Work Smarter, Not Harder: Smart Passive Income Ideas


What if you could make money with little to no day-to-day involvement? Smart passive income is such a great way to make a side hustle work for you. Personally, I’ve got several projects in the works that I hope to grow into a great passive income, including an Etsy shop, selling stock photos, and small-scale investing. Some may take a good amount of up front work but once you’ve gotten the foundations in place, they work for themselves. That’s one of the greatest things about our millennial generation–it’s not that we don’t work as hard as previous generations, we just choose to work smarter.

Sell A Hobby or Skill

Creating an online store is easier than ever with the use of platforms like Etsy and Shopify. Are you great at graphic design or really like to knit? People will pay good money for those skills and products. And with drop shipping on so many items, you often barely have to do any of the work. Talk about a smart passive income. For example, I have an Etsy print shop where I sell prints of my photography. After the initial setup it hasn’t been too difficult to maintain.

This applies to freelance work as well. Sites like Upwork and Toptal allow you to find work in copywriting, writing, web design, photography, graphic design, analytics, and more, almost all of which can be done remotely and in addition to your main job. You could even begin working as a consultant in various capacities selling your expertise at any given subject. We all have our talents, the trick is finding a way to capitalize on them.

Smart passive income

Invest Wisely

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about the ins and outs of investing. But I have begun to learn with the help of apps like Stash, which allows you to. And if you’re good with numbers and enjoy following the stock market then by all means begin investing. Investing is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when thinking about a smart passive income, but too many of us assume it’s too complicated or we don’t have enough to invest. Even if you start small there’s only one way to start learning.

Smart passive income

Stock Photography

Are you skilled in photography and have a ton of images sitting on your hard drive that you aren’t even using? Generate smart passive income by uploading photos to stock sites like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. I added maybe 50 images to Adobe Stock last month and have already begun to see sales on those images, let alone if I go back and add more. Granted it’s small amounts here and there but it certainly adds up. It helps that I worked for almost two years at a stock image company so I know what kinds of images stock sites like and use a lot. It’s a pretty straightforward formula: generic enough to be used by anyone, high-quality, does not have any copyrighted imagery or prominent people without model releases, and shows places or things that people often need photos of (such as “girl on computer” or “New York sunset”).

Smart passive income

Start a Website/Blog

When I started my blog years ago, it was just a fun creative outlet. Little did I realize just how lucrative a website can be. From affiliate advertising to sponsorships, there are lots of ways to monetize your site. For my site alone I use Google Adsense, rewardStyle, Shopstyle Collective, and more. I also constantly get the chance to work with amazing brands from Lilly Pulitzer to Windstar Cruises to Ralph Lauren. It’s taken me several years to get to this point but depending on how much time and effort you put into it, you can certainly see some awesome returns.

Smart passive income

Write a Book

With easy self-publishing options now available, like Amazon, once you get past the initial work of actually writing and creating the book, you get royalties from each sale made. Of course the book should be useful or interesting and the more time you spend marketing the book, the more likely you are to generate sales. But if you’re a good writer and have something to say, this could be a great side income.

Smart passive income

House or Pet Sitting

Getting paid to take care of someone else’s home while they’re away? Getting paid to take care of pets? Both of these sound too good to be true but they’re actually really simple ways to make some extra cash. I happen to be an avid dog lover and I recently signed up for a site called Rover that allows me to find dog -sitting and -walking jobs in my area. You will often find these gigs through friends/word of mouth, on sites like Craigslist (a little sketchier so be safe about accepting jobs), and on sites like Rover and Housesitter. While not totally passive, it can be a fun and pretty easy way to generate income.

Smart passive income

Rent Your Stuff or Rent a Room

If you have a spare room or bed you may consider renting these out in the form of a subletter or through sites like Airbnb. But it’s not just spaces you can rent, but also your things. In the past I’ve rented photo equipment from a site called Kitsplit, where you can rent out lenses, tripods, cameras, and more that might be needed for a shoot. Other ideas include extension ladders, tables and chairs, utility trailers, chainsaws, and ATV’s. Especially for things that are expensive and not often used, this is a great way to generate a little extra income.

Smart passive income


These are just a few of the many side hustles you could use to make some extra money! Do you have any great ideas or things you’ve done as a passive income? Share your experiences in the comments below!