When I was 14, I used to wonder if it was really possible to make money online, let alone a full living. Now, 10 years later at 24, I am supporting myself through a few websites and a freelance career taking pictures and making videos.
In this article I want to talk about my top five passive income streams online. Hopefully this can give you some inspiration into starting your own businesses on the internet. It’s very hard work and even passive income streams require lots of up front work, but it can be really rewarding.
My full-time job is running FilterGrade, a marketplace for creators to sell their digital products, and producing photos/videos for clients. Because both of these companies require a lot of day-to-day work, I won’t be including them in my passive income streams list. Instead I am going to share all of my side hustles and other income sources that I do online when I get the extra time.
1. Niche Content Websites
Content marketing and SEO are my favorite parts of running an online business. I’ve always loved learning about the ins and outs of building and growing websites and online properties.
Since I love it so much, I decided to start a few niche content websites where the sole focus is to share information around a very specific topic. Then, the website earns money through ads and affiliate links. It requires a ton of work up front, but over time can be a really good source of passive income if you are able to attract enough organic traffic.
I currently have two main sites that I focus on and combined they earn around $300-$400 monthly. The larger niche content website is a food website focused on food questions and allergies. The smaller site is a tech website I bought with a friend to try and grow.
The larger site makes all of the money and the smaller site is currently not profitable, but I still really liked the domain because it was over 12 years old. I am going to try and hire a writer to add more content, so I can hopefully get it to at least enough to cover hosting and earn some profit.
2. Stock Photos
Stock photos are probably my favorite passive income stream because I love photography so much. It doesn’t even feel like work. I focus on taking photos of objects, locations, and things that I think buyers will need. Currently, I sell my photos on four platforms, and I’m looking for new marketplaces with good terms to expand into.
The sites are:
- Adobe Stock
I also have some photos on Getty, but had a lot of trouble with the uploading process. Checking today, I have around $3.50 in commissions in the account with only 7 photos. I’m going to try to upload more and see if I can reach the payout amount at the least.
The other marketplaces combined get me around $200-$300 a month in passive income. I’ve also had some cool sales that really thrilled me. One time a photo sold for over $100! I love the mystery. Though the average commissions are pretty small for stock photos, sometimes as low as 10 cents, so it’s not quite as thrilling as it sounds. If you want to see some of my stock photos check out my Twenty20 portfolio.
3. Digital Products
Before starting FilterGrade, I had set up several accounts on marketplaces across the web to sell my digital products. These include photo filters, mockups, and other digital templates for people to use when promoting their products or services. Even after a whole decade, some of these products still sell and generate a nice side income for me.
In total I have three digital products shops for personal products (outside of FilterGrade), and they generate around $50-$100 a month on average.
Quora has long been a favorite site of mine. I enjoy answering questions about topics I care about. About two years ago, I started to enjoy asking questions too. The reason is because Quora started a partner program to pay creators!
Whenever an idea or random question pops into my head, I can add it to the site and earn revenue on the ads for the first year that question is live on the site. This isn’t really a huge stream either, but it’s super simple and can be some good side income with little work.
I earn around $10-$15 a month from this, and had a record month of $27.43.
From: Quora Partners Space
My last passive income stream online is from investments. These include stocks, Crypto, REITs, and other publicly traded investments along with interest from savings accounts. I mainly use Robinhood and SoFi to buy/sell and hold. And I also have some money in a service called Betterment that makes investments based on my risk tolerance and preferences. I don’t actively add to Betterment much anymore. Now I focus on putting 10%-15% of my monthly income into dividend stocks. I also like some cryptocurrencies on Coinbase because they offer staking rewards, which is just like interest.
This isn’t a huge income stream for me yet. At the moment all of my dividends and interest equates to about $150-$250 in earnings, but I love it because it is the most passive out of all my income streams. All I have to do is focus on which stocks and assets I want to buy on a monthly basis.
Some of my current largest holdings are:
In total, I make around $600+ every month from these five passive income sources. That is extra money that I can use to pay my bills, buy new equipment for the production company, go out to eat, travel, or even just save/invest!
Hopefully this post can inspire you to start building out small, or large, side businesses to earn some passive income. It won’t happen overnight, but if you start today you’ll be seeing the rewards within six months to a year.
Here are my biggest pieces of advice for building your passive income streams online:
- Focus on your skill sets and find ways to make money around your best areas.
- Focus your time and don’t set up 1,000 passive income streams. Which ones are worth your energy and limited spare hours after your main job?
- Don’t give up right away. These side incomes all took me over a year to get started and none of them are that easy, even to this day, but they are worth it for the extra money.
About the Author:
Mike Moloney is the owner of FilterGrade and other income-producing websites. These are the tips he’s learned.