Wish you could somehow automate your online income? These five real-life examples demonstrate that it’s not such a far-fetched dream after all.

Print on Demand: Start an E-Commerce Business with No Cash Investment

A print on demand business is a type of dropshipping venture where you design and customize your products and the manufacturer handles the rest.

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is an online retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t stock the products it is selling. Instead, it purchases the product from the manufacturer or wholesaler and has it shipped straight to the customer. This means the store owner doesn’t have to worry about investing in stock upfront, paying for warehousing or dealing with order fulfillment, shipping, and returns.

No wonder the dropshipping idea has caught fire amongst online entrepreneurs. Launching an online store in just a few days, and without any upfront investment, does sound like a dream come true, but is it really possible?

It took six days for this 17-year-old online entrepreneur to get his first sale. After that, the business took off and he’s now making $13,500 a month. The opportunity is ripe. However, it must be said that the passive earning starts after your online shop is set up and running successfully. While this process isn’t as easy as collecting a rent check, it’s worth the time and effort. What you put in, in terms of fine-tuning and promoting your store, is what you will get out of it in the form of sales.

The soaring popularity of print on demand dropshipping is in part driven by the introduction of various apps and tools that streamline the entire process. For instance, Printify, a print-on-demand platform, enables store owners to create and sell a vast range of products with custom designs, while it handles the printing and shipping of all items. Using a third party to carry out order fulfillment allows entrepreneurs to focus on what they know best—monitoring trends, optimizing their website and marketing their store.

Irwin Dominguez, another e-commerce entrepreneur who generated $1-million in sales within eight months of starting his dropshipping business has put it best, “I can’t find a reason why people shouldn’t give e-commerce entrepreneurship a try. With all the technology out there, it costs no money to get started and it couldn’t be any simpler. You literally have nothing to lose. And I’m surprised more people don’t use this to their benefit.”  

Grow and Monetize an Online Community: Where Passion Meets Money

When the conversation turns to online communities, the common misconception is that it is somehow related to forums or discussion groups. Which is true to some extent, but it’s not the whole truth. An online community is more about the values, interests, experiences, and interactions that bind it than where it happens on the internet—an e-commerce site, a personal blog, a forum, or a Facebook group can have an online community.

The CouchSurfing platform is a great example of what an online community entails. By uniting like-minded people that share the same passion and vision of traveling the world, CouchSurfing has created a movement that’s bigger than the brand itself. While building an engaged community is one part of the exercise, equally important is finding ways to monetize it.

CouchSurfing has an online shop stocked with a wide range of branded products, such as t-shirts, mugs, calendars, notebooks, and similar type of merchandise. It’s an effective solution, but not the only one that exists. If you’ve succeeded in building an online following, on any online platform, focus on applying the most suitable online community monetization strategies to start earning a passive income from the hard work you’ve already done. Grab this guide to online community monetization for top-class ideas.

Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash

Leverage Affiliate Marketing Opportunities

Anyone can be an affiliate, that’s why it’s one of the most popular ways of earning a passive income online. Amazon Associates offers up to 12% advertising fees, while Shopify pays up to $2,000 for new merchant referrals. But partnering with these big players isn’t the only way to capitalize on affiliate marketing. For example, blogger Caitlyn Pyle has shown how she earned $14,063 in six days from just one affiliate product. When executed to perfection, affiliate marketing can be incredibly valuable to the reader and immensely profitable to the affiliate.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that anyone with a digital voice can tap into this source of passive income. YouTubers, social media mavens, Instagram influencers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and anyone with the ability to inspire people around them can find and work with affiliate partners that align with their industries, beliefs, and values.

Create a Money-Making YouTube Channel

While not entirely passive, YouTube monetization opportunity is quite a big deal. For those who have cracked the video production and editing process or those who’ve discovered a profitable niche—gamers, product reviewers or vloggers, for instance—can easily earn a passive income from the videos they’re already making. The key to succeeding on YouTube is creating content consistently and promoting it through other channels—your own blog, for example. Once YouTube notices that you’re uploading new, quality content on a constant basis, it will start showing your videos to people who are watching similar videos. That’s where the ad money will roll in.

Check out YouTuber Mike Vestil, who explains his own journey from 30 views per video to earning over $100 a day in this blog post.

Monetize Your Expertise by Selling Digital Products

Image source: Parth Shah from Pexels

One of the easiest ways to establish a passive income stream is to start selling digital products. If you’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge in a specific industry or discovered a valuable hack or tactic that could benefit people in your industry, you can package those insights into an ebook or online course and leave it to generate a monthly income for you. To maximize your profits, it’s always recommended to sell those digital products directly to your audience, ideally on your own website or blog.

Jim and Ricky, a duo of bloggers at Income School, have written extensively about earning more than $500k from digital products in just one year. In their income breakdown, they have disclosed the most successful packages and the money they brought:

  • Online classes – Approximately $267,000.00
  • eBooks – Approximately $22,000.00
  • Digital Downloads – Approximately $165,000.00
  • Affiliate deals – $37,771.05
  • Miscellaneous – About $15,000.00—including teaching workshops, private coaching, selling articles, etc.

Whether you do photography in your spare time, have a library of unused icons on your drive or have unique insights that can be bundled into an ebook or online course, there’s plenty of potentials to earn a passive income—you just need to play to your strengths.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Founder/CEO Just&Tom and JustasMarkus.com. Passionate traveler and blogger at Entrepreneur.com, Business.com, Influencive.com and others. Catch up with Justas on Twitter.