Residual income is money you earn from previous efforts, without having to work on it in the present. For example, an author who writes a book or a composer who writes a song will receive royalties every time someone buys the book or song. The songwriter might take a vacation and still earn hundreds or thousands of dollars without working at all during that time.

There are many ways to build residual income online, starting from scratch, for free or very cheaply. There will be work required upfront, but over time, your efforts will pay off with steady residual income.

Things You Will Need

Writing Ability

Step 1

Do preliminary research of ways to build a residual income online. Look into niche sites, affiliate marketing, revenue-sharing content sites, writing downloadable information products and creating software programs. Read other peoples' success stories and follow their tips to create your own method and find your profitable niche.

Step 2

One of the fastest, easiest and cheapest (i.e., free) ways to start building residual income online is to write articles on revenue-sharing content sites. Create profiles using the same user name and avatar, or signature image, to build a recognizable online presence. Some of my personal favorite sites for writing content are eHow, Bukisa, HubPages and, of course, InfoBarrel. Each of these sites pays based on ad revenue, page views or a combination. The better your articles are, and the more popular they become, the more money they will generate.

Step 3

Create a niche website. Small, focused websites on specific topics -- such as gardening tips or home security -- can be quite profitable. Start with one, and build more as time goes on. If website building and all that goes into it are brand new to you, consider using SiteBuildIt! to get started -- it's a virtual crash-course in website building and all that goes into earning money through your own site.

Step 4

Maximize your residual income through affiliate marketing. It works like this: you sign up with a merchant and generate personalized links to to products or pages on the merchant's site. Embed these links in your articles and niche sites, and when a user clicks your referral link and buys something, you get credit -- and are paid a percentage of the sale. is one of the best affiliate programs for newbies as approval is easy. When you have a website, you can apply at Commission Junction and other affiliate program sites.

Creating a profitable residual income online is achievable with some planning, research and effort. Sometimes you just have to get started on something to be inspired by the small successes and watch your income pick up momentum. Choose one residual income stream to start today -- and get busy.

Tips & Warnings

Set goals for your residual income, and keep working to get there.