One of the best ways to make passive income from the comfort of your home is to sell products online. But you need to know how to make eCommerce passive, or this will become a demanding full time job.

Can you make passive income with eCommerce? You can make passive income with eCommerce in a variety of ways, notably by selling your own products, selling other people’s products you are authorized to sell, providing digital goods, dropshipping, affiliate marketing and print-on-demand (POD). Drop shipping affiliate marketing and POD can be the most passive sources of eCommerce income.

eCommerce can be made very lucrative and passive in multiple ways. For example, you can sell products from home without having to purchase, pack or physically manage any products at all thanks to drop shipping (more on that later).

But selling products online for a living takes more than just choosing a good niche and designing your site. The process also includes marketing your business. This beginner guide covers how you can make passive (not active) income from selling online.

Here is the process involved in making passive income from eCommerce selling online from your laptop. You can begin this right from the comfort of your home with minimum investment and scale it up higher than you’ve dreamed of. If you aren’t sure what those dreams are yet, definitely check out our article “Can passive income make me rich?” on our blog.

6 Ways eCommerce Can Make Passive Income

There are multiple places you can find products to sell online. The first option consists in selling other people’s products. The second, selling your own products. Both contain a total of six ways to make passive income online. Here is more information on both options to help you better decide what you would like to do.

Selling Other People’s Products

You do not have to create your own products to get selling online. One of the easiest ways to get started in the eCommerce world is to sell other people’s products. You have the option of being very involved in each step of the sales process, or to automate parts of the process. This section will outline some options that are available to you.

1. Selling Products You Don’t Physically Stock

I did this for a couple years and I loved it. Selling products that you don’t physically stock is very easy and only requires your implication if you make a sale. What I did at the time was I listed in-demand, nonperishable products from the grocery store. I only had to go pickup, pack and ship the products once they were sold. This was an excellent way to reduce stock!

However, the risk was products not being available in store after they were sold. This didn’t happen too often but it did require me to cancel some (excellent sales). Once in a while, I also made large sales of a specific product, usually more than 10 units, and the first store I went to only had 5. I would then have to go to other stores to get the rest of the units I needed to complete the order.

This is a great way to test products and pricing on the online market (like on eBay or Amazon) to know if they would sell. My offers were notably interesting because I was selling specialty French products on the American market (eBay USA). A good tip is to offer the best bulk bundles, especially if the product is expensive or on the heavier side.


  • Eliminates the need to have stock
  • Only ship products if they sell
  • Great to test products and pricing


  • Product may be out of stock from your supplier
  • May require going to multiple stores in case of a large order

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another way to sell products that you do not physically stock. We have a full guide on Affiliate Marketing here if you would like to learn more about this passive income source. As a brief overview, this consists in promoting other people’s products, and when a sale is made you will receive a commission. It’s best to promote products you actually use and love.

For example, we have an affiliate link for Income School’s Project 24  which is a program that teaches exactly how to build successful niche sites. We promote their product because we actually use it, and love the content that Ricky and Jim provide. We love how they constantly update their course and make sure their members get the most value possible. You can learn more about Project 24 here. If you like the idea of affiliate marketing, you may also be interested in multi-level marketing (MLM). You can learn more about MLM here.

Our Affiliate Marketing for Passive Income Guide


  • Eliminates the need to have stock
  • No need to manage returns
  • No customer support for products


  • Only receive a commission on sales
  • Needs to be relevant to your niche

3. Dropshipping

Acquiring and stocking products are some of the most complicated parts in the process of selling physical goods online. If you want to sell products without having to handle them, then drop shipping is the way to go. This is the model that is promoted by most YouTube drop shipping gurus. Drop shipping consists primarily in selecting and promoting products that are offered by a fulfillment service. The fulfilment service stocks the products and ships them directly to the client once a sale is made on your website. It is a great way to sell products online without having to manage them physically.

Most gurus are promoting Shopify (through their affiliate links – Shopify offers them excellent commissions for referring their product). However, I by far prefer Ecwid eCommerce. In my opinion, Ecwid is easier to use and understand compared to Shopify. It is also cheaper in the long run because many of the features are included. Ecwid stores also integrate almost any website including WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly sites. So if you already have a website, you can easily add eCommerce capabilities to it. The above video is a full webinar on dropshipping. We also have an incredibly complete guide on the topic.

Our Ultimate Dropshipping for Passive Income Guide


  • Eliminates the need to have stock
  • No need to ship products
  • Great to test products and pricing


  • The way it is taught online…
  • Low margins, high expenses etc.

Selling Your Own Products

Selling your own products may be a bit trickier because you will have to create the product and deal with support. To make your sales process as passive as possible, try to focus on creating evergreen products (things that will still be relevant in 5+ years from now).

You can easily sell physical or digital goods online. Physical goods will require you to pack and ship them manually, unless you request that your supplier carries out that part of the work. Therefore, my personal favorite products to sell consist in digital goods. They require no stock management, no shipping and are sent automatically to customers a couple seconds after they make their purchase. (My second favorites are print on demand merchandise which we cover later on).

4. Physical Products

If you have your own physical product you would like to sell, getting it online and in front of the right audience is an excellent way to market your products and get sales. You can fulfil orders yourself, or have them fulfilled by your supplier. It is usually best practice to fulfil the first orders yourself to have a handle on the full process and ensure product quality. However, once the process is up to par, you can outsource it to your supplier or to a fulfilment service (that may take a cut).


  • Great way to get started for a beginner


  • Stocking products
  • Handling, packing and shipping products…
  • The whole process relies on you and this is not at all passive

5. Digital Goods

Digital goods are by far my favorite products to sell online. Digital products can consist in info products, such as courses (videos), or eBooks (.pdf files). They can also consist in tools like Photoshop pre-sets which are files that allow you to add filters to your photos. Digital goods may also be instructions, music files, games or code.

If you created something you can bundle into a file and sell as a digital good, this can be an excellent way to make money without having to physically pack and ship a product. With Ecwid eCommerce, your customers will automatically receive their order a couple minutes after it is paid for in their inbox. With digital goods, you can automatically make and fulfil orders at any time of day.

Try Ecwid eCommerce for Free


  • Very passive!
  • No need to ship
  • No stock management


  • If the product is not evergreen, it will need to be updated

6. Print on Demand

Print on demand is similar to a drop shipping service in a sense that it allows you to ship products directly from a fulfilment warehouse. The difference is that the customer orders a personalized version of the product according to what you created on your site.

I’ve been using Printful with Ecwid eCommerce for a while now and I absolutely love it. You can simply choose the items you would like to sell from over 200 products, add them to your site, customize them with your own designs, and Printful will handle the entire fulfilment process for you (printing, packing, shipping and returns).

With Printful, you can promote your brand and sell high-quality products with excellent quality standards. You have full control over your profit margins and your product designs. It is an excellent solution for anyone who is looking to monetize their audience. Artists, designers, podcasters and YouTubers love Printful to build their brand and make more income. I discuss this with the Ecwid team in the podcast below.

Try Ecwid eCommerce for Free

If you would like to learn how to use Printful, learn how to sell in multiple places online and ensure you make a profit (we include a profit calculator) check out the video above or click here to learn more on our site.


  • Very passive!
  • No need to ship
  • No stock management


  • If the product is not evergreen, it will need to be updated

Choosing The Right Category/Niche

To be successful selling products online, you need to focus on a specific niche that you are interested in, or passionate about. Many people make the mistake of focusing on dozens, even hundreds of products in several categories, without having a narrow focus or target audience.

It’s best to start with a few products in a specific category. Choose a competitive niche and select products that have the potential to sell like crazy. Try to stay away from crowded, non-evergreen niches, such as IT or mobile. Instead, focus on specialized niches. You can use Google trends to find a popular niche.

Marketing Your Products Online

Once you have decided what products you would like to sell and how, it will be time to start thinking about how you would like to promote them. If you build your eCommerce to be passive, promoting your products will be the largest time-consuming aspect of building your passive income source.

I truly love building my stores with Ecwid eCommerce, as it offers the most interesting promotion options for organic (free) or paid marketing. Here are some ways you can promote your products online.

1. A Niche Blog for Organic Traffic (SEO)

Organic traffic consists in visitors who find your website by searching for a term in a search engine. “Organic” traffic is the opposite of paid traffic because the visits from this traffic was not referred by a paid advertisement. The advantage of organic traffic is that it can be much more consistent than paid advertising. The second you stop paying for traffic, it stops coming to your site. Whereas, organic traffic is continuous, as long as you respect certain rules of course. You can generate organic traffic by following the methods provided by Project 24.

Learn More About Project 24

Of course, you aren’t building a niche site per-se, but building a blog for your eCommerce site is necessary to get your business out there and start generating traffic. Instead of referring affiliate products you will be referring your own. You should talk about common customer questions and concerns while covering everything there is to know about product and how to use it. Learn more about generating organic content in Project 24. 

I recommend using Ecwid to create your online store because you can add your store to practically any website including WordPress. Use WordPress and Elementor together to create beautiful, clean and fast websites (it’s the tool that was used to build this page!). I truly love building my stores with Ecwid eCommerce, as it offers the most interesting promotion options for organic (free) or paid marketing. Here are some ways you can promote your products online.

Learn More About Project 24

2. Social eCommerce

This one may surprise you, but another place where you can sell online is through social media. Facebook and Instagram currently offer powerful social eCommerce features you can leverage to promote your products online.

Try Ecwid eCommerce for Free

Facebook Store

Selling on a Facebook business page is made easy with Ecwid eCommerce. According to Statistica  Facebook has 2.27B monthly active users (Nov. 2018) and Ecwid merchants see a 15% average increase in their revenue when they activate the Facebook Store feature.

Instagram Shopping

Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users and according to HootSuite 60% of users discovered products on Instagram. It’s an excellent place to promote your products and they just released the Instagram Shopping feature you can leverage with Ecwid.


If you have an audience on Tumblr, you may be delighted to know that an Ecwid store can also integrate this social media platform. So you can also sell on Tumblr thanks to Ecwid eCommerce.


Markeplaces are eCommerce platforms that put merchants in contact with prospective buyers. Some of these platforms include eBay, Amazon and Etsy.


You can create an eBay store separate from your eCommerce – or you can have your eCommerce store communicate with your eBay store and synch all sales and orders. In that case, eBay becomes a new search engine prospective buyers can get your products from. And this integration is made very easy with Ecwid. Their eBay integration makes it easy to push your products to eBay and start also selling there.


Same as above, imagine also selling your products on Amazon. You can easily do this with Ecwid. Testing the integration is a free for one month on any paid Ecwid plan.


Sadly Ecwid doesn’t integrate Etsy, but if it is a good place for your products (if they are hand made for example) then go for it! Test a couple products there and see if you can generate some extra sales.

3. Affiliate Marketing

This article talks about how you can leverage affiliate marketing for your products. Thanks to successful affiliates, you can automate a good chunk of your business.

Embed on Partner Websites

The great thing about Ecwid is that it allows you to install your site on numerous platforms at once. This means that you can also share the Ecwid integration code with your affiliates. In addition to setting up your store on several platforms you own, you can share the code so that your affiliates can place your Ecwid store on their platforms.

This method of embedding the code into a website or blog is super easy, and takes limited coding skills. In simple terms, the process works like this: you give your affiliates the code, they place it on their sites, and you use a common 3rd party tracking system in order to track all orders placed from their sites. To save time and money, you could also just provide them with the tracking code and a coupon code.

Use an Application for Affiliate Integration

Ecwid integrates with numerous top-notch affiliate apps. These include Lead Dyno, Post Affiliate Pro and Affiliatly. You can use these to provide affiliates with links and ads to promote your business.

4. PPC Advertising (Pay Per Click)

This section of the article talks about how you can leverage affiliate marketing for your products. Thanks to successful affiliates, you can automate a good chunk of your business.

Google Shopping

Google Shopping allows you to promote your products visually on Google. It shows a photo, the title, price and reviews. Google Shopping allows users to search for products from eCommerce sites and compare prices between different vendors. You can easily leverage the power of Google Shopping with Ecwid eCommerce. Their integration allows you to setup a campaign in a couple clicks.

Google Ads

Google Ads is an advertising service by offered Google for businesses wanting to display advertisements on Google and their network. Their program allows businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click on the ads on their site. You can easily leverage the power of Google Ads with Ecwid eCommerce. Their integration allows you to setup a campaign in a couple clicks.

4. Create Your Online Store

After you have decided how would like to sell online, it’s time to set up your online store. Of course, I I like Ecwid. It’s the quickest platform to build an online store in my experience. In terms of features, Ecwid stands high above the competition, offering a cloud-based solution which allows you to sell on any site, including social media. It offers mobile responsive design, complete security, easy-to-use app, easy checkout, multiple payment options, automatic updates and lighting fast operation. They also offer all the marketing integrations we mentioned above. Learn more in my Ecwid eCommerce course.

How Passive is eCommerce?

Selling online has the potential to become very passive if you build it to be that way. However, if you are not attentive to how you build your eCommerce site, each sale will be dependent on your active presence and time.

Startup Costs

The initial investment when selling products online can range between $40 and $500+ per month depending on the tools you use. The lowest costs include a domain name (about $10 per year), hosting (starts at $4 per month), and Ecwid eCommerce ($15/month). Once you scale up your business, you’ll probably pay more, because you’ll also have more traffic to your site. Payment processors will also take around 3% of your revenue.

Additionally, you might also want to design a logo, buy a template or theme, add apps & widgets and create high-quality photos. All in all, expect a startup cost of around $2,000. You can recoup your initial investment in around 6 months, and after 9 months or so you’ll start making a profit if you have enough traffic and sales.


Creating a successful source of income from eCommerce definitely is a difficult task for beginners. You’ll learn a lot of great things in the process and you’ll also make some mistakes. You need to constantly learn new skills, especially internet marketing. However, these specific courses can save you countless hours of work.


You definitely need to invest a lot of time in the beginning. How much time depends on the niche you choose, the competition, your skills, motivation, knowledge and execution. Save time learning from these recommended courses.


This passive income method is not very risky financially since it doesn’t cost much to get started. However, the biggest risk involves the time you will have invested if you fail.


eCommerce can be done during all seasons. The seasonality of your online store will depend on the seasonality of your products.

ROI (Return On Investment)

You will need to spend a whole lot of time in this business, but in the end you can make a lot of money. However, do not expect to make $1,000 a month in the first few months. That’s just not going to happen. This business method is in for the long haul, and could provide you a good and way to make money, in the long run.

You can make passive income by creating a successful store and automating it using services provided by drop shipping companies, which can store and ship your products directly to your customers. In other words, you can create a 100% passive business online. You can work from anywhere, such as your sofa at home, at a restaurant, in a pub, or at a café anywhere in the world. The main part of your job will then be to promote your products and online store so you can enjoy an automated sales funnel!

Related Questions

Is online selling profitable? Selling online can be profitable. In 2018, eCommerce accounted for 14.3% total retail sales in the USA (not counting non-eCommerce friendly products – source). Success depends on website user-friendliness, quantity and quality of competitive and engaging content, marketing, drive, motivation and skill among other factors.

What can I sell to make money from home? You can make money from home by selling various items including things in your own home (this does not require any investments), items you purchase and resell from local stores, garage sales, blowout sales and discount sales. You can also sell products you make (physical or digital).

Can ecommerce generate passive income? You can generate passive income with eCommerce if your store is built for passive income (and not active income). Passive income does not require your active presence, whereas most eCommerce stores are built to require the owner’s constant, and active participation (ex. packing and shipping the product).

How much does it cost to start an online store? If you create your online store yourself, it can cost between $40 and $1000+ to start, and $15 to $99+ per month depending on the tools you use. The lowest costs include a domain name (about $10 per year), hosting (starts at $4 per month), and Ecwid eCommerce ($15/month). If you work with an agency an eCommerce site can cost from $10,000 upwards.

Is dropshipping passive income? Dropshipping can be a passive income source, however it takes time and effort to setup.