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Earning Passive Income Online

By Edited Mar 17, 2014 7 16

Does it Really work?

There are a ton of sites out there telling you how much you can earn through passive income.  Most of them suggest writing sites such as InfoBarrel, Squidoo, or HubPages that allow you to write now and collect money for months or years.  Curious about how practical this actually is, I’ve been reading all kinds of opinions about the realities of passive income. 


Saving money is important

Many of the articles will tell you that you can make hundreds of dollars a month, with just a bit (ok, a lot) of upfront time, but after digging deeper they seem to be quoting their fantasy numbers, not reality.  What follows are a few key points I’ve thought of, although there are probably dozens of other variables.


There's quite a bit of work involved

Getting paid depends on thousands, not dozens of people reading your work.  Each click earns you a fraction of a cent which accumulates over time.  More articles equal more chances for someone to click on your work.  More time passing means more accumulation.  To get anything you have to create a lot of work and be willing to wait as your work acquires views.  A piece about something uninteresting probably won’t generate much traffic, so you either have to be an inherently interesting person, or work hard at choosing your topics. Weeding out point one, the “get rich quick” people are now gone.


Research and Marketing

There’s a lot of talk about keywords, and keyword optimization.  A person hoping to cash in will do careful searches to find good keywords with low competition.  What they want to do is provide information for a lot of people, who don’t have many other places to look.  This is a great idea, and will likely get you a lot of traffic, at least initially, but it’s also a lot of work.  Those guys making money don’t just ‘write a few articles’, they do a lot of research and ad hoc marketing of their articles.    Since many passive income seekers are hoping to earn money without putting much into it, they don’t tend to be the type of people that are willing to put forth the effort to do the background work.  This point weeds out the inherently lazy.

Talent required

A poorly written article seems a lot less likely to provide any income over the long term.  Even when you put in all the effort and have a timely piece with good keywords, an article full of errors will quickly be replaced in the search engines by better written work.  Cranking out a ton of mediocre writing will probably earn you something, but you will need to keep replacing the old with the new, hoping to garner a few more clicks with your crappy work before someone else gets your readers.  The constant need to keep writing takes the ‘passive’ component completely out of the equation.  Now you’re just a mediocre writer getting paid pennies for your work. Third weeding point: we’ve taken those with insufficient writing skills out of the passive part of the game.


Everybody ages

Keywords are ephemeral, and even the most contemporary articles will likely decrease in earnings as their topics age.  If you are really good, or really lucky you may choose keywords that have better staying power, but eventually even the most powerful keyword choices will eventually go by the wayside.  This seems to indicate that to maintain a good level of income from online writing, you need to keep at it.  Look at the people that post their earnings and are doing well; you’ll notice that they are still writing and submitting articles.  There goes the passive part again.


Does it work?


 Let’s apply these concepts to the passive earning model.   If you’ve been submitting mediocre work, you’re toast, but what about a good writer who doesn’t do the keyword thing?  I don’t know and I’m not sure that anyone does yet.  The model hasn’t really been around long enough to get good data on old, ignored articles, and it seems that many people that started doing online writing years ago are still doing it.  To get an idea of how much passive income a person could really earn, you’d need to find several people that are good writers, have a couple hundred articles submitted, and have stopped writing. It would be interesting to follow their earning over time and see what actually happens, which types of articles keep earning, and which pieces drop out.  In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about making a little extra money by online writing, be sure you have realistic expectations.

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Mar 1, 2013 10:40pm
Man, you NAILED this!!

You are 10,000% correct -- for the long-haul, it IS the quality that will prevail. And I will say this about keyword research: I'm sure it benefits those willing to invest the time in it, but I personally do NONE (I think I've looked up three phrase over 200+ articles just on the off chance it might work better. Of that, only one made any difference). I operate intuitively; my gut tells me what a good title or subject is, and I go with that. And it is working for me. GREAT read, GREAT take on "passive" income (which really IS a lot of work!), and a mighty GREAT thumb from me!
Mar 2, 2013 7:26am
I am so happy to hear you say that and thank you for taking the time to comment. I did a lot of reading about keywords and making money from older pieces of work and I just didn't see the value holding up over time. Too many things change.

Thanks for the critique! :)
Mar 2, 2013 7:00pm
That was awesome!
Mar 2, 2013 7:16pm
Mar 3, 2013 5:41am
I use most of my office spare time browsing the net for possible online jobs that would give me hundreds of dollars a month. I still hope I can find one!
Mar 3, 2013 6:09am
LOL! Me Too! Pass it along if you find one!
Mar 3, 2013 9:08am
Great article. Thank you JestMe. Personally I like to listen to a guy named "Patt Flynn" (he has a podcast). His blog is called "smartpassiveincome" I believe. He publishes all his income reports and currently makes something like 60-70k USD a month. I do not believe his success can easily be copied by anyone. For one thing, he writes and talks about how to make money online ... a very competitive niche. But on the other hand, he does offer some great insight on strategies that work. For example, he accepted a challenge from someone to create a new site and get it ranked highly on google. This site is unrelated to his "how to make money online" business. He was able to get ranked number 1 in google in a very short period of time and makes something like 3k USD a month just from that site. This is very inspiring of course. And what's more ... he didn't have a name in that niche, i.e. he's geting the page views from google searches. So anyone is theoretically able to create such a site. :)
Mar 3, 2013 9:32am
Interesting, I'd have to read his blog to decide what I thought. So many people seem to either misleading in how they are earning this "passive" income, or publish what they believe they will earn, if they work hard enough. From what I've seen the big earners are the ones talking about making income (which, by default, means it isn't really passive anymore, is it?)
Mar 3, 2013 10:48am
I will certainly be interested in what you think about this guy. It seems to me that he is very transparent (he actually publishes his income reports in detail). But he is certainly not earning his income purely passively (for one thing he writes blog posts, develops iphone apps, records podcasts, etc.). However, he claims to be able to achieve this kind of income with about 4 hours of work a day while doing what he loves to do. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. :)
Mar 5, 2013 2:43pm
His site has been down so it took me while to check it out and yes, he is still working so it doesn't fit my definition of passive. Good for him, though. Looks like he puts in a lot of work.
Mar 7, 2013 1:12pm
Enjoyed the article.

I totally agree that the term passive income is a misnomer for the hard work behind it. I much prefer just calling it "online income". It's a job, just like anything else. And that's what people sometimes don't see. The word "passive" is a problem. It takes a lot of marketing chops, many drops of sweat, and a bit of obsessiveness to start seeing decent returns. The inherently lazy or impatient need not apply.

BUT if you are willing to work at it (and learn along the way), there are rewards.

On Pat Flynn: He actually had been working for an architectural firm and was laid off. He discovered his online income voice from a website her had created to organize his notes on the LEED exam. He noticed that site was getting 1,000s of visitors a week and discovered a way to monetize it via an e-book product he created. The site is still there btw: http://www.greenexamacademy.com/

He's a hard worker, saw an opportunity, and took total advantage of it. That I'd say is probably the key components of anyone successful in online income. They are in a constant state of "doing".
Mar 7, 2013 2:22pm
That was my impression too, that he works his butt off.

Thanks for reading and passing along that bit of information.
Mar 30, 2013 4:06pm
I agree, there is nothing passive about trying to earn an income online - it is very hard work! I have spent months learning as much as possible and trying to sort the true bits of information from the largely misleading make money on line business. I am still determined to achieve my goals but realized my timeline was not months but much longer. I have been using long-tailed keywords but have not seen any success so far.
Apr 5, 2013 7:32am
Yes, it seems you need to set your goals for years, not months.
Good luck on your endeavors!
Aug 3, 2013 12:19pm

That's very good stuff! You've kind of, "taken it to the wall", in terms of the actuality of this process! These are questions that poets and philosophers have been seeking answers to, for centuries. (Just joking!)

Certainly there are aspiring online writers who ARE 'all eyes", as to these hidden tablets, from the hidden mountain tops! I'm one of them.
Aug 6, 2013 11:16am
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and thanks for the appreciation!

Passive income is a tough row to hoe, and I hope people remeber to take the long view when considering it.
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