Blogging for income is quite the hot topic these days, with many bloggers (including this one) touting the rewards of harvesting the massive internet traffic one can create by writing digestible articles and posting them regularly on a blog. For many budding entrepreneurs, blogging seemed to be the next easy way to strike it rich.
It all started a little over three years ago when Steve Pavlina began writing personal development articles for his self-named website. His lengthy, yet insightful articles became such a smash hit that his blog quickly skyrocketed into the Technorati Top 100 , and he started to disclose that he was making over 50, 100, 200, 500, and even 1000 dollars a day from his blog! Blogging was no longer for lonely college freshman without anyone to talk to.
This news started a virtual stampede of wanna-be Steves, who flooded the blogosphere with thousands of unofficial Pavlina personal development franchises. Anyone who ever had aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker (but never got the chance) found new life in this gift from the internet.
I can’t lie, I was one of them. Steve’s was the first blog I had ever read, and I was blown away by both the content and the potential of the medium. I quickly set up Genius Types and started slinging out articles about what I knew best: creativity and passive income.
One of These Things is Not Like the Others
It wasn’t until I started to become part of the blogosphere by reading and communicating with other blogs, that I realized that I was not a blogger in the traditional sense. Most soldiers of the blogosphere are completely dedicated to the art of blogging by 1) focusing every waking moment on fulfilling a fierce regimen of one post a day, 2) tweaking their site code, 3) and leveraging social networking sites to the hilt.
Every time I tried to duplicate this process, it left me feeling uneasy. My intention in creating Genius Types was to share information and create passive income, not create a job. The amount of time it must have took some of the bloggers I met to crank out the content they were producing was very unappealing to me.
The pressure to create at least one post a day never sat well with me either. I still consider Steve Pavlina to be the greatest content-producer in the blogosphere, but even his post frequency started to wear on me. There are a handful of his articles that I find to be masterpieces; but even Picasso can’t produce a masterpiece every day.
In the spirit of full disclosure: I don’t follow ANY blogs regularly. I have my favorites that I check up on from time to time, cherry-picking a few promising articles to browse; but the truth is that I find most blog content pretty boring. The pressure to post every day has really diluted the talent of most bloggers.
This jaded view of blogging was a stark contrast to the rose-colored glasses that Steve Pavlina gave me a year earlier. I once saw blogging as a way to permanently document a person’s inner genius. Instead of writing a book, a person could slowly piece together his life’s work on the internet for everyone to see till the end of time.
If the work had value, it would create passive income because people would always be interested in reading it. Each post would read like a chapter in a book.
When a blogger starts to write just to meet her daily quota instead of writing lasting content, the residual component of her work is greatly diminished. When a blogger starts writing for her daily readers instead of the readers that will discover her site years in the future; she is killing the goose to get to the golden eggs.
Blogging and Passive Income
There is definitely a passive component to blogging income, but only in direct correlation to how timeless the content is. For example: which blogger is creating more passive income?
a) One who writes about the weather, what he had to eat, the new features of his website, what he read that day, what his new year’s resolutions are, what he plans on doing, and how he is feeling at the moment?… or
b) one who writes about a lasting principle that she has learned over many years, philosophies that took her years to develop, and what she learned from her experience in order to help other people save time and money?
The second blogger is writing timeless material while the first is writing material that is only relevant for the moment. The second blogger stands a much greater chance of creating passive income from blogging.
Measuring the Passive Component
No income source is completely passive. Passive income sources can be distributed on a continuum between completely passive and completely active, but it’s all relative. Most sources have a passive component and an active component.
It would be somewhat tricky to measure what percentage of a blogger’s income is passive and what percentage is active without asking that blogger to stop blogging for a year to see what percentage of his income persists.
Active blogging income is mainly composed of that traffic that is generated by eager fans who check in every day to get the latest post. Unfortunately, regular visitors aren’t the best source of income because they come for the content, not necessarily the advertisements. The click-through rates for regular visitors tend to be lower than for first-time viewers.
Passive blogging income has a lot to do with new visitors. Does your content have the ability to continually generate new viewers who are more likely to click on ads and affiliate links?
Complicating the formula is the fact that the amount of regular visitors contributes to the rate of new visitors. Regular visitors may spread the word about your site and attract new visitors.
Not a Traditional Blog
Genius Types has never really fit in with the traditional blogging mold. I’ve had many readers complain that I don’t post frequently enough, even to the point of questioning if I was still alive after a month-long break for the holidays. I’ve received harsh criticism for not participating in time-consuming blog memes and lists, which other blogs use as a source of harvesting cheap links (the currency of the web). Plus, I’m not very good with reciprocating links and comments.
The reality is that I’m more concerned with the long-term viability of Genius Types than I am with day-to-day traffic and social niceties. I see this site as a way to document the wisdom that I accumulate throughout life. Sometimes it comes to me frequently, and sometimes I go long periods of time without anything worth writing about.
I’ve tried forcing myself to post and it just didn’t feel right. Search through my archives and you’ll find a few trivial posts; but for the most part, I try not to write unless I have something to say.
Does Genius Types have Passive Income?
It’s interesting to note that I pushed content on Genius Types pretty heavily right up until about the then end of October 2007. Each month resulted in a greater income than the previous month. I was succeeding in creating an active following and generating plenty of new visitors.
I let off the gas starting in November to focus on other business ventures. Interestingly enough, my AdSense income and average traffic per day has remained consistent for almost three months. This includes a period of almost a month when I didn’t post anything new at all.
For me, there are only two reasons to blog: 1) to share information and 2) to create passive income. I’m not passionate enough about blogging itself to turn it into a job. That’s not to say that there aren’t people out there who are born to be full-time bloggers… I’m just not one of them.
My passions are creating art and passive income. Blogging has helped me to serve these passions on my own terms. I’ll never be a blogger in the traditional sense (traditions being 3-5 years old), but I see the potential that blogging has for those who write timeless content.