The last recession was a big wake up call for many people. As unemployment numbers climbed higher and higher, the security we once felt in our jobs began to wain. When the housing market crashed I witnessed many friends lose their jobs. The reality is that a recession or no recession, a traditional job is never a guarantee of unemployment. Cutbacks happen, technology advances to replace human labor, market shifts occur. All of these things influence our Monday-Friday, 9-5's. 

Employees are a commodity, and as this reality comes to light more people are searching for new income streams. Passive income is currently hot topic. The idea behind it is to create means for generating income without it being tied to hands-on time. This is not easy income; in fact the workload is heavy and can be difficult, but the goal is to invest the time now to receive the dividends for a longer period of time down the road. 

Article Writing

Crowd sourcing has been an up and coming online movement. One of those means is through writing articles about any topic that interests you. I write with Info Barrel and receive a portion of ad revenues that display on my articles. I have chosen this avenue in my passive income portfolio for two reasons: 1) I enjoy writing, so adding to Info Barrel is also an outlet for me in creative writing; 2) Once I write and have an article approved, it sits out there forever (hopefully!). There is no time limit on how long I can receive ad revenue. I do not expect to get rich or replace my income through this avenue, but as I continue to write my earnings increase and I hope to make this a permanent portion of my income portfolio. 

Choose Yourself!
Amazon Price: $10.33 $5.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 17, 2016)
This book was a huge influence on me. It was through James' writing that I began to see my employment as a commodity, and motivated me to seek a different way.

Digital Content

There are many ways to create and sell digital content, and the topics for these are endless. Many people fail to realize how talented they are, or how valuable their skills and knowledge can be. Here are a few ways to monetize your skills through digital content:

1. Online courses - sites like Udemy allow anyone to create an online class on just about any topic. You create the course and post it to the site for sale. Udemy will help with marketing and promotion while you enjoy a percent of the sales. The upfront work on creating a high quality class is heavy, but the benefits can be long-term with high reward.

2. E-books - these are becoming more popular as Amazon has opened up the way for self-publishing (if you want to sell on Amazon). E-books can be as simple as a how-to guide for using software (such as Evernote) or an elaborate guide to a trade or skill. I am currently working on an E-book to teach how to photograph a wedding, from start to finish.

3. Designs or photos - creating beautiful designs and selling the files on sites like Etsy can be lucrative. My wife has purchased baby shower invite templates and received a PDF file. 

The benefit to digital products is the passive nature of the income - work hard to create great content, then automate the selling. Once the product is ready all you need is to find an outlet to sell and let them do the rest. There is no inventory to maintain. 

Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills
Amazon Price: $19.95 $11.77 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 17, 2016)
An inspiring book on breaking free from the chains of employment and finding the lifestyle that you want.

Get Creative

The above items are only a few of the more popular ideas for generating passive income. The actual number of options are limitless and only restricted by your own creativity and effort. The first goal in pursuing freedom and the lifestyle you want is not in the income generating ideas themselves, but first in the mindset and shift in personal philosophy. This is why I have recommended the two books above, because both of them begin with the paradigm shift before getting into the specifics of how to generate the income. Start with the 'why' first, otherwise the 'how' lacks a foundation and is likely to crumble. 

Whatever method you choose to pursue, remember to think long-term. The goal is not a get-rich-quick idea (but if you come up with a good one, let me know!), but to begin generating stable, consistent passive income over the long haul. The effort and workload in the beginning is going to be high. There will be moments when you will second guess yourself and will want to quit. I face those almost daily. Stay the course. The life you have always dreamed of is within reach, just keep stretching towards it. 

Blogging and Affiliates

If you enjoy writing, blogging can be a great way to develop a passive income stream. The most successful blogs are those that serve a specific niche, and through their site and writings they become seen as an expert in that area. It can take awhile to establish yourself and the workload can be heavy in the beginning. But as you develop a following the opportunity to sell digital content or other products that serve your readership become available. 

Bloggers can also make income through affiliate marketing, which is promoting someone else's product and receiving a commission when you bring a buyer. Amazon has a popular affiliate program (the Amazon links above are affiliate links - meaning I get a percent of the purchase price if you were to clink the link and buy the books I recommend). This can be a great method for generating extra income if it is done well. Promoting products for the sake of promoting can be risky. Especially for bloggers that are developing a following, promoting only products that you personally use or know your audience will benefit from will maintain your reputation and trust. If your focus is only on the monetary benefit and not the fit of the product to the people you risk losing credibility and harming your personal brand (and by the way, the books I recommend via Amazon are ones that I have actually read and benefited from).