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Earning Passive Income Online as a Freelance Writer

As mentioned in an earlier post, there are two flavors of internet income, active and passive. Active is spending your time writing an article for which you will get paid upon submission. Passive income, my preferred income of choice, has a long payment tail.

Active Income vs. Passive Income

I guess the best way to explain passive income is to pit it against active income. Say you write a 500-word article for the internet. You have the option of selling it as a ghost-written piece to a company in need of web content, or you can keep your name attached to the article and place it either on your own site or on a web content site like Suite 101.com or Associated Content. There are plenty of content sites available on the web.

By selling your work as a ghost-written piece for web content, you can earn anywhere from $5 to $12 per article. Some sites pay less and few (very few) pay more. If you post it on a content site like Suite 101 or your own website, you will not only retain the copyright for your article (thus building your writing portfolio), but you stand to earn continued income on the article.

The income you earn depends on the article subject, how well it’s written, the site it’s posted on and how well it is optimized for search engines. The payout per month may seem small, but over time the payment will add up. The more traffic your article gets, the more income you can earn. The income from that one article will exceed an upfront active payment of $5, $10 or $12.

One of the nice things about residual or passive income from article writing is that you continue to receive payment as long as the article continues to generate traffic. The key to generating substantial income is learning how to write articles for the internet and locating the best places for your articles.

Passive Income Example

I’ll give you an example. I currently write for Suite 101.com. They require their writers to write a minimum of 10 articles over a three-month period of time (not difficult to do at all). As a result of writing for them, I’m earning a little over $100 per month, every month (not enough to retire, but this is only one small basket in my freelance writing arsenal). The amount seems to increase each month. Keep in mind, however, that the payout depends on the article topics.

I could have chosen the active income route and sold each article as a ghost written piece. However, I would have to continue to write at a feverish pace in order to continue to earn money as freelance writer. Don’t get me wrong, I still write at a feverish pace, but I write that way to build my stream of residual income. I don’t write passive income articles exclusively, but as my residual income stream increases, it will replace my need for active income articles.
To be truly successful in earning residual income from your writing, you need to become familiar with SEO (search engine optimization).

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Scott @ The Passive Dad September 9, 2008, 5:50 pm

    Felicia, does Suite 101 pay you for traffic as well? If you have a popular article, can you make more than $1 an article? I hear some other bloggers doing well with eHow and I’m interested in learning more about your income here.

    Scott @ The Passive Dads last blog post..Tennis Can Be A Frugal Cheap Sport For Your Family.

  • Felicia September 9, 2008, 6:08 pm

    Hi Scott,

    No, Suite doesn’t pay for traffic. They just pay out a percentage of the ad revenue. I don’t know how they calculate the formula. It has something to do with traffic and Google income, I think.

    All I know is that the longer the articles are on there, the more traffic they generate and the higher the income.

    With Suite 101, I can track how many hits a particular article gets, but I cannot track how much income that translates into. When they update the daily income, they display a total income for the day. It’s not broken out by article.

    As far as eHow goes, I’ve written for them through Demand Studios at $15/article and Writers Research Group at a rate of $10/article, but I’ve never placed an article on the eHow site directly.

    I’d be interested to know how folks who write directly for eHow fare financially.

  • Jen Brister September 9, 2008, 8:04 pm

    Hey guys. I have written for eHow directly and as a part of Demand. I’ve made more in page view money from eHow than from any other site such as Helium or A/C. Last month, with 45 articles on the site, I made around $20.00. I’m not sure how that compares with Suite 101 since I’ve only been writing with them for a while. I’d be willing to bet from what Felicia has said, that the payouts there are even better.

    Jen Bristers last blog post..Freelance Opportunity with Demand Studios

  • Felicia September 9, 2008, 8:40 pm

    Hey Jen,

    Thanks for the info. I’d love to know how it works in the long run. It’s nice getting the up front money, and even nicer getting residual money.

    I never thought of signing up for an account with eHow outside of Demand Studios. It’s something to think about.

  • Jessie Ann Heekin December 14, 2008, 3:35 pm

    I revisited this blog post because as 2009 approaches, I am seriously changing my ideas about what I want to write and the kinds of income I want to earn.
    I feel like passive income is better than active income, yet I don’t want to have a large focus on SEO. I am feeling a little torn about my strategies and my choices.
    Your blog post is very informative and provides some great thinking points.
    Jessie Ann Heekin

    Jessie Ann Heekins last blog post..Quality trumps content

  • Schan Ezan from "The Marketers World" December 14, 2008, 9:13 pm

    Writing articles for passive income is something that I hoped to do for a long time. Unfortunately, English is not my mother tongue and I’m not confident enough to write for money. Guess I need to polish my English, and at the mean time stick to Affiliate Marketing for a while.

    Schan Ezan from “The Marketers World”s last blog post..How to host your pdf files for free?

  • Felicia December 14, 2008, 5:52 pm


    You must be reading my mind. Since its the end of the year I’m looking over what I did this year and determining the direction for next year.

    In an earlier post about taking a leap of faith…almost, I decided it was too soon for me to exclusively write for residual income only. However, next year I’m thinking of concentrating 90-95% of my efforts on earning residual income and 5-10% on active income.

    Once you have a steady stream of residual income coming in, you won’t have to continually write SEO articles. You’ll be able to pick and choose what you want to write.

  • Felicia December 14, 2008, 9:25 pm

    The more you write, the more you’ll build confidence.

    From what I understand, there is a very successful author on eHow.com who is earning quite a nice stream of residual income. English is not her primary language either. Don’t let your fears stop you.

    If affiliate marketing works for you, stick with it, but don’t give up writing.

  • Julie M December 15, 2008, 1:47 am

    I have not done any active, it has all been passive. I didn’t think about active since it seems many are so successful at passive. However, may of my articles have not earned one penny that could have if I tried active. Something to consider.

    Julie Ms last blog post..Teaching Life Blog

  • Menandro Tomas February 22, 2010, 3:21 am

    I love the way you respond to each comment Felicia. I have the same situation as Schan Ezan and you gave us motivation to do writing online, so we earn passive income from it. Thanks and please wish us luck…
    .-= Menandro Tomas´s last blog ..True Passive Income Opportunities That Makes Automated Income. =-.

    • Felicia February 22, 2010, 6:29 am

      Menandro, welcome to NJFM.

      I wish you luck in your online writing endeavors. You’ll find that the more you write, the “luckier” you’ll become. Keep at it.

  • Nida Sea May 18, 2010, 10:01 pm

    Very helpful! Thanks Felicia!

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