Data shows that business on the corporate side certainly seems to be booming. Chris Lamontagne, vice president of commercial at Teespring, says his site’s 5 million sellers have earned more than $300 million since the company launched in 2012. The average seller pockets about $9,000 a year from the service. At least 30 people have become Teespring millionaires, and about 3,000 new sellers join the site every day—which he takes as a sign the passive income trend is just getting started.
Print on demand (or simply “merch”), where passive income thrives, took about two decades to get off the ground. CafePress, an online gift shop that calls itself “the recognized pioneer of customizable products,” launched back in 1999, followed by Zazzle in 2005 and Redbubble in 2006. By 2007 the trend had caught on widely enough that the Washington Post referred to custom T-shirts as a “growing market” and CNET published a listicle of “20 rad T-shirt sites.” Society6 started in 2009, then Teespring in 2012, and Merch by Amazon in 2015.
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Ramit Sethi is a world-renowned personal finance expert who took his blog about money and turned it into a multi-million-dollar company that teaches people how to make money from all kinds of work (online and traditional). His approach began purely as financial advice — how to “be rich” in the monetary sense. But in the past several years, he decided that there’s more to being “rich” than just money.
Outsourcing is the new and dominant wave of the business world. As businesses shed employees, they increasingly turn to independent contractors to supply what in-house staff used to do. One of the ways they do this is through virtual assistants. These are people who provide certain tasks online. Businesses can use virtual assistants as much or as little as they need to. If you can make yourself available to multiple businesses, you might have plenty of work without ever leaving your house.
Mechanical Turk: Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you'll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online.
It’s sometimes hard to comprehend just how much people love t-shirts. And with the right niche, marketing, and tools, you can create an online t-shirt business that makes you extra money online while you sleep. (Even Bloomberg and Forbes feature stories from entrepreneurs who've done just that.) Services like TeeSpring make it easier than ever to create a t-shirt drop-shipping business where they handle the sales, printing, and shipping, and you’re only responsible for design and marketing. For more tips, check out this simple guide to launching and marketing an online clothing store by my friends over at Selz.
Host a giveaway on your store. Run a Facebook ad to a giveaway landing page on your store. Use a tool like Rafflecopter to add multiple contest entries like sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and more. You want this giveaway to get maximum reach. You’ll want to make sure you have a retargeting ad running on your store at the same time. The retargeting ad isn’t going to be the only way you’ll monetize the contest though. When sending high numbers of traffic to your website, you always want to have a retargeting ad running. The giveaway page has to be located on your store website – do not put it on another site or on social media. Otherwise retargeting won’t work. After the contest for the giveaway prize has ended, you’ll send the winner the prize they won. However, you’ll also send everyone who lost a runner up prize. The runner up prize can be a $5 gift card for your store. Make sure that all of your products cost over $30 and have more than $15 profit so you don’t lose money. The gift card almost acts like a discount code.
If you love to travel and find yourself randomly searching for airfare sales or browsing Lonely Planet, why not carve out a niche for yourself as a private travel agent? My friend, Mark Jackson did just that, making extra money online with his travel consulting side business. Start with word of mouth recommendations from friends who know they can count on you for the cheapest flights, and then move on and create a Facebook or LinkedIn group to invite people who want to stay on top of the latest deals. Eventually you could spin this into a full-time consultancy teaching people how to make their dream trip a reality.
Pulling weeds may not seem like very much fun but it make you a good amount of money several months out of the year. Older people may enjoy planting a garden and watching it grow but the hard work of keeping it free of grass and weeds is an opportunity for you to offer your gardening skills to help boost their harvest. It may only take 1-3 hours a week per garden, making it important to line up more than one customer if you want to make significant money.
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Normally you’ll be asked to test a few websites by visiting them and to document and record your reactions and thoughts as you go through it. It’s really easy to get set up making extra money online by testing websites. All you need to do is sign up to the following services: UserTesting.com, Userlytics, TryMyUI, Userfeel, TestingTime (UK only), or Side Income Jobs.
If you have an eBay account, a arbitrage business can be good way to make money by selling items at a higher price than they cost elsewhere on the internet. Once a product is sold, you use the money you get from your buyer to purchase the item from another site at a lower price, setting the shipping address as theirs. There may not be many opportunities to do this as there were in the past, but those who keep a good eye on their chosen niche can still make a profit.
Affiliate marketing is the process by which you can get paid for people buying or trying products and services through personalized links on marketing platforms. If you already have a website, it does not take long to get approved on affiliate marketing networks. All you have to do once you are approved is add the custom links they will give you to your site and let the money start coming to you. Learn more about affiliate marketing.
If you have a background in a specific field, you may find there is a demand for writing industry papers in your area of expertise. For example, there are often adverts for doctors, lawyers, nutritionists, and business experts from particular niches, to write white papers on different subject areas. These are well paid jobs that you will need to stake your reputation on, but that can often be worked on from the comfort of your own home.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.