Freelance blogging is hard work. Much harder than some of us expected! What happened to living the dream? To getting our “money for nothing and our chicks for free?”
Well, I’m not sure about how to get your chicks for free, but I can help you with the “money for nothing” aspect. At least to some extent.
At this point in your career you’ve probably heard the term “passive income” at least once. Now, to fully understand passive income, let’s first take a look at what qualifies as “active” income:
Active income is money that you have to earn actively. (Makes sense so far, right?). Money you make from your freelance blogging “job” is active income. As is any money you have to be present to earn. You perform a service once (like writing a blog post for a client), you earn money for it once. It’s the income model we’re all more-or-less familiar with.
Now, what qualifies as “passive” income will vary from place to place, but the basic gist of it is this: It’s the exact opposite of active income.
Passive income can be earned even when you’re not around — it can run on auto-pilot. It’s money earned with little-to-no effort on your part. You perform a service once, you earn money from it multiple times. With no additional work from you!
Sounds pretty good, right? Now, imagine setting up multiple revenue streams, all passive. Each of these revenue streams will take effort to set up initially; however, after they’ve been put in place, you could potentially earn more money than you earn now… for doing nothing at all. Talk about living the dream!
As a freelance blogger, you have a few options when it comes to earning passive income. Here are four worth looking into:
1: Affiliate Marketing
Let’s say there’s a product or service you really love, like Sophie’s classes. With affiliate marketing, you strike a deal with the company or person who owns the product or service to let you sell their stuff on your website. If someone buys it through your site — through the unique URL the company provided you with — then you’ll get a cut of the final sale.
Pros: You get to inform others of a service/product you truly love, ensuring that it sticks around for the long-run (and you get that “feel good” sensation of sharing valuable knowledge with others). You also get to earn money off of work someone else has done!
Cons: If you don’t have a large following pre-established, you’ll be spending a lot of time marketing. You also need to have other valuable (preferably free) content available on your site as most visitors to your site won’t be there just to buy affiliate products. You’ll also be putting your earnings in someone else’s hands — and, depending on the affiliate program, that could mean waiting several weeks to several months for the final payoff.
Personally, I like relegating all of my affiliate marketing to one page of my website so that it doesn’t bother my readers by seeming too pushy. It means that I miss out on some sales because not everyone is aware that that page exists; however, it’s worth it to me to not bother them.
On the other hand, many successful bloggers (Sophie included) like to share their affiliate marketing links via their e-mail newsletters. This is a perfectly acceptable way of making money with this passive income technique as the people who have signed up for your newsletters are more-or-less expecting you to sell them something at some point. And, when done right, it’s more of a “here’s something really neat that I thought you’d enjoy” sale than a “gimme gimme gimme all your money” sale. You know what I mean?
By selling ad space or allowing pay-per-click ads on your website, you can indulge in one of the original Internet-based passive revenue streams. Ads work similarly to affiliate marketing, but tend to be a little less personal.
Pros: It’s easy! In the case of pay-per-click ads, you literally get paid “per click” (if a visitor to your website clicks the ad, you get paid), whether the advertiser makes an actual sale or not.
Cons: To make any decent money through ads, high website traffic is pretty much a “must.” You also run the risk of turning off potential “real” customers should they find ad use tacky. Not to mention many web users have installed ad blockers, so they may never see your ads to begin with.
This is a tough one. It really depends on what type of site you’re running. Personally, I stay away from pay-per-click ads on my professional websites, and even my personal website. The only site of mine that uses pay-per-click ads is my review site – ReviewHat – and the revenue is pretty dinky these days. (Of course, that’s more likely to be because I haven’t been promoting the site – did you even know I own a reviewing site?! – rather than the ads themselves being at fault).
One of my personal favorites. I’ve had tremendous luck creating and selling e-books, and I believe you will too should you put your mind to it. E-books aren’t just for writers — anyone who has something relevant to say (and can find a way to get it written down, either by themselves or via a ghostwriter) can stand to make a major profit.
And, as a blogger, you can potentially use old blog posts as e-book material!
Pros: If you create a piece of evergreen material, you can essentially do the work once and make money off of it…forever. E-books have a high return on investment when it comes to work put in versus profits made. They also offer plenty of opportunities for networking — expert interviews are an incredible way to add value to your material!
Cons: There are a lot of e-books out there, so for yours to stand out, it will need to be top notch. E-books also require a lot of initial work (and may require updating later on, depending on your topic choice).
Personally, I like to give out free e-books as a way to draw in potential mentoring clients. I don’t see the ROI as quickly as I would if I were selling them, but it’s ultimately more rewarding – and the clients I get often become repeat customers, multiplying their monetary worth overall.
Of course, I’m also a big fan of selling e-books as well. Like the book on pitching Sophie and I will have coming out later this year!
4: Teach a Class
This is another area that I have some personal experience with. I’ve been invited to teach webinar courses on freelance blogging in the past and hope to do so again in the future.
Pros: Teaching a class is rewarding, and can add a good bit of prestige to your resume if it goes well. Once you create the modules, e-books, and worksheets for your first round of classes, those materials can be reused for every class that follows — it gets easier each time you do it.
Cons: Unlike the other items on this list, your passive income will fall on the “little” effort side of the scale (rather than the auto-pilot “no” effort options). Teaching a class also requires the most initial work and financial investment. Plus, like e-books, the material may require updating over time.
In addition to those four ideas, you can also earn passive income by creating premium memberships, communities, or forums on your blogging site. Look at your current skill set — and what you do to create active income — and see how you can use those skills to create a passive revenue stream.
However, while passive income can allow you to work less (and keep you above water during those inevitable slow months), I wouldn’t recommend giving up your active income completely. Think of passive income as a valuable addition to your business, an extra stream of revenue, not the end of your business itself.
Your turn. Are you already earning passive income? Or are you thinking to give it a try? Let us know in the comments!