Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. Making a purchase after clicking one of these links may result in a commission for me. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
With the name of our brand being Passive Income Unlocked, you’d think I’d put more emphasis on the passive side of this business. In reality, it’s something we simply don’t think about too often because we’ve ingrained it into our approach.
In a nutshell, there are pros and cons to making a site more passive. The biggest benefit of course is freeing up your time, which you can use for whatever you want (working on additional sites, working on another business, spending time with your family, working your day job, etc.).
Those benefits don’t come without drawbacks, and I’ll touch on those throughout this post. I’ll also discuss our approach to finding the right balance to get some of the benefits without too many of the drawbacks.
Before we jump in, I do want to emphasize that this business model is not passive in the way that some people define the word. There’s still work involved, and there’s no way around that.
You still will have to put a ton of work in up front, but the idea is that once the foundation has been created, your site can generate a steady income on autopilot. This is absolutely achievable and can require a very minimal time commitment from you once your site gets to this point.
Laying the Foundation
Before we jump into the various ways to make your site more passive, let’s first talk about the initial work that needs to be done before making your site more passive. I’m not going to jump into a bunch of detail here as there’s a lot to it, as outlined in our course curriculum.
Basically, before you can get to the passive stage of a website, you have to purchase the domain and hosting, add the foundational pages on your site, write/outsource the content, etc.
There’s a lot to it, but aside from creating the articles themselves, most of the work is done up front. Later on, we’ll talk about how you can make the writing part passive as well.
How to Make Your Blog More Passive
1 – Disable Comments
One of these easiest ways to make your site more passive is to simple disable comments on your posts. For anyone who has a high-traffic niche site, I’m sure you’ve seen how many comments come in each day or week.
Disabling comments might seem like a no-brainer, but there are potential drawbacks. Believe it or not, Google considers comments to be part of the content on your posts.
While they can generally tell that the comment section is a separate part of your posts, if the content within the comment section is useful, it can lead to better rankings.
Not only that, but a comment section can lead to better user engagement as well. If you have a lot of comments on a post, many visitors will take the time to read through them, and some will even add their own.
Because of these potential benefits, we don’t disable comments on our blog. To keep a good balance, we allow commenting, but only respond to a few of them each week.
By doing this, people can see that we’re responding to comments periodically, but at the same time, it’s not taking up much of our time.
2 – Don’t Add a Contact Page
This is another one that’s a simple flip of a switch and that is to not add a contact page to your site. A contact page is typically a page with a form for someone to fill out if they want to reach out to you.
If you have a contact page on your site, you’re going to get lots of emails. Most of those emails will be from people looking for backlinks, while very few will be legitimate emails with questions or comments about your content.
Unfortunately, Google likes to see a contact page on your site, and with EAT becoming more important as of late, I don’t recommend removing it. On top of that, many ad networks require that you have a contact page if you want to use their services.
3 – Avoid Social Media
Now onto something that we do recommend doing in most cases and that’s avoiding social media. Social media is a huge traffic source for some sites, but it can be very volatile and isn’t necessary if targeting search traffic.
We’ve tried growing various social media channels from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve found some success with these, but that was short lived.
The biggest issue that we’ve found with social media is that it’s simply too time consuming. Whether you’re creating pins for Pinterest or videos for YouTube, you can spend a considerable amount of time just to generate a few pieces of content that might not do anything for your site.
Over time, we made the decision to give up on social media altogether and focus solely on growing our search traffic. Basically, double down on what we’re good at instead of wasting countless hours on growing small traffic streams from social media.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with creating social media accounts to improve your brand awareness and reach. If time is not a factor, there are a ton of potential benefits to doing this.
You really only want to avoid social media altogether if you’re either limited on time or want to double down on growing search traffic (both of these are true in our case).
4 – Don’t Start an Email List
This is another one that we currently avoid and that’s to not start an email list for your blog. Many people will tell you that the money is in the list, but from personal experience and from hearing from other big bloggers, that’s not always the case with niche sites.
There’s definitely a lot of potential money to be made with email lists if you have products and services to promote. These can be digital products, affiliate links, etc.
However, if you have a simple informational site, you might not get the same monetary value out of growing an email list. Sure, you can redirect subscribers back to your content, but that also comes at the cost of using email service, and more importantly, your time for writing and responding to emails.
I have an email list here on Passive Income Unlocked, and even with just a few hundred subscribers, it takes a good chunk of time for me to respond to emails every time one goes out. That’s not to mention the time it takes to write the emails in the first place.
For a site like this one, I think having an email list is important. For an informational niche site, it’s definitely optional and not crucial to your success.
Just like with creating social media accounts, there’s nothing wrong with creating an email list for your blog if you have the time and money. It really just comes down to where you want to put your focus.
5 – Stick to Evergreen Topics
I’ve talked about this one before, but if you want your site to be passive, stick to evergreen topics. Evergreen topics are those that don’t change much over time (gardening, golfing, knitting, etc.).
By sticking to evergreen topics, you can write an article once and never look back. This is what we do on our sites, and as a result, those articles continue to bring in traffic month after month, year after year, without any updates being needed.
While there can be some value in writing about products and trends, just know that those articles will either need to be replaced or updated at a future date. If you want your site to be as passive as possible, simply avoid these types of topics altogether.
6 – Automate Updates
This one’s easy. If you don’t want to even go as far as logging into your WordPress dashboard periodically, just make sure to enable automatic updates.
Just keep in mind that updates can lead to compatibility conflicts between plugins and themes. At a minimum, at least browse your site occasionally to make sure nothing broke from a recent update.
7 – Monetize with Display Ads
One of the biggest draws to this business model is the fact that you can monetize every post on your site in one shot with very little effort. Not only that, but with display ads, you don’t have to worry about making changes for holidays, promotions, etc.
Basically, once your ads are in place and you’ve tweaked your settings to your liking, you never have to touch them again. They simply keep generating revenue based on the amount of traffic going to your site.
The drawback of only using display ads is that you’re missing out on additional revenue from other sources like affiliate offers, digital products, and physical products. Thankfully, when it comes to these other income sources, two of them can still be relatively passive.
With affiliate links, you can add them throughout your content, and once in place, you shouldn’t have to touch them again. Just know that since you’re linking to products or services, you might have to monitor them and change them down the road.
Digital products can also be very passive. Just like with building a new site, you put in all the work up front, then let the product generate revenue with each sale. The only thing to watch out for here is that you’ll have to deal with customers to some extent (refunds, questions, etc.).
8 – Outsource
I saved outsourcing for last, because this is the one that’s going to move the needle more than anything else. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could create a company and outsource the entire process for building a site (where’s the fun in that?).
The first thing to consider outsourcing is the writing itself. This is easily the most time-consuming part of creating and maintaining a niche site. In our case, it’s the only thing we outsource.
After writing, you can outsource just about any other routine task on your site, like adding images and links, or even handling your social media accounts and email marketing.
Basically, anything you can boil down into a process, you can outsource. This is easily the most-effective way to turn your blog into a passive business.
If you’re wondering why we don’t outsource anything aside from writing, the answer is simple. It all comes down to control.
With each process that you outsource, you lose a bit of control over your business. No one will ever put in the amount effort and generate the level of quality that you can.
Not only that, but with outsourcing, quality and performance tend to slip over time. Freelancers simply don’t have the same incentives as you, so if you want to keep your level of quality high, you will need a process in place to regularly do quality checks, etc.
Again, this process of periodic quality checks and meeting with freelancers doesn’t have to be done by you. However, it will need to be done by someone you’ve hired that you trust.
In our case, because the writing itself is so time consuming, we outsource it. For everything else, we divide and conquer. This way, we can keep our level of quality consistent across our sites. Of course, that’s much easier when you have a small team like we do.
One last point to keep in mind with outsourcing is that it’s expensive. Every process that you outsource cuts into your profits.
With that being said, your time is worth something as well, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not outsourcing makes sense in your scenario.
Many people believe there’s no such thing as passive income, but I think it really comes down to how you look at it.
When it comes to creating niche sites, yes, you’ll have to put in some work up front. However, once you’ve laid the foundation, your site can generate a recurring income with almost no interaction from you.
This is how we define passive income in regards to blogging, and not only is it achievable, but it’s the expectation when we create a new site. Just know that there are pros and cons to making your site passive, so it’s up to you to decide how far to take it.