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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Mellor

General Passive Income Methods

Some of the easiest, and maybe best, ways to create passive income streams


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If you're curious what constitutes a passive income method, I have a little write-up here that should get you started!

And if you're here from the Internet and not from this website, this website is focused on traveling and digital nomadism. The methods below assume that you don't have a place that can be used as storage (for warehousing products) or live in a place where you can go door-to-door to find a store to carry your products (shirts, books, etc.).

A view of the beach and surrounding ocean in Tropea, Calabria, Italy.
Your new WFH office could be in Tropea, Calabria.

In a previous post, I discuss the variety of jobs a digital nomad can have. And while most of those are “active income” methods, i.e. actual jobs, there are also a few methods that "toe the line" between passive and active income, like being a YouTuber or podcast host. Methods that can easily be started and turned into low-impact income streams, or they can be more fully fleshed out into a primary source of income.

In this post, despite a bit of overlap, I will focus more on passive income methods that aren’t as translatable. Although there will also be that overlap

Drop shipping/wholesale

I have these grouped together because they operate in mostly the same way.

Imagine you want to start selling a specific product, like a watch (or, if you are good at following trends, you could do that instead, but it requires more effort as you’re constantly building websites to keep up with the latest fads. My example uses something more evergreen.). So you start looking around at watches online. You look at how they’re made, how they’re finished, the materials that are the hardest-wearing, or perhaps the best looking. And when you start looking into factories. Some factories don’t have any leather bands. Some only use glass watch faces, not quartz. And so the hunt continues, until you find the perfect factory to make the watch that you want.

This is how starting a business usually goes.

However, drop shipping and wholesale is a little different.

Instead of you looking for a factory that will make a watch to your specifications, you simply look for a factory already making a watch that you like. You order a sample and you find it to be a solid watch, keeps time well, it’s easy to keep clean, it looks good, and you can easily make it Instagram-worthy.

So you ask this factory (usually it’s an automatic process that doesn’t actually require you to send a message) to start producing watches for you to sell.

But because you don’t want to have a bedroom filled with watches, you also ask them to fulfill the order when someone buys one. Sounds like a deal.

You make a website, start advertising it, and the sales start to roll in. All you have to do is sit back and relax. In theory.

Drop shipping

What I described above is drop shipping in its essence. Nowadays, there are apps like Oberlo that have teamed up with Shopify to make the entire process incredibly easy. Literally all you have to do is choose a website template, plug in your “company name”, search through Oberlo listings to find a watch you like, and you’re off to the races. Shopify and Oberlo will make the website look clean and professional, they will handle the payment processing (and returns), and all you have to do is advertise and think of new website ideas which you will subsequently make through Shopify.


I know I said I wouldn't be mentioning wholesale, but I realize it would look like I don't know what I'm talking about (maybe I really don't?) if I don't mention the other side of drop shipping. Wholesale works a little differently to what I listed above. Instead of it being basically zero-effort, you do need to put up a bit of capital to get the products you want. However, once you have them, your margins will be far greater (the factory will give you a better deal for ordering in bulk and for not making them also fulfill and ship orders) and your opportunities less limited. If you want to try and sell those watches locally, you need only to start going door-to-door.

Now, because this is a travel blog, I don’t recommend traveling with a suitcase full of watches.

Truth be told, I don’t really suggest this method at all. To me, it’s peak consumerism. There’s such a little amount of oversight and care for the product. After all, you weren’t sleeping on the factory floor every night while doing your own QA. This isn’t a company you started while going to every seller’s market and like-minded store. This is just a get-rich-quick scheme with more steps.

Yes, you might have an amazing drop shipping idea. And, with the right product, it could work. But getting factories to mass-produce the same item that hundreds of companies are already selling is just wasteful. This is especially obvious with products like watches, because drop-shipping factories will typically give you promo photos to use for your product, sometimes with your brand name Photoshopped into them. And while the photos look good at first, you’ll start noticing you’re not the only one who is using the same product just with a different name.


Like drop shipping, this has been a popular method of selling t-shirts, stickers, and knick-knacks since its inception.

Simply upload a design, choose which products you’d like it to appear on (you can even choose the placement of the design on the product, and the color of the product is it’s something like a t-shirt), and start selling.

It’s common to see these methods on websites like Etsy, where you can simply link up the print-on-demand account with your Etsy account—no middleperson (like yourself) required.

There are also dedicated websites, like Tee-Public and Redbubble, that try and grow their base of artists who use the website as a one-stop-shop for buying prints, shirts, phone cases, and mugs of their favorite artwork or design.

To me, this is a little better than drop shipping.

After all, if you’re going to have to buy a shirt anyway, isn’t it better to support as artist whose work you like than a large company like GAP with their nonsense “1907 San Francisco” or “1956 SOCCER” t-shirts that no one can decipher the meaning to?

And while the artist will typically only make a few dollars (or a few cents), it’s a good way to support the creative types while still buying clothes that have a message or theme you support.

Getting into printing-on-demand is a lot easier than it sounds. Simply start a Redbubble or TeePublic account, upload your artwork, and see what happens. Keep in mind, you will not be an overnight success. The people who are successful at this come up with hundreds of designs to sell. And if you’re thinking about making designs based on famous tv shows and movies, think again. You will receive a cease-and-desist and have to de-list those designs (I would know, I have a handful of them, thanks, Yale!).

Once you’re ready to move up in the printing world, consider moving your designs to multiple sites, and finally, places like Etsy and Amazon, where there’s a lot more traffic.

Printing-on-demand goes especially hand-in-hand with a major source of followers. If you have an Instagram account devoted to your designs, or a Twitter, use those as your biggest advertising base.

And if you do find yourself successful, and you want to move away from it being entirely passive, consider ordering a large amount of shirts to sell at events and fairs for an even bigger margin of profit.


Okay, I want to be specific here. You know those websites with generic names like “”? And they always seem have pop up when you Google (or DuckDuckGo as it is in my case) search queries like “best rake for pine needles” or “different types of rakes” or “do I really need a rake, or can I use two forks instead?”. And they will always have a blog post, sometimes only 150-200 words, with an answer waiting?

These are called “microblogs” and “microposts” they are quickly becoming more popular as we start searching for bite-sized information that quickly solves our problem. Rather than having one post with “The best kind of rakes for the best situation plus a rundown on all the different types of rakes—including forks” people (read: SEO tools) have discovered that readers are more than willing to go through three or four posts, rather than read one longer one with all the information.

And because of this, blogging can be monetized usually in one of two ways, if not both: Advertising and affiliate marketing.

Those webpages are usually packed with ads. Sidebar, insta-play videos in the corner, an anchor ad at the bottom, plus a few other ads scattered throughout the text. These websites are paid for the impressions (the amount of the times the ad is seen) and for clicks (the amount of times you accidentally click on the ad while trying to hit the “X”).

Only A Bag uses both of these methods. While we try to keep the ads the a bare minimum, we do use affiliate marketing wherever possible, since it’s more subtle.

What is affiliate marketing? This brings us to the next passive income method.

Affiliate marketing

I have a love-hate realtinship with affiliate marketing. On one hand, I hate it when people misuse it. On the other, I love it when it makes me money, which isn’t often.

Affiliate marketing, in a nutshell, is telling your readers, watchers listeners, whoever about a product that you like. They buy the product (or subscribe to the service) and you receive a small kickback for your troubles.

As you can already guess, this can get real slippery, real quickly.

Now, before I go any further, almost every company has an affiliate marketing program. After all, for them, it would almost be silly not to. Even companies that try to maintain an ethical high-ground, like Patagonia (no hate here, I love Patagonia products), have an affiliate program.

But it can become a slippery slope when people start sharing products they don’t actually use, or believe in, while maintaining this front that they do use them.

Here at Only A Bag, we genuinely try to only affiliate ourselves with products we have either used, or have tried to use but never followed through with (this is mostly for websites that sell tickets to trains or buses, and we simply never took the trip, or found a ticket elsewhere, but fully enjoyed the service).

And if you're planning on becoming an affilaite marketer, it works best when you have some kind of base of customers/clients/fans. You can start a website (like the one listed above), or a YouTube Chanel, or a podcast, or simply use your Instagram. In theory, this is a good way to make a steady "drip" of money.



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