How to create a passive income….with little or no money

Now that you have some money tucked away, you may decide to continue with your income project that you used to start your Emergency Fund. We talked about several options; a garage sale, buying and selling stuff on eBay and opening up a craft store on Etsy.

But there are many other ways to create a passive income. In this article, we will start off looking at some options which need little or no money to set up. OK? Let’s go!

Affiliate marketing

bank-notesIf you have your own website or even an email account, you can start to earn money by promoting somebody else’s product through a link on your site. When somebody clicks on the link, they are directed to the third party website and, if they make a purchase, you receive a commission.

The cost to set up an affiliate marketing stream of income is very small. If you have a website, you only need to join an affiliate network and direct your site traffic to the links. Sounds simple but the trade off is that you will need to spend a lot of time building up your traffic. If you have nobody to market to, who are you going to get to click on the links?

Building traffic for your website or email marketing campaign is a whole topic in itself. I will publish a series of articles to cover this. For now, we will assume that you have some traffic to your website or email. So, which affiliate networks are best for beginners?

The Blue Book Top 20, an annual list of the best CPS (Cost-Per-Sale) Affiliate Networks, ranks the following sites within the top 10.  And, they are reasonably straightforward for beginners:

  • Rakuten
  • ShareaSale
  • CJ Affiliate (a little more complex to register than the others)
  • ClickBank
  • Amazon Associates
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Avangate
  • Flexoffers

For further information on any of these affiliate networks, go to the Blue Book website.

Selling information products

Creating and selling information products is another low-cost way to start earning a passive income. But, what are information products?

There are a wide variety of information products you can sell online:

  • eBooks,
  • Audio recordings
  • Online courses,
  • Webinars,
  • Membership sites,
  • Mobile phone apps, and many others.

There are several key benefits to selling information online. The startup costs are low. You do not have to manage an inventory or store physical products. They are easy to create and you can sell them internationally. The negative aspect of selling information products is that they take a lot of time to create. And, they generally have a low selling price, meaning that you need to sell a lot to produce a good income.

But they are definitely a great source of passive income.

You may also want to consider combining the two strategies and sell digital information products as an affiliate. That way, somebody else will do all the product creation upfront. You just focus on marketing the product on their behalf!

Stock photography

Stock photography is an online source of photographs, vectors and illustrations that are available to be downloaded. The photographer (you) uploads the images to a stock photography agency. The agency then sells them to individuals or companies on your behalf.

They pay a fee to use the images, rather than having to create the images themselves. You receive a commission on the sale while still keeping ownership of the image to sell again.

Who are the main stock photography agencies? The following 4 agencies are regarded as the major players in the stock photography industry:

  • Getty Images
  • iStock
  • Shutterstock
  • Adobe Stock

There are specific requirements for registering and uploading photographs to each agency’s website. They also have different pricing schemes but you can expect to earn around 25c to 99c per image sold.

You also need to understand that only the best of the best images will sell consistently. So, for every 100 photographs you snap, there may only be one that is worth submitting. To create a portfolio of excellent photographs that will provide a passive income stream may require you to take 10,000+ photographs. Then, only choose the very best of them for publishing on the agency website.

The cost of setting up a stock photography business is almost zero if you already own a digital camera. Or, a mobile phone with a good inbuilt camera. The only cost to you will be the time needed to build your portfolio. But, if you enjoy photography, this is more like fun than a time cost!

Focus on acquiring the most sought after images on a month by month basis and sales of your photographs should be ongoing.


Dropshipping is an eCommerce business where your store sells a product on behalf of someone else. You do not need to keep the product in stock. You merely send the sales order to the supplier, who then ships the product to the customer.

This strategy has several advantages over a conventional eCommerce store.

  • Your cost to set up a dropshipping business is minimal.
  • You don’t have the expense of purchasing the products.
  • You don’t have the expense of storing and shipping the product.

But, dropshipping also has some negative features.

  • Your profit margins will be low so you will have to sell a lot of products.
  • The low-cost entry to dropshipping results in a lot of competition.
  • You have no control over product quality and only limited ability to act on behalf of your customer.

However, if done properly, dropshipping can be an effective way to build a passive income stream. Dropshipping allows you to learn the basics of online marketing without having to fork out a huge chunk of money. It will provide a solid grounding in eCommerce if you decide to go to the next level and set up your own eCommerce store.


So, what are you going to do? Are you going to make the decision to start creating some extra income and begin the journey to financial freedom? I hope you can now see that building up multiple passive income streams is not only easy, it can be done with minimal expense.

Start small and build your business as you gain experience. Learn from what others have already done. There is no need to re-invent the wheel.

Can you really generate extra income, even when you sleep? Of course you can. People around the world are already doing it. Tell me about what you are doing and how you have built extra income streams. I can’t wait to hear from you.


Was this helpful? Share it with your friends. After all, they also deserve the fine things that life has to offer.







  1. Hi, I am a photographer and I have wanted to get my images out to stock agencies, but not really knowing how to go about doing it. Feeling and wondering if my images would be good enough. I suppose I just need to get brave and compile a portfolio of some and submit them. As they say if you dont as the answer is always no.

    I do like the other ideas and options for low expense options to gain some additional income. Will keep them in mind.

    • Hi Monika,

      Thank you for your comments. It is a bit of a learning process to register and upload photos to the agencies but it is worth taking the plunge. I would recommend signing up with Shutterstock as they are very professional and will give you good feedback on your photos. But, be aware that you can only upload a few photos when you start out and they have to accept 70% of them. If not, you cannot submit any more photos for 30 days.

      They are just trying to set a high standard of product, so choose your very best photos and give it a go. As you say, if you don’t try, you will never know if they are good enough!

      Good luck with your stock photography,


  2. That’s a very informative article here! Among the several ways of creating a passive income, I would go for affiliate marketing. I think it gives a wide range of products that one can promote without having to worry about managing a store. Apart from having a website or an email account for affiliate marketing, are there other ways I can do that especially without having to set up any website?

    • Thank you for your comments and vote of confidence in affiliate marketing. This is a great strategy for people new to online business as it is low-cost and can be started up very quickly. The slowest part is generating the traffic to your website or email. If you don’t want to set up a website, I would recommend setting up an email campaign using MailChimp or SendLane but you still need to create content and build a mailing list to succeed.

      Best of luck, Gary

  3. Hey Gary,

    Your article about earning passive income was very interesting. I have heard of drop shipping before but you also listed photography. I didn’t realize that people would pay you for your pictures. I guess that makes sense because people do hire a professional photographer!!

    I have been with affiliate marketing for a little over a year now and find it very helpful and challenging. Does this platform give you financial freedom?


    • Hi Elaine,

      Thank you for your comments. People have been using all of these strategies to earn extra income since the internet began. Dropshipping is a great way to start if you are thinking about eCommerce as your final destination.

       Alternatively, dropshipping is a great side hustle to earn extra income if you already have an established eCommerce site. If you can use dropshipping to supplement something you are already selling, it can iron out the times when you run low on stock. Simply have it shipped directly by your supplier!

      Affiliate marketing is also a great money earner. If you work at it diligently and provide a service or product that people need or want really badly, it can lead to financial freedom.

      However, my recommendation is to work your way toward having several streams of passive income. This allows for periods when one stream is booming while another may be in the doldrums.

      Good luck with your own journey to financial freedom. Keep me posted how you are going.


  4. Hi Gary,

    I really enjoyed your article on passive income. With the huge capacity of the internet to connect sellers with buyers, anyone can start an online business and make money while they sleep. 

    Personally I prefer affiliate programs, as you don’t have to have your own products, or worry about shipping. But all the other ways that you mentioned will work well for many other people too.

    • Thanks for your comments Suzie.

      I know many people start their online journey through affiliate marketing. It is a great low-cost way to start earning extra money. Stick with it and you can earn a lot of money!

      In my case, I earn extra income through affiliate marketing, stock photography and freelancing as a website developer. I will put together an article on freelancing in the coming week.

      Please check back here regularly and let me know how you are going with your affiliate marketing business.

      Best wishes,


  5. The site loaded quickly and straight away you have outlined what its about, which from the readers point of view is good, no faffing about, waiting to get to the point.

    You have identified different ways the reader can get into selling info products, which as you will know are a lucrative niche and also cover dropshipping well, which will help the reader because many are confused by the term from experience

    But either way, a great post

    • Hi Dave,

      Thank you for your comments. I know most people are busy and so I try to keep my articles brief and to the point. There is not much point writing a boringly long article if people aren’t going to read it!

      Anyway, I hope you found the article interesting to you personally. I plan to provide more detailed information on the various income earning options which I only briefly touched on here. I will also discuss some other recommendations for earning additional income. After all, if you can earn more than you spend, you are on the road to financial freedom.


  6. Hi Gary – thanks for sharing this informative article on passive income. I am relatively new to affiliate marketing, but as I build up content on my website, I am hoping to attract more traffic, leading to financial freedom in the future. I have considered drop shipping in the past, but have heard so many negatives about it, such as having to deal with several different suppliers at once just to fulfil one order. All the best for 2019, Diane   

    • Hi Diane,

      Thank you providing your comments on the article.

      As with any income earning opportunity, there are always pros and cons. Some cost a lot of money to begin. Others take a lot of time to begin or to maintain. If there was one simple income earner that took no effort to establish, we would all be wealthy!!

      I plan to post an article on dropshipping in the near future, as it seems to be a popular topic at the moment.

      Wishing you every success with your affiliate marketing website. Write great content and build up your traffic and you can be successful. Drop back here soon,


  7. Hey Gary,

    Some great ideas in this post. Also some good information. At the same time, I could have used some examples of where to go to get started in drop shipping. Hope that helps.  Do you have any recommendations on a good place to learn about drop shipping?  Overall, I do like how brief the post is. Thanks for putting this together.

    • Hi James and thank you for your comments.

      I didn’t go into much detail in this article as I was only trying to show some of the options available to get people thinking about what might be suitable for them. I will provide more detail in future articles.

      If you are interested in dropshipping, you may want to take a look at ZeroUp. This is an e-commerce software that integrates with Shopify and AliExpress, though it is expensive at around $1,500. You can check it out at their website, http://www.zeruplab.com.

      All my best wishes on your journey to financial freedom,


  8. Very interesting article. Thanks for also providing the stock photography companies where you can sell your photos, I will definitely go and check it out. I had a dropshipping store, however it didn’t work out for me as the shipping time was too long to some countries, and also as you’ve said one does not have control over the quality of products. I now started with Affiliated marketing, and really hope it pays off sometime. 

    • Hi Cheri (?) ,

      Thank you for your comments. I am glad that the stock photography information was useful to you. I upload photographs to Shutterstock quite regularly and I also upload some of my photos to the free sites (Pixabay and Pexels) as well. The free sites are a great source of images when you are building your affiliate marketing website.

      The issue of product quality when dropshipping is a constant irritation and it is usually out of your control. All I can recommend is that you do thorough research on the dropshipper before choosing one to work with. Buy some of the product yourself to check the quality and read the reviews of other buyers. Only use ones with a ;large number of positive reviews.

      Best of luck with your affiliate marketing and I wish you every success in 2019 and beyond.


  9. Interesting article, i would definitely prefer affiliate marketing because it seems like the go to guy in making a full time passive income even while you sleep, because your rankings and Google authority would only continue to grow over time leading to more traffic which equals more revenue. I had a great time reading this article and I am glad to have found other terrific ways to earn an extra income and I can’t wait to them them a go.

    • Hi Solomon and thank you for your comments.

      Affiliate marketing is a great place to start in the online world, as it inexpensive and a good way to learn marketing. As you expand your business and build up traffic to your website, you can also market your own products as well as your affiliates. This can then lead to an additional income stream through e-commerce.

      As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Create multiple income streams and you are well on your way to financial freedom.

      Best wishes for your online endeavours,


  10. Thank you for this great article, there are really many options for additional earnings. When we talk about affiliate marketing, as you said all that is needed is the higher traffic flow on your site. Therefore, it is best for you to write  content for what you like to do and to do it honestly, people will recognize it and they will accept you. I’m in affiliate marketing, I’m still new, but I’m feeling very good because I write what I like and what I understand,and i know it is helpful, also I am sure that money part will come in time.

    Best regards,

    MMA Store-Warrior Spirit

    • Hi MMA Store-Warrior Spirit,

      Thank you for providing your comments on my article.

      Indeed, all online marketing requires traffic (readers that become buyers), so the more traffic you can get gives your more possibility to make a sale. I hadn’t planned on going into the detail of organic and paid traffic but it might be worth considering. Would this information be valuable to you?

      Wishing you much success with your affiliate marketing,


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