Blogging has been around since the late 90s with the creation of free blogging platforms LiveJournal and Blogger, followed by WordPress in the early 2000s. At the time, blogs were used as an online diary of sorts with political views, and mostly personal stories shared to everyone. But when Google released the AdSense advertising platform in 2003, people saw the money-making potential of blogging and began taking blogs seriously.
By mid-2005, 50 million blogs have been created (compared to only 23 in 1999) and with about 23 million blog readers from the U.S. alone. Since then, individuals have been cashing in thousands of dollars monthly with their blogs. Popular ones like Mashable.com earns a whopping $2 million + a month, while many niche-specific bloggers earn anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000 a month. What’s their secret? Their blogs earn passive income.
What is Passive Income?
Passive income is income that comes from regular cash flow, which is obtained with minimal to no extra effort done by the recipient. In real world, the best example of passive income is monthly dues collected from rental properties.
When it comes to online earning, passive income follows the same concept, except there’s no brick-and-mortar business. If you’ve read popular blogging-focused blogs, you’ve probably read the term “making money in your sleep,” which is actually what passive income is all about. So if you’ve been working hard on your blog and want to earn money while you sleep, here are 10 tried-and-tested, passive income-generating methods you can try:
1) AdSense and other Contextual PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads
One of the easiest ways to earn from your blog is by placing ads for your readers to click on. Regardless of the ad network you choose, whether it’s Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN), or any other network, you’ll only need to place a code for the ad to become visible on your site and that’s it. While you’ll only earn cents for every click on the ad, imagine if you had 10,000 readers. The amount will add up quickly.
Of course, you have to test ad placements and ad formats (size, color, font, etc.) regularly until you find the right one for your blog. Make sure to track these tests properly and one at a time, so you’ll know which one works and which one doesn’t.
2) Affiliate Marketing
If you look at income reports of many successful bloggers today, you’ll find out that the chunk of their passive income comes from commissions of products sold through affiliate marketing. If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, we’ve got a comprehensive guide about it here and an advanced guide to affiliate marketing here.
Simply put, affiliate marketing involves joining a marketplace like ClickBank, Amazon, or Commission Junction, among others. When you’re writing a blog post, you can find products on these marketplaces that fit your topic, and once you do, you include a link going to the sales page. Every time you direct a reader to the sales page and they buy from the marketplace (even after a week or so since they clicked the link), you earn a commission.
Commissions are small and depend on the marketplace you choose. For instance, Amazon pays roughly 5% to its affiliates. Like AdSense, these small commissions could add up pretty quick if you have a big audience.
The cool thing about affiliate marketing is that it is highly adaptable regardless of niche. For example, a cooking blogger can share a recipe and list down ingredients (with recommended products linked to Amazon), or a parenting blogger who’s reviewing a new toy.
3) CPM (cost per impression) Ads
When compared to AdSense and other pay-per-click ads wherein readers have to click on the ad for you to earn, CPM (or cost per impression) ads require no action from your readers. This means your readers don’t have to buy a product or click on a link; instead, they simply need to visit the page where you place the CPM ad and you’ll earn with every page view.
The main problem with CPM ads is that new bloggers can’t join CPM ad companies like Tribal Fusion so easily. Their blogs have to meet certain traffic requirements, such as 100k page views monthly, in order to display CPM ads. But if your blog is already established, send an application (that takes around a week to complete) and reap more passive income from CPM ads.
4) Sell eBooks
If you’ve been blogging for months consistently, creating an eBook would be a walk in the park. The main different between blog posts and an eBook is that eBooks are formatted similar to traditional books, so you’d have to think of your table of contents and write as comprehensively as possible. Because you’d be writing the eBook once and reaping from sales for months (or even years) to come, selling eBooks is a passive income technique you should try.
This may not work quite as well for new bloggers, but if you’re an authority within your niche, you can make a killing if you release an eBook to your loyal readers. A great example of this is ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse who cashed in $72k within a week of releasing his eBook.
And while you’re at it, turn your eBooks into an audiobook and earn additional passive income. You may have to invest in an audiobook a bit more, especially if you’re going to hire a voice-over artist. But the future of audiobooks is bright, with more and more people embracing the technology and taking advantage of being able to finish a book while on-the-go.
If you host your audiobook on services like Audible, you’d receive commissions amounting to 10% to 20% of your ebook sales. Pretty good for a one-time effort, right?
6) Produce Courses for Paid Members
If you’re already an authority on a particular subject, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from creating a course that would benefit your readers. The great thing about selling courses straight from your website is that you’ll skip fees you’d have been required to shell out if you hosted them on Udemy, Teachable and other sites that host and market courses in exchange for a cut.
When you offer 6-month or 8-week course on your website, you can make this available exclusively for your readers who are willing to pay. You are completely in control of the amount you want as membership fee, but consider factors such as number of visitors, complexity or uniqueness of the topics on your course, niche, and your expertise.
7) Create a Paid Private Forum
Like for-member-only courses, adding a private forum to your site gives you an additional source of income. Unlike courses that you only have to work on once, you’ll need to invest time sharing content on the forum. If this isn’t possible, you can always hire someone to man the forum for you, but make sure he/she is just as competent when answering questions on the forum. Remember that the reason people joined the forum, even with a month fee, is to pick your knowledge about issues they may face.
8) Add More Videos on Your Site
If you’re not making any videos for your blog, start producing them now. Not only does adding other types of multimedia content on your blog help with SEO (search engine optimization) or getting traffic to your site, it also gives your audience more reasons to stay.
Plus, you can join the YouTube Partner Program and monetize your videos. The only problem is that YouTube only lets you earn from your videos once your channel reaches 10k views collectively. (It’s a 2017 policy, so if you joined early on, good for you!) The money you make from every view isn’t a lot, but if it turns viral, or viewed by thousands of people, you’ll get to take home a nice passive income from years to come.
9) Extend Your Blog Money-Making Efforts to Social Media
Setting up an account on the major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest) doesn’t take much time. You can even automate and schedule posting with a tool like Hootsuite.
You won’t be directly earning passive income by having an active presence on these networks, but sharing your blog posts across social media gives you additional audience who might be interested with your content, eBook, audiobook, private forum, and other money-generating techniques you use on the blog.
10) Find Partners
When you’ve proven your worth after a few years of blogging and have become an authority figure within your niche, it’s easy to partner with other companies that you wholeheartedly believe in. These partnerships work like affiliate marketing, except you only promote one company. A great example of this is Neil Patel’s partnership with Bluehost. Every time someone uses the Bluehost coupon he posts, Neil Patel earns a portion of the sale/subscription.
The Bottom Line
These 10 ways of earning passive income is easily achievable, especially if you’ve been blogging for years. If you’re new to the blog world, you can still join in on the fun with AdSense and affiliate marketing, but the longer you blog and bigger your audience, you’ll have more monetization options that will let you earn even while you sleep.