Work Smarter, Not Harder: Smart Passive Income Ideas


Looking to start a side hustle that requires little to no day-to-day involvement? Well you’re in luck! These smart passive income ideas are a great way to make a little extra money without a lot of work. I’ve personally got several smart passive income projects in the works, including an Etsy shop, selling stock photos, and small-scale investing. Some of these endeavors may take a decent amount of work up front but once you’ve got your foundation in place, these hustles practically work themselves. That’s one of the greatest things about our millennial generation–it’s not that we don’t work as hard as previous generations, we just have the option and flexibility to work smarter.


Sell A Hobby or Skill

Creating an online store is easier than ever with the use of sites like Etsy and Shopify. Start capitalizing on your artistic abilities by creating an account. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to pay good money for your graphic design and knitting capabilities. With the ability to drop ship so many items, once someone buys something from your site you barely have to do any work. For example, I have an Etsy print shop where I sell prints of my photography. After the initial setup my little online shop hasn’t been too difficult to maintain. Talk about a smart passive income.

A similar framework can be applied to selling freelance work as well. Sites like Upwork and Toptal allow you to find work in copywriting, writing, web design, photography, graphic design, analytics, and more. Almost all freelance work can be done remotely and in addition to your full time job. You could even begin working as a consultant, selling your expertise in any given subject. We all have our talents, the trick is finding a way to capitalize on them.

Smart passive income

Invest Wisely

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about the ins and outs of investing. But with the help of apps like Stash, I have been able to learn the basics and start investing. If you’re good with numbers and enjoy following the stock market then investing is a great way for you to make a smart passive income. Sadly, too many of us assume that investing is too complicated or we don’t have enough money to invest. Even if you start small, the only way to start learning is to try.

Smart passive income

Stock Photography

Are you skilled in photography and have a ton of images sitting on your hard drive that you aren’t even using? Generate smart passive income by uploading photos to stock sites like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. I added maybe 50 images to Adobe Stock last month and they have already begun to generate money. If those photos go stale  could always go back, add more, and continue making money. Granted it’s small amounts at a time but by the end of the year it certainly adds up. It helps that I worked for almost two years at a stock image company so I know what kind of images stock sites like and use a lot. It’s a pretty straightforward formula: generic enough to be used by anyone, high-quality, does not have any copyrighted imagery or prominent people without model releases, and shows places or things that people often need photos of (such as “girl on computer” or “New York sunset”).

Smart passive income

Start a Website/Blog

When I started my blog years ago, it was just a fun creative outlet. Little did I realize just how lucrative a website can be. From affiliate advertising to sponsorships, there are lots of ways to monetize your site. For my site alone I use Google Adsense, rewardStyle, Shopstyle Collective, and more. I also constantly get the chance to work with amazing brands from Lilly Pulitzer to Windstar Cruises to Ralph Lauren. It’s taken me several years to get to this point but if you put in the time and effort, you will certainly see some awesome returns.

Smart passive income

Write a Book

With easy self-publishing options now available, like Amazon, once you get past the initial work of actually writing and creating the book, you get royalties from each sale made. Of course the book should be useful or interesting but the more time you spend marketing the book, the more likely you are to generate sales. If you’re a good writer and have something to say, this could be a great way to subsidize your income.

Smart passive income

House or Pet Sitting

Getting paid to take care of someone’s home or pet while they’re away sounds too good to be true. But they’re not! House and pet sitting gigs are becoming increasingly accessible through apps like Rover and Housesitter. I happen to be an avid dog lover and recently signed up for Rover, which allows me to find dog-sitting and walking jobs in my area. You will often find these gigs through friends/word of mouth, or on sites like Craigslist (a little sketchy so be safe about accepting jobs), but Rover and Housesitter are safe platforms for a reliable gig. While not totally passive, these can be a fun and pretty easy way to generate some extra cash.

Smart passive income

Rent Your Stuff or Rent a Room

If you have a spare room or bed you may consider renting these out in the form of a subletter or through sites like Airbnb. But it’s not just spaces you can rent, but also your things. In the past I’ve rented photo equipment from a site called Kitsplit, where you can rent out lenses, tripods, cameras, and more that might be needed for a photo shoot. Other ideas include extension ladders, tables and chairs, utility trailers, chainsaws, and ATV’s. Especially for things that are expensive and not often used, this is a great way to generate a little extra income.

Smart passive income


These are just a few of the many side hustles you could use to make some extra money! Do you have any great ideas or things you’ve done for passive income? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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