If you own a computer (or can get one) and want to learn how to make passive income with it, you are in the right place.
In this article, we are going to cover 9 ways that you can make passive income (which is income that you earn without ongoing effort) with your computer. I am going to group them into three categories for easy reference.
The first category includes strategies that produce 100% passive income with no effort. These are things like selling your extra internet bandwidth, selling extra computing power that you are not using, and autosurfing. I know that some of these terms may be unfamiliar to you. That's ok, we will cover each of them in detail later on.
The second category involves strategies that will produce passive income, but requires some modest effort upfront. These include selling things you already own (like extra space in your basement, closet, etc.) through online platforms and using portals like Merch By Amazon to make passive income from designs and slogans you come up with.
The final category contains strategies that have the potential to make serious passive income (I am talking thousands of dollars per month or more), but that require a lot of upfront effort. These include things like blogs, YouTube channels, and eBooks (where you can passively collect royalties from their sales).
Once created, these online assets can produce an enviable stream of passive income for many years, but again, you need to put in the work (or hire people who will do it for you).
Ok, we got a lot to cover, so let's get into it!
Note: If you prefer a condensed version of this article in video format, check out my YouTube video below.
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.
Category One: 100% Passive Income With No Effort
1. Sell Your Extra Internet Bandwidth
If you've got unlimited internet bandwidth, you can actually sell what you are not using and make a little extra cash on the side. You don't need to do much here to get started. You just need to sign up with some of the online companies that will buy this spare bandwidth from you.
Honeygain is a leader in this space. They allow you to sell your bandwidth and you can redeem your earnings in a number of ways. My favorite, of course is cash. But you can also redeem for free gaming (e.g., XBox Live, free game skins, etc.) or even use your earnings to pay for popular subscriptions like NetFlix, Amazon Prime or Spotify Premium.
According to Honeygain, the more bandwidth you share, the more you can earn. They have a pretty cool tool that allows you to see how much you can earn based on how much bandwidth you share, how many devices you include, etc. For example, you can earn around $24/month if you share 8 GBs and have 4 devices hooked up.
If you don't want to share your bandwidth through Honeygain, they also offer a Content Delivery (CD) option where you get paid based on how long your devices are hooked up to their CD servers. For example, if you dedicate 12 hours per day, you can earn around $10 per month.
Packetstream is another option if you want to share your internet bandwidth. The concept is similar to Honeygain – Packetstream will pay you for sharing bandwidth through their platform. According to Packetstream, you can connect multiple devices, but if they are on the same network, they warn that you may have diminishing returns.
Autosurfing is when you automatically visit various websites by installing a program on your browser (usually a simple browser extension). Many online companies are hungry for traffic and will pay to get it. When you install an autosurfing program, you will make a small amount of money by letting the autosurfer visit these websites from your browser.
You won't make a ton of money doing this and at least one large autosurfing company has been investigated by the SEC in the past, so I would proceed with some caution. If the autosurfing company is asking you to pay a membership fee or any type of fee, I would be especially careful.
If you want to learn more about autosurfing, check out this article on the topic.
3. Sell Your Extra Computing Power
Just like there are platforms that allow you to sell your extra internet bandwidth, there are platforms that will buy your extra computing power. So if have some computers that have decent computing power and don't mind selling the excess, you can make a bit of passive income by just connecting these computers to the platforms.
Closing Thoughts on Category One Strategies:
Bear in mind that the passive income strategies in this category don't make a ton of money and will use up electricity, so you may want to test them out and see if they are worth it.
Let's move on to the next category of passive income strategies using your computer. These strategies require a bit more effort upfront, but can generate significantly more passive income.
Category Two – Modest Effort Upfront, But Decent Passive Income
4. Rent Out Stuff You Already Own
If you have a computer, you can easily make some money by going online and renting out stuff you already own. One of my favorite things to rent out (and something that almost everyone has) is extra storage space in your home. That's right, even if you have a spare closet, you can rent that out on places like Neighbor.
Of course, larger, more private, and more secure spaces will command higher rents. Some popular rentals include parking spaces, garages, basement areas, etc. If you want to learn more about this strategy, check out my article on the topic here.
There are other things you can rent out as well, such as your car (through sites like Turo), your musical instruments, your pool, your backyard, and much more. For the full list, check out my article on 15 ways to make truly passive income with no money.
5. Create Designs and Sell Merchandise with Merch By Amazon
If you've got a creative streak or an artistic bent, you can make designs on your computer and sell them online through Merch By Amazon. Now, to be clear, you are not actually selling the designs themselves. You are using the designs in t-shirts, mugs or other merchandise and selling the merchandise. You get paid a cut of each item that gets sold using your design.
The reason why this is passive is because once you provide the design, Amazon takes care of the rest. They will put the design on the merchandise (which you don't need to buy, they already have it) and ship it out to the customers. In other words, once you provide the artwork, they handle the production, shipping and customer service all at no cost to you. Just Awesome.
If you love this method of passive income and have some great ideas, but don't have the talent for designing, you can easily outsource the work to a pro. If you are on a budget, I would check out Fiverr. There are tons of designers there that you can choose from (and many will do the work for a very affordable price).
Ok, now let's move on to the final category of passive income, which requires significant effort upfront, but can yield really attractive levels of passive income. This is my favorite part and it's how I make personally make meaningful passive income with just a computer and an internet connection.
Category Three – Significant Effort Upfront, But High Potential Passive Income
6. Create a Blog
I think blogging can be a fantastic way to make passive income using your computer.
It will take some time and effort to get your blog up and running, but once your articles are written and generating traffic, you can sit back and enjoy the passive income that your blog will create for you.
How does it work?
If you have a bunch of articles that people are visiting, your blog is a valuable piece of online real estate. Companies are going to want to advertise their products to your visitors and they will be willing to pay you for the privilege. That form of monetization is called display advertising.
It's super passive. You get paid each time someone sees an ad on your website (they don't even need to click on it).
You can also make money on your blog through affiliate links (which are customized links to products you are promoting). Each time a visitor clicks on that affiliate link, you will get paid a commission if the visitor winds up buying the product, etc.
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).
If you want to keep growing your blog, you can. Just continue writing articles (or improve existing ones). But you don't have to – 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 How to Start a Blog From Scratch. 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.
To learn more about this strategy, check out my article on Buying a Blog for Passive Income: What You Need to Know.
7. Start a YouTube Channel
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.
But if you can sort through these things and gain traction on your channel, you can make a ton of money.
8. Write and Sell Ebooks
If you like writing, but blogging is not for you, you can use your computer to type up an eBook.
Once it is written, you can get royalties from selling it online. Amazon KDP (which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing) is a great place to do this. Another option is Apple Books.
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.
If you want a complete guide to making money with eBooks, check out my article: Making Money [Passively] Writing eBooks: A Simple 5-Step Guide.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is another popular way to make passive income with your computer. 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.
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.
So there you have it – 9 great ways to make passive income with your computer.
If you want to learn about passive income and explore a ton of passive income ideas, check out my ultimate guide to passive income. I walk you step-by step through more than 25 great passive income ideas.