Passive income is a hotly discussed topic, and for good reason. Hypothetically, with the right passive income strategy, you could be capable of generating significant volumes of revenue every month without lifting a finger to work for it.

It’s a beautiful idea, and one that most of us would be willing to chase.

However, the realities of passive income generation are a bit more complex than investing moguls and finance influencers would like you to believe. If you’re going to make a passive income strategy work, you need to have all the right ingredients in place.

The Passive Income Strategy

Let’s start by talking about the passive income strategy as a whole. What is it about this strategy that is so compelling for investors and personal finance gurus?

For most of us, the primary way to make money is to do work. The basic idea is to generate income without having to work.

Perhaps you make a salary contingent on your ability to work full-time, or perhaps you make money on an hourly basis. In either scenario, you have to contribute many hours of work to get the money you need.

With passive income, this time expenditure is not necessary; the money just rolls in. It sounds like a ridiculous dream, but it is realistically possible. The best way to understand passive income is to process it through examples.

Rental property management is one such example. In this strategy, you’ll purchase a property to add to your portfolio. Then, you’ll secure a tenant to rent it, and you’ll collect monthly rental income from them.

You’ll incur monthly expenses, including your mortgage payment, maintenance, and repair requests. However, the rental income should more than make up for all of these. So, for the most part, you’ll be turning a profit without spending much time or effort.

As you can already see from this example, it’s easy to exaggerate just how passive your passive income strategy can be.

The Problems With Passive Income

However, there are several problems with passive income as a concept. If you try to make money without working, you’ll note that some of the following situations occur.

Startup Time Requirements

First, you need to think about startup time requirements. Many passive income strategies require you to do some heavy lifting up front. At a minimum, you should be researching your opportunities before pursuing them and learning more about this particular topic. Depending on which passive income strategies you choose, you could spend dozens to hundreds of hours laying the groundwork necessary to get your operation up and running.

Ongoing Time Requirements.

Beyond that, you’ll need to spend at least some time managing your passive income as it rolls in. You may not be required to work a full 40 hours each week, but you will need to measure and analyze your progress, take care of any hiccups, and make adjustments if the situations responsible for generating your income begin to change.

Capital Requirements

In some passive income strategies, you’ll need a sum of capital to get started. For example, you may be interested in investing in stocks. Certain stocks pay out quarterly dividends, allowing you to make money passively just by owning these stocks indefinitely. However, you’ll still need enough money to buy these stocks initially. For example, if you want to generate $30,000 per year, and you found a stock that pays 3 percent of its value per year in dividends, you’ll need to own $1,000,000 of this stock to make that work.


Many newcomers to the passive income strategic world suffer from overconfidence. They were told that they could make money without having to put in any work, so they underestimated the requirements necessary to generate this type of money. Unhealthy expectations can compromise your potential.

How to Make Passive Income Work

So what exactly does it take to make a passive income strategy work?

Focus on the long term.

For starters, you need to focus on the long term. Passive income is best utilized as a comprehensive strategy and one that can fuel you for decades. The first few months and even the first few years of your efforts may not fully pay off. Setting reasonable expectations about how and when you’re going to start to make money will help you see things more clearly and make more objective, focused decisions.

Ground yourself with a solid career.

For many people interested in passive income, the ultimate goal is to retire and live off the income generated by their assets and strategic holdings. However, before you get to that point, it’s a good idea to ground yourself with a solid career. Making money the conventional way is a great way to build up your available capital so that you can fund more significant and better investments. It’s also a great fallback if your passive income strategies fall through.

Start with a plan.

Whether you’re building a website, buying property, or something totally different, starting with a plan is essential. You can’t blindly jump into a passive income strategy and expect to make money consistently or reliably. Instead, you need to spend hours doing your research, talking to experts, and coming up with a high-level approach that can work.

Diversify your income streams.

If you’re going to get into passive income, it pays to pursue different types of passive income generation. Just as you would diversify an investment portfolio, it’s important to diversify your income streams. This way, you’re not totally dependent on any one source of income; if you suffer losses in any one area, you’ll have plenty of other income sources to supplement it.

Learn from the experts.

Few people are lucky or naturally talented enough to make passive income work for them initially, with no outside influence whatsoever. Instead, most people build their strategies from the ground up by relying on expert advice from seasoned veterans.

Read books, listen to podcasts, visit blogs, and engage with influencers in your chosen area so that you can immerse yourself in new knowledge and perfect your skills. You also shouldn’t think of this as a one-time deal. Learning from more experienced experts is a great way to continue polishing your skills indefinitely, especially if you plan on adding new sources of passive income to your portfolio.

Measure and scrutinize your results.

Put some sort of system in place to measure and analyze your results.

  • Total the amount of money you are making from each of your passive income streams.
  • How much money are they costing you?
  • How much time are you spending on each of these revenue streams, and how do you feel when managing them?

It’s important to fully understand the total costs and benefits associated with each of your strategic acquisitions to continue to manage them properly.

Cut what isn’t working.

You need to protect your finances carefully if you’re going to succeed in the long term. That means you need to be ruthless and cut whatever isn’t working. Unfortunately, too many people new to passive income generation fall prey to sunk cost fallacy. They want to continue holding their assets so they can maintain a chance of eventually getting value from them. But most of the time, it’s better to cut your losses and move on to something that’s more profitable.

Keep making improvements.

There’s always room to grow and improve, so keep learning and adapting your approach. As you develop as a passive income investor, you’ll get exposure to new income generation strategies, new tactics, and new ways to develop yourself; take advantage of them.

As long as you’re proactive and willing to plan, you can make a passive income strategy work for you. Of course, you may not be able to develop it overnight, and it may not turn out to be precisely what you expected, but you will be capable of making more money for less effort. And for most people, even some small, incremental steps in this direction will be more than worth the effort.

Image Credit: Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.