Generally, rental activities are passive activities even if you materially participated in them. However, if you qualified as a real estate professional, rental real estate activities in which you materially participated aren’t passive activities. For this purpose, each interest you have in a rental real estate activity is a separate activity, unless you choose to treat all interests in rental real estate activities as one activity. See the Instructions for Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss, for information about making this choice.
In order for you to make the kind of passive income you would like you need to make sure the market segment you want to help has critical mass.  If you have the best widget in the world, but only 14 people need or want it, then you don’t have a viable business.  The great article 1,000 True Fans, by Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired Research, talks about if you have 1,000 people who are your customer, each paying you $100 a year, you now have $100,000 a year of passive income.  The point is that you don’t need to serve the entire human population, just enough to have critical mass. 
Add Leverage (Mortgage) and you greatly increase the ROI especially from the perspective of using Rents (other peoples money) to pay down the mortgage and increase your equity in the property over time. At this point then yes price appreciation is secondary bonus and we have an arguement of how and why Real Estate can be better than Growth Stocks in some scenarios and for some investors.
You could also do this by charging for financial plans and managing people’s investments.  The fee’s you charged would be recurring as long as you managed the relationship to keep them happy.  This approach to passive income has a much higher barrier to entry due to needing qualifications, licenses, and building relationships over time.  If done correctly, it can be a very lucrative source of passive income.
I am an English major and a herbalist with so many ideas and no extra income to fulfill them. I recently started renting my extra apartment in the attic with Airbnb. It’s amazing how fast I accumulated some money for few hours of work between guests. Now I want to persue all my dreams of opening an online herbal store, publishing my ebook of treating Ulcerative Colitis with herbs, blogs, and videos, and pretty much all of the ideas mentioned here. I will save this article as its really helpful for whomever needs some ideas…
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