3 ways to generate passive income from your blog

These tools do most of the work for you

Brain surgery it ain’t, but running a successful and profitable blog is no cakewalk. It takes time, talent, energy, creativity and drive to produce consistently mind-blowing, eye-grabbing content, make it pinnable, and ensure that posts are useful and lucrative. That’s why people who rely on their blogs to pay the bills consider ways to generate passive income to be positively magical.

You have to deploy sponsored content and embedded affiliate links carefully and strategically, which means they’re labor-intensive but also can become your biggest money generators.

Passive streams are the tweaks we make or widgets we activate that whir in the background while the main events draw reader focus. These little gizmos may not earn thousands of dollars per day, but an extra five bucks here and there adds up over time.

So if you plan to blog for the long haul, read on for three revenue streams you should consider implementing on your own site to generate passive income.

Use CPM ads to make traffic pay

I’m a big fan of using your ad space to support small businesses, organizations that align with your mission, and even fellow bloggers. Never a bad idea to set aside some pixels for flat-rate graphic ads that earn a bit of money but mostly exist to build community.

However, virtually every blog on the Interwebs can benefit from installing a CPM ad or two.

 

These ads pay for traffic — CPM stands for “cost per thousand impressions” — and the more visitors you have, the larger your potential to earn. Just pop a piece of code into your sidebar, and the ad program will begin serving ads onto your site and tallying your traffic for a monthly payout.

Google AdSense

Google’s AdSense network is one of the largest and most widely used, and its code gives the network the ability to scan your blog post content and offer you ads that are relevant to your reading audience.

Generate Passive Income Google AdSense

Naturally, this approach can backfire. I blog about style and body image, so AdSense tends to serve up Botox and Spanx ads on my site — both of which are downright offensive to some of my readers. But unless you’re writing about a nuanced subject or have a sensitive readership, AdSense should offer you an easy, topic-focused income add.

Amazon

Amazon recently introduced its own CPM ads, which are available to anyone who participates in Amazon Associates (something ALL bloggers doing affiliate marketing should do). Much like AdSense, Amazon’s ads attempt to match their content to yours, but they also track reader activity and serve up user-specific ads.

So, for instance, when my musician husband visits my style and body image blog, he sees ads for Ernie Ball guitar strings and eBay promos for gently used Telecasters.

Subject-specific ad networks

Neither AdSense nor Amazon is foolproof, but both ad programs are open to all bloggers, easy to join, and bring in a steady (albeit small) paycheck. If your blog is in one of the larger niches — fashion, food, parenting — consider exploring subject-specific ad networks like PopSugar, Plateful or BlogHer.

Truncate to generate passive income

Once, this content display decision was a fraught one: Many readers resent having to click through to view a full post, and others know that truncating a post can double a blogger’s click-through rate — which drives up earned income. And they might resent the “money-grab.”

But these days?

Many web designers advise bloggers to truncate everything since the majority of users are viewing on their mobile devices and prefer to be able to scan headlines and blurbs. Scrolling through endless posts on the front page of a blog is actually a detriment these days.

So get those CPM ads installed and truncate away, since doing so truly does drive up your page-views.

WordPress and Blogger have manual truncation functions, and WordPress plugins like Easy Custom Auto Excerpt can set up excerpting rules for you.

Pro tip: Remember that truncation on your site doesn’t always translate to truncation in your RSS feed. If you use Feedburner, for instance, you’ll need to turn on Summary Burner to encourage click-throughs from feed readers.

Affiliate to earn commissions

At this point, most blogs that are monetized use affiliate links — those that plant cookies and track user actions, leading to commission payments for the link originator.

But if you’re relatively new to affiliate marketing and have a link-rich archive of posts that lack affiliate tags, consider using a program like VigLink or Skimlinks as a backup.

Instead of creating individual code for each link, those programs give you code that automatically affiliates any link that hasn’t already been coded to do so the second a user clicks. (Assuming it leads to a vendor in the program’s participant list.) You cut and paste their code once and it does the rest!

This might sound like an easy catch-all and make you wonder why you should bother with any other types of programs. And, of course, the choice is yours.

But most programs that make you create a fresh affiliate link for each product also offer other promotional tools and widgets that can prove useful. Some even pay higher rates. If you’re incredibly strapped for time, though, knowing your affiliate links will basically create themselves can be a huge load off your mind.

Focus on the main attraction

Blogging takes work, and making money off your blog takes even MORE work. But if you get these three things going for you, they’ll generate passive income slowly but surely in the background while you focus your energy on the main attraction — creating and promoting your unique and amazing content.

How do you generate passive income on your blog? Please share in the comments!

Sally McGraw
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She is the creator the popular daily blog Already Pretty, a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a Huffington Post contributor, and the author of several books about style and body image. Sally is also a ghostwriter and editor who specializes in non-fiction books and book proposals. She believes that writing is like solving a living, breathing, ever-changing puzzle, and finds the challenge exhilarating. Her favorite word is "crepuscular."