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8 Best Ways to Make Passive Income Online in 2017

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This post is part of a series called How to Create Passive Income (Complete Beginner’s Guide).
15+ Quick, Easy Ways to Start Generating Passive Income
How to Evaluate Your Passive Income Ideas For Opportunities

For many people, passive income sounds like the dream. You get to earn money while you sleep! You’re free to travel the world and work 4 hours a week! As we’ve covered in the previous tutorials in this series though, there’s a lot more to it than that. 

The three most important lessons that you need to read before continuing are:

These three tutorials cover the basics of what you need to know about making passive income. Now in this tutorial we’re going to take a different approach: let’s look at some of the best ways to start actually making passive income online in 2017. 

List the best ways to make passive income online
Grab a notepad and take notes on the best ways to make passive income online (in 2017). (Photo: source.)

How to Make Passive Income Online in 2017 (8 Best Ways to Start)

What are the best ways to make passive income? How can you get started with them? Let's dig into these eight simple ways to begin making passive income online, from starting a blog, to selling digital products, and more—so you can find the best one you'd like to pursue this year:

1. Start a Blog to Make Passive Income in 2017

One of the simplest ways to start making passive income is to start a blog. Now, it’s far from the simplest way to start making a lot of passive income but there are a lot of very good options for how to monetise things. It can also serve as a platform to launch other, potentially more profitable ventures. 

The hardest thing with a blog is finding a decent niche. To be really successful, you need to write about something you’re an expert on that isn’t already too saturated. 

You can try and start another travel blog, but every twenty-something who’s visited South East Asia has one; the market is so saturated that it will be very difficult for you to stand out and start making money. Instead, if you find something you’re interested in that is underserved, you’re far more likely to be able to carve out a space. You’ve a far greater chance of making money with a blog for vintage BMW owners than another generic Thailand travel guide.

When it comes to making money the two quickest ways to start are ads and affiliate programs. Let’s take them one at a time.

Option 1. Monetize Your Site With - Ads

Ads are one of the easiest ways to start monetising your site. Anyone can sign up for Google’s AdSense program and add a few to their site. If someone visits your site and clicks on (or sometimes even just sees) the ad, you’ll make a few cents. 

Now, the problem with ads are that the amount of money they bring in is very low. More and more people are using ad blockers, and very few people actually click on generic AdSense ads. 

A better form of ads is to approach potential partners and have them buy ad space on your site. If you’ve got your niche right and have traffic, you should be able to get some traction. With our vintage BMWs example, you could approach any dealers that sell parts for old cars. Learn more: 

Option 2. Monetize Your Site With - Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are the current hot thing in monetising websites. The basics are that retailers like Amazon will pay you a percentage if you send someone to their website to buy something. The percentage ranges from around 3% with sites like Amazon all the way up to 60% or even higher for information products sold by other people looking to make passive income. 

Like with ads, for affiliate marketing to work, you need to be reaching the right niche. Vintage BMW drivers aren’t going to be interested in a guide to cheap travel in Asia; it doesn’t matter what cut you get, you won’t sell any copies through your site.

The best way to monetise with a blog is to use it as a base. If you successfully build a niche audience who’s interested in what you have to say, you can up-sell them to more profitable products. A lot of the ideas in this guide will be easier if you already have a blog with an audience. 

Learn more about how to start a blog that's profitable

2. Sell Guides For Passive Income in 2017

Information products are a classic passive income product for a good reason: they’re relatively easy to make, don’t have many fixed costs and can bring in quite a lot of revenue. Especially if you’ve developed an audience, they can be a really good way to make passive income.

Let’s continue the vintage BMW idea. Old cars obviously require quite a lot of maintenance. Many people will buy a “fixer upper” with the intention of spending their spare time repairing and restoring it. There’s a very obvious market here: a guide to restoring different BMW models. Depending on your knowledge, you could produce detailed guides for the three or four most popular models and sell them. Not everyone restoring a car will buy them, but some probably will.

It doesn’t matter what your niche is, if you’ve got some knowledge that isn’t readily available somewhere else, or is laid out in a very clear way, there’s room to sell guides. 

3. Create a Video Course in Just a Few Days

Courses are similar to guides but they’re easier to produce for some subjects, especially tech subjects. If you’ve got a computer, a decent microphone and some screen recording software, it’s pretty easy to create high quality courses. You can sell your course through your own site or you can use a marketplace like Udemy to do all the heavy lifting. 

Like guides, the key to making really good money is to find a niche. You’re probably not going to manage to make much from another Photoshop 101 course. You don’t need your own website to launch a course, but it does make it easier.

4. Start a Deals Newsletter - Get Stated This Week

Everyone loves a deal. If you’re someone who’s prepared to spend a few hours digging through the internet to find them, then you can monetise your obsession. 

There are some very very successful travel sites like Secret Flying that are based entirely around the idea of finding weird, cheap flights. Some of the deals involve strange layovers, mistakes by the airlines, and other tricks that take advantage of discounts and offers. 

SecretFlying deals passive income site
SecretFlying deals passive income site.

Obviously, trying to compete with Secret Flying isn’t going to work but, once again, if you’ve got a good niche there’s plenty of opportunities. 

5. Sell a Product Through Amazon, as Soon as Possible

Digital products aren’t the only things you can sell online: you can also sell physical products. Managing everything yourself is tough but there are other options. 

The “Fulfilled by Amazon” program is another really popular passive income idea that’s being promoted a lot in 2017. Basically, you create a physical product (or buy one in bulk from China) and have it shipped directly to Amazon. Amazon then lists it on their website, sell it and deliver it. They obviously take a decent cut but they’re doing most of the intensive work.

Although FBA is a popular idea, it’s also a tricky one. Developing your own physical product is really difficult and bad Chinese knockoffs may not be very easy to sell. Finding something that works is not for the faint of heart though the rewards might be worth it. There are people earning well with this strategy though. 

6. Design T-Shirts and Other Apparel This Weekend

Selling T-shirts and other apparel is a pretty saturated market but the tools to do it are easy to use, which makes it very quick and cheap to get going. If you’re creative enough, or tap into the zeitgeist properly, you can also have a runaway hit. Even if your first 19 T-shirts don’t sell more than a few copies, your 20th might make up for everything.

There are three parts to selling apparel online: designing the apparel, setting up the store, and marketing it.

  • For the design, you can either do it yourself, purchase stock images through a site like PhotoDune, or hire someone through Envato Studio
  • For the market place, you can then use something like CafePress that, in return for a decent cut, will handle sales, printing and fulfilment. You never have to touch a T-shirt. 
  • Finally, for marketing, you can use Facebook or Google Ads to reach people who you think might be interested. If you’ve already got a niche audience, you can also sell to them.

If you're looking to do the design yourself, you can find plenty of tutorials to help up your graphic skills in our Design and Illustration section of Envato Tuts+. Or get started with our course on Designing T-Shirts That Sell:

Designing T-Shirts That Sell
Designing T-Shirts That Sell, premium course. Sign up for Envato Tuts+ for a free trial for access.

7. Develop Wordpress Themes for ThemeForest This Month

You’ve probably noticed a trend by now: a lot of passive income ideas involve using an existing marketplace to reach customers. One of the best and biggest is Envato Market

If someone is starting a blog, there’s a really high chance they’re going to use Wordpress. And if they’re going use Wordpress, they need a good theme. Thousands of people everyday turn to the Envato Market's ThemeForest to get one. The top theme developers have made millions of dollars through Envato.

Now obviously you’re not going to make millions the first time you develop and sell a theme, but there is definitely the opportunity for some good passive income if you’ve got the skills to make them.

Learn more about how a Power Elite Envato WordPress Author built their million dollar business through ThemeForest: 

8. Create Other Products for Envato Market in 2017

Wordpress themes aren’t the only things for sale through the Envato Market. You can also sell stock photos through PhotoDune, stock footage through VideoHive, sound clips through AudioJungle, anything graphic related though GraphicRiver, web and app development resources through CodeCanyon, and 3D elements through 3dOcean. There are a huge amount of options here for anyone with the skills to create resources.

Even if you don’t have the skills right now, it’s possible to develop them. Envato Tuts+ has a load of great courses that teach you how to make Wordpress themes, Photoshop actions and so on. If you invest a few months into learning the necessary skills, you might well be able to carve out a spot for yourself in the Envato Market or in our new curated website Envato Elements

Take Advantage of Envato Elements and Envato Tuts+ Deal

At Envato Elements, you get Inspiring and ready-to-use templates, fonts, add-ons, and more digital assets. Unlimited template downloads for a single monthly fee. 

Whether you're looking to launch a blog to monetize, develop a new deals newsletter, or working toward serial entrepreneurship Envato Elements is a great resource to tap into. 

Right now Envato Elements Includes free access to Envato Tuts+. That's thousands of unlimited use trend-worthy graphic and template assets, as well as over a thousand hours of premium video training. 

Envato Elements Includes free access to Envato Tuts
Envato Elements membership Includes free access to Envato Tuts+, saving you $15 a month.

Making Passive Income Online (In 2017) Is Simple to Start, but Far From Easy 

There are a lot of online passive income ideas out there that, with a few weeks of hard work, you can implement. If you wanted to, you could launch a T-shirt brand in a weekend. This all makes it more accessible than ever… which means competition has never been fiercer. 

While all the ideas in this article can and do work, you can’t go in half cocked. Just putting up a niche website and expecting people to magically come and click on your ads won’t get you very far. Instead, you’ll need to put work into building an audience. You can put a course up on Udemy in a few hours, or a theme on ThemeForest, but unless you market it, you won’t sell very many copies. 

In the upcoming passive income tutorials in this series, we’ll start to address some of these issues. For now, start setting your goals. Filter through these best ways to make passive income online in 2017. Write down those ideas that fit your skills best, so you can begin to take action.

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