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How to Make Passive Income Online While Traveling

“How to Make Money Online” series table of contents:

  1. How to Make Money Online While Traveling: The Fundamentals
  2. How to Make Active Income Online While Traveling
  3. How to Make Passive Income Online While Traveling

Passive Income Overview

As I’m trying to achieve financial independence, I will be working extremely hard on starting passive income channels and building them. In this post, I will be teaching you how to make passive income online (remotely)! If you haven’t read posts 1 and 2 of my series about building income while traveling, please do so here: how to make money online while traveling & how to make active income online while traveling.

In the first post of my series, I mentioned what passive income exactly entails:

Passive income requires little effort and time to make money – it is income that can require a lot to get started but not much to maintain.

Below is an infographic I designed about the methods to making passive income online. The left side displays methods that don’t necessarily require building a “brand” but require a lot of work to build up regardless. I consider them “shorter term” methods that show monetary results quicker.

The right side demonstrates how to build and monetize a passion project with strong branding, which in my opinion is the more favorable route. I favor this method because once you’ve built something genuine with a following, the opportunities are endless.

digital nomad passive income

Feel free to share the above infographic and credit to 😉

In this post, I will discuss both method 1 and method 2 (as outlined in the infographic), and explore what it takes to achieve each method.

Method 1: “Shorter Term”

The following methods are “shorter term” methods that are generally more focused on monetization over building a following/brand. However, they can still be grown as their own brands so method 1 and method 2 can almost coincide. This may all sound a bit confusing to read so bear with me!

Kindle Books

A lot of digital nomads write and sell Amazon kindle books. This channel has a low barrier of entry because it has no startup costs (if you’re doing everything yourself). Generally what you’ll need to do is write at least 10,000 words per book, format, publish, and promote your work.

Some have created their own kindle businesses from outsourcing writers, and I’ve heard of cases where authors make over $40,000 per month through this method. Don’t believe me? Check this link.

kindle books

In my opinion, it’s better to create a brand, then write your own relevant books that you promote with your brand. But it’s not a requirement – you could also write under a pen name and create some self-help books, for example.

The challenges of getting kindle book sales are: finding a niche that people care about, writing over 10k-20k words, creating top-quality content, getting reviews, and more. I will create a sub-section on my site to discuss the process of creating kindle books.

Digital Downloads

There are platforms that let you list digital downloads, like Etsy. Etsy is a platform in which you can list and sell handmade creations. But what many people don’t know is you can sell products digitally so that you don’t need to fulfill or ship orders. As long as you have your downloads listed online, people can purchase and download your creations through Etsy without you having to touch anything.

I personally sell my own PSD templates and earn passive income through those means. If you want to learn more about how to do it I’m creating a series here about how to make passive income on Etsy.

etsy digital downloads

Selling Stock Photography

If you’re a professional photographer (or even if you’re a newbie) it can be worthwhile to sell stock photography.

Stock Photography

Certain platforms let you sell your photography online, and you make a commission every time someone purchases your item. By using existing platforms, it’ll be easier to garner sales without much promotion, and you’ll be able to make money passively. Here are 15 stock photography sites that are quite decent because of their royalty rates:

Niche Sites

Building niche sites involve registering a domain within a specific niche, creating site content, implementing SEO strategies, and monetizing the site. You’re trying to find a lucrative niche that is popular and has less competition. Here are some examples to show what niche sites look like: bestvacuumcleaners2016 or bestlaptops2016. As you can see, the site merely lists out products and links to Amazon affiliate links. Whenever people purchase through these links, they get a commission.

Selling Physical Products via Amazon FBA or Drop Shipping

Drop shipping and Amazon FBA have become extremely popular amongst digital nomads and other entrepreneurs. In this day and age, if you wanted to create a business selling physical products, you can now partner with manufacturers who will create and fulfill your orders for you. Many apps and sites have made this even easier now.

With Amazon FBA, you can outsource manufacturers and private label your own product. Once you’ve created the product, you can have your manufacturers ship directly to the Amazon warehouse. When you’ve created the listing on Amazon, Amazon will ship your product for you as you get more and more sales. As you can see, Amazon FBA is a very hands off approach. Once you’ve worked out the initial product, the manufacturer will help ship to the Amazon warehouses, who will in turn ship your products directly to your customers. Here is an Amazon FBA case study example from Passion into Paychecks.

selling physical product

With drop shipping, there is no need to even purchase product. You can create a store online with Shopify ($29/month or more based on your pricing plan) and integrate with online apps of manufacturers/fulfillment partners who will fulfill your orders for you. Here is an example of a successful Shopify drop shipping case study.

The advantages of drop shipping = low upfront costs (but you have to do your own marketing)
The advantages of Amazon FBA = using Amazon as your promotion platform (but you have to pay for the product)

If you would like more information on Amazon FBA you can also check out my few case study posts, though I had to pause on my endeavors as I haven’t been able to get ungated for the category I want to sell in.

Lend Money to Others with Interest

With this path, you will need a decent amount of capital to loan. There are many P2P (peer to peer) Lending platforms for investors and borrowers, in which people can earn about 7.5-10% interest rate with their loans. However, there is always risk of losing the principal if loans go bad.

Here are some P2P lending platforms to look into:

Update: Adding these 3 European-based platforms based on my friend Jeremy’s recommendation! 

lending p2p

Mutual Funds/Long Term Investment Stocks

Investing in mutual funds, index funds, and other “longer term” stocks can be great for generating passive income. It might be a slower play than day trading, but may be considered safer and lower risk. If you’d like more information on trading, follow my good friend and reputable investor, FiFighter!


Computer Programming: Build an App

If you know how to code, you can create and list your app on the Google Play Store or iPhone App Store and score some sales. Even if you list your app for free, you can create some in-app advertisements or purchases to monetize your creation. Some people churn out tons of apps and earn a full-time living passively through these means.

mobile apps

Real Estate Investing: Buy & Hold Properties

Buy and hold properties are properties you purchase and rent out for profit. Rather than purchase liabilities/debt holes to pay off, you’re purchasing assets. The idea is your tenants will pay you monthly rent that covers your mortgage payments and more. You could also get tenants via AirBnB (feel free to use my AirBnB link here). I currently own property that generates around $500-600 extra passive income per month, so I especially like this method.

With this route you’ll need to do a bit of research to understand if your buy and hold property is a good investment or not. The risks include depreciation in property worth and bad tenants. I’ve had issues where my tenants wouldn’t pay rent and the eviction process dragged on for over 6 months. It was bad. But when tenants are good and your property is in a good area, buy and hold properties can be cash cows (meaning a strong investment of steady income). You can make good money while paying off your mortgage with the rent you receive.

To do this location independently, you can hire a property manager to help you secure tenants and fix issues with the rental (but make sure you hire a good manager). Again, check out FiFighter because he’s a boss at real estate investing as well ;).

Method 2: Build a Strong Brand/Business

The best way to make a long lasting income source is to build a strong brand with engaged followers. This path usually involves building a site/business/product/service that you’re passionate about. The difficulty with building a strong brand is that it requires a lot of time and effort and generally takes a longer time to see monetary results. Since it takes long for the results to show, it’s best if you love what you are working on so you’ll do it regardless of monetary gain.

Below I’ll explain how you can monetize a blog or site (your passion project):

1. Grow a Following

After you’ve started your site, you’ll need to grow a following, especially if you want to monetize it.

Audience Following

Growing a following won’t give you monetary gain by itself, but it’s the first and most crucial stepping stone to monetization. And of course it’ll give you personal happiness/benefit if you’re passionate about your cause.

If you have a site for example, you can grow readers/followers by writing consistently and promoting. YouTube and Instagram are other methods to grow a following through producing valuable media content.

Lower Barrier Monetization Strategies:

A. Affiliate Marketing Links

As you’re growing your blog, you can insert affiliate links in your articles of products or services you recommend. When people buy through your link, you receive a commission for each purchase. For example, you can join the Amazon Associates affiliate program and promote Amazon URLs that will make you money whenever your readers buy through your links. You can also join CommissionJunction to find the available affiliate marketing programs and advertisers for everything from hotels to baby products.

B. Ads via Google Adsense

Google Adsense allows you to earn money by placing ads on your website. You can place these ads on your home page sidebar, footer, header, and/or within posts. Whenever users click on your ads you’ll make money. Though Google Adsense doesn’t pay out a lot, you can make decent money depending on your readership and site traffic.

C. Sell Advertising Space

Since ads through Google Adsense don’t give out huge commissions, it may be more lucrative to have advertisers to pay you directly to advertise on your sites. Many bloggers charge a recurring monthly fee depending on the amount of traffic they get.

Sell a Product:

A. Video Tutorials

Once you become an authority figure or expert in a specific field, launching a video tutorial can be a great passive income source as you’ll already have a dedicated following to advertise to. You can offer exclusive methods that aren’t available free to your blog readers to attract sales. For example, Product Manager HQ has found massive success with their launched course for product managers.

video tutorials

One way to effectively sell video tutorials is to create a landing page that houses the course and includes testimonials and details of your product. The following tools make it easy to create video tutorial landing pages:

To effectively drive sales you can create targeted Facebook ads or send to your e-mail list.

You can also list your video tutorials on these online learning platforms:

B. Innovate a Relevant Product

This one’s quite obvious – creating an innovative product to help something in your niche is one of the most profitable methods of monetization. If you’re a fitness trainer, you could invent gym equipment that is more efficient than what’s currently around. Or if you’re a traveler you could create a social app to help with making new friends while abroad. The possibilities are endless, though it can be challenging to come up with and execute on a product idea. If you don’t have the skill set to execute on a potential idea, you can also try partnering with someone who has the ability to see your idea through.

innovate a product

C. Community Membership Fees

If you have a strong readership or following, consider creating a “VIP community” for people who want to connect with other members and get unique information. Some communities like NomadList (for digital nomads who want to meet) went from charging a one-time fee to a recurring monthly fee because of its usefulness and multiple features. Imagine setting a recurring fee of $20/month for your membership groups. 50 members would already make you $1000/month of stable passive income!

D. E-Book/Kindle Books

As mentioned previously, kindle books and e-books can be extremely lucrative if done correctly. If you have your own following you could choose to sell your e-books on your own site without listing on Amazon, like how Gloria Atanmo did from The Blog Abroad.

E. Many More…

The possibilities are infinite when you have a large follower-base! Figure out your passion and skills, and build something with it. Other examples of monetization include podcasts and sponsorships. But more and more platforms are being released that will continuously grow the amount of passive income opportunities out there!

how to make passive income while traveling
Building passive income is great because once you’ve set up your channels, you’ll start seeing automatic cash flow without trading time for money. You’ll be able to live financially & location independently, and hopefully, you’ll be making a living out of something you love.


    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      That’s all YOU!

  1. Most people failed to make money online because they don’t have a proven system that works for them…

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      True I think it is best to figure out one that works and focus on it first, then go from there.

  2. Nice comprehensive post! I’ve been doing this since 2009 and found the best way to make money online is to find products you use, you love, that FIT with your existing content. Once you do that, everything just starts working.

    There’s more money out there than folks know. Just got to build your brand and get yours!


  3. I never would have thought of some of these. Stock photography would probably be the main one I would work on.
    Thanks for the tips!
    xx Jenelle

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      If you end up doing it and it works, please let me know! I’d love to hear about it as I haven’t tried this route yet.

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