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1. Invest

charts of financial instruments for technical analysis on the monitor of a computer
William Potter/Shutterstock
Investing can be a common sense way to bring in passive income

It's not glamorous, but Warren Buffet can attest to the fact investing is probably the most common sense way to bring in passive income there is. How you invest, though, is up to you. Dividend stocks are good choices here because they pay out small sums without you having to sell your shares. Real estate investment trusts are another option that lets you profit off properties without having to actually own or flip anything on your own. Mutual funds, particularly index funds, can be relatively low-fee, low-risk routes, too. Bonds, annuities, high-yield certificates of deposits (CDs), becoming a silent partner in a business or serving as a peer-to-peer lender can further diversify your portfolio without you necessarily having to put up a lot of cash at once. If you're not sure what type of investment meets your stomach for risk or pocketbook, any good financial advisor can make recommendations based on your goals.

Kiss Your Credit Card Debt Goodbye

Millions of Americans are struggling to crawl out of debt in the face of record-high interest rates. A personal loan offers lower interest rates and fixed payments, making it a smart choice to consolidate high-interest credit card debt. It helps save money, simplifies payments, and accelerates debt payoff. Credible is a free online service that shows you the best lending options to pay off your credit card debt fast — and save a ton in interest.

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2. Sell Products Online

Woman selling something in a box over the Internet
The Internet gives you an easy way to connect with buyers for your products

If you enjoy making your own items, can have someone else make your product for cheap or can find a way to buy premade goods for resale, sites like Etsy and eBay can give you a platform to connect with real buyers. But it's not just physical items people buy. Products like ebooks, articles, how-to manuals or study guides, printable calendars and photographs have solid royalty-based and outright sale markets, too. You can create your own website for selling your items, but you also can work with a third-party provider or host, who likely will take a small percentage of your earnings.

3. Blog

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Provide content of real value

Let's be clear. You can't make real money on a blog if all you're doing is writing about the cereal you ate in the morning. But if you're providing content of real value, have a distinct voice and can offer some expertise, your blog can get real traffic, especially if you constantly link to and promote it on social media. Once you've got followers or readers, the real key is affiliate marketing through services such as Google Adsense, where you allow companies to put adds on your site in return for revenue from the ad clicks. You also can buy blogs from others to rework and sell.

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4. Create Video or Audio Content

Photo by Steven Van on Unsplash
Creating video and audio content can be lucrative

There are a two ways video (e.g., YouTube, tutorials or courses on sites like Udemy) and audio content (e.g., songs, podcasts) can generate you money. The first is by royalty downloads--people pay to grab your video or audio off the web. The other is affiliate marketing, similar to blogging. This is a great option given that visual and audio content appeals to the mobile, fast-paced, millennial and Gen Z lifestyle. You don't need tons of special effects or special editing, just visual appeal and presence and/or valuable information.

5. Cash in on Cash Back From Credit Cards

dollar bill
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
You can potentially earn three or four figures a year just for using your credit card

Great credit cards can offer up to five percent back on what you buy, not to mention other perks. This isn't going to fund your retirement, but if you filter expenses you'd normally have anyway — for example, rent and groceries — through the card, you can potentially earn three or four figures a year just for using your credit card.

Passive income can come from the above sources as well as referral programs, renting out space or equipment, creating apps, and even handling game machines or ATMs. It does require significant initial effort, and you'll likely have some maintenance work to do to keep the ball rolling. But if you plan well, you still could earn more passively with fewer hours than with a regular job.

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Wanda Marie Thibodeaux Freelance Contributor

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux was formerly a freelance contributor to Moneywise.


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.