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Your best passive income? (2014)
395 points by kirk21 1461 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 420 comments
This post gave me the motivation to give it another try: https://medium.com/business-startup-development-and-more/e0937c7f0951

Previous years: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6661536 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4639271

Not much has changed since the last thread. Improvely (https://www.improvely.com) is still in the 5-digit monthly RR range and growing, and I do no outbound marketing other than some PPC ads that don't need much active management. Everything that can be automated has been automated (onboarding, lifecycle mails, dunning mails for billing issues, etc), leaving me free to spend all my time on support and improving the product.

Two things that fit the "passive" mentality that have been picking up steam recently:

1) I offer an affiliate program with a revenue share commission (upfront bonus plus 10% of the referred customer's payments for a year). A couple of my best customers have become my best affiliates, recommending the product on industry blogs they write for regularly. It doesn't get better than having excited customers marketing your product for you. In the early days the affiliate program wasn't doing much at all, now it's a meaningful contributor to subscriber growth.

2) I've been running Improvely long enough now (just over a year) that some of the clients are growing their businesses significantly. I've got quite a few marketing agencies on board, and they're picking up new clients and adding them to their accounts. As their business grows, and their usage grows, they upgrade to plans with higher usage limits. Same customer base, higher revenue per customer. In the beginning, a new customer was worth $30ish per month. Today that's over $70/m per customer on average.

Awesome, congrats.

Just putting this out there: if you're generating that scale of value for agencies, you can often get them to agree to an arrangement which sounds like "$X per account you rep". Mental comparison for you: what's the largest agency you count as a client paying you? Would $250 times the number of accounts they rep be a substantially larger number than that? They probably make substantially more than that.

My brother works at a PPC agency. Typical client: a company you've never heard of in Chicago which does, without loss of generality, weatherproofing. They have a PPC budget of $IT_WOULD_BLOW_YOUR_MINDS_HN. Like many PPC companies, they charge (WLoG) 20% of spend every month. $250 doesn't make that account meaningfully lucrative and if you give them 1 extra conversion a month to brag about it's net profitable for the client.

I am aware of other marketing software companies which get into very cozy relationships with their favorite marketing agencies, to the tune of four to five figure checks monthly. That would, presumably, lift your average from $70 to an even happier number.

Bonus points: if you do it right, you can pitch this as a straight moneymaker to the agency, on some model like "You add a line-item to all your invoices of +$500 for $FOO_SOFT, so after we get our cut, that's $12,500 that your agency grosses which is totally free money to you."

How did you manage to compete against google analytics (which does conversion tracking and a lot more, for free) ? Conversion tracking is something that i thought became a dead market at least 5 years ago (at that time i developed an analytics and conversion tracking solution myself).

I think Google Analytics dashbaord can be confusing and cumbersome. I understand that once you've used it and understand you can be proficient at it but many people don't have the time or care to learn the a complex tool.

I think the biggest value proposition Improvely offers is the Click Fraud reports/reporting and alerts.

LOVE improvely. Actually used it to show conversions on my site, which i recently sold on flippa. Needless to say, it got a very good response: https://flippa.com/2963324-pr-3-app-templates-site-with-10-4....

I'm sure it sent you a good one or two customers too! :)

I've been a subscriber for roughly 6 months and am very happy with the service.

Oh wow, this looks like exactly what I've been looking for for my not-so-passive income project, textbooksplease.com, for tracking conversions.

...any chance of an HN discount? :D

Sure, I happen to have programmed a discount into the billing system for one of the affiliates which I can repurpose. This link's good for 10% off any subscription for life. https://www.improvely.com/signup?perk=hn

Hi, I was checking out your project. Do you mind if I ask where you got the list of universities and the URLs?

Hi Christian - textbooksplease looks great. nice job! I was wondering: 1 - how do you monetize? 2 - how does the post-stickers-get-tshirt marketing channel perform (and how do you know, as it's hard to track..)


Thanks! :D

1. Affiliate links. Each time someone buys a book through my site, I make ~5% from the retailer.

2. You know, not very well, but I think its a cool perk to give to customers you interact with ("glad I fixed your issue - want some free stickers?"). My biggest ROI to date is from google adwords, but they're outrageously expensive, so I'm going to be focusing on natural SEO for this next semester.

Dan, I love your date range picker. I use it all the time. Thanks.

second that. Using it as an angular directive. It's really nice!

Seconded :-)

Congratulations! Any tips on what worked the best for you to grow your product?

(I have a product with 4-digit monthly RR and I would like to take it to 5.)

Small typo on the bottom of the page here: https://www.improvely.com/features/click-fraud-detection


Btw the product looks awesome.

Thanks, fixed it

This is a super cool product, I'm giving it a shot.

Silly question, What is "RR"?

"RR" is recurring revenue.

Recurring Revenue

I'm having trouble figuring out what you do. Or rather, I know what you do, but am not sure how you do it. How do you track conversions?

I couldn't find a page on the site letting me know how much technical skill I'd require to implement this.

That's great Dan. I have a couple of questions.

Do you have an in house affiliate program that you use or a third party one? How did you get affiliates interested (other than existing customers)?

It's run through ShareASale [1]. They take care of tracking sales, cutting checks, sending 1099s at the end of the year, and all the other boring parts of running an affiliate program. As for getting affiliates interested, there's a link to the program in the footer of the site and a link within the app for existing customers. When I come across a site that seems like it'd be a good fit for some kind of partnership, I just send a brief e-mail and see if there's any interest.

1: https://www.shareasale.com

A few years ago, I wanted to build an oscilloscope in my pocket, so I went ahead and did it. Then I wanted a spectrum analyzer, and then an equalizer.

1) oScope — an oscilloscope in your pocket. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oscope/id344345859?mt=8

2) Octave — a real-time audio analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/octave-an-rta-for-the-iphone...

3) Fourier — a spectrum analyzer. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fourier/id386084557?mt=8

I built all of these for fun in college, and I've occasionally updated them afterwards. The only thing I do now is answer a few emails a week. I've since gone back to grad school, but the yearly income has not changed, and approaches my stipend (low 5-digit).

What's been really neat is how people have found unexpected ways to use the apps. Sound engineers for halls and communities use Octave to set up the sound for concerts. Teachers use oScope to help kids understand how sound is composed of moving pressure waves of air, and how pitch is the frequency of these waves. Also, oScope had a tiny cameo in the show Homeland, as a "fancy science-looking analyzer tool for spying on people" (uncredited, unfortunately).

Here's a perspective from the other side: I purchased Octave and having used it, and asked for a small feature (single-tap to pause). You told me that you don't have much time and will work on this feature when you have time. I understand that, but it's disappointing from the consumer point of view. I wish I knew that before I dropped $5.

Basically, it sucks to be stuck on the "passive" receiving end of a passive income project. Though actually, it's Apple's fault for not letting me trial software.

But I'm glad to hear these projects are working out and wish you continued luck!

Come on, you spent $5 for an app. For a working app! This is a pretty low price. Actually, it's basically nothing. Of course you can't get support and are not entitled to feature requests at such a low price tag!

$5 is not cheap by app store standards. It's a fair price for an app in that class.

As to whether you're entitled to support or feature requests, you can make an argument both ways. One could generate some word of mouth by following up on (simple) feature requests.

In one of the apps, Fourier, the reviewers say that the horizontal frequency scale is off by a factor of 2 (but the frequency display elsewhere is accurate). That's a small thing to fix that hasn't been fixed since Apr 2012. I think that at a $5 price point, my expectation is that the app is updated with at least bug fixes of that variety.

First, wow, I didn't expect any HN readers to actually know about, much less have bought, my work! Thanks.

Second, I understand your frustration. I love building things, and sometimes I wish I could do that full time, but grad school is a 70 hr/wk commitment for me.

If the app is not useful for you without the missing feature, Apple does allow returns. I'm not quite sure how it works, but I see a few returns a year on my reports.

Also, I've open-sourced the hardest part of the app, the audio managing aspect, as Novocaine (GitHub.com/alexbw/novocaine), and along with the great package NVDSP, anybody could replicate the basic functionality of my apps with a few weeks of learning and effort. It'd be great for the audio app ecosystem, too!

I'm also interested in hiring a part-time developer to help flesh out the top-requested features, if anybody has ObjC coding experience. That'd make many more updates possible.

I've used novocaine on a hackathon project. Very fun little library, thanks! It was 10,000 times easier than setting up the audio unit chain, etc. I had done it the old fashioned way for my first app but there was an incredible amount of error-prone boilerplate code when all I really wanted was a callback function to populate output buffers.

This thing also looks pretty cool: http://theamazingaudioengine.com/

That open source library is awesome. Wow, thank you.

Novocaine is wonderful, thank you.

"App Store standards" don't really work for valuable niche software. They can work for games that end up selling 10 million copies, but there's a reason why professional software with few users is usually priced between $500 and $100 000.

$5 is worth 3 minutes of developer time at common hourly contracting prices. If a developer receives and reads an email from a customer, they will probably end up with no profit. If they respond to it, let alone are adding new custom features, they are certainly losing money compared to working for someone else.

Nothing against you specifically astral303, but this is exactly why I will probably never build a stand-alone mobile app.

I re-read my post and I realize I do sound like a whiny asshole for not getting feature requests for a $5 app.

Good perspective.

This is like two days late, but its incredibly refreshing to people acknowledge that they had a wrong/flawed perspective, especially on HN.

You bought a product. You did NOT contract a developer. Your expectations do not reflect this.

$5 is cheap. By any standard. You proved it yourself, by purchasing the app BEFORE emailing him. If you think it's expensive, I trust you can outsource building a replica of the app for less than $5.

$5 barely affords you service, let alone the right to be dissapointed that your feature request was not immediately implemented. Are you really expecting enterprise level customization for a $5 app?

Look at this guy. He paid a WHOLE 5$ and now he is entitled to hours of programmer work from the developer.

I guess you can still like someone as a person while you dislike them as a developer.

It's nice to hear both sides of the story.

I've been a loyal oScope users for ages; I once used it as my front panel in a Halloween robot costume, and it blew people's minds that they could talk to me and have it show up on my 'belly screen'. A very useful tool indeed.

One thing that I've always wanted it to do is to be able to horizontally move/scale the frequency domain plot. Most of the time I'm using it, I only really care about the low frequency (vocal range) component.

That's a great idea! People are always really pleased to see their sound turned into something they can look at. It never gets old to me...

I built a dozen or so educational apps. I started each on iOS then have ported a few to Android and Windows Phone. It hasn't yet been a great financial success, but it is almost entirely passive income now. Updating apps for UI changes like iOS 7, the iPhone 5 screen size, Holo, etc. are kind of a pain but not bad at all compared to constantly selling myself on new consulting gigs or chasing down non-paying customers.

Yeah, the breaking changes that accumulate over the years is the main nagging thing I have to keep up with. Since I use my apps myself, and tend to use beta iOS releases, I can usually catch these pretty early, but not always.

As an aside, I find it a lot easier to bring in consulting gigs if I aggressively open source tools that I make, and then promote those OSS projects. I find it more pleasant to tell people about free tools than to just promote myself alone, but they end up feeding into each other. Just my two cents.

I've got a job where i do almost nothing. It's my passive income.

I'm convinced this is the best type of passive income. A job with minimal work (perhaps some kind of security guard or IT support) sitting at a desk. I would use the opportunity to work on my own projects that would actually make me money, all the while getting paid.

Yeah I want this.

I had this, it got boring real fast. The money wasn't great. I could live on it but there was no future prospect. A slow career death if you will. So I took a harder job, with higher pay.

Exactly the same case for me too. At first it seems like it would be great, but it was wearing away at the passion I once had for my career. I now spend my days looking at cat videos and playing games rather than focussing on personal projects. I move jobs in 2 weeks to a harder job with better pay and can't wait.

Best of luck with that. For me it was a great decision!

This, I had the same issue, except they paid well. I ended up leaving for a job that would actually use my skills with more pay

Can't really argue with "and higher pay"

It was exactly double. Can't argue with that.

I work for a big company where there is a lot of down time. It may sound appealing - good pay with minimal to no work, along with minimal supervision - but it get boring real fast and can be demoralizing.

I would rather be actively working on something that challenges me, than have my brain rot away.

I've even tried working on side projects while at my day job and it doesn't work out because it's difficult to really devote focus to something that isn't related to your job.

Like others have said below you think you do and you do for a while but then it starts to wear on you, big time. All that extra time you have at work becomes oppressing and personal projects suffer if you work on them at all. I'm looking to either go back to school or find a tougher job, I've even considered landscaping or construction since it's generally non-stop but it would be a detrimental pay cut.

Do some freelancing during office hours & double the income.

While not doing anything might be immoral, doing something else is most likely in violation of the contract and the work done would (again, most likely) be owned by the employer. Along with the income.

You're risk adverse, aren't you?

Yeah, what are you, chicken?

I'm not a chicken. You're a turkey!

This would not be passive.

You have to think bigger man.

Outsource the outsourcement... Interact with top-level outsourcer once per week... he interacts with low-level outsourcer daily.


Relevant: "Man reportedly outsources his own job to China, watches cat videos" http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/17/business/la-fi-mo-ma...

this may be veering off-topic, but why would an employer-- especially a big one with lots of individual consumers as customers-- be willing to make it publicly known that that occurred?

doesn't it undermine consumer confidence in their business?

They didn't. The story is provided by Verizon's Enterprise Security Products group, and is a cautionary tale about one of their clients and the need for proactive log review. The client and the cat-loving software developer in question were not named.

Original source: http://www.verizonenterprise.com/security/blog/index.xml?pos...

That's as timely as awesome

Yes, but how i would outsource interacting to still do nothing?

Have a Perl script written to handle it.

I've got to say it ain't so easy to find such a job. When you've got some qualifications, employers doesn't keen on hiring you. I'm talking about tech support jobs that you can do easily during the day. Working as a night guard is usually very low pay and doesn't justify the effort. If anyone has got an idea on how to get remote flexible support jobs, I'd be happy to hear.

Government or big co?

wally is that you? SCNR

Board Director?

Much like "Bored Director"

Do you have to show up at any particular place every day?

Morning stand-up meetings and the office kitchen.

Microsoft? Meetings are work man!

Hmm, I probably should send my cv there...

I have been working on my Google Map Gps Cell Phone Tracker for several years now. Recently, I updated the project to include tracking for Android, IOS, Windows Phone and Java Me/J2ME phones. The project allows you to track a phone periodically (every 1, 5 or however number of minutes) and display them in real time on Google maps.

You can also save routes and display them later. I use google adsense on my website and also on youtube. I have been averaging about $600 per month in revenue. Now that I have done this update (which took a few months), I suspect that my adsense income is going to increase dramatically. If you want to learn more about my project, here is the landing page:


I'm 53 now and I've been a software contractor for the past 17 years. Because of the economy and my age, I was having an increasingly difficult time getting contracts. It's hard to compete with young programmers who can work a lot faster than you and at a much cheaper rate. So I decided it was time to step out on my own. It has been very challenging, a little frightening (ok, a lot frightening), but I am making slow progress.

Today, I was very happy to find out that my project was nominated for "Project of the Month" on Sourceforge. It's been downloaded about 8000 times in the past 4 days and has gotten 24 5-star reviews. If you have an account with Sourceforge and have the time to look at my project, would you please vote for me if you feel it's worth it?


Thank you. I appreciate the help and let me know if you have any questions.

Congrats on the brave move to launching your own projects.

On a side note, if I were you I would move the project from SourceForge to github. There is barely anyone using sf.net these days and github social features might also help your project to get noticed.

Hey, thanks for your comment. I use SF as a distribution channel. I use github every day and love it:


My iOS app that teaches you what a tesseract is and lets you manipulate it in 3D and 4D.


It blows my mind that people still find out about this app and happily buy it every day even though it occupies such a small geeky niche.

The app icon is irresistible.

Thanks. It was essentially my son's idea (age 5 at the time), and it was about a month after I designed the icon that I realized the "third eye" connection, as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_eye which made me love it even more.

I'm really looking forward to your next iOS app, Fiasco -- it looks awesome. I hope you don't get sued for Scrabble kicking Tetris in the face, or by Stanslaw Lem's estate!

From the reviews, it sounds like the high quality of your explanations has made a small geeky niche far less small, geeky and niche. Bravo.

Heard about this app when it first launched, such an original idea.

Would you feel comfortable telling us the number of sales in 2013?

The Fourth Dimension generated $17,600 during 2012, the year I launched it. The majority of that was driven by reviews the app got.

In 2013 it made $3900, or $325/month, and seems to be holding at that rate of income. The only work I did on the app in 2013 was about two days making it work correctly on iOS 7.

It's not huge money, but it's far more than my expectations, which were on the order of $500 total over the lifetime of the app.

I posted a breakdown of the first three months of reviews here: http://www.fourthdimensionapp.com/first_three_months/

My next app is a two-player Tetris/Scrabble mashup: http://fiascoapp.com/b

My expectations for the word puzzle game are either $300,000, or zero. The wave function has yet to collapse.

Seems to violate the premise of "the dumber the app, the more popular it will be." Awesome.

"The dumber the app..." works almost everytime. I launched a conceptually great app which was a complete failure: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/gravity-byte/id504372023?mt=...

Then launched a card game which is a decent success..

Gravity Byte may be a great app. But, it does not make a great first impression. You may want to try to give the app a more cohesive art direction. For example, in the app screenshots, I see 4 different fonts. Also, the game graphics don't really grab my attention. Keep in mind that most people are judging your app almost entirely by the screenshots.

You could probably turn that around rather easily by paying a good designer or graphic artist to produce some professional looking assets and reskinning the game.

It's a shame, the icon for Gravity Byte looks really nice, but then the screenshots put me off instantly.

Wish you had an Android version :/

Kudos anyway, great idea and looks like a great execution as well!

Cool! My mom showed this to me (she's a maths teacher) In fact it was the first app she ever bought! She just loves showing it to all her science colleagues! That really is an awesome app!

I love hearing stories like that, thanks. I never thought it would resonate with so many people.

Nice! WRT to the icon, you should add stereoscopic imaging (red/green style) to geek out even further!

Near the end of the app, there is a cross-eyed stereo viewing mode that works pretty well, although it can be headache inducing for some people.

That looks so cool. I'm glad it brings in a good amount of money.

I just bought a copy myself!

I run Built With Bootstrap (http://builtwithbootstrap.com). It's making 4 figures a month at the moment.

It's mostly passive income as I spend no more than a few hours per week actually working on the site. Though I spend considerably more monitoring the stats and feeds etc etc

My biggest win with this site is the extremely low cost to run it - something I want to talk about more if anyone's interested. My only real regular cost is the domain name! Pretty phenomenal for a site that continues to attract thousands of visitors per day :) a model I'm proud of and hopefully can continue!

But of course, all standing on the shoulders of giants! Many thanks has to go to far more talented people than me... both for the site's foundations and it's popularity.

Hi simonhamp, Congrats on the project! I'd love to hear more about how you're running it for so low cost! Have you open sourced the site? I'd love to also hear your stack. I've managed to keep all my projects (even one exceeding 5 Million+ ) extremely low cost (pretty much the domain name only as well) and always looking for more ideas to save! Feel free to PM me as well!

Woops just saw the comment below how its on Tumblr. Should've noticed that earlier. Any other hacks?

Thanks Zaheer. Please see my other comment to cko

I use also tumblr platform (very underrated IMHO). If you can adapt your website/blog to it you get a decent free hosting. However if your blog depends on SEO I would not recommend it (unless you develop a custom theme and really know what you are doing).

I totally agree that Tumblr is underrated. It's by no means perfect for SEO, but I haven't found it a problem. Would certainly be nice to have a little more control over certain bits, but it hasn't been detrimental to mine, now PageRank 7 (if that still means anything?)

Once I made the experience, two blogs, one on wordpress, one on tumblr, as similar as they can be, same posts, etc. After few days the wordpress one was in first page of google, the tumblr one still very difficult to find. Anyway to cut costs I kept the tumblr one. Nowadays (2,5 years later) my blog is pagerank 4 (good rank for the traffic I have) and reasonable SEO. Even not being perfect like you say I would also recommend tumblr. (http://archimodels.info)

galfarragem: It depends on the kind of site you want to run ultimately, but personally I think you made the right choice.

You have had free hosting, no headaches of a hacked site or overloaded server, minimal downtime and a thriving social system all rolled into one.

I think PageRank 4 is incredible - there are millions of sites that would love that! What's your site?

Wow - this is awesome - good for you!

I'll have to look into tumblr hosting - what are the limitations? Do you ever find yourself locked into a blog-like schematic?

But also, if you're so successful with a passive approach, it sounds like you've found a real market demand. Have you considered taking a more active approach given the success? How long would you say this took you to setup initially?

Thanks! Yes there are many limitations. And yes it is definitely locked into a blog-like schematic. It's not really for making a "website"... it's for writing a simple blog - thankfully that's all BWB is :)

I definitely think the active approach will yield greater results, but right now I'm doing even more interesting things in my day job and other side projects that I enjoy. This gives me the freedom to keep doing those things :)

As for initial setup, I rolled it out in the same afternoon I had the idea and incrementally built on it from there. It's certainly nothing like it was when I began it.

I've visited that site quite a few times and I'm very interested in how you're keeping running costs low.

As galfarragem mentions, it runs on Tumblr to start with. This is a totally free, simple blogging platform, pretty much perfectly suited to the needs of the site.

I get awesome hosting for free and a fair amount of flexibility. Yes there are limitations and the admin of the site isn't quite as easy, but when you haven't got much admin it's ok.

The most important reason for choosing Tumblr was the Submissions feature. Visitors can submit a post just as I need it to be. It costs them nothing, it costs me nothing - all the hard work is done (mostly - I obviously need to do some editing, but this is minimal.)

But the absolute killer feature of Tumblr is the queue. Without this, there's no way I could manage the site.

Would I like more features from Tumblr? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not. Do I need those features? Not right now.

I handle all submissions myself, the Twitter feed, Facebook Page, Google+ page... all done by me (with the help of the awesome http://bufferapp.com/)

I use IFTTT (http://ifttt.com) to check for new posts on Tumblr and cross-post to Buffer (Twitter) and Facebook - this isn't perfect yet because I'd like it to use Buffer for Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but IFTTT doesn't support that yet.

Technically the $10/month for Buffer is a cost... but I use it personally and on other projects, so this is obviated by the fact that I would be using it anyway.

I use the awesome BuySellAds (http://buysellads.com) to serve ads. Yes they take a cut and this too is technically a "cost"... but it comes straight out of money I wouldn't be making anyway so I don't see it as a cost.

I also run with a few affiliates and these bring in a little extra revenue.

How many uniques/month does it take for you to turn a profit??

Well as revenue is largely from ads (that are reliant on page views) I needed to build up visitor numbers to generate ~100k page views a month on a regular basis

Each visitor brings about 2 page views on average so 50k visits a month puts me over the threshold. Uniques are at about 70% (I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader)

But to actually turn a profit... I really only need a very small fraction of this. Maybe 10%..?

It's all moot tho, as I need the numbers to be high as this is what gets advertisers paying. Thankfully this comes with a natural abundance of funds making this the most profitable project I've ever worked on

Nice. Keep up the good work!

Very impressive, thanks for sharing! I'm more interested in how you grew the user base plus any other growth hack tips you might have? There is the obvious free SEO and social media publicities, but it's always tricky to get engaged users.

I would say I got lucky. I started the site not too long after the public launch of Bootstrap. And after about two weeks of farming Bootstrap sites myself (to build up content) I submitted it to HN. Then it went nuts. I got a spot on the official docs homepage without even asking and rode the wave as Bootstrap soared to becoming the most popular frontend framework and Github repo.

The popularity this brought was untold as hundreds of sites started naturally linking to BWB. I guess being first was the most important thing here.

I've also made a point to make it always free and easy for folks to submit a site. There's no complex review process and no fee (if you don't mind waiting in line). This gets some loyal supporters who are happy to provide new content on a somewhat regular basis.

The knock-on effect has been that Google seems to love the site and now the majority of my visitors come from searches. This despite Tumblr not being the greatest base for SEO.

No "growth hacking" required, whatever that is...

That's a great return, good work! Are the profits mostly from affiliate click throughs to ThemeForest and the like?

Thanks :) no actually the largest source of revenue is from ad sales at the moment. I do use affiliates, but they are small in comparison.

I think this is largely to do with the fact that I don't push affiliates too much at the moment. The effort-return ratio is nowhere near as good as the ads.

wow that's very cool!

For me it's still residential real estate.

Between 2010 and 2012 or so I picked up some condos here in San Diego at short sale for about 1/3 of what their price was a few years earlier. I get about 1.5% of their purchase price every month in rent. At the same time, the property values have appreciated so the rents are starting to increase as well.

The longest I've had any of them vacant was about two weeks and that was only during the time I was replacing carpet, appliances, furnace, painting walls, fixing stuff, etc.

To make it completely passive I have a property manager (I live in the area, but I value my time). That along with HOA fees and real estate taxes eat into my bottom line, but combined it's only about 1/5 of the monthly rent.

These properties allowed me to quit my job, self-fund my company, and I'm actually putting money away every month. Go figure.

I'm not a real estate expert, but if you have any basic questions feel free to get in touch (contact info is in my profile). As background, I bought my first house at 21 and owned 5 homes by the time I was 27 (I'm 29 now). I was in the military until a few months ago, so I didn't make a whole lot, but I'm pretty good with money and invested wisely. I didn't grow up with much, so I learned what not to do with money. I'm also pretty deliberate about how I spend my money, which is different than being frugal.

My family owns several rental properties as well. It's a part time job to manage all of them, though it gets easier once you have 3~4, at which point they share the same resource pool for repairs and such.

some observations

- don't cheap out and buy in a bad neighbourhood. We did this once, and with the turnover/repair costs it made a loss.

- choose tenants carefully (you can say no). Families with income are best.

- know when to evict people. Rent for long enough and you'll certainly get a pathological renter.

Very cool. Congratulations!

I am also into residential real estate and was wondering why you chose to go the cash route especially when rates have been so low. For instance, in the properties that I am currently in business for, for 20% down I able to fetch a 30% ROI after mortgate + all fees incl. property management, taxes, insurance, etc... For the same properties, if I would go all cash, my return would be closer to 11 to 12%. Of course with the mortgage approach, it tends to be a bit slow (i.e. a mortgage at a time) and longer to scale to the same levels of in terms of absolute monthly returns since my monthly cash flow is lower in absolute terms.

Interested in your thoughts.

I tried, and I even looked at hard money loans, but at the time I couldn't get any (even with an 800 credit score and never missing a payment on anything in my life).

Lenders were hesitant to loan for investment properties, especially in condo complexes with low owner occupancy rates.

In 2012 I learned that I didn't look hard enough when I a buddy told me he 'had a guy' that he'd get loans from for the same thing for 20-25% down. He said it was a bit shady and the rate was a bit higher than a conventional loan, but it did the job.

And to be honest with you, in all of my investment I've never crunched the numbers to determine exact ROI. I always ballpark it in my head and go with my gut. I'm sure it's more risky and I'm probably leaving money on the table, but to me investing was a hobby and that kept (keeps) it fun. I do it because I love doing it.

Also, it may be holding me back, but I don't like debt. The last three homes I bought cash, as well as both of our cars. Hell, I'm even self-funding my business. I find it gives me a lot more freedom albeit a lower return. But to me it's worth it. For example, sure I could grow my business faster with funding, but I've been working on it for two years now and still love it. In fact, I'd do it for free. You can't put a price on that.

Thanks a lot for your response. I may shoot you an email since you offered before. Would be interested in discussing further.

Monthly property taxes + monthly HOA + monthly payment to manager < 20% of cash-flow? That is incredible.

How do you get enough money to buy an house at 21? A loan?

Yes. I was in the military so I used the VA loan. Additionally, the house was only $140,000. I've since refinanced to a 15yr loan on that property and the rental income still covers it.

Where did you get your equity? Do have debt on any of them? I want to follow this plan too, but don't have the equity for down payments...

Of the 5 homes, I have mortgages on the 2 most expensive ones (we live in one of them). The other 3 I bought more or less cash.

The first condo I bought by selling most of my stock investments. After buying the condo I started investing again. The following year I took out a HELOC out the next condo, sold all my stocks again and bought the next one cash. I did the same for the one after that. I've since paid off the HELOCs.

Why does everybody list books, webapps and mobile apps as passive income? I hope you created them yourself. Then they are not passive income but a product. Like every product they have a lifetime, then you need a new product. Therefore you actually have a first or second active business and not a passive income. "Passive income" is rent for condos you own, or having shares in your friend's profitable business that yields dividends etc. or did I completely misunderstand the meaning of that word?

I think in the tech circle, passive income is used to refer to something you could ignore for 6 weeks and it would still be earning you money. Most of the 'work' people put in seems to be increasing revenue rather than maintaining it, although yes I agree it isn't completely passive. The same could be said about your condos too though, they'll need to refurbished every few years. Unless you are outsourcing everything, you'll need to do some management of that yourself.

Look, I understand how people use the phrase "passive income", but it's really not correct. Like "object" or "unit test" "passive income" is a term with a meaning. It has advantages for you to understand the difference between "unit test" and "regression test". It also has advantages to understand the difference between "active income", "passive income", and "portfolio income". For once you can speak with professionals without misunderstandings, and you can think about a topic in a different way. When you understand what "passive income" means you will see, that you actually really like "passive income" from a tax paying point of view, even if you have to work as hard for it as you would for your "active income" (e.g., salary). The thing is, though, that often if you have to work hard for something that is considered "passive income", then you are probably doing something wrong or it's actually your "active income".

[1] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/passiveincome.asp [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_income

I can assure you as my wife and I are starting into the rental business that leasing a residence is not passive.

If you're renting your first couple places, absolutely not. But at some point you hit a mark where you have a property manager doing all the day-to-day and a few leasing agents filling vacancies and it becomes as passive as you want it to be.

In my experience (family business is property rental) I think the point at which you can afford a property manager is pretty far down the line for most people.

A cheap property manager or estate agent is generally not worth it - their main goal being to rent the property as quickly as possible to anyone, rather than ensuring rental to a good tenant.

Decent property managers cost a fair bit of money and unless you own the property outright or have a very low mortgage it's tough to afford a good manager and have a reasonable passive income from the property as well.

That's true. The same could be said of many of these software products. I think passive income is more about the goal of least ongoing direct effort to highest income than spending zero time.

Another adjective springs to mind, also beginning with "P-A"...

I think you're missing the obvious: "passive" and "income". Passive income is income you earn passively, and in the context of the opening topic, it generally refers to something you've created yourself (whether the product, the system that sells it, or both), which is earning you money with a relatively low amount of ongoing work.

You do make a point. I worked quite some time to get my app working, and occasionaly i spend time tweaking things. But currently, (and for almost 2 years). I hardly worked on it. And money still flows in.

That condo has to come down someday my friend.

50€/month with adsense and amazon affiliates. It demands from me 5 minutes each day (or 4-5 hours each month, so it is not exactly passive...). It's a niche blog about architectural models: http://archimodels.info that I started as a hobby to learn about web development. I know that i'm near the bottom in the hierarchy of passive income but anyway I'm leaving my 2 cents.


- I agree with cdaven. Good content is better than SEO, but you only take the fruits 1-2 years later. Use your expertise. It is much easier/faster/more rewarding if you blog about something you are an expert.

- Adsense is ugly but is the fastest way to monetise a blog. I was making 15€/month before adsense and now I have slightly less traffic. Text ads or images ads? If you have an text intensive blog go for image ads and for an image intensive blog go for text ads.

I know this isn't entirely passive, but I occasionally rent my spare room on AirBnB. I'm quite clear that it's a basic room and if they use the kitchen etc. they need to clean up after themselves - this isn't a hotel I'm running... So there's basically no work to do other than cleaning the bedsheets, which I do as part of cleaning my bedsheets anyway... I do this for a maximum of 1week/month, which gets me roughly £4000/year and since it's tax exempt in Scotland (under lodger laws), it's the easiest money I've ever made.

Sounds like it's treating you well but have you had problems or do you price it so you generally price-out those that might less than savory characters?

I live in a city that lacks hotels and doesn't have any tourism, so the only people contacting me are people who work in our local industry (offshore oil production), and just need a place to stay while they are doing training, etc. I've never had any problems, and like I said that has kept work for me really low.

In terms of pricing, I just priced it by what I thought was fair. I do refuse people though, since like I said I wouldn't host for more than a week or so per month (I don't want this turning into a job, but it's the easiest money anyone can make if they have a spare room).

I'm guess that's Aberdeen then?


My book "Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails" continues to sell well, in the $2k range per month. It's not exactly passive, though, as I write blog posts and develop other related content in the same theme.


Ever thought about rewriting parts of the book to work with other languages, as a separate product?

Yep. Language and payment processor variants are something that I've thought about a lot and will probably start working on at some point.

Edit: autocorrect correction

PHP would be a natural fit (Symfony2 or Laravel 4 (I'd vote for Laravel 4 as that is a rapidly growing market that is still relatively "poor" in learning material).

Also if you did happen to do it for Laravel 4, I'd buy it ;).

Wow, I just took a look at the docs for Laravel. I had no idea it was that sophisticated. Thanks for the tip, I'll look into it some more.

It's a truly excellent framework that pulls in the best in breed from the others but then puts a layer over the top that allows you to get things done (in a well engineered and testable manner).

The framework creator (Taylor Otwell) has an excellent book on leanpub and there is an amazing video guide site (laracasts.com) which is better than I have seen for anything (check out the free vids for an idea of quality).

I'm currently earning around $45-60 a day mining cryptocurrencies with a little over $5000 in hardware. Once setup it's completely passive.

Edit: ROI could be improved a bit on this too since I intentionally bought hardware that was good to experiment with rather than optimizing ROI.

Is that net of energy costs?

Energy costs about $6 a day.

GameOfTrolls just asked

"Are you moving away from BitCoin and into others? or vice versa. I'm curious about the trending of BTC mining."

Poor bloke appears to be dead.

Asic/FPGA's? Or just GPU/CPU? Which currencies? I was one of those that mined a few blocks of bc and spent it all before it was worth anything, and then thought that fpga's and asics took it out of my price range. Have considered trying my hand at it again.

GPUs mining scrypt. It's more profitable than using ASICs to mine Bitcoin.

You kind of seem to be avoiding specifying, but which ones, if you don't mind sharing?

how long would that be sustainable for, given the periodic difficulty increase in the various cryptocurrencies?

As a followup to this, the scrypt coins I mine increased in profitability this week. I'm making over 1% ROI per day right now.

Increasing difficulty is less of an issue for altcoins. There are so many of them that difficulty may spike on one but that will cause it to drop on others, shifting which is more profitable. They tend to self correct better than Bitcoin.

I'm making negative 15 USD/month hosting two side projects:

http://srctree.net - A pastebin with version control http://blocksim.net - A poor man's online simulink-like thingy

I am aware that there is a _lot_ of room for improvement in both services, but the fact that nobody uses it at all is not very motivational.

Sorry to hear they're not a great success. They look good though! I've noticed both of those sites use Bootstrap? If you want, submit them to http://builtwithbootstrap.com/submit and I'll publish them tomorrow, see if you get any more action on there.

Thanks! They were indeed built with bootstrap. I'll submit them right away. :)

Done and ready to go :) let me know how it goes!

Thanks a ton! It already has 3 notes :) If you're interested, I'll e-mail you some analytics as soon I have them. Let me know if there's any way I can buy you a beer.

No problem :) glad you're already seeing some results! By all means send me your analytics. Would be nice to see the impact BWB was able to give you

Don't worry about the beer :) be sure to submit any other sites you publish that use Bootstrap in the future. Happy to promote them :)

I have been looking for a Markdown-aware pastebin for ages. If you add this one function I will use your service extensively / exclusively. Good luck!

http://peg.gd/ is basically that :)

Thanks. By markdown-aware you mean realtime, say, html-rendering?

yes. gist is ok but not anonymous.

gist.github.com does this!


Enjoyed playing with blocksim. Have you considered aiming for a different market than matlab/simulink? One thing that simulink cannot do well is dynamic, reconfigurable networks of components (for example, UAVs or autonomous vehicles, but also game sprites). For this purpose, some smart people (not me) at UC Berkeley developed a language called SHIFT and applied it to platoons of automated cars and trucks back in the mid 1990s. I rewrote it as a ruby DSL that generates C code: https://github.com/vjoel/redshift. It would be fun to have something like that in a browser, with animations.

Thanks. It sounds very interesting. From the little I've seen, seems like it could be used to simulate systems in a "smart cities" context. I will detinitely take a closer look.

Same here for me with http://timebot.io/ I just have no clue how to go about getting customers.

Your "try it now" link doesn't go straight into trying it. I have to either pay money or share to FB. It may seem fine to you, but that's a redirect in the customer's mind. That was enough to stop me from trying it--even though I am struggling to get a freelance practice started and need hour tracking and invoicing help. You haven't shown me anything and are asking me to part with my money or my privacy just to see whether your products sucks or not.

Freelancers are going to be really used to trying tech for free before buying. They are a good market for freemium or even ad supported.

Not sure about this one but to be honest I was distracted by that robot cartoon character. I'm not even sure what he has in his mouth. It's just weird and makes me think you are 17. Hope that wasn't harsh, I would wager there's an emotional attachment to that robot, you or someone close is a great artist. Ditch the emotion and get something more product specific.

You're absolutely right. Thanks for checking it out.

As for the robot, I was going for something cute, like MailChimp. It was picture I took of a friend's painting. Awesome painting, but didn't translate well to a pro icon. Do you think a robot could work if I got a pro version done at Logo Tournament?

I do plan to make it easy to try it for free. Also make it much cheaper... say a flat $5/mnth or something.

I actually abandoned it over a year ago once I launched and realized there are 41394 invoicing apps and I don't know how to market.

Hate to be blunt, but you wouldn't have posted your site here without wanting to know what is wrong I guess. Anyway, forcing someone to share a product they haven't even tried yet just to try it themselves, and also forcing potential paying customers to enter their credit card details on an unsecured connection are both great ways to turn away 100% of your visitors instantly! That would be the first thing that HAS to change if you want customers :)

I've had this problem with every single side project. The only thing that seems to work "out of the box" is my rhythmbox plugin/android app, but I guess I'm just piggybacking on people's search for "rhythmbox".

I would suggest focusing on how you're different from your competitors. At a first glance from your site, I have a hard time distinguishing you from say, Freshbooks.

heh, I have the same product: http://grafire.com

haven't maintained it in ages though

How many users do you have?

Currently in the single digits, this is my zombie project. I haven't actively marketed for a few years - moved on to other things. People tried it a few days and left, I guess there are better free options or they just didn't like the interface.

Even I am making negative dollars a month Hosting a server and paying for Apple Dev Account http://albumsyncer.jyothepro.com Will appreciate any feedback - * The iOS App is Free

Don't you think you need some customer feed back on why its not that useful and incorporate those feedback on your products?

To get feedback you can simply ask someone who uses a similar tool to spend time on it and give a harsh but true review flat on your face. :P

Definitely. Altough people I know personaly haven't given me a lot of useful feedback. I tried to "Show HN" them as well, but both posts were instantly buried. I used criticue.com to get feedbacks too, but they were either "This is super cool" or "I can't figure out what it does".

A stupid app, called That's Not Funny, that I wrote in 2008 or so to teach myself Android programming (when v1 came out) continues to make around $40 a month from ads.


I wrote it, released it, then to my surprise, it got a pretty massive amount of downloads. Over the years, I've updated it to new versions of the OS, but very minimal work.

Not a lot of money, but it wasn't a whole lot of effort either. It covers the internet bill.

For comparison: I made an app called Joke Effects (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ctrlplusz....), in early 2011. The free version has around 70 000 downloads, and has made me about 25$ - in total.

Paid version (0.99$) has sold about 200 copies.

That's a pretty nice app. I think with these simple apps you have to be at the right time in the right place. When I wrote That's Not Funny, there was only one Android phone on the market (HTC G1) and the App Store was fairly tiny. So the app made a bigger splash.

I made a very simple word jumble app, I get some dollars a month from ads. The one thing that blows my mind is that people still download it, how do they ever find it? :-)


I have a quite simple web site with some calculators for taxes and stuff, that I originally built in 2007. The Google AdSense and affiliate income has grown from about $1000 per year to almost $1000 per month.

It is "passive" in the sense that I respond to the occasional e-mail (once a month), update the data once a year, and add another calculator when I feel like it.

A few years back, I was in the same position with another (online casual gaming) website, that I sold for 2.5x the yearly revenue. Looking back, I should probably have kept that site as well.

Pro tip: quality content beats SEO in the long run. Be the tortoise.

Can you tell me which site it is?

Sure, but the site is in Swedish: http://rakna.net

Ah I actually ended up using that a few months ago when trying to determine cost of living between various European countries. I was pretty shocked and saddened (as a naive university student) when I realised the full extent of taxation in the UK for graduate job salaries but soon realised it was still less than those of Europe, especially the nordic countries.

Wow, funny that a local version can make so much money... Maybe I should be creating somthing simple but usefull too... Sometimes we software devs think we have to create something complex in order to get money... But you just have to solve a simple problem people have. Thanks for the insights!

Any reason why you haven't done an English version?

It looks like it has some Sweden-specific stuff, and adding in English-speaking countries would require knowledge of their tax systems. I suppose you could do an English version for English-speaking people living in Sweden who don't speak Swedish, but it would likely be a tiny niche market.

No good reason, no. Feel free to start your local franchise, and let me know how it goes. :-)

Current passive income for me - blog and niche sites with articles (ads e.g. http://www.flagshipstorelondon.com/), e-commerce business (sales), ETFs (investments), and teaching a skill.

Flagship stores - I went around taking pictures of the best of the best stores for the top retail brands in London and made a directory. Created page on Blogger.

Ecommerce business is my best passive income. It's a physical product I really wanted so I made it. It's a map of London but made in the historic style. http://www.wellingtonstravel.com

I still need to spend time on it because I am customer service, legal, accounting, finance, marketing, IT, R&D, and operations. I have outsourced manufacturing and fulfillment to someone I found on https://sortedlocal.com/ and Amazon's FBA. It's great because it's more money and something I'm passionate about but it definitely takes 5-7 hours a week.

The teaching one is interesting in particular because it leverages your strengths, improves your communication, and is probably something you really enjoy since you took the time to get good at it (i.e. sailing, swimming, kettlebell workouts, or even English). I wrote a post about teaching English (http://www.taigeair.com/websites-to-help-you-teach-english-o...) for people who complained they couldn't find a job so did nothing all day, but they could be teaching a special skill which is what I did when I became unemployed. I learned code, created a few websites, interviewed, and taught swimming.

And rental income is good but definitely, not very passive...

Lastly, I'm developing a really cool website for helping people sleep which I can see being profitable.

I'd like to hear how much time you spent or are spending on these side projects. Also I heard babies are a time and money sink. So I'd be interested in hearing about people doing side projects/passive income with kids.

Your map is quite cool, were you the one to hand draw it all? It is 100% drawn, no?

I'm just in my 30s and traveled/partied a lot in my 20s so I never put much thought to the long-term or generating income but I have a sweet job now and have been increasing my web/graphic work after hours. Will probably start writing a blog specific to what I do at work to start generating passive income. Most of what I'm reading about being passive isn't actually passive like dumping money into a bank and waiting but requires active work, like you said 5-7 hours a week. Obviously that amount of time is trivial especially considering you're passionate about it.

> http://www.wellingtonstravel.com

You made that? Beautiful map! You should do those for more cities.

Thanks! I had a business partner who is an architect and she did most of the artwork but we designed it together. It took us 3 years and was kind of a hobby.

Now it's quite time consuming to do VAT tax every 3 months and keep records. BTW physical products are so much more work than anything I did on the web.

I'm hoping to do a world map next though.

Firstly that is a very nice map. Do you have any plans to do any other cities or is it a one and done kind of project?

Secondly, (and this is a shameless plug, sorry) if you're finding keeping up with VAT a pain and you're a small business take a look at FreeAgent (https://freeagent.com/harry - the referral code will get you 10% off). I work for them and it sounds like it might be of use.

So it's vintage 2012 (like a wine), we might do another vintage in 2015 or 2016. I'd like to do other cities but I don't have so much time right now.

Thanks for the link. I tried some software before but no matter what you use, you still have to do manually keep the records. Given that, I'll just deal with the paper work until it generates enough money to pay for someone to do it.

If you did it again, would you do physical products? Is there any sort of "drop shipping" for large paper printing like that? I looked into it before for maps, but it looks horrifcally expensive to print large paper maps if you just want one copy.

My free-to-play Solitaire web app, at http://www.solitr.com/.

It's making a bit over $1,000 in monthly ad revenue. Traffic is at ~3k dailies.

I did this as a weekend project 2 years ago, and at some point migrated my blog to it to pick up DomainRank. Other than that I've mostly left it alone.

Hey joliss, I'd like to ask how you pick up your traffic? I've got a similar project as yours, and it has the same problem - it's a remake of a popular game with lots of high ranking webapps on Google. None of the SEO and social media did the trick for me. I even built a plug-in widget. So far a handful of links send most of my traffic, and I don't get in a month what you get in a day.

My project is: http://sudokuisland.com

How would you go about it? Thanks.

I'm getting organic search traffic for niche keywords, like 'free solitaire online'. http://sudokuisland.com seems to have a decent amount of keywords already, but perhaps you can think of more. Organic search is probably the only way to get traffic at the scale you need for an ad-monetized game.

My plan is to improve the PageRank and DomainRank, and eventually to make the product better (since Google presumably picks up on that through bounce rates, time on site, sharing). So that'd be the general strategy I recommend.

Another metric you can optimize is the number of times a first-time visitor returns, because it acts as a multiplier on your traffic. Say you get 100 organic first-time visitors per day, if each visitor returns 5 times, you'll have 600 total visits per day.

You make a grand for 3 thousand daily visitors? That's much higher than I expected! Is it normal to earn over a thousand dollars a month for a few thousand daily visitors?

I have no idea. I was surprised at how high it was.

I created the app 3dweapons for Android about 2 1/2 years ago. (http://www.3dweapons.net) The free version was downloaded >1.7 million times. The paid version around 8k times.

I added adds from multiple sources (mopub, admob etc) and in app purchases.

For the paid app: In the top months (2 years ago) I made around 800 euro. But it dropped to 90 euro per month currently. For in app purchases: I am making 30 euro per month currently. For ads: Making about 200 euro per month currently.

So another 3 months to buy a Motorola Xoom ;-)

Are you planning an iOS version?

Hahaha Emiel! (I worked with him for over 2 years). I can give you a link to the source so you can implement it in objective-c. I'll buy you a beer!

Do you have a way to tell how many of your paid installs are legitimate?

You are referring to the pirated versions of my app? Actually i dont have hard figures.

Initially I was not aware of pirated versions. I even had my app translated to chinese because I thought it would be a huge market. But after I did that, i noticed Google Play is not active there, and all paid apps are free in china.... Pirated versions.

I tried to prevent pirated versions of my app by performing code obfuscation, but probably it was still easy to crack.

See how much Google sends you every month?

Oh man, you should be making more money. Great fun app!

If you're looking for some dropshipping insights (which the OP's link suggests), here's a nice story: http://www.ecommercefuel.com/selling-an-ecommerce-store/

That one's interesting, but leans more towards the "part-time small business" side than the "passive" side imo. Manning a phone line 4 hours/day M-F in particular makes it at least a part-time job, since you can't do that and also be traveling, holding another job, or studying full-time.

At first I started with a Blogspot with a bunch of cat gifs and a couple of Google ads. Once I earned enough money to buy a domain name for this project, I bought http://catgifpage.com and designed a cheap-but-fun interface for the visitors I targeted.

As I am more a “dog” person, I decided one year (and about 1000€) later to open http://doggifpage.com. It increased a bit my incomes but not so much. As you may know, the Internet loves cats, cats and cats! In 2013, I earned almost 4000€ for about 10 fun hours of gif gathering!

I have some plans for 2014 but I want to keep this project fun and certainly not time-consuming.

You got the copyright holders' permission to use those gifs, I take it?

I’m genuinely interested: do you have any example of a GIF/LOL website which owns the rights on the published content?

No. I just think it's unethical to make money from someone else's work without compensating them.

"But everyone else is doing it" is the kind of reasoning small children use.

That was not my reasoning, I thought you had some examples in mind.

I think the only solution to respect the copyright for this kind of content (amateur content with no identified author) would be to stop publishing it: you can’t sue Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Just to be sure: are we talking about the original authors, or the websites who add their watermarks on it?

Lol, touché! and how about google? does google have permission to show gifs jpegs/whatever video/.. online when people do a search on any term in particular? Guess there are loopholes for big companies only ;)

You either have no money to pay for a lawyer and go bust or you buy all the lawyers so that no-one will be left to sue you... sort of kind of... doesn't make sense but you catch my drift right? :D

1) Selling Elon Musk t-shirts: http://www.zazzle.com/elonmuskspaceman Did not make that much but was great fun.

2) Helping my artistic friends selling their products. If you want to sell designer products, you can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1dmyfzRwBbpcKAyRplHs0i2RMqsC...

I'm a huge fan of Elon Musk, but I must say I don't like the designs very much. I you can't make better designs, you should think of having shirts with quotes like “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”or "I'll put a man on Mars in 10 years. Maybe 20 years worst case. Otherwise I won't be able to go there." (can't find the exact quote!)

Thanks for the tip. Just added some t-shirts with quotes. The goal is to create more designs in the coming weeks.

Haha I love the "I would like to die on Mars. Just not on Impact" I didn't know that one!

I created and sold Stickonspy (http://stickonspy.com) just after mid last year. The initial month I launched it did pretty well as the NSA news was still a pretty big deal. All in all it's made me < £1k but it's been great fun to build and ship a product from scratch. I've shipped to around 12 countries too which is cool. I also spent no money on marketing.

I'd say my time - which was evenings after work - investment was around 3-4 days initially and then fulfilling orders is simply writing a customers address and posting the stickers - which if the demand was bigger I'd probably outsource.

It's been great. I've learnt a shit tonne & the conversations it started has given me an idea for a similar product which I'll be focusing on very soon!

Great idea. Just wondering that if you didn't spend any money on marketing, how did you get the word out, SEO?

I started out by merely tweeting a link to the site and asking my friends to do the same. I did publish HN but it got took down pretty sharpish.

My main win was cold-emailing tech blogs. I got featured on BoingBoing - http://boingboing.net/2013/08/12/stickonspy-sticker-reminder... - through emailing and also managed to sell directly to Cory ;).

I like this - it made me chuckle :) Can I ask who you used to print the stickers?

A website promoting ebooks about seduction : http://www.ebookseduction.com/ (in french, english version coming soon) It's not a big business but it is good pocket money considering it takes me few hours of work per month.

that can also be read as ebook seduction.

I created a web game called Pit of War (http://www.pitofwar.com) about three years ago and it has been generating enough monthly income to pay all my bills and affords me the ability to travel and live anywhere I like. It isn't completely passive but that is because I choose to add new features and updates. It is a niche game but the Internet is a big place with lots of people. :) Books like The Long Tail and The Curve have taught me that you don't need to have the #1 product in an industry to make a good living.

How do monetize? Selling in game items? Advertising?

The game has two currencies. Hard currency (Trophies) that are mainly bought with real money and soft currency (Gold) which are found in game. It is a fairly standard practice for those familiar with Free-2-Play (F2P) games. It was difficult to balance things so paying players and free players could compete on level footing but after three years I feel I've found a nice balance and if judging from player feedback the majority also feels the same.

The game's forum uses advertising but the income is negligible, maybe around $10 per month. This is likely due to the fact that it is the same eyeballs looking at the ads and it is not a high traffic forum.

I'm going to toss this out there - I've considered building an affiliate site in the porn space. I've looked at a couple API's and it looks easy. However, I have never built anything in this space - I just hear that there's money to be made so have been tempted. Let the flogging begin!

Was easy money around 2002-2004. You'd get like 200:1 conversion of an OK paysite with either a 35% lifetime revshare of sometimes random promotions (usually to kickstart a new site) would offer $250 upfront PPS. Niche sites (gay, extreme fetish) would convert TGP traffic as good as 75:1 and honestly were the best place to be (to many fanboy affiliates saturating the market with mainstream "teen amateur" sites).

2005-2008, TGP's totally died to Tubes. And Tubes generally killed the value in hosted galleries (a key marketing tool for affiliates alongside TGPs). Last I heard of old contacts, they'd either tried to move up the food chain intro production (which mostly moved to eastern europe), moved into niche tube sites, or sold up (as I did) and went into mainstream web. Actually, probably the most money I made was from sale of site network and domain portfolio.

I'm considering creating chatroom site. Not my own chatrooms but using API of others. Seems like those may still be in vogue. Have you had any luck with them? I'm certain I can create a site in an evening, then I just need to see how to drive traffic to it.

Most guys used to say don't bother making a paysite (same applies for camsites) until you can drive 10,000 a day to it from your own network. Paid seeding traffic is just too expensive.

So general roadmap was usually build up a network of very niche TGP sites (later, Tube sites) and only push around to your own network (so no external crap or popups) until you get a soid audience of bookmarkers (daily returners) and once you're confident you can start producing 10,000+ outclicks a day, THEN add your own paid stuff on top.

Trying to push payments really early just makes people hit the close tab... adult is all about getting bookmarkers

Basically, the "retention" in the Pirate Metrics funnel. Facebook didn't want to put on ads until they'd build years of loyalty and bookmarkers. Once you're totally bought into the service, (one hopes) that you wont mind the new paid ads that start appearing.

Oh - if anyone has any info on this please email me via my profile. I'm open to reason not to do it as well as I don't have my heart set on it, more of a curiosity than anything.

Income is often called passive but essentially there is always something you need to do, monitor, improve or change in order to keep cash flow steady. If you don't, your income will decrease over time until reaching zero. It is surely easier to maintain "passive income" than to start from scratch.

I understand 'passive' to mean 'charging more than once for the same piece of work'.

I interpret "passive" to mean "not directly trading time for money".

I make $0.70 cents (1 sale) every month from my iOS puzzle game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simpl/id672601351?ls=1&mt=8

In a few months I'll be able to buy myself a coffee! =)

You should go to a coffee shop, and buy people a coffee in trade for looking at your entry in itunes, see what they think and if they can describe what the game does. You probably want to re-word the description as I am only guessing at how it works and I still don't know. A trailer on youtube wouldn't hurt either, though the name makes it hard to search for...

Bought the app Sleep Cycle Calculator from its previous owner. Completely redid the interface for iOS 7, and I'm now finishing up a version with a custom UIView.

I paid a designer to completely redo the interface, but then iOS 7 happened. Lost a lot of customers with the transition, because I had to throw away the new design and start again.


Where do you buy these kind of apps from?

Bought mine on Apptopia. As far as I can see, it's the (only?) most reliable and most solid market place.

My first source of passive income came this year. It's an app for rooting (and then fixing some problems on) a modem used for U-Verse(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.earlz.nvg5...). I've only made a handful of $100 bills with it, but the extra income is welcome.

The amount of work I've actually had to do was really quite little. I had to do initial development, and then fix some bugs. Then, it just sat there and brought in $5-20 a day. Eventually AT&T patched the original exploit I used for root access so I had to do research and development to find a new one and implement it, which took about 2 weeks or so. And since then, it's just been sitting there bringing in bits of money. I plan on adding some often requested features over the next month though

Also, I provided the app only for convenience. The information on how to root the modem for free is published freely on my blog, I just provide the app because I know that the steps required are too complicated for many people

It will sound banal, but Bitcoins I bought year-and-something ago.

That's not strictly speaking passive income, but capital gains.

That depends, he might be day trading with a bot, that's (largely) passive.

That would indeed be passive income but OP appears to have bought the coins a year ago and has kept them as a speculative investment. Seeing as the wheel of fortune has landed on Tuesday, OP has made a capital gain! :-)

I mined a bunch of coins two years ago but now I mine scrypt altcoins which turn a better profit with GPUs than btc. I also run day trading bots which trade with my cryptocurrency portfolio in general, including bitcoin, litecoin, ad et al.

So at least one person is definitely getting passive income this way, and I'm almost sure I'm not alone.

Please forgive my ignorance, but how do alternative coins work? Who uses them? I've only recently noticed Bitcoins being relatively widely usable, so how does the process work with alternative mineable coins? Do you convert them to dollars at some point or just mine and trade them for good/services?

Altcoins are just another blockchain that uses the basic bitcoin idea of proof of work or stake to validate a distributed ledger, there are dozens to hundreds of them by now and they're all effectively just different distributed ledgers with some modified rules (total coins, rewards per block, demurrage, things of this nature) that are traded on cryptocurrency exchanges like cryptsy with bitcoin.

Because they're liquid with bitcoin they're effectively liquid with all the other currencies in the world, including each other. So you can do things like gauge the profitability of a given altcoin with code and switch your mining based on the current highest daily return, and you can do things like run trade bots that trade into and out of bitcoin and that altcoin depending on various market indicators etc to get the best return on top of that base return, and last of all you can do the same trading strategies with bitcoin and fiat currencies themselves, so it becomes a three layered freelance trading strategy.

To summarise;

* Miners pull down altcoins with raw GPU horsepower.

* Bots trade between the altcoins and bitcoin on market indicators that work best.

* Other bots trade between bitcoins and fiat on market indicators that work best.

I used to just be a coder working for employers directly but this makes me accountable to nobody but the effectiveness of my algorithms. I'm still open to the freelancing side and looking at other opportunities because it is largely passive, but it's the first opportunity I've ever had where I become completely unaccountable to other human beings, and I must admit that has a lot of attraction to me.

I'm a global roaming digital nomad and have been for the past five years or so, but I have always had to worry about being contactable by my clients and timezone shifts and things of this nature, now that doesn't matter so much as I don't even need to talk to anyone at all if I don't want to. After finally achieving absolute complete communication disconnection with the entire rest of humanity though I am starting to feel the slightest inkling of what I have constantly heard other people talking about with feeling something missing in not being in the office and interacting with others all the time.

It's a crazy world, and I'm a crazy person.

Wow, your post became very interesting to me in the last two paragraphs. Have you considered joining organizations that do make demands on you (and hence keep you connected to society), but not for financial reasons? Social clubs would work, but I would expect more meaning would be found in community service, religious organizations, artistic projects, etc.

The thing about human contact for me is that I can do with very little of it, that it takes this magnitude of isolation for me to even identify with the idea that people might actually want to socialise with other people is emblematic of that.

Every two or three months I attend a local meetup, or try to arrange contact with some of my old friends that travel frequently enough that our paths nearly overlap, that's basically enough for me I think. Perhaps that will change in the future but for now it's certainly the case.

I own/operate a luxury resale business that specializes in high end womens fashion, art, cars, and collectibles. My only time expense is picking up the items... everything else I have automated. On a good month I can clear $10K+ and on a bad month $2-3K. I do all this without any advertising and the primary selling point of my business is thats its discreet and anonymous.

How does this work? Are you scraping other sites, then ordering them to yourself or something?

nope. its all based on repeat and referral. My first customer wanted to sell a pair of $1200 shoes but didn't know how so I put them on eBay for her. That one pair turned into two which then became her entire closet. She then referred me to a friend who did the same and thats been the foundation of my business ever since. 100% repeat and referral. I avoid unsolicited inquires as much as possible because they typically arent worth the headache. I even fire customers that make my business hard using the 80/20 theory.

May you write down the link?

Created a PHP ad server 'mySimpleAds' at http://www.clippersoft.net and continue to maintain support it. Brings in some money monthly to help with credit card bills. I get some referals from SO and the like, but also spend $ on Adwords. Last year created a hosted SAAS version at http://mysimpleads.com, but hasn't really taken off.

As always with my products - marketing and getting more people to see them is always a big problem. Once they use them, customers like them - it's getting them to the site to even see them.

I'm in the process of re-writing mySimpleAds and adding in a bunch of stuff, but I don't know if it will still be stuck in neutral and not bring in the folks. I'll also plan to write more products, figuring maybe that will bring people in.

Oh well, it's hardly an income but I created a rhyming dictionary years ago where one adsense container pays for all my personal hosting bills. http://rhymebox.com/ http://rhymebox.de/

I've used this a bunch of times for my sick raps! Thanks :)

Great :-)

Few bitcoin Antminers. They are paying as much as I'll be earning at my new job I'm starting with the beginning of the February. I basically cloned myself in terms of income by buying them. They should pay for themselves in 3-4 months. I'm not sure if that's passive income or capital gain though.

I'm currently building out a Altcoin(scrypt) mining setup, I started w/ 1 7950 @ $8/day.

I'm reinvesting this week on 3x R9 270s, with a goal of buying new hardware w/ all my earnings for 2 months.

Doing a calculation using a loop, and tallying up daily earnings, and subtracting new hardware when x = cost of new gfx card, I calculated in 90 days I'd be earning 120 per day passively.

I'm also wanting to sell 'shovels' so to speak, pre-made rigs, and mining contracts. Eventually I'll diversify some and get an asic when I can afford it.

How many do you own?

Currently 5. They should have decent output even after they paid for themselves.

Yeah, but miners get obsolete very quickly, since the difficulty is growing exponentially.

Difficulty growth seems to be sort of correlated and lag a bit exponential growth of bitcoin price.


I made a super simple paid Android app with a list of interesting Physics Puzzles (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boredominn...). Took a month to make and now it is completely passive. Brings in some spare change with zero maintenance (~$50/month).

I built this in 2011 to learn app development (its a webapp built using PhoneGap). Took about a month of evening/weekend work to push out, and most of that time was consumed by collecting and creating interesting puzzles. It was featured on Google Play's Top Paid Educational Games leaderboard for a while, and that contributed to a spike in income. That apart, I haven't done/don't know of any viable means to promote it.

I have been running a simple career site for Marines for the last 2 years, and have now slowly grown to capture about half the Marine Corps monthly. It slowly drags in $400 a month and has been creeping up to the 5k mailing list mark. I work on it about a day a month, if that.



Also what kind of map-making are you working on in the travel space?

How much time did that take to build and maintain?

It went through a couple iterations, and settled on this one. Technically it only took a couple hours to make, and I spend about 2 hours a month actually providing the service. But, as with any side project I tinker with it a couple times a month.

I guess the articles take some time too. I find blogs and websites aren't that bad. It's physical products that are the worst!!! But also really inherently rewarding :)

My first Android app: Scratchpad https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avabodh.sc...

I made it to learn Android development. It took me total of 5 days: 2 days to learn basic android stuff then next two days to develop this app and on last day creating dev account and publishing on Android store.

After publishing I forgot the password of signing key I used, so I never updated this app except for a description change. Initially there was almost no revenue but it increased over the time as the download count increased. After two year(of publishing), it is giving me around $70/per month through ads (admob).

I have great expectations of my DogeCoins!

$100+/mo (through adsense and affiliate programs) from http://assembleyourpc.net - a simple tool for assembling pc online. I spend 1-2 hours per month on some tweaks/updates.

My app and side project "lolipop". An "instagram for gifs and funny images"-niche app. 100k + downloads.

Gotten hugely popular in Norway. Released a revamped iOS 7 version to the US last week (?). Things are going slow over there. Not even reached 1000 downloads.

Traffic always spike during 23:00 - 03:00 when kids should be sleeping... 99% of users lurk and browse reddit/9gag/imgur some contribute (no account needed for browsing).

Link for the lazy: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lolipop-funny-images-gifs/id...

How does this generate income?

Users get a "pro account", much like the Twitter Verified badge (called lolipop AWESOME) for a week if they "Download a free app". Those pays everything from 20 cent to couple of bucks per download.

App runs barely any hosting cost, and this generates a nice little passive income. I have an admin panel to turn on more ads, but as of now I would rather grow with as little intrusive ads as possible. When, and if I turn on more intrusive ads, users can purchase a "pro badge" to get rid of ads. (turned off now).

Best side effect is that I have gotten a LOT better at obj-c development since I started playing with it, and now run a small mobile development company that actually pays the bills. Learn while you play :)

This is awesome! I'm teaching myself Obj-c now and would like one day to take it further. Glad to hear that it's working out for you :)

Best of luck :) If you have any questions, be sure to ask. I started with the Stanford videos on iTunes u. High quality stuff!

Running Hammer for Mac (hammerformac.com), our web-development OSX app. On a good day we might hit $100+ profit (after Apple's cut). Some days we don't get anything. It's rewarding to know that people are using it.

Hammer is a nice, well designed product, kudos to you and congrats on it. I was actually surprised it doesn't net you a larger income.

Do you think you guys are missing on marketing, or that you're hitting a niche that's too small (frontend osx owning developers that can code, but not enough to set up small dev environments)? I'll admit that I'm mostly a frotnend dev / designer myself, but since I have enough ability to set up things like git, bower and grunt myself hammer seems to aim at a skill curve just lower than myself. That said I bet I'm underestimating the amount of people that still use php includes for simple static sites. My guess might be that their might be more in the Windows world, though that could be a prejudice.

Good luck on your work and continue building cool software!

Hey, that's a really nice comment! Thank you so much for your feedback.

I'd love to make more on Hammer. We make okay money on Hammer and don't have to work on it too much. I think there's a few reasons we don't make more. For one, I don't know that there's big money in developer tools, especially given the vast number of free tools as you've said. We are planning a few extra pay-monthly features which might be really nice, mainly new features for hammr.co. Recurring subscriptions are a better long-term model.

We're also integrating with our hosting platform Forge (getforge.com) which you might've seen. Super-fast static hosting. That's the hosting provider we use for the Hammer and Anvil sites.

> hammer seems to aim at a skill curve just lower than myself

A lot of people feel this way. I personally think Hammer's great no matter what skill level you are. We're trying to keep it zero-configuration; a very simple, consistent tool. Not too many clever tags to remember, and less support and maintenance on our end.

> My guess might be that their might be more in the Windows world, though that could be a prejudice.

A Hammer gem sure would be nice! ;)

I wrote a book titled "Expert PHP Deployments" on how to deploy any PHP application using Vagrant, Capistrano, and Phing.


It hasn't made me rich, but it usually sells about a copy a day. I love that it's entirely passive. I wrote it, published it, and it just sits there on my website making money.

It's also been a good way to build a list of people who would be interested in other things I make.

PS. Use coupon code "hn" for $2 off if you're interested.

I wrote a sci-fi short novel that received a good feedback (surprisingly not at Amazon, where nobody has reviewed it). It's placed at the iBookstore and the Kindle store, and it sells some units from time to time:



Are you just doing the 35% rate on Amazon since you're below $2.99?

I don't have many options there :) And the iBookstore retains 30%.

A silly project for playing with Unicode (sıɥʇ ǝʞıl) and ASCII Art. About 900 visits per day, 10€ per month income. Almost pays for the server.


I've got an iOS app that I'm lucky if I get a sale or two a day. It was really more of a project to teach myself how to build iOS apps and be an accompaniment to an ebook my GF wrote that sells fairly well. I guess technically it hasn't 'made' any money since we're still in the red when factoring in the cost of the icon design, Apple dev account, etc.

I'm currently working on an app that is aimed at kids that should encourage them to write more and be creative. Hoping to get more traction with that.

I make some passive income off affiliate link blogs. Not a lot, varies widely per month.

I've been making extra cash lately by running bandit algorithms to optimize the click through rate, basically choosing the optimal call to action. I've got a wordpress plugin which does that automatically which I've just made public:


http://pressbulgaria.com - it is a SaaS for sending press release to the media. This tool gives the citizens a lot of power to ring the alarm on certain problems. Also my customers use it as channel for promoting books, exhibition, events, etc

We have a tor hidden service for anonymous submissions. We offer free service for whistleblowers, that want to stay anonymous (and can't pay us).

Great idea!

What percentage are paid users versus free anonymous submissions? How long have you been in business? What are you profits like? Thanks

At the end of 2013 I launched http://www.comedylib.com/. It's a site with curated Youtube videos of comedians, comedy shows and comedy movies.

I built this out of my passion for comedy and because I wanted to have only comedy videos in one place and not the mix that Youtube offers. It's not making any money yet, but I haven't put much effort into promoting it so far.

How you make money out of it?

I'm not making any yet, but so far the potential revenue sources are Amazon affiliates and potentially advertising.

I wrote a trading simulator app for iOS. It's not a huge earner, but does give me some pocket money. It's not exactly passive either since I still develop on it, but I would probably be doing it anyway - the fact people buy it is just a bonus.


http://www.dicerealm.com makes me minus $5 per month, but it was mostly an experiment to validate some of the advice from Start Small Stay Small (http://www.amazon.com/Start-Small-Stay-Developers-Launching-...), which is a fantastic book.

My gf did couple of CSS animations(icons, js components etc) over the years. Then we published them to Envato marketplace and got some monthly income around 100USD per month. See link (referral): http://themeforest.net/item/animated-404-or-maintainance-pag...

I made this PHP library about 5 years ago:


Probably make 2-3 sales/yr which is always a nice surprise. It comes up first when you Google "escapianet php"

I also wrote a PHP book in 2007. I still get royalty cheques, although they've almost approached 0 - the last quarter was about $30 ;)

Most of my income now is from app sales.

I started wcfstorm (http://www.wcfstorm.com) about 4 years ago. I started out with just 1 product and has now added 2 more. The income is pretty nice. It usually exceeds my monthly salary. I love it when some stackoverflow users recommend it to others when a question gets posted about WCF testing.

Great product! I used it a ton when I was .NET programming. I used wcfstorm to load test our API to show response time degradation.

I had created http://notationtraining.com in 2010 when I was learning how to play piano. I did update this project few times, but otherwise it is completely on its own. It makes only about 300 USD/month but I am quite happy with it as I am not doing anything to promote it or anything else.

Wow, very good job. Did you think much about SEO when you set it up?

Not really, I create first version in about 5 hours and only marketing I did was to post it into Chrome web store and I was really surprised that people actually using it few days later

I have a few things going on.

1. Income from ~5 non-fiction Kindle books for sale on Amazon. Around $100 a month, though at one point when I was more heavily marketing them it went up to $900-$1000. Would be great to spend more time on this and automate a system where I have a couple of assistants doing this for me around the clock (marketing and book creation).

2. Income from a single Youtube video which links to a simple blog (about solar power) with Adsense ads. I get about 50 cents to a dollar a day from this.

3. I used to work for a jewelry firm doing SEO, going into their office on weekdays. Had to quit later, so I asked if I could do the work from home and send a work log each week. They pay me $300 per week for simple social media and blog posts. I pay a girl in Pakistan (who has good English skills) $70 per week to do the work for me. She's very good and I'm thankful to have her. They have no clue.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to speak about these things / wanna brainstorm.

Pretty cool list, and all three look like things you could expand your earnings on with some moderate extra work. Just out of curiosity, What subjects do your non fiction books cover?

Nothing as of yet. I used to receive donations from my blog and some Windows programs I've written: http://www.softpedia.com/developer/James-Brooks-12392.html but that seems to have dried up. I probably generated £100~ from all donations.

I'm now working on several iOS (http://james.brooks.so/contare-my-first-ios-app/) applications (paid) however I do intend to offer free versions with iAds.

I've also got an Android app on the Play Store that's made me a few quid; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jbrooksuk....

Apart from my iOS applications now, I intend to develop some SaaS apps that I can use to generate some more income.

Making $2-300/month off Android apps (AdMob). Despite best efforts, this is dominated by a soundboard app. Not what I expected, but we'll take it!

Internet yellow pages, www.ablocal.com, doing quite well. Can't disclose metrics, but it makes more than you probably would guess.

Domain sales - again can't disclose specifics, but in the $xx,xxx range this year from domains. Not a huge portfolio, but some good ones.

And we just launched Gold Plugins (last Friday), a membership club for our premium WordPress plugins. Hoping it will become a good vehicle, although we do pride ourselves on awesome support, so not that passive. Previously, we were selling these plugins separately, for about $1k/month. No stats on the membership system yet.

Gold Plugins: http://goldplugins.com/

I have some others, but nothing that's making enough money to be interesting! I'll add more if I think of them; we have a bunch of random properties.

I've had www.rickshawart.org for a now.. two years. Not making a lot of money, still a no-loss project, and a ethical, profit-sharing one =)

The structure is a tad special in that we have no fixed costs (apart from the hosting part).

Any feedback of course is appreciated - that's really niche, and we're wondering how to move forward when our product is that special.

This is really cool idea. Kudos to you.

Thanks !

I spent more than some time to create a Shopify admin app for Android, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopify.ad.... It's up and running and generates already some money each month (60$ - 100$). Zero marketing, just Google Play. I wanted the app to be so much better than it is right now but unfortunately Shopify will release their own Android app soon which will render my app useless. It's quite devastating. So I consider this endeavor a failure. Now I am on the lookout for a new project idea. I think I will stay in the ecommerce realm since I like it very much and think it's easier to make money with merchants than with ordinary consumers. In case anyone would like to team up, my email is in my profile ;)

I bring in 5-7k a year DJing and personal training. They're technically "work" but I'm literally getting paid to live out my hobbies I already do for myself, which to me is passive income. I would, however, like to turn a programming side project into something that's passive income.

Ditto for me.

I shoot hookers for money, photographically. The kind of mid/high-end ladies that have their own sites and galleries.

They're a hard market to get into, but frequently one girl will know another five or ten, and personal recommendations go a long way.

Those girls, and retired people who want pictures of their cats/dogs are the only consistent group of people who seem willing to pay for portraits/photographs.

Let's see. There's a few somewhat passive channels for us.

We just launched our product Blogvio (http://www.blogvio.com) which is yet break even. Right now we're only partnering with platforms to white label our Editor and widgets, but we'll soon release a pricing plan for all users of the website.

Our 2008 marketplace Flabell (http://www.flabell.com) (flash products... I know) is still going strong, although we too think Flash is dead. People still buy those components, so we still provide support for them. We stopped advertising though a few years back. :-)

Same goes for our Flash Components on ActiveDen, these still sell a couple of hundreds every month. So it's still passive income after 6yrs+. :)

12 years ago I started a vertical social network for schools. We tried to hustle and visited schools one by one to sign them up. It crashed. Hard. Over time it evolved into a simple school directory, and after 3 years or so, it started making consistently about $300/month on AdSense. Revenue continued to rise (slowly), and now somedays it breaks $200/day. In the last 10 years I've spent like a week at most on the site.

Weren't it for years of stupid decisions (and a family, the one best decision ever though), I could almost live comfortably off of that.

Motivated by breaking $100/day a few months ago and now $200, I'm using it as a sort of template to launch other sites. By this time next year I might actually break $10,000/month and then finally relax :)

How do you bring traffic to your site?

At first I did lots of SEO, good page titles, meta tags, links from other sites. It brought modest traffic. Since then I haven't done much but the traffic keeps growing.

Part of the explanation is that is has a pretty long tail.

Interesting, is your product like a "yellow books" for schools?

The Random Amazon Product Generator brings in enough for a small book purchase every few weeks. It's still mostly for my own amusement. (http://thanland.com/projects/random-amazon/)

great idea. How did you go about marketing this?

I made 10.35 BTC from mining dogecoins for the last month.

That's impressive... What was the hardware cost?

I am using my gaming PC that I built years ago and a $1079/mo dual hexacore dual Tesla M2090 server from Softlayer.

Fortunately I have a $1k/mo Softlayer credit, so my hardware costs were approximately $79. My rent includes electricity, so my electricity costs were $0.

Don't people abuse the 'electricity is in the rent' fact? Or is it a (shared) tragedy of the commons problem?

Rebrickable (http://rebrickable.com) shows you what you can build with your existing LEGO collection, including hundreds of fan contributed designs. Not truly passive as I work on it every day.

I have 2 iOS apps that are selling something like 5 copies per day each.

One is an iOS text clipboard manager (with iCloud sync) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/copycopy-clipboard-manager/i...

The other one, for the lazy students in the italian market, is a database you can use also offline of recaps from books you study in school, with in app purchases.. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iriassunti-riassunti-di-ital...

They are both in the 4/5 star ratings

I may have posted about this before, but http://askjud.com, a simple trick that you can play on your friends makes around $300/mo.

Its hosted on github, and costs $8/yr for the domain name.

How does something like this make so much money? If a friend send me the link I would demand reparations.

The help link is dead.

Not much to mine, but they seem to be doing pretty well.

http://www.thingsunder15.com and http://www.myfancysauce.com

How they earn money? by advertisements?

Just in the middle of getting this up (was a way of teaching myself Rails) that works as an Affiliate style site for gadgets and cool gift ideas. http://fmhgifts.com/

I like the design and the idea is smart, but are you planning to monetize this?

Only makes money via Amazon affiliate links which aren't a horrible gig if you get even semi decent traffic.

pretty cool. how do you syndicate products? through amazon's API or by hand?

Currently by hand but literally every single aspect of that site is entirely outsourcable to college students who would cost me much less than the cash that an affiliate site with even relatively low traffic would expect to make organically.

Once I have 200 or so products up there I will do some much more interesting stuff with it.

Earning low three figures with my Android apps[1]. Haven't touched them since August, so I guess that counts as passive income. It's even still building momemtum[2], so maybe if I had spent some money on marketing it would have grown faster?

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Smartician

[2] https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/15...

I'll try to start an ecommerce for France, following the other ones who specialize themselves in just one kind of well made product, like socks (www.archiduchesse.com), or underpants (www.leslipfrancais.fr). Coming soon ;)

Excellent, I had heard about leslipfrancais, but not the socks one =)

I also have an iOS game that still sells a little after 3 years online. Plus the extra income when you buy after following my affiliate link: http://www.nemoidstudio.com/download/dinorush :)

Are you offering IAP?

No! Thats the funny part.. I am putting only IAds..

Nice! That's worked out well for you - congrats! :)

Hipster CEO - a tech startup sim. 6.5k downloads at $2.99 in the past 3 months.


Awesome I'm glad you're making OK money for this. Bought it and thought it was fun to have a laugh at myself for a bit and the stereotypes in the industry. Went through a phase of constantly crashing though but seems OK now

Thanks, dude. Yeah I was (pretty obviously) learning as I went on the iOS front so I encountered a lot of newbie bugs. I'm still working away on it though so hope to provide you with good value for money!

https://www.bankaccountchecker.com enable the validation of UK bank account (web app and API). It is not making loads of money but I get enough traffic to pay for summer holiday. I often get request for the logic behind the API. the sort code file is also selling well. I have created another saas service at http://www.conceptuel.co.uk/burnDown/ but there is not enough demand to make it a profitable passive income.

Somewhat different area, but earns me around $300 a month- Churning credit cards for rewards. So called “award/travel hacking”. 2 new credit cards per calendar quarter, conservatively estimate each signup bonus is worth $600 (if you know how to redeem them, usually that means for travel).

Have to live in the U.S. and have good credit to do it, but I’ve been at it for a few years now and haven’t paid for airfares or barely any lodging costs on almost all my travel. Working on an online class that teaches how to do it, looking to sell that for some “real” passive income.

Doesn't this destroy your good credit? I've always wanted to do this, but that worry always crops up.

How do you decide when to cancel a credit card? Or do you keep every credit card you sign up for?

I recently started a jobs site that makes about 10 dollars a day in affiliate revenue and adsense. Rolling out a network of them.


Not nearly as successful as some of the other guys here but I have couple of avenues for passive income:

1) I make a few bucks a month off my reddit client: http://www.ruddl.com - I pay $0 for hosting on Heroku so I'm more or less net positive.

2) I also make a few bucks off my blog in tips: http://jes.al/blog/

I'm working on ideas for a SaaS product or even a book to add to that list.

Made some custom maps based on OpenStreetMap designed for reading on the Kindle. Have made about ~€100 so far, but there's a lot more I could do.


The books themselves: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digita...

I make about $400 a month quite passively by selling software with Envato. Just the occasional comment and email which takes 5 - 10 minutes a day at most. I also sell a beginners book on creating and selling WordPress plugins which only sells one or two a week.

I have a bunch of cool stuff out there but my biggest weakness is marketing. I can never seem to drive enough targeted traffic to my projects.

where can we find the book?

It's here: http://creatingplugins.com/book

Like I said, it's mainly for beginners but I'm working on another one (using LeanPub they're awesome!) which will be much more in-depth.

Bitcoin :-)

Facebook Stock. Now do you realize how stupid you sound?

He may be mining Bitcoin. If you're able to issue Facebook stock, let's talk :)

The money spent mining bitcoin for electricity and hardware could have been used to buy stocks.

It's not really different, for both mining bitcoins and investing in stocks you need to spend some money. You aren't issuing anything for free.

Is mining Bitcoin still proficient (except for ASIC makers, huh)?

Mining scrypt coins is proficient. I make $400/month with 2 machines I built 6 months ago.

$400 a month for 2 machines? You should be making a lot more... I just got started a month ago as a hobby, using MiddleCoin pool which converts/paysout in Bitcoin, --w/ 1 high-end gfx card(7950), I'm earning 200/month. I just reinvested 700 to start building out my rig, which will have 5x R9 270's and a hashrate of 2250 per machine. I currently make .0125 per khs per day. So this one machine will be worth $28/day.

I do wish I'd held onto my dogecoins though, I would've made a LOT more if I hadn't kept pumping/dumping.

Must be low end video cards. Two 290x GPUs will earn more than that.

Is that number before or after deducing electricity costs?

I spent 10 minutes creating this coffee mug and I've made about $80 selling them over the past year on Zazzle. I plan to add more soon. http://www.zazzle.com/go_away_im_coding_coffee_mug-168224001...

At the moment I only have a source of passive income, which is through mining Litecoin with a couple miners I have.

Connecting product designers and entrepreneurs. Not really passive since we review the products and contact the designers.

Link: http://www.scscale.com/post/74753106293/new-business-ideas

I have just released http://selfstream.io - a platform for event organizers to host and live stream their events. Right now making a negative $25 for hosting, without counting a small ad campaign on Google Adwords.

Is that site built with Bootstrap? ;)

Yes, it is a theme from https://wrapbootstrap.com/, which I modified beyond recognition ;)

I wrote a book on adult ADHD. I published it 3.5 years ago, and it brought in $75 last month.

It used to bring in more, but some people wrote very negative reviews which were upvoted, so its sales dropped.

I don't feel too bad because many people who read it say it is unusually helpful and accessible.

Sounds interesting. Link to book?


SearchTempest.com got to the point where it was my main gig about 5 years ago, although it's since leveled off. Like anything, you end up being pretty active if you want to continue making that "passive" income. :)

I've used this on multiple occasions! Awesome site! Do you mind revealing how much it was generating?

I'd rather not get into specifics, but between SearchTempest and AutoTempest, we've bootstrapped up to a team of four. My goal isn't really to get huge or make a pile of money though; mostly just want to keep it going and being as useful as possible, while keeping up with the times. (We really need to get the sites working better on mobile devices; getting ready to release a fully responsive AutoTempest soon...)

I make about $300-$500 a month on my Android app Valet. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.valetapp


5 $digits/mo

Looks great !!!

The Music Virtual University (http://www.musivu.co) does four-figure sales+RR monthly, a year after starting and just working nights/weekends.

Im currently building a client proposal service specially for designers: http://nusii.com

Not getting much passive income yet but I hope 2014 will be our year :-)

Cool app - good luck mokkol - that's my approach - micro business apps.

I run a couple of language learning sites. Doesn't make me rich but pays the rent. :)


I have an Android app that's use to find local bus times for my area. It makes around 150$ per month after optimizing AbMob ads. It generated around 50$ per month at first.

Reading all the comments made me think the only passive income I ever had was my blog. Trough my blog I've got all the consulting opportunities and made quite a lot.

http://getkratom.com still, but as it has grown passive income has become a solid 20 hour a week grind.

I make around $200/month from my crappy articles at http://ankitkumar.in and affiliate marketing.

I see affiliate marketing mentioned often in the comments. I don't know anything about getting started - do you have an easy way for me to get started other than just Googling it?

I made -20$/month hosting


most of the comments relate more to residual income not passive income. I think passive income is mostly a fallacy and the only thing that comes to mind is saving accounts and bonds.

Your best passive income

Owning a flat in Moscow and renting it out? Easily 1000$/mo. You can live in Thailand on that money.

Or worse like where I live (Switzerland), people rent flats, then subrent them for a lot more and go live in Thailand (or somewhere else). And then we all complain because the prices for (renting or buying) flats is insane here.

The final price is determined by supply versus demand, not by the number of subrenters in chain.

The real problem in your situation is that these people are able to rent flats for sub-market prices. But it's not your problem. Your problem is that you don't have enough realty supply. And/or more people who want to live in interesting city than interesting cities of Switzerland can house.

The latter seems to become a major problem in most countries.

Don't know about EU laws, but in Russia every apartment rent agreement I've seen (which is statistically insignificant amount, maybe 4-5 agreements) had explicitly prohibited reselling/subrenting.

Same in Bolivia. You're even explicitly disallowed to rent rooms out to people unless you notify the owner. I agree with it to, if I were to own an apartment and rent it out, I wouldn't want any random person to live in my home.

(a) Switzerland is not in the EU. I have no idea if some other Swiss law might ban it.

(b) Switzerland is crazy expensive. So you can probably make megabucks renting out property there.

I am from Switzerland as well and to do such a thing would be illegal and I haven't heard of people doing it...

High-end flats in Oslo rent out pretty well IIRC. Just have to front some cash to buy the pad.

A lot of people inherited flats from after soviet union times (where you lived in, you now owned after filling some papers) plus some people bought them when prices were affordable (if you had influx of hard cash) plus people tend to buy flats because rent market is unreasonable.

Until housing prices fall 1% before inflation and wipe out your gains for the year.

It's a long position that pays dividends. Why care about volatility?

It's fallaious to not consider the market value of your assets as well as any income streams. In fact, this example is even worse because it also doesn't consider the cost of capital and fluctiations in the income.

For the specific example of buying apartments in Oslo to rent out, sensible analysis will show that this gives a worse risk-adjusted return than other options (e.g. the stock market). But hey, go right ahead. It's not my money ;)

Stock market is prone to crashes; also you can't live in your stocks when out of other options.

If you believe in long term economic stability, then go ahead and invest in stocks. We don't. And now we know at least we'll have a place to live.

When economy is stable, realty prices grow; when economy is shaky, realty prices fall but slower than stocks. Stocks are more liquid on the other hand.

How nice is living in Thailand? Quality of life wise, people wise, tech wise?

I never tried to do it myself but many people spend winters there. Or even telecommute from there. I guess it's a place to live cheaply by the beach. Cuisine is also nice as I've heard.


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