Making Passive Income As A Blogger: Fact or Fiction?

making passive income

This article is a sort of biography/case study type article that I hope will help people who are in a tough spot and don’t know what to do, OR people who just want to get started with content marketing but don’t think they can do it.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that provide me a commission when you use them. This is how blogs make money and it doesn’t cost you anything. Thank you!

Well, from what I can tell it can. I’m certainly not rich yet, but I woke up to another ~$120 USD after sleeping for 7 hours, just from referrals from one app that I promote.

Edit: I was pulling in about $400 per day from that app (Zynn app), but they have since discontinued their referral program… Either way, I ended up making about $4,500 from one blog post promoting Zynn.

zynn app

At the time of this screenshot, I had only been doing this for 4 months, so I’d consider that pretty decent, considering I had no experience with any of this before that.

HOWEVER, saying that it’s “passive income” isn’t entirely accurate.

You DO get passive income from blogging, especially once you know what you’re doing, but I think a better way to view it is “delayed income”.

You have to do quite a bit of work up-front, and then the income starts coming in later.

The good news is – the income can scale very well because digital content just sits there and gets views, as long as you’re making the right kind of content.

My Story: How It All Started

About 7 months ago I was in a pretty rough situation.

I was unemployed, had no money, had some health issues that made full-time work near impossible, was severely depressed, and had no motivation to try at all.

I got kicked out of my parents house and into a shed that me and my dad built. Pretty sure it isn’t even legal, but hey… it beats sleeping in a tent. My step-mom isn’t very pleasant and wanted me out… it is what it is.

I had an old laptop from when I was working, and that was about to break. I had an old cell phone so I could call people and access the internet, but I really didn’t have much going on.

I somehow managed to have a girlfriend, who is amazing for putting up with me, but we never got to see each other, but she means the world to me, so I figured I’d try to figure something out so we could see each other.

I was looking online for work, but couldn’t find much that I felt qualified to do. I tried to get a job at the local grocery store where my girlfriend works, but they wouldn’t hire me because it was a “conflict of interest”.

As I mentioned before, my health was pretty bad (it still is) so I pretty much gave up looking for an actual job.

I kept seeing Youtube videos, and reading blogs about how you can start making passive income from content marketing, and it seemed interesting.

I figured “hey I don’t have much to lose, so I may as well try it!”.

Good thing I did.

Starting Out As A Blogger

I really didn’t know what I was doing, my laptop was about to die, and my internet sucked because I was using a really bad carrier and an old phone for internet. So I knew I had to do something to get a new laptop ASAP.

Raising money for a laptop

I asked family friends if they had any side-jobs I could do to raise a little money, and fortunately one of them was preparing to move and needed a LOT of help. Her husband had recently passed away and she had to move, but she needed someone a little stronger and younger to help get everything ready and help her move. It turns out she had A LOT of stuff that needed to get done, so I worked for her for the next couple months and was REALLY frugal with my money, which earned me enough to buy a pretty decent laptop. (Thanks Judy <3) So next thing I had to do was get a better phone with unlimited data and unlimited internet hotspot data so I could start getting stuff done. This was actually VERY easy because I found a great new company that used the Verizon network, which is the only one that gets great service out in the mountains where I live, and it was cheap, only $40 per month for unlimited everything. BUT I had to purchase a phone and I was pretty much broke from buying the laptop. This is where the entrepreneur side of me started to really kick in, and I developed a pretty interesting way to get what I needed.

Getting a nice phone for internet service

The phone carrier I chose to use, Visible, had a deal on new phones where if I purchased an expensive one I would receive a $200 visa gift card and a free Bose bluetooth speaker. (These specific ones cost $129.99 on Amazon) They also used a financing company named Affirm, which was offering 0% APY interest rates on credit. My credit wasn’t super terrible so I was approved for the loan, BUT I had another trick up my sleeve. I signed up for a cashback app named Rakuten, which was offering cashback for purchases from visible, and they were giving $10 additional cashback for spending your first $25 online. I did have $25 so I bought a phone case for my new Google Pixel 3a XL and got the $10 cashback, as well as $25 cashback from the purchase of my phone from Rakuten. For some reason Rakuten didn’t display my history correctly, but it does show the visible cashback ($25.86), the cashback from the purchase of my domain name ($.30 woot!), as well as the total I have received so far (~$62).
Rakuten sends out payments quarterly, so I just didn’t worry about that money and figured I’d use it to pay my phone bill later on, which I did. Now I had my laptop, I had my phone and a case for it, I had unlimited internet, a $200 visa gift card, and a Bose bluetooth speaker.

How I paid for a domain and web hosting

I still needed a domain name for my website and web hosting. I ended up using Swagbucks, a survey site, to earn enough money to get a PayPal card and buy the domain name. I just did some offers and some surveys. You can get some pretty quick money if you’re smart about how you do the offers. I wouldn’t worry too much about the surveys themselves, just go for the quick offers that want you to sign up for something. Some of them usually offer some pretty decent rewards for starting a free trial.
Domain names usually only cost between $12-$18 per year, and you pay for a year at a time, so it’s pretty easy to get yourself set up with one.

How I paid for web hosting

I did some research about how to build a website and what web hosting I should use. It turns out that a LOT people recommended using Siteground hosting and WordPress.org to make the site itself (the .org version of WordPress, not the .com version).

So I used the $200 gift card to pay the $71.40 for the first year of my Siteground hosting.

siteground hosting
Now my blog was completely paid for, at least for a full year, so that allowed me to stop worrying so much about money and start learning as much as possible. I still had to pay the $40/m for the phone bill, and $21.55/m for my phone payment, but that was easily earned through doing little side-jobs for neighbors once or twice a month, or asking the parents for help. I also had money coming to me from Rakuten, and still had plenty of apps and services I could sign up for in order to get referral bonuses. One thing I learned along the way is you have to do what you have to do. I don’t like asking my parents for help, or having to stop what I’m doing to do yardwork for people, but I tried to keep that, and complaining about it, to a minimum. If you waste time complaining then you can easily spend your whole life just complaining. So I try to complain as little as possible. If anything I try to use my complaints as leverage, like using my story to inspire my readers. (hopefully)

The Hard Part: Content Creation

I thought this would be the easy part. Once I got started writing articles and throwing affiliate/referral links in there I kept having “genius ideas” that would get me filthy rich ASAP. Yea….. that’s not how it really works. I started getting a little traffic to my website and got excited! Surely someone would buy a product or sign up for a service eventually, right? Again…. that’s not exactly how it works. HOWEVER, the experience was a great wake-up call. I ended up spending most of that $200 gift card on new domain names and paid advertising because I was convinced that maybe I needed a new site, or needed to run advertising to get more traffic. I think I have 8 websites now? Honestly though, only half of them matter at all, and all I really need is one, BUT I like to stay busy, so I keep the others for fun. The most important things, in my opinion, are to try things to see what works for you, and pay attention to the data. That’s really all you need at the end of the day. If I had to redo everything I would have just started with 2 websites. This website so I could have fun and try different money making schemes and write about it all, and my other niche site which is more serious and focused. The way I did it was I wrote about things that I enjoyed, and I saw what people were responding to. They ended up responding to one particular subject, so I split that subject off from this blog and onto it’s own site. I also got rid of some of the stuff that I ended up not liking from this site, that way it also became a bit more focused. Here’s what my traffic looked like when I removed all the high-performing content and moved it to a new site, and also removed the boring stuff that I didn’t like:
If you look at that image, the early spike was from paid advertising. The plateau area directly after that was just my high-performing articles keeping the traffic alive, and the part where it dropped to nothing was when I started removing stuff. Can you tell where I figured out how it all works? Within the course of a week I went from making maybe $1 a day (still enough to pay for a domain name and hosting!) to making more than my friends do at their full-time jobs, from just 1 website. That’s not including the other one that I moved my high-performing content to. Here’s a screenshot of my traffic from the new site:
ymyl blog traffic

The new blog is going to take more time to start getting ridiculous traffic because it’s much harder to beat the competition in search engine optimization, but it should make a LOT more money in the long run. That’s kind of why the competition is so stiff.

I also haven’t even begun to really get the hang of keyword research yet.

I really enjoy the SEO tool named SEMRush, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to pay for the premium features yet, so I just use the free version for now.

When you’re first starting out you don’t really need to get too crazy with the paid tools.

Most of the good tools allow you to use them a few times per day for free.

Potential Issues With Income

There are a few concerns I have about the recently gained income and some ideas I have to help mitigate some of them.

First of all, Google is notorious for releasing updates that makes people start losing traffic. Being at the mercy of Google can be problematic.

To counteract that I’m making sure to get indexed on other search engines, and trying not to do anything that will piss Google off.

I’m also trying to work on other sources of traffic, like Youtube videos, and trying to work on my long-term strategy, which is to make a business incubator.

Another potential issue is the source of my income itself. Unfortunately, my income sources aren’t diversified very well, so I’m trying to put more money into the stock market and trying to find other ways to offset that reliance on a small amount of products.

I’m also concerned about getting stuck doing things a certain way because they work at the time.

It’s really easy to say “but this is working, so I’ll just keep doing it.” But I want to already know what the next thing I need to do is, just in case what’s working right now stops working.

Edit: about a month after this post, the product I was promoting completely cancelled their affiliate rewards program, so I’m glad I was thinking ahead!

Other than that, I’m just going to keep churning out content and try to be better every day. So far it seems to be working.

Thank you for reading, have a great day!

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