Passive income is generally thought of as requiring little to no continuous work to keep the income up. The goal when building a passive income stream is to have a project that requires little in the way of maintenance work to keep the income coming in.

The opposite of passive income of course, is something requiring you do trade time for money. In other words, a project that required you to work on it consistently to keep your income stable.

You can see why the idea of passive income is so popular. Who wouldn’t want to earn money without work!? Unfortunately, that’s not how the idea of passive income works in the real world.

My definition of passive income is a little different, and more realistic. There are passive income ideas that will continue to earn money while you’re not actively working on them, but they’re always going to require substantial work to get to that point. You’ll also need to do some type of upkeep work on them from time to time.

My goal with passive income is to get something making money then get to a point where I can spend less time on it or outsource the work. With this extra time, I’m free to start on other projects. Pretty soon, you end up with these different projects generating income while only requiring a small amount of time to maintain.

Let me give you a real life example of publishing books on Amazon Kindle. Say for example, I spend 2 hours per day writing a book and finish it in 1 month. After the book is finished, I can publish it and start making money. The big part of the ‘work’ is done, since I don’t have to keep up my 2 hours per day of writing. I’ll have to do some work promoting it, but most of the time I was spending on this project is now freed up to work on other things.

As long as my book is out there, it will continue to generate income. If I go on vacation for a month and do no work, my book is still making sales. And while it’s true that would continue forever, I would still need to do some kind of ongoing work on it. This might just be some occasional updates of the book, or some active advertising to boost sales.

The point I’m trying to make is this – It’s definitely possible to build passive income streams but you will have to work at it.

Below are some great passive income ideas to get you started. With any of these ideas, it’s important to be in it for the long haul. If you’re an affiliate marketer who runs paid traffic to affiliate offers, you’ll need to shift your mindset. While you can make money right away with paid traffic and affiliate marketing, these passive income ideas require more work upfront before you’ll make any money.

The big upside is that once you get them making money, they’re very stable and don’t require as much maintenance.

Affiliate campaigns require daily work including optimizing, scaling, and checking stats. Eventually they stop working, and you’re back to square one.

Publish Books

Making money from publishing books is one of the easiest ways to get started with passive income. You spend time writing a book, but then it’s out there forever making sales. One of my favorite things about publishing books is that I can make money in more ways than just the royalties I get from sales. I can use my book as a platform to promote my own website, or recommend products and resources through an affiliate link.

Most people publish on Amazon Kindle since it’s the biggest and most well known marketplace. There are a number of other options that can produce steady sales too like Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

The thought of writing a book initially doesn’t appeal to everyone. They think it will be too much work, or more commonly worry they aren’t a good writer. Fortunately neither of those are required to make great money publishing a book.

You can write simple how to books or guides. Non fiction will be easier for most people, but if you really want to write fiction there are huge opportunities for that too.

Once you’ve written the material, you can easily expand by making it an audio book and offering a paperback option. Both are easy to implement, and give your potential buyers more choices.

Spend some time browsing Kindle books, download some samples, and you’ll soon understand that anyone can do it.

Create a Course or Membership Site

The create your own course boom has been going for a while and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. There is an endless audience looking for new ways to learn any kind of information.

It’s important to understand you don’t have to be the worlds top expert at something in order to teach it effectively. The most important skill for a teacher is being able to understand what people want and need to learn.

For example, say I’ve played guitar for a while and consider myself to have the basics down. I might not be an expert at guitar, but I can understand what beginners would want to learn. With that knowledge, I can create a basic course teaching people just starting out. Depending on the subject, you can even create a course while you learn something.

It does take a lot of work to create the course initially, but once that work is done you can sell it indefinitely.

Udemy is a popular place to publish courses. The benefit of Udemy is that they have a platform to publish your course on and a built in audience.

Some people set up their own membership site to sell their courses. This can be a great option because you retain more control over what you can charge, how you deliver the course, and how you structure the site.

Making Youtube Videos

YouTube is a massive traffic source. It has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet. Every day, those users watch billions of hours of video.

As a marketer, those statistics should excite you. It gives you the opportunity to upload a video somewhere that has a huge built in audience ready to watch.

Publishing videos on YouTube is a great way to generate passive income. After you upload a video, it’s going to generate views and income forever. You can make money through the YouTube partner program which pays you based on video views. You can also use your videos to build an audience for your brand, promote products, or develop a following.

Not ready to get in front of the camera? Don’t worry, there are ample options for making videos. Some people record their voice and show pictures like a slide show. You don’t even need to use your voice. Some incredibly popular videos just show something interesting like this kinetic sand video.

Spend some time on YouTube and you’ll get plenty of ideas. Video content is going to keep growing in popularity, so this is a great passive income idea to start on.

Creating a Resource Website

A resource website is a site that offers people something useful. That’s a very broad statement obviously, and could include almost any type of website.

The reason I’m calling this idea a resource website is that it doesn’t require lots of content writing like building an authority site.

One example of a resource site would be Old Version. They keep older versions of software for people who want to keep using a specific version. The site isn’t based around lengthy blog posts like an authority site would be.

Other examples of resource websites are some kind of online calculator like a BMI calculator. AdCalc is a site created by Mark who created Aff Robot tools for the Aff Playbook Forum. It features calculators to help marketers plan and measure their advertising.

Use Your Personal Talents

Can you make an app? These can be great for passive income. Even if you don’t know how to code one from scratch, you could use any number of app builders to help you.

Can you do graphic design? You could make graphics and sell them on any number of places like Graphic River.

What about photography or video? You can make passive income by selling your photos or videos on stock photo sites like Deposit Photos or stock video sites like Pond5.

Do you play music? You can earn money selling tracks, or sound effects on stock audio sites like Audio Jungle.

Conclusion

You’ll notice a theme with all these ideas. They involve building something that requires more work upfront, but has the ability to generate income indefinitely with less work to maintain. There are plenty of other ideas you can explore to make passive income if you keep that main concept in mind.

Hopefully these have given you some great ideas to start building those passive income streams. If you apply consistent effort and stick with it, you'll soon reach your goals and have a stable business for years to come.