It’s everyone’s dream: to retire to some island that you own and spend the rest of your days sipping mai tais on the beach. Many people think that blogging is the way to achieve that dream. They hear stories of people who make money hand over fist and only need to interrupt the mai tai drinking by occasionally logging into their blog to check how much money is rolling in. So, they open up their computer and learn about how to create a webpage and start to blog. Then they hit the brick wall of reality. Then two months in, many of these new bloggers are wondering where the mai tais are and they realize this can be a long and winding road. So they pack up their blog and go home. But a few dig in, they roll up their sleeves and dig into that well of tenaciousness and courage and continue on. What do they find at the end of that road? Is it a passive income? Is it wealth and riches? Why do they keep going?
There are a number of rewards to blogging that answers these questions. Today, I will focus on the key question of whether you can really earn passive income through blogging. The answer to that question is yes and no. Were you looking for one right answer? Well, it’s more complicated than that. Is blogging a passive activity? Any blogger who has been around can tell you that it’s not. It’s a very active process, involving writing your posts, creating backings, and SEO. If that’s the case, how can it also create passive income?
What is passive income?
First of all, we need to clearly define what we are talking about. By its very definition, passive income is income received on a regular basis that requires little effort to maintain. Let’s take a closer look at what that means. First of all, you must recognize that it doesn’t say no effort. It just says little effort to maintain. What are the sources of passive income. If you do a simple search on the internet, you will find a list that includes
-advertisements on webpages
and the list goes on and on…
You’ll notice that a couple of these lists fall right into categories of things that you already do to monetize your blog. Advertisement jumps straight to mind. What about residual income? Perhaps you sold an affiliate product that has a subscription fee that you earn a percentage as long as the person remains a member. That’s residual income. Or royalties, some bloggers will put together an ebook, using their posts as source materials. The money made from those sales are royalties. But wait, what about the affiliate links that are in your posts? You spend hours working on a great post, then you publish it. The post stays around on your site. Months later, people will still come back and discover your post and purchase your affiliate product.
The reality is that while bloggers do put in full time effort, their past work continues to contribute to their future earnings. Blogging is definitely an active process, but it is also an efficient source of income. The work that I put in last month or last year, can still be earning income for my blog. That’s passive income.
Is it less work? No! I don’t want to disillusion you, but you should know up front. Blogging is not less work. You still need to maintain your blog to bring in visitors. If you stop writing, and leave you blog alone, you might still get income for it for a month or two, but eventually it will trickle off and die and you’ll end up having to start over.
Are there ways to make active blogging more passive?
As you work on your blog, you are going to want to become more efficient. You’ll want to focus more on the art of blogging and less on the grind of running a business. Is this possible? As the blogging platform matures, it is becoming more and more possible to focus on your art and automate the monetization part of your blogging experience. This is why people install plugins.
Plugins, widgets, and other software can help you handle some of the less glamourous aspects of blogging. I discuss this in greater detail in my post Themes, Plugins, and Widgets Oh My! There are plugins that can automatically bookmark your site to twitter, delicious, digg, stumbleupon, and other social bookmarking sites. There are plugins to assist you in commenting. There are even plugins to help you out directly with affiliate advertising. You’ll find that you can use a plugin like MaxBLogPress Ninja Affiliate, to automate changing phrases in your posts to affiliate links. Or you can look into OIOPublisher Direct to automate allowing advertisers to purchase advertising space on your site. Then if you need help occasionally on posting, you can use WP Robot to post a description of a product from Amazon.com or even automate some content. (I don’t endorse automating actual content as I don’t think it’s good for the overall health of your blog, however automating posting a product description from Amazon or Clickbank is really helpful. I’ll leave the decision of automating substantive content up to you. If you go that route, this is one of the best plugins for it.)
In the end, as you get to know the blogging platform better, you can find ways to make your job easier so you can focus on blogging, but you still have to actively blog to keep your site alive.
What’s the Attraction of Blogging?
If it’s so much work, why do people do it? There are a number of reasons. Some people love to write, and their blog is a work of art to them. Pure love of blogging aside, what about the monetary rewards? Is it worth it? Well, step back and mull it over. Blogging is active! But how many other professions can you find where your activity from a year ago still pays off today? Where else can you do 40 hours of work in a week and get access to millions of potential customers during that time? Finally, think on the intangibles? You can spend that 40 hour work week at home, doing it on your own schedule. Do you prefer to work between the hours of 1am and 6am and sleep during the day? Go ahead? Do you want to be able to pick up your kids from school and spend a few hours with them at the park before going to work? That’s ok too! The reality is that you can earn an income efficiently and on your own terms? Is that a dream worth having as much as sipping mai tias on a private beach? Only you can answer that question.