A Blogger's Guide to Passive Income (AKA Making Money While You Sleep)

A young woman holding a cup of tea while working on a laptop

I'm all about that passive income life. I love the fact that I can make money while I sleep, while I'm on holiday or even while I'm at my boring 9-5 earning my normal salary.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that it's important to have multiple streams of income. Your 'stable' job could be lost at any time and leave you struggling to cope. This is when having a side hustle which generates passive income will come in extremely handy.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. As always, thanks for your ongoing support.)


What Exactly is Passive Income?

Passive income is a revenue stream which continues after the work is complete, and requires little to no effort to maintain. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Just a heads-up, though: you might be reading the word 'passive' and thinking that you don't need to do any work at all. If that's your attitude, you're about to be disappointed, my friend.

Passive income isn't completely passive. You've got to be prepared to do some work upfront, and you need to be in it for the long haul. It will take a while to start seeing a steady income.

If you're reading this post, I'm guessing you're a blogger who's looking for some ways to diversify your earnings and get in on that passive income action. So here are a few ways that bloggers can create passive income from their work. I use them all myself so can attest to their effectiveness.


Different Ways for Bloggers to Create Passive Income 

There are a number of ways for bloggers to make money online, of course - taking on sponsored blog posts and social media content, selling your own merchandise or services, and much more.

These are great ways to monetise your site and are widely used by bloggers of all sizes. However, they all involve directly trading your time for money and if you want to start generating passive income from your blog and earning even when you're not working, I suggest the following:


Affiliate Marketing

In my opinion, affiliate marketing is the best way for a blogger to earn passive income. All you have to do is promote a brand's product or service on your blog or social media and you'll receive a percentage of any sales you make. You just have to write a post once and it'll be up forever, potentially earning sales for years to come.

Some affiliate schemes I'm part of are Amazon Associates (both .com and .co.uk), Awin, ShareASale, Skimlinks and CJ Affiliate. They're all trustworthy sites and once you've signed up you can start promoting the brands on there straight away (depending on the site, you may have to apply to each brand you want to be an affiliate for separately, but with others, once you're accepted onto the site as an affiliate you can promote any of the brands available).

I'm also an affiliate for a few blogging courses including Pinterest with Ell and Turn Your Dreams Into Money (both incredible courses which I encourage you to check out, and not just because I'm an affiliate for them - I became an affiliate for them because they helped me so much). I'm also affiliated with the web hosting company Bluehost, so if you're currently thinking of starting a blog, I recommend going to them.

Only become an affiliate for companies and products you've personally used and believe in. Don't be fake and advertise anything and everything just for the money. This won't work in the long run as your posts will look spammy if they're full of irrelevant links. People will be able to tell you're only in it for the money and be put off. Link to things within your niche that you know will be helpful for your readers - always put their needs first.

You don't need millions of followers to make money from affiliate sales. However, it does help to have a fair amount of people reading your blog. Pinterest is an amazingly effective way to gain traffic to your site (if you're not sure how, I highly recommend the Pinterest with Ell course mentioned above). You can create pins which link to your blog posts containing affiliate links or straight to the website for the product or service you're promoting.

You don't have to write entire blog posts for your affiliate links, though. You can also promote them on social media, such as in your tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram stories (even better if you have the swipe up option).

Before I finish this section on affiliate links, I need to warn you that you must always disclose when you're including affiliate links in a post (see my disclosure at the top of this post for an example). You have to put the disclosure before any links appear in the post, not hidden at the end when people have already had a chance to click on them. Stick to the ASA guidelines for influencers and you won't run into any trouble. 


Digital Products 

Selling a digital product is another great way to generate some passive income. You only have to create the product once and then you can sell it forever.

Some examples of digital products bloggers can create and sell are ebooks, printables and courses. If you have knowledge in a certain niche which would be helpful for other people, you could put together an ebook or an online course to teach them your secrets. I wrote my book The Blogger's Survival Guide to help others navigate some of the more difficult parts of blogging and run a successful blog. 

You can use a reputable site like Payhip or Gumroad to sell your digital products, or Teachable to host your course. These platforms all offer affiliate schemes, so you can recruit your own affiliates who have already bought and enjoyed your product, and have them help you sell. You can choose how much commission you want to give them.

(You can become one of my affiliates for The Blogger's Survival Guide if you like. You need to have read the book, so you know what you're selling and can answer any questions that potential customers have. If you don't already have it, email me at nicshealthylife@hotmail.com and I'll sort you out with a discount code.)

It's completely up to you how you price your product, but you need to know your worth. You want your prices to be competitive compared to similar products on the market, but you shouldn't be undercharging. If you've put a lot of time and effort into producing a quality product for your audience that offers a lot of value and promises results, then please don't price it at a couple of dollars.

On the other hand, you don't want to be greedy and hike your prices right up, pricing people out who would otherwise have bought your product. You want it to be accessible for your target audience. Think about how much they're likely to be able to pay. My ebook costs £4.99, which I think is reasonable for a 10,000-word book. I could probably price it a little higher, but I know that most bloggers who follow me are people in their 20s who may just be starting out in their careers and not have loads of cash floating around to spend on a blogging book or course. I wanted to make it accessible to as many people as possible. 


Create a Mailing List

This isn't a passive income stream in itself, however building your own email list of people who are already interested in your content is a really effective way to make sales.

Mailing lists are more effective than social media for generating sales - you're sending an email directly to the people who have voluntarily signed up to receive updates from you in their inbox. (Btw, don't ever sign anyone up without their permission. This is against GDPR law and is just a shitty thing to do).

When people trust you with their email address, don't abuse that trust by spamming them with multiple emails a day. Only write to your list when you have something useful to share that might benefit them, directing them to the product or service you recommend and using your affiliate links. 

You can also add affiliate links for things you recommend, or news about new products you're releasing, into your monthly newsletter if you have one.

If you find it hard to get people to sign up to your email list, offering a useful freebie such as a printable planner or mini ebook is a good way to encourage them to sign up. If your free content is helpful and offers a lot of value, people are more likely to trust you and be prepared to part with their money when you release paid content.

As a final word, I just want to say that it may take weeks or even months to start seeing any money when you first set up these passive income streams, so be patient. When the money doesn't start rolling in right away, a lot of people think it's not working and call it a day. It may be disheartening at first, but it will happen so please don't give up too soon.

If you want to learn more about passive income for bloggers, I recommend this amazing course I recently took called Mastering Sales with Ell.


Further Reading 

Here are some books I recommend which all talk about the subject of passive income. I've personally read and loved them all. You can buy them from Amazon and of course, I'm using affiliate links to link you to them.

1. Life Leverage by Rob Moore. Get more done in less time, outsource everything and create your ideal mobile lifestyle. (US link)(UK link)
2. You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. Master the mindset of wealth. (US link)(UK link)
3. The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich. (US link)(UK link


Related post on Nic's Healthy LifeThe Secrets to Living a Successful Life, Making Money and Being Happy



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Comments

  1. I've started doing affiliate links last week and I'm so excited to see it reigning in some money! I agree with you though that we need to think carefully about what we share and that it's not good to sign up to everything, so I've just started with three places for now before I expand. Was Amazon Affiliates easy to sign up to?

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    1. As far as I remember it was pretty quick and easy to sign up to Amazon's affiliate scheme. I would recommend signing up for multiple countries, for example I'm based in the UK but most of my readers are in the US so I'm an affiliate for both Amazon .com and .co.uk.

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  2. This is such a useful post. I do affiliate links with Amazon, but I don't make any sales through it. Think they may be closing it soon...oops! Guess it gives you soemthing to work on though! Also love the pinterest guide, I have definitely seen a difference after implementing some of her tips.


    Thanks for sharing!

    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

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    1. It really is an amazing course, it taught me pretty much everything I know about Pinterest. Keep going with the affiliate links, you'll get there in the end! :)

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  3. Great advice! There are so many ways you can try and expand your income streams online these days. I don't make much from product affiliate sales (there isn't much room to promote them in my content) but I have had pretty good success with my hosting affiliate sales x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. I love the fact that we live in a time when there are so many options for making money online. I'm glad you're having success with your web hosting aff sales!

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  4. This is really helpful Nic! It's definitely a good idea to have a side hustle of some kind, every little helps! x

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  5. So helpful! I've been thinking about ways for passive income for a while! Now I need to dip my toe in the water and try some of the methods out

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    1. Good luck! It can be hard work at first when you're just starting out but it's definitely worth it. It's a long game so don't give up :)

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  6. Affiliate money is literally paying my rent now - once you get into it and start making success it's a goldmine! I totally agree with using both Amazon us and UK too x

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    1. That's amazing that affiliate sales are paying your rent, that just proves it's an income stream that really works. Plus, it's always so exciting every time you make a sale, no matter how many times it happens!

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  7. Affiliate sales is something I really want to look at this year. I'm on Amazon but haven't made any sales yet so, like Aimsy, I think they'll be closing it shortly! That's a great tip about offering a freebie first though, before releasing paid content (not that I can think of anything for either just yet, haha). Great tips, Nic, thank you! Lisa x

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    1. It's definitely something all bloggers should be looking into if they want to start monetising their blog. It's not a get rich quick scheme but it's a really easy way to earn some extra cash.

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  8. I need to sit down and properly devote some time to affiliate marketing as there are so many products on my blog that I love and highly recommend! It'd be fabulous to make some money from that :-) I'd also love to release a digital product but I'm totally unsure what. It's definitely something I'll have to keep thinking about!
    Alice Xx
    www.blacktulipbeauty.co.uk

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    1. If there are things you're already using and loving and recommending to people then joining an affiliate scheme is a great way to make some money from that!

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  9. This is a really great resource! My blog is still pretty new but I am really interested in learning more about affilliate marketing and getting more involved

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    1. That's great. Best of luck in your blogging journey!

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  10. This post is so helpful!

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  11. Really helpful post... I’ve been able to make very little sales with Amazon affiliate but I know that with time, I will get there. I just need to up my game with Pinterest to gain more traffic to my site. Great tips, thanks for sharing

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    1. Sometimes it can take a while to get going with Amazon affiliate sales...there's definitely a knack to getting people to buy through you!

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  12. This is such a useful and helpful post Nic! I definitely want to work on more affiliate sales and making more money from my blog. Thank you for sharing this resource Nic!

    Lauren | www.bournemouthgirl.com

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    1. Thanks, glad you found it helpful. Affiliate marketing can be a goldmine when it comes to making money from your blog.

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  13. I'm glad I found this site. I read it with great interest, it has valuable information

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