Blogging is occasionally tossed out as a way of bringing in passive income. But as someone who earns money blogging, I don’t think this is quite accurate. It’d be better to describe it as a very involved source of income with a passive side.

How Blogging is Active

Pretty self-explanatory, right? At a minimum, you have to write posts. Next, you probably respond to some comments and answer reader e-mails. Then there’s networking, blog optimizing, commenting, etc. If you let it, blogging can easily eat hours out of your day. Nothing passive about that.

If it were just the initial effort of setting up a blog and writing a few good posts, it wouldn’t be that bad. But unlike a book, some good writing isn’t enough. People will expect more every day.

I’m ok with that because I like the conversational side of blogs, the relational side. And most of the time I love writing too. I don’t expect it to be passive.

How You Make Passive Money Blogging

There are a number of ways to make money blogging. The BlogHer ads on the right pay per impression (page view). The AdSense pays per click (though regulars are not encouraged to click because AdSense is quite touchy about valid vs. invalid clicks). There are links which pay a set amount each month just to advertise on the blog. Or because they hope it’ll get them higher rankings to be linked to by a site with a good page rank and whatnot.

Each of these has a strong passive element element.

For instance, a number of people visit my site every day because they ran a search and it pointed them to a relevant topic on my blog. Their visit makes an “impression.” They may also click on an ad and produce revenue there too. They end up on pages I created in the past, pages I have nothing to do with now. So that is passive, I just let the pages sit there and they earn some money.

Or people link to pages I created in the past, same result.

Then because my site has achieved a certain rank, people want to keep advertising on it. That probably wouldn’t change if I simply stopped writing today. I might not be able to renew them or find new ones, but some of the factors haven’t changed. My site would still have a good rank.

Some bloggers stepped away from their blogs months ago and yet continue to make money from ads. For them, blog income is truly passive.

But like retirement, making money off a blog requires an initial commitment. The more you put in earlier (more pages for people to find, more money in your 401(k), etc), the more you get out of it later.

Starting a blog won’t make you loads of money, but there is a certain passive element to appreciate. It just won’t happen unless you put in a lot of effort first.

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A.J. June 25, 2008 at 11:22 am

And if Google decides to hate on your blog for some unspecified reason, it all goes down the drain!

FFB June 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

I can see it as passive if you’ve built it up and let it sit or if you optimize a few posts and do what you can with it…

But for me it isn’t passive at all. To keep a blog growing needs work! I’d hate to see what my per hour income has been! But then again I love doing it which helps.

It could be passive but don’t expect to write a few posts and sit back and collect a six figure income! (more like a few cents here and there for a newbie). I think you have to put in a lot of work to get to the point where you could coast.

Pete June 25, 2008 at 11:28 am

I’m finding, like you said, that it isn’t easy money blogging. But if you put the time in, have quality writing and really make an effort you can make some decent income blogging. I’m not going to be quitting the day job anytime soon, but it’s enough to pay for part of our mortgage every month!

think June 25, 2008 at 11:50 am

I like your blogroll and the the style of your writing (to the point).

As for this post, I agree with FFB that the per hour income in the beginning might be dismissal. I wonder what percentage of bloggers really do see any money from blogging.

Matt Hanson June 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

Matt Hanson

Irene June 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Great article. I don’t see blogging as passive income but it sure would be nice, lol. But it is addicting and fun, and if I can earn even a little doing it, then all the better!

Frugal Dad June 25, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Before I started blogging I had the incorrect perception that it would be a passive source of income. Boy, was I wrong! I work nearly as much at blogging/freelance writing as I do at my full time job.

Vered June 25, 2008 at 1:26 pm

“Then because my site has achieved a certain rank, people want to keep advertising on it.” I am just now starting to realize that this is the case – that advertisers are interested in placing ads on your site simply because it has a certain rank.

SavingDiva June 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I consider blogging passive because I would do it anyway….I don’t blog for money…but my recent google adsense check made me pretty happy!

Pinyo June 25, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Definitely active income, but it does get better after a while. 🙂

plonkee June 25, 2008 at 5:02 pm

It’s active. But isn’t doing what you love and getting paid for it the new retirement anyway?

Lin Burress June 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I really appreciate you taking the time to explain the work necessary in blogging, and I’m going to forward it on to one of my friends who continues to think that she can just slap up a blog online and quit her job and live on easy street.

You’ve explained it very well, very simply and that is what is needed. Blogging for whatever reason (fun or to make money or both) takes commitment and lots of work. I’m loving every bit of it.

mrsmicah June 25, 2008 at 10:17 pm

@ Lin, thanks!

If she’s interested in a one-time thing, she should look into writing and marketing a really good eBook. It’s by no means a guaranteed win (especially if she thinks it’ll be quick and easy), but if she puts in effort and thought, she’d probably do better with that than a blog. Heck, 5 copies sold at $5 profit is more than a lot of blogs make in a month…or a year.

Like you, I love it!

Frugal Vet Tech (Student) June 25, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Hmmm, good post. Blogging is often lumped under “passive income”, but you’re right – it’s definitely not “passive”. I’d never thought of it the way you posed it, though. So once your page hits a certain rank, do advertisers start contacting you about “buying” some ad space or do you have to go do all the work for finding people/companies to advertise on your site?

mrsmicah June 26, 2008 at 8:16 am

@Vet Tech, generally they contact you. One could also be proactive and make deals with companies who seem particularly good for your site. As long as your contact information is available, however, they tend to show up.

Frugal Vet Tech (Student) June 26, 2008 at 10:09 am

Thanks, Mrs. Micah.

Ryan S. June 27, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Definitely active income, but while it’s not (so far) a ton, it’s a great way to make a bit of money and express yourself at the same time!

Lazy Man and Money July 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm

It’s active to get it going, but there’s a point where you might be able to farm it out to ghost writers and editors and have it bring in a passive income.

I think it’s a lot like being a landlord. It’s work, but there are ways to make it not be work if you want to pay for it. By the time you pay for it, maybe you aren’t making much money though.

The Digerati Life July 10, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Definitely not passive for me! But I guess it depends on how you treat blogging. I chose blogging over my full time “safe” job as I couldn’t manage both.

Today, I feel like I’m working as much if not harder than I used to at my previous job! I’d love to share the details of these comparisons one day.

What I like about blogging as a business is that we don’t know whether there will be a limit to the income you can potentially receive from it. Even if we’re not making that much money now… if you think of the growth and pace by which your blog and revenue grows, the hope that it will return something monetarily valuable is always enticing.

Of course, many of us wouldn’t do it unless we enjoyed the process and the fact that we get connected to so many wonderful people out here! 🙂

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