11 Passive Income Ideas for Creatives


Producing a dream project while your bank account is whimpering, waving a white flag? It might be time to create some passive income streams to support you while you’re building your vision.

Think of passive income as a front-loaded investment. It can be an investment of money, an investment of time, or an investment of both (because as we all know time is money, amirite?). Earned income is being paid for your actual time, whether it’s an hourly rate, a salary, a gig -- all the things.

The goal for most creatives is to free up their time so they can take on the projects, gigs, and new ventures that they care about most. Therefore, creatives need to either work more for earned income–but there are only so many hours of the day and paid work is competitive and often hard to come by, not to mention way more difficult for women, people of color, and other minority groups, but I digress–OR create ancillary streams of income to work while you werk (earned income).

Here are some ideas creatives can use to build passive income with sweat equity and minimal financial investment:

1.) Write a Book or E-Book

Have that nagging feeling that you should write a book? Listen to it. Pick a topic that means something to you, maybe one that your close friends would say you’re an expert on, and explore it in written form. Or maybe there’s a story you’ve always wanted to tell, or a blog you want to format into a series. There are a ton of different options out there for emerging writers to tell their stories, and no more are the days of waiting for a book deal to make it happen.

Today there are self publishing options on Amazon and places like Lulu where you upload your pages and format, and then sell a physical book through their platforms. Whenever you make a sale, these companies will produce the order (even if it’s just one copy!) and send it to the customer. If you’re looking for a faster option than picking through book formats and getting it to look jusssttttt riiiiighhht, consider making it an e-book.

2.) Write a Script

I’m not a screenwriter, but speaking as a producer, there are clever ways screenwriters have gotten their work in front of me and/or the companies I’ve worked for, all without an agent. Look for production companies accepting materials and submit (obviously, don’t submit unless it’s apparent they are accepting materials). Add yourself to film industry Facebook groups and google groups, and keep your ear to the ground for people looking for submissions. There are also platforms dedicated to selling your scripts online such as InkTip and The Black List. You can do it! The world needs your diverse, inclusive, and impactful stories.

3.) Create a Webinar and/or Online Course

Have a special skill or knowledge base on something specific? Make a course about it! There are platforms you can host paid pre-recorded webinars, or you can pre-record videos and release as an online course on your own website. You don’t need to have all the fancy equipment, you just need some visuals and some wisdom you can impart on a given topic. Create it once, release and promote it, and watch the money stream in. The sky is the limit.

4.) Create & Sell Digital Assets

You know that expression, if you do something well, don’t do it for free? Ask yourself what is something that your friends and industry buddies always come to ask you about. Maybe it’s how you got so many followers on Instagram. Maybe it’s how you organize your Google Calendar. Make downloadable templates, worksheets, etc. on Canva (it’s free) and have them available for purchase on your website. Having these downloadable files ready to go, available for purchase, is the perfect passive income because you create it once it’s ready for whoever wants it. Badda-bing, badda-boom.

5.) Monetize a YouTube Channel

You know those ads that pop up before watching a video on YouTube? The channel that video is being streamed on is getting paid to show it. Similar to starting a blog, you can create a YouTube channel sharing your content, your knowledge, a special skill, or something you’re passionate about. The more resourceful and down-to-earth you can be with your content, the more it will hopefully resonate with someone. If you already have a YouTube Channel or are setting out to create one, after a given number of views or subscribers to your channel, you’ll have the option to monetize the channel so that you can be making money off your views. Cha-ching!

Note: YouTube has set requirements to be able to monetize, so be sure to read into it here first.

6.) License Your Work

Have a dreamy photo of that crazy Blood Wolf Moon? You can sell the use of it online and be making some money off it. Same goes for that drone footage you took at the beach on vacation, or that song you wrote ages ago you don’t know what to do with. Places like ShutterStock, Pond5, and Premium Beat all are in the business of licensing creative materials. Dig out that old hard drive and get some extra money coming in from literally uploading once and letting people use your work.

7.) Create A Mobile App

If you’ve ever had a lightning bolt idea about an app, it might be time to explore it further. Apps are great passive income streams because of the built in ads and/or purchase price of the app in the downloads. So long as your app is user-friendly and practical or adding value in someway, it can be a way to bring in some extra income if you know how to generate some buzz around it.

Not a UX designer or a techie person? There are now websites that you can design and execute apps for free. Seriously.

8.) Rent Out Your Equipment

In between projects and/or work from home? Your camera, lenses, lighting and sound equipment, even your car, could be making you cash while you’re not using them by renting them out for a day rate. Look into KitSplit to rent out your equipment to other filmmakers and artists, and check out Turo to rent out your car via a mobile app.

9.) Create an Online Store

If you’re a wiz at building brands, you can create an online store front via social media and import products from online catalogs such as Oberlo. Companies like Oberlo have physical product, anything from beauty supplies, to tech gadgets, to house ware items, that they will send to customers when they make a purchase on your site. If you can build a virtual storefront, and work your way around some FB ads, you can build a Dropship Empire without ever having to buy back stock of a product yourself.

Disclaimer: There are a ton of YouTube videos out there on how to execute this type of business model properly. Know exactly what or whom you’re dealing with before selling merchandise online, especially if you aren’t already familiar with the products.

10.) Participate in Affiliate Marketing

If you already have a blog or sizable social media following, you might consider including affiliate marketing into your existing platforms. Affiliate programs, such as CJ Affiliate, Amazon Affiliates, and Rakuten allow companies and brands to generate sales from ad space, discount codes, links, and promotions from their partners (i.e. - you!).

Pro Tip: For best results, align yourself with brands that fit your aesthetic, community, and views. Promote products or services you genuinely love and enjoy. Your audience will smell a quick buck or get overwhelmed with ads that feel out of place.

11.) Rent Ad Space on Your Car

If you’re spending any amount of time driving, you might as well be getting paid for it. Platforms like Wrapify work between corporate brands and private individuals to set up ads to be placed on cars. Dependent on your geographical location, your car, and/or how much you drive - you could be making some serious cash while you’re on your normal commute by allowing your car to be wrapped in an advertisement. It may be a bit of an ego death to not have your car blend in, but if it’s making you passive income while you’re literally sitting in 101 traffic, honestly who cares? Get that passive money, honey.

What other passive income streams have you created to support your goals? Let us know in the comment section below.