One of the things you hear from both business owners and millionaires is that having multiple streams of income is the key to success, longevity, and wealth. If something happens to one stream, you’ve got a back up (or six) while you recover.
I currently have five different sources of income (you can read about them at the end of this article). Most are related to my blog, but they are still diverse enough to protect me if something goes south.
Having additional sources of income is diversification, which you hear a lot in terms of the stock market and your portfolio, but you diversify your income for the same reasons. If you have all of your money is one part of the market, what happens to those investments when and if that market tanks?
If you think about that in terms of your job, then you can see how adding multiple streams of income is financial protection.
Some sources are going to take a time or financial investment before you start earning. Some end up feeling more passive, and some are more active (but I’ll get into all of this).
Adding multiple streams of income is also how you can pay off your debt. We shouldn’t just think about it in terms of financial protection and wealth building – earning extra income can help you mitigate some of your current financial stress. Really, there are a number of reasons to build additional streams.
What makes for a good extra source of income?
Just like any side hustle, there are some sources of income that aren’t as lucrative as others. There are some that take a little more work to build. There are some that don’t pay as well for the time you put into them.
Here are a few things I would pay attention to when looking for multiple sources of income:
- Time investment. How many hours each week will you need to spend on it?
- Scalability. Can you grow it over time?
- Passive or active. Can this source generate income in the background? Will it eventually generate income in the background?
Don’t worry, I’ll dig into all of that with each of the ideas below.
11 ways to earn multiple streams of income
1. Start a blog
This one is always going to be one of my favorites for obvious reasons. Blogging is something that takes a considerable time investment and your earnings start small… it took me a few months of hard work to earn a few bucks from display ads. Four years later, I’m earning significantly more than that, but it took even more time and energy.
So, blogging has a high time investment in the beginning and it’s completely scalable. What about active or passive?
Blogging is definitely active at first. Once you monetize your site with display ads and affiliate income, it starts to feel like a more passive income stream. The work you’ve already put into your site turns the wheel to generate income.
I don’t like saying that blogging income is ever 100% passive because you still need to work on it regularly to sustain it. But, you can start outsourcing some work, have processes in place to make it run more efficiently, etc.
If you’re interested in starting a blog but want a little help getting things going, I created Launch That Blog to do exactly that. It’s a free service that:
- Helps with the installation and set-up process of a WordPress blog
- Teaches you how to use everything
- Helps you make it look awesome
- Makes sure you have the essential tools ready to go
The only thing you need to pay for is hosting, which is only $2.95 per month through Bluehost. Seriously, that’s it. Jump over to the Launch That Blog page to learn more about the service and bonus freebies.
2. Invest in real estate
There are a few different ways that real estate investors make money. I like this a lot because it means that pretty much anyone can add real estate investing in as an additional stream of income. Let’s go over some of the most common real estate investments.
Buying and flipping homes
HGTV has made this look much easier than it is, but if you’re able to make a pretty accurate estimate of your cost vs. benefit, then it can be a nice way to earn extra income.
Before buying a house to flip, you’ll need to consider the following things:
- The initial cost of the property
- The amount of work that needs to be done
- Whether or not you’ll hire a team of contractors
- Your flipping timeline
- The location of your flip
Flipping homes is a big financial and time investment, but when you do it well, you can earn tens of thousands of dollars back on your investment, sometimes even more. You can leverage your funds to scale this into an even larger portion of your income in the future.
Investing in rental properties
Buying a multi-family unit or single family place is a good way to increase your monthly cash flow with rental income. But, rental properties can add extra income in another way – long-term capital appreciation.
A lot of landlords leverage what they’re making from one property to buy another, and then another, and then another. That’s scalability for sure.
Hiring a property manager is one way to make this stream of income feel a little more passive. You can then focus your time and energy into more streams of income.
To learn more about investing in real estate, read Real Estate Investing for Beginners.
REIT stands for real estate investment trusts, and it’s one of the easiest ways to start investing in commercial real estate, which usually has a pretty high cost of entry. Investing with REITs is when you buy micro-shares of larger investments, usually income-producing commercial properties like storage facilities or apartment complexes.
Fundrise is one way to start investing in REITs – it’s a crowdsourcing platform that let’s real estate investors find additional funding. They have three different portfolio options and invest your money into seven different types of REITs.
Fundrise hasn’t been around forever, but the returns are currently pretty good, averaging 11.44% in 2017.
You can learn more about Fundrise in my 2020 Fundrise Review: Commercial Real Estate Investing for All.
3. Run Facebook ads for small businesses
After I quit my job to focus on my blog full-time, I had to find a way to sustain myself. Running Facebook ads is what I turned to, and in a matter of months, I was earning more each month than I had with my teaching job.
Running Facebook ads is still one of my sources of income, and it’s an incredibly in-demand skill.
Facebook is one of the best places for small business owners to reach new customers – it’s what the big brands have been doing for a couple of years now. Those large companies hire firms or have someone in-house. The problem is that many small business owners lack the time or knowledge to run a good ad’s strategy in a way that sees real results.
Knowing that there was a market for Facebook ads managers (and knowing what a great side hustle it is), I created an affordable course for my readers to start their own digital ad agency. The industry standard is to charge $1,000-$2,000/month per client, and you don’t need any marketing or website experience to get started.
In terms of time investment, after you onboard a client, create the initial ad, and do some testing (this only takes a few hours), the ads essentially run on autopilot from then on. My digital marketing agency is completely passive now with my assistant acting as my account manager.
To learn more about the course and to hear from some of my students, click over to the Facebook Side Hustle Course.
4. Start investing your money
I know this one still freaks a lot of millennials out, but it’s so important – investing now is how most of us will retire one day. Besides actually opening an investment account, regularly making contributions, and occasionally moving things around, investment income is pretty darn passive.
And with compound interest, something like a Roth IRA can eventually start earning you more than you actually contribute.
Starting to invest is easier and takes less money than you probably realize, and here are some places to start:
- Micro-investing platforms like Acorns and Stash
- Online brokerages like Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard
- Personal Capital isn’t an investing platform, it’s a free app that helps you keep track of your investments and any other sources of income you may have coming in
Learn more about investing at Investing 101 for Millennials: The Basics.
5. Rent out a room in your house
If investing in the stock market or real estate still seems a little too intimidating, renting out a room in your house might be a more low-key way to add some extra income.
You can list your room (or even your entire house) on Airbnb. Airbnb pretty much manages reservations and payments for you, you just have to make sure the room is clean and ready to go, so pretty passive with relatively low time investment.
What you can earn is going to depend on where you live (touristy spots or big cities earn more) and how often you can get reservations.
I’m not sure how you would scale this, but you can definitely use your Airbnb income to invest in something larger one day like real estate.
6. Rent your car
Turo is basically Airbnb for your car. It’s an online platform for listing your car, dates it’s available, and it helps you find people who want to rent it for a day, a couple of days, a week, etc.
Turo prescreens renters and offers up to $1 million in liability insurance and coverage in the event of theft or physical damage. You get paid 65-85% of the trip price, and they have a Calculator to give you an estimate of what you can earn with your car.
Just like Airbnb, not a big time investment and pretty passive. It could add up to a nice little bit of money to put into an IRA, save up for emergencies, and invest in other ways.
7. Take online surveys
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of online surveys because you earn so little. But, I’m adding it as a possible income stream because it’s just so mindless and can be done while watching Netflix or while you wait to see the dentist.
You’re not going to get rich here, and most people only earn around $1-$2 per hour – that’s a lot of time before you have anything substantial. Still, it’s a really low effort with no start-up costs.
Some of the better sites for online surveys (as in not scams) are:
Read more about online surveys at Is Completing Online Surveys for Money Worth It?
8. Become a freelancer
A freelancer is a person who is self-employed and works on jobs and projects for other business owners. When you’re looking for multiple streams of income, this one is a great option because most people already have a skill that they can parlay into a freelance business.
Freelancers can be:
- Graphic designers
- Web developers
- Virtual assistants
- Marketing consultants
Earning additional income as a freelancer is incredibly scalable – you work when you want and with enough work, you can turn it into your full-time job.
To find freelance work, platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are a good place for finding jobs.
9. Become a Pinterest virtual assistant
Like running Facebook ads for small business owners, Pinterest virtual assistants are in high demand as bloggers and other small business owners realize the traffic potential of Pinterest… something I overlooked for a little too long.
Pinterest VAs make an average of $500 per month/per client and do things like:
- Creating pins
- Researching keywords
- Optimizing images
- Creating a pinning schedule
It’s active work, but if you’re able to build your business enough, you can turn this into a full-time job. Or, maybe one day you manage a team of Pinterest VAs, making this a little more passive.
Want to learn more? The Pinterest Virtual Assistant Course from Gina Horkey and Kristin Larsen is incredibly comprehensive, full of in-depth Pinterest information, and they even help you land your first client. Click on that link to find out more.
10. Sell things on eBay
With eBay, your start-up costs can be really low if you start selling items from around your house (what most expert sellers recommend). I have a bunch of readers in my M$M FB community who sell on eBay as an additional stream of income. One of them made nearly $85,000 in a single year!
Here are some tips to help you start selling things on eBay:
- Start selling items around your house (low cost and time investment)
- Starting with items that are $10 or less can help you bank some good reviews
- Sell what you know and pick a niche
- Invest in a postage scale
- Watch what you spend on packing material
- Get involved with online selling communities through blogs, Facebook, and YouTube
Here are some of the best things to sell on eBay for even more tips.
11. Flip furniture
If you’ve ever seen furniture sitting on the curb around your neighborhood and thought, “hey, all that needs is to be refinished,” then flipping furniture would be a good way to add an extra stream of income.
You find furniture sitting on the curb, at garage sales, and at thrift stores, then you bring it back to life with new paint, hardware, etc.
Costs are really low on this, and while there is a time investment, a lot of people enjoy this kind of work.
Facebook marketplace or Craiglist are great places to sell your flips. Once you really know what you’re doing, you could build your own website, blog about it, or open an online or brick and mortar store.
How you build multiple streams of income
Most millionaires have seven streams of income, but it’s not like they got them all at once and then immediately became rich… you know that.
What happens is that one extra stream of income helps them create another, then another, etc.
They can stack on top of each other. You can outsource lower earning ones to still keep some of that income, but now those lower streams feel more passive.
Here’s one example of what that might look like for you:
- Start running Facebook ads and earn an extra $1,500 per month
- Set that money aside to purchase a rental property
- Also throw some of that money into the stock market
- Use income from first rental property to buy another one
- Really enjoy real estate investing and start a blog that teaches other people how to do the same
- Blog income grows and you create and sell a course about real estate investing
At this point, your Facebook ads income is still running in the background, you just outsource it. All of your property management is now outsourced too. You can outsource a bunch of the blog stuff as well. And everything is earning you money in the background.
It takes you a while to get it all up and running. But, you’ve got 5+ sources income right there, and maybe you’re still doing all of this on top of your day job.
Not going to lie, the energy output is intense in the beginning, but this is how people quit their jobs to do more of what they love, which brings me to…
How I earn money through multiple streams of income
I currently earn income from five different sources, and even though a few of them are pretty closely connected to my blog, they’re diverse enough to give me a little peace of mind if something major did happen to my blog.
Here’s how I earn money… and please remember that I was a high school band director until just a few years ago (so if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you to create multiple income streams as well):
- $3,500/month from my digital marketing agency. Now managed by my assistant, and I rarely have to jump in to put out any fires (which is what happens when you hire great people).
- $1,000+/month in display ad revenue. This is completely passive now because all of that content was generated months ago.
- $2,000-$4,000/month in affiliate revenue. I haven’t done much to grow my affiliate income in the past few months, so this was definitely passive for the last year or so. My goal is to significantly increase it by the end of the year, so it has turned back into an active task in my business.
- $50,000-$100,000+/month in course revenue. Even though it’s becoming more passive over time, it took a lot of learning and implementation to get to the point that I was able to build my courses. This revenue comes from my other business, Laptop Empires.
- $25,000-$30,000/month in recurring group membership for my courses. Between my business partner and I, we probably spend about 3-4 hours each per month on this answering questions, doing live training videos every week, and helping people troubleshoot problems.
If that sounds crazy, I get it. I still think it’s kind of insane and I know that I'm an extreme example.
But, that’s the power of multiple streams of income. They take a ton of work, but when you stack them on top of each other and leverage one for another, you can really increase your earnings and change your life. I've seen so many M$M readers build several streams of income over the years through various ventures and investments, which is why I know it's possible for you to do it too.