’t accomplish anything, it was pretty funny all in all.
16. Start A YouTube Channel
Once you reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, you can start making money on YouTube.
I was curious about how long it would take to reach this point, so I decided to start my own YouTube channel.
Let me tell you: things snowball quickly:
Now, YouTube isn’t passive at the start, but like blogging, as you start outsourcing things like editing and uploading once you begin generating revenue.
Plus, YouTube isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I think this fact alone makes this a great passive income idea for 2020 that’s worth considering.
Extra Reading – How To Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers On YouTube.
A Passive Income Idea that Requires Substantial Investment
If you have some actual capital that you want to use in order to diversify your income, there is one option in particular that comes to mind.
17. Purchase a Profitable Blog or Affiliate Website
Businesses are bought and sold in the real world all the time through mergers and acquisitions, but the same process also occurs for websites and apps.
On websites like Flippa.com, you can literally buy websites or apps in an auction-style marketplace if you’re looking to acquire new digital properties.
Now, like an acquisition, it’s up to both the seller and buyer to conduct due diligence. This is hard in the real world, and it’s certainly difficult on websites like Flippa as well.
Tools like SimilarWeb or SEMRush are useful for vetting website metrics like organic traffic and backlinks, but any mixture of spy tools will probably work.
What makes the world of online acquisitions truly interesting is the multiple that is applied: many profitable websites are sold for 15X-20X their average monthly profit.
So, if you were interested in buying a blog that generated $1,000/month in Adsense/affiliate revenue, you would probably end up paying $15,000-$20,000 for the property if your vetting process proved the website was legitimate.
Once you buy your website, you then have 3 options:
- Grow the website and flip it for a profit.
- Hold the website to pay off your investment.
- Hold the website and outsource it’s maintenance (my favorite/the most passive idea).
This post from Passion Into Paychecks breaks down a pretty cool story of how Josh bought a profitable website for $6,000.
I think I will buy a website down the line once This Online World is generating enough revenue to make the purchase sting my bank account a little less, and I certainly think experienced content creators should consider website acquisition as a viable way to create a new passive income stream.
Buying websites or apps is certainly risky, but if you ever want to stretch your entrepreneurial tendrils and own some more web space, it’s not a bad option!
Extra Reading – Checkout our Flippa review to learn more about buying and selling websites!
I think the entire passive income niche has been overdone in a similar fashion as the blogging about blogging niche; people love to paint a grand picture for the sake of pushing an affiliate link after all!
No one is ever going to make substantial money over night. No eBook, online course, or business idea is going to cut it because that isn’t how the world works.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
However, think there’s merit in working towards the development of some supplemental income sources.
Additionally, if you’re willing to put in some serious sweat equity or working capital to establish a more robust business (like a blog or online store), I think it’s also realistic to say you can generate a few hundred dollars or even thousands of dollars per year.
The thing is, even if it takes you a long time to reach your first $100, the entire point is starting out.
If I had spent the thousands of hours I have spent on this blog on freelance writing instead, I probably could have earned a pretty hefty chunk of change.
But you know what? I wouldn’t have developed any new skills, enjoyed the process, or done something I cared about.
This blog has helped me land a job in digital marketing, and it’s now turned into a pretty decent income generating asset.
So, in a nutshell, never be afraid to try something new or to make an effort to create a new income stream.
You will always learn something valuable by trying new things, and with some perseverance and luck, I argue you have a pretty good shot at success.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this list of passive income ideas for 2020 help inspire you to get started!
I’ll catch you guys in the next one!
If you want a more comprehensive list of easy passive income apps and ideas, I also suggest checking out one of my recent YouTube videos:
Tom is a 24 year old recent college graduate from Canada with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and marketing. 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 visit Tom Blake Digital to get in touch!