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5 Passive Income Business Models That Go Beyond Digital Products

passive income
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Here on the blog and on Instagram, I talk a lot about making passive income by selling things like Canva templates. And with good reason! I love Canva because it’s an excellent tool for creating and selling digital products. So much so that I built my own business on it, and that business now allows me to help other business owners and entrepreneurs create their own passive income streams.

But here’s a secret: Selling Canva templates isn’t the only way you can bring in passive income. Far from it! If Canva isn’t for you or digital templates just aren’t your thing, worry not. The following passive income business models may be a better fit for you and your brand.




When people say “passive income,” this is often what comes to mind first. Courses are wildly popular nowadays. Who didn’t want to learn a new skill or hobby while quarantined at home in 2020? 

Courses aren’t necessarily passive income, though — at least not completely. They require some ongoing maintenance and possibly more resources to plan and execute them. But when you pick a good topic and create stellar course content, your course is more likely to do well.

Your course can also be customized to your business and how much time and energy you’re willing to invest. You can create anything from a short how-to course that’ll give your student a quick win, or a longer, in-depth course on an entire process.

The popularity of courses is a benefit, but it can also be a drawback. Depending on your business and what your course teaches, you may need to stand out from a lot of competitors selling similar content. For example, we knew that a ton of people had created courses about, well, creating courses. But we hadn’t seen anyone create a course about how to use Canva to create passive income — thus the Canva Product Creator Kit was born!

Another note about courses: If you’re not familiar with the tech required to build, host, and sell your course (like Kajabi*), you’ll need to spend extra time learning it all and setting it up.

* This is an affiliate link. I may earn a commission from your purchase, but it doesn’t affect your price or the cost of the platform at all!



Do you have a large library of templates, workbooks, video trainings, and other valuable resources? Why not sell access to your resources with a membership? Do you wish you could serve more people with your great tips or content, but can’t serve them all 1:1? That’s the perfect reason to start a membership! 

Why? Because memberships create a sense of exclusivity and FOMO by putting your valuable content behind a paywall. 

You can set up a membership in different ways, too. If you primarily want to bring your target audience together into one group, a community membership where members can chat and attend events together may be your best bet. Or, if you’re a service provider like a coach, you could offer a support membership to stay in touch with your clients.

The flexibility of a membership is a big benefit. You can charge monthly, quarterly, yearly, or offer different subscription models and tiers. It’s easy to scale and customize, too. However, think about how much content you’d need to create continuously to satisfy your paying members. 

I recently changed my own membership at The Canva Template Shop from a “subscription model,” where people could pay by the month and get new products dropped each month, to an all-access pass where they can access all past graphics and anything new we create in the future. This allows us to share our best designs (we sell Canva templates) while also making sure our members have what they need.


Affiliate marketing

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, it’s a way to get paid to promote another brand or product in your content. Affiliate marketing is a big industry these days; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that advertisers will spend over $8 billion in affiliate marketing by this year!

Affiliate marketing is an awesome option if you’re short on time and resources and can’t set up an entirely new offer. Instead, you make money by earning a commission for every sale driven from your content to the brand’s site. If you have a strong online presence and love focusing on blog, social media, or video content, this might be the passive income business model for you.

There are a couple of downsides, though. To earn more, you’ll need to promote more. And that means promoting someone else’s products or services — not yours. Your affiliate marketing promotions may not align with your own offers, so you may miss out on opportunities to market your own biz.


Other passive income business models to consider

Feeling kinda meh about courses, memberships, or affiliate marketing? Or maybe they’re not the right option for you right now? Here are a few other ideas to inspire you:


  • Paid ads. Do you have a blog or YouTube channel with a decent following? Ads can bring in extra income. You might even work your way up to sponsored posts or videos. If you’re already investing a good chunk of your time and energy into your platform, this option doesn’t require much else to get started. 

  • Sell your designs. You can sell digital prints of your artwork or sell your photography to a stock photo organization, but why not sell physical items with your designs on them, too? Work with a printing partner like RedBubble or Zazzle, and you don’t have to worry about buying merch and printing the items yourself.
  • Create digital products. Okay, I couldn’t help it! Selling digital products to bring in passive income is near and dear to my heart. There are so many products to choose from, like templates and roadmaps and graphics, and more. Just remember to create an offer that aligns with your business, and really take your time to figure out your product.  


Choose the passive income business model that feels right to you

This is what I love about creating passive income. There are so many different ways to do it so that it works for you and your business! When you find that passive income model that really speaks to you, it’ll be that much easier to stay motivated and tackle the work upfront.  

I hope that this blog helped you discover the passive income business model that’ll help you reach your goals this year. Passive income is not just about digital products — there’s a whole world of passive income opportunities out there.

If you’ve picked a business model and aren’t sure what to do next, or maybe you’re still searching for “the one,” I can help. Schedule a Possibility Intensive with me today and we can figure it out together!

A Passive Income Possibility Call is a 60-minute intensive call with me, where we’ll discuss your passive product options and map out a plan to bring them to life, while staying true to your business. Schedule a call today and let’s get started!

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