Make Money While You Sleep: 15 Almost Self-Running Businesses

Who doesn’t want to earn passive income and make money while you sleep? The good news is that with the right business model, you can set up an (almost) self-running business that generates revenue with minimal ongoing effort. In this post, we’ll explore 15 ideas for businesses that can largely run themselves once established.

Whether you want to test out entrepreneurship or supplement your income, these automated business concepts can help you build assets and make money in your sleep.

Let’s explore 15 ideas to make money in your sleep:

Digital Products

1. Info Products

Selling online courses, ebooks, templates, and other digital products is a great way to earn passive income. Once created, these digital assets can continue generating sales with minimal ongoing effort.


  • Identify in-demand skills to teach or knowledge to share. Validate ideas by surveying potential customers.
  • Outline your course curriculum or book chapters in advance. Produce content using PowerPoint, Docs, or slide-based apps like Teachable.
  • List your course on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare or your own site. Sell eBooks directly or via Amazon KDP.
  • Promote through content marketing, email lists, affiliates and social media groups. Run promotions and sales.
  • Track analytics to improve conversion rates. Outsource customer service inquiries to scale.

2. Blogging

Building a blog allows you to share your knowledge or passion with the world – and eventually monetize it through ads, affiliates, sponsors, and products. The power of blogging is having a platform to build an audience over time that you fully own and control.


  • Brainstorm blog ideas and analyze competition for each niche using Ahrefs and Google Trends.
  • Get hosting/domain (Bluehost, WPX Hosting) and install WordPress. Add plugins like Yoast SEO.
  • Choose a fast, simple theme. Create your pages and write pillar content targeting key topics.
  • Grow your email list from the start with a lead magnet like an ebook.
  • Promote new content on social media through Buffer.
  • Monetize with Google Adsense or affiliates like Mediavine ads once you achieve enough monthly views.
  • Recruit freelance writers to scale production. Automate social media postings.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing enables you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products you love and recommend. You get rewarded for driving real sales and leads without needing to create your own physical products.


  • Find affiliate programs with relevant, high-value products to promote.
  • Create product reviews, comparisons and recommendations centered around affiliate links.
  • Track your affiliate sales data to optimize your marketing approach.

Physical Products

4. Print-on-Demand

Print-on-demand allows you to design custom products like t-shirts, mugs, and posters and sell them through fulfillment services. You earn royalties on each sale without handling inventory.


  • Create unique branded designs tailored to your target audience.
  • List your designs on platforms like CafePress, Zazzle and Redbubble.
  • Analyze sales data to refine designs and product selection.

5. Dropshipping

Dropshipping enables you to sell products that suppliers ship directly to customers, avoiding the need to hold inventory yourself.


  • Partner with suppliers offering high-quality products at low wholesale prices.
  • Drive traffic to your online store through paid and organic marketing.
  • Manage orders and track fulfillment rates closely.

6. Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) allows you to leverage Amazon’s immense fulfillment infrastructure and platform to sell products more efficiently. Amazon stores, picks, packs and ships your products so you can scale without managing operations.


  • Thoroughly research products before sourcing inventory to sell.
  • Send stock to Amazon fulfillment centers for faster delivery.
  • Enroll in Amazon advertising to increase product visibility.

Local Brick-and-Mortar

7. Vending Machines

vending machine business

Placing vending machines full of snacks, drinks and essentials in strategic high-traffic locations can earn passive income. After the initial placement, your primary ongoing effort is restocking while sales happen automatically.


  • Target locations where people congregate like offices, colleges and transportation hubs.
  • Opt for smart vending machines to minimize restocking needs.
  • Routinely analyze sales reports to optimize machine offerings.

8. Laundromats

Opening self-service laundromats can provide relatively stable passive income in areas with demand for washers/dryers. They require substantial initial investment and maintenance, but then earn steadily with minimal staffing.


  • Choose locations in dense residential areas near colleges or apartments.
  • Install top-of-the-line washers and dryers for maximum efficiency.
  • Implement a card payment system to minimize staffing.

9. Storage Units

Storage units rentals are a great hands-off business. Once established, they require little oversight beyond managing reservations and performing occasional maintenance while earning recurring revenue.


  • Acquire or build storage facilities based on local demand.
  • Offer unit sizes tailored to both residential and commercial customers.
  • Use keypad access and camera surveillance systems to minimize staffing.

10. Car Washes

Starting an automated car wash allows you to run a scalable business with minimal staffing. Choosing the right location and equipment is critical, but it can operate hands-off after setup.


  • Seek locations with easy access and strong visibility to attract customers.
  • Purchase water-efficient equipment to lower utility costs.
  • Offer membership programs for steady recurring revenue.

Leveraging Assets

11. Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending platforms let you earn interest by lending to many borrowers based on customized filters. Your investment is spread across loans, with payments collected automatically.


  • Invest over multiple loans to diversify risk.
  • Set criteria for credit scores, income, loan purpose to screen borrowers.
  • Reinvest payments and interest to compound earnings.

12. Rental Properties

Owning rental properties can generate mostly passive income when you systematize operations and outsource management to others. Long term rentals tend to involve less effort than short term.


  • Acquire properties poised for appreciation in growing real estate markets.
  • Standardize processes across units for efficient scaling.
  • Outsource screening tenants and maintenance to a property manager.

13. ATMs

Place ATMs in ideal high-traffic locations and earn from transaction fees with minimal management beyond periodically restocking cash.


  • Target locations where people need quick access to cash – convenience stores, events, etc.
  • Consider taking a percentage of surcharge fees to maximize profits.
  • Maintain machines promptly and ensure sufficient cash levels.

Hands-Off Investing

14. Automated Investing

Invest on autopilot through robo-advisors. Answer questions about your goals and risk tolerance and algorithms handle the rest.


  • Select a robo-advisor platform like Betterment or Wealthfront.
  • Set up recurring deposits from your bank into a diversified portfolio.
  • Rebalance occasionally as needed.

15. Dividend Stocks

Build a portfolio of stocks with consistent dividend payments. Reinvest dividends for compound growth.


  • Research stocks with steady dividends in defensive sectors.
  • Use a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) to automatically redeploy dividends.
  • Diversify across market sectors and consider dividend ETFs.

Starting a self-sustaining business that earns money with minimal ongoing effort is an attainable goal for many. Implementing ideas like vacation rentals, consulting gigs, digital products and niche websites lets you make substantial profits in your sleep once things are up and running.

Do your market research, tap into your skills, and leverage automation to launch a streamlined semi-passive business. With persistence and ingenuity, you can build assets that provide lasting financial freedom.