Updated Dec 14, 2022
Passive income is a darn cool thing if you can get it. Defined as the ability to “earn money while sleeping,” who wouldn’t want it? Unfortunately, I saw my time in school as a money funnel that took all my savings plus a bunch of student loans and poured it into a drain called “academia.”
So if you’re thinking of making money as a student, well done you! I want to walk you through some passive income ideas I think can work. Note that I’m not including crap like filling out surveys or holding a part-time job, because those are by definition not passive.
How do we make passive income? Well, the famous rule in capitalism is that you’ve got your labor, your money, and your assets to work with. If we’re talking about passive income, it usually comes down to putting either your money or your assets to work–as opposed to your time. The famous challenge for students is that you don’t have a ton of time to work, and you probably don’t have much money or assets.
You gotta get creative. That’s what we’re all about here.
In this post, I’ll give you 10 ACTUAL passive income ideas for students. They’ll take a bit of time to set up in some cases, but if you play your cards right, each of these can earn you some coin.
This post may contain links to affiliate products, which–if you choose to purchase–pay us a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps to support our work. We only promote products we’ve used and love.
1. Student Rentals
If you own your living space… Heck, let’s be realistic, you probably don’t. If you do, kudos!
But even if you RENT a two-bedroom apartment from a landlord, could you rent out the second room? If you are renting and you have a living room, can you put a sofa bed into it and list it on Airbnb?
Real estate is always one of the top sources of passive income, but since you probably don’t have the money to be buying rental properties, you might have to think a bit more creatively.
Look at the spaces you either own or, more likely, rent. How can you leverage those for money? You pay for them. If you live in some cities, your rent is probably ridiculous. So you might as well make some money off them.
2. Storage rentals
This is sort of in the same vein, but if you have extra space or a basement or something, you can list your storage space on this website and rent it out by the month.
It’s a really great way to make a bit of extra passive income for space you might have sitting there anyways!
3. Rent your apartment for photoshoots
I think this is a pretty damn cool way to make money off your space. Would you believe that there are people looking to rent spaces for photo and video shoots? Whether your apartment feels like a renovated factory or whether you live in a highrise with a wall of windows, there’s a good chance it might be perfect for someone to rent.
And worst-case scenario, you could list it and see what happens. Spacefy is a popular option.
4. Start a blog
I admit that I’m an elder millennial. So if you are a Gen Z reading this, you’re probably like, “WTF old man. Start a blog? What is this, 2004?”
The reason why I think starting a blog it’s still a good idea is because there’s been one constant on the internet for the past 20 years: search engine traffic. Unlike every other social media platform except for YouTube–more on this in a minute–creating a blog makes a space on the internet that you own. So yeah, I’m an old fart… But blogs are STILL a damned good way to make money online.
I make anywhere from $250 to $2,000/mo in passive income from this blog–depending on the month.
When people search for things, if you play your cards right, they’ll find your site. (If you need to learn more about SEO, try this Skillshare course!). It’s where I started.
There are pretty much 3 ways most bloggers make passive income: selling courses, joining affiliate programs, and eventually advertising. If you want to be super strategic, pick something to blog about that has a really high rate of return for affiliates. So, for example, high-ticket items and consumer goods, travel, personal finance, and online business are all pretty good niches for affiliate marketing.
The reason? People spend more on those things.
(Do yourself a favor and learn a content management system like WordPress if you’re starting to blog–it will pay dividends and you can put it on your resume too.)
By the way — Learning how to do content creation and SEO also pays off in the career world. There’s HUGE demand for it!
5. Create an online course
That makes an online course a great source of passive income. But it will have to be a decent course. If you are worried you don’t have anything to teach, think again. The best online courses could be anything from how to take great pictures with your phone to applying makeup properly to writing a rap song.
Whatever you have, there’s a pretty good chance that somebody out there wants to learn it.
Best online course platforms:
- Udemy: Best for building and selling a course on an existing marketplace
- Teachable: Best for a set it and forget it course that is self–hosted
- Mighty Networks: Best for building a course and community together
Pro Tip: If you really want an edge, when a new program comes out, you could learn it fast and create a course on it. That means you’re at the same level as everyone else.
6. Build a YouTube channel
One thing that I love about YouTube above all other social networks is that it’s a search engine. It’s actually the world’s second-largest search engine. So if you create a video today and put it up there, people can still find it years from now.
And that’s what makes it a good potential source of passive income. Even through creating one great video week, your channel will grow. And if you focus your channel on a really tighten niche, anything from instructional to hilarious, your channel will grow. (Use Tubebuddy to do keyword research–it will help you make videos that do really well).
You can monetize your YouTube channel through paid subscriptions, selling merch, oh yeah–and teaching a course.
7. Rent old textbooks
If you have old textbooks lying around, you know, the ridiculously expensive ones you bought for that course and then didn’t even use some, you might be able to rent them out.
There are all sorts of sites that do it, and the College Investor has made a great list.
8. Pet sitting
While it’s not completely passive, chances are if you’re sitting around playing video games and doing homework in your apartment anyway, you could probably do that with a cute puppy or kitty beside you. Obviously, you have to feed them and maybe handled some walks, but overall it’s pretty passive income.
So I’m assuming you don’t have a lot of coin to start dropping into the stock market. If you do, that’s awesome. Investing is still a solid way to earn money while you’re sleeping. It’s tried, tested, and true.
If you’re going to get into investing, do your homework. Don’t drop all your student loans into the latest cryptocurrency–because that, my friend, is playing the lottery. (Don’t drop them in lottery tickets either.) Investing and ignorance is a sucker’s game, but if you want to learn your shit–go do it. Take a class, read some books, play with an amount you can afford to lose.
Last but not least, I want to put a plug in for starting a community. It’s not completely passive, but it compounds your efforts ridiculously + you can get monthly recurring revenue from happy members. If you hang out on Discord a lot, starting a community could basically be the same idea. You’re just talking about stuff that matters to you and your audience.
Creating a community adds a ton of value to your members, and you can charge admission. With an awesome platform like Mighty Networks, you can also add courses and events to your community — and charge for them!
There you have it. Those are my top 10 passive income ideas for students. Have you tried any of these? Money can be tight when you are a student oh, and adding a little bit of extra passive income to your mix is never a bad thing. Good luck!