Does Affiliate Marketing Really Produce Passive Income?

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For some reason I despise the term passive income. Sure, it can be accomplished, to an extent.

Synonyms of the word passive: submissive, acquiescent, unresisting, unassertive, compliant, pliant, obedient, docile, tractable, malleable, pliable.

The definition, which I will let you look up, appears to be even more unrelated to income.

The fact is, passive income is not totally passive. Some effort, whether small or large, is needed to start generating ‘passive income.’ And how long it stays passive? Well, that’s another ball of wax.

I recently came across a post about getting started in affiliate marketing. One of the benefits the blogger identified was the possibility of generating passive income. You know the old ‘it-takes a bit-of-work-but-then-just site-back-and-watch-the-money-roll-in—for days, weeks, months. Sounds sweet, huh?

When Affiliate Marketing Income is Not So Passive

First off, we need to be clear that affiliate marketing can be done in many ways. I can’t obviously list them all here, but let me share a few thoughts on just how passive—or not— that income really is.

Adding a Product From Amazon to Your Post

You write a post. In it you mention a microphone that you use. You add your affiliate link to it. Someone buys it. Then someone else ends up buying a different one four times the price but you still get the credit because they used your link to get there. And all you had to do was write the post. Do the up-front work.

But actually the work doesn’t end there because you need to regularly beef up your SEO to keep that traffic moving so people will find posts like the one that mentions that microphone. In fact, you need to constantly be tweaking your site, adding more content to it, fixing stuff and well, just doing the work. It may not be directly tied to that one link, but, nevertheless, it needs to be done.

Reviewing Technology

Going back to the work up front, yes, a review takes time to research and write. It could be a physical product, a piece of software or even a service. Once you have the review written and links in place, it’s off to the races.

As far as the extra work required, it’s not only keeping track of how the post is doing in search and traffic, but in many instances you need to keep the information in the review updated, in case there are feature changes in the product, changes that may impact the reader’s decision to click through and purchase. Even worse, what if it’s been recalled or the company has gone out of business? Or maybe they have gotten some negative press. Whatever the case, you need to monitor this: update it, delete it, or let it ride as is,. All of these things may impact your ‘passive income.’

Placing Banner Ads on Your Site

This one probably takes the least amount of effort: banner ads for the affiliates in your posts, sidebars, headers and footers. Initially the strategy will take some time to plan out, but after that, you are set for that amazing passive income, right?

Ah, but then you realize that you probably should track what is happening with those ads to determine what is working and what isn’t. Same goes for any affiliate link.

Let’s say an affiliate link is working well for you. Do you sit back and snooze? Likely not. You look for ways to boost those click-throughs even more. And heck, if that affiliate is working for you, why not write more posts about it, each with a specific focus?

And if one isn’t doing well, do you just drop it and move on? Or do you analyze it more, changing its location or frequency? Or should you Maybe you replace it with a different banner ad?

In any, it often needs some kind of attention from you.

Part of a Larger Scheme

The biggest delusion of all with passive income from affiliate links is frequently ignored. And that is reflected in the previous examples. And that is this: all the blood, sweat and tears you put behind the content of your entire site—and other aspects— will determine how much those affiliate links work for you. They are in fact just another part of your site. And like all the other efforts you put into your site, you need to spend an equal amount of energy on your ‘passive’ affiliate marketing, and on a continuous basis.

I’m All For Tossing Out This Phrase

I really wish we all hadn’t bought into the dream of sitting on the beach and watching the bucks roll in. But that is what entices a lot of people when they see the phrase ‘passive income.’

Sure, you can  sit back and leave it. But be prepared to be  happy with the occasional few bucks that trickle in.

In the end, a lot of different income strategies can be passive to some extent. You will no doubt have those moments of rest. You aren’t working on it every second of the day. But at the same time, income is income and one way or another, it takes some work.

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