In 2014, I graduated college with a huge wave of medical school rejections. In search of a new career plan, I spent the next few years making money any way I could – modeling, tutoring and even working as a real estate agent.
But in 2018, I started posting personal finance videos on YouTube. It wasn’t a profitable side hustle until the pandemic hit in 2020, when a theme struck a chord: stimulus and relief efforts, and what they meant for people’s wallets.
When my videos went viral, I signed up for YouTube Adsense to further monetize my channel. That’s when my passive income journey began. In 2021, I made $1.5 million in revenue.
And this year, I’ve earned an average of $114,000 a month in passive income through my videos, online courses, and social media posts.
Here are four businesses you can start today for $99 or less:
1. Affiliate Marketing
Cost to get started: $0
Affiliate marketing is when you earn commission for promoting a brand’s products or services by sharing it on your blog, social media platform or website. You get paid every time someone clicks on the link or makes a purchase.
Since content creation is free, this type of business is very accessible. The real challenge is creating targeted content that reaches the right audience.
Let’s say you’ve started a lifestyle blog. You can use the Google Trends tool to gather data on what people are searching for in that category. You may find, for example, that there has been an increase in the number of people searching for “best hair brands”.
In that case, you might consider writing a blog or creating a YouTube video in which you test and review different hair products.
To find affiliate deals, I use management platforms like Impact Radius, Partnerstack, and Share-A-Sale. There are three things I look for in a partnership:
- It is with a reputable company that offers quality products or services. You want to promote products you are proud of and minimize the likelihood of customers returning them.
- Products have high conversion rates. This means that many people who see the product end up buying it.
- The agreement provides for a “cookie window” of 30 days or more. Cookies track how a user managed to click on a product link. Cookies remain embedded in a user’s browser for a certain duration. If a customer who first clicked on a product through you buys it within the cookie window, it is attributed to you and you are paid.
2. YouTube Adsense
Cost to get started: $0
More than half of Adsense revenue is paid to the creator and many of my older videos still generate passive income.
But you need to build an audience before signing up; Your channel needs at least 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time in the last year.
I started my channel because I had a passion for personal finance. When you have an innate passion, you will be so invested in your space that you will understand how to create quality content.
You’ll also know what consumers are looking for because you’ve already read or watched everything on your favorite topic. This is gold, especially when you beef up your market research with tools like Google Trends.
My last tip is to upload videos constantly. I currently post three to four times a week. But when I started growing my channel, I was posting almost every day.
3. Digital products
Cost to get started: $99 at Kajabi
The first step is to identify what you can learn. It could be copywriting if you have marketing and editing skills, productivity if you have a background in organizational psychology, or management if you have leadership experience.
Next, I recommend using a platform like Kajabi or Teachable to host your course. My courses are currently hosted on Kajabi, 6 Figure YouTube Academy, and Personal Branding Masterclass.
To create them, I described everything I wanted to learn in Notion, an online workspace organization tool. Then I filmed each course in my apartment using a tripod and a camera.
My courses are divided into different modules, with worksheets and PDFs, so I made them after I created the videos. I then edited and uploaded my videos to Kajabi, which also allows you to create marketing campaigns.
I built landing pages that showed visitors what they would get if they bought my courses, then collected their email addresses. I also set up automated email campaigns that reminded people to sign up.
4. Renting a room
Cost to get started: It varies depending on your situation
In 2017, my sister and I bought a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. I lived in one room and rented out the second one for $1,500 a month for two years.
Getting a roommate means you’ll have to give up some privacy, but it was worth it to me because it helped me pay off my mortgage.
Zillow allows you to host free rental applications on its website and will run background checks for you.
If you don’t want to rent out your place for a long period of time, you can put your listing on a short-term rental platform like Airbnb. That way, people can only book your place on weekends or when you’re away.
Charlie Chang is a content creator and serial entrepreneur whose mission is to educate people on personal finance and business. He is a graduate of UCLA and founder of StartupWise. Follow Charlie on Instagram AND to YouTube.