17 Proven [and Simple] Ways to Make Money on Autopilot

If you are looking for reliable ways to make real money on autopilot, you are in the right place.

We have collected 17 proven methods for making passive income without a lot of hassle. Here's a preview of what we'll cover.

Rent Out Extra Rooms Create An Online CoursePeer to Peer Lending
Rent Out Extra Storage Space Start a YouTube ChannelVending Machine Routes
Rent Out Your Car Fill Out SurveysATM Routes
Start (or Buy) a WebsiteUse Cash Back AppsRental Property Investing
Affiliate MarketingInvest in the MarketCash Back Credit Cards
Write An eBookReal Estate Crowdfunding

Let's get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and complete a transaction, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

Rent Out Stuff You Already Have

There are a ton of ways to make money renting out stuff you already own.  What I like about this strategy is that you don’t need any money to get started and you can keep it as low-key as you want.

Rent out Your Extra Rooms through Airbnb

This one’s pretty obvious, right?  Everyone knows you can rent out extra rooms through Airbnb and collect some cash on the side. 

But you should be careful to make sure your activities are permitted by your local municipalities, your HOA (if you have one), your landlord (if you are renting out your place), etc.

The great thing about this strategy is that it is scalable. In fact, there are people who turn this into a full blown business (they buy properties in destination cities and rent them out through Airbnb full time).

Rent Out Your Extra Storage Space

If you’ve got a spare bedroom or closet, or some unused space in your basement or garage, you can rent it out to people looking for extra storage space and generate passive income each month.

Check out Neighbor, who is a leader in this space.  I have used them myself – their platform is easy to use and you can get up and running in minutes. I participate in their “refer a friend” program, so if you sign up using this link, you (and I) will get a $50 Amazon gift card when you list your space.

If you want to learn more about this strategy, check out my article on the topic here.

Rent Our Your Cars Through Turo

You can also rent out your car when you aren't using it on Turo.  According to Turo, you can make hundreds of dollars a month doing this.  Check out their Carculator to get a sense of how much you could make renting out your car through this platform.

If you want to learn more about this passive income strategy check out my article on the topic here.

Note: As with Airbnb, this strategy can also be scaled for growth. I know that there are people in my area who own fleets of cars solely for the purposes of renting them out through Turo. They have basically started their own car rental business.

Make Money on Autopilot by Starting (or Buying) a Website

Starting a website is one of my favorites ways to make money on autopilot. There are many types of website you can own that can generate income for you, but I think the most passive is probably owning a blog. E-commerce websites can certainly be profitable, but they require you to order and manage inventory, deal with supply chain issues, handle customer complaints, issue refunds, and conduct constant marketing.

A simple blog, on the other hand, has no inventory, no customers, no employees, no physical location and very few operating costs.  It has tremendous structural advantages that allow it to be run passively.  

If you have a knack for writing, it may be a great choice for you.  You can write about any topics that you have some expertise in or that interests to you (preferably both!).  The topic you write about is often referred to as a “niche.”

One word of caution.  If you are writing about health matters (or even politics), Google may classify that as a YMYL topic (which stands for your money or your life). 

It may be harder to succeed in YMYL niches because Google wants your site to have “E-A-T” (which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Expertise).  Source.   In other words, they want advice regarding these areas to come from really reliable sources because incorrect advice can cause serious harm.

Is Blogging Truly an Automatic Way to Make Money?

Not in the beginning. Starting a blog take serious work. You have to set up your website, research the right topics to write about, and actually write the articles.  All of that requires work. 

But once you are up and running, the payoff can be awesome. 

I know from personal experience that this can work. This blog, for example, makes reliable money for me each month. This is definitely one of those things where the more you put into it, the more you can get out of it.

If you have a bunch of good articles that are generating traffic, you can start monetizing your blog through two main channels: (i) display ads and (ii) affiliate links (which are customized links to products you are promoting). If you want to expand your monetization options even further, you can create informational courses or ebooks and market them on your blog too (more on this later). 

At that point, the business is basically making you money on autopilot.  

If you want to keep growing your blog, you can.  Just continue writing articles (or improve existing ones), but even if you don’t, the blog is going to keep rolling even if you take a week off (or even a month off for that matter). 

To learn more about how to start a blog (including setting up the website, selecting your niche, getting traffic to your blog, and monetizing that traffic), check out my article on Passive Income Blogging. It's a really comprehensive and detailed guide to getting started.

If you want to short-circuit the work of starting a blog, one option is to buy an existing blog that is already making money. It can be a fine source of passive income for you with some great potential returns. Some of the main sites that sell blogs are Flippa, Empire Flippers and FE International. You can buy starter sites on Flippa for very little money (like way under $500), but you kind of get what you pay for (and you must beware of scams).

To learn more about this strategy, check out my article on Buying a Blog for Passive Income: What You Need to Know.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another popular way to make money on autopilot.  The concept is simple.  You are basically a salesperson for a particular product that you want to promote.  But instead of knocking on doors or calling people up, you “sell” the product online. 

A common method of affiliate marketing is putting affiliate links on your website.  As we talked about in the blogging section, this is one of the two primary ways you can make money as a blogger.

When someone comes to a page that has your customized affiliate link and they click on it, you will earn a commission if the person buys the product (or takes some other qualifying action, like signs up, etc.). It really is as simple as that. The more people that click on your link and buy stuff through it, the money money you make.

How Do You Find Affiliate Programs? 

Amazon Associates is one of the most popular affiliate programs out there.  They are especially well-suited for beginners because they have easy qualifications, carry almost every product you can imagine, and are a highly trusted source for customers wanting to buy stuff.

Love a particular product and want to write about its benefits?  Drop an amazon affiliate link in your article to the product you are recommending and make money every time someone clicks on the link and buys it. 

Of course, Amazon isn't the only game in town. 

There are many other affiliate programs out there.  Just Google any product or company you want to promote and add the words “affiliate program” to the end.  You’ll find that many already have an affiliate program in place.  All you have to do is apply. 

You can also find tons of affiliate programs through affiliate program networks like awin, flexoffers.com, cj.com, clickbank, and Rakuten.

Can I Do Affiliate Marketing If I Don’t Have a Website or Blog? 

You can still do affiliate marketing by putting your affiliate links on other places where you have access to traffic.  That could be your social media accounts (e.g. Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).  Or, you could generate traffic through paid ads on social media outlets (although that can get expensive and tricky). 

If you want to make this as passive as possible, you should go the route of setting up a website that gets relevant traffic and then let the traffic do its thing. 

EBooks

If you like writing, but blogging is not for you, you can write an eBook and get royalties from selling it online.  Amazon KDP (which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing) is a great place to do so.  Another option is Apple Books.

Like with blogging, once written, the book can continue to provide you with residual income for years. 

If you don’t like writing but do like the idea of receiving royalties on eBooks, you may want to consider creating “low” or “no” content books and selling them on Amazon KDP.  These can be journals (diaries), coloring books, guest books, music composition notebooks, planners, quote books, etc.

Online Courses

Another way to make passive income is to develop an online course and get income from the sale of that course. 

Video is the prevailing medium for these types of courses, although audio courses and courses with slides and other written materials also exist. There are a lot of tutorials on how to create online courses.  A simple Google search on the topic will give you some great places to start.

Once you have created the course, you can market it through various channels, such as you own website (if you have one), social media, and online course platforms such as Kajabi, Udemy, and Teachable.

YouTube

If you prefer making videos instead of writing, you can start a YouTube channel. As with blogging, you will start to earn passive income (mainly through ad revenue) once you get enough traffic coming to your channel.

Once you create the content, the passive income can begin, but getting there can take a lot of work.  Creating a quality video is not easy.  And like blogging, getting traffic to your channel can be a challenge.  You have to create informative (or at least entertaining) content and have compelling titles, and great thumbnails. You also need to understand how YouTube’s search algorithm works.

If you want to learn from the experts and fast track your success, check out incomeschool.com.  I purchased a subscription for their course to improve my blog, but they have a terrific course on successfully starting a YouTube channel too. 

Surveys

Another great strategy to make some easy extra cash is by taking online surveys in your spare time. You won't make a ton of money doing this, but it can be a nice little source of income that you can do pretty mindlessly.

One of the leading survey sites is Inbox Dollars.

They are a legit company that pays you actual cash (not points, etc.) to take surveys, watch videos, and read emails. You can also get cash rebates for playing video games, using free coupons, and shopping online. There are no fees and no obligation, so it's just free money.

If you want an additional option, you can try Life Points.

They are another company that pays you for taking surveys (they have paid over $22 million to its members just this year). You can redeem points you earn from taking surveys and get Amazon e-gift cards or even get paid in cash through Paypal.

Cash Back Apps

Another solid way to make money passively is by using cash back apps. Generally, these types of apps provide cash back when you buy something or give you a coupon for an additional discount. Some of these apps give you points that you can use for discounts on later purchases.

You should also bear in mind that some of them require you to scan and upload receipts, so they are not completely hassle-free, but if you are willing to take a few easy steps, you can make (or save) a decent amount of money that can really add up over time.

Here are some of the most popular cash apps:

Asset Investing

Traditional Market Investing

One of the most popular ways to make money without a lot work is by investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

It's not hard to get started – you just need to open up a brokerage account, fund it, and then buy the investments that you like. Many online brokerages allow you to start trading for free (i.e., no fees for buying and selling most securities). If you don't know where you start, check out Fidelity – they are a huge brokerage, but they are very easy to use.

If you pick the right investment, then you will make money with absolutely zero effort on your part. But that's the rub, isn't it? Choosing the right investment is hard. The fancy analysts on Wall Street don't always get this right and they are supposed to be experts. So you will definitely want to research your investments before taking the plunge.

If you want to reduce your risk, you may want to look at funds that aggregate individual stock holdings. I like ticker symbol “VTI”, which is a Vanguard fund that is supposed to reflect the performance of the entire US stock market. These funds are often less risky than investing in individual stocks and may be better suited for you if you are a beginner.

If you want to get cash flow on a regular basis from your investments, consider dividend paying stocks. They typically pay you money each month or quarter. There are funds that pay dividends as well, if the underlying stocks in the fund pay dividends.

How do you pick the right dividend paying stock? Hooboy – there's a lot to unpack, but generally speaking, you want to look at the company's dividend yield (how much is pays relative to its stock price), dividend history (has it consistently paid the dividend? has it raised its dividend overtime? etc.), financial health, projected growth, cash flow, debt, and a host of other factors when determining which dividend paying stock is right for you. You can check out Investopedia's article on the topic if you want to learn more.

Other traditional cash flow investments include bonds, bond funds, preferred stock and even simple financial instruments like money market mutual funds, CDs or even high yield savings accounts. Just remember that, as a general rule, the higher the yield, the higher the risk.

If you prefer a ready-made solution that will invest your money for you, take a look at Titan.  They were voted the top robo-advisor of 2020.  Check them out below if you want to learn more: 

Real Estate Crowdfunding

Owning rental properties is one of my favorite ways to make passive income (and we'll cover traditional rental property investing later on).  But buying properties can be expensive. Luckily there are ways to invest in real estate without buying actual properties and managing them.

It's called real estate crowdfunding and it has been gaining in popularity over the past few years.  

Real estate crowdfunding is a method used by companies to raise money for real estate investments from a broad range of investors. These companies typically operate online platforms where investors can review real estate investment options. 

If the investor finds something that they like, they can choose to invest in it.

The bad news is that, in many cases, these real estate crowdfunding platforms have steep minimum investment requirements. A platform with one of the lowest requirements was DiversyFund.  They will allow you to invest with as little as $500. Not a bad way to dip your toe into real estate investing without too much time and effort.

Peer to Peer Lending

If you want an easy and simple way to make money without much effort, consider peer-to-peer lending. 

If you don’t know what peer-to-peer lending is, it’s where you lend money to various borrowers through an online platform. 

As of this writing, some of the major platforms in this space include Prosper (which I use) and Funding Circle. Many peer-to-peer lending platforms are not open to individual investors, so be mindful of that when looking around.

The process is simple. 

Let’s take Prosper as an example.  You go to their website and open up an account (takes about 3 minutes). You then link that account with your bank account and fund your Prosper account. You can invest with as little as $25.  

Once your account funds, you can look for loans that meet your criteria and lend out your money.  Then you get paid.

Simple and completely passive.  I love it.

Vending Machines

Owning a vending machine can be a great source of extra income that doesn't require a lot of work. 

You just place it in a high-traffic location and make money every time someone buys something from your machine. The cost to get started varies, with a simple gumball machine costing only around $200 to a more expensive vending machine running between $3,000 to $5,000.  

The only part of this that requires some work is restocking and collecting money from the machine (and making the occasional repair), but you can easily outsource these functions.

For more details on this business, check out my beginner’s guide on how to start a vending machine route for passive income.

ATM Machines

Like vending machines, this type of business involves placing ATMs in high traffic areas and receiving a fee every time someone makes a withdrawal. 

You can get started on a pretty small budget, though. The average new ATM costs between $2,300 to $3,000.  

What’s great about ATMs is that they are even simpler to operate than a vending machine route. You don’t have to worry about buying 17 different types of snacks and drinks and lugging them around in your van.  There is only one type of inventory you need: cash. 

To make things even easier, there are services that can restock your ATMs with cash for a fee.  

Interested in finding out more? Check out my beginner’s guide to ATMs for Passive Income.

Rental Property Investing

Owning rental properties is one of my favorite ways to make passive income.  I own nine rental properties and self-manage them. I would say that I spend on average around 5-10 hours per month managing all of them. Not too bad – I would say that qualifies as almost completely passive.

If you want to make your rentals run completely on autopilot the obvious solution is to simply hire a property manager.  They will find tenants, screen them, and sign them up for leases. They will collect rents, make repairs, and basically take care of every issue that pops up when it comes to your rentals.

Once you have property management in place, your rental properties are basically 100% passive.

If you want to learn more about rental property investing, check out my step-by-step guide to start investing in rental properties

Cash Back Credit Cards

Ok – you won't become a millionaire using this strategy, but it 100% works. Depending on how much you use the credit card, you can generate hundreds (or even thousands) of bucks per year. 

Making money using cashback credit cards is simple and easy: 

  • Get a cashback credit card that offers a good cashback rate (2% seems to be pretty decent)  
  • Put as many of your expenses as you can on your cashback card  
  • Pay off your balances in full each month (can't mess this part up!) 
  • Collect the cashback rewards for some nice extra income

Conclusion

So there you have it – 17 ways to make money on autopilot. For more great passive income ideas, check out my article on 15 ways to make truly passive income with no money. There are some pretty unconventional ideas that I think you will find interesting.

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