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How to Make Money (Passively) With Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of July 2009 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Today, Shaun Connell from Learn Financial Planning explains how to build a passive income from your blog without sacrificing value.

Trying to get the most “bang for your buck” has been behind the invention of the wheel, light-bulb, the Internet and pretty much every other major technological advancement in history.

True to this desire for efficient productivity, in the online business world one of the most popular quests for someone who is just starting out in their blogging business journey is to make money passively.

In this post we’ll talk about the nature of a “passive” income, how to avoid the short-sighted “greedy” tactics that can destroy one’s entire blogging income, and how this all relates to value-oriented blogging.

Passive Income: Short-Sighted or Good Business?

A passive income is, according to Investopedia:

“Earnings an individual derives from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which he or she is not actively involved.”

If you make money without actively working at the time to earn that money, then that’s part of your passive income. Rental earnings, dividends — both are often considered to be part of a passive income, though whether any income is “passive” is always debated.

Tragically, thousands of get-rich schemers have latched onto the desirability of a passive income, luring desperate consumers into their traps with promises of “unstoppable systems” that can just be “turned on” to make money forever. In a sense, these schemers have given a bad name to passive income, making it feel (to some, at least) almost like it’s cheating.

Of course, the schemers are wrong — as are those who reject passive income streams out of a (reactionary) principle. Building a passive income isn’t about “get rich quick”; it often takes longer, usually takes more work, and almost always takes much, much more planning.

Before we move on to the exact tactics you can use to make money passively, let me reiterate what should be one of the most important concepts here: trying to make a passive income doesn’t mean that you try to stop writing valuable content, or that your goal is to make money online so you can “stop working.”

The exact opposite is true.

Writing valuable content and maintaining community is not at odds with developing a passive income. You can do both at the exact same time. Even more than that, developing both a passive and an active income with your blog leads to more success, more financial security, and a stronger income.

The best passive income strategy is multiplied by blogging with valuable content. Every single tactic listed below is simply deadly effective if mixed with value blogging.

How to Make Money Passively With Your Blog

By definition, a passive income from your blog is any money that you make if you completely stopped working. Not income without work — but income that continues to come in indefinitely after work.

The 3 tactics listed below are just to get you started — there are tons of different ways. If you have an idea, be sure to share it in the comments section.

  • Search-Engine Marketing.

Search-engine marketing is a little different than just writing “for the search engines.” For example, Brian Clark over at Copyblogger has one of the best “user oriented” websites around. He’s the copywriting guru of blogging.

Yet if you look at his left sidebar, you’ll see a collection of links to pages, including one to Copywriting Courses. On the page he lists two reviews of affiliate products that can help you master your own copywriting. Of course, that page is the first result for “copywriting courses” on Google, and will continue to stay there.

To build a passive search-engine marketing income stream from your blog, just write enough valuable content that gives your main domain a great amount of authority because of “real links” from other bloggers. Then write an SEO page for the sidebar. I’ve done this with topics like “online savings account” and it certainly does make money.

  • Subscription Marketing.

The best affiliate programs out there are those that offer residual returns. In other words, if you are an affiliate for a magazine, it’s better to make $2 per month the person signs up than it is to make $20 one-time… the reason should be fairly obvious.

If only 1/5th of the subscribers stay on for several years, then that 1/5th of the buyers alone will earn you more than getting paid one-time from all of the buyers combined. Plus, you also make money from the 4/5ths who didn’t stay on for several years — all-in-all, you can double your income by earning on a subscription/residual level.

Also, if something happens to you and/or your blog, building a residual income will provide a “safety cushion” for your income.

Bonus tip: mixing subscription marketing with search engine marketing is simply deadly. Then you have a passive income that is growing passively. Win-win!

  • Project Outsourcing.

Of all of the tactics listed here, this is probably the least “passive,” given that you still need to oversee the projects, and aren’t making the entire blogging process passive — still, you can increase the “passiveness” of your entire online business in this manner.

Outsourcing is when you hire someone to do some of your work. That’s it.

Outsourcing is something all of us need to do, at least on some level. Unless you have your own server, design your own blogs, write all your own content and registered your domain without spending a dim to anyone else… you’ve outsourced to somebody somewhere.

Some people, like Timothy Ferriss, are famous for trying to outsource their entire business. Others, like Jon Morrow and Brian Clark, reject the idea that outsourcing is always the best call.

So what should you outsource? I’ve experimented with hiring people to design my projects, host my designs, write some of my content (all of it for some websites), build links and market my content. So far, I have not found the perfect formula for deciding what to outsource.

For smaller blogs with less competition, I usually outsource the content. For my “flagship” blogs, I almost always write my own content.

By writing my own content, I can make sure that I’m building a relationship with my readers on a personal level, that the integrity of my content is never compromised, and that the posts are optimized for humans and search engines with just the right balance.

Help Us Out

This is just the beginning, of course. This post is more of an introduction than it is a comprehensive guide. There are tens of thousands of different ways you can make money passively, and I’m sure you’ve stumbled across several of the methods, or are even using some yourself.

Of course, almost all of the tactics and tips completely depend on your blogging business model. Still, finding out new strategies allows you to customize your blogging plan to be perfect for your own personal blogging style.

What do you think about building a passive income? Overrated? Under-discussed? If you had to build your blog in a manner that the entire income had to become passive, what would you do? Which of the above tactics do you find the most helpful? The most risky? Let us know in the comments!

This post was written by Shaun Connell, the guy behind Learn Financial Planning, where he writes about everything from picking online bank accounts to learning how to make money online

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Nice article, I don’t really see passive income discussed much.

    Right now I just have my one blog, so sending out work doesn’t make much sense. Subrscriptions is something I’ve never really thought of… It’s not the sort of thing that will annoy my readers is it? (Once I start getting regular readers)

  2. I think I’ll try building residual returns. I’ve been an active affiliate ever since and hope to implement it right away. Thanks for the tips Shaun.

  3. Nice tips but I still don’t understand about subscription marketing. Is it by using autoresponder?

  4. Greta post!

    I like the sound of the SEO page in the sidebar, but need to find out more about it.

    I have always tried to give quality content as my main priority, but always in the hope that it will eventually earn me money. It takes along time to build up a significant amount of traffic that will give you a passive income.

    To have Passive Income is a dream that anyone would want to come true and to get that I believe you have to build a solid business that offers value. Anything worth while takes time to build and if built properly will last a long time.

    Just my thoughts on this subject.

  5. Thanks Shaun for the tips, It is just that very hard to start and tend to give up when things are not doing well.

  6. Nice way to make money passively Darren.


  7. Darren, great post. Earning a passive income is doable. I started my journey less than a year ago and am making close to $600/month passively. You are correct that its hard to outsource tasks like writing content but I do on sites that I know I can rank high in but I don’t want to write the content. The blogging business model is the way to go, thanks for all the tips.

  8. While passive income is the most desirable of all incomes I think that it is highly misunderstood.

    People are led to believe that once a passive income is developed that it will continue to arrive with clockwork regularity in your bank account. With one or two exceptions (real estate rentals and even that may suffer from vacancies etc, and yes, that measly little return on your deposit income from bank notes etc)that simply is not true.

    A “passive income” once realized still needs tending or it will eventually dribble away, if not entirely, then at least to a mere shadow of itself from its hay day. A perfect example is network marketing which develops a passive income through the efforts of the marketer and the leverage that he is able to employ with his growing organization. Should the marketer stop marketing, he will experience a dip in his results and if not remedied that dip will begin a downward slide.

    In blogging even if you outsource most of the tasks, you do need to continuously oversee. Where I see a powerful “passive income” on blogs is the direct ad income from advertisers – of course the blog has to have more than just decent traffic and if the ad does not convert well then that advertiser soon takes his dollars elsewhere.

    That being said … I think that internet marketing is a powerful money making model which, if done correctly, will deliver a powerful income, much of which is passive, or at least mostly on auto-pilot. The more successful the marketer, the more the time spent should be ON the business, rather than “in” …

    Now … as a newbie I am still the cook and the bottlewasher of my endeavors, and while I have seen a trickle of an income, there is plenty of work I have to do, both IN and ON.


  9. Great tips, I’ve always been checking out this blog and haven’t really commented but I wanted to take the time to appreciate your articles. Keep them coming!

  10. I think these tips are very helpful, however it seems to me that the only way to earn money passively is directly related to your SEO efforts. Since that plays a large roll in your website popularity and credibility, the money you earn seems like it will weigh on SEO. Do you believe this is true? Is there anyway for a new blogger just starting out to be able to earn some money in the beginning stages?

  11. Insightful. The debate between passive income with a blog varies.

    If you set it up, then have a system with writers, RSS feeds or other contributors that would be “true” passive income as you don’t do anything but check back once a while to make sure nothing is broken.

    By posting yourself regularly, I don’t think this has become passive anymore, although your income comes while you are sleeping or doing other tasks, that time you spent was “invested” and an article written months ago can continue earning.

    I like to think of each article written is a seed you plant, some die after a certain age but others can grow to be huge trees that last years and continue to bring in income.

    Of course those “seeds” are watered (scaled) by how many actual visitors your site recieves, thus your efforts and income can be multiplied from the same amount of work.

  12. Very informative article. Hmm, I guess there’s no way to actively make an income from my blog. Maybe passively, one day.

  13. Tanx I loved the article. I’ll try some of it…

  14. Paul Sabaj says: 07/28/2009 at 10:21 am

    I like the article but felt it was light on the build the readership. I have seen where you do like the network marketing guys do and ask every one you know to check it out and then ask them to pass it on. The average person knows at least 250 people and some of the more popular ones are on a first name basis with 2500 more.This was according to a car salesman named Joe Girrard who wrote a book on selling. He got the info from a funeral guy when he asked how he knew how many cards to order for a funeral service. My point being that you still need to market yourself. If you provide great content your like a Ferrari,Bad content your the Yugo car of the eighties. The might come once and never return. Thanks always for your comments and content.Safe week to all

  15. This was a really great post and with some great pointers. I know I need to rearrange my blog and utilize the sidebars to their fullest potential, thanks for that tip. Residual and multi tier programs are the best and something I have been adding to my marketing campaigns. Nothing beats making sales from others and for years down the road.

    Outsourcing as a newb I find it’s a little harder than I thought to find qualified people to do exactly what I need them to do and in the end actually I lost time and money. I now know a little more about prescreening and what to look and ask for before I hire someone.

  16. No doubt about it. I’m make peanut money.

  17. Great Post. I found a lot of way to learn more from here, and still trying to find other way to monetize my blog. This will continue keep me motivated…

    Thanks !

  18. Continue blogging. You obviously put a lot of work into that post and its very interesting to see the thought process that you went through to come up with those conclusion. Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts. I must admit that I think you nailed it on this one.

  19. Good post, this is a really interesting topic that I have struggled with often. It is true that creating great content constantly and earning a passive income are two separate issues, but I am glad that you mentioned to not stop creating the content. Personally I feel the only way to have a growth of passive income whether through signups, clicks, or actions is build upon your marketing campaign and update content. This of course is only what I have noticed with my numerous blogs and websites if I spend 20 or so hours on marketing and updating then I see a large jump of traffic of course after a week or so the traffic mellows then declines slowly until it reaches a steady point then will remain unless my competition decided to try and overtake me which usually means I have to get back to work. Truly though blogging in itself I feel is more of an active way to earn money rather than passive since a bloggers success derives from the amount of work they put in their blog. Anyway thanks for the post.


  20. I think blogging requires a lot of energy. If you want to make a lot of money via building up a high quality blog with high Google PR, it requires you to devoted to 24/7 working scheme.
    I don’t think it is passive at all.

  21. Thank you for your qualitative and invaluable posts.
    I follow your blog for several months, read and learn from you a lot.
    I’m very curious regaring the idea of an SEO page for the sidebar.
    How do you do that, technically (I’m new in the WP world )?
    How does it improve the daily SEO efforts?

    Once again, thank you for bringing so high quality content.

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  23. I have been doing these things unintentionally but never tried to define them….

  24. I guess we all have agreed the idea of signing up with affiliates programs as far as passive blogging is concerned. Has any one made money from sponsors finding tem?

  25. Good article, if I ever figure out how, I will outsource everything related with my blog, but blogging id hard work especially getting traffic. Does anyone have experience outsourcing most of their jobs to someone else?

  26. I don’t agree wit hthe outsourcing debate. I’d rather do it myself and save the money. :)

  27. I would like to know more about the outsourcing method. Especially with some real-world examples. Since most in-depth articles don’t talk about real examples.

  28. Yes – try to avoid outsourcing as much as possible in my opinion.

    Most people will not nearly as good a job for you as you will do for yourself.

  29. The problem for project outsourcing in taking care of your blog or website is how much you can trust the guy. If they are able to do works for you through world wide web, that means the guy knows what it is and might play around with your website.

  30. Blogging has fantastic potential to allow your income to expand while maintaining the same workload. That’s why I love it! Great article.

  31. I have this ‘passive income’ debate with friends quite regularly, many of whom think that you shouldn’t seek ways to monetise your website.

    However, I take the view that if you’re going to put effort into something then ought to be worth your while at some point.

    I use Google Adsense and Amazon affiliation to generate income and have to admit that it’s easy and doesn’t come across as hard sell. Furthermore, if something you’ve read has been of benefit to you and your business then I feel obliged to let people know about it.

  32. Excellent article. I am focusing on content, content, content.

  33. Another good way to earn some passive income through your blog is by placing some cpm ads on it. With cpm ads you make a small profit from each visitor to your blog. You want get rich from cpm ads but it is an easy way to make some hands free income.

  34. Very nice article.

    I’m finding many useful articles on your blog.

    There are a few subjects that I’m passionate about and have just recently considered trying to write about these things. As a challenge to myself and to see if I can become part of some blogging communities that share the same passions.

    I thought learning about generating income from these blogs was also quite interesting… so my journey has begun!

  35. The problem for project outsourcing in taking care of your blog or website is how much you can trust the guy. If they are able to do works for you through world wide web, that means the guy knows what it is and might play around with your website.

  36. A familiar title but an unique article :)
    I don’t think it’s a good way for me and other small blogger to get some money.
    We need to build our project everyday. It’s seem to be hard to get a passive income if you not exert all your strength.

  37. This article is quite useful. I am a newbie blogger. Gave me many ideas about content and monetization. In fact i did’nt knew the exact meaning of passive income.

    Thank you Shaun Connel.


  38. Building a passive income isn’t about “get rich quick”; it often takes longer, usually takes more work and is always true.

  39. Really interesting post.

    Every person should aim at least one source of passive income.

    Passive income is the best and sometimes the easiest to achieve, just look in the right places.

    Thanks for sharing

  40. Anyone can really earn money from blogging, but a good know-how is a must before anyone can make the best out of it.

    This is a great post.

  41. Challenging and interesting.

    That’s why I love online marketing!

  42. Well the information is really good and as you said that there are many more ways to earn passive earnings, well yes it’s a Truth, because it’s not easy to cover all the fact and types of sites and blogs that one may be using or own it. but you got there a good point which is “CONTENT” well i think that if you got something unique and full of latest info that is important to have to become better.
    Well thanks for the info, keep up the good work.

  43. Thanks for the informative post. I hope to do enough to earn enough passive income from my site and i guess outsourcing will enable me to “free” up some time.

  44. Well full of options and ideas. I think I can make good use of these Ideas. SEM provides an easy way to make money. You can receive projects from webmasters who outsource these jobs. It involve article writing , forum posting etc.
    Making money online is more than just creating websites and monetizing with adsense.

  45. Good article on how to create an income stream that stays for ever.If we create an affiliate income source that keeps on paying residual income it is amazing. I did join some programs though with lot of dreams but without any success.
    I understand what it means to have a steady income stream. I must agree the other points do seem little foreign to me. The copyright and outsourcing.. How can they be permanent. I will comeback and read your article again for clues. In the meantime if you could help me out with some information you are welcome.

  46. Nice Post.
    I’d love to learn more about this topic. Looking forwards for your new posts.
    Great Work.I’d like the thank the blog owner for posting it.
    Great Comments. I’d like to thank the readers for sharing more
    helpful and relevant information.

  47. This was great for me to read. I’m very amused by how some people seem to think “passive income” means they won’t have to work hard. I’m just getting started and trying to put my years of credit card marketing and copywriting to work on a variety of sites — and I’m amazed at the amount of constant effort it takes. I can write a post in a few minutes (years of experience doing this every day), but the learning, set up and maintenance takes a lot of time. It’s not “passive” at all.

  48. Just read through the posts again ….

    By definition passive income is that which you keep getting paid on time and time again on something that you did just once.

    So in terms of blogging … if you keep stats on your blog posts, in theory (and this is in theory) if that post, because of the keyword used, draws a lot of traffic, and that traffic continues to convert at a percentage (say 5 people either click ads or buy affiliate products), then that is passive income.

    It is not the best example as with blogs, we post frequently and it is the frequency along with other marketing efforts that increase traffic to the blog and is a little bit more complex than the example above.

    Where I see the “passive” part is that for the same amount of time devoted, your income continues to grow – so if you put in an hour every day and begin to see a $1 a day as your initial income, then it grows to $10 a day (still with just one hour of blogging per day) and then that grows.

    In my view, a 100% passive income (never work again) with anything in internet marketing is a fallacy as it is with just about any industry except say with real estate (which, alas, I do not invest in) and even that has its ups and downs. Ditto stock market.

    To everyone’s success …………..


  49. I just thinking about start blogging on the theme of self-improvement and collect information about how to make money blogging because I want to step up to professional level that’s why I must leave my job and write posts all the time.
    How do you think is it good idea to write a book and try to sell it through my blog. I can’t place my thoughts into small post.
    I think it could be a type of passive income.

  50. Quick question about creating a blog for passive income.

    If you quit posting to your blog, will your Adsense earnings decrease (assuming that your traffic stays the same)?

    The reason I ask is because I took a 2 month hiatus from posting to my niche blog (projectsinmetal.com) for family reasons and I noticed that my Adsense income decreased substantially. This wasn’t related to traffic because my traffic had averaged close to the same from month to month – if not increased a bit.

    I just recently (a week ago) posted a quick 2 paragraph update on the blog and suddenly my Adsense earnings jumped back up to normal amounts. Again, my traffic remained about the same despite the new post.

    I also noticed that when I stopped posting for those two months my google search engine traffic went from fairly consistant to all over the map (some days with virtually no inbound searches and some days with average inbound clicks).

    It would make sense to me if my traffic was declining and therefor my earnings were also declining, but my traffic (despite the sporadic google search traffic) stayed about the same.

    Can Google/Adsense somehow “tell” if your content has gotten stale and pay you less because of it?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding the idea behind creating a blog for passive income. To me that seems to mean building a blog up to the point that the readership/search traffic makes you a comfortable income, and then moving on to another blog, building that up for a second income stream, and then moving on to a third blog … etc. If you could get 10 blogs earning $200 each a month, that would be a nice income stream to supplement a persons day job.

    However, if Google can tell you’ve stopped posting and they decrease your Adsense earnings because of it, than you can never have a truly passive blog (one that can walk away from).

    So am I missing something? To recap the long-winded question: If you’re NOT experiencing a drop in visitors, do you still have to occasionally post to a “passive income” blog to maintain your earnings?

    Thanks in advance for the help.


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