Passive Income Business Ideas

by Lissie

Looking for 200 quick and easy ways to make passive income with not effort? Boy, have I got bad news for you.

What is Passive Income ?

I almost wince when I see people asking this type of question on the Internet. Be very, very careful, because what you are asking for is a variation of that old fallacy - "free money" - you know the money you get given for doing nothing.

Maybe you got pocket money as a kid on that basis but its unlikely that life has worked like since you were 12! For almost all adults there is no such thing as truely passive income! There are however alternatives to just working for a living! 

Wikipedia's Definition of Passive Income

Passive income is an income received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it. The American Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income. It defines passive income as income from "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate." Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to ...

Pure Passive Income - Is Rare

The only way I can think of to actually get purely passive income is to inherit it and then invest the capital you inherited and live off the property rents and share dividends, plus the capital gains of the investments from that capital. 

In fact to be purely passive - you can't even manage your portfolio yourself - because that's like work. Instead you need to employ a manager! 

Somewhat Passive Income Business Models

So having got that out of the way - lets go with a more practical definition of "passive income". 
I define passive income to be income which I do the work now and get paid later. For example if I write a book - I get royalties when the book sells, for years. Which is not to say there was no work involved in creating the book, but I can work and get paid forever down the track. 

If I rank a website in the search engines - I can get advertising and affiliate sales for many years - with little to no work to maintain the website.  

Its not perfect - its not money for free, but it does mean that I can earn a living without having a business, in other words I am in business! 

Top 3 Passive Income Business Ideas

Create a video or book to share your knowledge

For example, if you are a yoga teacher sell a beginner's how to video series. If you are an expert on home schooling - write a book for a beginning home schooler parent. No you don't have to waste years waiting for a publisher to publish you.

The world has moved on and its now surprisingly simple to publish your own books on and other on-line book stores either as e-books or print-on-demand paperbacks. Alternatively you can sell books and other digital products (videos and audio usually) via your own website. 

Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should

Written by a self-published fiction author who also understands how the publishing industry is changing - recommended even if you aren't immediately planning to write a book...


Develop a business and then outsource it

Or Franchise It!

Say you can develop a business teaching teenagers to bake just like mom did, that's not passive, that's hard work! But what if you hired in someone to run your classes for you, so after you'd trained them, you'd have a passive income business. 

Taking this idea one step further is the idea of franchising. Say you are a successful property manager, but you can't take on any more properties. Instead develop a Franchise plan to expand your business to another city or state! 

Develop an Affiliate Marketing business.

Affiliate marketing is a when you develop websites that promote other people's products. You get paid a percentage of the sale. My friend Dave makes a very nice living doing just that, mainly using products available on Check out his book for details. Affiliate marketing is what I am doing right now - if you buy something from Amazon after clicking through on one of those pretty pictures opposite- I'll get a small percentage of the sale (paid by Amazon, the buyer pays nothing extra!). 

Make Money With Amazon Associates

My friend Dave makes a very nice living doing just that, mainly using products available on Check out his book for details.


There is Not Such Thing As A Passive Income Business

But some business models will see you working less than others!

Its Not Totally Passive - But Its Very Attractive! Yes there are very few ways to earn 10's of thousands of dollars by doing no work! If someone promises you that - its a scam! If, on the other hand, you think there is a better way of living than just working "for the man" year in, year out. There is!

My name is Lis and I make a full time living with a mixture of affiliate marketing and writing books. I can't not work for ever, but I can certainly work on the days and times of my choosing. And I can take my laptop with me and work anywhere in the world that has the Internet (which is most places!) 

If you want to learn more - check out my blog - Passive Income Online 

Lis Sowerbutts
Lis Sowerbutts

How I Make Money On This Site

I started making money online in 2007. As I publish this in 2012 its to explain how much I make on Wizzley and why I publish here.

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Updated: 01/03/2012, Lissie
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


onepagearticles on 02/04/2012

Yeah Passive means you either let your business turn to poop or you outsource everything....I like the meaning associated with the word passive though.... makes it seem like we are a bunch of lazy fockers when we're not!!

bizilady on 01/16/2012

Nice and easy to understand instructions Lis!
I try to read all your advice. ;-)

retreadfitness on 01/10/2012


Your content is so straight forward and simple! Thanks for telling me about Wizzley. By by ...b Pages!

My wife home schools our two boys. Not sure if she ready to make an ebook or send the kids to a boarding school! She is traveling in some remote islands in the Pacific Ocean visiting her parents.

sheilamarie on 01/04/2012

This online earning thing is hard work and time consuming to be sure. And you are right on the "delayed gratification" thing. A person has to really enjoy the writing when getting paid can involve such a long wait.

ethelsmith on 01/04/2012

Useful thanks. Passive income does sometimes roll in from sites you longer participate on but roll in is the wrong word. Dwindle in maybe. Still it is useful money. Agreed though that if something seems too good to be true it probably is.

Lissie on 01/04/2012

Its more delayed gratification income I think! Thanks for commenting Jimmie!

Jimmie on 01/04/2012

I agree that "passive" income is a misnomer. There is nothing passive about it. Maybe ongoing income is a better term. You invest in setting it up and then let it do its thing. Another issue is that "passive" income streams require maintenance. Links change, eBooks are updated, etc. Again, nothing passive about it.

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