The Productive Mindset Around Passive Income

Do you have the right mindset around passive income?




Passive Income is the dream, right? Somehow, with some secret knowledge you can become instantly rich through passive income. 

I see these articles all over my social media accounts, and I get tempted to click just like everyone else does. And really, that’s why I tried to come up with a sensible title rather than clickbait or even a numbered list. 

I don’t believe in passive income.

I’m not sure I can think of any legal ways to general truly passive income. All income requires input – either lots of money, tons of time, or hard work. I’m not trying to be a downer here, I promise. But even winning the lottery requires you to pay for your ticket.

The problem with calling it passive income

What gets named “passive income” is usually an income stream that you create (read “work” or “buy”) that produces income that isn’t based on trading a unit of work for a unit of money. I’m not sure I can think of a better name for it, though. “Asynchronous income”?  Probably not.

The big benefit of these income streams is that you can create them on your own time schedule or save up to purchase them bit by bit. You’re in control of how you set up these income streams.

And this is perfect for busy, business-owning moms. Generally, we do have time to work and can produce professional-grade work. It just doesn’t fit into the corporate work time constraints.

But, when you hear, “passive” income, you may not be prepared for the hard work that must be done to get that income stream. If you’re not prepared for the work, you might give up before it starts to pay off. If you get started, and realize the work required, and think you’re doing it wrong, you might be discouraged. 

That’s why the name’s trouble. It makes it sound like there’s some magical, easy way. And if you’re running into any actual work, you’re doing it wrong. 

Instead, know that to get the future payoff you want (and I mean, who doesn’t?) you have to have to be prepared to work for it.

I see 3 main areas of passive income that business-owning moms might want to think about – buying things, renting out things, and selling things.

Buying things to create passive income

If you want the most passive income possible, simply purchase an income-producing asset. Somehow, though, you’re going to have to earn the money to buy the asset. So you have to do your work far in advance of your asset purchase, or make tiny, fractional purchases over time. 

Plus, when you buy income producing things, your will either have to wait for the asset to appreciate and sell it to realize your income (like selling a stock), or you will get a small amount of income periodically (like rental income).

Most of these assets will appreciate over time, given enough time. However, investing comes with a significant risk as well. Be sure to evaluate the risk of each purchase with your financial advisor.

Mindset around passive income #1:

The mindset you’ll need for income from purchased things is knowing you’ll have to trade the purchasing power of your money now for more income in the future. 

Here are some examples:

Real estate 

You can purchase real estate outright, you can borrow to purchase, or you can even purchase shares of rental properties. You can rent out your property (see below) and you can generally expect a return when you sell if you hold it long enough. Not every property appreciates in your time frame though, so you have to be prepared to have your money tied up for a while.

Stocks & bonds 

Like real estate, when you purchase stocks and bonds, you’re looking for those assets to appreciate. Historically, over time, they do. But you again you have to be prepared for the market to rise and fall while you hold on for the long term. Some folks claim to be able to make money day trading – buying and selling frequently, taking advantage of small price differences. But that’s anything but passive!

In addition, many stocks will pay dividends and bonds pay interest, so you could be getting monthly or quarterly income just for owning these assets. I own one stock that pays dividends sometimes, but not always, so you have be aware of their different payment schedules.


You can buy an ongoing business and if it earns enough, you can hire managers to run it entirely. 

Peer to peer lending

When you lend money, the borrowers pay you back, plus extra, which is the interest. There are some online companies now who facilitate this and help you specialize in your lending, such as Kiva and Upstart.

Savings account

Speaking of lending money, when you open a savings account, or buy a certificate of deposit, you’re lending money to your bank. They must pay you back and pay you interest for the use of your money. You won’t make a lot with your local bank, but this is one of the few ways to invest with a guarantee that you won’t lose your money.

“Stuff” to sell later

You can buy up goods to sell later, such as gold and silver, gems, collectibles, and antiques. There’s no guarantee that these things will appreciate, or in the case of collectibles and antiques, even survive. But plenty of people still do this. I think if you love to live with your collections, and it’s just an added bonus that you can make a little money, then awesome. Otherwise, you’re risking your money here. Prices of everything fluctuate, even gold and silver.

Rent out things you already own

If you currently own a lot of things, but are short on free cash, you could rent out items you already own to bring in relatively passive income. This often comes with work and time spent prepping, advertising, customer service, and maintenance.

You could even have significant costs involved if you work through a third party vendor, like AirBnB to rent out an apartment, or use a management company. Those aren’t deterrents. In fact, if you value time over money, these are great services to pay for. Just be sure your rental fees cover the expenses you’re going to incur and that you have the right kinds of insurance!

Mindset around passive income #2:

The mindset required for renting out items you already own is knowing there is ongoing work involved, just not tied to work-day hours.

Here are some ideas to create rental income:


If you own real estate that you’re not currently occupying, you can of course rent it out. Your success though depends on so many variables. You have to make sure your rents cover your expenses, you have to make sure you screen your renters well, and you have to keep up with maintenance and cleaning between tenants.

You can also think about renting out your space in the short-term with services like AirBnB and VRBO. You’ll have more administrative and cleaning expenses, but you can charge more as well. Personally, I like this model for a vacation property that you want to use a few weeks of the year. 


Yes! You can now rent out your car in an AirBnB fashion, with companies like GetAround and Turo. 


Do you have extra space in rooms, garages, barns, warehouses? You can rent the space for storage.


Do you have a hot dog cart, tools, pressure washer, bobcat? You can rent out equipment for people to use. You’ll have a bit more work with this one, but the tools can earn again and again.

Pin this to your mindset or passive income board on Pinterest to make sure you don’t forget!

develop a productive mindset around passive income

Selling things to make passive income

You can make quite a large income from selling things – your own products and other people’s products. And you can even pay other platforms to sell your products. You can automate your sales processes, so that you don’t have to be present for the actual sale.

But, you have to do a lot of work to create products to sell (except for the affiliate products). You have to invest the time to build an automated sales system or pay someone else to do it. And you have to continually promote those products. All of this work, though, can be done on your own schedule. You don’t have to be present to make the sales. These sales CAN happen while you sleep, if you’ve put the work in ahead of time.

Mindset around passive income #3:

The mindset you need for selling things on automation is knowing there is a ton of work upfront, but everything is on your own time & schedule.

Products you can create and sell on automation are pretty unlimited, but here are some ideas to get you started:

Affiliate sales

When you sell products created by other people and they give you a commission or referral fee for each sale, that’s affiliate sales. If you’re already making product and service recommendations to your clients and your audience, sign up for affiliate programs to get paid for that work. 

Affiliate sales are pretty close to passive income, especially if you aren’t doing any additional work. If you’re already recommending these products to folks then you can be paid for what you’re already doing.

But, if you’re not already making recommendations, you’ll have to start! You may even need to build an audience, which is hard work. If you want to earn significant money will affiliate products, you’ll need to promote them with content, campaigns, testimonials, and tutorials. 

Digital sales on automation

If you have digital products or can create them, you can sell them through automated systems that you build online (or have someone build them for you. Hint: me!). A lot goes into building a digital product and setting up a sales system, but once you have it in place, THIS is how you make sales in your sleep. The hard work is done upfront, but the sales can continue to come in for a long time.

Sales through 3rd party marketplaces

This option is a great one for designers and artists. I like this model a lot. You upload your designs to sites like Society6, Redbubble, or CafePress. You can select physical products to put your designs on and sell through those sites. They take care of the sales transaction, the production, and the distribution, then they pay you a percentage of the sales.

Again, like affiliate sales, you’re going to have to do your own promotion if you hope to make some money with this. But, promotion for these types of products is easy to automate once you take the time to set up some systems.

Passive income isn’t so passive

Every single one of these ideas takes work. Or a whole lot of money (which, presumably, you had to work for). But, because you don’t have to work office hours or be in a physical location, and because you can do a lot of this from a smartphone, these can be wonderful cash flow ideas for your business. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking they’re actually passive.

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

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