The Myth Of Passive Income – And How To Make Real Money Online

by Mark Johnson · 21 comments

This is a guest post by Mark Johnson about passive income who blogs at and through this post he wants to talk about the common myth related to earning a passive income online and what people should look after in order to make money online; really.

There is a widely held belief on the internet that it is possible to build a passive income online. Whilst this notion is not wholey un-true, it isn’t totally true either. More-over though, it is a dangerous idea, which I believe prevents many people from successfully generating an income online – the very thing that they were attempting to do.

So in this post, I wanted to explain the truth behind the myth, and to show you what the real options are if you want to make money online.

Each strategy has it’s own pro’s and con’s, but any strategy can work if you are prepared to put the work in… If you want a truly passive income that doesn’t require any ongoing effort, then I for one, can’t help you.

Passive Is Fuzzy

Every money making strategy can be made passive to an extent, but no strategy can ever be truly, 100% passive. What you are really looking for is a business (yes even an Adsense website is a business) that can be streamlined in such a way that your role in it is fairly minimal, or at least so that your ongoing work is simple and not too time restricted.

Any business, regardless of the ultimate goal, will take time to set up. You will have to put in the work up front, especially as you presumably won’t want to invest too much money before you are actually making a profit.

The Right Way To Look At Income Generation

I find it easiest to view the different options on a scale of how passive the actually revenue generation is. For instance, at one end of the scale you have Adsense websites. Once you have built the traffic, turning it into money is basically automatic… Although you would still want to tweak your Ad blocks to improve your click through rate.

At the other end of the scale is something like running a retail business, whether on eBay or via your own website. You need to put in the time to handle orders – most of the work goes into the process of actual sales.

But in the case of eBay, your traffic needs are pretty much sorted. And even with your own website, you can afford to do a little paid advertising, which is fairly easy compared to the SEO route.

The Best Way To Make Money Online

The best option really depends on you. Personally, I think starting an eBay business is perfect for most people (that’s how I make the majority of my income online). It is entirely possible to start up and be making a modest profit within a week or two… Compare that to the Adsense option, which will take months.

Sure there is more ongoing work, but it is pretty simple to outsource the actual processing of orders. One of my businesses is outsourced to the extent that all I actually do is order new stock, and list it when it arrives. Everything else is handled by other people.

Of course, you can also outsource a lot of the work involved in building an Adsense empire, but with a business that takes at least 4-6 months to make any money, you have to be pretty confident in your SEO strategy before you commit that sort of expense.


At the end of the day, the best way to make money online is to pick an option that works for you and stick with it. Be prepared to put in a lot of work up front and you can worry about streamlining later on. No business starts off passive, they all take a lot of work…

But on the other hand, if you have enough imagination, most businesses can be made a lot more passive once they are well established, so don’t let your dream of earning a passive income limit your options.

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About Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is the founder of "The Business Nomad". Check out his blog about SEO, link building and making money online and learn how to break free from the 9 to 5 and start living life on your terms.

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bilal October 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm

very nice post i would like to know more about click bank and other affiliate sites . every busniess has it pros and cons and running any business at the start is not any easy job at the start but once you have tasted the success then you are in the game and can earn big bucks

Rusty October 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Sticking with it is a good point.

eBay? Wow, no thank you. I use to work with them but got fed up. I’ve had a credit balance for year. Two weeks ago I sat on hold ALL DAY and I do mean all day in their chat system to get them to send me refund. After 12 hours, i stepped away from the computer and they answered. They waited three minutes for me to return. The next day I finally got through, it will take two weeks to 30 days to get my refund. I bet I have to go through their cue again, I bet they don’t issue it.

The other thing though that keeps people from making money is failure to start. I think fear keeps them from every getting started. Yes, its not passive. You can set up offers that keep churning out money but in the beginning there is going to be work and lots of it.

cam October 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

How do you know when to start monetizing your blog. I don’t have a steady stream of readers and i am working on building that up but at what point should i start to think about it?

Raj October 21, 2010 at 7:42 am

It is good to earn the money through ebay and I think it is the fastest way to earn the money. It is novice introduction for me and I am here to work on every type of way that can be source of income for me.
By reading this post I have made my decision to go for such income.

Henrry October 24, 2010 at 8:55 am

If you think you are going to make money by being passive you are in for a big surprise. Being aggressive in your marketplace is essential to your success. You should always be pushing yourself and your competition.

Sourish October 27, 2010 at 8:37 pm

starting mini sites is a good way to make passive income … sites that get small traffic , and makes money through adsense , you dont have to invest more time ….

Wez November 29, 2010 at 3:04 am

Is the ebay similar to amazon affiliate program ? I mean, sellling physical products as an affiliate and receive commission? The best methods to monetize are: adsense, clickbank (e-books) and amazon.

Jared February 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Every monetization plan is going to be different depending on what the particular niche and site design are. Adsense isn’t perfect for every site, aside from that, Adsense TOS doesn’t allow certain ads/offers on the same pages as other ads.

Menandro Tomas November 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I thought a long time back that eBay success is a myth. After learning internet marketing, I realized it’s an awesome way to acquire continuous income. I saw in YouTube that eBay is still the perfect online business…

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