10 Residual Income Ideas to Make More Money with Less Work

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If you have a traditional job that requires you to work in an office 40 hours a week, your paycheck only reflects the 40 hours you worked.

Essentially, you’re trading your time for money.

But what if you could reclaim some of that time? Wouldn’t it be great to put in the time and work upfront and reap the financial benefits months and years down the road?

Residual income can allow you to do just that. It can give you the freedom to spend more time doing the things you love while still earning a living.

With a residual income stream, you can make money regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Your bank account has the potential to grow, even when you’re sleeping, traveling, or golfing.

What is Residual Income?

Residual income is the act of making money long after you’ve completed the work. Instead of getting paid for doing work that you continue to perform, you do work once and get paid for it over and over again.

By creating residual income, you can focus on a hobby, your family, or another job without having to devote time to any additional marketing or managing. Once you’ve invested time, effort, and maybe money upfront, you can sit back, relax, and watch the money come in.

Related: 40 Quick Ways to Make Money

5 Ideas to Create Residual Income if You Have Money to Invest

If you have some money to invest upfront, there are a number of residual income streams to consider.

1. Invest in real estate


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What you invest in:

4 real estate portfolio
options that focus on
income and growth

What you invest in:

Invest directly in individual
deals or invest in a portfolio
of 30-50 properties

What you invest in:

Buy individual homes and
rent them out to generate

Minimums and Fees:

$500 minimum, 1% fee

Minimums and Fees:

$25,000 minimum, .5-2.5% fee


 Higher of $500 or 0.5% of purchase price

Pros and Cons:

+ 100% passive

+ No minimum net worth

Liquidity not guaranteed

Must hold for 5 years

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+ Historically strong returns

+ Ability to invest in single property

Mostly for accredited investors

Liquidity not guaranteed

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+ Find cash flow positive investments

Risk is concentrated

You become a landlord

Real estate is one of the top passive income ideas for investors today. When you invest in real estate, you invest in a property or land with the intention of eventually selling your investment for a profit or renting it out for monthly cash flow.

Real estate investing allows you to build equity, which is the difference between the market value of your investment and the amount you owe. As you build equity, you can use it to increase your cash flow or acquire other real estate investments.

Passive real estate investing: REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, are companies that own and manage real estate portfolios. REITs give you the chance to invest in large-scale real estate without the high expense or responsibility of being a landlord.

The Fundrise online investment platform was designed to allow investors with smaller amounts of money to pool together their resources and buy shares of private REITs. With Fundrise, you can buy into private residential and commercial properties for as little as $500.

Once you’ve invested your money with Fundrise, its real estate professionals handle the details. You don’t need to do a thing. As your investments appreciate in value or turn a profit, you earn money over time.

Active real estate investing: become a landlord

Becoming a landlord involves buying a property and renting it to tenants to make money. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, you’ll need to:

Buy a rental property. Buying a rental takes a lot of thought. Location, average local rent prices, mortgage, property taxes, and other factors will affect your investment. Before you buy, do the math to make sure you’ll make money on the property.

Understand the laws. Perform some online research or consult a lawyer about federal and state landlord-tenant laws. This way, you’ll understand things like security deposits and when you can access the property when it’s occupied by tenants.

Choose quality tenants. Advertise your rental on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Once you have potential tenants, find a background screening provider who can perform a background check. This will help you feel comfortable renting to them.

Write a lease. You can find lease forms online and customize them to your situation. Be specific and include things like acceptable payment methods and whether or not you allow pets.

Maintain the property. Inspect your property (e.g. appliances, yard, HVAC system) often to make sure it’s in good shape and repair or maintain it as necessary.

Collect rent. You can collect rent money from your tenants every month online, by mail, or in person.

If you like the idea of being a landlord but don’t have the time to commit to it, consider hiring a property management company. They can market your property, find tenants, maintain it, and get collect rent on your behalf.

Related: A Detailed Guide to Renting Out Your Space

2. Become a lender

Peer-to-peer lending connects borrowers directly to individual lenders who fund their loans in small increments. As a lender in a peer-to-peer lending platform, you can fund a portion of one loan or multiple loans individually.

LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lending platform that gives you the chance to become a lender. After you open an account, you can automate investments based on a pre-set strategy or browse loans and manually purchase small portions of them.

You make money on the interest paid by your borrowers. The annual percentage rate for LendingClub borrowers ranges from 6.95% to 35.89% and is based on their credit. Borrowers with good credit will likely get a lower interest rate while those with average or poor credit will get a higher one.

Related: Equity Multiple Review: A Modern Way to Invest in Commercial Real Estate

3. Invest in the stock market

The stock market allows investors to buy and sell stocks, which are shares of ownership in a company. To invest in the stock market, you need to understand your risk tolerance, which is how much of a risk you can emotionally handle in your investment portfolio. Understanding your risk tolerance can prevent you from making investments that make you feel anxious or uneasy.


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Use robo-advisors

Deciding how to invest in the stock market can be tough, especially if you’re new to it. Robo-advisors can help. These online investment managers use algorithms to build portfolios and manage your investments.

Once you let them know your risk tolerance and investing goals, you can use robo advisors like Betterment, Wealthsimple, and M1 Finance to handle your portfolio. With robo advisors, you can automate your investing and make money in the stock market with minimal knowledge and effort.

Related: The Best Investing Apps for Beginner Investors

Manage your own portfolio

If you have some knowledge and experience in the stock market, you can choose to manage your own portfolio. This may be a good option if you prefer control over when you invest and what you invest in.

The first step to managing your own portfolio is finding the best online broker for your individual needs and preferences. Then, you’ll need to make regular investments and review your portfolio periodically to make sure it still meets your objectives.

By investing in the stock market, you can make good use of your disposable cash and save for your future.

4. Buy an online business

If you know where to look, you can start making money online almost immediately. Websites like Flippa, Website Broker, and Vineclick allow you to buy established online blogs and businesses that are already making money.

Rather than buying the least expensive online business you find, choose the one you believe you can double or triple within a year or so. This way, you get a much higher return on your investment.

Before you buy an online business, check these items:

Inclusions: Your online business should come with a website, domain, customer list, and social media accounts. You should also investigate things like intellectual property, staff, inventory, and accounts receivables.

Financial documents: Any financial documents that can provide an overview of the business’s revenue and expenses are essential to obtain and analyze. Examples of these are bank and PayPal statements and tax status.

Structure: Get to know the structure of the business and whether it’s an LLC, LLP, or corporation. You should also find out how many owners there are and if the business and website domain are owned by the same person.

Traffic: Use Google Analytics or another analytics platform to make sure the business has received a steady stream of traffic. Look at the fluctuations in traffic, and see if any traffic spikes correlate to increased revenue.

Profitability: Confirm that a business is profitable after all expenses are paid. You can use the financial documents to do this.

If you buy an online business, you don’t have to start from scratch and can earn money from someone else’s great idea.

Related: 16 Online Business Ideas That Anyone Can Start (with Little or No Cost)

5. Build a self-storage facility

Self-storage facilities rent storage spaces or units to tenants on a short or long-term basis. If you build a self-storage facility, you can get paid to rent storage space to people who need somewhere to keep their personal belongings or business inventory.

The key to building a successful self-storage facility is choosing the right location. If possible, build your facility close to a highway to give customers easy access and ensure it’s visible to the public. You should also make sure it meets the zoning rules and regulations in your area.

Once you determine the location, you’ll need to take the following into consideration:

Unit mix: Will your facility have mostly large units or small units? Or will there be a mix of both? If you’re going to be in an area with many apartment renters, you’ll probably want more small units.

Indoor or outdoor units: Decide whether your facility will have drive-up units or units that can only be accessed from the indoors.

Climate-controlled units: Climate-controlled units are kept between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and can protect belongings from damage. Take your budget and local climate into consideration when deciding if you want them.

Special space for vehicles: If your facility will be in an area with many boat and RV owners, you may want to set aside storage space for these types of vehicles.

Since there are many self-storage facilities today, you’ll have ample opportunities to learn about the costs and investment required for this type of business.

5 Residual Income Streams You Can Create with No (or Little) Money

Residual income ideas

Fortunately, you don’t need money to create a residual income stream. These passive income ideas are great for college students and beginners since they involve little or absolutely no money.

6. Earn cash back

Believe it or not, you can earn cash back from the shopping you already do when you make a purchase through Rakuten. When you install the Rakuten browser extension, you’ll receive alerts any time you’re shopping on one of their partner sites. Activate the cash back deal with one click and then continue shopping like normal.

You can also earn cash through credit cards that offer 1% to 6% cash back every time you make a transaction. To maximize cash-back rewards through credit cards, follow these steps:

Pick the right card. Do your research and choose the ideal card for your spending habits and lifestyle.

Pay monthly bills with the card. Set up automatic bill payments for your internet, cable, phone, utilities, and other monthly bills.

Use the card for big purchases. As long as you’re confident you have the cash for a big purchase like your child’s college tuition or your new sofa, use your credit card to pay for it.

Take advantage of one-time rewards. Some cash-back credit cards offer one-time rewards like a $500 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from opening your account.

Using a cash-back credit card is only good if you pay it off in full and on time every month. The interest accrued from not doing so offsets any cash back you’ll earn.

Other top cash back tools that are free:


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7. Start a blog

Starting a blog or website with written or video content can be a great way to express yourself and earn residual income. To get started, you’ll need to:

Choose a blog topic and name. Figure out what you’d like your blog to be about and pick a relevant name. Although it can be about anything, make sure you pick a topic and name that reflects the subject matter of the blog.

Get your blog online. To get your blog up and running, you’ll need to buy a domain name and hosting service. Keep in mind that your preferred domain name may already be taken and you may have to choose a different one.

Customize your blog. Choose a free template and add content and images to your blog or find a web designer to create a unique design for you. A designer will cost you money but there are enough drag-and-drop free templates that you won’t need one right away.

Write and publish blog posts. Update your blog frequently with informative, engaging blog posts or videos that readers will find valuable.

Once you’ve started a blog and built an audience, you’ll be ready to make money online through:

Advertising: Companies can pay you to advertise their products or services on your blog. Display ads, giveaways, and sponsored posts are all great ways to incorporate advertising into your blog.

Affiliate marketing: As an affiliate marketer, you’ll promote someone else’s product or service to your readers. You’ll link to their offerings through a unique affiliate link and earn a commission every time someone clicks on the link or makes a purchase.

Digital products: Create and sell digital products on your blog. E-courses, eBooks, online workshops, apps, or plugins are examples of common products you could create.

Earning residual income from a blog won’t happen overnight, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way.

8. Rent out your home

Sites like Airbnb provide the opportunity to take the spare space in your house and turn it into residual income.

To earn the most money possible, take quality pictures of your space and write a detailed, enticing description for the listing. This will ensure that when someone performs a search for a place to say, your home will show up.

If you do decide to rent out your home, be sure to:

Set your rates strategically. Do some research to find out what your competitors charge before you set your rates. Also, make sure your rates cover your own expenses such as your mortgage, insurance, and cleaning fees.

Clean your property. Take the time to thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom before guests arrive. If you don’t have the time to, hire a professional cleaning service.

Add special touches. To make your home stand out, add special touches like bottled water in the fridge, fresh flowers, or a visitor’s guide. Guests appreciate special touches, and this makes them more likely to rent from you again or leave a positive review.

Since people typically read reviews before selecting an Airbnb, the more positive reviews you have, the more renters you’ll get and the more money you can make. To ensure that you have as many positive reviews as possible, ask all of your guests to leave one.

9. Host a podcast

A podcast is a series of audio episodes that usually revolve around a particular theme or topic like entrepreneurship or travel. To make money from a podcast, you first need to lay some groundwork:

Find your niche. What do you want to discuss on your podcast? It’s important to find a niche you’re passionate or knowledgeable about.

Choose a name. After you figure out your niche, pick a catchy name that relates to your target audience.

Get podcast software. While you can record a podcast on an iPhone, you might want to invest in a good microphone and audio recording software. Podcast editing software should also be on your list. These three combined will provide your listeners with higher quality episodes and will make them more likely to keep listening.

Record your first episode. When you record your first episode, introduce yourself and your podcast. Speak naturally and try to keep the episodes between 20-30 minutes.

Once you’ve recorded multiple episodes and established an audience, you can focus on monetizing your podcast through:

Sponsorships: You can make money by promoting a company’s product or service that fit with your niche and are valuable to your audience.

Affiliate marketing: If you like a product or want to recommend one, find out if they have an affiliate program. If your listeners use your unique link to purchase that product, you earn a commission.

Sell your products or services: Your podcast is free advertising for your own products and services, so take advantage of that. But not too much advantage — you don’t want your podcast to turn into one long commercial.

Repurpose and sell your content: You can take the audio content you’ve created for your podcast and repurpose it into an eBook, e-course, or another product you can sell.

While it may take some time to build a following and make money from your podcast, it can be a great way to share your thoughts and ideas with others while building a residual income stream.

10. Write a book

Earning residual income from writing a book is possible, but it takes a lot of upfront marketing efforts. There are millions of books out there, so to ensure yours is profitable, you’ll need to develop a strong marketing strategy.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Use Amazon. You can self-publish your book for free with Kindle Direct Publishing and reach the millions of readers on Amazon.

Create a website. Your website should include information about you as an author as well as your book and a link that visitors can click on so they can buy it. If you’re promoting your book via speaking engagements or conferences, add a calendar of events to your website so your readers can attend.

Be social. Use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to introduce your book and promote it to your followers.

Find affiliates. Allow others to become an affiliate for your book. You can do this by finding bloggers targeting the same audience as you and paying them commission every time a sale comes from their site.

Attend trade shows and conventions. Sign up for a booth at a trade show or convention and sell your book to attendees.

These are just some of the tips to create residual income from your book. Marketing your book is hard work, but if done right, you’ll earn income for years to come.

Create Multiple Residual Income Streams

To build stability and reduce risk with residual income, it’s important to diversify and create multiple residual income streams. Doing this ensures that if one doesn’t go as planned or takes a dip, there are others to fall back on.

Markets are tricky and you never know what can happen. You don’t want to compromise your financial security because of their unpredictability.

Remember, residual income does take upfront time and, sometimes, money to build. Fortunately, this investment almost always pays off and leaves you with more time, money, and freedom than you thought possible.

Anna Baluch

Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer who enjoys writing about personal finance topics including mortgages, retirement, insurance, and investing. Her work can be seen on LendingTree, Business Insider, Experian and other well-known publications. Anna lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and holds a bachelor's degree in marketing.

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