Realistic Passive Income Ideas 2023

By definition, passive income is money that you can earn without the need to put in consistent and ongoing time and effort in order to continue earning income from it. However, I do feel like this is often misunderstood as you don’t need to put in any work at all or ever again, which is far from the truth. Oftentimes, it just means that you are putting in most of the time and effort upfront, and reaping the benefits of it later with minor maintenance and monitoring moving forward.

For example, if you spend months (or years) writing a book, you’re probably not making any money from the book while you’re still writing it. When you finally publish it and make sales from it, you can continuously sell that book essentially forever without continuously needing to put work into it. There are still probably PR & marketing efforts that you need to put in every so often, but a majority of the work (the writing of the book) has been completed upfront already. Essentially, it can continuously make money for you even “in your sleep” as some people would say.

Now you might be wondering…

Why Does One Want to Start Earning Passive Income?

Some of you may know that I started full-time entrepreneurship in 2019 when I moved to Amsterdam to start Made on Sundays, my brand design studio. When I decided to quit my comfortable, well-paying corporate job as a brand manager, I had one major personal goal in mind, and that was to create a life where I had the life & business balance to pour into myself, my family, and my friends. Most importantly, to one day be able to be at home with my future kids and still be able to help support my family financially.

However, every new service-based entrepreneur quickly realizes that while you have the freedom to work whenever you want as an entrepreneur, your income is directly tied to the time that you put in. And let’s be honest- there are only so many hours in a day before you’re working more than you previously were in your corporate job! So when that reality hit, I knew I had to start thinking of ways to diversify my income, especially into passive income revenue sources where my money isn’t necessarily tied to the time that I put in.

Side note- What is your intention for starting a passive income stream?


How Did I Start Earning Passive Income?

In early 2020, I decided to start an Etsy shop selling Canva Templates. While I mostly did 1on1 custom brand design for my clients at the time, I noticed that many of my clients asked for a PDF-style Canva template for them to DYI their own workbooks, worksheets, lead magnets, or other types of PDF deliverables. Designing them custom can be quite time-consuming for me, which means that the cost for my client can be quite expensive too. After designing quite a few of them, I realized that clients tend to request very similar content layouts – making me realize that a design template might just work! So that’s when I began designing workbook design templates that entrepreneurs can quickly customize with their own brand elements and content. Selling these Canva Templates on Etsy meant that I can save time designing them custom, and help my clients save money, all while earning passive income selling them to a much wider audience – all automated!

I’ll talk more about how to get started selling Canva Templates on Etsy in a second, but first…

What are Some Realistic Passive Income Ideas?

1) Create Evergreen Content on YouTube

Evergreen content is search-optimized content that is about a specific topic that will always be relevant to that specific audience. It is not time or date specific, so the content piece can stay relevant, searchable, and rankable for a much longer period of time way past its publication date. For example, “How to” and “Tips or Instructions” videos are great ideas. Content like this, especially videos made for YouTube, typically make more money and continue to make money for you for years to come. Just like videos like that I make for my Made on Sundays YouTube channel, I could still be making money for a video that I posted 2 years ago.

Passive Income Ideas - Evergreen content on Youtube

2) Sell Notion Templates

If you’re a fan of Notion already, this is a great passive income stream to start right away. Notion is a project management software platform that allows you to create beautiful workspaces to organize all aspects of your life and business. I personally LOVE using notion and use it to organize almost everything in my life in the last 2 years. As a super-user myself, I’ve started sharing some of the pages that I have created for my own life & business such as my Daily Mindful Moments page, my Brand Photoshoot Prep & Organizer, and my Course Creation planner on my socials and a lot of people have asked for a template so they can copy my workspaces. In case you didn’t know, it’s super easy to create templates on Notion, so with a click of a button I can easily create a template link to share with others. It’s as easy as adjusting my notion pages so they are template friendly, and then selling my template links on my shop!

Passive Income Stream Ideas - Sell Notion Templates

3) Affiliate Marketing

As an entrepreneur, you are probably using tons of different platforms, software, websites, technology or memberships that you already love and refer people to every day. If so, why not make money doing so! That’s where affiliate marketing comes in, helping you make passive income by referring others to your favorite sites. So look up all the different things you’re already using and see if you can join their affiliate programs to start making money right away. A few of my favorite websites that I love and often refer people to include SkillShare, Canva, Loom, Flodesk, Showit, and Wandering Aimfully.

4) Teach a Class on SkillShare

This one is one of my new favorites – teaching a skill on SkillShare. This year, I started teaching on SkillShare and it’s probably one of the fastest money-making passive income streams that I’ve ever started. SkillShare is like the Netflix of online education and it’s an open platform that allows practically anyone to upload their own class. It may seem a little intimidating to create a class for the first time, but you might be surprised how easy it actually can be on SkillShare. I filmed a video about How to Start Teaching on Skillshare here, so if you’d like to know more, watch the video!

5) Sell Canva Templates on Etsy

Here we are on the last idea and actually going back to the very first passive income stream that I started – selling Canva Templates on Etsy. This is ultimately what dipped my feet into passive income and started my whole journey, which I am so grateful for. If you are already a designer or even have a few design skills on Canva, this is probably the easiest passive income stream to start today. And if you have no design skills at all and would like to learn quickly, take my Canva Basics SkillShare class for free now. Canva is a free design platform that allows you to easily and quickly make all kinds of drag-and-drop designs. Within minutes, you can create designs like Instagram Posts, Pinterest Pins, Facebook posts, Workbook/worksheets, lead magnets and more. Then with a click of a button, you can transform your designs into a template allowing your customer to automatically create a copy of your design that they can then customize in their own Canva account.

Sounds interesting right? In fact, in my latest SkillShare class, Etsy Template Shop: Diversify your Income with Canva Templates, I’ll be giving you my complete roadmap to planning, designing, listing, branding, and selling Canva Templates on Etsy in no time. Best part? You can take my class completely free with my 30-day free trial on Skillshare here.

Etsy Template Shop - Passive Income ideas

Will I Start Making Passive Income Right Away?

Well, the answer is a little bit more complex depending on a lot of variables. Any income stream, passive or not, general takes time, commitment, consistency, and sometimes a little bit of luck to see any results. I’ll be honest with you – if anyone is promising fast money and no work, they are either lying or it’s shady in some way. All the passive income streams I mentioned in this article will work but will take some time and a lot of effort to start snowballing into your passive income dreams. One idea might work for someone and not for another, so the important thing is to start now and keep experimenting until you find the streams that work for you.

Hey there!

I'm cheryl, the one behind this blog!

I'm a designer, brand expert, YouTuber, and avid traveler from Vancouver, Canada. 

I quit my fancy corporate 9-5 a couple of years ago, hopped onto a plane and started Made on Sundays along with my new mindful lifestyle in Amsterdam. 

Today I serve thousands of female entrepreneurs around the world, helping them clarify their brand story, design the brand of their dreams, and confidently show up to their soulmate clients.