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Is Blogging a Passive Income?

Yesterday we moved house and today I am still without a broadband connection or even telephone line. Luckily I have my trusty PDA and 3G otherwise you wouldn’t be hearing from me today.

This whole week has shown me I need to be more prepared for off-days but another thought struck me related to bloggers income. People often say that blogging is a passive form of income, but is it really?

If you are not familiar with the term, “passive income” refers to earning streams that do not require you to “work”. While strict definitions differ, in most cases people would agree if you can take a month off and still earn then you have passive income.

Examples of passive income would include book and music royalties, while your standard 9-5 job or freelancing would be examples of an active income.

The reason blogging is often put into the passive category is because if you use direct monetization through Adsense, banners, etc, you earn while you sleep.

So not all blogging provides passive income, some of us earn in other ways. If you are paid to blog then obviously you have to keep blogging to get paid.

I’m guessing even a popular blog that is monetized with ads will have to keep posting to maintain the income level it enjoys. A good spread of monetization strategies is a good idea for all of us anyway, but in theory the more sources of non-work income we have the more passive and stable we can make it.

The only truly passive blogging I can think of would be a group blog that is wholly maintained by paid writers, lead by a paid editor.  They would have to be paid because volunteers would have little to force them to keep writing. The only work for the owner would be paying up and the occasional interaction with the editor.

Do you think blogging is good for passive income? How do you arrange it so regardless of what life throws at you there is always money coming in? Please share your tips in the comments …

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Comments

  1. I do think blogging can be considered a form of passive income – but it all depends on the blogs popularity. A well-stocked, well-trafficked blog can certainly generate an income even if you miss a day of posting. I remember being out of commission for three days thanks to a family stomach virus and still earning grocery money.

    I don’t believe it to be 100% passive, especially when compared to something like an e-book, because you do have to work at it, at least a little each day.

  2. I do think blogging can be considered a form of passive income – but it all depends on the blogs popularity. A well-stocked, well-trafficked blog can certainly generate an income even if you miss a day of posting. I remember being out of commission for three days thanks to a family stomach virus and still earning grocery money.

    I don’t believe it to be 100% passive, especially when compared to something like an e-book, because you do have to work at it, at least a little each day.

  3. A blog can be considered a source of passive income, but a limited one. Anyway if you have a strong website with a lot of articles gathered in a few years you can consider your blog a good source of passive income, because you can go and visit something and the blog will still make some money for you.

  4. A blog can be considered a source of passive income, but a limited one. Anyway if you have a strong website with a lot of articles gathered in a few years you can consider your blog a good source of passive income, because you can go and visit something and the blog will still make some money for you.

  5. I’d say blogging is semi-passive. You need to stay active with posting to keep your traffic up, but the posts in your archives earn passive income through search traffic. The benefit is that this passive component gets bigger as your blog grows.

    I think all bloggers should think about developing a passive exit strategy. Unless you want to keep posting forever, you’ll have to develop relationships with freelancers and guest writers.

  6. I’d say blogging is semi-passive. You need to stay active with posting to keep your traffic up, but the posts in your archives earn passive income through search traffic. The benefit is that this passive component gets bigger as your blog grows.

    I think all bloggers should think about developing a passive exit strategy. Unless you want to keep posting forever, you’ll have to develop relationships with freelancers and guest writers.

  7. I see “passive income” as being like when you invest your worldly wealth in blue chip stocks, and then sit back by the pool and cash your dividend cheques… or so I would imagine!

    Missing a day or two of posting won’t suddenly cut off the income from a directly monetized blog, if there’s sufficient solid content to keep the search traffic flowing, but that’s hardly the same as a truly passive source of income.

    “Blog” is a verb, as well as a noun!

  8. I see “passive income” as being like when you invest your worldly wealth in blue chip stocks, and then sit back by the pool and cash your dividend cheques… or so I would imagine!

    Missing a day or two of posting won’t suddenly cut off the income from a directly monetized blog, if there’s sufficient solid content to keep the search traffic flowing, but that’s hardly the same as a truly passive source of income.

    “Blog” is a verb, as well as a noun!

  9. Hey Chris,

    I think you nailed it on the head. Two more thoughts…

    The more you can commodotize a business, large or small, the more easily you can “black-box” it and just set it and forget it. But, the more your core product/service revolves around the unique talent/voice of individual human beings, the harder it is to turn into a source of passive income.

    Because, either that voice is yours, which means you have to keep working to generate revenue. Or, it’s someone else’s and, even if you pay them enough to truly be able to step back, you are always beholden to their talent, voice and not-too-fungible contribution to the bottom line.

    So, if it’s truly a passive stream of income you are looking to create, I’d focus away from blogging, there are much easier ways. But…

    There is an exception to this rule. And, the guy who proves it is Steve Pavlina. By focusing on creating very-large, authoritative, thought-provoking articles that are not tied to the news of the day, but rather are “timeless,” he has now created such a massive content library that is so rich, he could very likely stop writing tomorrow and the enduring-value of his published library would continue to drive enough traffic to keep a ton of revenue coming in for years.

    FYI – for those who are looking to make a ton of dough by kicking back and setting up multiple streams of passive income, a study earlier this year revealed most of today’s pentamillionaires (that’s $5 million+) earned their money in one generation and almost none of it came through passive streams of income. It was all active, all the time!

    Message – if you want to make a ton of money, motivate yourself by doing something so rocking you can’t imagine stopping, rather than trying to do something that will allow you to be able to not have to do it as soon as humanly possible.

    Have a great weekend, Chris, congrats on the new house!

  10. Hey Chris,

    I think you nailed it on the head. Two more thoughts…

    The more you can commodotize a business, large or small, the more easily you can “black-box” it and just set it and forget it. But, the more your core product/service revolves around the unique talent/voice of individual human beings, the harder it is to turn into a source of passive income.

    Because, either that voice is yours, which means you have to keep working to generate revenue. Or, it’s someone else’s and, even if you pay them enough to truly be able to step back, you are always beholden to their talent, voice and not-too-fungible contribution to the bottom line.

    So, if it’s truly a passive stream of income you are looking to create, I’d focus away from blogging, there are much easier ways. But…

    There is an exception to this rule. And, the guy who proves it is Steve Pavlina. By focusing on creating very-large, authoritative, thought-provoking articles that are not tied to the news of the day, but rather are “timeless,” he has now created such a massive content library that is so rich, he could very likely stop writing tomorrow and the enduring-value of his published library would continue to drive enough traffic to keep a ton of revenue coming in for years.

    FYI – for those who are looking to make a ton of dough by kicking back and setting up multiple streams of passive income, a study earlier this year revealed most of today’s pentamillionaires (that’s $5 million+) earned their money in one generation and almost none of it came through passive streams of income. It was all active, all the time!

    Message – if you want to make a ton of money, motivate yourself by doing something so rocking you can’t imagine stopping, rather than trying to do something that will allow you to be able to not have to do it as soon as humanly possible.

    Have a great weekend, Chris, congrats on the new house!

  11. I was thinking the same thing as John above. I’d say blogs are semi-passive for the same reason. New posts are needed to grow, but older posts can provide a passive income. I’d add though that if you don’t keep up with new posting you run the risk of your income from older posts shrinking as you potentially lose subscribers who might explore older posts and possibly search traffic as other blogs in your industry that are posting begin to outrank yours.

  12. I was thinking the same thing as John above. I’d say blogs are semi-passive for the same reason. New posts are needed to grow, but older posts can provide a passive income. I’d add though that if you don’t keep up with new posting you run the risk of your income from older posts shrinking as you potentially lose subscribers who might explore older posts and possibly search traffic as other blogs in your industry that are posting begin to outrank yours.

  13. I believe that using the term passive income is very dependant on time. Based off of work previously done (ie building the blog, writing quality articles, creating marketing strategies, etc) is the source of the passive income. However, should be blog be left as is for a long period of time, the revenue source (traffic) would dry up until all that was left was search engine traffic.

    True passive income comes from previous work and is not dependant on present works to maintain.

  14. I believe that using the term passive income is very dependant on time. Based off of work previously done (ie building the blog, writing quality articles, creating marketing strategies, etc) is the source of the passive income. However, should be blog be left as is for a long period of time, the revenue source (traffic) would dry up until all that was left was search engine traffic.

    True passive income comes from previous work and is not dependant on present works to maintain.

  15. Excellent points here. The ratio of feedreaders to regular readers might add some insight into the ability to make a blog passive as well.

    People talk about making the content of a blog timeless, but with blogs, I think that’s difficult. Blogs are beneficial because they’re so quick, so up-to-date.

    I had a month or so where I needed to get other things done and didn’t write as many articles. I’d write multiple articles and have them set to publish in the future too. But that month, my earnings, visitors, stats across the board went down. So blogs can’t go stale.

  16. Excellent points here. The ratio of feedreaders to regular readers might add some insight into the ability to make a blog passive as well.

    People talk about making the content of a blog timeless, but with blogs, I think that’s difficult. Blogs are beneficial because they’re so quick, so up-to-date.

    I had a month or so where I needed to get other things done and didn’t write as many articles. I’d write multiple articles and have them set to publish in the future too. But that month, my earnings, visitors, stats across the board went down. So blogs can’t go stale.

  17. I agree with John, on this one. It’s “semi-passive” (assuming that you have a directly monetized blog, i.e.: you’re running ads). If you don’t actively and frequently update, you’ll lose traffic, which means that you’ll lose revenue.

    But, if you miss a day or two, you will still earn money from the ads you publish. You do need to actively work at it, but you can take a certain amount of time off, and still continue to earn revenue.

  18. I agree with John, on this one. It’s “semi-passive” (assuming that you have a directly monetized blog, i.e.: you’re running ads). If you don’t actively and frequently update, you’ll lose traffic, which means that you’ll lose revenue.

    But, if you miss a day or two, you will still earn money from the ads you publish. You do need to actively work at it, but you can take a certain amount of time off, and still continue to earn revenue.

  19. I guess it helps to have a few posts saved as drafts – it helps tide over a brief hold-up like yours, but in a semi-long term such as a month or greater, I’m sure it would certainly hurt.

  20. I guess it helps to have a few posts saved as drafts – it helps tide over a brief hold-up like yours, but in a semi-long term such as a month or greater, I’m sure it would certainly hurt.

  21. Chris-

    This is not a specific post comment so much as a general blog comment. Just a note to say that you have been knocking the cover off of the ball lately, and that your blog is becoming more and more helpful to me.

    I wish I could find your old Amazon Afilliate links so I could buy some equipment through them. Email one to me if you ever get a free moment.

    -DH

  22. Chris-

    This is not a specific post comment so much as a general blog comment. Just a note to say that you have been knocking the cover off of the ball lately, and that your blog is becoming more and more helpful to me.

    I wish I could find your old Amazon Afilliate links so I could buy some equipment through them. Email one to me if you ever get a free moment.

    -DH

  23. It seems to me like it is quite similar to book or music royalties. Writers and musicians earn the most when their material is fresh and popular, but if it has broad enough appeal it may take many years before the checks stop coming. If your content is evergreen it should work somewhat the same way. If you’re blogging about this season of fantasy football, then probably not.

  24. It seems to me like it is quite similar to book or music royalties. Writers and musicians earn the most when their material is fresh and popular, but if it has broad enough appeal it may take many years before the checks stop coming. If your content is evergreen it should work somewhat the same way. If you’re blogging about this season of fantasy football, then probably not.

  25. I don’t know if I agree with blogging being a “passive income”. I’m working my tail off right now and hardly making a cent. I’d like to think that once I do make some good money from blogging, I’ll still have to work hard to keep the blog interesting, up-to-date and fresh!

    If you wanna be a good blogger, then I don’t think it’s a passive income at all.

  26. I don’t know if I agree with blogging being a “passive income”. I’m working my tail off right now and hardly making a cent. I’d like to think that once I do make some good money from blogging, I’ll still have to work hard to keep the blog interesting, up-to-date and fresh!

    If you wanna be a good blogger, then I don’t think it’s a passive income at all.

  27. To earn passive income these days is very difficult, especially through blogging because there is so much competition. All the time you have to make an effort to keep your blog in the limelight and keep getting people to your blog. I see even popular blogger constantly struggling to keep up with the demands of generating money-earning traffic.

    A blog can earn passive income if your content is unique, highly useful, and is ranked high by the search engines for a long time. By passive here I mean income that you can keep earning even if you are not active for a few weeks. Interfaces like Digg and YouTube too are good passive earning resources because there the users are the ones generating content, and even competing with each other to generate high quality content.

  28. To earn passive income these days is very difficult, especially through blogging because there is so much competition. All the time you have to make an effort to keep your blog in the limelight and keep getting people to your blog. I see even popular blogger constantly struggling to keep up with the demands of generating money-earning traffic.

    A blog can earn passive income if your content is unique, highly useful, and is ranked high by the search engines for a long time. By passive here I mean income that you can keep earning even if you are not active for a few weeks. Interfaces like Digg and YouTube too are good passive earning resources because there the users are the ones generating content, and even competing with each other to generate high quality content.

  29. Glad you brought this issue up. Blogging is most definitely not passive income. At least not for me, else I wouldn’t be working 10-12 hrs/day. So it surprises me when bloggers constantly write this.

    In a similar vein, when someone is selling their blog on Sitepoint and includes “pay per post” types of income, I never use that in an evaluation of the domain/ site. At least with CPM and CPC ads, you don’t have to do additional work to earn money (beyond what you are already doing on regular posts).

    So in this, CPM + CPC ads are a bit more passive than paid reviews. But without the work you do already to keep the site going, it’s not really passive. And with more emphasis on “momentum” of blogs, not maintaining a site means possible future loss of income. I’ve seen PR5 blogs drop to 0 lately, and PR4 drop 2.

  30. Glad you brought this issue up. Blogging is most definitely not passive income. At least not for me, else I wouldn’t be working 10-12 hrs/day. So it surprises me when bloggers constantly write this.

    In a similar vein, when someone is selling their blog on Sitepoint and includes “pay per post” types of income, I never use that in an evaluation of the domain/ site. At least with CPM and CPC ads, you don’t have to do additional work to earn money (beyond what you are already doing on regular posts).

    So in this, CPM + CPC ads are a bit more passive than paid reviews. But without the work you do already to keep the site going, it’s not really passive. And with more emphasis on “momentum” of blogs, not maintaining a site means possible future loss of income. I’ve seen PR5 blogs drop to 0 lately, and PR4 drop 2.

  31. I’ll have to agree with John as many others have. Blogging is “semi-passive.”

    Sometimes, it depends on what type of blog it is. If your blog is about a topic that has to stay up-to-date, that is constantly changing, then it’s harder to earn passive income.

    Your archives, if they are large enough, informative, and still relevant, can earn a lot of passive income.

  32. I’ll have to agree with John as many others have. Blogging is “semi-passive.”

    Sometimes, it depends on what type of blog it is. If your blog is about a topic that has to stay up-to-date, that is constantly changing, then it’s harder to earn passive income.

    Your archives, if they are large enough, informative, and still relevant, can earn a lot of passive income.

  33. I agree Chris – and your example of how it can be passive is spot on.

    I have a blog that runs without me and makes income, not a ton, about $500 a month, but that money comes from a team of volunteer writers who are paid in exposure and other perks, not money. The only person paid is the lead editor who manages all the posts going live to the site.

    I wrote quite an in-depth series on professional blogging as a sustainable business model – I think you probably read it already.

    Keep up the PDA blogging!

    Yaro

  34. I agree Chris – and your example of how it can be passive is spot on.

    I have a blog that runs without me and makes income, not a ton, about $500 a month, but that money comes from a team of volunteer writers who are paid in exposure and other perks, not money. The only person paid is the lead editor who manages all the posts going live to the site.

    I wrote quite an in-depth series on professional blogging as a sustainable business model – I think you probably read it already.

    Keep up the PDA blogging!

    Yaro

  35. I’m glad to see Yaro has commented because I have read about his blog before and it was the first thing I thought of after reading this post.

    The way I look at it is, the streams of income for a blog can be passive but the blog is not!

    You could leave a blog for a couple of weeks and still be able to make money especially if you have recurring income streams. But you’re ranking etc wouldn’t look as good if they were left unattended for a couple of weeks…

  36. I’m glad to see Yaro has commented because I have read about his blog before and it was the first thing I thought of after reading this post.

    The way I look at it is, the streams of income for a blog can be passive but the blog is not!

    You could leave a blog for a couple of weeks and still be able to make money especially if you have recurring income streams. But you’re ranking etc wouldn’t look as good if they were left unattended for a couple of weeks…

  37. Tim Ferris (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) is a big proponent of passive income. He set up a business that requires a few hours of maintenance per week, but brings in a fulltime income.

    That’s what running a blog is like. Any type of passive income will require some maintenance. Even if you’re collecting royalties from a novel (the most passive of income), you will still have to renew your copyright, watch for infringement, and engage in ongoing tax planning.

  38. Tim Ferris (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) is a big proponent of passive income. He set up a business that requires a few hours of maintenance per week, but brings in a fulltime income.

    That’s what running a blog is like. Any type of passive income will require some maintenance. Even if you’re collecting royalties from a novel (the most passive of income), you will still have to renew your copyright, watch for infringement, and engage in ongoing tax planning.