7 Totally Legitimate Ways to Make Passive Income from Your Blog
You hear about bloggers who make money while they sleep — bloggers who take epic vacations or spend all their time with their families, and at the end of each month, they still have money coming in.
It sounds too good to be true. Especially when you’re slaving away every day and can barely make ends meet.
But it’s not just an urban legend. Once your blog draws a steady stream of traffic, you can turn it into a passive income machine. You can make money on autopilot and you won’t have to resort to any shady tactics to do so.
Check out these seven totally legitimate ways to make passive income from your blog.
#1. Sell Resources and Templates You Created for Personal Use
Sherry, the Canadian blogger behind the blog Save Spend Splurge, found herself in $60,000 worth of debt after college.
This is a predicament shared by many millennials today. But instead of paying her debt back slowly with minimum payments, Sherry created a budgeting template in Excel that helped her get that entire debt load off of her back just 18 months later.
After starting her personal finance blog, Sherry realized something. If her Excel template was powerful enough to clear her debt in 18 months, it could help her readers too.
So she called it “the Budgeting Tool” and listed it for sale on her blog for $50:
She then made it easy to find by adding a link in her top menu and sidebar:
You may have created some resources for your personal use that would be useful for your readers, too. In fact, maybe you’ve created a resource that they’d be happy to pay for.
For example, if you blog about weddings and you’ve created your own invitations, you can sell them as printables. If you blog about graphic design, you have probably created Photoshop templates that you could sell. Or if you’re a travel blogger, you could sell bag-packing checklists or trip-planning worksheets.
Whatever niche you’re in, chances are there’s plenty of opportunity for selling such resources and templates.
#2. Ship Physical Products (Without the Inventory Headaches)
When you think of selling physical products on your blog, it might seem like a nightmare. You imagine yourself in your living room, surrounded by products and empty boxes, with dozens of printed-out orders in hand, and you’re trying to make sure everybody gets exactly what they ordered.
But these days, you can sell products without needing to store, package, and send them yourself. You can use dropshipping companies that do it for you.
Dropshipping is a method of ecommerce that lets you transmit orders directly to the supplier. The supplier will then take care of the packaging and ship the product directly to the customer.
You don’t have to lift a finger, your spare bedroom doesn’t have to turn into a stockroom, and the USPS guy won’t come knocking on your door every day.
Benny Hsu from Get Busy Living sells his own t-shirts through one of these companies:
Benny uses Teespring, a shirt and apparel dropshipping and manufacturing company that allows you to design your own products and sell them via its platform.
He earned $100,000 in five months through selling t-shirts. He tested several designs and after he found which ones sold well, he could sit back and watch the sales come in.
Offering a physical product on your blog doesn’t have to mean constant inventory management. It can mean dropshipping and selling your products passively for years to come.
If you’re interested in pursuing dropshipping, you can find a list of dropshipping companies here.
#3. Become Your Own Book Publisher
Given that you’re a blogger, I assume you love writing. So publishing an ebook is a perfect way to generate passive income. It offers a way to get recurring payments for the words you write down.
This is what Tracy Gillett does on her blog, Raised Good:
She sells The Lost Art of Natural Parenting for $17. She’s set up a sales page on her blog, and also sells it to her subscribers through an email autoresponder series, allowing her to sell her ebook on autopilot:
The beauty of publishing ebooks is that you can offer them to your readers as a digital download, wiping your hands clean of having to handle and ship a physical book. Once you write it, it can truly be passive.
Having written the 129-page ebook in 2016, Tracy can now earn money from selling it for years to come, no matter whether she’s traveling, working in her day job, exploring, or spending time with her son.
#4. Promote Other People’s Products and Earn Steady Commissions
You probably use several products related to your blog niche, right?
I might even guess that you love some of those products. If you nodded yes, then you can probably reap the benefits of this “holy grail” of passive blogging income: affiliate marketing.
Leanne Vogel, a nutrition educator and the blogger behind the keto blog Healthful Pursuit, uses many supplements in her own diet. So when she’s writing blog posts or recording podcast episodes, mentioning those products is natural.
When one of her audience members buys from her referral link, she makes an affiliate commission. And that, my friends, is “passive income”: referring your audience to products you know and love and getting paid for it, too.
For example, check out how Leanne places an affiliate link for Perfect Keto products in her blog post:
She incorporated the link naturally within an article, giving her audience a discount just for them.
Leanne gets a commission for referring sales to Perfect Keto, and her audience finds out about a product that she loves and uses. It’s a win-win.
#5. Sell Courses That Teach Highly Desired Skills
Your audience wants to develop skills that will help them fulfill their goals. You can get paid teaching them those skills. And you don’t even have to do it in person. (Wouldn’t be passive if you did, now would it?)
Blogger Sarah Lambert writes a photography blog for moms, and she gets to do just that by selling online courses to her audience, teaching them how to do what she loves to do.
She first offers a free email challenge to grow her email list and prove the value of her courses:
She then sells a course that teaches her audience how to use their cameras to take great pictures of their children.
All you need is the course content, and a course-creation platform like Teachable or ClickFunnels.
You can sell the courses on your website like Sarah does, through your email list, and by mentioning it in articles where it fits.
This can make you a lot of money as courses can sell for high dollar amounts. Many bloggers charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for their courses. When it comes to pricing your course, you should keep this in mind:
Online education is a $107 billion industry. A lot of that profit comes from bloggers selling courses around their topics. They organize their content into a learning system and add immense value to their readers’ lives.
What can you teach your readers that would add value to their lives?
#6. Create Software That Fills a Desperate Need (Even if You’re Not a Developer)
When Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income launched his podcast, he couldn’t find the perfect podcast player. He wanted one that looked good on his site, but also had the capabilities that the established podcast players had.
Instead of waiting for somebody else to make a better program, he hired people to create the player he wanted: The Smart Podcast Player.
Pat sells the podcast player on his blog and in his online courses about podcasting.
He reports earning over $14,000 from the player in September 2017:
Not too shabby, right?
Ever use software and wish it were better? Does your audience desperately need an app that doesn’t even exist yet? Consider making it (of having it made) yourself.
Admittedly, this requires you to either be a developer or be able to hire one. But if you can swing it, you can profit.
#7. Offer a Challenge That Will Change Your Readers’ Lives
In 2014, I began to enact dozens of tiny changes in my life (like waking up earlier, making time for fitness every day, and journaling). I blogged about many of these changes as I saw them make a positive impact on my life.
As these small changes turned into habits, I realized something:
Every small, positive change we make in our lives pays compound interest.
Enter The Unsettle Challenge: one of the ways my blog makes passive income.
The Unsettle Challenge is a paid email series that delivers one email a day for 30 days, each challenging the reader to make a positive change in their lives, like eliminate wasted time or drink a green smoothie every day.
I charge $30 for it — one dollar for each day of the challenge — and sell it to my subscribers through an automated email:
The challenge still sells, even two years after I launched it.
And I haven’t touched the sales email, the challenge, or the sales page at all since it launched.
In an online world full of free challenges, you might doubt that you can charge for a challenge, but I’m proof that you can — as long as the challenge offers value.
Turn Your Blog into a Passive Income Machine and Start Living the Dream
You started blogging because you love your topic.
You want to share your passion with the world, add value to your reader’s lives, and do what you love.
But you also want to earn a bit of money from your blog. And what better way to do that than to earn passive income — so you can do what professional bloggers are known for: travel the world, make money at home in your pajamas, and spend more time with your family.
The good news: There are plenty of opportunities to earn passive income from your blog, from affiliate marketing to creating your own physical products. You just have to figure out which method suits you best.