A Practical, No-Nonsense Guide to Earning Passive Income Online

A Practical, No-Nonsense Guide to Earning Passive Income Online

It sounds so enticing, right?

Tinker around on the side, creating a few websites, and before you know it, you’re earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, giving you the freedom to quit your job, travel the world, and live like a millionaire without anything tying you down.

It’s the dream lifestyle, and everywhere you turn online, someone is offering to sell you a course, showing you how to do it.

You have to wonder, though… is all this Internet stuff real, or is it just a scam?

And if it is real, why isn’t everyone doing it?

Today, I thought I would take a moment to answer those questions for you. Normally, we only talk about earning money online from a blogging perspective, but I thought it might be helpful to step back and address the topic of “passive income” in general.

The sad fact is, there’s a lot nobody tells you. I wouldn’t exactly call it a cover-up because I don’t think most “gurus” are deliberately hiding the truth about how it works, but I do think they have a vested interest in not giving you the whole story.

So, that’s what I’d like to give you. First, a few important details:

This Blog Makes about $60,000 per Month in “Passive Income”

The reason I put “passive income” in quotes is I think the term is a little misleading.

Almost nothing is totally passive. While you may not personally be doing any work to receive the money, someone is, and there’s usually at least a little bit of management overhead.

For instance, I’ve gone on record saying this blog averages over $100,000 per month from selling online courses. From that total, about $60,000 of it is technically “passive income” because I don’t have to do anything to generate it. I could die, and the money would keep coming in month after month for years into the future.

But that doesn’t mean no one is working. It also doesn’t mean I’m personally receiving the entire $60,000.

The truth is, most of that money goes to paying my team. We have course instructors, customer support representatives, marketing specialists, and so on. All of them are working full-time to keep the “passive income” machine running, and they do it quite well.

But somebody still has to be the boss.

While I don’t technically do any of the work necessary to generate that income, I do spend about 10 hours every week on phone calls and meetings. I also spend at least another 10-20 hours a week thinking about how to improve the business and make things run more efficiently.

So, in reality, I’m working 20-30 hours per week for the “passive income.” In exchange, I receive a nice salary, plus the majority of the profits the business generates. If I wanted to, I could probably hire an outside CEO and cut it down to 5-10 hours per week, but that would also reduce the amount of profit I make.

And that’s how passive income really works.

Most of the people bragging about making millions of dollars per year online are being somewhat misleading. Yes, they might be grossing millions, but how much are they netting? In many cases, maybe 100-300K per year after paying for advertising, affiliate commissions, and salaries.

Granted, that’s still a pretty good living. It’s also work you can do from anywhere.

But is it “total freedom?”

Not really. For all practical purposes, you still have a job, you still have to do work, and you still spend at least a little time doing stuff you don’t really enjoy.

I’m not saying it’s a bad life. If you can make it through the learning phase (which I’ll talk about at length later), it’s still a hell of a lot better than having a regular day job, but I don’t know anyone getting paid tons of money to do absolutely nothing. While it’s theoretically possible, I don’t think it’s a realistic objective for most people.

You can earn a living online, but you will have to work for it. In time, you can also reduce the amount of work you have to do personally, but it’s almost impossible to eliminate it entirely, even if it’s only managing the people you delegate the work to. As any manager can attest, that in itself is a job, and it never really goes away.

That being said, how exactly does one generate this not-really-but-sort-of-passive income?

Well, let’s talk about that next.

5 Ways to Generate Passive Income Online

Technically, there are hundreds of ways, but I’ll give you the five most common ones I’ve seen work in the real world.

1. Selling advertising on your site

The idea here is to publish content that ranks for competitive search terms on Google, attracting a continuous stream of traffic, and then sell banner ads to businesses who would like to reach those people.

Of all the different strategies, this one is the most passive, but it also requires TONS of traffic to generating meaningful income. For example, a site getting 10,000 visitors per month might only earn $50-100 per month.

So, if you were planning to make enough money from advertising to quit your job, you can probably forget it. It takes too much traffic. In fact, one of the other methods below will almost always make you more money on a per visitor basis. Nevertheless, this is a legitimate model, so it deserves to be on the list.

2. Earning affiliate commissions

Similar to selling advertising, the goal is usually to rank for competitive search terms, but instead of selling advertising, you endorse different products your audience might be interested in, and whenever someone you refer buys, you get a commission. It’s kind of like the next generation of Amway, except instead of referring your friends and family to buy the products, you refer strangers who visit your website.

If you do it well, you can earn a lot of money. For instance, Pat Flynn is on record for earning over $100,000 per month in affiliate commissions. While that’s certainly unusual, I know quite a few people who make a few thousand dollars a month from it, and in my opinion, it’s the best model for a beginner.

Another variation of this model is to pay for advertising and then earn affiliate commissions from people who click on the ads. Years ago, when advertising on Google and Facebook was cheap, lots of people made a lot of money this way. Nowadays, it’s still possible, but it’s much more difficult, and you have to be much more sophisticated. Nevertheless, I thought I would mention it, because it’s still a viable approach, especially in certain niches.

3. Drop shipping

Here, you set up an online store, but instead of selling your own products, you sell products from other companies, you submit the order to them, and then they deliver the product to the customer. It’s called “drop shipping,” and it’s more common than most people realize. You’ve probably purchased items delivered via drop shipping and didn’t even know it.

While I don’t have any direct experience with it, I know it can be quite profitable, especially in niches where you have high profit margins and low shipping costs. Vitamins and cosmetics, for example, are two popular drop shipping industries. Anyone can theoretically start a “store” and have dozens or even hundreds of products to offer within a matter of days.

Needless to say, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from everyone else, but if you can, the income can be relatively passive. Chances are, you’ll still have to deal with some questions and complaints from customers about other people’s products, which I’m guessing can be quite a headache, but you don’t have to deal with manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, or any of the other headaches of creating the product yourself.

4. Selling information products

Chances are, you’ve seen all the buzz about creating your own online courses, membership sites, e-books, online events, and whatnot. Collectively, these are known as “information products,” and selling them is one of the hottest online businesses to start right now.

Technically, the margin is close to 100%, because you have no product creation or distribution costs. You do everything online. You can also create the product once and then sell it to hundreds or even thousands of people, creating a stream of revenue that can last years or even decades.

The downside: it’s really difficult to get started. While information products are typically pitched as a “side project,” it’s really more like starting any business. You have to learn how to create products people want, promote them, support your customers, do your finances – everything businesses deal with.

It takes a special kind of person to wear that many hats, and in my opinion, the current positioning in the information marketing industry of “anyone can do this” is just nonsense. Everyone I know who has been successful creating information products is a driven, uber smart entrepreneur. If you’re one of those people, you might consider it. If not, I would look elsewhere.

5. Selling simple software (or apps)

In the past, most people wouldn’t have considered selling software to be a source of passive income, but I believe that’s changing. Thanks to tools like Bubble, creating simple web or mobile apps is easier than ever before. You can do a lot without knowing how to code or hiring a developer, and in the future, I think that’s only going to become more and more true.

Now, does that mean you’re going to develop the next Google in your spare time? Probably not, but you might create a simple app that makes you a few thousand dollars a month. I know quite a few people who have done it, and I even have a few friends who have become millionaires in the software business.

Once again, though, it’s like starting any company. While you might not necessarily need to know how to code, you do need an entrepreneurial mindset, work ethic, and personality type, and you’ll probably struggle for years, going through a string of failures before you finally get it right. If you’re successful, though, the passive income potential is enormous.

Now, you might be wondering how all of this relates to blogging

While you don’t technically need a blog to make these models work, it’s quite common to use one as both a traffic generation tool and a way of staying in touch with customers. In other words, the blog gets people “in the door,” and then you monetize that traffic through the above methods.

But here’s the thing…

None of this is easy. Some models are simpler than others, but all of them require extraordinary skill.

Here’s what I mean…

The Prerequisites for Passive Income

Let’s say I gave you a step-by-step guide to earning passive income by selling information products, breaking down everything you have to do with specific instructions, real-world examples, and everything you need to understand exactly how the model works.

You’d think you could become successful within a few months, right? Most people assume it’s just a matter of doing the work.

But it’s not.

It’s a matter of skill.

For example, here’s a list of skills that all the models require (assuming you are using search engines as a traffic source):

  • Creating better content than all of your competitors
  • Search engine optimization, including keyword analysis and link building
  • Copywriting to improve the click through rate on your headlines
  • Conversion rate optimization for your opt-in forms
  • Basic WordPress and hosting administration

And let me be clear…

Those are just the prerequisites for getting traffic. We haven’t even started on monetizing that traffic.

In other words, you need to be proficient in all of those areas before you earn your first dollar. All in all, I’d say it’s about the equivalent of a two-year degree in college.

And the monetization side of things? That’s another two years, assuming you’re only mastering one business model.

So, to learn everything you need to know to generate passive income online, you need to invest about four years, assuming you are studying full-time. If you’re only studying part-time, it’ll take you about eight years.

That’s just an estimate, of course. Some people will be faster; some will be slower.

The bottom line:

None of this is as easy as everyone makes it sound.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Despite the time required to learn everything, I still think it’s a fantastic trade.

The Trade of a Lifetime

If you’re willing to invest four years, 40 hours a week, into learning everything you need to know, you’ll have some extraordinarily valuable skill sets that will serve you for decades. The best case scenario? You never have to worry about money again until the day you die.

To me, that sounds like a better deal than most universities are offering. 🙂

Reading about how long it takes and how difficult it is, you might think I’m trying to discourage you, but I’m not. I’m actually trying to save you time.

Because what’s the alternative?

You tinker around on the Internet, reading articles, buying courses, trying this technique and that, running around in circles for years without getting anywhere. Four years later, you conclude it’s a lot harder than you thought it would be, and you’re forced to decide if you want to go further.

Wouldn’t you rather skip all of those years running around in circles and decide now?

If you read everything I said here and your response is, “Okay, that’s fair. I can give it four years,” then you’re already way ahead of most people. On the other hand, you might also say, “Jon, this is interesting, but I really don’t have that kind of time, so I’m going to bow out now.” In that case, congratulations, you just saved yourself a lot of wasted time.

Because listen…

Building a passive income machine that fuels the life of your dreams is only one path, and it’s not right for everybody. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working for someone else. You can also become a freelancer, offering your services to businesses who need your skill set. Or you can start a more traditional company.

There are lots of options out there. This is only one of them.

Is it the right one for you?

Only you can decide. Now, at least, you know what’s required, and you can make an informed choice.

Good luck. 🙂

About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness,” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man. 😉

75 Comments

  1. Sue Dunlevie
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:40:01

    Loved this post, Jon! It definitely isn’t passive income to do blog coaching and to run courses, but I love it.

    Sue

    • Iyiola
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:57:53

      That’s very true, I’m forcing myself to love it.
      Nice to see you here sue.
      Iyiola

    • Michael Reyes
      Sep 16, 2016 @ 10:02:16

      I personally am a content marketer. I get my traffic from YouTube videos I upload to my channel, so in a way that is passive income.

  2. Ross
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:44:55

    Jon I’ve only read and a little but this is going to be fantastic.

    Thank you !! 😁😄

  3. Denise Renee
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:50:47

    Jon, you always keep it real and I LOVE that about you and your writing! You are so right! There’s always an amount of work that goes into creating “passive income” or becoming a blogger who monetizing with services and courses. Thanks for being honest about how long it can take to truly master the required skills. Frankly, I’ve done my 4+ years of undergrad and grad school and what I’ve been learning in the last 2-3 years as I’ve dug deeper into improving my copywriting and blogging skills by taking classes with yourself and other trustworthy mentors is giving me the best foundation to help me build my freelancing business and ultimately step away from my 9-5. For me, it’s all about who I work for, under what conditions, when, and for how much, rather than a “no-work-at-all” lifestyle. That’s totally unrealistic. And I appreciate you, as a well respected “Guru” yourself, for saying so!

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:32:28

      Freelancing is a fantastic way of accomplishing all those things. Good for you!

  4. Elvis Michael
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:52:18

    Thanks for clearing this up, Jon.

    I consistently see people in forums repeating a particular line over and over: “There’s no such thing as passive income.” Even some relatively known names have said it, though I obviously won’t mention them here.

    In my opinion, passive income is money that comes “passively” as opposed to “actively” (the word is pretty self-explanatory, if you think about it).

    In other words, it’s income that comes “gradually on a recurring basis.”

    Here’s where the confusion takes place for many people: Passive income was never meant to be described as “100% hands-off.” As you said in your article, there will always be some degree of work involved. But since many people believe it’s either “all or nothing,” however, that leads them to think passive income is just a myth or straight up BS.

    If you develop a membership site for $50 per month about fitness videos/advice, you could very well not be producing the videos yourself but you will still have to oversee the site, answer emails, provide instructions to the video producer, and so on.

    Thankfully, depending on the amount of work involved, you will work only a few hours per week/month as opposed to several dozens — all while the money comes in “gradually on a recurring basis.” That, in my eyes, effectively qualifies as passive.

    Thanks Jon for bringing up the subject, and I absolutely love your blog.

    Take care!
    Elvis M.

  5. Leibrun Jr
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:54:30

    Hi Jon or His Royal Awesomeness, it’s a great post.

    I definitely integrate passive income on my website.

    Thanks a lot.

  6. Iyiola
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:56:27

    Jon,
    Thanks for the tips, Kind of planning an online course too, but in an online University.
    Thanks for helping me think straight!
    🙂
    Iyiola

  7. Ayodeji Awosika
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:57:38

    Hey Jon,

    Thank you. I recently conducted a phone interview with a blogger who reached out to me for coaching services.

    He hasn’t made any money so far, yet, he wants to make six figures within a year by selling e-books on amazon. He had no email list. Nothing.

    I didn’t want to work with him because he was delusional. Online marketers create this delusion by making big promises they can’t fulfill.

    There’s too many people trying to create passive income by slapping together products, and I’m glad you’ve provided another refreshing dose of honesty for us bloggers.

    • Iyiola
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:00:11

      Yes Deji, I totally agree with you.
      Especially in Nigeria.
      Everyone wants to be a blogger slapped in the face with money every morning!
      😉

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:34:25

      You know what’s sad? A lot of people do take money from delusional people like that.

      But I’m glad you’re not one of them, Ayodeji. We need more ethical coaches, such as yourself. 🙂

  8. Ahmad Imran
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 10:59:57

    Jon, a question which not many bloggers answer easily, you did it nicely. That question is “how long will it take?”

    When I started blogging 2 years ago, although money was not the primary reason but it was definitely something in the sub-conscious that it will come one day. You know what I thought?

    I estimated 3 to 6 months before earning my first pound.

    I changed my expectations within a few months because I believe in learning the right way and give first before taking. I re-adjusted my expectations to nearly 4 years from the start.

    I am so happy that my estimate is close to yours with nearly 40 hours per week 🙂 Thanks for an honest and bold post. It definitely resonates with new bloggers like me.

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:35:07

      Sounds like you’re on the right track!

  9. Kunle
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:00:00

    Jon is the best down-to-earth expert blogger in the world!

  10. Kelly
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:07:09

    Hit the nail on the head!!! I love your realistic perspective. It HAS taken me four years to learn what I needed to learn.

  11. Shaikh Masood Alam
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:10:07

    Jon, Great article with the in-depth explanation. I always like to read your posts.
    Every Newbie wants to make money with advertising because no one wants to buy from their site affiliate link.

  12. Alina Medina
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:23:30

    All this time I’ve felt discouraged that if been studying online marketing and blogging for over five years, but don’t have a blog or a business to show for it yet. But I’ve definitely learned a lot since I discovered Copyblogger and learned the word “copywriting” in 2011. I fell in love with marketing that day and haven’t stopped reading about it since. But this is probably the first time I’ve heard any blogger say to study for years first. Wow, that makes me feel less like loser staring from the sidelines. And I look back at all the businesses ideas I had throughout the years that I would’ve wasted time on, and all of my goofy ideas for marketing as I was still finding my way to the best teachers. Well now I definitely feel like a have a degree in online marketing and blogging, and I’m putting it into action, but not without investing time to learn about my target audience and testing what will interest them.

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:37:49

      If you are studying copywriting, you’re already ahead of most people. That’s one of the most important – and most rare – skill sets.

  13. Kerrin
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:25:04

    Finally, a straight forward, honest blog post about earning a “passive income” online. Your time frame is dead-on, Jon, as I have been working online for about 7 to 8 years and just now feel like I am getting a handle on most of the skills required. The real truth is that most online bloggers or marketers have to master many, many skills before he or she can claim true success. Of course, that all depends upon how to you rank your success. If you’re a person who enjoys tackling new challenges, learning new skills, and has a knack for writing, then the online world is definitely the place for you. Just remember it takes a personality who is willing to persevere and who isn’t discouraged easily. That being said, it’s a heck of a lot of fun!

  14. Will Chou
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 11:48:05

    Great article.
    Would be even better if you included what works best for you. How do you make the $60k Jon?

  15. Kamil Khan
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 12:46:00

    Nice post. You should have mentioned ‘Coupon Websites’ as well in Affiliate Marketing… With Coupon feed providers like FMTC.co and LinkMyDeals.com, it can be really easy and quick.

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:39:39

      Never heard of them. I actually don’t know anyone who has done really well with coupons.

      • Kamil Khan
        Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:51:43

        Most coupon websites start from bedrooms, and later turn into offices with employees.. I can tell that about Indian coupon websites at least… After initial 12-18 months of SEO and other branding activities, the affiliate commissions can easily be in thousands of dollars.. And if Google loves you and gives you 1-3 spots for a popular merchants, then even $10,000 easily..

  16. Sebastian Rhodes
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 13:24:06

    You speak the truth! No income is truly passive. You have to be willing to put in the work to maintain it! Thank you for another great post Jon!

  17. Gabriel St-Germain
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 13:42:13

    Thanks for the great post, Jon.

    This is one of the few posts on “passive income” that I’ve seen which clearly illustrate the truth behind it. Yes, it is possible to earn a passive income online but to maintain it and fuel growth, there’s simply no substitute for hard work and consistency.

    You’re also spot on about the learning phase. People desperately look for shortcuts to the top, but the only way to get there is by taking one step at a time towards to your goals. Persistence is key.

    Cheers!

  18. Kim Orr
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 14:05:11

    Hello There Jon!
    Thanks for the insights about passive income. Even inherited income isn’t passive once it has to be managed responsibly:)

    But I beg to disagree with “a better deal than most universities are offering.” University education has fallen victim to marketing — so that people think they are going to higher education because they want job skills.

    University education is a partnership with the student who attends. In the best partnerships with thoughtful students the outcome is not a job that promises large income — active or passive — but education of soul through study of the humanities (or sciences in depth).

    The point of education in the humanities is to nourish our souls so that we cultivate the character and the capacity to live to our full human flourishing and take that into our relationships and our communities.

    This means no matter what level of income, or what limitations we may have or obstacles we encounter we are sustained throughout by the wisdom of the ages which becomes — with immersion and reflection — our own. I can’t imagine a better deal than that whether or not I have passive income:)

    You are a perfect example of what education can co-create Jon; and you wouldn’t be the person you are or the writer you are if you hadn’t paid attention and learned from great thinkers, writers, poets, and rhetoricians. They have shaped your soul, and it shines through your writing. Lots of people manage business and income — active and passive — but few do it with your educated brilliance.

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 25, 2016 @ 23:51:03

      Oh, higher education definitely has its benefits, and I’m certainly not trying to persuade anyone against going. I was just giving people a point of reference.

  19. Jacques
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 15:28:28

    Started my blog this summer and earlier this week I sent a affiliate-partner my goal to be in the top 3 of roulette blogs world wide in 4 years. Enjoyed your post Jon, gives reassurance to be on the right way 😉 I’ll give you an update in 4 years. Love your work!

  20. Natasha
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 16:26:41

    Jon, as always, coming with the greatness! I’ve been “blogging” or trying to for at least 5 years. While I’ve learned a lot, I know I haven’t really stepped my foot into it as I haven’t spent 40 hours per week doing this. I’m not giving up though. I believe in this! Thanks!

  21. Iqra Beth
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 16:40:55

    I am very much interested in dropshipping and was surprised to see you are mentioning it as one of the top ways to earn passive income. I will delve further into this. Thanks for sharing the list.

  22. Tim Mann
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 16:48:44

    Your Awesomeness is truly awesome in your perception and knowledge of how the rubber meets the road!

    As a successful online entrepreneur, I can testify that everything Jon said in this article is completely true:

    1. It does take 4 years, 40 hours a week; we started in 2012.
    2. It does take creating exceptional content that is valuable to your readers; it must save them time, energy, money, and be a lot better than the competition’s, or they won’t bother to buy it.
    3. You’ve got to be available to your readership once you’ve created it; there’s truly no such thing as the completely “passive” income that Jon says most people are hoping for. My wife and I each do 20-25 hours per week of “free” technical support to our clients; it’s included in the information packages they purchase from us (which are the best in the biz because we spent 9 years developing and refining them). Nobody else in the biz does what we do BECAUSE IT’S TOO MUCH WORK!
    4. We do our own IT, website design and implementation, write all our own materials, do ongoing research to keep it fresh and develop new products and technologies, market, mail like madmen (our emailing subscriptions alone cost us $1,100 per month, but we’ve got a list of 15,000 after four years in the biz), and somehow manage to keep the dishes clean, food in the fridge, and love our 4 kids as much as we can.
    5. For this, we make a (gross) income in the low six figures per year. After all the business expenses come out, it’s actually a high 5-figure net income. We’d make more if we were high school teachers in a good school district.
    6. But we get to work at home, have lunch with our kids, and take an occasional Wednesday off to go to the beach if the surf’s up (yes, we also live in Hawaii; I think Jon wrote a post about something like that once).

    Just want to add one thing: I read a recent Wall Street Journal study that said, of every 10 new college graduates, 5 are unemployed, and of the 5 that do get jobs, only 2 are in the field they studied for; the other 3 are baristas, busboys, and secretaries. Only most of them have a crushing student loan debt to deal with now.

    Feel free to check our website out, if you want to see what a beast like this looks like in the flesh: http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/

    And, Aloha From Hawaii, Tim………..

    • Jon Morrow
      Aug 27, 2016 @ 17:27:55

      You know what’s great about that story? You created the lifestyle you want. To me, that’s the most important thing. Forget all the “make millions online” shtick. If your business enables you to live the life you want to live, then you’re successful, in my book.

  23. Adam Bear
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 16:58:29

    I think at one time passive income was more prominent like when you could rank simple niche sites on Google and they would just stick. I used to do that years ago and it worked well. Those days are long gone however I’ll take my affiliate commissions over a 9-5 any day.

  24. Lucian Tartea
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 17:29:20

    And you don’t have to settle for just one of the great ways presented above. I run with points 2 (HTML landing page templates) and 4 (WordPress theme reviews) for a few months now and just started to see the first results. It’s looking very promising.

  25. Jasbindar
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 17:51:24

    Hi Jon
    This post is most helpful – especially about managing expectations around timelines. Two, four or even eight years! Much more realistic! Appreciated.

  26. Eli Seekins
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 19:32:46

    Great post Jon!

    I like that you included prerequisites for earning passive income.

    It’s one thing I didn’t understand when I first started.

    Thanks for the tips!

  27. michelle
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 20:50:35

    I love how real this article is. I’m so exhausted at seeing headlines and articles that lead people to believe blogging is somehow passive income and that passive means your not working. It’s heartbreaking, but I’ve seen several friends dump their entire life savings (and lose it) to try and live off of a blog based on the reportedly easy and formula-like ways to earn six-figures overnight. One of my friends just lost his wife, child, and home because he tried to jump right into blogging for a living and didn’t front load the learning because so many misleading articles told him it would be easy. He worked off of infopreneur blogger to-do lists like “get a URL, “write lot’s of content,” and “promote on social media” to win millions of visitors in just three months. Thanks for keeping it real.

  28. Francis J
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 21:19:44

    Jon, this is so good! If it ain’t love, I don’t know what is.

    I wish I knew this four years ago. I would’ve been more prepaired mently, and perhaps enjoyed the journey a little more.

    Misconception is evil… And I see a lot of “gurus” doing a great job feeding it to anyone looking to make money online.

    This will save a lot of people from stress, disappointment, and wasted years off their life.

    Thanks for sharing!

  29. Stephen Leung
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 22:15:01

    Really love this post, just shared it with some friends, thank you Jon!

    And overall why I love your materials so much. It’s not the fluff, ‘you can do it’, ‘just get started’. It’s REAL, practical advice, blueprint, what it takes to succeed.

    You’ve truly been an inspiration to me. Thanks again!

  30. Benay
    Aug 25, 2016 @ 22:17:45

    Awesome! You Brute! – B

  31. Philip Verghese Ariel
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 00:50:10

    Hi Jon,
    I fully agree with you, of course the words, Passive Income, at one read gives a feeling something easy to get or make, but in reality its not! In other words, it involves a lot or hard work and thinking in the initial stage. Of course once it is established it goes on and on and on…
    Jon you shared a lot of tips with a good number of connected links.
    Yes, as you said and I repeat:
    “You can earn a living online, but you will have to work for it. In time, you can also reduce the amount of work you have to do personally, but it’s almost impossible to eliminate it entirely, even if it’s only managing the people you delegate the work to. As any manager can attest, that in itself is a job, and it never really goes away.”
    Well said my dear friend
    May you have a great time of sharing and caring
    Have a Healthy And Profitable Day
    Best Regards
    ~ Phil
    PS: Hey, Jon I curated this on the pages of Inbound org
    Thanks

  32. Sarah
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 01:11:37

    Jon, I always appreciate your honesty and candor. Of course it isn’t easy – but isn’t that one big reason why it’s so rewarding?

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. Tam Gamble
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 02:24:16

    I always knew it would take hard graft and a lot of time. I started writing three years ago, at that time, for no other reason than I wanted to put pen to paper. However, over the years my blog has developed into something I would like to focus more on and would like to monetise it. So can I ask, are there any good books or other websites etc I should be reading to help with SEO etc – I understand the basics but I now want to know more.

  34. Charlotte Hyatt
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 04:03:43

    Hi Jon,

    I would not have read this post now if I could’ve slept. I’m glad I read it though because I have heard how easy and fast you can make “passive” income and not have to work many times. I am not one to spend on a lot of programs but I am finally realizing how much work is involved in getting to a point where you only work a few hours a week and make a good living.

    I appreciated hearing from a “guru,” that you have to work consistently and for a long time to make passive income, because passive income is not “do nothing” income.

    I am encouraged and will keep up my efforts instead of getting discouraged because income is not being generated within a couple of months and dropping everything only to try again the next year.

    August 26, 2020, here I come!

  35. Anh Nguyen
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 04:15:32

    Jon, finally guide on making money online that removes all the hypes.

    I’ve been working to build my online business for a year, and have to agree with you on the overwhelming amount of things you need to master in order to build a passive income machine online, as you call it.

    At first, I naively though that I can make it work in months, that obviously didn’t happen. While I’ve made some sales along the way, to be honest, I was quite depressed recently wondering if I can really do this “online business thing”.

    And I was seriously relieved to hear how it can take up to four years to master the craft of passive income. Reading a bunch of case studies from other successful online marketers was starting to make me think that there is something wrong with me, that I’m not cut out for the business.

    Am I willing to invest four years into this?

    Yes, there isn’t anything else I prefer doing. Of course, it’s not always a rosy endeavour, but it’s worth it to me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Take care,
    Anh

  36. Sabrina
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 09:47:51

    I’m new to blogging and came across this website. I’m not expecting to make money straight away but these are great tips to get me thinking about it! Especially using affiliates.

    There’s so many lifestyle blogs out there and I’m still trying to figure out my place.

    Thanks again! Will keep reading

    – Sabrina

  37. Brian
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 10:33:38

    Wow, felt more like you were speaking to me

  38. Kathryn Ellis
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 12:22:34

    To Kim Orr: Thank you for expressing my own thoughts and feelings so eloquently.

    I’m 78 and without an “adequate” income, but I feel rich from a life lived with the depth of appreciation that university education in the arts and sciences gave me. I wish I had been given or had amassed a nice nest egg for these years. But would I trade the richness of my inner life through the years for a comfortable retirement? Absolutely not.

    But what I see reflected in Jon’s writing is humane and “educated brilliance.” So well put! I’ve been searching the Web for a year or so, and then I ran across Jon.
    “Oh.” I thought, “Here is something quite special. There has got to be an unusually enlightened mind behind this.” And he never disappoints. Thank you, Jon, for all you give to the world through your writing.

  39. Rajkaran Singh
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 15:02:34

    Hi Jon
    I love this post. It’s one of the rare ones where truth is told so boldly. Thanks for sharing the practical side of making passive income.
    It’s really sad that majority of blogging gurus rarely highlight these facts. As you said, this will actually help save time.

  40. Marilyn
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 15:14:55

    Finally, someone who is telling the truth with all the facts – not just some. I really appreciate this Jon. I have just started out and have read hundreds of pages about building an income from blogging, selling e-books, coaching, etc. They are always missing vitals components to the plan and I really appreciate the reality laid out here.

  41. David Clark
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 18:10:53

    Jon you make a great point emphasizing that ‘passive income’ requires a great amount of upfront and continuing action. There’s nothing passive about it!

  42. Nicoli Redmayne
    Aug 27, 2016 @ 01:54:24

    Excellent ideas! It’s always tempting to pick up a part-time job because the money is immediate. However, if you are willing to be patient and invest your time, the rewards are significantly higher.

  43. Timmy Brain
    Aug 27, 2016 @ 03:54:23

    Jon, honestly I never thought the ‘passive income’ takes that long when I started in the 2014. I also have the delusion of the ‘get on get rich’. After six months with no dime accredited to my account I learnt the journey to first dollar is far more than I thought.

    Thanks for the honest true you shared today. You just reshow us the future, and the scary path we have to trek and trudge before thinking of the ‘passive’.

  44. Alexandre
    Aug 27, 2016 @ 11:50:25

    Higher education definitely has its benefits, and I’m certainly not trying to persuade anyone against going. I was just giving people a point of reference.

  45. Roshan
    Aug 27, 2016 @ 14:33:50

    Jon, First of all, BRAVO!!!

    Thanks for such a well-defined post. Worth Reading……

    Love the way you craft it.

    Keep up the good work………..

  46. Jeno
    Aug 29, 2016 @ 11:16:49

    I love this idea. Yes, the great content drives traffic to our blog, but its all about how we are turning the traffic to monetize.

  47. Sherman Smith
    Aug 29, 2016 @ 23:14:28

    Hey Jon,

    This post definitely needs to be share. It does take a lot of studying, applying and think to consistently make a dollar.

    You mentioned that if someone is getting 10,000 visitors/month selling ads on their site, they’re probably only making about $50 to $100 a month. You have to work smart just to get that many visitors, but that’s pocket change in return despite the work you put in.

    Yes it’s true, passive income isn’t really passive that way most guru’s lead you to believe. There is still consistent work that needs to be done despite the fact you won’t be putting as many hours as you would at a 40 hour a week job.

    Thanks for sharing! Have a good one!

  48. uthman Saheed
    Aug 30, 2016 @ 18:23:21

    Thanks for this. I always have a lot to learn from your post. Earning money online is more technical and difficult than how most internet guru do talk about it

  49. Jeffy Adam
    Aug 31, 2016 @ 07:58:22

    Very nice post here thanks for it I always like and search such topics and everything connected to them. Keep update more information..

  50. Jason Cain
    Sep 01, 2016 @ 09:20:46

    Thanks, it so great to finally hear the truth, Jon.

    You’re spot on about everyone offering courses on how to make money on-line, but always they seem to step around the hard facts, “and are quick to take your cash with a good sale pitch but they all seem to hide the realistic facts”.

    I’ve been chipping away at my on-line business model for a couple years now, and if I could have just gotten the real facts straight up I would probably not have wasted my time. Probably should have just gone to university would have been easier.

    Anyway might as well keep plodding along, and I better make a point of following your blogs. I actually might get somewhere, lol.

  51. Aditi
    Sep 03, 2016 @ 15:04:45

    Great post Jon. I am relatively new in my journey to make passive income online and posts like these are a great source of information and inspiration.

  52. Yogesh Jethwani
    Sep 05, 2016 @ 11:46:15

    Hi,
    When I first read the title, I thought it would be something get-rick-quick scam related thing 😛 but later on realized that this post contains too much information which can really help succeed and make passive income.
    I’ve been in IM for about an year now and I have tried Adsense to CPA to PPC and all and I found that CPA worked best for me 😀
    Still to test Dropshipping (makes tons) as it is also a passive income source!
    Thanks for this informative post.
    Regards!

  53. Rohvannyn Shaw
    Sep 05, 2016 @ 23:15:16

    This is a great post! I’m still working on monetizing my blog and growing it but I’m already starting to see results. I might have to look at dropshipping at some point, perhaps for some type of art supply that I really like, since I’m an artist and my readers are mostly art enthusiasts. I’d love to see an article on dropshipping!

    Regarding passive income. You rarely get something for nothing. However, having a job that is enjoyable to do and where I get to set my own schedule and terms is more valuable to me than a job that is entirely passive. I like to be engaged and have a purpose. Purely passive income would make me feel like a parasite. I like to produce.

    Again, thanks for being here!

  54. IGU Meerpur
    Sep 06, 2016 @ 22:40:45

    Exactly what I was looking for! I hope this works 🙂

  55. Transport George | Onehalf AU
    Sep 07, 2016 @ 02:46:14

    Great suggestions on how to earn passive income!

  56. Vishwajeet Kumar
    Sep 07, 2016 @ 07:26:24

    Great Post Jon. Its really very informative. Earning a passive income from blog is a hefty job but not impossible.

  57. Will Chou
    Sep 13, 2016 @ 12:03:14

    Finally someone who will tell the truth about this industry.

  58. Pavel
    Sep 20, 2016 @ 21:06:13

    With all confidence Jon, I can tell the same thing, to be on the right road, you must put all your effort into what you want.

    Passive income online is a big field, you can go all way alone, working with freelancers or with a good team like yours.

    At the end, you must be like as said @Tim, build your daydream in real life.

  59. Pj Germain
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:46:37

    Jon is simply a ROCK STAR – I didn’t get into blogging for the money, it was simply something I enjoyed and then later saw potential in. I have been in it for years and I recall the incredible feeling of that first sale. I knew then what I wanted to do, but had no idea the time involved.

    Jon calls it just like it is – no sugar coating! The is the most profound article on Passive Income – it’s gonna take WORK! If you’re not committed, find something else. If you have no patience – Find Something Else!

    But, if you’re creative, truly believe in yourself and not afraid to roll up your sleeves, learn new things and work hard, you’ve got a solid chance at being your own boss and creating something to be very proud of.

    KUDOS (again) Jon!

  60. چت
    Sep 26, 2016 @ 03:31:13

    Peter, great post. I love this. Clear, practical and immediately useful.

  61. Arsalan
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 18:04:49

    I simply loved this post. I am new to online business and earlier when I went through many blogs and articles, the writers all made it seem so simple and that I would get a huge income passively in a month! But now when I have started business, I realized its too tough. Its totally a different world. Sometimes its so frustrating and depressing that I feel like going back to my old office job. Atleast I had fixed income rolling in my bank. But when I think about the bad times I had in office for doing the work that I did not like, I find online business appealing as i am doing what I want to do and what I am skilled in! But till the time, I dont earn any revenue, I am at a loosing side. I want to work hard. I want to understand all these SEO techniques and all the referral programs but that makes me lost. Its too much to do! And its all about traffic! Trying to hold on tight!

  62. enkonversations
    Oct 03, 2016 @ 05:07:31

    Hi jon great post nice information

  63. Kenzie Rodriguez
    Oct 12, 2016 @ 15:54:50

    Holy cow, so much awesome in this post! I would add that for bloggers who have a really loyal following (check out your session depth, time on site and retuning visitors % in Google Analytics) you can add “micro payments” or subscriptions to the list.

    I know subscriptions are a litttttlleeee controversial but hear me out: bloggers like ElephantJournal have been super successful using Wall Street Journals approach of providing 3-5 posts a month for free and then asking for a small subscription fee. This one is worth thoroughly A/B testing though, because if it impacts your session depth and overall pageviews, your display ad revenue will take a hit.

    BUT: everybody wants to have a minimal ad experience. If you can find ways to supplement income and cut down on display ads to 2-3 ads per page, that’s the holy grail, right?

  64. Brian Driscoll
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 22:20:37

    It really is like a 4-year degree. I have been involved with marketing, social media, online writing for the last 3 years.

    I just got to the point where I have a legitimate website I would consider “good enough”, and that’s like my 6th or 7th website.

    It is a long haul, one where most people will get nothing out of, till things start clicking. And I don’t think every person can make money online. You have to be interested in one thing, and obsessively so:

    “communication”

    Otherwise, I can’t see someone dedicating the adequate amount of time to this.

    OR, you offer a spectacular service or product and have other people market it for you.

    Thanks! Love the article!

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