Recently, I attended an event and heard a speaker talk about how they’d build a passive income from blogging. The person sitting next to me leant over toward me and at whispered:
“Based on your Twitter Stream, I’m not so sure that blogging is ‘passive’ – is it?”
I thought it might be an interesting discussion to re-open here on ProBlogger – do you think that income earned from blogging could be classified as ‘passive income’?
Wikipedia defines ‘passive income’ as:
Passive income is an income received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it.
Wikipedia also goes on to define it from a tax perspective, which I’m won’t get into here. I’m more interested talking about the ‘with little effort required to maintain it’ aspect of the definition, which I think is what many people are attracted to when they hear anyone talk about ‘passive income’.
Let me kick off the discussion by making a few comments:
Most Bloggers Making a Living from Blogging, Work Hard
This has been a recurring theme here on ProBlogger, since I started the blog in 2004. While there’s no single way to make a living from blogging, most full time bloggers I know – who blog as their primary income stream - work pretty hard on their blogs.
- Post content on a daily basis
- Spend a significant amount of effort to maintain the community around their blogs
- Work hard on promoting their blogs and finding new readers
- Build relationships with other bloggers
- Work hard to maintain their income streams (whether that be by liaising and working with advertisers or developing and launching products)
- Also work on any number of other tasks including SEO, maintaining social media accounts, answering emails, moderating comments, blog design, racing other blogs, managing hosting etc
Some full time bloggers have grown to the point where they are able to outsource some of the above – but then there’s the task of managing a team!
Income from blogging is neither quick or easy. In short, if you expect to earn an income from your blog, you need to consistently put time and effort into it.
Some Aspects of Blogging Will Generate Passive Income
Having just said that blogging for income takes a significant amount of work, there are some elements of blogging that could be said to generate ‘passive income’. Let’s look at a few examples:
There’s Gold in Those Archives
Each post I publish could potentially generate an income for me, on the day it’s published but also tomorrow, next week, and next month. Even years into the future.
Example 1 – when I dig into my Google Analytics account and drill down into the AdSense stats there, I see that last month my post ‘Aperture‘ on dPS earned me $233.23 and this Wedding Photography Tips post earned $222.61.
Those posts were published in 2007, five and a half years ago!
Example 2 – when I look at my Amazon Affiliate earnings, I can see that my Popular Digital Camera and Gear post generated $60 yesterday for me. That post has been up since 2009 and while I do update it from time to time, it has been over 2 months since I reviewed it.
Of course, part of the reason those old posts continue to generate income for me is because I continue to publish new content on the site. Alongside the new content, the posts in my archives have the potential to earn income for years to come (if all goes well).
You could argue that a blogger who spends years doing all of the above could then completely stop doing any work and still make some income based upon continued traffic from search engines. However, that traffic (and the income from it) would decrease in time without you maintaining your blog (depending a little on how evergreen the content of your blog might be).
The Long Tail of Products
In a similar manner, when you develop a product to sell to your readers that product can continue to generate an income for you into the future, without needing continual development.
Example – when I first wrote and released 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, it took significant work to get ready to be published. There was the time I put into creating the content, the editing, the design, the setting up of shopping carts, the marketing etc.
In return for that effort the eBook produced a good income when it launch during the launch period.
However, it has continued to sell almost every day since then. I did a full update of the eBook and added new content in 2012 but other than that, the 31DBBB continues to sell (as do our other eBooks) thanks to it being promoted in our sidebar/navigation areas and through annual discount promotions we’ve run.
This is the beauty of creating something to sell for your readership, particularly if it’s evergreen and doesn’t date.
Is Making Money from Blogging Passive Income?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic – do you see the income you earn from blogging as ‘passive income’?