Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest, having emerged onto the scene just within the last few years. Most people have heard of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and a very similar concept exists for real estate. Developers are always looking to raise capital to fund their projects. Through the various online platforms, investors have access to these projects and can choose to invest in both residential and commercial properties. See the List of My Favorite Crowdfunding Sites.
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While it is important to find something that you love to do and turn it into a money making business, you do have to be cognizant of the return as you pointed out. There are many opportunities that I found and tried out that at the time seemed great. But when I took a step back, I realized that I was working a lot for very little income whereas other things I love doing brought in much more money.
7) Never Withdraw From Your Financial Nut. The biggest downfall I see from people looking to build passive income is that they withdraw from their financial nut too soon. There’s somehow always an emergency which eats away at the positive effects of compounding returns. Make sure your money is invested and not just sitting in your savings account. The harder to access your money, the better. Make it your mission to always contribute X amount every month and consistently increase the savings amount by a percentage or several until it hurts. Pause for a month or two and then keep going. You’ll be amazed how much you can save. You just won’t know because you’ve likely never tested savings limits to the max.
Add Leverage (Mortgage) and you greatly increase the ROI especially from the perspective of using Rents (other peoples money) to pay down the mortgage and increase your equity in the property over time. At this point then yes price appreciation is secondary bonus and we have an arguement of how and why Real Estate can be better than Growth Stocks in some scenarios and for some investors.

​I’ve been into home décor lately and I had to turn to Etsy to find exactly what I wanted. I ended up purchasing digital files of the artwork I wanted printed out! The seller had made a bunch of wall art, digitized, and listed it on Etsy for instant download. There are other popular digital files on Etsy as well such as monthly planners. If you’re into graphic design this could be an amazing passive income idea for you.
As for me, I started focusing on passive income last year, but have owned rentals for 5 years. $25k now outside retirement accounts in mostly real estate. Looking to invest another $500k cash into real estate to get about $65k, and then 1031 under performers next year to hopefully boost that a bit higher. Heavy in real estate, but feels lower risk than the stock market to me if you have cashflowing properties. Real estate is inflation adjusted, and built in cashflow raise when the loan pays off.
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One word of advice, and something I intend to do once I have the money saved up, is to build or buy out property that can support apartments or townhomes. One tough mistake some people make is buying a pair of homes to rent out and they get a nice $2,000-$3,000 a month but that’s it. Buying a house is expensive and the rental prices keep lower income families from potentially coming to you with their money to rent. If you have an acre to work with (more or less is OK too) you should be talking to a contractor to build apartments or townhomes. You will make a little less per unit BUT your audience grows significantly because now you can have college students, single parents, older folks, etc. all able to afford your rental units AND instead of capturing one $1,000-$1,500 a month payments, you can probably charge $700 a month per unit (or more, depending on the market) and build maybe 3, 4, 5, 10 units for the price of a home or two and now you’re making something like $2,100-$10,000 a month. It all depends on what you have to invest but if you’ve got $250,000+ I’d highly suggest you talk to a bank/investor that can get you in touch with a good contractor to build on a property and get permits and take out a matching $250,000 loan (I’ve read that $500,000 is plenty to build a good amount of apartments to start) and you can fill up your apartments and make a killing every month. You’ll have more tenants to deal with but if you’re competitive with your pricing you won’t have a hard time keeping tenants or replacing them.