The U.S. Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income. It defines passive income as only coming from two sources: rental activity or "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate." Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to negative gearing. Passive income is usually taxable.
At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!
My personal finance blogs were started with $100, but you can start a blog with $20 if you buy hosting on a monthly basis. That’s 4 Starbucks coffees or 4 packs of cigarettes many paycheck to paycheck people do find a way to buy. After six months of HARD work, my first site started generating $2,000 a month, and today, those three sites generate over $5,000 a month, while all I have put in was hosting for $100-ish every year each, and a website redesign for under $1,000 after three years. Freelance writing and translation jobs are also a sizable part of my income that did not require any upfront investment. Investing $10 a month in index funds is also a realistic way for many to build yet another income stream.
I’ve had more jobs than I can count since I ‘officially started working’ at the age of 14. And I say officially because I was always hustling as a kid. There were the ordinary things like lemonade stands and selling my old junk at our family’s yard sales but I could get pretty creative when it came to making money. In high school, I remember asking my mom to give me extra bags of chips and snacks in my lunch so that I could re-sell them to my classmates for 75 cents or even a dollar. I was kind of a chubby kid so I guess my mom just figured I liked to snack a lot.
* Freelance writing: Quality freelance writing takes tremendous effort. Ironically, the better the quality of your writing, the more you don’t want to freelance and just keep the articles for your own site. Freelancing is a great way to earn side income, however, it’s not really for me. I’ll probably take on one or two freelance jobs maximum per year and write no more than four articles a month elsewhere.
I also like the distinctions you make about the illusion of influence. I have control over most of my investments (real estate related) and have 10% in passive index funds. But I think as I continue to diversify, I like putting it into the two buckets of (1) I control (2) no control (stock market). I like that clarity. The illusion of control does add stress and hassle that detract from enjoying your life. Not worth extra returns to me.
You've probably read blog posts and articles that recommend a certain brand of backpack or water, so you click on their hyperlinked link. Oftentimes, that person gets paid a commission when you do. If you have a blog, the same can happen for you. It's a win-win-win for everyone involved — you, the product you're recommending, and the person who clicks on the link to get the product. Pat Flynn talks about this at length on his website, Smart Passive Income, where you can learn a whole lot more on the topic, aside from affiliate marketing.
Whoah – I haven’t read an entire post this long in awhile. That’s how hooked I was. It took me 5 income streams before I became a Millionaire. I now have 11 and it’s fascinating to see which ones are now generating the highest ROI 5 years in. My side digital marketing business is by far my most profitable, but also requires the most of my time. I have finally started automating 4 of these streams (websites I bought) and it feels great to make money not doing anything – well I do have to make sure that my credit card doesn’t expire on my hosting account! I really like your blog – just found it on the Rockstar Forum. I’ve added it to my regular readers. Looks like your crushing Pinterest – where do you make your images?
I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.
I just started out with Affiliate Marketing (idea # 8) and it is not as easy as people make out to be. For me the hardest part so far is learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and driving traffic to my website. I m only 3 months into it, but I am confident that the site will begin to generate some income, I have give it 6-9 months, so we’ll see.
Portfolio income can come from multiple sources – interest/bond coupons, stock dividends, financial strategies including derivatives and capital growth. Each offers some cash flow and some also offer potential capital gain with some risk from liquidity and volatile prices. In this low-yield environment, many investors rely too heavily on cash flows and to pursue this are venturing further into riskier areas than they’d normally consider.