Are you interested in making money while you sleep? Generating residual income is an incredibly challenging feat, but it can certainly be done. Whether you are looking to jumpstart a new career, or if you just want to make enough money to pay for a relaxing vacation, I can promise that you’ll be able to generate a consistent income stream using many of the residual income ideas listed on this page.
As you’ll quickly notice from the residual income opportunities below, some residual income ideas require a monetary investment upfront, and others require you to invest a lot of your free time.
There are hundreds of avenues to greatness, how you create your path is entirely up to you!
1. Go Viral On Youtube
Purchased by Google in 2006, YouTube is the premier destination for watching videos and streaming live content. In fact, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (take that Bing and Yahoo). In May 2007, YouTube introduced a Partners Program that allows video uploaders to receive money in exchange for overlaying advertisements throughout their videos.
Since it’s creation the YouTube Partners Program has accepted over a million members, and has helped kickstart the multi-million dollar careers of hundreds of otherwise ordinary people including Jenna Marbles, Smosh, PewDiePie, and many others.
Upload a video today and YouTube will pay you for advertisement revenue generated today, tomorrow, or ten years from now!
Of all the residual income ideas listed on this page, I believe starting a YouTube channel requires the absolute least amount of risk.
2. Squat On Some Domain Names
Were you alive in the early 1990’s? If so then you probably missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. When the World Wide Web started it’s climb to immortality, anyone with some optimism and patience could have acquired the domain names such as Insurance.com, Sex.com, FB.com, Casino.com, and so on for as little as $0.00 (yes, $0.00). Today those domain names are worth millions – In fact, Insurance.com was sold in 2010 for a whopping $35,000,000.00!
Sure the earnings potential today is not nearly as high, but highly profitable new phrases arise everyday. You could be the owner of the next big catch phrase domain – like Bootylicious.com, or Twerk.com.
Cybersquatting on a domain name that contains another brand’s trademark or identity could put you in hot waters however.
3. Become A Silent Partner
Have a friend or acquaintance with a good business idea, but with little or no investments? Perhaps now is the time for you to jump aboard as a silent business partner. But please remember to use your best judgement, not to let your personal relationship interfere with your decision making, and to get the agreement written down on paper!
Of all the residual income ideas listed in this article, becoming a silent partner is by far the most risky.
4. Purchase An Established Online Business
Believe it or not, people do sell companies that are already generating residual income.
Sites like Flippa.com allow registrants to buy and sell established, profitable websites via auction. Even if you elect not to make any changes to a website you purchase, you very well may be able to recoup your initial purchase and churn out a consist monthly profit.
Just like with all purchases however, do your research in order to ensure you are getting a fair deal on the exchange. In some rare cases, people sell their site because of a drastic decline in traffic, or a penalty incurred by Google.
Flippa.com is very good about warning potential suitors about these kinds of red flags however.
5. Buy A Used ATM (Or Gumball Machine)
Despite society’s evolution towards using plastic for purchases, there is still a need for carrying cash. Place your ATM outside of a cash only business (get permission first) and watch as those $4.00 transaction fees pile in. The only upkeep needed is to ensure the machine is in working order, and to restock the machine with more money.
For practice, try your skills with candy first. You can find a used gumball machine for pennies at your local garage sale, and only need to spend $4.99 on a bag of gumballs. And with a shelf life of around three years, you won’t have to worry about spoilage.
6. Create An iPhone App
As you can imagine, apps can be an incredibly profitable source of income. But with so many apps already on the market, is it really worth your time? Well, yes. People use apps all the time. you don’t need to create an all-new iPhone app in order to be successful, just find one now that you think you can replicate, and offer a better product than they did.
There are numerous do-it-yourself application frameworks out there for simple applications, but if you intend to create the next Game Of War, you can expect to shell out a lot of money on developers.
7. Sell An eBook
It will require a ton of work up front, but a finished ebook can provide you with a healthy, professional income stream for years. And if you are not good at selling, sites like ClickBank.com can connect vendors like you with affiliates willing to promote your ebook in exchange for a commission on each sale.
8. Sell Downloadable Files On Etsy
If you have experience with Adobe Photoshop, try your hand at creating a cheesy greeting card. Downloadable birthday, wedding, and baby shower cards are selling extremely well on Etsy right now. Once you perfect your card, create a seller account on Etsy and create your listing. Then when somebody orders your card, they will automatically be emailed the printable file!
Whether you sell a card today, next week, or next Christmas, this residual income opportunity can become a passive income waterfall for those at the top of the pyramid. Note: People may contact you about paying extra for card customizations however.
9. Sell Digital Products On Fiverr
Do you have experience with Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, or Premiere Pro? Sell your skills on Fiverr.com, the number one resource for purchasing cheap services. If you can make a killer intro/outro video animation, people will pay you for it.
All you’ll need to do is swap out the logo for each individual customer!
10. Invest Your Money On Prosper Or Bitbond
Have extra money lying around? Give it to those who need it! Bitbond.com and Prosper.com are peer-to-peer crowdfunded lending sites that allows borrowers to borrow money from lenders. Using Bitbond and Prosper’s patented vetting technology, lenders can see a financial snapshot of the borrowers financial history.
If he/she looks reliable, you can elect to give them anywhere between $5 and their entire asking amount. Once their loan amount is fulfilled, you will then start receiving your repayment monthly, along with interest!
The riskier the investment, the higher the interest return.
11. Start A Blog
Sites like Google Adsense pay website owners in exchange for placing advertisements on their site. The more people exposed to the advertisements on your site, the more money you will make!
Some website categories require constant upkeep in order to keep organic traffic coming to your site (News, Magazines, Sports), but if you build a website around tutorials, guides, or reviews, then you really won’t need to keep your content fresh and current.
For just $14.99 per year for a domain name, plus $3.95 per month for website hosting, you can use this residual income idea to get money flowing into your bank account.
12. Make People Laugh On Social Media
Ever wonder why Instagram accounts like F*ckJerry and DaddyIssues publish hilarious picture posts so frequently? Some of their pictures really are just for comedy purposes, but in some cases they are paid to post those pictures!
Marketers are getting creative these days by paying high profile Instagram influencers, like those mentioned above, in exchange for mentioning their brand in their pictures, profile, or their captions.
Where is the residual income aspect to this you ask?
Social Media dashboard sites like Hootsuite.com allow users to schedule their next posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be posted on a later date. That being said, your favorite social media pages may be posting something right now that they actually created and scheduled two or three years ago.
Heck they may already have posts scheduled to be posted twenty years from now!
13. Sell A Course On uDemy
Do you think you’re an expert on something? Sites like uDemy.com allow anyone with an internet connection to create online courses for just about anything. Then if someone is interested in your curriculum, they might just be inclined to purchase the course from you. And unlike with actual schooling, you (the teacher) don’t have to show up for the classes!
Once someone buys your course, they will immediately have access to all of the lessons, quizzes, and projects, that way they can complete the course in as much time as they desire.
Depending on your field, perfecting your online course may take a lot of prep time, but once you have a finished product, the residual income can be substantial.
Successful online entrepreneur Ramit Sethi has made an insane amount of money with this very residual income idea.
14. Collect Royalties On Your Photography
Have you ever wondered where your favorite magazines and websites obtained their images? Sites like Shutterstock.com and iStockPhoto.com allow companies to purchase photos from them for a fee.
If you’ve already got some great photos in your collection, upload them to a stock photography website and you’ll get a commission every time a company decides to feature your photograph in their work.
15. License Your Music
Just like we mentioned above with stock photography, if someone chooses to use your music in their video, movie, or advertisement, you’ll get a royalty commission for it. Just publish the tune and sit back and collect.
And who knows, perhaps getting your music featured in an advertisement will lead to bigger and better things!
16. Display Advertisements On Your Car
Sites like Wrapify.com will pay you to place partial, full, or panel advertisements on your car. About to drive to the grocery store? Engage the application when you get in the car and Wrapify’s patented technology will track your mileage as you go, and pay you based on the location and distance of your commute. You were already going to the store, why not get paid to do it?
Become a driver for Uber or Lyft and now you’ve got yourself a money making machine.
17. House Sit For Your Neighbor
Aside from the fact that you are not on your own couch, house sitting is quite possibly the easiest job. The pay itself is not residual per say, but who is to stop you from working on building your actual residual income stream while house sitting? It’s like getting paid to work on your work!
Summary: So there you have it, there was my list of the best residual income ideas and opportunities for the aspiring entrepreneur. As time passes and conditions change, I will do my best to keep this list accurate. Before going, here are a few things to pay attention to when starting a side hustle.
Residual Income Ideas & Opportunities
First, let’s talk about maintenance. Does the passive income stream require any upkeep or general maintenance? Unlike a snowplowing business, there are a handful of residual income ideas that do not require much (if any) maintenance. A few examples include going viral on YouTube, becoming a silent partner, purchasing an existing business (sometimes), selling an eBook, downloadable files on Etsy, or online course, collecting royalties on photographs, licensing your music, displaying advertisements on your car, and house sitting (sorta). With these ideas, once you put your work up for sale, your job is done – just sit back and collect.
Secondly, some of these residual income ideas don’t even require any initial outlay! Creating YouTube videos, selling an eBook, downloadable files on Etsy, digital products on Fiverr, and online course on uDemy, generating Instagram followers, collecting royalties on your photos, licensing your music, and displaying advertisements on your car all can cost exactly $0 to get started.
Lastly, As you can imagine, the passive income opportunities that require the most risk and initial outlay often have the highest income potential as well. These endeavors include becoming a silent partner in a business ($1000+), purchasing an already established business ($1000+), creating a popular blog (~$50/yr), and creating an iPhone app ($300).
Edit: An earlier revision of this article suggested that users look into Pact, an iPhone app that pays users for their commitment in the gym. Users made a commitment to go to the gym a certain number of times per week. If you missed your goal, you had to pay other users between $.30-$5.00 on average per week. But if you met your goals, other users would pay you nearly $50 per week.
However, the exercise-tracking startup recently reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, promising to pay nearly $1 million in restitution after allegations that it defrauded users. According to Fortune, “The FTC claims that Pact penalized tens of thousands of its users even when they fulfilled their exercise and diet goals, and even continued charging some after they had canceled the service. On Thursday, Pact agreed to pay out $940,000 to those who were improperly charged or didn’t receive rewards they’d earned.” Chaxton.com has since pulled all Pact App suggestions from our site.