"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Freelance Writing: Why Is Full Time Residual Online Income so Hard?

Freelance Writing & Online Passive Income

Why Online Passive Income is Too Hard for Most Writers and Why They're More Likely to Become Mutant Super Villains Than Online Gurus

Freelance writers and would be freelance writers, yes, you read that title right. Let's be frank here: most writers are incredibly stubborn whether they have accomplished something or not. Or most would-be writers are stubborn. The ones who choose to learn, adapt, and change thrive. The others who don't call us hacks or liars when we say you can make a living writing online for money. But even beyond this, there is a difference between writers who always work extremely hard and never make much beyond the $20-30,000 a year range while working 70 hour weeks and wonder why things never get easier, and then there are the online freelance writers who learn to make really good passive income and have the freedom of time, place, and income that most freelance writers dream of, but never achieve.

So what's the difference? It rarely is the best writers who accomplish the dream freelance writing life style they envision, and many times it's not even the smartest. Why is making passive online income so damn hard?

Well I'm going to show you, using numbers of mine back when I had absolutely no clue whatsoever what I was doing and hadn't found any number of great blogs or mentors to learn from. A lot of these numbers will look familiar to struggling freelance writers, and underscores why you are more likely to work yourself to the point of mutation (and if you're going to I suggest going for telekinesis - the Fire Starter thing is so 1980's) than you are to make a full time living off of passive income if you're a stubborn writer, or one who simply doesn't understand how residual income works.

We'll call the old writer and his numbers "True Noob." This isn't meant to be mean, it was just a pretty accurate description. He's going to try to build passive income using AdSense (mostly through Hubpages & Xomba), Constant-Content usage rights articles, Associated Content's PPV, and Squidoo. Okay, the one thing the writer did right was thinking about multiple income streams. That way if one site folded down the line, all the hard work wouldn't disappear with it.

So at the time the writer figures out what each article, hub, or lens is making on average per day based on the passive income already coming in. This writer knows pretty much nothing about article marketing, back links, and hasn't found Justin's SEO blog or Court's Internet Marketing blog or Grizz's Make Money Online blog. So True Noob is swinging and missing, but credit where credit is due, he's persistent and does the numbers.

The numbers he comes up with: out of 200 Associated Content articles, he makes 1/2 cent per day per article in passive income. Constant Content with 100 usage rights articles makes about $1 per day with a little over 100 articles, Squidoo lenses make about 2.4 cents per day per lens, hubs make about 2.3 cents per day per hub, and Xomba articles make about a penny a day on average & ehow does the same, although he is just getting started there.

These are all mathematical averages, and depressingly low numbers. And to freelance writers who don't know anything about marketing their work or SEO, this probably sounds closer as opposed to the much higher numbers that writer who know what they're doing are reporting.

So based on how many articles (or hubs or lenses) True Noob can write in one 12 hour work day, he figures out how long it would take him to get to $100 a day passive income, assuming the numbers he had so far were accurate reflections. He then tried to figure out how long it would take working 12 hours a day, EACH and EVERY day, all 365 days a year.

For Associated Content, this was 4 years, 207 days. That's if he worked each and every day 12 hours a day, one article an hour.

For Constant Content, this was 5 years, 175 days.

For Squidoo, this was 3 years, 294 days.

For Hubs, this was 3 years, 348 days.

For Xomba, this was 2 years, 103 days.

If you're trying to translate that into normal 40 hour work weeks, take the numbers given and multiply them by 2.2, more or less. And then you're probably still hitting low.

These are unrealistic numbers for a life time. If you want the article break down for that, it's 20,000 articles for Associated Content, 8,000 articles for Constant Content, 4,167 Squidoo articles, about the same in hubs, and 10,000 articles on Xomba.

Not good and not a chance. If True Noob seriously tries this, he's more likely to develop multiple tumors that press into usually dormant areas of the brain, creating the ability to read minds, move objects, or possibly start fires with no more than an angry thought. At this point, becoming a super villain and fighting for world domination is more likely than ever making $100 a day in passive income.

But some of you are asking, "Wouldn't you have to be a total idiot to be able to write 10,000 articles and not make solid passive income." Most definitely. Or at least ignorant.

Some of these numbers are off. There are many problems with this idea. With that much sheer writing, even by accident True Noob is going to hit some "home run" articles that hit well above average and earn well above the average. Second, there are other options like ehow that this writer didn't even know about.

But this idea of just making it by sheer effort is idiotic, and these numbers prove it. So what's the difference? Knowing just a little bit about marketing, SEO, and learning about the real ways to make money with AdSense will boost earnings way up dramatically. Instead of just throwing up articles on any and everything, use keyword research and SEO to earn a LOT more per article, hub, lens, or whatever else. Also keep in mind, that True Noob figures out keyword research, and suddenly less time is wasted with useless articles that will never make serious (or any) passive income, while every article after that will make a lot more.

That's part of writing online. If you are an online freelance writer who wants to be able to make a full time living on passive income (a la "The 4 Hour Work Week"), then you MUST learn SEO, keyword research, and how to make money with AdSense.

Could someone make a full time living on passive writing income with Squidoo, Hubpages, ehow, Xomba, Associated Content, and the other sites? Sure, but it's a lot harder and knowing SEO and keyword research is still critical. There's no way around that.

Anyone who is trying the results by volume approach like the old True Noob, here's one last bit of evidence. When I really had no idea what I was doing, 140 articles on Associated Content made me about $13 in passive income a month. When I began to learn about SEO and keywords, I took one single article on AC and got it 4 back links. The result? That one article makes me $10 a month in passive income each and every month. Now if every article you wrote made $10 a month or more in passive income, 300 articles or less would make you over $36,000 a year in passive income. That's much better than 10,000 or 20,000 articles. One good article a day that earns that much, and the back links, can get you where you want to be.

Is it "just that easy" to get that level of articles? No, it's not. You have to do the research, write the article, collect the back links, and then sometimes you have to wait for the articles to age and gain authority. But it is far more plausible.

Learn about AdSense, and you can do even better. Have multiple income streams, and learn SEO and keyword research, and you will definitely be on your way to the freelance writing dream. Either that or try it the old way, sprout some horns, grow some awesome telekinetic powers and wreak havoc. But either way, it's easier to just learn SEO and keyword research. Even a basic knowledge of these skills can be a godsend for a prolific writer.


  1. Of course its not an average too - the best advice Ican give for someone with a lot of articles who is at the WTF/give up stage - look at your winners - look at your search traffic to them - duplicate content around that topic - link from your high ranked site to the new one - rinse and repeate

  2. Hi Lis,

    Thanks for the comment, and you're right on! The reason the numbers are off is that some AC articles make me no passive income. Others make me $10 a month, every month. Same with Squidoo lenses, Hubpages hubs, or Adsense blogs. You're advice is exactly right: look at the winners and learn from those types of articles and eventually you'll see a LOT more success than if you don't do any studying or homework. Thanks for commenting, and love the blog, btw.

  3. It is very hard to make decent money off of online freelance writing. Getting in those keywords and backlinks are so important. I don't think that most writers starting out even realizes how much work goes into just promoting your articles or blog.

  4. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for the comment. Even online it is harder to make a full time living, especially depending on what "full time living" means. In Iowa without debt, $20,000 a year can be very comfortable. In New York City you're probably homeless, and certainly broke. There are many ways to make it as a full time freelance writer, but you're right, most don't realize how hard it is starting out for the first time, especially if you're shooting for the full time passive income. Thanks again for commenting!