I love blogging. I love writing. I love interacting with readers. I love researching topics I enjoy writing about. But, in order for me to continue the privilege of blogging for a living, I must earn money from my blogs … more than a few bucks a day from ads.
After being a full time blogger for more than 1 year, I’ve tested and tried many ways to monetize my blogs without harming the user-experience. In fact, my aim with monetizing my blog is to do so in a way that actually enhances my readers’ experience.
In addition to my love for writing and researching, I was attracted to becoming a full time blogger by the opportunity of earning passive income. This pursuit was more elusive than I expected when starting out. However, in time I’ve discovered a truly powerful and simple method of earning truly passive income from my blogs.
What is “truly passive” income?
Recurring Commission Products = Truly Passive Income
One not-so-common, but incredibly effective method for generating truly passive income from your blog is promoting or selling products that generate recurring revenue. The product(s) you sell or promote as an affiliate are products that you must love, you use, and that you know your readers both need and want. That’s a tall order, but when you find the right recurring commission product, you can, in time, build up a truly passive income.
I only promote as an affiliate. I don’t sell a recurring sales product. Therefore, I had to find just the right products for my audience. It wasn’t easy and it took several months testing and trying products until I found the perfect options for my readers. However, am I ever glad I put in the effort, because in the end, the products I promote are loved by my readers, convert well and pay very generous recurring commissions.
3 Types of recurring commission products
1. Subscription Products
More and more software is sold as a subscription model instead of a one-time fee for download. The latest software is hosted on the merchant’s website (called cloud or SAAS software) and customers log in to their account to use the software. Not only does this offer a hassle-free solution for customers, but it generates consistent recurring commissions for the merchants.
The good news is that some cloud software merchants offer affiliate programs where they’ll pay affiliates a percentage of ALL the revenue generated from a referral. This means the affiliate earns a percentage of each month’s subscription fees.
Another subscription product are membership websites. These are websites that charge customers each month in order for them to continue having access to the site. Arguably, cloud software is a form of this, but in this sense I’m referring to content-based and social-based membership sites. Generally, these types of membership sites have a higher churn rate than cloud software.
A key advantage about cloud software is that it generally has a lower churn rate than the other types of recurring commission products set out below. What this means is that customers remain customers for a longer time meaning you earn commissions for a longer time.
2. Lifetime Commission Products
I promote several lifetime commission products. what this means is that if a referral buys products over and over from a merchant, you continue earning commissions. This model is a little different than cloud software because lifetime commissions MAY be earned. In other words, referrals may or may not buy again and again.
Examples of common lifetime commission products are supplements. Often people buy a bottle every month, which means as long as the affiliate program offers lifetime commissions, the affiliate earns commissions on all future sales.
3. Tier 2 Commission Programs
Tier 2 commission programs is when you refer other affiliates to promote a product and the referring affiliate earns a percentage of all sales generated by the referred affiliate.
I don’t pursue this form of recurring commission model, but if you do this well, you can generate excellent passive income. The big downside to this model is you don’t have much control because it’s up to the affiliates you refer to actually sell the product. Most won’t ever make a sale, so much effort results in no revenue. Another downside is that you are creating competition for yourself. Tier 2 commissions are lower than tier 1, so any sale earned by a referred affiliate is a tier 1 sale you don’t earn.
That said, if you have an audience of affiliate marketers, especially email readers or loyal blog readers, you can quickly and with little effort, inspire many affiliates to promote a product from which you’ll earn commissions from their efforts.
The lion’s share of my recurring revenue is from promoting cloud or SAAS software.
The key is promoting the right software to the right audience who truly need it and will benefit from it. When you do this, you’ll be able to easily generate sales, recurring income and please your readers. In time you’ll build up an excellent passive income.
Set It On Autopilot
In order for recurring commissions to be truly passive and grow each month, you must set up a sale process, also referred to as a sales funnel, that will generate more new sales each month than the number of referrals who stop using the product. I do this via my blog and my blog’s e-newsletter. Basically, I publish a well-regarded blog that serves a very narrow business industry. I offer a suite of great free products for anyone who signs up to my e-newsletter. I then mention the software in my email messages, using examples, content and tips as ways to explain how the software can work for them.
Now that my blog is very well established and attracts consistent and targeted traffic each month, I generate more and more sales which slowly, but surely increases my passive income. I still add posts to this blog, but sometimes I don’t do so for months, yet sales continue at roughly the same pace. I only publish new posts when I have something worth sharing with my readers.
The greatest caution to be aware of is the potential for merchants to end recurring commissions. You could invest a lot of time and money in campaigns only to have the merchant you promote stop recurring commissions, go out of business or lower commissions. However, this should not affect past efforts, which is good if you’ve built up a decent number of referrals generating you recurring commissions.
If this happens to you, chances are there’s a competing product that offers recurring commissions that you can promote.
Building up truly passive income via recurring commission products takes time. It took me more than 12 months to earn my first 4-figure check. However over the subsequent 12 months, my monthly earnings tripled again, resulting in a recurring income that is higher than the average income in the USA … and that’s from just one product.
You must also be patient in finding the right product. Be sure to use, love and know the product. Don’t promote garbage. Promote only the best that your audience will love and actually need. When you do this, you not only build a long-term business, but you build great relationships with your readers.
Note, B2Web is not the blog to which I reference above, so you won’t find examples of what I set out above.