When boiled down to its essence, the American dream is about making money. Whether it’s working hard for decades in order to retire in relative comfort in your golden years; getting lucky and making millions in your Twenties or Thirties; or anything in-between, the pursuit of happiness typically equates to the pursuit of cash.

Believe it or not, some people like the idea of working 9 – 5, building up savings and going about their lives in a scheduled and regulated manner.

For everyone else, we’ve got ways you can make money while you’re literally unconscious.

We aren’t talking about sleep research studies (although, if you can find one, that is a legitimate way to literally make money while you sleep); we’re talking about revenue streams known as Passive Income.

Take the story of the little red hen. She plants wheat, takes care of it, harvests it, processes it, cooks it, and has a loaf of bread. She worked for a specific end and enjoyed the fruits of her labor. That’s direct income. In order to plant that wheat in the first place, she had to pay the landowner (probably more than once) to rent that property. The rent the landowner collects would be passive income. The landowner made an investment that pays without any further work on their part – hence, passive.

While property ownership is a great means of passive income, there are plenty of other options for people who aren’t exactly rolling in the dough.

Peer to Peer Lending

The higher the risk, the higher the potential reward; that is the brass tax of investments. If you’re looking for a way to invest small to moderate amounts of money in a relatively low-risk environment, then peer to peer lending might be for you.

In the past few years, there have been several sites that connect potential lenders with potential borrowers. These transactions are typically anonymous and facilitated by the site itself to get funds to people who need them while minimizing risk to the lenders. You make money as a lender through interest payments as your money is repaid.

P2P lending differentiates itself from investing in the stock market in many ways. The most substantial being, you can’t simply back out if you get cold feet about an investment. This can prevent premature worry-selling.

While it still comes with the same risks of any other investment, (thus far) P2P lending has managed to maintain overwhelmingly positive rate of returns for its lenders.

Real Estate

Real estate is effectively the granddaddy of investments. If you can make it work, you can be set for life. Unfortunately for most people, the costs of acquiring property are more than a little prohibitive.

The internet has put massive dents in that barrier to entry in recent years. Ever heard of a REIT? It stands for Real Estate Investment Trust. Instead of shelling out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a property, you can buy shares in that property with a bunch of other people. As the property starts to turn a profit, so do you.

The appeal is that you can invest as much or as little as you like and still potentially turn a profit in a market that was, until recently, exclusively for property owners.

Airbnb offers a somewhat similar service. If you have extra space, you can make money by renting it out. You get to set terms you are comfortable with. Airbnb also offers up to one million dollars in insurance in case of damage to provide their hosts with peace of mind.

It’s important to note, if you’re a renter and you use Airbnb to host on property that doesn’t legally belong to you, you are almost certainly in breach of your lease and can be evicted for it. You have to decide if that’s a risk you feel is worth taking.

High-Yield Saving Accounts

Did you know you could make money by saving it? Not in some philosophical ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ sense, but legitimately making money from saving money. Don’t get too excited, you’re probably only looking at about 1.5% interest, and you’ll only find that at certain (typically online) banks. The selling point is that you don’t have to worry about losing anything.

It also depends how much you put in. If you put in 500 bucks, a 1.5 annual interest rate may seem negligible. If you put in $50,000, things get more interesting. Another major difference is that, unlike the rest of these investment opportunities, when you put your money in a high-yield savings account at no point does it stop being yours.

Create an Internet Presence

This is the one that will likely require the most upfront effort without the guarantee of success. However, you don’t need thousands of dollars to do it.

Start a blog, start a YouTube channel, create a space that is your own and find a way to get an audience to it. Advertisers want to be where the people are. If people are around you, that’s where they will want to be too. They will pay to put their ads on your space. This is called affiliate marketing.

This is a far more lucrative venture for content creators than freelance contracting. Which would you rather do? Write 2,500 for maybe $50 once or get paid every time someone comes across your page indefinitely? If you can get people to your page the sky is the limit how much you can make. Now imagine you have a bunch of pages set up this way all funneling money to you.


You probably won’t get rich from any of these overnight. Some of them can take years to start really showing considerable rewards. But all of them can make you money while your attention is elsewhere. They may take a lot of initial effort and you may need to tend to them from time to time like a garden. But the long-term benefits are nothing to sleep on.