By in Writing

How to Earn Passive Income from Posts

You may have been told to focus on evergreen content in order to build a good writing portfolio or to increase traffic to your company's web site. So what does it mean when content is “evergreen,” and what kind of posts would qualify?

Very simply put, evergreen content never goes out of date . Like the conifers that stay green all year when the deciduous trees are changing colours and losing their leaves, evergreen content stays fresh all the time. It is always relevant to someone, and will continue to draw readers even long after it is written.

This post is an example of evergreen writing. There will always be someone who needs to understand the concept, so by defining it and giving a practical example I can continue earning revenue on this post for a considerable time to come.

Time Sensitive Writing is NOT Evergreen

Writing that is most decidedly not evergreen would be anything that is time sensitive. News pieces and current events are not evergreen, for example. Seasonal pieces, such as posts about a specific holiday, are evergreen to some extent. But they will generally only bring you income during the season they are relevant. So Christmas or Mother's Day posts are partially evergreen, but will get few page views out of season. While they can earn you a good income in their respective seasons, it's best not to build an entire portfolio around them.

A few time sensitive and seasonal articles added to a base of evergreen content is the best way to go. This allows you to use the draw of a trending topic to gain new readers, while providing ample content to keep them on your site once they get there.

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Image credit: Pine Needles ” by ShadowRave, freeimages

Note: This content has been adapted from an original piece by the author, which has since been removed from Bubblews

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AliCanary wrote on June 9, 2015, 12:59 PM

Very good definition! I enjoy reading people's personal posts, but they are definitely not evergreen content. How-Tos and reviews are, I think, the best evergreen content. When people ask what they should write about, I ask them to think about what they, as internet users, are likely to search for themselves, and then write about that. For many people, it's how-tos and reviews.

morilla wrote on June 9, 2015, 1:31 PM

Earning 'passive' income from posts starts with the content. That is the direction we've been asked to look to in some measure by the site. However, bear in mind that there are other factors which, in their own way, are just as important and I'm not talking about just SEO. You can have the best content on the Web, but if Google has issues... It may not ever be found. In other words, you can 'control' evergreen content and need to pay attention to it; but, that doesn't guarantee you will make 'passive' income from it.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 9, 2015, 3:03 PM

How-To headlines also do very well from an SEO point of view, and they bring in good traffic. When writing DIY content, it's a good idea to use that "How To......" headline style.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 9, 2015, 3:10 PM

Anytime you earn revenue (for page views, comments, likes, etc.) after content is published, rather than in exchange for the content itself or for the sale of an item featured in the article, it's passive income. It may not be big, but it's passive because your work essentially stopped once it was published.

Of course, just as the author of a novel has to promote her work through readings, interviews book signings, online presence, etc., so do we web writers need to promote our work after it publishes. Changes to the Google algorithm aside, there are lots of tools we can use to gain more exposure and to bring readers to our content. Social media is an excellent example of a means that doesn't depend so much on Google's mood swings.

VinceSummers wrote on June 9, 2015, 3:55 PM

I write practically no time-sensitive content. Writing time-sensitive material is OK for the young person who devotes hours and hours to writing with the goal of making a sizable income. I only write the occasional piece. If I wrote time-sensitive material, I might earn a bit more per piece immediately. But by writing evergreen, I prevail over the long haul.

MegL wrote on June 9, 2015, 4:41 PM

Useful information. Maybe we have all heard that we need to write evergreen content but this is a good reminder of just what that means and why it is important.

celticeagle wrote on June 9, 2015, 6:12 PM

Very interesting. I haven't heard the term "evergreen" for a long time. I would love to take an online course that would teach me all of this stuff I should probably know. I am just sort of stirring blind here and doing what I can. You wouldn't happen to know of a good online course that is either free or low in cost would you?

BodieMor wrote on June 9, 2015, 8:05 PM

How interesting! I've never heard the expression and appreciate the information!

Nar2Reviews wrote on June 9, 2015, 8:57 PM

Good advice, though the trick is to keep it short and sweet. Otherwise too much "evergreen" becomes dry and stale. Or so I find. I haven't dabbled with much evergreen content though. Maybe I should!

morilla wrote on June 9, 2015, 10:56 PM

I know what 'evergreen content' and 'passive income' are. By the way, 'passive' is denoted because the piece is working FOR you; i.e., it didn't 'stop once published.' It's that YOU aren't putting any more 'active' or 'material' effort into the content. I also know that what you had for breakfast this morning isn't as likely as other topics to draw traffic. Likewise, as you indicate, building an entire 'portfolio' around 'seasonal' subjects is unlikely to benefit one throughout the entire year.

What I am saying is that while one does what they can to 'promote' their work, bear in mind that even 'social media' has its limitations and 'rules;' not to mention that 'mood swings' aside, Google handles approximately 80% - 85% of search traffic. Simply setting up a Facebook, Google+, or Twitter account to promote your posts on Bubblews or Persona Paper or similar isn't likely to be the 'draw' you want if you don't actively participate 'across the board' on those sites; i.e., simply posting links to your content will likely create some backlash or cause you to be ignored by the majority. In other words, you've got some good, solid advice; just be aware that it's not as 'easy' as simply posting a solid article and 'advertising' it on 'social media.'

AdGoggleKo wrote on June 10, 2015, 3:34 AM

I write about The Beach, The Sea, The Rain, insects, animals, etc. on the other site. I don't know if that's what we call evergreen (^_^)

agvulpes wrote on June 10, 2015, 6:49 AM

Great information on 'Evergreen' content! I believe that 'How to...' is one of the most searched terms, especially on 'Mobile' devices ? and I guess that does make sense !

carolscash wrote on June 10, 2015, 6:50 AM

Great information to pass on to others. I know that passive income is important in our world of online writing. I hope that some of my content is still here for my grandchild to read.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 8:07 AM

I think perhaps you misread my comment - and possibly the article itself.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 8:17 AM

I'm the same way, Vince. Of course, the fact that we tend to rely on evergreen content doesn't mean we can't benefit from some of the trends. There's just a different way to approach it. For example, a piece on Bruce Jenner's Olympic career might be of interest to readers who may have only known him through the Kardashians. It's the perfect time to freshen up and promote older content, or to write evergreen posts that take advantage of the trend.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 9:20 AM

I can't say that I do, no. But honestly, the best education sometimes is reading what other web writers have to say about what works for them, and then giving it a try yourself.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 9:39 AM

It's a term that most web writers were familiar with, before the advent of "social blogging." It's sad that most people who write online today don't understand what kind of content will bring in those residual payments - or they don't care, because the web sites don't pay them enough for their writing.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 10:03 AM

Actually, "short and sweet" may be a good idea if you're trying to get all your buds from the social blogging site to read, like, and comment. But if you want to get external traffic, writing a longer article (minimum 300 words) is more likely to get your article seen in the search results.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 10:07 AM

You can always double check with MaeLou and elitecodex , but as far as I'm aware there have never been any limitation on PP with regard to social sharing. It's up to the user to decide how many shares are reasonable, but certainly in the case of Twitter it is normal to tweet content more than once in order to reach folks who may have missed the earlier share.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 10:27 AM

It's not necessarily the topic of your post, but the way you write about it that counts. If your post about the beach is a list of specific events happening there during June 2015, it will no longer be relevant once July comes around. That's not evergreen, but a more general list of things to do anytime you're at the beach would be evergreen.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 10:35 AM

Yes, "How To" content and titles do bring in good traffic, compared to other types. Of course, evergreen content encompasses more than just DIY posts....

Ruby3881 wrote on June 10, 2015, 10:44 AM

I sure hope it is too! That's a great way of looking at it emoticon :smile:

celticeagle wrote on June 10, 2015, 11:41 AM

I have done a lot of that.

k_mccormick2 wrote on June 10, 2015, 1:59 PM

I love this. I try to write evergreen posts but they almost always turn into personal posts. I am going to try to find an idea for some evergreen posts.

MelissaE wrote on June 10, 2015, 5:33 PM

I have to write with my real voice or it just doesn't work for me. I agree with you in theory, but I can't write about something unless it resonates with me. I like to write book reviews and personal blogs and productivity tips.

shaggin83 wrote on June 10, 2015, 11:31 PM

Great advice for writers. I tend to just write about day to day life. I don't worry about how much I earn. I check my bank every few days but I do not expect to cash out for a very very long time at the rate I go haha.

peachpurple wrote on June 11, 2015, 1:19 PM

Good stuff, i agreethat green topics are helpful

Ruby3881 wrote on June 11, 2015, 2:55 PM

Then you're probably gaining the experience you needed, as well as if you'd taken a course emoticon :smile:

Ruby3881 wrote on June 11, 2015, 2:58 PM

You're very good at writing informative posts inspired by life events. If you want to be sure those posts will continue to get traffic a long while after you publish, try to focus on the informative stuff and just pepper it a bit with the personal details. You can also play around a bit with headline styles and keywords, to help search engines find your content.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 11, 2015, 3:00 PM

There's no reason in the world that you need to suppress your voice in order to write evergreen content. The very best content writers I know have a unique voice, and they write most of their content on inspiration from their own lives. But it's still evergreen!

Ruby3881 wrote on June 11, 2015, 3:06 PM

It sounds like you're a confirmed social blogger emoticon :smile:

valmnz wrote on June 11, 2015, 3:57 PM

Such good advice here. I think many of us have fallen into the trap of reducing ourselves to recording our lives, rather than write quick pieces with a more universal appeal.

Glenn wrote on June 11, 2015, 6:40 PM

Ruby3881 - I'm curious, are you finding that you are getting Google traffic coming to your posts on Persona Paper? I prefer to put my effort only into writing articles that can bring passive income. Anything else I consider a waste of time. Evergreen is definitely the way to go. When I see posts people write about their daily lives, for example, I see that they struggle to get any traffic after it dies down. What's the point of that? So when I read this post of yours, I became interested. My articles on HubPages continue to bring passive income from search results and I get paid monthly. But I don't see any traffic on Persona Paper other than from other Persona Paper authors. Google doesn't seem to like Persona Paper. Just curious to hear your thoughts.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 12, 2015, 3:30 AM

The problem with pandering to the social blogging community is that personal journal entries almost never have any SEO value. Once you get a few too many of a site, they begin to define the site and Google ceases to take it seriously anymore. When that happens, even those who write content search engines would like are going to be penalized. I imagine a site can rehabilitate itself. But I suspect that might require an actual ban on personal diary entries, amateurish opinion pieces, and 1st person accounts.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 12, 2015, 3:35 AM

Sadly Glenn, I don't think Persona Paper is getting much Google juice these days. What would help is to see more users consistently publishing content that the search engines will like.

Communicator wrote on June 12, 2015, 7:02 AM

Ruby 3881, I am, as I'm sure you recall, a Johnny Come Lately to whom you have been very kind and helpful. Consequently, I decided to go to your area to learn something about you. Was I surprised! First of all, I am also from British Columbia. I live in the Okanagan Valley. Secondly, the number of people who have visited your site is absolutely amazing! Ruby, when my profile shows more commenters than comments per se, do these comments come from various sources, not as I first thought only from PP. Do we ever get to see what these "visitors" are saying in their comments because they don't seem to appear after my post. I'm looking forward to your info. Thanks in advance.

Last Edited: June 12, 2015, 7:11 AM

Glenn wrote on June 12, 2015, 3:43 PM

Ruby3881 - You are right. And I am sure the main reason for the lack of Google traffic is due to poor mobile support. Google had started lowering ranking for sites that don't support mobile well since most search is done from mobile devices. I saw your reply in my post about using a laptop or desktop. Basically writers will use those, as you and I do. But if we want readers to find us, we need to be on a platform that makes Google happy.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 12, 2015, 7:07 PM

We're practically neighbours! We're in the Kootenays emoticon :smile:
I'd love to answer your question about comments, but I'm not really sure I understand what you're asking. Maybe you could take another stab at it?

DanieGirl8587 wrote on June 13, 2015, 8:16 PM

Thank you for the valuable information :)

Ruby3881 wrote on June 14, 2015, 1:27 PM

Interestingly, I just read several comments from users who access PP with a mobile device. Apparently they all find accessing the site easy. I suspect there's more to this than having or not having mobile support. Perhaps there are specific issues that need to be addressed. You should really speak to elitecodex in more detail.

Glenn wrote on June 16, 2015, 12:11 AM

Ruby3881 - Yes I have. It's already becoming clear that the issues are more related to Apple iPads and iPhones.

traceh wrote on July 17, 2015, 11:34 AM

Thanks for the tip. It's great to see a fellow poster trying to help us build our revenue. The evergreen idea is a great idea to build and collect views.