Passive Income Ideas: The top 10 best options for creatives

passive income ideas for creative entrepreneurs

Want to make money while you’re out of office?

If you’re willing to put in some hard work upfront, I’ve got a ton of passive income ideas to give your business and bank account a boost! I’m going to cover different passive income types, as well as give you ideas on how you can create multiple streams of passive income that’ll let you spend more time out of office.

While a lot of internet marketers are going to lie about how easy passive income is, I’m going to tell you upfront: creating passive income is hard work. At least, initially. It takes time and effort to set up your streams of passive income.

But once you do? You can start receiving payments on autopilot!

This is one of the things that I did in my web design business, and I’m SO glad that I did. I think that setting up streams of passive income is often overlooked by service-based businesses, and it really shouldn’t be. Passive income can keep your business afloat when things are slow, or if you’re unable to work.

And of course, you can run an entire business based entirely off of passive income if that’s what you want!

Keep reading, because I’m going to break down what passive income is (and isn’t), as well as a ton of passive income ideas for you!

What is passive income? 

Passive income is money that you generate without being actively involved.

Which is a bit of a lie, because there is DEFINITELY a lot of setup involved. But unlike active income (like client work), once you do the initial work, you can be relatively hands-off.

With passive income, you’re no longer trading hours for dollars, and instead can make money while you’re doing something else–including sleeping!

What isn’t passive income?

Passive income isn’t easy, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Although a lot of internet marketers make it seem like both of those things.

While different passive income types require more or less upfront work, once they are set up, they should run with MINIMAL effort.

That means that client retainers are not passive income, nor are most membership sites (though some could be).

To create really solid streams of passive income, you’ll need to put in the work upfront and do some maintenance to keep things going. But you do NOT have to sit at your desk from 8-5, five days a week, and only get paid when you’re actively working.

Who is passive income for?

ANY person and ANY business can add streams of passive income. Whether you’re working a regular 9-5, offering services like copywriting, or a stay-at-home parent.

I’m going to focus mostly on passive income ideas for creative entrepreneurs, but if you’re not a creative entrepreneur, don’t ditch this post yet. There are still a ton of ideas for passive income you can use.

Some of the passive income ideas I’ll share with you will definitely NOT be for you, but some of them may be. Think about ways you can incorporate these ideas into your creative business, withOUT adding a ton of work to your plate.

What are the BEST passive income ideas?

There are a ton of articles out there, all about finding the best passive income types. In reality, the BEST passive income ideas are ones that YOU can easily incorporate into your life or existing business.

In this post I’m not going to talk about investing or buying rental properties (even though I do both), because those passive income types are not realistic for most people looking to get started with passive income.

These passive income ideas are primarily focused on things you can easily create and sell, again and again, without a cap on your income from each product. So let’s break down some passive income types, and create a new flow of money to your bank account!

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products that we believe in. Thank you for using our links!

Blogging

If you enjoy creating content, blogging might be for you! Blogging is one of the most popular passive income ideas for a reason: Anyone can start a blog.

While it’s definitely gotten more complicated over the years, blogging is NOT dead. In fact, you can make a lot of money blogging!

Ways to monetize your blog:

  • Ads
  • Affiliate links
  • Sponsored posts
  • Selling your own products

IMO, if you are going to sell ANY of the other things on this list, I recommend you have a blog. It’s a great way to funnel readers to your products and create streams of passive income no matter what you’re selling.

These days, to run a successful blog, you’ll need to have a strong SEO strategy, and some patience as it will take a while for your blog to gain traction. You also might want to use Pinterest marketing to drive traffic.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

You can definitely start a blog for less than $100. And the earning potential? While there’s a huge range, it could be upwards of $25,000/month!

YouTube

If writing isn’t your thing, or you want to add videos to your blog, YouTube could be your perfect passive income idea.

I do think that the barrier to entry is much higher on YouTube than with blogging (you’re gonna need a great camera and sound, depending on the type of video you create), you can make some serious money on the platform.

Ways to monetize your YouTube channel:

  • Ads
  • Sponsored content
  • Affiliate links in description
  • Selling your own products

Video is great because it created a faster connection with your audience than written text. But if showing your face isn’t your thing, tech tutorials or similar could be a great option as you would just need to share your screen.

Like blogging, you WILL want to choose a niche, and optimize your video titles so that viewers can find you.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

You can start a YouTube channel for fairly cheap. A microphone and free Screencast-O-Matic account could get you started for less than $100. To grow your channel you’ll definitely need to invest a lot of time. You can’t even monetize your channel until you have 1,000 subscribers. But you could potentially make thousands per video.

Stock photos (and videos!)

Are you a photographer or do you love to take photos? If yes, this passive income type could be perfect for you!

If you are a professional photographer, you know that the biggest downside is that you only get paid when you’re working with clients.

But you can sell photos online, and make passive income!

Stock photos sites like Shutterstock or Pexels will pay for high-quality photos and videos. OR, you can create your own stock photo site, or even membership (which may be less passive, but higher income potential).

If you sell through a site like Shutterstock, you simply have to take the photos, and they’ll do all the selling. You’ll get paid when one of their customers buys your content.

If you create your own stock photo website/membership, you’ll need to host it and drive the traffic, but get to keep all of the profits. Pixistock is a great example of a stock photo membership.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

  • Camera and lenses
  • Laptop
  • Photo editing software
  • Payhip, Thrivecart, or similar (if self-hosting)

While the initial investment can be pretty high (great cameras aren’t cheap!), if you already have one, selling stock photos is a no-brainer. And if you go with something like a stock photo membership, you have unlimited earning potential!

Design Templates

This passive income idea is for my graphic and web designers! Like photography, when you’re a designer you’re only making money when you’re actively working with clients. Womp womp.

But you’ve got a ton of potential to add passive income to your plate. All those designs your clients rejected? Sell them! All those designs you dreamed up in your head? Sell them!

It doesn’t matter what it is… it’s got the potential to sell!

Design template ideas:

  • Logos
  • Social media posts
  • Websites
  • Slide decks
  • Ebooks
  • Anything you can design!

You can sell your designs as templates on websites like Creative Market. Creative Market will handle everything for you, and you’ll earn money each time someone buys one of your designs.

Of course, you can also create your own website or even membership to sell your design templates! The Creative Template Shop is a great example of a design membership.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

Depending on what you use to create your graphics, your costs could be less than $100 to get started. And if you’re already using graphic software, you may as well try listing some of your designs somewhere like Creative Market!

Design your own logo with Canva

Text templates

Text templates are a great passive income type for anyone who has a way with words. And they are actually how I got my start in selling digital products!

If you’re a great writer, you can create text templates to help others know what to say. Just about anything you write can be a template.

Text template ideas:

  • Website content
  • Sales pages
  • Social media posts
  • Email funnels
  • Ads
  • Canned emails
  • Contracts (if you’re a lawyer!)
  • Anything you can write!

You can sell your text templates on places like AppSumo and, like the options before, you can create your own website or membership. If you’re looking for a really easy option, Payhip is a great place to get started.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

This is a passive income idea you can start completely for free! All you need is Google Docs to write your templates in, and Payhip (takes a percentage of each sale) to sell through. This is a passive income idea I don’t see THAT often, but I can tell you from my own experience that you can easily make thousands with it!

Spreadsheets, calculators, etc.

Are you a whiz at spreadsheets? If so, you have potential for a great stream of passive income. Because guess what? Most of us are not great when it comes to spreadsheets and formulas, but we need them!

Spreadsheet ideas:

  • Monthly metrics
  • Budgeting
  • Income/Expenses
  • Funnel conversion calculator
  • Anything you can spreadsheet or calculate!

Again, these can be sold through a website like AppSumo, or your own. Using Gumroad will get you up and running quickly.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

The startup cost of this passive income stream is $0. You just need your time to put it together and start selling! This is another where you can potentially make thousands, with little or no overhead!

App templates

Got an app you use and love? This passive income idea involves tapping in to an app’s already existing audience, and making templates for them.

Whether you use Clickup, Notion, Dubsado, Honeybook, Canva, or any other app, you’ve likely got template potential.

To be honest, there are SO many options here, I don’t even know what to write. My best advice is to google something like “Notion templates” to get ideas on what you could create. There are thousands of options for Notion alone!

App templates can sell on AppSumo, or through your own website/membership.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

  • An app you use, love, and can create templates for
  • Payhip, Thrivecart, or similar

The earning potential here is really high. You’ve already got an audience who use and love the app too, and if your template makes using the app easier or more enjoyable, it’s an easy sell! How much it will cost to get started depends on the app. For example, if you want to sell Canva templates, you need a pro account. But you can certainly get started for under $200 in most cases.

Earning potential? Hard to pin down, but Marie Poulin has made over $30,000 from her Notion templates!

Ebooks

How about we package some of your knowledge up and sell it? Ebooks are really simple to create (assuming you like writing!), and can be quite lucrative. It’s no wonder they’re high on the list of popular passive income types.

With ebooks you have the option to self-publish on Amazon, and can even have your ebook turned into a “real” book, where it will be printed and mailed out. And no, you don’t have to keep a stockpile of books in your living room! Your book will be printed on demand and fulfilled without you having to lift a finger. Magic.

Your ebook can be on ANY topic. But the easiest thing might be to break down something you do on a regular basis. For example, if you’re a web designer, you might write a book on how to design high-converting websites. If you’re a nutritionist, you might create a recipe book.

The topics are endless! My best advice is to start with a highly-focused topic and keep it simple. Your first ebook doesn’t need to be everything you know, stick to one smaller topic that your audience will find really helpful.

Ebook ideas include:

  • Step-by-step guides
  • Workbooks
  • Planners
  • Journals

You don’t have to sell on Amazon (it’s just an option). You can sell through your own website very easily. And the pro to only selling through your own website is that you can typically command a higher price tag and keep more of the profits.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

I have a few ebooks, and they’ve been really great streams of passive income. They require almost no support, and are still very valuable for my customers. You can make an ebook totally for free and make thousands!

Online Courses and Workshops

Like ebooks, online courses are great streams of passive income. They do require more work than an ebook, but can be sold for a higher price tag (even if it’s the same content!).

Again, the topics are ENDLESS. But because online courses take a lot of effort to make, I recommend you start very small.

I started with online workshops. I hosted them live initially, and then sold the replays. In 30-60 minutes I would teach a very specific topic, then do a Q&A. After that, I’d package the workshop up on Teachable along with a transcript and worksheet, and sell it.

This is how I initially taught all of the content in All Systems Go. Small workshops, that later got put together and refined into a signature program.

You don’t have to teach live, but do start small. The last thing you want is to create a giant course that no one buys!

Online course ideas:

  • Workshops
  • Tech tutorials
  • You can literally create a course on anything!

You can sell your course on marketplaces like Skillshare or Udemy, which are nice because they handle everything for you. But, that convenience comes at a high cost, as they pay out very little.

I’ve primarily sold my online courses through my own website and Teachable. I personally LOVE Teachable for hosting courses, because it’s an all-in-one platform that includes all of your video/file hosting, LMS, and payment processing. Thrivecart Learn is also worth considering though, because it’s a one-time fee.

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

Courses have been my BIGGEST source of passive income, bringing in the majority of my money at this point (now that I’m retired from web design). And I make pennies compared to master course creators like Mariah Coz. The startup cost is definitely a bit higher (a few hundred to a few thousand), but the potential is literally millions.

launch your course with Teachable!

Affiliate Marketing

Despite being the top of the list for most popular passive income ideas, I find that most service-based creative entrepreneurs really have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to affiliate marketing.

And I get it, it’s what most of those skeezy marketers are pushing, and we know a lot of them are in it just for the money, not because they believe in the product.

That’s why terrible website hosting companies are being promoted everywhere–because they have a great affiliate payout. Then web designers/developers like me have to deal with clients on terrible hosting. Definitely sours you to affiliate marketing as whole! (And if you’re a webdesigner, you KNOW what hosting company I’m talking about!)

But if there ARE products you do like and trust, you SHOULD be part of their affiliate program! You are missing out if you’re not.

For example, if you are a web designer/developer, you 1000000% have a favorite website hosting company. Encourage your clients to switch over, and use your affiliate link when they do. You’ll get some extra money, while also not having to deal with a terrible website host.

And if you don’t work with clients, you can promote affiliate links on your blog, social media, or anywhere they help your audience. Just be sure to always disclose your affiliate links!

Affiliate marketing ideas include:

  • Website hosting
  • Email service providers
  • Website plugins
  • Project management systems
  • Creative Market/stock photo sites
  • Anything helpful to your clients/customers/readers!

There are affiliate programs for just about anything you can imagine that your clients need. Some of them even pay out recurring commissions, meaning you can be making money YEARS after making the referral.

That’s what I did in my web design business. It took me a while to really implement, but I now make money off of recurring affiliate payouts from clients I referred 5+ years ago. I only wish I had started sooner, and promoted my affiliate links more!

For this passive income idea, you’ll need:

  • Products you recommend that have affiliate programs
  • A way to share the links

Whether you use affiliate links with your clients, as part of your blogging strategy, or both, affiliate marketing is REALLY easy to get started with.

Startup cost for this stream of passive income is potentially $0, and certainly less than $200. For earning potential, you’re going to have a huge range, but it can certainly reach thousands of dollars per month.

Wrap Up

We’ve covered some of the most popular and easy to start passive income types. Of course, there are other possible passive income streams you can create, but I personally think that these are the best to get started with.

Anyone can (and should) create passive income. Whether they have their own business or work in a cubicle for someone else. Get those income streams flowing!

Blogging and Youtube are great options no matter what you’re selling. Both help you draw in your customers and clients, and give you an avenue to funnel to your products.

Digital products like stock photos or templates can be created quickly from content you already have, and sold again and again.

Ebooks and courses can be about ANYTHING. But don’t overcomplicate them. Start small.

And finally, affiliate marketing is popular for a reason. Find a product you love (with an affiliate link) and share it!

Take action!

Choose one of the passive income types we talked about, and start implementing! You could create your first template, ebook, or affiliate sale this week!

Once you find a passive income idea that works for you and get it running, set up another. You can create multiple streams of passive income in your creative business, and eventually step back from active income altogether (if you want)!

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