Smartest ways to make money doing nothing (real income strategies)

Most people want to make money doing nothing but very few will take the time to actually make it happen.

Do you have the idea that passive income involves sitting on the beach while money hits your bank account? If so, you might be in trouble of never making income passively.

So what does it take to actually make money while doing practically nothing? And what does that even look like?

Luckily for you, I’m going to redefine your view on passive income and show you the best strategies for making money passively.

Smartest Ways to Make Money Doing Nothing

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Redefine Passive Income

There is no such thing as a free lunch and passive income is no different. You must first put in a lot of hard work to make money doing nothing. Generally speaking, those who earn passive income put in a lot of time, energy, and effort.

Think of a career person who worked their entire life to invest enough money. They can put their money into a dividend yield ETF that pays 4% annual dividends. A 4% dividend is only $4 on a $100 investment, but is $40,000 on a $1,000,000 investment.

It takes way more effort to come up with $1,000,000 than $100! Passive income requires substantial work up front to enjoy the coasting that passive income provides.

Gary Vee has an important message for those who believe passive income will just manifest itself. Warning, video has harsh language but a great message.

Passive income does not exist unless you bust your butt by putting in the work and purchasing real assets. You either need to work for 40 years to retire or get aggressive in chasing money to speed up the process.

Passive income is not completely passive, it still takes work. Money comes in easier, but you will still need to manage your passive income systems.

For example, you might own enough properties to quit your job renting through AirBnB. Someone still needs to change the sheets, clean the house, and pay the property taxes.

Build Assets not Liabilities

You need to understand the difference between assets and liabilities if you ever want to make money doing nothing. Assets are valuable items that can bring in money while liabilities will only depreciate.

People will pay good money for your assets. If you bought a stock for $100 and sold it for $150 then it was an Asset. However, if you buy a car for $40,000 and sell it for $20,000 then it was a liability.

The key to building a good stream of passive income is to purchase assets and reinvest the profits.

Too often people buy useless stuff that’s keeping them from buying assets. You need as much if your cash as possible to get invested, earning you money. Evaluate your spending habits and ask if you’re buying an asset or liability.

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Best methods to make money doing nothing

So what are the tried and true ways to actually make money doing nothing?

I guarantee the answer isn’t an App in the App store.

Here are our best methods for actually achieving passive income. Find a method that works for your lifestyle and risk tolerance.

Keep in mind that generating passive income is a marathon and not a sprint. Even a kid could do most of these methods with consistent effort.

Invest in Dividend paying stocks

Ok, so I might have lied when I said you couldn’t make money by doing nothing using an App. Investing in Dividend paying assets is really easy from your phone.

So what is a Dividend stock? A dividend stock is a company stock that regularly pays shareholders a portion of profit.

Let’s look at AT&T.

Make money fast - AT&T Price

At the current price of $34.97, AT&T pays a quarterly dividend of $0.51 per share for a dividend yield of 5.83 percent. So you are going to earn almost 6 percent on your money every year by investing in a share of AT&T. However 6 percent return on investment does not account for any gains or losses.

The key to finding good and profitable dividend stocks is to look for companies with a good 10 year growth history that pays dividends. Too many new investors look at high yield stocks which may mean the company is unstable.

Buying stock using the Robinhood App is super simple.

Find the stock you want, input how many shares you want to buy, and swipe to buy. It’s that simple to make money doing nothing with your smartphone and an online connection!

Dividend stocks are great but single stocks can be risky. Individual companies can go under so buying multiple stocks keeps your portfolio diversified.

Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs) are a collection of stocks for a much lower price. ETFs provide a good level of diversification.

For example, I like owning the Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM). I get access to over 400 stocks for one low price.

Related: How to make money with stocks!

Invest in REITs for added diversification

So what’s a REIT and why should you invest in one?

A REIT is a Real Estate Investment Trust which is a company that owns, operates, and invests in real estate. If it’s a building and can be rented, they probably own a few. From apartments to shopping centers and warehouses.

REITs pay dividends and can be purchased in the same manor as a dividend stock. You can even purchase REIT ETFs, so you’re buying multiple real estate companies under one stock ticker.

I like REITs because they are focused on real estate so it adds a layer of diversification to my stock portfolio. Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ) is my favorite REIT ETF, which is currently paying a 4 percent annual yield.

Personally, I like to keep a mix of Dividend stocks, REITs, and growth stocks. All of which provide great income opportunities.

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Real estate and AirBnB

Owning Real estate is one of the oldest ways to make semi-passive income.

However, there’s a lot of upkeep with repairs, property taxes, tenant rights, etc that can be a real hassle. Property management companies can deal with most of these issues for a fee of course.

Finding the right tenant can be a struggle too. However, yearly leases are amazing because you have guaranteed income for 12 or more months!

AirBnB has changed the game for property owners, making it easier to rent property without as many strings attached. Surprisingly, AirBnB can be more profitable than finding a tenant.

As long as you’re willing to change and wash bedsheets, clean up after each rental, and a few other tasks you’re good to go! Unfortunately, you will have to supply the furniture, dishes, etc.

Property management companies charge management fees up to 10 percent! AirBnB only charges a 3 percent booking fee.

Personally, I feel that AirBnB is the way to go. My coworker does AirBnB and has gotten twice what he could charge in rent some months. A little more effort but has the potential for more reward.

Rent Your Personal Property

Your personal property can be an asset and a liability.

For example, your car is an expensive item that can be an asset or a liability. For most people, cars are liabilities because they depreciate in value. To the right investor, cars can be assets when you rent them to other people.

Apps like Turo and GetAround make renting your car super easy and profitable. List your car, approve renters, meet the renter for drop off, and profit!

People in large cities like LA will benefit the most because there are more potential renters.

Some people find that one car is earning them enough money that the purchase additional cars for more income! One person in LA bought four Prius’s and was making a full time income!

Others have bought and paid for Tesla’s through apps like Turo. So you could get the car of your dreams paid for even if you aren’t looking to make money.

Cars aren’t the only asset you can rent for cash. Do you own an RV or boat? What do you own that people would rent?

Find your assets and find a way to profit!

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Build Websites

Websites can take a lot of effort to build but can be extremely profitable and passive in the end.

The best thing you can do when starting a website is produce consistent content that people are searching for and the money will follow. Your first goal should be to get traffic to your website and then monetize.

Most bloggers monetize their content through advertising, sponsored content, affiliate products, consulting, digital and physical product or courses. Many of these monetization methods can be paid through paypal!

Fourpillarfreedom build his websites over the course of two years which now brings him around $3,000 per month passively. Two years of hard work up front for a consistent $3,000 for life!

Other bloggers have manage to scale their blogs to making $100,000+ per month! Again, blogging isn’t easy but the reward can be worth it.

Alternatively, you can start a YouTube channel around your passion. Grow an audience and profit off of ads, products, and sponsorships.

Write a book

Making money as an author isn’t an easy road. Very few people make it to the top of the writing world, but those that do earn massive income.

J.K. Rowling was on the verge of welfare before writing the Harry Potter series. Now she makes more money than knows what to do with.

Most writers won’t earn much with their writing. As a matter of fact, most writers earn around $1 per book sold and less than 2% of writers make over $100,000.  You’d have to sell a lot of books to make a decent income at $1 per sale.

As a writer, you’ll want to build a loyal fan base around your books. J.K. Rowling built a fan base around her first few books in the Harry Potter series. Every book that followed was easier to sell because fans wanted to know what happened next.

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Create an App

Creating an app can be another high paying passive income source if done well. App creation takes a special knowledge of coding to create and marketing to sell.

Not only do you need to know how to make an app, but you’ll also need a great idea. Something unique that people actually enjoy or find helpful.

Games are super popular, making most of their money through in-app purchases. You can also develop that aren’t overdone. How many thousands of calculator apps are there?

Related: Make money playing games!

According to Fueled, the top 800 apps generate an average of $3,500 per day.

You’ll need to know how to get your app seen once you know what your app is going to be. There’s no point in developing an app if no one’s going to know it exists.

Create a digital product

Digital products can be another good money maker, especially if you don’t know how to create an App.

Thousands of bloggers are making good money selling digital products. Alex and Lauren of and sell blogging courses for around $200 and a Yoga weight loss course for about $50. Between their two websites they generate over $100,000 per month!

Work from home jobs - Yoga Fat loss bible

Alex and Lauren have taken the time to find a marketing strategy that works for them. As a result, they’ve set up a system that basically allows them to make money doing nothing. They set up monthly Facebook ads and have affiliates who earn a commission selling their courses.

So what kind of digital products sell best? Anything that helps a person solve a pain point. Help someone make more money, lose weight, live with diabetes, etc.

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Money Markets and CDs

Money markets and Certificates of Deposits won’t help you make a lot of money. Generally, there are better ways to invest your money. However, money markets and CDs are considered a safe investment with lower return.

You can open a money market or CD at your local bank. Generally, money markets and CDs earn less than 2% annual yield. Bankrate has a list of highest paying money markets.

For Certificate of Deposits, I did a google search for my local bank and here is what came up.

Local bank CD rates

As you can see, the highest Return on Investment that I can earn is 2 percent. So if I had $1,000,000 in a CD then I would earn $20,000 per year.

Stocks are generally a better choice than CD’s or money markets. While stocks are more volatile, they average over 7 percent annual ROI. Even purchasing a dividend yield ETF like VYM or VNQ would earn 3 to 4 percent yield.

Sell your photos

Selling your photos is a good way to earn royalties. Royalties are money you can earn when someone uses your product, in this case, a photo.

There are two main websites where you can sell your photos for money, Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. However, there are many other places to sell your photos that actually pay.

The best part about selling your pictures online is the opportunity to increase your earnings with more photos. These websites provide a convenient medium for you to sell photographs, so your job is to take more photos. The chances of being found and making money are greater with more photos.

You can also leverage more than one photo website to reach more people. Some clients might prefer to use Adobe Stock for purchasing photos, while others stick to Shutterstock. Spreading your content across multiple sites allows you the potential to earn more with less work.

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Get cash back and automatically invest

In order to save more money automatically, we recommend using tools like Rakuten and Acorns. Rakuten is a cash back app which rewards you for shopping at your favorite stores. Acorns is an investing app which rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference.

Search with Bing

Bing search is another way to earn a little extra when searching online. Every search awards you points which can be redeemed for rewards like gift cards! Bing searches won’t make you a ton of money, but they will provide a little extra cash now and then.

Summary: How to make money doing nothing

There are numerous ways to make money doing nothing if you put in actual work up front first. Most sources of passive income require initial work followed by minimal maintenance. If you earn enough, you can consider hiring people to help manage your sources of passive income.

You need to focus on acquiring assets which pay you to won them. The more assets you own, the more you can earn. Acquiring more assets usually means you’ll have a bit more to maintain, so find a strategy that works for you.

Stocks are one of the most common forms of assets that allow you to make money doing nothing. Dividends stocks or ETFs are great for providing consistent income. Simply purchase the stock and the dividends will continue to pay.

Real estate is another asset that is proven to continually make money when done right. Renting through AirBnB can be more profitable than finding a tenant. However, AirBnB requires you to perform additional duties like washing sheets and keeping the house clean.

Buildable assets like building a website, app, digital product, and writing a book can take time to create. These types of assets generally require marketing, so people can find out they exist.

Selling photos is another way for earning passive income. Use multiple stock photo sites and consistently take photos to maximize your revenue.

Less rewarding, but fairly easy ways to make money include using Bing Search for rewards and using Rakuten and Acorns.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.