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One of the most well known ways of generating residual income is through ownership of stock in a publicly-traded company. Residual income streams can also include things like royalties from the sale of a book or song. Today, there are also several online platforms like Lending Club or Prosper that allow you to invest in personal or small business loans.
We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.

Why did P2P lending get a liquidity ranking of 6? It is quite possibly the most illiquid investment option you listed. You said you rank liquidity by “difficulty level of withdrawing your money without a massive penalty”, and for Lending Club notes, it’s not only difficult and extremely time consuming to sell all of your notes in their super illiquid market, but you would have to sell your notes at large losses to hope to get others interested in buying your notes. On top of that, it is impossible to withdraw your money any other way other than just waiting for interest/principal to pay off every month until maturity in 3 to 5 years. You can’t just one day tell Lending Club “I want to quit, please give me my money back.” One can even argue that it is less difficult to sell a home (in order to “withdraw” the money invested) than to withdraw all of their money from a P2P loan portfolio because it is very possible to sell a home before 3 to 5 years.
Residual income valuation (RIV; also, residual income model and residual income method, RIM) is an approach to equity valuation that formally accounts for the cost of equity capital. Here, "residual" means in excess of any opportunity costs measured relative to the book value of shareholders' equity; residual income (RI) is then the income generated by a firm after accounting for the true cost of capital. The approach is largely analogous to the EVA/MVA based approach, with similar logic and advantages. Residual Income valuation has its origins in Edwards & Bell (1961), Peasnell (1982), and Ohlson (1995).[1]
The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Physical real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.

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One word of advice, and something I intend to do once I have the money saved up, is to build or buy out property that can support apartments or townhomes. One tough mistake some people make is buying a pair of homes to rent out and they get a nice $2,000-$3,000 a month but that’s it. Buying a house is expensive and the rental prices keep lower income families from potentially coming to you with their money to rent. If you have an acre to work with (more or less is OK too) you should be talking to a contractor to build apartments or townhomes. You will make a little less per unit BUT your audience grows significantly because now you can have college students, single parents, older folks, etc. all able to afford your rental units AND instead of capturing one $1,000-$1,500 a month payments, you can probably charge $700 a month per unit (or more, depending on the market) and build maybe 3, 4, 5, 10 units for the price of a home or two and now you’re making something like $2,100-$10,000 a month. It all depends on what you have to invest but if you’ve got $250,000+ I’d highly suggest you talk to a bank/investor that can get you in touch with a good contractor to build on a property and get permits and take out a matching $250,000 loan (I’ve read that $500,000 is plenty to build a good amount of apartments to start) and you can fill up your apartments and make a killing every month. You’ll have more tenants to deal with but if you’re competitive with your pricing you won’t have a hard time keeping tenants or replacing them.
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