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Blog Smarter: Don’t Just End Up Trading Hours for Dollars

This guest post is by Sunil of extramoneyblog.com.

Many business owners leave or start their businesses thinking they can achieve more freedom only to find themselves toiling away in their businesses and thus having bought or created themselves another job. Blogging is no different for most bloggers.

Blog time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user colombweb

Many bloggers who enter the blogosphere with the intention of making money online and someday freeing themselves up from time commitments such as a 9 to 5 job often end up getting tied up to their blogs and don’t realize it until often it’s too late.

That is quite alright if your intention is simply to work online from home, but if your intention is to free yourself up so that you have more time, you must approach blogging from the lens of building a business that generates passive income for you.

See many people that want to break free from their jobs often have the illusion that they want to make more money online and that they can. What they don’t realize is that what their subconscious really wants is more freedom and flexibility. Money is secondary.

Think about it, how long can one continue to trade five days in exchange for only two (weekends)? This never made sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Why? Even if you love your job, you have to be there and show up even when you don’t feel like it some days. Why should you have to?

After an individual reaches a certain point in their career or profession, there comes a point when the incremental money gained from incremental time and effort invested is simply not worth it. At that stage, individuals start craving for time more so than money. Study after study has been conducted on this subject and the results are fairly consistent (watch out because after money, freedom and flexibility, the hunger for power is next).

If you haven’t yet caught on, this post is not meant for someone who wants to supplement their income by blogging, or someone who wants to quit their jobs to work online full time, but rather those who are interested in building a business online that generates passive income for them, thus giving them the balance of time and money.

I am not going to go into what passive income is and whether it exists. There are about 1,943 different schools of thought on that subject. For the purposes of this post, let’s say passive income is income that is at least the same or more from what you make at your job without having you put much effort into generating it on an ongoing basis. Simple and conservative enough?

Most bloggers produce content, guest post, market their blogs, find advertising partners, then rinse and repeat the cycle. Many take up writing gigs to supplement their incomes because the blog doesn’t generate enough. Others take up freelance gigs to help other bloggers out.

What ends up happening is the constant trade of hours for dollars. There is nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want. But if you want the freedom brought by passive income, then your approach to blogging must change. Most blogs would die overnight if the authors stopped posting to them. Like I said, it’s like buying yourself (or creating) another job. Ask yourself, what would happen to your blog if you stopped blogging today?

So how can bloggers move away from trading hours for dollars so they can focus on semi or fully automating their “online business”? Here are a handful of ideas for starters. Take them as a little food for thought.

    • Focus on search engine optimization: SEO is well and alive even today. If most of your traffic comes from other websites and blogs, your RSS readers, and the community you have built, you are compelled to create content periodically to keep your blog alive. Focusing on SEO will help you spread your traffic spider web by catching more free, organic search engine traffic when web surfers are looking for information you have on your blog. Effective SEO ensures you gain the long-term benefits of the traffic your blog generates whether you update it or not.
    • Publish evergreen pillar content: Hand in hand with SEO goes the creation of evergreen “pillar” content. This refers to content that was valid yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. Moreover, this content discusses a core topic or subtopic within your niche that people would be interested in reading about regardless of when they see it.
    • Focus on list-building: How many times have you heard the “money is in the list”? Enough times. Building a list ensures you have a business model to leverage and scale long after you stop posting content to your blog. An RSS readership is similar, but not the same. An email list allows you direct, personal contact with your subscribers. Moreover, it is not predicated on the success of your blog or the existence and use of RSS technology. Email, on the other hand, will follow us to our graves.
    • Collaborate: This seems to be the hottest trend in blogging today and the direction in which most popular blogs are going.  Think Huffington Post, ProBlogger and the likes—single individuals are no longer running and managing those entities.  Many believe the future of blogging lies in collaboration, and that those who do not collaborate will die over time.  Because this is such a recent trend, the long term impact is unknown.  There are cons to collaboration as well, such as loosing the blog’s identity and main voice which were behind building the massive readership to begin with.  So far it seems to be working alright, but time will tell how collaboration shapes up.
    • Leverage experience: Your journey as an online entrepreneur will teach you several invaluable lessons which you can leverage to build a more passive type of business the second time around. You will be wiser the second time around, which will help prevent you from building an online business that turns into a job. I made that mistake in 2005; luckily I was able to sell the site for $250,000 two years later after growing it faster than I could handle at the time. Ensure that your business is “scaleable” and sustainable with relatively low effort.
    • Build multiple streams of income: As your supplemental income increases, put some of it away and invest in establishing other passive streams of income such as a dividend portfolio, rental property, certificates of deposits, annuities, etc.  The beauty of an online business such as blogging is that you can do it while maintaining a 9 to 5 job, therefore you can take all the profits from that scaleable side business and invest it to establish other streams of passive income that require little to no effort.

While trading hours for dollars working online may give you the flexibility to work remotely from home or anywhere else (after all, you have the ability to travel), it does not necessarily mean that you have the freedom and flexibility to decide how much you want to work and when, which most likely was your underlying motive to begin with.

Keeping that critical distinction in mind from the outset helps develop a business strategy that supports a fairly passive and self-sustainable model if that’s what you want. Simply saying that you work online doesn’t convey the full story at all. A data entry person works online from home. We need to understand the broader picture, address what we truly desire, and then develop a strategy that will get us closer to our desire. I hope this article helps you reflect on your true desire behind blogging.

Editor’s note: We’ll be building on the idea of scalable blogging over the coming days in a series of posts on Blogging Smarter. This series will look more closely at particular aspects of blogging where you can get more value for the time you put in.

In the meantime, let us know if you’ve thought about your motivations for blogging, and whether you’ve wound up simply trading hours for dollars on your blog.

Sunil owns over two dozen profitable niche websites, over 20 successfully selling ebooks, and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time“, a FREE report you can download instantly from his blog, where he discusses expedited wealth creation through solid personal finance, entrepreneurship and internet marketing. You can read more about him and his work on his blog.

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Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this post, Sunil. My only thought is that this shouldn’t be just for those thinking of monetizing a blog, but those who blog for business as well – for example evergreen posts and SEO = smart strategeis regardless. It’s more about increasing the return of investment on blogging. Thank you for the post, well thought-through and useful.

    • i agree Isabelle. this is what i tell many businesses that engage me for consulting. blog integration is the first step, successfully using it and managing it requires the mindset discussed above. you are welcome and i hope you participate in my 1,500 and Apple iPad giveaway!

  2. Designely says:

    Wow… I’ve never thought about it this way. I think many bloggers, including me, put even more effort, time and energy in their “work from home” jobs, than the average 9-5 employee…

    But the point I totally agree with, is that the second time around, when you’re experienced enough and have seen how web evolves and what works and what doesn’t, then you have all that knowledge and wisdom to invest into creating something new that will utilize this passive income which Sunil refers to in the post.

    Great eye-opener!

    • the reason we get so engrossed in it is because we are doing something we truly enjoy, writing about our passion. experience goes a long way, which only comes with time and execution. thank you for your response.

  3. Kenny Fabre says:

    Sunil

    I think two of the most important points here, is create pillar content we must add all the value we can and leverage experience it makes things much easier for us

    • good to see you here brother. leverage is so underrated it’s unbelievable. not only at our level as individual bloggers, but at mid size companies as well. i frequently consult companies in the $100-300M range and it’s amazing to observe the inefficiencies simply because of failure to take advantage of leverage

  4. Patrick says:

    Excellent post and great food for thought here.

    I recently experienced massive success myself in this area, leaving a day job that I hated and that was sucking 40 hours + of my time every week.

    It took me about 4 years total, but I was only building the website seriously for maybe two of those years.

    At first, my income grew very slowly. I was earning $100 per month, and wondering if it was possible for me to ever get to $1,000/month.

    It was a long process to multiply the income by a factor of ten. There was one month in there where I took four weeks off from my day job, and was writing up to 25 articles per day for my website.

    My focus was on growing monthly income, and creating passive earnings. Most of my traffic (and earnings) was coming from search engine traffic.

    I wanted to build quality links in order to get more authority and thus better rankings. I manufactured links but these could only take my site so far. Also, it was not practical to build worthless links to over a thousand individual articles. I needed legitimate link juice, and readers who actually shared my content.

    So I shifted gears for a while and stopped cranking out multiple articles per day. Instead, I started creating resources. I made a single post that was over five thousand words and was incredibly useful. I started creating free eBooks for my readers to download and share with each other. I even tried my hand at Photoshop and created some custom infographics for my site, even though I did not really know what I was doing. I worked hard at creating valuable resources rather than just average content.

    Things grew. It took time for the new content and the trickle of incoming links to make a difference. I was getting regular comments so I decided to add a forum and create a community. This worked very well, and a core group of my readers took to the forum, creating thousands of words of new content every day.

    Finally, the site passed the $1,000 per month level. Just a few months after that, it hit over $2,000 in monthly earnings. I was able to quit my day job quite easily on that income, and started working even harder on the site.

    It was then that things got really interesting, and one of my direct advertisers offered to purchase my website from me. I told him that the site was not for sale, that it was now earning me a living, and that I could not part with it. He laughed and said “Try me. Give me a number. Everyone has their price.”

    It turns out he was serious….I ended up selling out and now I practically live on dividend income. When I look back and calculate my dollar per hour in building that website, it comes out to just over $900 per hour. Of course, the money I made is still working for me, creating new income via investments.

    I used to read about Internet marketing and everyone said to diversify. I never understood how to do that until I sold my website. Now I have an income stream that is independent of my online earnings. You can always build another website, right? I continue to work hard every day creating new passive income streams.

    (btw Darren: Waiting in the wings is my full story on this in a premium guest post, disclosing all of the details. Please let me know if you are interested in sharing this case study with your readers.)

  5. good post

    you make some important bullet points especially the evergreen content one

    a lot of people always fail to remember that most of there content should be evergreen friendly
    otherwise it will be out of date within months or weeks so this leads to having to produce more content for there blog to make up for it

    also building a list within your blog is another thing a lot of people dont do but its the best thing we can do as bloggers to build a sustainable online business

    i certainly agree though that you shouldnt just trade your time for dollars, if you do you may as well go back into a normal job

    instead we should be using a sales funnel. this is proably the main component that most online marketers and bloggers fail to realize and instead resort to manually intensive time wasting tasks which do not help to push there business forward

    some people will eventually see the light and learn by there mistakes but many others never will unfortunately

    good post though problogger

    paul

  6. Mike says:

    Great to hear! I think it takes a lot of time and hard work to ensure that the blog/blogs can be grown to a point to allow for independence. I like the thinking of focusing on the freedom and flexibility first then start building into that the opportunity to be able to spread our incomes wide!

  7. Tams says:

    I think it’s funny and depressing at the same time as I look back on the moment I thought about blogging to earn money online. I was delusional thinking it would be easy and take less time than a 9-5 job. The truth is by the time I finish researching, tweaking my blog and write an article or two there are nights I don’t sleep at all.
    I could make more money working part-time at any minimum wage job if I depended solely on my new blog’s income. The learning curve is unbelievable and never stops changing.
    I’m up for the challenge, but putting it into perspective is important. Sadly, there are too many sites out there making it seem easy to quit your day job.
    I’ve just finished reading, “Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.” and have learned tonnes. Thank you!

    • you are right Tams, but the blogs I read do not preach the ease, rather they talk about realistic expectations. there is a lot to learn, but the process can be really rewarding for those that stick it out in the long run. consistency as you’ve likely heard is the key

  8. It is do true Sunil. I think I am one of them wasting my time doing nothing and just making plans. I need to curb this habit of mine.

  9. Richard Ng says:

    Nice sharing Sunil. I especially like the last point about multiple streams of passive incomes… which is very important as I do believe that not all methods are suitable for everyone!

    Cheers!

  10. Bryan Ring says:

    Thank you Sunil. Since I also own a landscape company I have had plenty of time as of late. Between building websites and tweaking my own sites..I cannot imagine keeping this type of pace during the summer. I can say that one should focus on their niche and bring it home first before attempting multiple sites.
    ~Cheers

    • i was just going to ask how you find time given a laborious (tiring) and time consuming business? i agree that one must do everything they can for their site/or whatever business they are in before diving into another. that said, many have found success with the shot gun approach as well, see what hits, and then revisit that one and build it larger. this was my approach and it’s worked wonders, hence the 20+ niche sites in my portfolio net of several sales.

  11. Okto says:

    This post is so enlightening … , thanks for sharing this.

    “The beauty of an online business such as blogging is that you can do it while maintaining a 9 to 5 job .. “. This is true indeed, but to make it happen, it will take more than just trying our luck to do that but once we know how to do it, great stream of passive income will be in your hand. This understanding has triggered many people to try their luck in blogging. And that’s why information as it provided by extramoneyblog is important for other who want passive income blogging.

  12. Johanna says:

    Thanks Sunil. I agree how blogging can become a trade off for dollars. I think many bloggers just love blogging (count me in) and it’s easy to spend far too long learning, tweaking, networking and writing. Oh, did I say writing? But like you say, it’s the passive income streams which hide the treasure, not the daily toiling away … and collaboration is one of the ways to take a blog to another level. Yep, thanks, that’s my thought and goal for the week ahead.

    • refreshing to hear collaboration from you Johanna. I agree. what are some ways you have succeeded at this and how has it paid off for you? collaboration has been a huge part of my success. 6,000+ subscribers in less than 18 months

  13. Nhonpt says:

    Nice post!

    I had started my first blog 2 yrs ago and deleted it just in 6 months later. I found that I was so excited at beginning but easy to loose my motivation after that. The first challenge to start our blogging is our illusion about huge money we will get just after a short time. Well, it’s a big and nice mistake to learn about making money online ;-)

    Cheer!
    Nhon Pham

    • Nhon – so are you going to attempt it again (or something similar)? what did you learn last time and what will you be doing different this time around? what do you feel you need to keep going and succeed at this initiative?

  14. A lot of useful tips here.

  15. Daniel says:

    Fantastic post, Sunil.

    You have done a great job of outlining so many essentials for blogging(online) success.

    I went and checked out your site, Sunil. I am also going to bookmark this article for further reading.

    You hit the nail on the head as far as how people approach their blogs(websites), makes a whole lot of difference in the level of success and happiness they are achieving.

  16. Bharat says:

    There are many ways to get income from a blog. I prefer this way :

    1. Built your own product and market it.
    2. Be an affiliate marketer for some popular products on internet.
    3. Write articles for others blog.

    If you got any other points, please feel free to add them here.

  17. Thank you for this sage advice. Even after blogging for 2 years I still consider myself a newbie & I have the goal of eventually creating a passive income. The information you have provided is going to surely help me (especially the evergreen info) since my site focuses often on time sensitive information, this post has given me a few other ideas that will hopefully help me to move further away from trading time for hours on a different level. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  18. Tomas says:

    Thanks for the post. I have subscribed to your email list on Extra Money Blog and look forward to reading your free ebook. Thanks again.

  19. Outsourcing is a key to “passive” income to me, my goal is to outsource a lot of the long, repetitive work so I can concentrate on the most important aspects of my blogs and other revenue streams.

    My goal is to be able to manage everything from my BlackBerry devices (Smartphone and Tablet) and spend no more than an hour or two a day of actually working on my websites/blogs.

  20. Sunil,

    I think it is very common for people starting out to make this mistake and exchanging hours for dollars. As you pointed out as part of the mindset of the business world, the online is completely different.

    I would add that another important option is exchanging pennies for dollars. By this I mean outsourcing some of the mundane tasks. The important part of this is to get a real idea of what your time is worth so you can assure that you are actually getting your money’s worth from paying these tasks. But when you do this you can use the time you do spend to focus on your real genius and the things that only you can handle.

  21. There are several great points in this article that can be applied to building any kind of business, not just blogging. The idea that over time, flexibility is sought more than money rang very true with me. You’ll often work harder for yourself than you ever would for your 9 to 5. Defining what you want and then striking a balance between work life and personal life is a key player in being happy.

    I clicked over to your blog and subscribed and will be reading your free report (thanks for offering the download!!)

  22. Hi Sunil, great thoughts you have there. However before you can successfully build passive income, you need to put in some really active hours. That is, I don’t think passive income is an overnight achievement. I am currently working on my first info product for sale (I’ve produced many which I give away for free). Anyway, I know the hours I’ve put in writing and researching…and the hours I’ll put in marketing. However, I know that when it finally takes off, I can then begin to earn passive income.

    I think the same goes for affiliate marketers and those who decide to build niche blogs or authority blogs…you have to put in the sweat before anything becomes passive.

    Nevertheless, I see where you’re coming from. It’s so easy to focus on the grind that we lose sight of why we are in this business in the first place. Thank you for this timely post, which is a reminder.

  23. Clarabela says:

    I am still working on finding ways to make money from my blogs. I am using some affiliate ads and starting to build my email list. Thanks for gving me a few more ideas.

  24. great information its so easy to get frustrated in the beginning, im in that phase right now!.

  25. CS Journal says:

    Really a great post and an eye opener. Never thought of it like this until now.

    Thanks a lot and keep sharing the blogging wisdom

  26. ankur chauhan says:

    WELL I AM NEW TO BLOGGING . BUT BY READING YOUR POST AT LEAST I AM ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE BASICS OF IT….
    I LOVE TO WRITE BUT WHAT TO WRITE AND HOW TO BUILD MY CIRCLE ,IS STILL AN CRITICAL ISSUE FOR ME…
    THANKS FOR SHOWING THE LIGHT TO THE BEGINNERS…

  27. Seriously guys, pay attention to these tips, they’re first class. When I first started out I was writing 2 to 3 blogs a day and it was very time consuming. I know many people who are making a full time living but they’re working harder than they did when they were on a 9-5! Thanks, great post!

  28. Abishek Rana says:

    Hi, Sunil.

    Thanks for writing this blog and opening my eye!

    I thought that blogging was all about starting another online business without giving much thought on the broader picture. That was to make it generate passive income for me, free up more time for myself, and finally escape the 9-5 job.

    I want to thank you for mentioning points such as ‘building pillar articles’, ‘focusing on building an email list’, and ‘collaborating with other bloggers’. These are sure ways to make one’s own blog alive along with writing few quality articles every week.

    I have also subscribed to your blog, and downloaded your free e-book. Thank you again for sharing!

  29. Sunil,
    Congratulations on your success,
    I think a key issue you raised and other people have too is that if you are blogging to earn passive income you will need to invest a lot of time upfront and then overtime you can invest less time. This is the same experience when you are building a business offline.

    There really is no short cut to success EXCEPT when you learn from people who have achieved what you want to achieve before you and are willing to share their steps. Just like you I help people compress time by teaching people what I have learned growing my own business.

    I especially like people to avoid any mistakes I made.

    All the best,
    David

  30. Although I want to make my posts evergreen, I am in a pseudo-technical niche (WordPress Tips) and I find that I cannot keep my content timeless all the time. For example, I cannot talk about the latest patch for WordPress, or vulnerability WITHOUT it being dated.

    Any suggestions, Sunil?

    Thanks.
    Paul.

    • that’s why niche selection is critical. while you have to maintain your content to keep it fresh, why not establish something else on the side that can be passive? once done, you can rinse, repeat and move on to another niche? that is exactly what I have done and now have over 20 very profitable niche sites

  31. Victoria says:

    These are really great tips. The evergreen pillar content, I think, is one of the most important alongside the SEO. Creating content that will be looked at anytime is something that will surely have readers interested and it will assure that these readers will rely on this post that you’ve made, giving leeway for others foreign to your blog to come and check it out.

  32. Wonderful article, thank you for sharing Sunil. I have to work on writing more “evergreen pillar” content. Again, thank you very much for sharing this was very helpful.

  33. williamsam says:

    very very good article dude keep it up !

  34. Monty says:

    Thank You Sunil.

    This post is one I value for several factors.

    First and foremost, It made me remember the value of evergreen content. I love writing, but writing content that is relevant long term is truly valuable. I have one article I wrote on Associated Content which is now YahooVoices. That single article generated 80,000 impressions alone. That is not a huge number in comparison to many other people, but for me that made me pay attention. For the last 5 years that same article continues to get attention. I wrote follow-up articles in that same vein and they too get attention.

    I now have focused on my site in an effort to develop massive passive income to help my family and others. I love helping my church and community in a way with not only money but time. Massive passive income gives me the opportunity to volunteer to help others in a way that a 9 to 5 would not afford me.

    My second point is simply learning from mentors like you and Darren. Its a blessing to have resources like you here. I’m thankful and look forward to growing my business so that I too can be a resource for others. Your point “Leverage experience” is something that hit my heart. I have hid most of my experiences with the perspective that my struggles are my own. But I have learned my struggles are for me to show and help others understand how I survived and things got better so that now I can help you. I thank you for your post that reiterated that message to me.

    Have a blessed day.

  35. Yep, trading hours for dollars sounds like me.

  36. Nick says:

    I’m brand new to blogging! When I bought my domain I was so excited I couldn’t sleep for about a week. I’ve went hard at it everyday for 1 month now and I’m starting to grow weary. With regular job and small kids I find it hard to do it all. At one point I seriously considered just quitting my day job and pour myself into it full time. But my income is about 5 dollars a month from my blogs right now LOL! Better not do that! I built one website about Thyroid Problems and then decided to bail on it, although it is still up (thyroid-hype.com), because I just felt the competition was too stiff. I’m now working on a Airline Pilot/Railroader transportation worker/enthusiast blog. I need guidance, as I’m burning out on this learning curve. Thanks for the great advice. I hope I can put it to use.

  37. MonkSEO says:

    Sunil, Great article! I definitely agree with you about creating Evergreen content, especially if you in the SEO / IM Niche, as things change so quickly. I found that recently my best Ally when trying to make the most productive use of my time, I do at least 4, 1 hour, uninterrupted, super focused working sessions per day. So I turn off my phone, set a timer, and only work on 1 task for an hour, or until it is complete. No checking email, no taking calls, no chat, no web surfing, no ebay…. it is so hard nowadays to stay focused to get things done and this is what has really been helping me accomplish 10x more each day.

  38. You made some decent factors there. I appeared on the internet for the problem and located most people will associate with together with your website.

  39. excellent post.+helpful for me.
    Thanks.