Close
Close

Is Making Money from Blogging Passive Income?

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’.

Relaxed Person Hangs Flip Flops Out The Car Window

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.

They:

  • 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’?

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Elena says:

    I don’t consider it to be passive income. In fact, I don’t think I have ever worked so hard. I maintain several blogs and earn a little income from each. Technically I can leave them and get same amount of money without doing anything, but with recent Google changes I wouldn’t risk. Thanks!

  2. Keshav Yadav says:

    I do consider it as a passive income. this is because I am a part time blogger, and the only time i could find for my blog is 1-2 hours daily. Therefore, I consider it as a passive income

  3. Vivek says:

    I don’t think that blogging can help you generate passive income, specially when there are two living Google animal, I think Google will soon create their own zoo of algorithms.

    For me blogging is fun, though I always want to make money with my each post but that’s not always possible since I don’t use Google adsense or any similar service. I just promote affiliate products and that’s even 1 in 20 posts. So for me blogging doesn’t generate passive income, but might help me generate static amount if I really focus on social media, readers and my community.

  4. Anshu says:

    I think making money from blogging is often mistaken for passive income because earlier bloggers were the people passionate about their niche who set out to find their voice through blogging instead of making money. They were in it mostly for fun and often had a full time job to support themselves.
    Since their focus was on having fun with blogging making money was just a pleasant side effect and was counted as passive income.
    However, blogging as we know it now is hardly passive. In fact, in the initial years it is more work than a regular full time job for much less payoff. Even the bloggers who have developed successful products to supplement their blogging income work hard to promote/advertise them and still maintain the blog, social media to keep the readers engaged. That doesn’t seem like passive to me.
    Bloggers make money doing what they love ( well…in most cases), that is very different from making money doing little.

    • I like the way you explain it, Anshu. As Darren points out, without continued work, the income would gradually decrease over time. It’s like building a house, and thinking you don’t have to do maintenance work on it ever.

  5. I’d probably argue that in most cases blogging to earn money requires a great deal of work (at least up front) and if you plan for it to be a full time job then you’re going to have to work that much harder. However, I do believe that you can blog for passive income on a much smaller scale for say “walking around money” or a “vacation fund”.

    Say rather than needing 50,000 dollars a year to sustain your blog and your living expenses, you only needed 2 or 3 thousand a year for a nice vacation.

    With a little effort upfront to get the ball rolling I thin you could meet the definition of passive income. After all the definition doesn’t state that you aren’t doing anything at all it’s just minimal effort needed.

    So my stance is that it all depends on what your plans are as far as income from your blog goes.

  6. Interesting perspective. I like how you brought out the definition of passive as less effort and highlight how hard bloggers work. That was/is a question worth evaluating. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

  7. I guess there are certain aspects of blogging that can make it passive, but the point of blogging is to update it consistently. Your readers expect you to.

    That’s why i’ve always preferred making niche sites over blogs, once you’re done with them, you’re done. It truly is passive.

  8. I think blogging absolutely has a “passive” income nature to it. Just because something generates passive income, though, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require any (hard) work. Most people who are in pursuit of passive income streams understand that you have to put in a lot of persistent work in order to reap the reward later. Great post – thanks – I’ll share with my team!

  9. Lisa says:

    That’s a great question Darren – for most I would say no. It is a lot of hard work and dedication and time without making any money. IF someone does it for years and becomes partly famous then it may be passive.
    So many things change via Google updates and new social sites that it would be hard to rely on an one source for income from a blog. IF I had to pick I would say not passive.

  10. prince says:

    nice post sir darren rowse i admire your blog, thanks for sharing this tips with us about blogging

  11. designSEO says:

    For me blogging still isn’t a passive income since it takes a lot of work and time from me.

  12. Okto says:

    Despite all the routine a bloggers do, I think it’s a passive income. We would keep getting paid whether or not we do any meaningful work. We may do a lot of work up front to get the ball rolling, but eventually we reach a point where the passive income stream gets activated. At this point we can essentially stop working on this income stream if we so desire, and more money will keep flowing to us through this stream regardless what we do or don’t do. Passive income is a source of income with some sense of continuation over time.

  13. I agree with you, it appears passive, but I’ve never worked so hard to earn a living. Blogging is not passive. The difference is I love blogging so it often doesn’t feel like work.

  14. James Melbin says:

    It’s not a passive income for me, at all. It might be a passive income for some people, big time.
    Weither its passive income depends on the following;
    1. How many years you have started blogging.
    2. How much of your time and money do you spend in developing your blog when you started it.
    3. Are you using the best methods in monetizing your blog. And lastly,
    4. What is your level of popularity? Yes. It mean alot. When you are popular for your niche, people will prefer you the most. They will trust you to buy goods through your affiliate links. They will trust to always provide the best informations, so whenever they need anything they will run to your blog alone and search.
    That’s my own view..any objection?

  15. Edson Hale says:

    Not at all; you have to burn midnight oil to make each dollar through blogging; nothing is built-in in blogging; howsoever evergreen you post is it does not regular update to remain in focus of search engines. moreover most of the products we sell through bloggings get outdated after sometime and their new versions replace them that is why a saner blogger never expect any big stream from an archived post

  16. Elmer says:

    I do consider it as a passive income. I have few blogs on video gaming niche. I do not exert much effort to it like everybody else does. May be it depends on the niche? When you are blogging about insurance or any other competitive niches, then I can say that it is not a source of passive income. And besides, when you blog about what you love, you don’t feel like treating it as a work, rather a hobby.

  17. Hi,
    People some people just create their blog just for having fun & some make blogs for having really value. This is really great post to learn about Blogging Passive Income.

  18. Richard Ng says:

    I personally don’t view that blogging is a passive income. Eventhough It is a platform/means that has potential to create passive income sources (e.g. advertising, affiliate marketing or book sales etc…), however, the effort to make it really work requires active hard work… ;-)

  19. Gavin Webber says:

    Definitely not a ‘passive income’.

    Blogs require dedication and effort for that income to wing its way into your bank account. You need to build your tribe, build even more relationships, and then start to promote products to your niche. All of that is doesn’t happen overnight, but has been fun in my case as I write eBooks for my readers. It still requires time and effort.

  20. Waqar says:

    income from blogging is not passive for new bloggers and it can never be,

    I lot of work is done , while blog becomes popular. but after some years it becomes a machine that you can maintain yourself or have workers to maintain it ,

    Mashable is the biggest example but I really if everyone can reach at that level.

  21. jerrylewis says:

    It depends on the persons perspective, as for me I don’t consider blogging a passive income. infact a blogger works hard looking for words just to convey the message as clearly as possible so that its readers will understand what he is telling. Passive income is an understatement so to speak….

    Great post

  22. Steven says:

    Passive Income is long way right ? Passion – work hard and little lucky help us to get it faster.

    Thank you for sharing

  23. Hi. Interesting article and interesting perspective. Thanks.

  24. Virgil S says:

    For me a passive income is where you do the work and then relax while you wait for the income to roll in. With blogging there is no (long) rest periods. I don’t think people realize how difficult it can be, so I wouldn’t call it passive.

  25. Philip Alex says:

    Hi Darren,

    I think there’s a lot of money to be made from a blog, but most people fail to understand that it takes a lot hard work and patience until the money you earn can be called passive income.

    Also building a community is another huge factor in making money blogging since most people buy from the person they know like and trust.

    Great article Darren. Cheers

    Philip

  26. Christine says:

    Most of the bloggers I know who make any sort of income work at least 30 hours a week JUST on their blog. No so much passive. ;)

  27. I think everything requires efforts, and serious blogging too.

  28. Obviously because like all other jobs we feel this also a job and put whole effort on it to take higher level.This is the reason why i feel income from blogging is passive income.

  29. shamsudeen says:

    Very interesting topic you’ve just started here.

    I would like to take it from where you don’t want to go “tax perspective”. A blogger can be a tax collector if making passive income from his blog is what he aim at right from the very early days of his blogging career. Honestly, blogging can turn out to be a passive income if one follow a very strict strategies and tactics well laid out and executed on consistent basis for certain period.

    If you promote affiliate program that allow recursive income from your one time effort e.g web hosting affiliate program, membership site affiliate program, e.t.c affiliate programs that allow you to earn from what your down-line generates, you can earn passive income from blogging.

    Following your definition of passive income, all the above listed affiliate programs need you to work hard at them to generates the sign up, afterward less work on your side. As long as they stay on the program, you get paid every month or annually for work you’ve done some months or year ago.

    In my recent blog post update, this is what I wrote,

    “Your goal is to create an internet business that run off system and not your hard work. What professional bloggers don’t understand is this, when you have to meet certain criteria everyday to make money from your blog, then you’ve just set yourself another 9-5 day job. This is not what we called business freedom.”

    “Earning consistency and stable from your blog should not depend on articles volume or else you’re heading towards tsunami.”

    Permit this Darren : http://cybernaira.com/2013/blogging-for-money-are-you-building-asset-or-holding-a-job/

  30. Dean Saliba says:

    I suppose if you monetize your blog the right way (like you showed us in your examples) then it is possible. The only way I make money passively is by submitting articles to revenue-sharing sites like InfoBarrel and Ciao.

  31. Todd says:

    My music website, http://www.todzillamusic.com/ , is a good example of “passive” income, meaning music I produced years ago may still be used today. It’s a music library, and TV shows pull tracks and edit them to fit, usually reality shows, talk shows, Dateline NBC, etc. – BUT, certainly it has a shelf life, and I contribute fresh music just like a day gig, and maintaining the relationships with our shows requires giving them fresh material, custom pieces of music here and there, and keeping the music library fresh is necessary to be viable for certain styles.

    So, it’s awesome because we’ve built up our library over time, and every piece of music out there has earning potential, but I think if we didn’t have an ongoing relationship with the shows by providing them new music, our library would eventually be considered stale.

    So, like some of the comments state, there’s passive factor since you’re not getting paid by the hour or just selling widgets – your efforts can continue to benefit you, but keeping material and relationships fresh seems to be necessary.

  32. Not at all! Blogging is hard work. Some things are more passive than others, like putting up an ad on the sidebar, but mostly it takes a ton of work!

  33. Ryan says:

    Not sure where I heard this joke…but it sums up the answer to this passive income question nicely:

    “An blogger will work 14 hours a day so he can make money while he sleeps”.

    On a personal note, I am happy to say that I have surprised myself with my affiliate income through my blog from a tutorial I created 2 years ago (updated once) — and since I really don’t update my blog anymore, and the money keeps rolling in, the income is (nearly all) passive at this point.

    I’m under no delusion that it will not go away without work…

  34. Stephen says:

    I think it’s generally a myth. In your post, you stated how two older posts continue making money for you, but, as you said, they probably wouldn’t be doing that if you never updated the site. So, to make money from those two posts (and others) you have worked continually since 2007.

    If you look at it from another angle, from the perspective of how much those posts earn compared to the time spent on them, I reckon it’s a pretty impressive hourly rate that most of us only aspire to.

  35. Arun Singh says:

    Yes i m agree with your post. It is really like a job and if we are going to give full time then it will give back benefit and we will be able to earn more money from blogging.

  36. Syed Balkhi says:

    A lot of “gurus” make blogging come across as an easy method to generate passive income. From my 7yr blogging experience, I can say that there is nothing passive about it.

    It’s a job. I just have flexible work hours. I can plan ahead and take a good vacation. But that’s about it.

    I have also noticed that bloggers tend to lie to themselves about how much time they actually spend working. Try clocking yourself a few times and you will know.

    Yes anytime spent networking on social media etc is all part of your job. This easily puts most of us full time bloggers over the regular 40 hour week. A lot of bloggers I know also work on the weekends. So that’s overtime.

    I have started using a tool called time doctor to better use my time and have a good balance in my life. This will allow u to spend time with your loved ones.

  37. Jeff Pearl says:

    I would consider it more of a Residual Income, rather than a Passive Income.

  38. Miki English says:

    Being a new blogger, I’ve had a hard time with the term “passive” being associated with blogging. Writing, promoting, SEO and keeping up with trends is time consuming work. Even the big name bloggers seem to work hard at keeping their name and content in front of readers. I have passive income from another source. When iI compare blogging to that source of income, the term “passive” just doesn’t compute. Great post, thanks!

  39. Drewry says:

    when most people start out in blogging and making money online, it’s not considered passive income. Passive income is generated when a person or company has been publishing content for quite a long time and is earning huge affiliate commissions, and virtually spends no money on paid online advertising. I might be wrong, but this is my humble opinion :-)

  40. Not a chance is it a passive income. The amount of hours I put into all my blogs is more than a full time job!

  41. Rob West says:

    Little about blogging constitutes true passive income. For many it is more like ‘hobby income’ that might evolve into part or full time work income. Blogging takes quite a lot of ongoing effort to generate an income, effort that is ongoing in order to maintain an audience and drive sales of whatever it is you are selling or promoting. To the contrary, passive income – such as buying a portfolio of dividend stocks – requires a bit of upfront effort but then it is truly passive.

    For example, on my blog http://www.childmillionaire.com, which is geared towards helping parents invest for their children and driving sales of my book The Child Millionaire, I spend two scheduled hours a day doing background marketing and promotion of the blog and book. This is time I schedule and which requires concerted efffort in order to generate an income from a product that took lots of effort and knowledge to write, so the income is not passive.

    On the flipside, the sort of stock portfolios I discuss on the blog and in the book earn me a real passive income. For example, on 24 May my holdings of Standard Life shares paid me a semi-annual dividend of £370.86 and on 29 May my shares of RSA Insurance paid me £106.08 in dividends. It took perhaps a half a day of research and effort to buy these shares several years ago and they continue to crank out the passive income year after year with absolutely no effort on my part. The same can’t easily be said for any blog inbcome.

  42. I like your point Darren. Passive income sounds like a contradiction in terms because the nature of business is active. Doing the hard work up front can allow you to ride a sometimes deceptive wave of passivity. That wave can be expected to last only so long before sending you back into action.

  43. Alex says:

    Hey,

    really inspiring. This had me thinking a lot about the quality of content being provided and researched. I am currently attracting a decent amount of readers on my WordPress.com blog, although the topics vary and I tend to write about many life topics, the experience has been incredible.

    At first, I didn’t like the idea of people telling me what to do, and many times I arrived at the conclusion that I am sharing too much. I had to take a break and learn from that. Now, I am more than happy and even encourage people to leave criticism and their own opinions. As it is right now, that’s what blogging is about.

    At the end of the day, it’s the loyal reader that is helping you make a living, helping you to take steps towards your dreams.

    Thank you.

  44. Vineet Gupta says:

    Hey mate informative post. Thanks :)

    I guess at the end of the day the Blog need fresh juice for search engines as well as returning readers expect that.

  45. What happens when google rolls out panda and penguin ??!

  46. kanchan says:

    It would have been good for me if I’d made some bucks from my blog. But, adsense never accepts me :(

  47. I do think some aspects can be passive, but to get to the passive stage you have to work damn hard!!

  48. Tal Gur says:

    It can only be passive if you stop updating your blog and it continue to produce income for you… Otherwise, blogging is quite an active income source….

  49. Norm says:

    Absolutely is.

    The blog itself may not be totally passive in terms of keeping and maintaining your visitors/readship but if you look at the different components, the posts, ebooks and products, these things are. As they will continue to earn you money even if you do not update them.

    Thats the beauty of creating things, you can continue milk the cow even when its long past its due date.

    Norm

  50. Louis says:

    I’m not saying it’s “passive”, but the return rate between effort and reward is better then most jobs. :)