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Ask HN: How to start earning $500/month in passive income in next 12-18 months?
288 points by rtcoms on Aug 30, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 193 comments
I am a Ruby on Rails developer from Bangalore, India. Currently working for a startup in Bangalore as a full time employee.

Few months ago there were lots of posts on HN related to passive income. This gave me thought about having passive income which will give enough freedom to work on my own ideas/project fulltime.

In India one can easily live on $500/month, so keeping that in mind I have setup a timeline of 12-18 months(which I think should be enough) to generate that much amount.

Right now I don't have any savings which I can invest to earn and I've free time available around weekends.I am working on few ideas of my own, but those will not necessarily generate income.

So what would you do suggest me to do?




I run Built With Bootstrap (http://builtwithbootstrap.com) that brings close to $2,000 on average each month in "mostly passive" income.

How? Here are a few things that have helped:

1) I got lucky - I jumped on something early and got picked up quickly and rode on the back of a giant gorilla as it kept getting higher and higher - right place, right time

2) I keep costs low - I use Tumblr (free) and cheap, pluggable services like Campaign Monitor, Wufoo, Buffer, and IFTTT to automate a lot of the process.

3) Don't be afraid to ask for money - I started doing this very early on, but even that wasn't soon enough! People will pay if there's a benefit, so don't be afraid to ask.

4) Keep it simple - I write brief emails, I don't respond to everything and I only spend a few hours each week on the site - updating content, checking stats, emailing etc.

5) Get multiple sources of revenue - I use a number of affiliates as well as offering traditional advertising.

6) Be social - Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ - BWB is on all of these. I try to engage with people and respond to things

7) Start a mailing list - this is not to be overlooked!

I hope this gives you some helpful ideas :) don't be afraid to ask any questions.


It's a nice and clear summary. You could probably expand it into mini book - one page per each point listed - and sell it for additional revenue...


It'll take some work. You'll need to put an interesting quote on each page and then some anecdote from the author's life that may or may not be related to the the point at the top of the page. If author does not have enough interesting stories to write up, they may have to borrow them from reddit or such.


This sounds like about 1-3 days of work.


Just trying to be helpful. If you have some constructive advice, please feel free to share


Judging from the brevity and clarity with which the summary was expressed above I assumed that writing comes easily to the author. He could probably elaborate on each point (or maybe add a few more) to turn it into small case study e-book guide. This is just like social media presence and marketing. A byproduct that costs maybe $10 and at least pays for itself, but ideally drives even more traffic to the website and generates additional profit on its own.

I would buy/read it! (Just brainstorming here...)


Not really anything to contribute, but congrats!

I think 6 is the hardest for me. Keeping up a social media presence is such a slog.


Is there a builtwithangular.com site yet?

If not that might be a good ship to jump on now, as it's the buzzword for tech recruiters. Most of whom have no clue what it is.


https://builtwith.angularjs.org

This is actually on a public repo on GitHub I believe & curated by the Angular team iirc.


but even bootstrap team also maintains showcase apps. so that shouldn't stop anyone to start on for Angular :)


BuiltwithLaravel?


There is one on the Angular.js website itself: https://builtwith.angularjs.org/


Very cool. FYI, the Advertise page on your site is entirely blanked out when AdBlock is on.

I had to turn it off to see anything.


might be a dumb question but how much time do you spend figuring out about these websites ? or do you have some sort of crawler ? some repo or something else ? I mean how do you have new content/week


How do you earn money?


Affiliate links


And ad sales


You have been very generous, thanks for sharing!


great tips. will surely keep in mind.


8) You advertise any chance you get. :-)

(That said, it worked on me.)


Excellent point! I did "advertise" the site a lot to begin with - posting on HN, writing comments on related blogs, talking to people about it.

I have played a little with direct advertising, but paying for adverts that link to a site that sells adverts seems a little too much like a self-defeating loop. Normally paid ads are done during promotions.


What is your CTR in AdSense? (I have an average of 1.3%).


If you're willing to work five hours a month on your passive income project, then I suggest doing five months of work on Passive Rails Consulting, as that has minimal execution risk.

Can I make a suggestion? Most people who say "passive income" spend a lot of time fantasizing about the lifestyle relative to actually producing value. It is not terribly difficult to produce value as a programmer. Concentrate on producing value. If you achieve that, you'll trip over $500 a month. Most of the straightforward ways involve identifying a problem for a class of business that you're positioned to solve and then solving it in return for money.

If you want concrete suggestions with regards to markets and form factors, in lieu of repeating myself I'll post a link to an old comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5904316


I completely agree with this.

Generally, completely passive income is massively harder and more time intensive to generate than minimal-time-investment income (which is what Patrick suggests above). I have both completely passive and minimal-time-investment income sources, and the passive ones have been MUCH harder and longer work per dollar over the last few years.

Focus on optimising your $/hr (and your hr/month) rather than going for hr == 0 and you'll likely hit your goal much faster.


I had never read your story - very interesting. (Also cool that you're here on HN).

I first heard about Machinima in the Seananners' videos, and now they (you?) appear to be dominating the game market on Youtube. I was surprised the other day when a brazilian (talking in portuguese) had a Machinima affiliation in his video.


I'm genuinely curious how "passive income" is defined if it takes significantly more time.


You invest time up front, then reap the rewards. Residual income may be a better term for what most people call passive income.

Most of my income is residual, and I love it, but there was a big hump to get over at the start.


Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense to me :)


What do you mean with "Passive Rails Consulting"?


I mean he should build custom software for a business in exchange for money. It's a joke, because freelancing is the canonical example of something which is not "passive income."


I'd give a read to Start Small, Stay Small (www.startupbook.net) and other startup literature. Study Paul Graham's essays (www.paulgraham.com).

Random ideas:

- Start something like skoshbox.com, but with Indian goodies. You may not realize it, but foreign countries crave Indian tastes and flavors. I would probably pay for a monthly delivery of Indian spices and sweets.

- Start a podcast on a passion of yours. Offer free newsletter and video lessons, then charge for premium content or up-to-date episodes and consulting.

- Omegle meets paint. A collaborative canvas for children of different nationalities to meet on the Internet. No chat, no video/audio – just the canvas. Revenue may come from ads, sponsors, educational programs within the platform.

EDIT: to whoever downvoted my post, may I ask why?


The Indian goodies subscription service might be a great startup idea (a la Graze, Pact Coffee, Dollar Shave Club...), but its hardly a passive income? Its a high involvement logistics business with a small technology involvement.


You can outsource logistics to Amazon. The support burden might be high, though.


Start Small Stay Small is essential reading IMO. I have the e-book/audio book package and I highly recommend it.


A monthly delivery of Indian spices would be incredible. If you could get it past the Canadian food inspection agency, I'd definitely subscribe (and possibly get your logo tattooed on my arm)...:)


I had been thinking of starting this service. Good quality spices are expensive. Also I think shipping costs are relatively higher from India compared to developed world. Considering these points the subscription price would have to be slightly high. Do you think there would be enough interest at a relatively high price point?


I'm confused about the need. Although I live in a small English town (pop 110,000) which has a number of shops selling a wide variety of spices.

Would you be selling small kits of spices to prepare a meal, with a recipe delivered at the same time?


Me and my wife love quality spices and experimenting with different recipes. We had been thinking of starting our own business. Sending out Indian stuff monthly is one of the ideas we had been toying with. When one thinks of stuff from India, spices seem to come at the top of the mind. (honestly we haven't thought this through yet; the idea was inspired from a Japanese candy service). I am aware that spices are available in most places in the west these days. But I guess it is not easily accessible in all the places. Convenience can be reason for someone to subscribe to the service. Another value add is accompanying details introducing the spice, its properties, uses and some sample recipes.

This is a time intensive operation. As of now, I m not convinced the returns would be high enough.


I remember coming across a start up that did just this. I couldn't find that same one again, but I did find this: http://www.thespicery.com/pages/spiceboxes/nextmonthboxes.ht...


- Indian spices idea sounds great. If anyone wants to work on it, I can transfer a domain I have: spicetsunami.com


Love the monthly Indian spices idea, especially if they are paired with recipes. Tajbox? Spicebox? Spicybox?


Me and my wife love quality spices and different recipes. We had been thinking of starting our own business. Do you think there are enough enthusiasts willing to pay for monthly exotic spices + exciting recipes? I am trying to do market research of sorts :) If there is enough interest, will roll out the service pretty soon.


Spiceb.in


Please no.


Interesting how many [realized] ideas we are unaware of... e.g I've never heard about skoshbox or Omegle.


- Also love the Omegle meets Paint idea. Easy to code, hard to market.


I actually built this a while back with things I learned while building Flockdraw. Never released it for various reasons. Trolls are definitely a problem.


It's especially hard to maintain a website suitable for children on an Internet full of criminals.


Since you're a developer, you already have the most important asset, which is the ability to basically create anything (web services related, obviously). From there, it's "just" a matter of finding something to build that other people will value and then telling as many people as possible about it.

The best way to figure out what to build is by thinking about what YOU would find useful, and then build that. Don't get too big with the idea, though. Just analyze your day-to-day routine and ask yourself what kind of little piece of software would make your day 1%-5% less annoying.

For example, I'm a developer but also a startup founder. I've wasted entire days doing repetitive email follow-ups to investors, partners, customers, etc., which means I wasn't committing code. So I put aside a weekend and built a system to automate my email follow-ups. After it worked well for me, I showed it to some colleagues, they started using it, too, and before I knew it, I had a nice little SaaS app going. With another weekend of work, I added a frontend and billing system, and I launched it as https://autopest.com.

(I'm including the link at the suggestion of some of the other folks in this thread, and also to show how it matches well with their advice -- target B2B, build a SaaS app, keep it simple, rely on quick solutions like Bootstrap and Stripe, etc.)

Step two is getting people to it. Best way I found for that is social media -- especially Twitter. It only takes me 15 minutes a day to be "active" on Twitter, I can easily target BizDev people and GrowthHackers (my target audience), and slowly but surely, they start signing up. It's been a few months and I'm on pace to hit your $500/mo target in the next 30 days.

Best of all, because I built something that I REALLY WANTED, even if no one ever pays me another penny, I'll still come out ahead because the thing I built works really well for me.


I have several passive income sources. I started a community websites since 2006 which generates me around $1500/mo in passive income.

Have you any ideas what tools might make your (dev) life easier? You can create a small productive/utility SaaS app. Use bootstrap if you don't have any design skills. Use PayPal/Stripe to setup a (recurring) payment system in a day.

Test using lean methodology, buy a domain, create landing page with bootstrap, pricing page, and a fake sign up page. Takes max a week. Then spend another one week driving some traffic from Google/Facebook ads to see if there's any interest. Usually Facebook, if targeted well, is way cheaper. Start using Google once you know your LTV (Life Time Value of customer) and conversion. Start by spending for example $20.

One tip: Don't target US customers in Facebook for polling interest, they are harder to convert, and from my experience around 10x/20x more expensive than Asian/Spanish speaking countries.

After you see interest, try to find a quick way to see if people are willing to pay. This might not as easy as most users want to use your product before paying. You might explain the product in better detail after the signup and ask what they want to pay for it.

After you are able to confirm if people are willing to pay for your service, only then spend serious time building.

You can apply the same tactic if you're selling an e-book, maybe the spices idea as someone mentioned before.

Good luck!


And how long did it take until you make $1500 / mo ? And how many time you spend to build it up ?


From Bangalore too. Amateur programmer, but have a ton of experience and networks in a niche sector. I pull in decent amount of money in passive income.

(1) I would say focus first on value rather than money. I delivered my service for free or on trial basis for almost 6 months before clients signed up to pay.

(2) As a freelancer, focus on long-term retainer relationships, built on your value-proposition. And work with clients who have solid reliable cash flows. This way, your income would be guaranteed via 1-2 year contracts.

(3) Please stay away from consumer focused businesses/services if you are looking for small side income (this can be your focus for your big main start-up idea). B2B is always better. The only exception I think is if you get lucky in the app economy or if you could build 1m+ page-view site (Amit Agarwal)


What is "B2B"?


Business to Business; so when you sell your product/service to other companies instead of to individuals (which would be B2C; business to consumer).


Ah, I see... Thanks for the info!


In the future you can avoid downvotes by searching rather than asking HN for the answer to an easily google-able question.


Business to Business, so you may provide a service for businesses to interact or provide some value to each other etc.


Beef to Bun. It's a ratio used by burger connoisseurs to decide whether the burger maker is delivering decent value.


Business to Business (in contrast to Business to Customer)


Business to Business. Unlike B2C - Business to Consumer


business to business.


Meta: if you respond with "I run a small project and it is generating X per month for me", would you please provide links? I know it seems self-promoting but in reality in discussions like this it is very interesting.


I find people in these discussions rarely want to share their actual products/sites. If I had to speculate as to why, I'd say that many of them profit from having found a micro-niche with minimal competition, so it makes sense for them to keep it to themselves.


In my case, it is a niche with some competitors. I don't share because I don't want to relate the project with me (I'm not worried if someone find it). I don't share it even with friends.

Also it is an SEO experiment, all my traffic (97%) is Google organic.

It's ~4 months old, has 75k hits/month and generate USD 60. It still growth 100% month over month.

I need some months to return the money I invested (designer, domain, ...), but I don't even count my time. I'm learning more from this project than with anything else I already did.


There is a strange obsession here on HN with passive income. Yet I haven't seen any good examples of passive income, which were built without significant effort or time. Income is anything but passive.

Here's a better way to look at it:

You want to earn $500/month? As a good Ruby developer, you can earn that much in two days doing contract work. And no, it doesn't matter if you're based in Bangalore, you could be based in Belgaum and it wouldn't matter, as long as you had a good internet connection.

You can make more money while doing work you enjoy, instead of trying so hard looking for passive income. And you can save up, invest that money and buy solid chunks of time to totally focus on your crazy startup ideas.


I own a forum that makes me $1500/month. I haven't logged in for 6 months. All the effort was done in 2007.

Contract work, like 9-to-5 employment, is the opposite of what people have in mind when they say "passive income". The goal of passive income isn't to get something for nothing. It's to create something that generates income that isn't linked 1:1 with your time.


I meant that you can earn enough in 2 days, and then spend the rest of your time building a product which you really want to build and get off the time-selling treadmill.


Passive income does not mean no effort. It means initial investment that pays off over time. For example, book sales or a portfolio of stock photos would be passive income.


My point is that if it takes so much effort, it's better to spend it on doing something you're not trying to avoid doing. You make more money and it's more satisfying, when the goal is not to stop doing it.

But I think people get a kick out of chasing passive income, because it gives them a sense of having "hacked" the system.


Trading time for money is already how it works. It's the default. There's nothing more satisfying about it. We've been doing it since we got our first job sacking groceries or folding sweaters. You're paid a fixed rate because you're not the one risking anything.

This isn't "The System". It's just the labor market.

    > My point is that if it takes so much effort...
So what? It takes effort. Everything does. Building something that produces value on your own whim takes effort just like satisfying the terms of a work contract or finding good contracting relationships in the first place.

Know what else takes effort? Building only what others pay you to build despite your ability to build anything. Not everyone is content with that. I reckon most of us don't consider that the height of our life ambitions, but the alternatives aren't as straightforward as dropping our CV into a dropbox. Hence this Ask HN submission.

Your posts are just selling some brand of status quo that we're already familiar with.


Chill out, danneu. You misunderstood me.

I'd be the last person to say don't build a business! I'm saying the opposite. Selling time does suck and selling a product or service is much better.

All I'm saying is that if that's what you want to do, then do it properly. Don't waste time on "passive" stuff. Actively build a business.


From my perspective, passive income is about having enough cushion, esp in the US where we have no safety net, so that we can work on stuff that is value over just money. I have lots of stuff I want to work on that other people would like, but is risky from an income standpoint. Passive income is our own version of "basic income" so we can pursue other things. Not winning or hacking the system.


There is also a strange obsession with consulting. How do you find customers that aren't mom and pop shops looking for someone to build their site for $200?


Write online, ask your friends to refer clients, ask people for work at meetups/conferences, cold call and email companies, look up the dozen remote job boards that crop up every other week, subscribe to every industry mailing list you can.

There are about a 1000 ways to do it. But you have to actually do it.


Here's a business plan: someone build a site for us developers who despise marketing and/or who suck at it.

(I mean, if I loved marketing, I would have become a marketer).

Pair us with someone who loves marketing. S/he finds high-paying consulting jobs, I build awesome sites and/or mobile apps, and we split all the income 50%/50%, minus fees for the company.

Have some kind of rating system, where both your peers and customers rate your work. The higher that you are rated, the better marketer you can get paired with. I imagine the top marketing experts could find clients willing to pay $1000/hr rates for the top developers.


I think this could work.

Mediocre developers are often charged out at $1000/hr rates by big name tech companies to their big name clients, who themselves sub-contracted to mid name developers under quite careful contract terms (client liability). Sub-contractors sometimes sub-contract themselves.

I'm thinking from an enterprise type technology stack: A smaller startup offering PaaS or SaaS to enterprise clients, perhaps replacing an in-house system could benefit from the indirectly acquired knowledge and expertise pool of enterprise developers, where the barriers to entry are sometimes slow and expensive.


Cold call and email what companies? About what work? I doubt most of the mid-sized and big companies will hire a contractor with no recommendations from someone close to the execs.

I am not nitpicking, just sharing that what you've suggested works only for very experienced people with a big network. I am still in University.


Unless you've actually tried and failed at cold calling, that sounds like a typical excuse (which I used to use as well). If you're scared, you'll have to get over it by just trying it a few times.

And contrary to your belief, being in university is a great advantage. You can say you're a student doing some research/looking for help, and people are generally much more willing to help.


You don't want to earn a passive income. You want to leave your job. Fine. Except that looking for passive income stream is not the best idea out there.

If you can contract for $80/hour for US/EU clients (really possible), you'll need to work only 40 hours to cover a 6 month expenses.

But that won't probably be enough for one month, once you start earning it. You've been warned ;)


"If you can contract for $80/hour for US/EU clients (really possible)"

Do you have more info/advice about that? I've often flirted with the idea of online freelancing for overseas companies... But a lot of the freelancing sites either seem too dodgy/cheap, or elitist about "github" commits and the like.


The internet has got fair pricing. You can work for $10/hour or $300/hour. It depends on the value you bring, and your negotiations.

Now how to get the clients. I'll leave you to figure out that part on your own.


What does "elitist about 'GitHub' commits" mean?


Just go on freelancing sites and bid for projects. Once you build a relationship and trust with those clients you can contact them directly instead depending on the broker.

Those clients will then give you repeat business or they might bring new contacts for you.

Finding good devs in India is a big pain for the guys in US/UK. So if your client is happy with your service, he will recommend you to others.

I used to be a freelance PHP dev sitting in India back in the old days of rentacoder.com


Sorry, I don't really understand this comment. (Not disagreeing, just don't understand the wording)


There is no "passive income". You just invest a huge amount of time up-front and get paid later.

What the OP wants is a higher pay, so he gets more free time.


Either you can sell your own product/services or sell someone else's product/services ...

- Take advantage of growing e-commerce in India - sell other peoples product ... buy directly from manufacturer and sell it to consumers thru platforms like Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc. ... most of the manufacturer in tier-2 and 3 cities dont have a clue about e-comm selling so help them out and make a good return...

- Start affiliate business (selling other people's products/service) online...

- Create your own product/service and sell it thru your own e-comm store or thru Amazon or Ebay or Yahoo stores.

- Start writing a blog and make it so popular with your amazing content that you can make money thru Ads, affiliate marketing and/or by email marketing.

- You can also start a drop-ship store and sell to the consumers in north-america, europe and/or australia.

- there are small businesses on sale on Flippa (however you need to learn how to find a good one) that can easily make you $6k a year .... find a business that is of your interest/passion ....

Good Luck!


Drop-shipping is a still-born idea. 99.9% of the time you will not make money, and will spend time advertising someone else's product.

Same with "buy from the manufacturer" - unless you have a lot of storage space, and enough money to hold a lot of inventory, you can't even get into that business. That's assuming the product can even be stored for long periods of time without depreciating (pretty much all of electronics is out of the question then).

Many of Flippa businesses have fake numbers, be very careful. They buy traffic to get Analytics, and when they get a few months of it, they post it on Flippa.


Dropship: In india its an untapped opportunity ... someone can just create a fortune by even tapping 1% of the market - of course its a little bit of work.

Buying from Manufacturer: again its a haven if you can find a niche product ... there are millions of manufacturers in small cities in india who create fantastic products ... you do little bit of research about what is selling or trending and start with small inventory .... some investment for trial and error is required but not difficult to catch a niche in couple of months ...

Flippa: now a days flippa has become more careful about listing fake sites - there are many tools ... one of the is services offered by Centurica ... they do thorough due-diligence for you (especially revenue and profit claims)...


> there are millions of manufacturers in small cities in india who create fantastic products

Such as?


I recently started an affiliate business. I'm not sure if it will make $500 per month but it just made $60 in its second month so I'm cautiously optimistic.

For some types of purchase I do a lot of research to find the right item for me. I actually enjoy the researching process so an affiliate site is a good match for me. A big part of the work is providing useful content which you can only do after performing good research.

My site is a huge searchable catalog of products with affiliate links to Amazon if they're for sale on Amazon, otherwise I provide non-affiliate links to wherever they are for sale. Most affiliate sites are based on product reviews but my site's approach is to provide more search options with more accurate data (data that is often incorrect on Amazon).

If I estimate the hours I've put into it so far I'm surely making less than $1 per hour for my time but as the earnings increase and my new hours decrease it might eventually be a wise investment.


It definitely takes more hours in the beginning but then you get a knack of how to do research and how to find a niche quickly and build upon it ....

Professional affiliate marketers have multiple niches/sites with multiple ways of revenue generation from each sites ....after some success they have a very good idea which niche is really a big profit maker if spent more time/energy on it and based on 80/20 formula they get rid of the niches that is not profitable compared to effort required.


How to find genuine website on flippa. I saw many listing but didn't find anything which convinced me


now a days flippa has become more careful about listing fake sites - there are many tools ... one of them is offered by Centurica ... they do thorough due-diligence for you (especially revenue and profit claims)... also you can ask for skype meeting to show you actual online inflows and outflows of money, email list, etc.


Good quality videos of construction equipment aimed at children. Put those on Youtube with ads. Link to a website that has affiliate links to stores that sell toy versions of the equipment - Bruder is one manufacturer to investigate. Gently adsense that page. Careful SEO.


Build curated lists of small businesses in the US. I mean really quality spreadsheets, with city, state, address, owner name, contact name, email, phone, etc. Do this for business categories, like: bakeries, caterers, dentists, doctors, plumbers, etc. For the doctors and such, I would focus on small town entities who are not part of a large medical practice.

Then you sell exclusive, limited access to the list. The internet is virtually littered with small SaaS applications which are targeted toward small businesses. They are selling software for bookkeeping, time tracking, shift planning, appointment reminders, practice management, etc. These SaaS products have LTV numbers such that direct calling is worth their time.



Build a pile of small (Ruby) applications. Small in terms that the prototype could be delivered in weeks, and only needs a few weeks till production. So first step is to fine "easy jobs" that you can solve faster then others, and sort out the bad customers. I offer 2% discount if they pay invoices within a week. Only two type of customers would pay late: Those with a cash flow problem, and those with an account problem. Drop them! Also drop any kind of toxic customers. Keep the good ones.

Offer a maintenance contract of $50 per month for the server and the software to the good customer. A year later you will have 4 or 5 contracts paying half of your bill, for doing backups once a week, installing security updates, writing invoices, and perhaps sometimes writing an email to the customer or even patching a bug.

You can play around with own ideas, once you have a semi passive income. I would try to solve a problem with a software as a service.


Can you give some examples?


$500 per month is $6000 per year. $100,000 in high dividend stocks may generate close to that much in dividends per year. So contract for $100 per hour for 1500 hours in the next 18 months. Then make a good investment.


$100,000 is a lot of money. Might not quite be the best way of ensuring passive income for someone that only really needs $500/month. i.e. if they're fine on that amount per month, they're probably not making much more than that.


How does one identify high dividend stocks?


Stocks are typically listed with their yield as one of the statistics. The yield is a measure of what percentage of the current price is handed out each year in dividends.

So a stock priced at 100 doller-pounds and a yield of five percent could be expected to hand a stockholder 5 doller-pounds a year.

Obviously, this is an instantaneous snapshot, based on the price now and the dividend then, trying to give an idea of something that might be expected to happen in the future. So it's by no means any kind of guarantee; it is, however, an easy starting place before looking deeper into the stock to see if you really could expect a good yield going into the future.


S&P does a pretty good job of it.


just stick to an index fund - never hand pick securities!


sure, that's what the big winners do (pun intended)


Just don't forget about taxes...


And then they cut the dividend by 75% (eg Tesco). High dividend stocks dont stay that way.,


Or you can buy an apartment in eastern Europe and rent it for $700-1000 per month.


Real estate was going to be my suggestion, but I don't know anything about the situation in India.

I rent my parents' house in a medium-sized midwest US city; I get around $650/month after property management expenses. After taxes, insurance, maintenance expenses, and the occasional empty period, I'm not getting anywhere near that out of it. But it is still profitable, passive, and the investment needed to increase my income (in other words, buying more property) would not really be excessive.


Well, you better not choose Riga (capital of Latvia) then. According to my back-of the napkin calculations, an 80 000 EUR investment will pay itself back in 10 to 15 years.


I had in mind Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) and maybe Berlin (if you prefer west). But it's not about getting investment back in money - it is more like having a real passive income plus you're the owner of real estate. And you can sell it anytime later (for much better price) if you want.


That's not a safe rate of withdrawal for people who are not gamblers. High dividend stocks are almost by definition risky stocks. More like half that would be sustainable.


"High dividend stocks are almost by definition risky stocks."

Pardon me, but that is more or less the opposite of the traditional received wisdom.

High dividend stocks come in two varieties:

* Low-growth, mature, typically capital-intensive companies, especially those in highly-regulated industries. Think power generation, some real estate investments, and so on. Since stock price appreciation is not in the cards, dividends are the only returns an investor can expect and thus are higher. These are typically the safest stocks, although "safety" is relative; stocks are more risky than most other investments.

* A dividend-paying company whose stock price has been depressed, typically due to specific events: poor management decisions, a bad environment, competition, or what have you. These are typically considered "value" investments; the stock price has been pushed down, usually for good reasons, but also usually, too far. The dividend on these is unlikely to be maintainable---management will usually reduce it as part of doing something to get the company back on its feet or whatever. However, the investment itself is not particularly unsafe, in my personal opinion. See Buffet's "The Superinvestors of Graham-Doddsville" for some other people who feel likewise.

The second group is probably not what the poster wants and I would be uncomfortable focusing solely on the first since those kinds of industries are typically economically linked.

On the other hand, you do have to know what you mean by "high dividend". Thanks to the "dividends are doubly-taxed" lunacy, and double thanks to the "growth is everything" mentality, dividends are very low or non-existent. Anything above, say, 4% (to pull a number out of my flying monkeys) is probably a return of capital, not a return on capital; the money you get as dividends includes a partial payment of your original investment and you cannot expect to get your original investment back when you sell it. In fact, it will disappear entirely over time. And anything over 1.5% to 2% (again with the flying-monkey-numbers) probably represents the value investment situation rather than something sustainable. The 6% mentioned by the grandparent probably is indeed pretty risky.

Also, the bond market is usually considered safer than stocks, with a higher interest "dividend". But I don't really know much about that.

This should not be considered financial advice, I'm some random dude on the internet. Look carefully before you leap, try to learn what you're doing before you try to do it, and try to stick with reputable instruction. There is a crap-ton of bad information out there.

[Did I write something particularly controversial?]


Looked one up in two minutes.

Royal Dutch Shell gives a yield of 4.3%. http://ycharts.com/companies/RDS.B/dividend_yield

In 2010, it's yield was 6.5%.

It isn't inconceivable in 18 months time it'll be back near 6%.

It's all about timing.

I'm sure there are other high dividend stocks which are similarly non-risky, high yielding and produces a non-volatile source of income. 6% is on the high side, but isn't impossible.

You also don't have to look for USD denominated investments. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia's largest bank), gives a dividend yield of close to 5%.

https://www.commbank.com.au/about-us/shareholders/shareholde...

The share price had risen over 50% over the past 4 years so if you had bought it 4 years ago instead the yield would be much more attractive.

Yields are low currently only because the entire market is currently on the high side of the cycle. When it turns back down, that's when you go in and pick up your 6%, which may be 18 months from now (though could be more, or less).

EDIT: If you're really going to do this I recommend diversifying your investment into 3-4 high dividend stocks in different industries - since dividends do vary as the economic cycle in each industry moves up and down.


I second this recommendation. Also, you only need ~$60k, as long term INR denominated fixed deposits yield ~10%.


And the Indian rupee has no stability against the dollar, so that is meaningless.


A guess, but I think he lives in India and probably cares more about INR return than USD return.


With 8% (very variable) inflation in India he is still confused about what he is getting.


1) Find a niche area of interest and build a web site and put AdSense ads on it

2) Promote the website a bit

3) Profit.

The trick is working out what your niche is that hadn't already been done by someone else.

I lucked out with some websites in the UK about fuel consumption (for cars) a few years ago. I invested a weekend of my time and a little promotion effort and it snowballed - initially it made maybe £1 a month for the first year to 24 months but now I get about 150,000 hits a month which with ads earns a decent amount of money (more than you are looking for)


[deleted]


What on earth made you interpret the original post as "exactly $500" instead of "at least $500"? Or are you being facetious?



Since March this year, I have been able to build a semi-passive income of around $1500 per month (lowest around $1000 and highest $2000) by building/selling items on CodeCanyon.

Granted it's not truly passive income, rather semi-passive. That said, with minimal monthly efforts, the money comes in each month.


I recently made an attempt on codecanyon. My item sells ok but with the number of support emails I get and time I need to help people with trivial issues which I clearly explain in the supplied documentation, it can't be considered passive.


What sort of things have you made on there? Are there things people are looking for?


Mostly PHP applications so far. An yeah, these are products people are searching for (I assume so since they're selling pretty well)


Would you mind linking me to some of them?



aren't they taking 50% of your sales?


When you're new you only get 50%, that rate goes up when you earn more. I think my account is at 55% right now. But the numbers I mentioned in my post is what I get, not the total amount of sales we generate.


Huh, and here is another idea - build CodeCanyon clone but take 20% :)


Onarbor takes code and only 10%, https://onarbor.com


Nowhere near the same amount of exposure. Yes, you'll earn a higher percentage, however with the lower number of sales, the money you pocket will be significantly less.


I haven't given up on passive income, but I try to work smarter not harder. That being said what I do would be considered semi passive income. Since consulting work isn't consistent I've spent about 2 years building up a network of design online vinyl lettering and graphics sites that require little to no daily work on my end. I outsource production and shipping and take a good piece of each sale. On average I devote 30 minutes a day handling emails, phone calls, and submitting POs. I've automated nearly everything once an order is placed from generating the vector cut files to submitting purchase orders. My image generating api does all that magic http://ionapi.com (closed beta) and a few of the sites http://boatdecals.biz http://letteringhq.com and http://racegraphics.com. Slowly building on past work over these two years I've went from making nothing to being able to live off of the income of these businesses.

So my main advice is start somewhere and don't find yourself so indecisive you do NOTHING. There are lots of opportunities in small niches especially. Pick one you love and try to tap into something. Myself, outside of being a developer I know signs and graphics pretty well, so it was a logical direction to go.


I started a youtube channel 2 year ago. Just for my personal use. When I want to show someone something, to be able to upload it, if it's not on youtube yet. So I invested 10 minutes per month to upload some videos that I think interesting to share. After a year I saw that to0 many people watch my videos. So I activated ads on my channel. My last video was a year ago I think. And Google still sends me 200-300$ monthly. I've invested only 2-3 hours totally on channel.


#1 This is way easier, and can last longer, if the business involves user retention.

#2 Study other micro-businesses carefully.

#3 Apply an existing model to a brand new area or technology.

Personally I think the passive income concept is crap. It is real but is a concept that people who don't want to work hard eat up so is used in business opportunity marketing heavily.

There are things that can produce revenue for a long period of time after your initial upfront investment where you work really hard for a while for free or at a great loss (investing money in assets vs just your own time.) However, the nature of traffic flows online & technology mean if you use the revenue for personal consumption rather than re-investing it in the business one day a few years from now you will wake up no better off than the day you started. In some circumstances where the individual increases their standard of living or takes on debt, they will end up much worse off.

Not speculation, I have watched this happen to friends.

As a programmer your best opportunities are most likely writing tools and code that can be resold multiple times. Huge chunks of redundant work is done by freelance developers.


You are trapped on a catch 22: you want free time to work on cool projects but need one of these projects to drip $500/mo so you can free up your time to work on cool projects ;) This is how I did it: 1. Get to zero debt. Cut your credit cards. Keep one at home to pay for online services/emergencies. 2. Aim to make double of what you think you need/mo. 3. Go freelance and sign paid SLAs/Support Contracts. After 2yrs/4-6 projects you will have stable monthly checks and if you play it smart most of your maintenance tasks will be automatic. Add 1-2 projects to the mix/year. 4. Don't grow, don't hire help. That will turn you into a manager+programmer and the train will lose track. Be like the expert doctor: if you are good clients will line up. 5. Pick good value projects: short (1-2 months), well paid, at least 2 yrs of SLA, 50% upfront. 6. Save!!!!!!!! 7. Quit your current job when you find your first client, not before. Work is essential to a happy life, not only "paid" work. Find a good balance.


It's me or passive income posts in HN flourish on weekends?


It's because we're not in work


I think, You should join Freelancing sites like freelancer.com You can also try fiverr.com,

Alternatively, You can try to write your experience for others like DigitalOcean. DigitalOcean will pay you $100 for per approved article. You can try DigitalOcean here https://www.digitalocean.com/community/get-paid-to-write

And if you are not interested in writing for others or writing as a freelancer, Why don't you start your own Ruby on Rails tutorial blog. A blog can make you more than $500/month by using Google Adsense or Affiliate Marketing. As a blogger, I believe that, Blogging is the best ideas to make money online and the possibilities are endless. But here, In blogging at first you will have to spend around $50.

Now choice is yours.....


I am from Bangalore. I freelance as a python developer.

Tough this is not passive income this might give an idea: Billing $20/hr (that's what we get in Bangalore), getting $500 a month from a single client is very easy. But finding few more clients will get you more than what you want. You will also get a lot of time. Toughest part is getting the client, good clients usually come from your contacts.

Another thought, finding customers for your SaSS product will not be difficult if you have a good circle, attend conferences and workshops in Bangalore which will build you this circle.

I do a day job as openstack dev, freelance on django, and also working on my own ideas - I am doing this to pursue my passion of traveling(digital nomad). :)


>Billing $20/hr (that's what we get in Bangalore)

Just one correction, it is not because you're in Bangalore, but because you're asking $20/hr. I suggest next time ask 4-5x more and see what happens...

Also, you aren't limited to Bangalore or India... especially if you're a webdev. Try finding some remote gigs.


How can we contact you?


my email is: shabi (at) fossix (dot) org, my skype id is my HN username


Play lottery, win and live from the money.

This advise is good as as 90% from the other postings i read here ;-)


If my addiction to entrepreneuring doesn't abate, this will be my retirement plan...:)


I started http://www.startupoffers.net to put together a list of offers and discounts for services and products that might be used by startups (and that I usually use myself) - all money is from affiliate links. This was meant to generate passive income unfortunately it hasn't taken off and mostly because I did almost zero marketing other than a few social media links here and there. so i don't know if it is not a good idea or it just hasn't be marketed right!!!

if anyone interested in helping it get to profit email me at HNhandle at gmail.com


It's not easy. I had the same plan a few months ago. Thought I'd share my own (ongoing) story, maybe it will give you some ideas. Some background, I'm a engineer at a YC company in San Francisco. I was also looking for a passive income side project and after a few attempts from scratch sputtered I happened upon a website auction at flippa.com for an interesting webapp: www.postrgram.com

I spoke with the owner over Skype about it, he'd run the site for a couple years, had invested a lot of time into getting the licensed mosaic software tuned correctly, but had put virtually nothing into marketing and was still printing orders himself with a giant industrial Canon printer. Not surprisingly he was tired of it. I realized the printing process could be automated and business could potentially be expended by integrating with Facebook and offering a free digital option if the customer allowed a post on their wall. Long story short I bought 80% of the business a few weeks ago and I'm working on those things right now. I'm sure there will be snags in the road but I'm on my way toward my primary goal of getting a product on the market that will not require my time to run on a day-to-day basis. Currently income is less than 1000/month but I hope to see that grow.

My advice when thinking about a project like this yourself (and it's fine to start from scratch, though that's not what I did) is to take the basic tenants of running a startup to heart and just apply them on a micro scale:

1) let the real world inform your choices. In my case I happened upon a product that already had some validation. In your case maybe you just need to find that one pain-point you can help solve. Always be thinking of ideas, ask your friends, read a lot.

2) be efficient. get good at rapid prototyping and shipping ideas for validation. Always be asking yourself this question: is this the most valuable thing I can be doing with my time right now? Force yourself to move fast. You'll get better at learning what works and what doesn't.

3) Consider finding a partner who you can join forces with. Two people can be more effective than the sum of their parts. Not to mention expanding your network of friends and contacts is in many ways more valuable than wealth.

4) follow the money. It sounds crass but after all it is the goal and it's also the most tangible effect of providing value to someone. Even at a micro scale if you're not converting customers it's a red flag.

5) my personal style is to be be wary of saturated markets like social networks, mobile apps, etc. on the flip-side i personally feel there's potential in the blogging landscape and popular product integrations (like widgets).

Sorry that ran a little long, I'm on a road trip right now (not driving), just some stream of thought ideas. Good luck!


If anyone is interested in tech like this, I'm selling a Rails app that makes a photomosaic from your Facebook photos. It's no longer online, but there's no licensing the photomosaic part, cos I built it myself. Contact me at <my HN handle>c@gmail.com.


I'm a Rails developer from Hyderabad,India . I did some freelance work for a client from USA at $12/hour . Ofcourse I realised that I was making next to nothing after taxes(20 %) and oDesk fees, So I quit .

I've been searching for a simple income generating idea too for the past few months . I'm torn between trying to build a well paying freelancing career vs building a Saas product/service that's going to pay over time .

I tried to contact you but your email isn't public. Ping me if you wanna bounce some ideas regarding this sometime !


can you share some ideas? from hyd as well ;)


It's easy to make that much on ads and ad removal upgrade fees for a semi-popular game on mobiles (Android, iOS). You don't have to be on the charts. I make that easy and only ever made top 200, I think. Games are a nice category for new entrants because Flurry reports have shown that as a genre they aren't super sticky. Users flow in and out of new offerings constantly.


OK I'll give away a really simple one for the lazy: start your own hosting (reseller) company. Grab a dedicated, throw up some billing software and sell a shared hosting plan to every Tom, Dick and Harry that you know. At $9.99 / month for essentially unlimited email, space, transfer you should be able to clear a few hundred bucks a month in a few months.


Listen to James Altucher's podcast with SJ Scott. He made 40k last month by continuing to publish several books to amazon.


Link[0] for the lazy. I'm kinda curious as I had fun writing some articles in the past and know someone who's been talking about writing book for Amazon/Kindle. Might be fun.

http://www.stansberryradio.com/James-Altucher/Latest-Episode...


you could buy domains on park.io and then sell them immediately on Flippa. For example, see: http://blog.park.io/articles/park-io-users-making-money-flip...


Make something that people are willing to pay for. I have a series of project, each makes a relatively small amount/month but all together make a decent passive income, not enough for me to live on but I am sure that you can probably do something similar. Try many ideas and see if you can find something people need.


Some examples would be nice. What are these small projects?

Selling apps? Ad based revenue? SaaS?


Make something that people are willing to pay for and able to find.


Become French resident, you will have a guaranteed living income of 434Euros (600$)


Really?!

As an EU citizen can't I just relocate there and collect without ever having contributed to french social security?

Doesn't seem to make much sense...


Sure you can do that, you need to stay at least 3 months before asking for it first.

Note that how much you get is barely enough to live (but it fulfills its goal which it to reduce poverty).

(and there's a good chance the program will be scraped at some point, since while it fulfilled its goal with reducing poverty, it didn't have much impact in term of employment and there is still a ceiling effect even so it was supposed to remove them).

(and I'm not sure which part of reducing poverty doesn't make much sense, and as a EU citizen you can profit from any wellfare system within the EU)


It's called RSA and is hardly sustainable here. I suspect the cost of living in France is not the same as in India.


With such small income you cannot live correctly in France.


just for one year!, the next year you have to fin a job and your salary will be cut off by 30% or more to finance other lazybones!


Good luck to live on 600$/month


Sell Indian pharmaceuticals by post? There's some margin there I'm sure.


Already a huge amount of competitors out there.


Take bitcoin, have a nice minimal site and decent package tracking.


echoing the prior comment: you have to actually do something of value before it can be positioned as the gift that keeps on giving :)


you can open a producthunt or hackernews focused on indian startups..


Kindle singles.


This is not entirely passive (at least, in my experience) because in order to get people to continue to buy your books long after they are published, you need to continue publishing (unless you hit the kindle lottery and are wildly successful immediately).


As in publish new revisions?


No, entirely new books/stories. New books can get a nice bump in sales if they make it into the "New and Noteworthy" list or if Amazon mentions them in their "New books in [x category]" emails. Publishing a revision to an existing book does not change the publication date.


how about freelancing?


www.possiblestartups.com A startup idea generator.


forget it. you guys are negative.


Passive income is generally a unicorn


No. It's just that there's no magical recipe for passive income. The best earners invent their methods, and often don't realize that they are building products suitable for passive income generation.


yes and is it just me but don't all these "passive" posts seem to be very spammy.


Or perhaps people are desperate for it? It is a bit of a "over the rainbow" type of idea. I.e. getting a continuous stream of money for once-off work/idea.


What I suggest you to do first is to stop working on the ideas that will not generate any money...


Everybody in the world loves incense.

Make a beautiful webpage with a mystic style and offer all kinds of incense, scents, shivas, buddhas, elephants, spiritual stuff all over the world.

In no time you'll be as big as amazon.


Step 1 make 500/mo after 2mo of work. Step 2 repeat every 2mo. .... Be multimilionnaire.

Bonus: Believe in fairy tales. Get a free, pink flying pony.

Also - all developpers are now multimillionaires with the passive income magic formula.

Im astonished this keeps poping up.


Why are you so negative, people learn something new with such threads.


[deleted]


So... in other words, generate passive income by telling others how to generate passive income.

(presumably you don't tell them the way to generate passive income is by telling others how to generate passive income because that would saturate the passive income training market no?)


Well, one instance of this working pretty well is John Chow[0]

[0] - http://www.johnchow.com/


And send it to ten of your friends! Don't break the chain!


I'm interested in training as well ... whats your area of expertise and how do you make your passive income?


I generate a passive income through options trading. It takes a small amount of my time each week.

I have built up a wealth of knowledge through years of study. I have experimented with most forms of passive income over 20 years and found that most of them don't meet the requirements of "passive income".


So why don't you trade actively, get rich and then get out of the rat race?


When you say passive, does that mean you are doing covered calls, or something else?


No, no, it is not a Unicorn: Open Source, Open Company, Helping Others make money will do it bu growing a very large network of people. This way you too can use the software to make a few dollars. See an open company is many minds in, and very few well made products out: https://github.com/regenerate/snippets Everybody takes the product, and for as long as it was aimed at money making; they make money. You need a lot of products of this kind, similar to how a supermarket has many products for sale: https://github.com/revenue/awesome-revenue Go ahead ask about specifics, I think a lot about this. I dedicated this whole decade to helping people with passive income, without asking for anything in return. My focus is non-programmers, young families. The big idea is: A Global, Paying, Mechanical Turk similar to this: https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome




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