Unless you belong to the 1% of uber wealthy Americans, you could probably use some extra money. More is better--even if you already meet your financial obligations every month. If, however, you're struggling to pay off debt or fighting to keep your monthly bills in check, you have an incentive to rake in more cash. The best way to do this is by generating passive cash flow through additional streams of income.
Call them side hustles, gigs, or second jobs -- passive income can be defined as regular flowing income that requires very little or no additional work. Conversely, active income is when you trade your time for money. In order to generate more active income, you have to spend more hours doing work on your current job, or another job.
Passive income allows you to make money without spending more time working. Income that's passive doesn't require much effort in addition to your primary job. Most passive income opportunities will require you to do some work up front, but if you play your cards right, you could see an increase in your income without an increase in how much work you do.
There are hundreds of ways to generate passive income. Here are of some of the best ways to grow your income without quitting your full-time job, and without doing a lot of additional work:
1. Invest Your Money
Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Investing allows you to truly make money while you sleep. When you invest, you're using your own money to make more money, without any work on your part. You do need to do some initial research if you don't know much about mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and an initial investment of $1000 - $3000 is usually required. Use reputable investment firms such as Vanguard, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade to get started.
2. Sell on Amazon
There are lots of places to sell your stuff online, but Amazon is king. All sellers can list products in more than 20 categories. Once you find great products to sell, you can get Amazon to ship it. That means, no inventory for you to manage. Amazon has created one of the most advanced fulfillment networks in the world, and you can benefit by having them do the dirty work. With Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you store your products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and Amazon will pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for your products. Best of all, FBA can help you scale your products and reach more customers.
3. Write Something
Your opinions are valuable. If you don't believe me, look at the millions of blogs and articles written by people who started talking simply because they had something to say. In most cases, it really doesn't matter what you're talking about--there are always people willing to listen. Whether it's sports, politics, or social issues, there is a good chance you will draw an audience. This is especially true when you have something unique or valuable to talk about. When thousands of people begin listening, you may be able to attract advertisers and create some instant cash from ads.
4. Start a YouTube Channel
Building on that idea of expressing your opinion, you can start a video channel where you talk about your experiences. Even more popular are how-to videos or instructional videos that show others how you accomplish a specific task. Are you good with small engine repair, or know how to create a three-tiered cake? You can create videos in just about any area that you like (i.e music, tutorials, opinions, comedy, movie reviews) or something else. You can then attach Google AdSense to the videos, which will overlay your videos with automatic ads. When viewers click on those ads, you will earn money from AdSense.
5. Create an Audio Book
You should only do this if you have something significant to say. Really. An audiobook usually demands each user (listener) pay a small fee up front, so buyers will want to receive something of substance. If you are an expert in any area, consider writing a manuscript and prepare to record it. One of the most popular tools to use is the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). ACX makes it easy to produce and distribute your digital audiobook. You could also hire an ACX narrator to read your material for you, or hire a producer who is already familiar with technical requirements of recording an audiobook.
6. Make Money When You Shop
Consider using cash back sites when you buy online from thousands of retailers including places you probably already shop like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Target. Ebates is the most popular. Be sure to also check out Swagbucks and Paribus, and Seated, which is an app that gives you $5-$15 Amazon gift cards when you the app to complete a restaurant reservation.
Uber and Lyft are both ride sharing programs that allow you to make money by driving folks to their destinations. Work whenever you feel like it and earn anywhere between $50-$1000 a week. This is one of the easiest ways to generate additional income, but may not be considered "passive" since you must trade time for money. Either way, you can make some cash, and the ride-share programs handle all the transactions. Just be sure you have a vehicle that fits their requirements.
8. Take Some Photos
Do you like taking pictures? If you do, you may be able to convert them into a passive income. Royalty-free and Rights-managed photography websites like iStockphoto, Dreamstime and Shutterstock provide platforms where you can sell your photos. These sites offer either a percentage or a flat fee for each photo that is sold to clients. Just make sure your photo quality is pretty good.
9. Create An Online Course
Everybody's good at something. No matter what you're good at, there are probably thousands of people who wish they had your skills. Start by deciding what skills and experiences you have. Maybe you have overcome a difficult challenge, or fixed something, or struggled through and finished a particular process. Odds are, others have experienced those same challenges and could learn from your expertise. Check out sites like Udemy to get started.