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.
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.
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.
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.
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.