How To Make Money Without a Job (Passive, Active and Everything in Between)
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Despite what you may think, a traditional job is not the only way to make a living. In fact, most of the readers of this site are entrepreneurs — people who woke up one day and asked themselves how to make money without a job.
Why? Those reasons are as varied as they come, but it's led thousands of people to find success in freelancing, affiliate marketing, or some other side hustle. Escaping the day-to-day grind of corporate America can be tough, but for many, it's liberating.
Sure, you'll still have a “job,” but at least it'll be one you create for yourself.
The ultimate goal is to stop trading time for dollars. That's why we compiled this list of money-making opportunities from most passive to least passive. Items like real estate investing are very passive, while mowing lawns is not very passive at all.
The criteria for this list is very simple: How much work do I have to put in, and does it generate revenue even when I'm not working in my business? The more passive income streams you can stack, the more secure your financial position becomes. Find some on the list that interest you, and dive in.
- Very Passive Income
- Not Very Passive
- Not Passive At All
- Is It Hard to Make Money Without a Job?
Very Passive Income
Who doesn't want to make money without doing any work? Passive income is the holy grail for most entrepreneurs. Even if it's not their primary source of income, they can add multiple streams to diversify their portfolio and minimize risk.
There's no question that passive income is a game-changer, but unfortunately, you usually need to have money in order to make money. Once you are able to get some of these income streams going, it becomes a snowball that keeps growing in size.
Here are a few passive side hustles to start today.
Warren Buffet said it best: If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you'll work until you die.
That advice seems to have worked out well for him, since his portfolio (that he started at age 14) has made him one of the wealthiest people in the world.
How did he do it? Through value-based investing, where he invests in a company that is undervalued, then holds for an extremely long time.
The biggest advantage on most investors' side is time. This means that the earlier you can invest, the more you stand to gain. Apps like Acorns and Robinhood make it super simple to get started in investing, offering automatic withdrawal from your account. Acorns also offers “rounded up” investing, which takes the leftover change from a purchase and puts it in your investment account.
Most of these platforms have signup bonuses and other incentives to add to your account once you hit certain metrics. When you add all this together over the span of a lifetime, it really adds up. Just ask Warren Buffet.
Over the last 200 years, 90% of millionaires have created their wealth through one source: real estate investing.
Read that again.
Still with me? Good, because real estate investing is no longer a playground of the rich. Today, ordinary people can get involved in real estate by either house flipping or renting out vacation homes (or a spare bedroom).
But those require significant capital to get started. Instead, consider investing through platforms like Fundrise or Roofstock. These crowdfunding services allow you to get started for less than $1,000, paying residuals in the form of quarterly dividends.
And if you're particularly tech savvy, consider investing in digital real estate. You can buy a website on Motion Invest, improve on it, then flip it for more money. This is a great way to learn how to make money without a job.
We've all heard of the crypto millionaires that make money off hoarding and holding a random crypto coin, but there are other ways to make passive income from cryptocurrency. Many projects and trading platforms allow you to “stake” your crypto in exchange for interest paid back (in the form of more crypto).
What is staking? Simply put, staking is lending the coins you have back to the developers to allow them to use them on their blockchain. Just like a bank, they'll pay you for this service.
The amount of interest depends on the coin and platform, but some interest rates are as high as 20%. If you're in the crypto space anyway, staking coins is a great and easy way to build up your portfolio over time.
Stocks are great, but most people want to earn money sooner rather than later. Dividend stocks are a reward from the company for holding onto your shares, often in the form of more shares, which you can cash out or hold.
Depending on the stock, these dividends can be extremely valuable. Phillips 66 pays nearly 5% back in dividends, making it one of the most valuable dividend stocks to own.
If you are already investing and holding, this is a great way to learn how to make money without a job with minimal effort.
High-Yield Savings Account
If you're not interested in crypto or dividend stocks, you can still earn money on your dormant money by putting it in a high-yield savings account. You won't gain as much as the other items on this list, but it's better than just leaving your money in a regular checking account.
How much can you make? Some rates are as high as 0.6%, which is several times higher than even the most generous banks offer for standard accounts.
Plus, you'll at the same time.
Download Data-Caching Apps
Market research is vital to the success of any company. Without it, businesses have no idea who their audience is or how to reach them.
And businesses are wiling to pay lots of money to get that information. One of the most prominent is by a user downloading (voluntarily) software to their phone or browser that track their online behavior.
SavvyConnect and MobileXpression are two types of apps that share your behavior with companies, which will then reward you with points that you can redeem.
In a world where so many people are concerned about privacy, willfully giving it up may seem foolish. There's no denying, however, that it's arguably the easiest way to make a few extra bucks.
Claim Your Unclaimed Money
You may not realize this, but people owe you money. Whether that's deposits that were refunded or oil and mineral rights from relatives you've never heard of, chances are there are a few dollars with your name on it.
Thankfully, there are websites set up to track and hold onto it for you. The federal government has a large database with this info, but you should also check your local and state websites as well. People have not only had sizeable sums of money arrive in their mailbox after claiming it, but safe deposit boxes and security deposits they've forgotten about.
At the time of this writing, one share of Amazon stock is worth over $3,000. That's a lot of cash for a single share that most people don't have just laying around. Even if they did, would you want to put it all in one company?
Fractional share stock investing offers investors the opportunity buy a fraction of the stock, instead of the whole thing.
If it increases in value, you receive that money back just as you would with a regular stock, albeit with less value. The tricky part is finding a broker that handles fractional share stock investing.
Peer to Peer Lending
Have a little bit of cash and want to help out someone in need? Peer-to-peer lending isn't a new concept, but the way in which it's being utilized in the digital age is pretty innovative.
It works like this: You put your money onto a P2P platform like Peerform or Upstart, then choose borrowers to lend it to. You'll receive a portion of your principal back plus interest accrued in the form of EMI's, or equated monthly investments. You can either withdraw this cash, or let it sit and lend it out further, compounding your returns.
As with most passive income streams on this list, time is the most important factor. While you can learn how to make money without a job this way, be prepared to work at it for the long haul. A year of P2P lending may not net you very much, but it can be life-changing over 10 to 20 years.
Partner With a Racehorse
Most of us will never win the Kentucky Derby, but investing in a racehorse may just be the next best thing!
(And no, by “investing in a racehorse,” I don't mean going down to your local track and shooting the moon on a Superfecta).
Funky Monky Stables is just one example of how you can partner with a local stable to invest in a racehorse. For as little as $1,000, you can sponsor a horse and take a portion of whatever winnings they earn. It might seem risky, but how many people do you know can say they own a racehorse?
Not Very Passive
If you have a little bit of time and extra money, you can take a moderate road to wealth-building. The items listed below aren't completely passive and don't require a 40-hour-per-week commitment. They are a great way to learn how to make money without a job while still keeping you a bit busy.
Many of them also pay residuals, so once you get the ball rolling, your real job is to make sure it doesn't run out of steam.
Sell Your Old Stuff
All of us have things lying around that we don't use anymore. Some of these items — like electronics and collectibles — can be worth a fortune, but most will net you a small return. But since it's free, there's no cost except the time it takes to list it online.
Facebook marketplace has all but replaced Craigslist as the go-to place to sell items for local buyers, but don't underestimate the power of Ebay and Amazon's FBA program as well.
Etsy can also be a contender, but that's not as much for garage sale stuff as it is handmade and vintage items. Spend a few hours rummaging around in your house, and you should be able to clear a few hundred dollars' worth of items relatively easily.
Whether you’re interested in starting the next great e-commerce store, or just looking to take advantage of thrift arbitrage, selling online is a great way to figure out how to make money without a job. You can start with what you have on hand (see above point), make your own items, or source it from a third-party supplier and drop ship. There are so many options when it comes to starting your own store.
If you want this online job to be even more passive, consider investing in a Print On Demand company (POD). This takes even more of the legwork out of the operation by creating and shipping items to your customers.
Want even more passivity? Sell digital downloads on Etsy.
Start a Blog
Blogging is what most people start off with to earn money online. Outside of initial setup costs, your main expense is time. It takes a while to learn SEO, write blogs consistently, monetize them through partnerships and affiliates, and everything else that's involved.
But man, is it lucrative. Don't believe me? Check out this interview with Jon Dykstra who makes $65,000 a month blogging only on informational content.
Start a Twitch Stream
I'm a gamer, but I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of watching other people play video games. Plenty of other people are though, as evidenced by the fact that Twitch, an eSports livestream service, boasts around 140 million monthly users.
If they have a big enough audience, Twitch streamers can monetize their channels in very traditional ways: sponsorships, affiliate revenue, ads and merchandise. Ever since cryptocurrency started taking off, many streamers receive tips in the form of digital coins as well.
Learn more about how to become a Twitch affiliate here.
Photography is a tough skill to learn, and even more difficult to set yourself apart from all the others (especially in the Insta-age). If you've got a unique eye for photography though, you can make a nice passive income by selling your images on Shutterstock, Adobe, and Fiverr.
Build up your portfolio and host your own website to keep more of your revenue.
Rent Out Stuff
Most of us have heard of AirBnB, which allows you to rent out homes (or just a spare bedroom), but did you know you can rent other items out as well? Many one-off items like camping gear, instruments, and even furniture can be loaned to others for fast cash.
If you're interested in adding this to your income streams, check out KitSplit. It's by far one of the largest online rental communities, and has a wide variety of items that they allow to be rented out on their platform.
Rent out Your Car
Car rental prices are outrageous. In Texas, the average price to rent a car is around $160 per day — way too outrageous for the average family to afford reasonably.
Enter: Turo. This online car rental marketplace is styled after AirBnB. Users will upload their cars with a description, then list it for rent by the day or week. Cleaning fees as well as pickup and drop off charges are included in the price, and renters can choose which type of car they'll need for their trip.
The beauty of Turo is that you can usually have your pick of a wide variety of vehicles. Need a minivan for a long sports weekend? Done. Want to spend a day cruising the highways in a Ferrari? Not a problem. Both of them are on Turo.
As the saying goes, “One man's trash is another man's treasure.”
Or, in the case of Matt Malone, it's his ticket to millionaire status.
Every night, Matt spends hours combing through dumpsters behind stores to find valuable items that have been discarded, then sells them online. In 2015 alone, he grossed over $250,000.
Dumpster diving has it's hazards, to be sure (such as broken glass and chemicals), but there are no laws against dumpster diving, just as long as you don't trespass.
How much cash would it take for you to drop those extra 15 pounds?
At HealthyWage, users enter pools to bet on themselves. Each pool has it's own time limit and goal weight loss; if you meet it, you'll split a part of the entry fees. The ones who fail to meet their goal don't get anything.
Self-publishing is taking would-be authors and making them bona fide rockstars. You don't have to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling to hit it big — these days, a good story and solid marketing tactics can take your book straight to the top of the best seller list.
Technology makes it easier than ever to churn out books, too. You can hire freelancers to edit your book, design covers, write blurbs, and then run paid ads to drive traffic.
Want to outsource the whole process? Hire a freelance writer to bring your story to life.
Companies want to make sure their stores are operating efficiently, and to do that, they'll often hire mystery shoppers to pose as regular shoppers and report back on their findings. They'll inform headquarters as to the cleanliness of the store, how easy the checkout process was, inventory levels, and customer service.
Since these customers have to look legitimate, many mystery shoppers will have to purchase an item, such as a book or meal. The mystery shopping company will reimburse you for these expenses, as well as paying you for your report.
It's not enough to retire on, but it never hurts to get a free meal if you want to make money without a job.
Sell Your Lesson Plans
According to a recent study, teachers get paid nearly 20% less than other college-educated professionals – a number that has been tracking down since the 1960s.
While that stat is depressing, teachers have found innovative ways to supplement their income. One of the best ways is by selling their lesson plans on marketplaces like Teachers Pay Teachers.
Think of it as Etsy, except instead of crocheted coasters, you're buying and selling worksheets about the civil rights movements.
If you've been teaching for any number of years and have lesson plans you think would help others, it's a great way to make some good money and help out others in your field.
Sell Your Expertise
What do you do when you have an urgent matter that requires a professional touch, but don't have the money to hire out a professional? Go online and look for answers. While this may work for some items, the quality of responses you get can vary dramatically.
One place where you can seek out expert opinions is JustAnswer.com. But if you're an expert in one of their fields — such as home improvement or the law — you can also sign up to be an expert.
Pay starts at 20% of whatever the user pays for their answer, but you can work your way up to 50% over time.
Sell Your Plasma
Making money takes blood, sweat, and tears, and selling your plasma involves the first of that group, literally. If you're willing to sit for a few hours inside a medical facility and watch your blood pumped out, circulated and separated, then pumped back into your body, you can make a couple hundred dollars a month.
It might sting a bit, but hey, it's free money.
(Full disclosure: It was selling plasma that led me to look online how to make money without a job. Selling plasma can be a lifesaver for college kids.)
Sell Unused Gift Cards
People don't always know what we really want, so if you're like most people, you've probably got a stockpile of gift cards you'll never use.
Sell Junk Mail
The next time you get a hoard of junk mail jammed inside your mailbox, don't throw it away. Consider selling it to the Small Business Knowledge Center for points that you can redeem for cash!
Be on a Game Show
This one isn't completely passive, but there's no doubt that being on a game show gives you a fantastic financial return on your time. For just a couple days of work, you can win tens or thousands of dollars in prize money.
And lest you think that there's no chance you'll ever be lucky enough to be on a game show, much less win anything, think again. The chances of appearing on Wheel of Fortune, for instance, are shockingly good: almost one in 36.
What's more, most shows guarantee at least a small sum for simply appearing, even if you don't win anything.
Not Passive At All
Not every income stream needs to be passive, especially if you're between jobs. All of the items on the list below require you to trade your time directly for money, but go at it long enough, and you may be able to grow your business to where you outsource the labor.
Still, if you're looking to pull in some extra cash outside of your 9-5, these are some great starting points.
Become a VA
Everyone could use a virtual assistant. Whether that's the owner of a company looking to keep notes on important meetings or a solopreneur needing research completed, being a VA gives you remarkable flexibility and decent pay.
Plus, you'll get to stay in close proximity to people who may be able to boost your careers in other ways, like Jeff Bezos and Marrisa Mayer did for Ann Hiatt.
To learn more about where to look for virtual assistant jobs, check out our full list here to start making money without a job.
People who travel a lot need someone to look after their house while they're away. If you enjoy looking after other people's belongings, housesitting may be perfect for you. The job is relatively straightforward, and usually entails tasks such as collecting mail, walking dogs, and making sure the house stays standing.
Most housesitters choose to stay in the house they're watching, making a wage for their duties as well as a per diem for day to day expenses.
Plus, you almost get to trade lives with someone for a while, which is fascinating in its own right. It's one of the easiest ways to make money without a job.
Uber and Lyft have turned everyday people into small business owners, and for good reason. Although taxis aren't going anywhere anytime soon, rideshare drivers offer the industry unique flexibility, even in rural areas.
Rideshare drivers pull in rates that are above minimum wage, and do so on their own time schedule, making it a great way to learn how to make money without a job.
Drivers that want to boost their earnings may even elect to transport meals via services like Uber Eats. This service saw a special boom during Covid-19 and is only expected to increase over the next several years.
Some jobs are forever. People will always need babysitters, and ones they can trust at that.
But this job isn't just for teenagers; many stay-at-home moms and dads make extra income by offering to watch other kids. Depending on the state, you can watch up to 12 kids inside your house without having to apply for permits (insurance is probably a good idea, though).
Pet Sit & Dog Walker
If you love pets and sunshine, you can try your hand at dog walking and pet sitting. The average dog walker makes around $40 per hour (often split up into smaller walks), and stacks multiple dogs at a time to boost their earnings.
Writing, proofreading, editing, graphic design — you name it, you can freelance it. Look at platforms like Upwork or Fiverr to find contract jobs in your area of expertise and build your freelance career from there.
Usually people think of tutoring as a one-on-one, private educational experience reserved for the super wealthy, but times have changed. If you have an academic background in any specific area, you can leverage that expertise in virtual tutoring sessions on sites like Wyzant.
Tutoring English is usually always in demand, so if you're looking for an entry-level position, look for sites like VipKID that connect you with children in non-English speaking areas.
Notaries provide a valuable service. Not only do they sign off on official documents, but can also testify to official oaths and take acknowledgements. Basically, they formalize any day-to-day transaction that needs to be verified by official documentation.
Because their job takes them all over the place, many notaries travel to different locations, charging upwards of $50 an hour for their services. The process to become a notary isn't too difficult, so consider becoming one if you have some spare time.
Whether it's business, personal, or technical, consultants can pull in a hefty amount of cash leveraging their expertise to private clients. Their objectivity allows them to see things from a detached perspective, and the results they generate for their clients more than make up their cost.
Don't worry if you think you don't have enough expertise to consult, there are enough industries for everyone to make money without a job.
Find a niche and start looking for clients.
Civil servants are always in high demand, even if they're not the highest paid. Still, election day officials can make around $100 a day administering documents and helping people fulfill their civic duty. Some jurisdictions even pay more for bilingual election officers.
When I was a teenager, I made about $15 per lawn. That involved dragging my dad's old mower down the street, mowing 1/4 acre around trees, then hauling it back. It was a grind.
Times have changed. People that either don't enjoy or don't have the time to cut their own grass choose to hire local companies to do this for them, paying hundreds of dollars every time the lawn is cut, depending on the lawn.
Mechanical Turk, or MTurk as it's known online, is Amazon's micro-task marketplace. It connects people who have tiny tasks, such as tagging 50 images with alt captions, with tiny payments for their efforts. You may only receive $0.20 per task, but those usually take less than a minute to perform.
Some people make good money on MTurk. Dedicating a few hours a day can bring you in $50 a day or more if you want to make money without a job.
Become a Local Tour Guide
If you've lived in your area for any length of time, chances are you have some insider knowledge of its best attractions and unique history. Why not leverage that information in a fun way that can also bring in some big bucks at the same time?
Tourists are usually willing to pay for local tours of areas of interest. Even beginning tour guides can charge up to $15 per hour. That doesn't sound like much, until you remember you can take groups of 20 or more at a single time, multiplying your revenue substantially.
Interested in this method to make money without a job? Start by checking out AirBnB experiences for a reputable place to get started.
Participate in a Market Research Study
As mentioned above, most companies are looking for people to participate in market research studies. Pharmaceutical companies, online surveys, and focus groups are just a few of the ways you can give your opinion about products before they hit the market — and get paid at the same time.
The global e-commerce market is nine trillion dollars (that's trillion with a “t”). If you're like most people, you've probably contributed at least a portion of your income to that number.
Wouldn't it be nice to get some of that back? Rakuten is one site that will give you money back on every purchase, while Honey does that in addition to curating coupons that lower the price. Stack enough of these together and you can accumulate a nice return (depending on how much you shop).
Is It Hard to Make Money Without a Job?
While you may have to get a little creative with your resources to see a nice return on your side hustles, there's no question that making easy money without a job is more possible than ever before. The availability of online marketplaces allows you to leverage already existing skills to become an entrepreneur, even if it's only part-time.
But who knows? Maybe it could eventually be enough to make you forget about that 9-5 forever.
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