Generating passive income takes patience and perseverance until you can make a living off it.
However, it does not need to take you long to get started. In fact, when I started this blog, I got $1.85 from Amazon Affiliates program within the first month.
So here is a list with 12 ideas that let you make passive income within the next three months, including the immediate steps you’d need to take to get the project started.
Of course, you also want to have some idea of your target audience and don’t want to blindly jump ahead.
However, a 20 page business plan can cripple an endeavour before it even starts.
For example, when you apply for funds in biomedical research, even if you have a great hypothesis, you spend 3 months on an initial validation of that hypothesis, so in the end it can feel frustrating because you are not really moving forward, speculating on possible downsides rather than go ahead and just try out your ideas.
If you like some of the ideas I am giving you , just go ahead and “get your feet wet”. The rest will follow the more you look into it.
This is day 13 of the 180-day challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.
12 ideas to generate passive income within the next 3 months
#1 – Generate leads on Craig’s List
Find someone who wants to sell a product and place ads for him or her. Your friend or business partner can focus on creating the product or service, and you post ads on Craigslist. Then you get paid for each “lead”, meaning someone answers to the ad and becomes a potential customer. All you need to do is to sign up to Craig’s List and put the ad online. Then wait until people answer.
The advantage of Craig’s List over simply putting out an ad on your webpage is that people that are on Craig’s List are already looking to pay for a product or service.
You also don’t need to have your own blog, you can simply sign-up, write the ad copy and get the responses back via eMail. Forward the eMail to your friend or business partner, and he can pay you for each lead, time your ad is online etc.
#2 – Review products and monetize via affiliate marketing.
That’s what I am already doing with this blog. You review a product that you have experience with and provide the link that leads people to the landing page where they can buy the product. If they end up purchasing the product, the seller gives you certain percentage of the price as commission. The amount you get varies, from 4 – 7% via Amazon’s Affiliate program, or higher like 50% or even more.
Here are two examples of reviews I have written that include an affiliate link.
Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich
30 Days of Discipline by Victor Pride.
While you won’t earn earth-shattering amounts of money when you start, it’s enough to get yourself a couple of dollars per month, and while your audience grows, your income will increase.
If you go to Pat Flynn’s site Smart Passive Income, you will see that he regularly makes $70,000 or more per month from affiliate links.
Most companies nowadays have affiliate programs, a few will want to test you first before they allow you to link to their products – but for most companies, the sign-up process is actually easy. You send them an eMail or, most commonly, fill out an online form and they will send you a link to their product that includes a code signifying that somebody came from your site to their product landing page. And then, you get paid for each sale.
Here is a great article about making money online via affiliate marketing.
#3 – Produce a course or class on Udemy or Coursera
If you are an expert in something, you can design a course. For example, if you got good grades in school, are creating great artwork, regularly do household repairs or even know how submarines work (!), you can design a course or class and sell it via Udemy or Coursera. If you are looking for more ideas, here are some additional suggestions.
The first step, for example, on Udemy, is to sign up to become an instructor. There are training videos that teach you all the following steps, you create your course and upload it.
#4 – Write a small eBook.
You will probably not make mountains of money, but it’s a start to “get your feet wet” if you are looking to become an author. If you can write for a profitable niche, like Erotica or Pulp, you can sell a short book via makes you a few bucks per month.
So the next step to achieve passive income via eBooks is to write the actual book (!) and then sign up to Amazon Kindle publishing, upload and format your book and sell it.
#5 – Buy cheap stuff in bulk and sell it via Amazon.
You can use amazon to sell items for you and taking care of marketing and logistics. You can find a local store in your area and figure out whether they have items they have a hard time selling. But you can, because Amazon provides a much wider reach than the shop around the corner. Buy those items off their shelves and sell them with a profit via the Amazon fulfilment program. Here is an interview with two people who used that business model.
In brief, what you do is you go to a store, buy items from them, ship them to Amazon and let the company handle the packing, shipping etc.
This business requires quite some activity up front, but then you don’t have to worry about overhead costs, store rent, hiring people that help yuo sell the items etc.
#6 – Flip cars via Craig’s List
This idea came from a recent video. A guy built up enough money to buy a Lamborghini through buying cars under market value (e.g. $3,000) and selling them for a profit ($5,000) on Craig’s list. $2,000 from an hour buying and an hour selling the car.
If you want to do that, you check local ads for cars and then contact the seller, later on putting in the ad to sell it yourself.
This business would still be active, but with a huge potential return of investment that I decided to include it in this list.
#7 – Sublet a room in your apartment via AirBNB.
If you have a spare room, you could take advantage of that and rent it out to people that visit town, for example via airbnb.com. Or you share your house/apartment long-term with a room mate.
The get started on that, take some photos of your room, provide a description, sign up to airbnb.com and put your ad online. Make sure you talk to your landlord if he allows for subletting, of course.
#8 – Rent you car out for someone to use Uber/Lyft/Gett etc.
If you have a second car that you don’t really need – or if you can use public transport instead of your car, let someone else drive it for you using a ride sharing service – and you take a cut off his or her profits.
The next step would be to put an ad on craigslist and/or ask a friend without a car. Then, after you find someone, you let him sign-up for Uber and voilà, once he is street-bound, you make money.
#9 – Rent out an instrument.
People want to learn to make music, but don’t want to spend a lot of money buying the instrument and then realize it’s not for them. Sometimes people need to have an instrument just for a party. For example, I played cello for my father’s wedding a couple years back in Germany. I rented a cello because I could not easily transport it on the plane from the US to Germany. We paid around $150 for a two-day rental, and a quick check on craigslist shows you that these prices are within the normal range.
It’s as simple as putting an ad on Craigslist – and/or advertise at local instrument builders, bars etc. If you don’t have an instrument, you could buy a one from a music store or violin maker and then put out the ads.
#10 – Renovate a website and charge a cut off the profit.
You could build websites for someone else and instead of taking a fixed price, you let them give you a cut of their future income from that website.
The next step would be to find websites that could be improved. Check around the internet, talk to people that you meet when you run errands, look at LinkedIn accounts and connected blogs. Invest one to two weekends to find websites and contact their owners. If you do that 200 times, you will find 2 – 3 people that are interested. Maybe spend a month on finding a couple websites that are relatively easy to fix and connected to a lucrative business. You can probably make passive income money in month #3. People that run businesses often don’t have much time to keep their online presence, so they’d be open to hire someone.
The advantage with taking “run-down” websites is that you already have an idea in place of how the site should look like, what it wants to sell and to whom.
#11 – Consolidate blogs into an eBook.
People pay for convenience. The astonishing fact is that you can repurpose content and people will buy it. There is something to be said about seeing the content that is on a website spread over three years consolidated into an eBook. Recent example: Essays on masculinity. Aaron Clarey has done the same with “Top-Shelf” and “Reserved”.
Here is what you do: you contact several bloggers until you find one who is interested, then you copy-paste the articles into the book, convert it to pdf and give the book to the website owner. You take, for example, a 50% cut off his or her profits.
If you have your own blog, you could even offer to do all the work and host and review it on your site as well, where it will generate additional traffic.
#12 – Offer to rebuild a website brand on social media
There are several big social media platforms out there – not only Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, but also Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat etc. Not every business owner has the time to be present on all those platforms. So you could take a website that has a lot of photos, for example, and offer to build up the brand on Instagram, where the site can gain additional followers.
The next step is to look for a suitable website – in this example, one that has a lot of beautiful photos – and contact the owner. If he or she agrees, you’d take the content of the website and extract the photos, build some memes out of it, add some infographics and publish the account on Instagram. Then charge for the leads you generate from that Social Media account.
Common points about all these business ideas
What all these methods have in common – like every business – is (a) your product needs to be helpful and/or fulfill a need and (b) you have to do the marketing. You have to connect with others, build your network and spread the word. If you do that and provide a tangible product that fulfills a need, you will sell – it does not matter if you produce leads, books or courses or if you have property that you rent out.
If you are unsure about the kind of product you want to offer, check the search function via Twitter – type in phrases like “I hate”, “I love”, “It would be great”. You will find multiple suggestions of what people are looking for. One or two of those you can actually fulfill based on your experience and talents. Good luck and if this guide has been successful – let me know when you are successful!
If you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.
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