NEWS… BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT
It’s the ultimate dream: a pile of extra cash making its way into your back pocket every month.
Ideally, the money would fall from the sky, and simply present itself to you, without you having to do anything for it.
Of course, that’s not how the world works (for most of us, anyway).
There is a way to regularly boost your bank balance, however, by earning so-called ‘passive’ income.
You might have heard the term bandied around – but what does it mean? And how can you get involved?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Essentially, passive income is a source of revenue that continues after you’ve completed the initial work.
Most of these income streams require at least an initial investment: ideas, existing skills, time, maybe even a little bit of money.
The aim is that, eventually, your project sells itself with minimal upkeep.
Options include creating online courses, ebooks, physical products, your own website – or even a YouTube channel.
So is this income truly ‘passive?’
Not quite, says passive income expert and business strategist Lisa Johnson.
‘True passive income only comes from making money from money. So, investing your money into things and that makes you even more.’
Over the past 4 years, Lisa’s gone from being in debt to earning a seven-figure salary, 90% of which she says comes from ‘passive’ or ‘semi passive’ income streams.
These include creating online courses, consulting work and guiding people to diversify their income streams.
She adds: ‘In reality, even renting out a spare room counts because ‘passive income’ simply means ‘not trading time for money’.
‘You build the asset first – paint the room, put furniture in the room, put an ad out. Then make money from the asset.’
As 2022 rolls around, it feels promising to start the New Year with a goal of setting up passive income.
But can it be done, and if it can, is it really the case that you’ll sit back, relax and watch the cash roll in?
Lisa tells Metro.co.uk that it can be done – but stresses that there’s no overnight ticket to effortless success.
She admits: ‘It takes time and a lot of it in the beginning – and patience.
‘People make out that you can earn 6 figures in 6 weeks online with no [existing] audience. It simply isn’t true and it’s a marketing tactic.
‘I always teach people that passive income isn’t a get rich quick scheme – it takes time and effort.’
She continues: ‘The myth is that passive income means you do nothing, when in reality it is hard work at first.
‘If we’re talking [about] digital, that means up to a year [of hard work] because you’ll need to grow an audience, write the course content, or learn how to launch your product online – but once you’ve done all of that, it becomes very passive.’
If you’re feeling creative or enjoy graphic design, you could sell templates on a platforms like Etsy or even Amazon.
To get started, you’ll need a laptop and relevant software to create the designs. Many people use free tools such as Canva.
Try your hand at designing business card templates, CV templates, book templates, diary or planner templates, card template or social media banners (the list goes on).
Once they’re designed up, you can sell the digital files online – these can sell from anything from 50p to £50. It all depends on how complex they are.
This is an option for people who have a spare room in their current home.
Rather than renting it out full-time to a lodger, you could stick the room up on Airbnb as an accommodation for travellers.
If you live in a popular city or desirable countryside location, this could be lucrative – especially if your prices are reasonable, particularly for longer stays.
You’d be able to approve guests, as well as choose the dates people can book.
As a host, your main concerns would be admin, showing the guest around the property, cleaning, and being available to deal with any concerns.
Metro.co.uk staffer Anna used to rent out her apartment in Berlin when she went on holidays.
‘I’d rent my apartment out for around €40 – €80 a night, depending on the time of year, so the income I generated would pretty much pay off my holidays,’ she said.
‘I used to move out all my valuables and spend a good day or two cleaning before people arrived, so you have to factor that in. Plus, people would often arrive after midnight or in the early hours so I’d use lock boxes – which came at a cost.
‘Overall, it was definitely worth it, but came with its stresses.’
Renters with a spare room could consider something similar. However, you’d need your landlord’s permission first.
Online courses are a hugely popular way of making money from your existing skills.
If you’re an expert in something – anything from filmmaking to vegan cooking to social media – you could teach your knowledge via a digital course that people pay for.
Usually, courses are delivered through pre-recorded videos, audio, worksheets or a combination of media types.
They would typically be advertised through a platform like Skillshare, Teachable or Discoco.
The latter company presents an edit of the best online courses available – because they’re a dime a dozen these days.
To stand out, you’ll need to make sure you’re covering a niche subject matter, can keep your materials up to date, and also have a plan for reaching potential buyers.
Discoco co-founder Isabel Mohan tells Metro.co.uk that courses are ‘a great way for anyone with expertise to add another string to their bow.’
She shares: ‘While we think it’s misleading these days to see courses as a route to true passive income, it’s a clever way to develop your business and reach new people who could potentially turn into valuable one to one clients in the future – whether you’re a life coach, web designer or ukulele player!’
The price you can charge for your course varies wildly. Isabel says Discoco lists courses from as little as £30 for hobby topics – while others teaching sought-after professional skills can cost thousands.
But before you go ahead with publishing all your knowledge, it’s definitely worth doing some background research first.
‘Making the course content… could only take a few hours,’ explains Isabel. ‘But editing it, formatting it all on a course platform, and then figuring out how to sell it can be a time-sucker.
‘It helps if you have some skin in the game. Everyone is calling themselves a coach these days, so it’s tough to stand out.
‘If you already have a network in whatever field you work in, it makes sense to run your idea past them first and use them as guinea pigs. Have a look around at what else is out there and try to find your niche.
‘Running a few live webinars to test the waters is a good way of doing this, before committing to making a whole course.’
Five-star reviews – along with genuine recommendations from friends – are the key to a successful course, Isabel adds.
So, perhaps those who join your early workshops would be willing to give you a testimonial? A good first step.
If you’re a dab hand with a camera, selling photography to stock image sites might be an option for you.
Galleries like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Getty Images/iStock and Yay Images all accept photography – and you’ll receive a percentage every time a photo of yours is sold.
For stock imagery, you could take photos of cities, flowers, animals, a model (whose written permission you have) or even something topical – such as stock images of Covid tests.
These photos may be used by news outlets, websites, businesses. And usually, the more your photo is downloaded, the more it is promoted – meaning more payouts for you.
Some of these galleries accept video and audio files, too.
Like all the income sources on this list, it’s not going to make you an immediate fortune, and competition is fierce: a lot of excellent photographs already exist on these platforms.
But if you own a professional camera and want to give it a shot, it’s worth a try.
Sometimes, you might spot someone on Facebook giving away an old cabinet for free.
If you live in London, you might even find the odd gem on the street labelled ‘free’, just waiting to be taken away.
Instead of scrolling or walking past, if you’re savvy, you can spend a small amount of time restoring and ‘upcycling’ any decent finds – before reselling them.
Viral furniture flipper Shayna Alnwick turned a small profit when she did exactly this during the first lockdown.
It started as a side hustle while she was on furlough (so not 100% passive at all) – but later evolved into a thriving Instagram brand called The Flipped Piece.
Of her journey, she told Metro.co.uk: ‘My first piece of furniture I ever received I found for free in a neighbourhood Facebook group.
‘One of my neighbours was clearing out their home during lockdown and I decided to take their kids’ wardrobe off their hands and painted it.
‘That led to painting everything in my home and eventually going to charity shops to find more furniture to paint and sell.
‘I sold a few pieces here and there on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree and it wasn’t much to start with, around £150 a week by selling two pieces.
‘It slowly grew to making around £2,000 a month just selling furniture.’
There’s a bit more to it than just slapping a coat of paint on an old chair, but Shayna reckons it’s a viable option for anyone ‘willing to to learn the basics such as cleaning, sanding, priming and painting.’
She adds: ‘Knowing which products work well together is key as well as being able to use power tools to help you achieve better results.
‘Not being afraid of trying new colours out and really getting creative is the best thing you can do!’
Another plus is this passive income venture promotes sustainability – revitalising an existing item stops it from winding up in a skip.
But make sure you start small, practising with a piece or two. And of course, if you can’t transport furniture around easily (such as with a car), it’d be quite a challenge.
There are a number of ways a blog or website can make money:
However, creating and running a website to make money isn’t entirely a passive endeavour.
There’s a lot to consider, and you’ll often have to spend time on it even after the initial investment.
Firstly, you’ll need to figure out what your website will be about. Ideally, something that isn’t widely-covered by other blogs.
Welsh travel blogger Monica Stott began The Travel Hack all the way back in 2009.
Today, the blog, along with an online course she sells, covers all her monthly bills and expenses – but to succeed in 2022 and beyond, you’ve got to get specific.
She explains to Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s 100% worth starting a blog, but blogs are very different to what they were 10 years ago.
‘Blogs were once personal accounts where people shared their lives through stories and photos, but we now have social media for that so personal blogs are diminishing.
‘Blogs are now used to share informative articles and the bloggers behind them share their expertise in a specific niche. It’s vital to have [one] – and you really need to prove you’re an expert and share valuable information that people are searching for.
‘Surprisingly, it’s often the mirco-niches that are most profitable. You can’t just start a blog about cooking. It needs to be really specific, such as a blog about recipes for toddlers, or food intolerances, or cooking using only an air fryer!’
You’ll need to be passionate about (or at least interested in) your niche – as you’ll be spending more time than you think on it.
In many cases you’ll need to spend years building up a strong brand before you can expect any passive income on it.
US-based Vanessa Gordon runs an online publication called East End Taste Magazine, which brings her an income each month alongside her job as an English tutor.
But as she tells Metro.co.uk: ‘In total, per week, my website management time averages at 16 hours. Approximately 2 to 3 hours per day, adding more if I’m writing an article.
‘Anything that is worth it is never easy. If it were easy, there would be a line out the door to get in.’
Monica concurs, adding that though her blog is a financial success now, it’s taken years of graft to get it there.
‘The Travel Hack has been a work in progress since 2009 and has been a full time obsession!’ she admits.
‘Many, many hours have gone into the blog but very little financial investment. I have a laptop and a camera, but the real investments have been my time.
‘It was a side hustle until 2014 and then my full time job for a few years too.’
Today, Monica works on her blog sporadically. ‘I’ll work on it full time for a month but then I might not look at it again for six months.
‘But I’ll continue to be paid the same amount without so much as opening my laptop.’
Once you’ve nailed your niche, you then need to actually set up the site, which involves (among other things):
If it sounds like a lot, then you’d be right. You’ll need to do your homework, and some of this may come with a small upfront cost.
Vanessa explains: ‘[You need] at least a basic understanding of the components of maintaining a website.
‘Educate yourself by reading relevant articles. YouTube can also be your best friend when it comes to WordPress and web design – and all of the components that come into play when running your own digital publication.’
Monica agrees, adding there are plenty of resources to get you started: ‘If someone wanted to start a blog to earn passive income these days, then they would be able to do it much faster than I did,’ she says.
‘There are so many tools, forums, courses, platforms and apps that make it all possible these days, so it’s much easier than it was in 2009!’
Say you’ve got all that sorted.
Your blog is up and running, and you’ve been producing great content that people are reading.
Now, you’ve got to consider the money-making side of things. This usually comes along when you’ve got a bit of an audience.
Running ads seems an obvious first step – as does joining retailer affiliate programmes (which earns you small percentage when someone clicks through from your website to another, and goes on to buy a product).
You don’t need to be sat at the screen to earn money when someone clicks on the add, or decides to make a purchase after reading one of your articles.
But how else can you make substantial passive income through your blog or website?
Kathi Kamleitner, from Glasgow, runs a popular Scotland travel blog called Watch Me See.
Her key to success was finding a saleable solution to a niche problem – by creating her own product and selling it through her blog.
Kathi tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Narrow your niche and make yourself known as the expert, or the go-to person for a very specific topic or problem.
‘Then develop a service or a product that solves this problem and can be scaled – the last part is very important for passive income.
‘Deciding what the ‘one thing’ should be might take some experimenting at first, but it will help attract the right people who need your help.
‘Thanks to my blog, I’ve become known as an expert itinerary planner for Scotland. For 2022, I’m launching ready-made itineraries that [people can buy], pick up and follow easily.’
Hey, they say everyone has a book in them, right?
If the video element of a course puts you off, as does the daily/weekly commitment of running a blog or website – but you love writing – you could consider launching an ebook.
Typically, you’d want to choose a subject that you have expertise in, that you’re willing to share with the world.
There are different ways to self-publish, but perhaps one of the most obvious is Amazon UK.
However, like most passive income possibilities, you’ll still need to invest your time into the project.
You’ll need to plan the book’s structure, write the copy, design and format the book, get it edited to avoid typos or grammatical errors.
That’s before you’ve even published it, or try to market it and encourage people to buy it.
It’s impossible to say how long the creation process could take – as it depends on the length of the book among other things.
It’s also not easy to say when the book will start making money, but once it’s out there, you can start promoting it.
This one’s obvious, and probably quite annoying if you’ve got absolutely zero change of affording a second property (or a first property).
However, if you can afford to purchase a flat or house, renting it out will bring it extra money – as your tenant will pay a weekly or monthly rent to live in the space.
This seems to be one of the most ‘passive’ forms of income you can have – especially if you outsource maintenance and dealing with tenants to a letting agency.
But, again, it’s not accessible to everyone. Moving swiftly on…
We know that renting houses, flats and even spare rooms can be lucrative – but what about parking spaces?
If you live in an area with a big demand for parking, and you own a space or garage that you don’t use, it’s possible to make money from it.
Websites such as Your Parking Space and ParkLet act as marketplaces for both renter and buyer.
And judging by what’s on offer in London, you could charge anywhere from £120 to £510 per month for your parking spot – depending on how desirable your location is.
Similarly, if you own a bike, or expensive household equipment that you’re not using – why not see if you can rent it out?
Spinlister allows people to rent bikes from anywhere in the world. Tool libraries (which allow people to pay for a day’s use of an expensive tool) are also becoming more popular.
Eep. This is a difficult one.
Cryptocurrencies are essentially digital cash – kept in virtual ‘wallets’ such as Blockchain.
If you truly know how they work, and can follow the trends, then you might consider investing in them – to see if you can game the market and earn some extra cash.
However, passive income expert Lisa Johnson says this is a ‘risky’ move – and she certainly isn’t wrong.
Cryptocurrencies don’t come with any legal protection like money in a bank does. And the value of currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Shiba Inu seems to fluctuate quite rapidly.
If you don’t know much cryptocurrencies, best to do your research first.
An easier option for earning passive income is researching ways to make your existing money work harder.
For example, if you’re hoping to earn some passive income in order to save for a property, you may want to look into a Lifetime ISA (LISA).
Anyone under 40 can open a LISA, with funds kept in a savings account, locked until you go to purchase your first property (that you intend to live in) or until you’re 60.
You can save up to £4,000 per tax year, with the government topping up whatever you’ve saved by 25% (£1,000 maximum).
It’s great if you don’t plan to touch this money until it’s time to buy a home or until you’re much older.
However, if there’s a chance you might need to access this money before then, it’s perhaps not the best option.
You’ll pay a penalty (getting less back than you personally put in, as well as losing the government top-up) if you need to remove the funds for another purpose.
Still, if you’ve got savings sitting there doing nothing, it’s worth exploring your options.
Similarly, there’s something called ‘robo-investing’ – which could help if you’re rubbish at saving.
Essentially, an app or online bank will make it easier for you to save (by setting up direct debits, reminders or rounding up your purchases to the nearest pound).
It will also invest any money you’ve got in an ISA, pension pot or another savings account, to try and grow the amount you have.
Usually, you can choose between ‘cautious’ and ‘adventurous’ options for these types of accounts.
For a bit more information, look into Moneybox or Nutmeg – but make sure you read the fine print before signing up.
And keep in mind there’s always a bit of risk involved with any kinds of investment – as the stock market changes often.
Are you a DIY whizz? Love caring for your cat? Enjoy embroidery, painting or baking?
If you’ve got an iPhone, an internet connection and a skill or hobby, you can start your own YouTube channel – and potentially bring in money through advertising or sponsorship.
Today, it’s easy to start a channel without needing to purchase fancy equipment – as modern smartphones have high quality cameras.
Tripods (to hold your smartphone up) and plug-in microphones (to better record your voice) aren’t essential, but also aren’t that expensive to buy online either.
Your best bet is to make useful videos, such as recipes or how-tos, on topics that people will search for.
There are even videos on how to make YouTube videos and YouTube channels…
Again, it’s a good idea to have a niche topic in mind, and to research what videos already exist before you start filming.
Competing with established channels that already have big followings will be tough.
Sadly, it’s not an immediate moneymaker (and you’ll need 1,000 subscribers before you can run ads on your videos) – but if you’ve got the drive, it’s worth a shot.
Also worth keeping in mind that with YouTube, consistency is key. Pick a regular posting schedule – such as posting one video every Wednesday at 7pm – and try to stick to it.
Last but not least: print-on-demand.
This option would probably work best for those with art and design skills.
Simply create a product – such as a t-shirt – featuring your design and start selling from your own shop.
Essentially, you design the product, run an online shop and deal with customers, but you don’t deal with the physical product itself. Another company makes it when an order comes in, then sends it out for you.
There are lots of places offering this type of service – including Shopify, Printify, Inkthreadable and Printful.
As always, you’ll need to invest time in this idea. To sell the product, you’ll also need to market it.
If you’d rather take care to manage every aspect of your product (including keeping the inventory) – then you’re veering into ‘starting a small business’ territory.
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