10 Passive Income Ideas in South Africa

Passive income, the "Holy Grail" of incomes.

Passive income, the “Holy Grail” of incomes, tops up your bank account – even when you don’t feel like working. In this post we’ll explore 10 modern side hustles which people are using to earn passive income in South Africa.

For our list of passive income ideas, we’ve only chosen ideas which can be started by anyone, and which does not require any financial investment upfront.

For example, if you wanted to earn passive income, the easiest and most traditional way to accomplish this would be to invest your money in shares which yield returns and/or dividends.

However, to earn enough to live on – would require you to invest a lot of money and it may be years before you see any real returns. You also have to take on the risk that you may potentially lose all your investment.

For our 10 ideas you only need access to the internet, which you most likely have if you’re reading this article, effort, and time.

This list is in alphabetical order and all ideas have the potential to generate passive income.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a large part of many businesses around the world. Take Amazon for example, many people promote, review, or share affiliate links to Amazon products and when people click on these links and make a purchase, Amazon shares a percentage of the revenue with the affiliate.

Many people make money with affiliate marketing in South Africa, including our publication, The Frontline. Many of the links on our website are affiliate links which is a key source of revenue, and which allows us to publish great content.

South Africans don’t have to look to Amazon to get involved with affiliate marketing as there are many affiliate programs and affiliate networks tailored for South Africans.

These programs are easy to sign up to and once you’ve joined you can make use of affiliate links and in many cases promotional materials like banners which you can promote in various ways such as blogs, email marketing, videos and so on.

Also check out our post: The Best Affiliate Programs in South Africa: The Complete List

With affiliate marketing you can earn passive income due to you only having to promote products once and it can generate revenue for years to come.

Some affiliate programs, especially membership ones, allows you to earn income for the full period a person is a member or customer which you referred to them.

2. Blogging

Next on our list of passive income ideas for South Africans is blogging. Blogging is simply writing blog posts and publishing them on your own blog or website. The more you publish and the larger your audience grows, the more you will be able to earn.

If you enjoy writing, blogging may just be for you. Additionally, blogging is super easy to begin, in fact you can start as soon as you finished reading this. Join blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Medium.com or Blogger.com and create a blog absolutely free.

Then when you’re ready, monetise your blog through many methods. Sell membership to content, sell courses, publish a paid newsletter, add banner ads from networks such as Google AdSense, or combine your blogging with the first idea on this list, affiliate marketing.

Check out our guide on getting started with blogging: How to Start a Blog in South Africa

Blogging will require a lot of effort and you must make sure that you are providing value to your readers, whether that be informational satisfaction or entertainment. Block out some time every day just for blogging and slowly watch as your readership grows, and with it your income.

3. Digital Products

Selling digital products is another we can earn passive income. Digital products are a very broad term and refers to anything digital that can be sold on the internet.

Some great examples of digital products include stock photos, MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint templates, software, code snippets, eBooks, and courses.

While it may take a fair bit of time to write an eBook or take amazing photos, it’s a one-time effort and time trade-off for the opportunity to earn passive income from your work.

A great way to get started with digital products is for example anytime you do any recreational activities or travel to take lots of photos and then choosing the best ones to upload to stock image websites like Stockphoto.com which sells licenses who want to use your images.

If you have an eye for design or a skill related to your job or a passion like painting, try monetising it through creating something which others who share your skills may benefit from.

For example, if you were an architect, you could create a course teaching others how to be better architects or draw up plans and create templates which could potentially make other architect’s works easier.

4. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a business model which involves you selling products online without needing to manufacture or stock the product.

Easily set up an online store with store builders like WooCommerce or Shopify, find vendors which enable dropshipping and add those products to your store. All that’s left is to promote your store.

You earn passive income by adding a markup to the products and all you are responsible for is driving sales. While this may take more time and effort than other ideas on the list, it’s a proven method to earn passive income.

With dropshipping there are many fraudulent actors and untrustworthy vendors, so be sure to do your diligence and treat your store as a real business as well as respect your customers.

Test products yourself, if possible, to ensure that it is of quality and specifications marketed by the vendor.

5. eCommerce

Like dropshipping, eCommerce is another way to earn passive income. But, I’m not referring to starting your own eCommerce store to rival big eCommerce giants like Takealot.com, no instead create or source your own products and let these eCommerce giants sell them for you.

Many eCommerce sites don’t sell their own products – they sell other people or business’s products. This while not exactly free, is a free way to earn passive income by satisfying consumer demand online without having to sell products yourself – while that may allow you to generate even more income.

If you wanted to and have the ambition – start your own eCommerce store and sell other people’s products. This doesn’t have to be done on a large scale like Amazon.com, but perhaps an online toy model store? Or an online art supplies store.

6. Podcasting

Do you like talking to people? Podcasting has become very popular over the last few years with some podcasted like Joe Rogan landing deals worth 100s of millions of Rands.

With Podcasting you can talk about anything, by yourself, or interview others. If your podcast gets lots of listeners, you can monetise it with ads or sponsors.

If you’re comfortable being on video, you can monetise videos too on YouTube. Create a 1-hour podcast, and potentially earn passive income well into the future from it.

Podcasts are still relatively new compared to eCommerce and blogging, so if this is something you’d be interested in doing- get on the band wagon now!

All you need to start podcasting is a smartphone with a recorder app. There are even apps dedicated to creating podcasts. Later on you can upgrade to a better mic and studio once you feel that this is something you enjoy doing.


Reselling can be a big opportunity for anyone to make money with passive income. There are many services and products online which can be resold with many businesses having dedicated reselling programs.

For example, web hosting or domain names. You can sell these services without needing to host the hardware or software, simply refer customers and add a markup to the product.

Once awesome about reseller programs is that it is primarily subscription-based services, like mentioned webhosting, which usually has a monthly or annual cost to customer.

This means that any customers which you resell too, you’ll earn passive income as long as that customer pays for the service.

An easy way to find reseller programs is to google the product or services you intend on reselling and adding “reseller” to your search query on Google. Also look at the footer navigation links on website you visit to see whether they have any reseller or affiliate programs.

8. Service Business

Is there a service you could offer people online, for example designing websites or writing articles for publishers? If so, you could pair your services with a stream of passive income.

For example, if you were to design a website for a client – you could charge the client a maintenance fee for keeping the website up-to-date and ensuring that the code and any plugins or software stays updated.

Additionally, you could resell the domain name for the website to the client, which allows you to earn passive income annually, or resell hosting for the website which also allows you to earn income passively.

Whatever you are already doing in your day-to-day work-life, look at ways you can expand this to create a stream of passive income, instead of jumping onto something new entirely – which may-or-not yield positive results.

Who knows, in the future your passive income streams may out earn your job.

9. Streaming

Like podcasting, streaming is a new way people are earning passive income and requires significant time and effort to get off-the-ground. Streaming refers to live streaming yourself on platforms like Twitch doing whatever you love.

Most streamers are gamers, creators like painters, or people reacting to popular culture like movies or trending news online.

With streaming you can earn from memberships – people subscribing to watch your content, and donations.

10. Vlogging

Finally, vlogging, or really any video content. Upload videos to YouTube and earn from YouTube’s partner program. Vlogging is like blogging, but through video instead of typed words.

All you need is a camera and time to make videos on any topic you wish. With consistency and good quality videos in a niche where there is an audience that watches your videos, you will be able to earn passive income.

Like blogging, videos can be paired with any of the other ideas on this list and allows many people to earn passive income.

And there you have it, 10 ideas to earn passive income in South Africa. Don’t try all 10 at once though, try one – stick with it and see how it goes.

As you learn and grow – slowly expand into any of the other ideas and is possible try to combine it with what you are passionate about and enjoy doing.

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Leigh Williams
Leigh Williams
Leigh Williams is a digital marketing specialist and writer currently interning in digital media at Conversion Science, and works alongside Incubeta as a paid media manager. Leigh began his career as an SEO intern at Adevia Health. Leigh is also the founder of IXA Media, publisher of The Frontline.




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