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20 Passive Income Ideas For Beginners in Canada (2024)

Are you looking for a real way to earn passive income in Canada? Passive income is when your time and money build something that will continue to generate revenue even after you stop working on it. It’s the sliced bread of making money online.

If you want to earn an extra $1000 per month on autopilot, this article is for you. Below, we outline the 20 best ways for beginners to create passive revenue streams in Canada.

What is passive income?

Passive income is a way of earning payment through up-front investment rather than actively trading time for money. It’s called passive because it doesn’t require any additional input to keep money flowing once it’s started.

You can create passive income by investing time, money, or a combination of the two.

It’s worth noting that many people wrongly refer to things like blogging as passive income. Because a blog requires ongoing content creation and other upkeep, it is not truly passive unless you consistently outsource all of the work.

How to make passive income in Canada

Passive income streams can come in all shapes and sizes. Each method requires different actions and resources to start and maintain successfully.

Renting property or possessions for passive income

One of the easiest and most common ways to generate passive income is to rent out property or possessions. This could include anything from a spare room in your house to an RV you only use a couple times a year, or even your main vehicle.

While not everyone has a living space to rent (or even a car), most people own something of value that others would be willing to pay to use. This can include:

  • Computer or video equipment
  • Sound/recording equipment
  • Vehicles
  • Living space
  • Small appliances
  • Tools

This list is just a start; there are many other great ideas out there. Think about the items you spent the most on. Chances are, someone else may be willing to offset your investment by renting those items from you.

Renting out real estate properties

Whether you’re looking to rent out a room, a house, a flat, or a whole apartment building, there are resources available that will help you make money without actively working.

The trick is to find the right marketplace for renting the types of properties you own. One way is to create listings on websites like Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist, and hope the right people find them. You can also enlist the services of a property management company. This will reduce your profit, but ensure that you’re only bothered with occasional big decisions.

If you’re not interested in long term rental, you might consider joining Airbnb or Vrbro. These are platforms that give you listings in some of the largest residential rental databases available.

Renting out your car or other possessions

Renting vehicles, tools, small appliances, and other high-ticket items is an often overlooked way to make money without much effort. All you need to do is create a listing that outlines what you have available, the rates you charge per day/week/month, and any rules you have for renters.

This will require some maintenance, but you can reduce the overall workload using software and/or by outsourcing the work to a local or online assistant.

Having a contract or agreement for your customers to sign and requiring a deposit is a good idea to avoid potentially losing or paying to repair a valuable item.

Rent out a parking spot

In larger cities, parking is a true commodity. If you happen to own a house, condo, or even commercial property with unused parking, especially if it’s in a highly-trafficked area like a city centre, renting it could be an income maker.

You can rent out a parking space to a tenant privately, or you can use an app like JustPark that can help you manage the rental. If you want to take it a step further, CurbFlip lets you rent out parking spaces to cars, bicycles, RVs, and even boats (specifically if you have a boat dock).

If your parking space is truly unused, there is no reason it can’t be making you a little extra side cash. Some parking space renters can make a few thousand dollars extra a year, letting others park in their empty space. The bigger the city and the smaller the parking options are, the better.

Passive income from financial investments

Investing is one of the most popular ways to generate passive income––and for good reason. It’s a tried-and-true method that can result in a consistent stream of cash flow, without you having to do much work.

There are many different types of investments you can make, each with their own risk/reward profile. The key is to find an investment that fits your risk tolerance and financial goals.

Here are some of the most common types of investments people use to generate passive income:

  • Index Funds: Index funds are a type of mutual fund that tracks a specific market index, like the S&P 500. They offer diversification on autopilot, and can be a great option for passive investors.
  • Bonds: Bonds are debt securities issued by governments or corporations. When you buy a bond, you’re lending money to the issuer in exchange for regular interest payments and the return of your principal at maturity.
  • Stocks: You can purchase shares of stocks through a brokerage account with your bank or using an app such as RBC Direct Investing. This will give you partial ownership of a company, which may entitle you to dividends and/or a share of the company’s profits.
  • Cryptocurrencies: Cryptocurrencies are digital money that use cryptography to secure their transactions and to control the creation of new units. Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency, but there are many others including Ethereum and Dogecoin.
  • NFTs: NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets that are unique and cannot be replaced. They’re often used to represent things like artwork, collectibles, or in-game items.

Investing in index funds

Index funds are a powerful way to get some of the benefits of investing in the stock market with a reduced amount of risk. For example, the S&P 500 is an index of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the United States.

When you invest in an index fund tracking the S&P 500, you benefit from its typical growth while being protected from losses that may slow down individual companies. The easiest way to do this on autopilot is by setting up regular contributions from your Tax-Free Savings Account.

Investing in bonds

Bonds are debt securities issued by governments or corporations. When you buy a bond, you’re lending money to the issuer in exchange for regular interest payments and the return of your principal at maturity.

Bonds tend to be less risky than stocks, but they also offer significantly lower returns. They can be a good option for investors who want to generate passive income without taking on too much risk, and a good way to diversify an investment portfolio.

Investing in stocks

Stocks are a type of investment that represents ownership in a company. When you buy shares of stock, you become a partial owner of the company, and are entitled to dividends (a portion of the company’s profits) and/or a share of the company’s value if it is sold.

Stocks can be a good way to generate passive income, but they are also more volatile than other types of investments, which means there is a higher risk of loss.

Investing in cryptocurrency and NFTs

Investing in crypto assets has the highest risk/reward profile of any investment. While it is possible to earn massive amounts in short periods of time if you invest in the right asset, there are many scams in the crypto space that can steal your hard-earned capital.

The world of cryptocurrency and NFTs is still a “wild west” of sorts (even more so than the rest of the internet), so tread carefully when entering this domain.

High-yield dividend stocks

For a truly passive experience, you can purchase high-yield dividend stocks to create an additional passive investment income for yourself. While this (like many other cash-flow options) comes with a certain amount of risk, the gains can be much higher.

High-yielding sectors like banks, insurers, and utilities can make you a hefty return on your investment portfolio if you play your cards right. This is especially the case if you start investing when the stocks are low, like in economic downturns.

When it comes to investing in stock of any kind, if you’re not familiar with the market (and oftentimes even when you are), it’s a good idea to connect with a financial manager or advisor who can help you make an investment strategy that works for you.

While you can do this on your own, there are professionals with expertise in the area that have a better understanding of what to do. Which also means your chances of success are higher.

Investing is an active income strategy for many day traders and value investors, but for the dividend investor it is one of the most hands-off passive income strategies.

How dividend stocks work

Dividend stocks are stock shares that come with regular dividend payments. The dividend yields are typically paid out of the company’s profits and are a way for the company to reward its shareholders. When you purchase dividend stocks, you become a partial owner in the company and receive part of their profits. This makes it an excellent means of creating ongoing income from an initial investment.

Finding the best dividend stocks

Picking great stocks every time is impossible, but there are several strategies that can help you identify ideal candidates. Start by researching companies in sectors such as utilities, banks, and insurers—these typically offer higher yields than other industries. You should also pay attention to dividend payout ratios and look for stocks with a long history of paying out dividends.

Investing in real estate for passive income

Investing in real estate is a popular passive income strategy for folks with some extra cash that they’re able to use flexibly.

One of the easiest ways to invest in real estate passively is to purchase property that can be rented out. Whether that property is commercial or residential, you’ll fill it with tenants and collect rent money as income.

You manage your real estate properties as an active participant where you manage your properties, screen tenants, and collect rent yourself. Or you can do this passively where you hire a management team or company to take care of the day-to-day operations for you.

A benefit of real estate investing is that you can not only collect an income from the rentals, but you can improve and update the properties and build equity.

Rental properties

Rental properties are an excellent form of passive income, as they can generate a steady stream of cash flow. This type of investing involves purchasing a property that you rent out to tenants. You can then collect rent payments in the form of monthly fees and collect any additional fees associated with the rental agreement.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

A real estate investment trust or a REIT is a company that manages, owns, or funds income-producing real estate. This includes things like an apartment or office buildings that are rented out.

As an investor, you own a small cut of the property and therefore are entitled to receive dividends as you would as a stockholder of a publicly-traded company. There tends to be a higher upfront investment when you work with a REIT, but your payout is usually higher.

Because of the higher initial investment, not everyone can afford to earn passive income this way. But there are companies like Fundrise that let you try out eREIT investments for a smaller amount of money.

Peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending lets borrowers avoid dealing with big financial institutions when it comes to getting a loan. Instead, they borrow money from individuals or groups of people privately.

How P2P lending works

Like borrowing from anywhere else, there is interest involved. That means that when you provide money, you’ll most likely make a return. It’s a win-win scenario because the lender gets paid for lending, and the borrower, who might not be able to (or want to) through traditional means, can borrow money.

Platforms for P2P lending in Canada

To start peer-to-peer lending, you’ll want to find a platform that you’re comfortable with (like Bondora or Mintos) and work out how much money you’re willing to part with for your first-time loan. It’s never a bad idea to talk to your financial advisor about the best route and platform to reach your financial goals.

High-yield savings accounts and CDs

High-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) are two popular passive income investments for those looking to make a bit of extra money without taking on much risk. With both of these options, you’ll earn interest over time based on your initial investment.

Opening high-yield savings accounts

Some savings accounts offer higher yields than traditional savings or checking accounts. High-yield savings accounts are a good place to keep emergency money, vacation money, or savings for any other purpose. Learn more about how to open a high-yield account at RBC here.

Investing in certificates of deposit

Certificates of Deposit are a great way to earn passive income from your investments. CDs are simply an agreement between you and a bank that promises to pay interest over a certain period of time, usually ranging from three months to five years.

Investing in businesses

Another way to invest in tangible assets is to provide startup capital for businesses. This can be a riskier investment than buying property, but it can also offer the potential for greater returns and it’s a great way to help out entrepreneurs.

If you’re thinking about investing in a business, make sure you perform due diligence towards understanding its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Consider both the business’ history and the histories of the major decision makers.

Buying shares in a business

Investing in a business can offer the potential for greater returns than investing in property and other tangible assets. One way to invest is by buying shares of stock in the company, which gives you partial ownership of the business. When the value of your shares rises, you profit from the increased value and any dividends given out to shareholders.

Silent partnerships

Silent partnerships are a type of passive income investment that involves investing in a business without actively taking part in its daily operations. As a silent partner, you provide capital to the business and receive profits in return, but don’t take part in decision making or running the day-to-day operations. This is a great way for investors to diversify their portfolio and help others without having to commit to actively working on every investment.

Affiliate marketing and recurring commissions

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online by promoting other people’s products and services. When someone you’ve referred buys something, you earn a commission on that sale.

Recurring commissions are the best compensation model for affiliate marketing. It means you earn a commission on every sale made by a customer you’ve referred for as long as they remain a customer.

Many companies attract affiliates with high-ticket affiliate programs that focus on a single upfront commission. While this seems good in the short term, it doesn’t generate any passive income.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where a company rewards affiliates or “partners” for each visitor or customer referred.

There are multiple different structures for compensating affiliates, including CPA (cost per acquisition), CPL (cost per lead), and recurring commissions.

While CPA and CPL can be tempting because you can earn big commissions just by making a sale or generating a lead, focusing on recurring commissions over the long term can result in a profitable and sustainable business.

What are recurring commissions?

Imagine you’re promoting a SaaS (software as a service) product that costs $100 per month and pays out 30 per cent in recurring commissions. That would mean that, for every customer you refer, you’d earn $30 per month for as long as they keep paying.

This illustrates the value of recurring commissions. There are many products and services you can promote that cost $100+ per month and offer 30 per cent recurring commissions or more.

How to start affiliate marketing

The best way to start affiliate marketing is by finding a product or service you’re passionate about and signing up for the company’s affiliate program. This may give you access to marketing materials and training designed to help you succeed.

You’ll also get your own unique affiliate link with a tracking code embedded in the URL. Anyone who follows your link and makes a purchase will result in a commission as long as the tracking works properly.

Creating and selling online courses

Online courses are a passive income stream that many online entrepreneurs use. It’s a great way to package up the information you know and share it with your audience for a fee. Educational lessons are one of the most popular types of digital products available.

When you create an online course, you only have to create it once. From there, you can set-it-and-forget-it. You can make a single course and sell it to thousands of people.

It’s possible you may need to update your course as technology or best practices change (depending on what you’re teaching). But the bulk of the work is done upfront. Once you build it, your main focus will be selling it and improving your marketing efficiency.

Identifying your niche

Choosing the right niche for your course is critical because it determines who your students will be and how much they’ll be happy to pay. It also determines how much competition you’ll have to face in order to build your customer base.

You can choose a broad niche or a narrow sub-niche depending on your skills and the needs of your ideal students. For example, if you want to teach beginner guitar skills, you would cast a wide net because anyone who wants to learn guitar could take your course, regardless of their taste in music. A sub-niche example would be teaching an advanced course that helps students master specific classic rock solos.

In the broad niche example, you would have many potential customers and would most likely want to charge a fairly low price. In the sub-niche example, you would have a more specific and smaller customer avatar, but could likely charge more.

Platforms for creating and selling online courses

There are effectively two types of online learning platforms; marketplaces and independent hosts.

If you put your course on a marketplace it may be easier to find students and if you get good reviews you could experience exponential growth. Unfortunately, the marketplace takes a significant percentage of your profits and there may be lots of competition.

Independent hosts allow you to create your own courses on a dedicated website. This means no one is going to find your course by accident like they might on a marketplace, but it gives you much more control over student experience and revenue.

Using a marketplace is most likely easier and requires less time from the instructor in most cases in terms of course management and marketing. On the other hand, a dedicated site gives you more independence and access to higher profit margins.

If a marketplace sounds right for you, consider checking out Udemy and Skillshare. They’re both popular e-learning platforms that offer a massive variety of courses and are often open to new instructors.

If you want to build your own website, two of the best options are Kajabi and Teachable. Kajabi is more expensive but sleeker with more features and options, whereas Teachable provides good value for your money and has everything you need to get started.

Creating and selling digital products

Courses aren’t the only popular digital products on the internet: You can also use digital guides, ebooks, designs and images, and music as a passive income source.

Online guides

Online guides are a great way to provide useful information and help your customers with specific tasks. Guides can be used to teach people the basics of a topic or dive deeper into more specialized topics. They are typically more comprehensive than ebooks, as they often include visuals and step-by-step instructions.

Self-publishing ebooks

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, self publishing can be a great way to generate some extra income. Platforms like Amazon Kindle make it easy to publish your ebook, giving your exposure to their massive database of existing readers. Of course, because it’s so easy there’s lots of competition, so having a unique topic and a great cover design is often essential for success.

Collecting book royalties

Book royalties are income from previously published works. The amount of money earned through book royalties will depend on price and copies sold, as well as your deal with the publishing house if you pursued a traditional publishing route instead of doing it yourself.

Selling music or licensing music

Becoming a popular musician and selling your songs is a great way to make a living, but it’s not the only way to earn as a musician. You can also create tracks that are ideal for things like background music or scene transitions and sell them to entrepreneurs, marketers, content creators and filmmakers.

While selling songs is great for artistic expression, it’s not as good for creating passive income streams. If you build a library of useful music for creators, you can license it to your customers for a monthly or annual fee.

Recurring revenue from product sales

If you’ve created a product or service that people find valuable, it’s possible to create a recurring revenue stream by selling it, especially if you use a subscription pricing model.

Subscription-based products

Subscription-based products are monetized through recurring billing rather than one-time payments. In most cases subscriptions are charged monthly or annually, but they can also be weekly or biweekly.

Recurring billing has benefits for both you and your customers; it provides you with a passive source of income, and it allows you to offer your customers a lower up-front payment.

Subscription payments work great for Software-as-a-Service, advanced courses, and even consumable eCommerce products like coffee. As long as the customer has a predictable and repeatable need for your offer, it’s a logical option.

Selling print-on-demand products

Print-on-demand (PoD) products are typically inexpensive one-time payments, but they can appeal to broad groups of people in your growing audience. Popular PoD products include shirts, mugs, and other commonplace objects ready to be emblazoned with your branding.

PoD is great because it circumvents the need for holding stock. Instead of buying hundreds or thousands of a product up front, you let the print-on-demand company create each product after it’s ordered.

If you have a large following that would like to buy or merchandise or if you create really interesting designs, PoD can be a solid source of monthly income. Popular print-on-demand platforms include Printful and Printify, although there are many other less well known companies with similar services.

Licensing intellectual property

Licensing intellectual property is a great way to make money with little additional effort. By licensing your intellectual property (IP) such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights you can generate a recurring revenue stream that requires relatively little effort on your part.

If you already invested heavily in creating unique IP, this can be a great option for covering your expenses and funding future work.

Licensing your ideas or creations

If you have created a unique concept, invention, or design, you can choose to license it to companies who will pay you ongoing royalties for the right to use it. Licensing agreements can vary greatly in terms of rates, but generally speaking they are long-term contracts which provide a steady stream of income.

Royalties from patents, trademarks, or copyrights

While one-time payment deals aren’t impossible, royalties from patents, trademarks, and copyrights are typically paid on a recurring basis. Although they’re difficult to establish, royalties are one of the most reliable forms of passive income.

YouTube channel or blog monetization

YouTube channels and blogs are both great ways to attract monetizable online traffic. Once your digital property is receiving adequate traffic, monetizing it is quite simple.

Earning passive income through YouTube ad revenue

The easiest way to make money from your traffic is through advertising. When your channel achieves adequate attention, you can partner it with YouTube and begin receiving a percentage of the ad revenue Generated by Google Ads played alongside your videos.

You can also put Google Ads on a blog, but there are other more lucrative website ad platforms such as Ezoic and Mediavine.

Monetizing your blog with ads, sponsored content, or affiliate marketing

Sponsored content is a type of advertisement which is usually a direct interaction between the sponsor and the publisher, rather than going through a third party like Google Ads. Many companies will pay for ideal placements on popular blogs and YouTube channels if they think the publisher is respected by their ideal customers.

Affiliate marketing is another great way to monetize YouTube and blogging. Many people look to the internet for product recommendations, and if you build enough trust people will go out of their way to click your affiliate links so that you receive your commission.

Start a dropshipping store

Dropshipping was a massive advancement in eCommerce technology when it first became popular, and even though it’s been around for awhile it’s still a viable business strategy with the right products.

How dropshipping works

A dropshipping store is an eCommerce website where orders are “dropped” directly to a manufacturer or distributor as soon as they’re processed online. The store owner doesn’t have to focus on fulfillment, which leaves them free to improve their marketing and customer relations.

Choosing the right platform and products

While there are many dropshipping platforms available, Shopify likely provides the best and most secure system. With a Shopify store you can integrate with many different dropshipping suppliers. If you want to have access to the biggest variety of products you may look to something like AliExpress or Salehoo, or if you want a more local supplier take a look at AppScenic and Dropified.

Buying and selling websites

Much like physical property, websites can be “flipped” for a profit if you have the right skills. Popular platforms like Niche Investor, Flippa and Empire Flippers provide accessible marketplaces for these types of transactions.

Flipping websites

Many people who are good at building revenue-generating websites and blogs prefer to sell them for a profit rather than maintain and grow them. As a buyer you can improve and resell the sites, sometimes for an even bigger profit.

One simple way to do this is to buy a website that receives lots of traffic and improve its monetization. You could upgrade to a better ad platform, find better products or affiliate offers to promote, or just improve the CRO (conversion rate optimization). 

Selling established websites

If you buy a website that’s earning $500 per month and spend six to twelve months nurturing it until it earns $5000 a month, it becomes a much more valuable asset. Established websites can sell for massive sums, so using an escrow service is usually a good idea.

Creating and monetizing a podcast

Podcasts have been around longer than most realize, but it wasn’t until recently that they were seen as the business assets they really are. Nowadays, you can make money podcasting by partnering with affiliate marketing companies or providing ad spots in your show, or selling your own products and merch.

Podcasting is great because it grows naturally over time. The more episodes you put out, the more opportunity you have to earn money, and old episodes can continue to generate money, especially if you’re promoting digital products or affiliate offers.

Of course there is lots of competition and up-front time investment to consider. Podcasting isn’t easy to set up like some of these ideas, but it can definitely generate passive wealth once established.

Building an audience

Establishing a loyal following takes time, but it’s worth the effort if you want to make money from your time spent podcasting.

One great way to collaborate with other podcast hosts so that you can benefit from their audience. You can also leverage whatever trends are popular on social media for growth. For example, right now most platforms are promoting short vertical videos. You could take thirty second clips from your podcast and turn them into vertical video audiograms to increase your brand awareness everywhere that short videos are welcome.

In order to monetize an audience you need to create at least one reliable method of contacting them directly. Email lists, SMS lists, push notification lists, and online communities like Discord servers and Facebook groups will help you learn more from your audience and find the best way to earn a living from their support.

Generating revenue through ads, sponsorships, or donations

Different approaches to monetization may work better or worse depending on the community your podcast is dedicated to. In most cases some combination of 2-3 different methods will be ideal.

Building and selling apps

If you’re a skilled programmer this may be second nature to you, but there are also no-code platforms like Appy Pie available where you can build mobile apps without knowing any coding at all.

Developing and app idea

Apps can be used to make a number of mundane tasks easier, faster, and more enjoyable. This often involves storing or calculating information or offering a database of educational or entertaining media.

For example, if someone wants to get in shape they might download an app that can log their workouts, an app that calculates the total calories of a meal, or an app that includes a database of instructional and inspirational videos for people who are new to exercise.

Those ideas could be three separate apps, or they could be compiled into a single powerful fitness app.

Monetizing your app

Many apps charge a monthly or annual subscription for the features and experience it provides. Others are free to use but are monetized via ads or microtransactions, such as games that allow you to purchase special in-game upgrades to progress faster.

Renting or selling assets on Airbnb

Airbnb can help you turn pretty much any unused property into a vacation or long-term rental that can earn extra income. They even recently added experiences as an additional way for locals to reach new customers and clients.

There are always people looking to stay somewhere that’s either cheaper than or simply not a hotel when they travel—especially if they’re staying a little longer than usual. Airbnb allows you to offer them your space and get paid.

Being an Airbnb host is not completely passive, but you can always hire someone to manage your listings for you. Most people choose to manage their own listings, which means they have to take time to approve visitors and occasionally attend to any issues.

Renting out a room in your house

Hosting a vacation rental through Airbnb isn’t the only option you have when it comes to unused space. There are plenty of uses for empty rooms in your house, extra garages and storage spaces.

Chances are, there is a lot that you have sitting around that someone else can use. You can rent a basement suite to a monthly tenant, an empty garage can be used as storage space for a price, or even an empty room (preferably with an external door) could be rented out to a small business.

There are, of course, considerations to be made for all of these options. Legalities that have to be looked into and insurance that has to be purchased, but there’s no reason why you can’t make your empty space work for you.

Reverse passive income

Reverse passive income really isn’t earning money. It’s usually saving or spending strategically so you can save money. The benefit is that anyone can start doing this right away.

Examples of a reverse passive income include using cash back apps and credit cards. In both cases, you do technically earn money, but you need to spend to get it. The downside to this is that there is usually a limit to what you can earn—it’s not really scalable.

Cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards give users a small percentage of what they spend on the card back on a monthly or annual basis. While this often doesn’t amount to much, if you know you’ll be spending a lot then having the right cash back card can provide a decent reward.

Cash back apps

These apps typically offer cash back rewards when you make purchases at certain stores . For example, you might get 5% cash back when you buy groceries or 3% cash back when you pay your phone bill. While this can add up over time, it won’t be enough if you need to earn an extra thousand dollars a month.

Overcoming the main barrier to generating passive income in Canada: Taking action

There are a variety of ways to create passive income, and we’ve outlined some of the most common and profitable ones for Canadian entrepreneurs and individuals.

If you’re just getting started, it’s important to think carefully about which method will work best for you in your current financial situation. With a bit of effort and planning, you can set up a passive income stream that will provide you with long-term financial stability.

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