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8 ways entrepreneurs can earn passive income and increase their earnings

Lynette Adkins is a 23-year-old YouTube content creator in Austin, Texas.

Lynette Adkins

  • With a downturn possibly on the way, founders are looking for ways to supplement their earnings.
  • Passive income is a way to accumulate money without working around the clock.
  • Business owners can look into options like YouTube and dropshipping to make passive income.

For some entrepreneurs, passive income is a part of their lifestyle — it helps them earn money without working around the clock.

Sources of passive income require minimal effort to maintain once the hard work is done, such as renting out a property you’ve bought. It can give entrepreneurs more flexibility and time to focus on other business ventures while still earning enough income.

As some experts say the US economy could slip into a recession, generating passive income can be appealing for founders, especially as opportunities to raise venture capital this year have decreased.

In January, the e-commerce platform Shopify published a list of 30 ways to earn passive income and build wealth.

From selling online courses to building YouTube channels, here are eight ways business owners can make passive income to supplement their earnings.

Affiliate marketingBethany Everett-RatcliffeBethany Everett-Ratcliffe is a fashion and beauty influencer in Boston.

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe

While it takes a great deal of work to become a successful content creator on platforms like Instagram, affiliate marketing is one way entrepreneurs can earn passive income.

Affiliate marketing involves a creator posting a link or a code that directs people to another brand’s website — if a customer purchases something from that company, the entrepreneur can get money.

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe, 35, a fashion and beauty influencer, took on content creation full time at the start of the pandemic. Now she directs her nearly 62,000 followers on Instagram to both designer and budget-friendly brands like Revolve, Madewell, Charlotte Tilbury, and Petal & Pup. Last year she earned $35,000 in affiliate links and brand deals, which Insider verified with documentation.

Read more: Creating your career: 19 content creators share how they turned their social-media side hustles into full-time jobs

DropshippingKamil Sattar headshotKamil Sattar is a dropshipper and e-commerce mentor in the UK.

Courtesy of Kamil Sattar

Dropshipping, where someone buys inventory from a manufacturer or wholesaler and sells it on another platform, is another way for entrepreneurs to earn passive income. It doesn’t require a lot of monitoring or upkeep in order to sell products.

Kamil Sattar started dropshipping in 2017 when he left business school. Sattar listed products on Shopify; since then, he’s sold more than $1.7 million worth of products on the site.

Read more: A 21-year-old ‘dripping in dropshipping money’ has sold over $1.7 million in products on Shopify. He shares his biggest tips for making e-commerce profit.

YouTubeLynette AdkinsLynette Adkins is a YouTube content creator in Austin, Texas.

Lynette Adkins

When someone watches a popular YouTube video, the creator of that channel can get paid. This can be a good way for entrepreneurs to supplement their earnings — once the video is posted, the creator can sit back and make money. They can also make passive income from ads and brand partnerships on the platform.

Lynette Adkins, 23, grew up watching YouTube and has been making content on the platform since 2018. By June 2021 she’d started making enough money — $101,000 in revenue thanks to YouTube viewership and ads — to quit her full-time marketing position.

Read more: Creating your career: 19 content creators share how they turned their social-media side hustles into full-time jobs

Vending machinesMaya Ray wears a blue shirt and blue glasses, she smiles for the cameraMaya Ray is the owner of FYC Vending in Atlanta.

Maya Ray

Once a vending machine is installed and stocked, customers can purchase snacks and beverages, generating passive income for the owner.

Maya Ray, 24, set up her business, FYC Vending, after graduating from college in 2020 without a job. She was looking for opportunities on Twitter and came across Marcus Gram, a vending-machine entrepreneur. She bought his course and placed two vending machines on the campus of her alma mater, Georgia State University. As of June she’d made $119,000 in sales from her five machines, which Insider verified with documentation.

Read more: A Gen Z entrepreneur made $119,000 in vending-machine sales since graduating college. Here’s how she built her business.

Online coursesJeremy SchneiderJeremy Schneider is a personal-finance expert and content creator in San Diego.

Heather Froncek

Many entrepreneurs have created online courses to teach others how to start or scale a business. The entrepreneurs earn passive income when someone purchases the course.

Jeremy Schneider, 41, launched an online course early in the pandemic to answer questions he’d been getting from his followers about personal finance. In 2021 he booked $550,000 in revenue from selling his course, which Insider verified with documentation.

Read more: Creating your career: 19 content creators share how they turned their social-media side hustles into full-time jobs

Buying rental propertieserica and rebeccaErica Beers and Rebecca Slivka of Joshua Tree, California, cofounded Pillow and Coffee.

Courtesy of Pillow and Coffee

While it involves risks, investing in real estate has been a way to build long-term wealth. Entrepreneurs who buy and rent out properties can make passive income as long as they put in the hard work at the beginning to make the property appealing to renters. They can also hire property managers to communicate with tenants and collect rent.

In 2015, Erica Beers and Rebecca Slivka created a short-term-rental startup called Pillow and Coffee to target business travelers in Los Angeles, focusing on location, amenities, and photos of the properties. They said that at the time the market for business travel wasn’t very crowded, so they were able to make it their niche. Four years later, they booked $3.8 million in revenue, which Insider verified with documentation.

In 2020, they moved away from day-to-day management and decided to run Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, California.

Read more: Erica Beers and Rebecca Slivka booked $3.8 million in a year running a vacation-rental business in LA. They share the tricks for making millions on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo this summer.

Renting out carsDaniel Veiga and his wifeDaniel Veiga and his wife manage nine cars on Turo.

Daniel Veiga

If you don’t have the capital or interest to buy and rent properties, take a look at your car. Turo lets people rent their cars for others to use. The car owners are responsible for maintaining the vehicle and for upkeep like washing and vacuuming.

Daniel Veiga, 41, learned about Turo three years ago and reserved a car through the app to see what it was like. Now he rents out nine cars along with his wife. In the two months after they started, his family made $5,500 in bookings, which Insider verified with documentation.

Read more: I’ve made $5,500 in 2 months renting out my family’s cars on Turo. The extra income has helped us pay our bills and save for college.

Website flippingchelsea clarke blogs for sale website investingChelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs for Sale.

Friday Eve Photo

Some digital entrepreneurs are applying the concept of flipping houses to flipping online businesses. It involves buying a website for an online business that isn’t doing so well and optimizing it to improve traffic and sales. If an entrepreneur already has the training to do so or can hire others to do the heavy lifting, they can earn income passively.

Chelsea Clarke, the founder of Blogs for Sale, a website-flipping business, said the idea came to her when she was building websites for a brokerage that sold brick-and-mortar businesses. She applied her training through the International Business Brokers Association to the digital space.

Clarke said her business took off in 2020 as more people sought additional revenue streams. That year she earned $127,000 from flipping 13 websites, which Insider verified with documentation.

Read more: Chelsea Clarke reveals 6 tips that helped her earn $127,000 last year flipping websites

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