14 Income Producing Assets to Build, Buy, and Bank On (Starting for Free)


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Income producing assets are things you own (or control) that pay you every month, quarter, or year.

In this post, I’ll share some of the best income producing assets you can build or acquire — starting on the side.

These selections are based on:

  • 15+ years building income-producing assets online
  • 20+ years as an investor in income producing assets
  • 500+ interviews with successful side hustlers

You’ve probably heard the saying that it “takes money to make money,” but that’s not always true. Sure, starting with money will help, but you can also create income producing assets with a little sweat equity.

Ready? Let’s do it!

1. Real Estate

income producing assets

Real estate can be a great income producing asset, and comes in all shapes and sizes.

A common example would be buying an investment property and renting it out. You profit on the spread between the monthly rent and your expenses (mortgage, insurance, maintenance, etc.). 

It’s a realistic way to build both cash flow and long-term wealth.

The downside is … houses are expensive!

Thankfully, new platforms like Arrived make it easy to invest in income-generating properties—with as little as $100.

arrived real estate

The company pools money to buy rental properties, manages them, and then distributes the cash flow every month.

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Pros:
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  • Completely hands-off
  • Low minimum investment ($100)
Cons:
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  • Not super diversified
  • Listings can sell out quickly
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We’ve covered lots of real estate side hustles, but rental income is one of the most common income streams of millionaires.

One example came from Dustin Heiner. When we spoke, he’d built his rental portfolio to 30+ properties and only works for 30 minutes a month.

YouTube video

2. Dividend Stocks

Dividend stocks are another popular income-generating asset. Dividends are a portion of the company’s profits they pay out to shareholders.

But not every company pays a dividend — and some pay more than others.

One strategy is to buy shares in companies with long histories of paying—and increasing—dividends. These include name-brand businesses like Target, Chevron, AT&T, and Proctor and Gamble.

passive income from dividends

These “boring” old companies aren’t likely to have explosive share price growth, but they do spin off consistent passive cash flow.

Think of it this way — every time Coca-Cola sells a soda, the shareholders get a portion of the profits. And you didn’t have to do any work for it!

That’s true passive income.

Over the last few years, I’ve built up my dividend income stream to over $2,000 a month.

Check out a service like the modern brokerage M1 Finance to get started yourself.

m1 finance

You can trade stocks for free, or select one of their pre-built portfolios. 

3. Bonds

Where dividend stocks give you an ownership stake in a company, bonds are a different kind of income generating asset.

A bond is like a loan you give to a company or government. In return, they promise to pay you back with interest.

That interest is what produces the income from bonds, but bonds — like stocks — can also gain or lose value as well. Bonds are preferred by investors looking for reliable income, with less volatility. 

4. Websites

There’s a lot to learn to turn a website into an income generating asset, but when it works, it can be extremely lucrative.

For example:

Their sites are monetized with advertising, affiliate partnerships, and product sales.

And the cool part about that? All of those easily scale as your traffic grows.

Want to start a blog of your own? Check out my free 6-part video course on how to start your own site.

(Building a site from scratch is just one option. Flippa is a leading marketplace to shop for websites that are already producing income.)

Pros:

Low startup costs

Great long-term earning power

Can sell the business down the road

Cons:

Slow to see results

Lots of skills to learn

5. Equipment and Vehicles

Lenny Tim earns around $3,000 per month renting mobility scooters and wheelchairs in the LA area.

This category is a low-overhead way to get started generating extra income. Lenny bought his first mobility scooter used for around $500 on Facebook Marketplace.

He explained, “I get my money back within 1-3 rentals,” and has expanded his “fleet” since then.

What other equipment could you rent out?

There are marketplaces that specialize in renting out:

6. Digital Products

A digital product could be a book, an online course, or even something as simple as a spreadsheet or checklist.

What I love about these income generating assets is you can create it once and sell it over and over again.

For example, Emily McDermott reported earning $250k selling spreadsheets on Etsy.

Becky Beach, on the other hand, uses AI like ChatGPT to develop digital product ideas in her niche.

etsy printables

What’s a printable? Think digital files like:

  • habit trackers
  • meal planners
  • budget templates
  • chore charts
  • intake forms
  • and more

When you upload those printable files to Etsy, you can reach a worldwide audience of buyers — and delivery is all automated online.

Here’s a free guide to the best-selling digital products month-by-month to get your creative juices flowing.

7. Royalties

Royalties are another common income stream among millionaires — and you don’t have to be Taylor Swift to earn them.

The way this income generating asset works is you earn a small amount every time your work is used or purchased.

For example, I’ve self-published several books and earn author royalties every month from Amazon:

self-publishing side hustle income

Another way to earn royalties is through product licensing. In this model, you sell your product idea to a larger company in exchange for a percentage of future sales. 

For example, Nate Dallas and his brother licensed a Pictionary-inspired card game to Mattel.

The duo (a dentist and a preacher) didn’t have to design it, produce it, or sell it—but they found someone who could—and split an eventual $300,000 in royalties!

It doesn’t require any capital and you’re basically renting your idea to a company.

Other things you can license:

You can even buy future royalty rights on sites like Royalty Exchange.

8. Vending Machines

Vending machines are super popular income producing assets. While you’ll pay upfront for the machine and the inventory, they can make sales 24/7 without you around.

If you find a good location, they can easily generate $500+ per month in profit. 

The other cool thing about the vending business is it’s low-risk. If one location isn’t working, you can pack up your machine and try somewhere else — something that would be much more expensive if it were a brick-and-mortar store.

For example, Mike Hoffman operates a network of 15 vending machines, generating thousands of dollars per month.

9. Small Businesses

We’ve already covered how you can buy a share of business profits through dividend investing, but that only works for big, public companies.

Another way to generate income is to buy a smaller business near you.

For example, Hannah Ingram bought a self-service car wash in Tennessee. Even better, she negotiated a seller financing sale so she was able to close with no money down. (She paid for it from the cash flow of the business.)

After taking ownership, she set out to improve the operation and now earns around $5k a month — in exchange for about 30 minutes of work a day.

Jono Santamaria just applied a little bit of digital marketing savvy to the laundromat he bought and tripled revenue in the first year.

 Sites that list businesses for sale include:

With SBA financing, you can acquire a profitable business with as little as 10% down.

10. Video Content

One of the most accessible income producing assets is video content. Anyone with a smartphone can begin creating videos that ultimately make money.

If you have over 1000 subscribers and meet a couple other requirements on your YouTube channel, you can enable ads and start to get paid.

Lately, this passive income steam has been around $400 a month:

youtube ad income

To be sure, it takes time to create the videos, but once they’re uploaded, they can earn passive income for years—as some of mine have.

Another unique video-based side hustle is reviewing products as part of the Amazon Influencer Program.

In this program, you create short video product reviews of items that are sold on Amazon. Amazon puts your videos on the relevant product pages, and — when someone buys the product after watching your video — rewards you with a small commission.

After you upload, those videos become income-producing assets for you. For example, Jon Corres and Tyler Christensen reported earning up to $2,000 a month doing this part-time after just a few months of uploading videos.

You do need to have some level of social media following to qualify, but you don’t need millions of followers to be accepted.

Suggested Playlist: Make Money Online

Here are some creative and inspiring ways you can make money online.

Add to Spotify

11. Billboards

Billboards are another asset that can pay you every month. Chris Brown owns around 30 billboard “faces”, and likes to set advertisers up on a 12-month terms.

You can buy an existing billboard, or set up your own by buying or leasing the space from a land owner. Each one can earn up to $5000 a month — depending on how much traffic drives by every day.

12. Cash

It might sound a little weird, but the cash in your wallet or bank account can actually be an income producing asset on its own.

How does it work?

By putting your cash into a high yield savings account or certificate of deposit, you can earn interest on your money.

Of course interest rates fluctuate all the time, but this is a low risk way to generate some extra income.

13. Your Smartphone

One overlooked income generating asset is your phone. There are dozens of apps that pay you real money for sharing your data usage, location, and other habits.

Here are a few that might be worth a look.

Caden (iOS)

Caden is one of my newest finds, and is earning me over $10 a month on autopilot

caden app

The app itself is a little slow and buggy, but may be worth those small headaches for some relatively easy passive income.

At press time, it was iOS only. Check out our full Caden app review to learn more.

MobileXpression

MobileXpression is a market research panel that pays you for data from your mobile phone.

make extra money with mobilexpression

After you download the app, it works in the background recording your browsing habits. You’ll earn weekly credits redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers.

Realistically, this is probably worth around $20 a year. And you’ll earn a free $5 gift card after your first week.

Pogo

By sharing your location and credit card transaction data with Pogo, you’ll earn points that you can cash out to PayPal or Venmo.

pogo app screenshots

Just enable location tracking and link your bank account credentials when you sign up. Based on my results so far, I expect Pogo to be worth around $5-20 a year.

Check out my full Pogo app review to learn more.

14. Your Credit Card

You pay the same price at most places whether you pay with cash or a credit card, so you might as well get 1-5% cash back from credit card rewards.

According to Yahoo Finance, the average American spends over $1500 a month on their credit card. Even if you get just 1% cash back, that’s worth an extra $180 a year — just for spending like you normally would.

Here are some of the best cash back cards available today.

What’s the Best Income Producing Asset for You?

With a little time, effort, and money, you can start stacking up income producing assets.

And once income from assets you control exceeds your monthly expenses, you’re financially free!

Which path you choose depends on your goals, interests, and how much you have to invest. But stay focused and you’ll start to feel the magic of making money that didn’t come directly from a job.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

Usually Hustling, Occasionally Social

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