Top 10 Smart Passive Income Ideas with Guaranteed Income in 2020

As a budding entrepreneur myself, I decided to give internet passive income sources a try. It was questionable whether income from passive sources was achievable or just a bogus concept.

Turns out passive income is actually a thing, although not as much as it has been hyped. The following strategies worked out for me, but my earnings were too meager.

While on my pursuit, I came across a number of articles on passive income but none actually taught anything except peddling questionable methods. 

This article will focus on legitimate passive income ideas that actually work.

Smart Passive Income

Smart Passive income is unlike income from any other source. It is the stream of earning wherein you put little to no effort but income continues to flow.

That is to say, your income is not linked to the amount of time you invest in it. Although you may be required to put into it time and efforts (initially), you continue earning thereafter.

Active income, on the other hand, directly rewards you for your work skills and time.

Smart Passive Income Examples

Royalties, share dividends and stock photography, by and large, are the biggest examples of passive income sources. 

In all the above cases, the assets require zero maintenance and funding except during the initial phase.

What I find the most fascinating about passive income is that you can earn even while you are sleeping, or working on your active income.

Passive Income Along With Active Income

Passive income is best when combined with your routine 9-5 active income source. Since passive sources demand zero efforts, you would never risk compromising on your job.

As in my case, I gave all passive income ideas a shot, and did so besides my office work. What I noted that income from other sources might need little work in the long run, but the process of setting it up was as exhaustive as it can get.

  1. Stock Photography

Who doesn’t like taking pictures? 

If you have a smartphone or a decent camera, you can start earning by stocking your photographs on websites such as Shutterstock or Pixabay.

Well, if you have the natural instinct of a photographer you might as well be able to convert your snaps into a source of passive income.

Most photography websites offer a fixed percentage of what they make from your content, or a flat fee per photograph sold.

You might need to create an account and setup a photo portfolio; upload images one by one and not move a muscle again. 

However, note that the competition in such websites is stiff. To make your portfolio stand out among your peers, include the best of your snaps and keep prices moderate.

  1. Publish eBooks

EBooks are the way to go for bibliophiles. The increasing popularity of e-readers has set aside the previous trend and opened us to a plethora of passive income sources.

There are three ways that you can utilize to make income with eBooks –

  1. Convert a paperback into an eBook and submit it to an eBook platform. Google books and Amazon Kindle are the two biggest platforms you can start with.
  2. Sell a digital version of your own book. Thanks to the Amazon Kindle Development Program you no longer need to wander around, requesting publishers to print your manuscript.
  3. You can alternatively submit your eBook and request established businesses (such as CrateSpace) to convert it into paperbacks.

Each of the above three methods has its own methodology but they all have one thing in common: you need to submit a digital copy of the book.

Since you are not required to market at any point, eBooks help you curate easy money. Though both Amazon and Google Play books charge commissions, it is still worth all the efforts.

  1. Curate Online Courses

If you are an expert of a particular domain, the internet is a great place to package the information and sell it out to people keen on learning. 

However, do note that your courses should have a strong selling point since free learning resources are in abundance on YouTube and other knowledge-sharing platforms.

One way to go around it is to market “transformation” instead of your product. Yes, instead of highlighting your own qualities, stress on the skills the customers will imbibe on successful completion of the course.

The concept underlying online courses is similar to eBooks, although creating online study material is nowhere as easy as creating eBooks. 

To curate online courses you need to –

  • Upload the entire content to a dedicated server or a hosting partner.
  • Allow customers the access to the content for a fee.
  • Collect your royalties.

Online courses are somewhat better than eBooks because they operate on a much higher profit margin. 

Some of the prominent online course platforms include –

  • Udemy
  • Coursera
  • Teachable
  • Thinkific
  1. Bonds

I haven’t had the time to try bonds. First off, I did not have enough capital to buy them. Second, the bonds won’t necessarily yield dividend and I’d have to wait years to redeem. 

What are bonds?

When you trade stocks, you trade a minuscule part of the company. On the other hand, when you buy bonds, you are actually lending money to the organization and are liable to receive interest on the sum lent.

Bonds are tons safer than stock but yield a very low return. 

Both private and government organizations can issue bonds and have two major benefits –

  • They are a fixed source of income.
  • Though not as risky as stocks, bonds still carry some risks.
  1. Blogging

No matter what you do it is never too late to kick-start blogging. There is virtually no limitation when it comes to blogs.

Blogs also make for an ever-lasting source of passive income. I started my writing career with blogging too. The more time I spent optimizing my blogs, the more visitors I saw on my website.

You can run multiple blogs at once and create as many sources of income as you like.

How often should you update your blog?

Ideally, it should be twice a week, but as your blog matures, updating content once in every ten days should work just fine.

It could take years for your website to build credibility, though you would start noticing traffic within a couple of months.

When starting a website, you should always stick to your niche. This not only helps build credibility, but also brand trust related to that particular niche.

How to earn money blogging?

There is a long way to go if you are trying to make money by only blogging. You can try running Google AdSense but commissions are feeble.

The best you can do is start affiliate marketing on a particular niche but make sure there are enough products to in that domain.

How to get approved for an affiliate program?

Some affiliate programs are open to all, however, some only allow affiliates based on approval.

Some companies conduct a background check and go through your traffic statistics before approving you for its affiliate.

Since I had been running affiliates on more than three blogs, I believe this is the easiest way to cash your website. But, it is also very work-intensive. I regularly update my blogs and research products that are hot.

Of all the smart passive income sources, affiliates are the most demanding and also equally rewarding. 

Google AdSense

Google pays primarily for clicks; views will fetch you little to nothing, if anything at all. You cannot rely on income from AdSense alone. The best you can do is to partner with websites and charge a fee for every sales lead.

  1. Sell Design

If you are into designing I will give you yet another reason to do it more often this summer.

You can sell custom-designed T-shirts to apparel firms and demand royalty against every t-shirt they sell. The concept isn’t very popular but extremely profitable. Apparel companies mostly prefer buying copyright but I have seen smaller clothing firms paying commissions to freelance designers.

How much can I earn per T-shirt?

Your earnings depend upon two things –

  • The company you are collaborating with
  • The aesthetic appeal of the design

The same company might pay differently for different designs. A lot of it would depend upon how well you negotiate with these firms.

Note that if you choose to sell the copyright, you aren’t earning any passive income, but you could receive a hefty upfront paycheck.

  1. Affiliate Marketing

Of all passive income sources, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly the most lucrative.

In affiliate marketing, you promote a product, drive customers to external websites and earn commissions per sale. 

Affiliate marketing can be both recurring and non-recurring. Though both recurring and non-recurring affiliates are passive, the former is ten times more alluring. Cloud hosting is the biggest example of recurring service that allows signing up for affiliates

In recurring affiliate, you earn repeated commissions on a sale, primarily because the service you sold requires intermittent renewals. 

You can start affiliating to websites in one of the following ways –

  1. Create a website or a blog with a relevant niche — 

You can start a blog that is entirely based on reviewing products, and from there, you can link to websites selling those products. 

While you may not earn enormous sums at first, you will gradually start to have more customers and grow tremendously. Blogs are generally deemed as more valuable because it allows for added scalability.

  1. Run paid ads and earn royalty per click or sale –

Another way to earn from visitors is to place an ad banner or a snippet on your website. However, you should only place such banners where they easily get noticed, without ruining user experience either.

  1. Email your contacts

Having email addresses of subscribers is a great way to directly market products, so you should start building an email list right from day one. 

However, make sure you do not send too many emails or people would end up marking you as spam. 

If you do not have products of your own, you can run referrals for websites and redeem royalty against every sale.

You will continue earning only as long as you have visitors on your website. Never false market products for the sake of higher commissions. Remain truthful and ultimately you will start building trust.

I have seen affiliate websites making thousand bucks a week within three months. Eventually, it all bows down to how truthful you are to your niche. 

  1. Invest in Crypto

Investing in cryptocurrency is the riskiest of all investments. It is, in fact, riskier than bonds and stocks. But more the perils, higher is the payout and so is true with crypto as well.

Some of my colleagues who invested $100 are now worth several grand. The biggest concerns surrounding cryptocurrency is that its source is indefinite.

But for market investors and those looking to make passive income, it is easy money. Of all the entries on your list, crypto is the easiest to acquire and has around 20 times better payouts.

Disclaimer: some countries have disallowed the use of crypto. Do check whether it is legal to acquire cryptocurrency in your country before investing.

  1. Network marketing

Although I condemn it highly, network marketing is a cool thing. As the name suggests, network marketing is a business model that relies on individuals for sales rather than professionals. The coolest thing about marketing around a network is that you need no sales staff.

The amount you would have spent on sales is spent as rewards to individuals who add a certain number of people to the network. The rewards make it more intriguing.

You would continue earning passive income because the people you once added are adding more people. The entire chain gets incentives for any new member.

  1. Buy and sell domain names

Since the coronavirus outbreak, a number of businesses have moved online and there began a race of buying the catchiest domain names.

Using some creativity and prediction, you might find a domain that could sell for five times its cost price. It is a matter of perseverance and prudence.
You can investigate what markets would emerge in the decade to come and purchase domain names while they are still available. And when the markets do emerge, companies would be more than ready to pay you the price you want.

Rahul Yadav

Rahul Digital is a passionate blogger & digital marketer from India. Read my blog to learn blogging and make money online tips.
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