Given that I report on my online income here on From Cents To Retirement, I’ve been asked many times how to make money online. To make things easy and make a comprehensive post on this, I decided to come up with a huge list of ways to make money online. If you are on your way to FIRE, this may be interesting for you!
I am so very much liking these huge lists of ideas for a specific topic… For example, check out my list of ideas to save money which I will update over time. Just like that list, with ideas to save money, I wanted to post a mega list of passive income streams and passive income ideas.
So, without further due…
Online income streams and passive income ideas you can use right away
There are tons of ways to earn money online these days, but many people have troubles starting out. I can definitely say that not all ways are probably suited for you, but there should be ways for virtually everybody making money online. Here are my favorite ones:
1 – Start a blog
There are gazillion ways to monetize a blog and most of them are pretty much passive. Check the previous link for a more detailed list, but just so you have an idea, this can range from sponsored posts to advertisements that pay you if people click on them.
The hardest part is obviously growing the blog. And that is really (I mean really) hard. Once you’ve hit 100k views per month, you can pretty much start monetizing it big time. My rule of thumb is that each 1000 views per month translate into $10 of passive income (e.g. 100k views translate into $1000/mo). Write down how much you want to make and go grow your blog!
To start a blog, check out this tutorial.
2 – Write an e-book
Amazon has enabled every single one of us to self-publish a book. You can pretty much write it on Microsoft Word, format it accordingly, get a cover (which you can outsource from Fiverr for as little as $5) and upload it to the Kindle marketspace or iBooks.
You know that I have some experience with this topic, because I published my own book in March. I can tell you that publishing a book is relatively easy (mine took a little bit more than 3 months of hard work to write), but selling many copies can be hard. The reason being the fact that in order to sell, you need to promote your book effectively (something I suck at!). Now, if you’re good at this and you’ve built a big audience, this may be your thing.
The topic is probably the most important thing about books. I haven’t written my book because of the money, but rather to share the message and keep myself motivated, but if you truly need the money from your book, I suggest you write about a topic that sells (and you also have some knowledge about, of course).
Another thing to pay attention is pricing. It can be hard to sell books if you don’t have the right price for your audience. I will soon publish a post on how to publish a Kindle book and link it to this page.
3 – Make a course you can sell
In April 2017, I met a blogger who made very little money through his blog but reached more than $50,000 on Udemy, by selling a course. After 3 years blogging about medicinal plants, he decided to put together a course based on the material that he published on his blog, Q&As he did for his readers and questions he answered via e-mail. I found it staggering that he used to answer almost 20 e-mails a day (honestly, that is way too much for me as long as From Cents To Retirement remains a side gig) and was able to pull out almost 80,000 words of content out of those e-mails!
Instead of writing a book, he decided to go the online course route and succeeded. But he is not an isolated success story. Have you heard of a math teacher who made more than a million bucks selling an online course? Yes, it is possible to make fortunes this way, if you are committed.
I should point out that, even though these are big numbers and they may sound very appealing to you, keep in mind that you’ll have to produce wonderful courses and promote them big time. Just like blogging, promoting something is very hard and takes a lot of work. In about one and a half years of blogging, I managed to hit about 1300 subscribers and 20,000 views per month. Promoting a blog (or an online course, for that matter) is a full-time job per se, in my opinion.
4 – Set up a Youtube channel
I am pretty sure you have asked yourself how much YouTubers make, right? I am sure you know at this point that there are many of them doing millions every year. The Entrepreneur website even has a detailed guide on how to make money off youtube.
Although it is clearly an option if you’re good at shooting videos and talking to big audiences, I need to let you know right away that setting up a large YouTube channel is no easier than setting up a large blog. In fact, they are very similar when it comes to gain traction. Driving traffic online is the key to success, but it is something hard to do. Online ninjas are highly rewarded today. 🙂 Even though I have experience with driving traffic to a blog (as I try to do that with mine), I have no experience doing that for a YouTube channel, as I don’t run any. Fortunately, there are some guides online, including this one from Forbes.
5 – License out your ideas
Perhaps you are the inventor-type of a guy. The good news is that it can also pay off big time.
There are two different things that you should be aware of: selling vs licensing. Selling your intellectual property means that you cash out but you don’t own it anymore. The ownership is transferred to another entity. Even if the idea gets a royalty down the road, it won’t be yours unless you agree to that prior selling it.
Licensing, on the other hand, means that you still own your idea and you get money for other people to use it. This is especially useful if your idea involves distribution, which you may not have. You can license it out to a company that already has distribution and employ your idea from day 1.
If you are inventor starting out, please check the top 6 mistakes inventors usually make.
6 – Create a product and sell it online
If you have an idea for an awesome product, this is your thing. The world is starving for awesome products priced correctly. Just create a product and let everyone know about it. Go online, create a website and shout on social media. You must look at the price though: it has to be right. Some products are not meant to survive in today’s economics, so make sure yours has a place.
My advice would be: spend slow promote fast. Do not spend much money, especially in the beginning. Check out the market and grow from there. Do create value, always. That is the beauty of becoming an entrepreneur.
I always use the Scrab daddy sponge example: it went from thousands to millions super fast, because it solves a true problem, is priced correctly and managed to grab enough attention.
7 – Create a dropshipping business
The dropshipping started to get popular a few years ago. Essentially, it is a great way to become a successful e-commerce entrepreneur without having to deal with inventory (and customer service, for a good chunk of it).
If you look around, you’ll find many histories of successful entrepreneurs who went the dropshipping path. Some of them did it very fast. Like very fast. How about zero to a million in 8 months? Powerful, right?
Today, there are a gazillion services that make it easy to start a drop shipping business. You can go to Shopify and actually automatically link to a source in Asia. Just look around and educate yourself. Dropshipping has never been easier (although it never had so much competition).
8 – Write for other sites
I need to write for other sites as a way to promote my blog. That is why I tend to write so many guest posts: exposure. However, if you are a good writer, this may be a great fit. There are many sites out there starving for great content and willing to pay you to write articles. Check out this list of 50+ blogs that pay you to write for them. If you want to write a guest post for me, shoot me a message (check the “work with me” tab in the main menu before that).
9 – Sell your consulting services
I personally made decent money out of consulting, so I know for sure that it can be done. Eventually, I personally started to become fully booked and eventually raised by hourly fee high enough so that I have enough clients to make reasonable money but I don’t spend much time consulting – as I don’t have that time…
Everyone who I tried to convince starting a small consulting business told me they would not get clients. They priced their services at $100/h. That is not the way you should start, in my opinion. I also started from the bottom, charging $30/h and I gradually raised my price until it met the sweet spot in terms of customers and time.
If you want to start your consulting business, the first thing is set up a platform to promote your services. A blog typically does the trick, but using social media appears to work best.
If you want to hire me (for any topic from FIRE and personal finances to real estate investing) shoot me a message.
10 – Work as a virtual assistant
Many of the previous ways to make money online include consistent hustle. For instance, consider a blog: we need to create content for our blog, create content for other blogs (as a way to get exposure), promote the blog, develop relationships with other blogs and a gazillion of other things I would spend this entire post talking about.
As a result, most of us decide to hire virtual assistants. I don’t recommend bloggers to hire VAs right way, but at some point I think that it takes money to make money. If you are good at managing social media, doing outreach, etc, this may be your thing. Simply make a profile at Fiverr or Upwork and get the ball rolling. If you manage to have a set of blogs your YouTube channels to manage, it can be quite lucrative…
As of October 2017, I am hiring a VA! If you are interested, send me a message.
If you have more passive income ideas or if you use other passive income streams, please do let me know! I’d like to add them to this post and keep growing it.