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How to Increase Passive Writing Income Earnings: Tips and Advice

Updated on May 25, 2014
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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You're launched your freelance writing career. You have a little experience under your belt. You're comfortable sitting down and churning out 2,000-3,000 words or more every weekday. But you're not making the level of passive income that you would like. Don't despair. Keep in mind that it takes most writers months, if not years, to build up substantial monthly passive income. Even if you are happy with your current level of earning, there is always room for improvement and growth. Best of luck and happy writing!

I want to clarify that this article is not about either of the following topics:

  • Getting started with a freelance writing career. This article is intended for people who already have a freelance writing career and are looking for ways to increase their earnings. It's not about breaking into the industry. If you're interested in starting a career, check out this article.
  • Writing for clients and publications. Submitting articles to magazines, blogs, and clients for a one-time payment without any options to earn royalties or earn on ads is not passive income. This type of writing is a great source of freelance income. It simply is not a focus of this article.

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Use high quality images

Sometimes I feel like a broken record covering this point again and again, but it seems like I really can't ever stress it enough. In a world where high quality digital cameras are readily available and very affordable, it is not hard to take good pictures. We also live in a world with literally thousands of blogs and other opportunities for passive writing income. It's competitive. People simply are not going to bother with poor quality content when high quality content is available. Additionally, social media sharing relies heavily on stellar images. As social media is critical for getting high numbers of views, you must have articles with images that make people click.

I understand that: 1) not everyone writes articles that require a lot of images and 2) not everyone wants to put a lot of work into improving their photography skills. If you frequently write about topics like accounting that don't lend themselves naturally to photography, look for other engaging content to include in your articles, such as infographics, charts, and videos. If you don't want to put effort into your own photography, look for high quality image sources online that allow image sharing, such as Flickr's Creative Commons, morgueFile, and Wikimedia Commons.

Keyword Research Long-tail Keywords Drive Targeted Traffic

Tip: Stay away from titles that are not searchable such as "My Grandma's Favorite Chili Recipe." Instead, give the article a searchable title such as "Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili With Green Onion," and share a story about your grandma and the origin of this recipe in the introduction or conclusion of the article to give the recipe more character.

Use long-tail keywords

What is a long-tail keyword? A long-tail keyword is a targeted search phrase containing three or more words. Typically it contains a head term, which is a more generic one or two word search term. For example, you can flesh out the keyword "photography" into "outdoor portrait photography tips" or "wedding photographers wicker park Chicago."

But a large portion of my article traffic comes from Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Why do I need to worry about long-tail keywords? Many people are weary about the continued emphasis on using long-tail keywords in an age where social sharing relies largely on images. It is common for people to share an article with a personal summary, pitch, or description that doesn't include the original title. Take a good look at your article statistics. What percentage of views are coming from search engines? Even if social media views are higher, search engine views are still very likely to be a significant percentage. Long-tail keywords matter for these searches.

Again, consider the above examples for photography long-tail keywords. Searching for "Chicago photographer" is going to yield pages and pages of results. The person completing this search is likely to meet with potential photographers for a specific purpose (i.e. wedding, senior portraits) in a specific area of the city (i.e. near west suburbs, north side). An article about wedding photographers in the north Chicago suburbs that uses long-tail keywords properly is much more likely to get meaningful, engaged traffic than a general article about Chicago photographers.

In this single screen shot from one of my HubPages articles, you can see text, link, photo, video, and product capsules, all deliberately arranged to engage readers.
In this single screen shot from one of my HubPages articles, you can see text, link, photo, video, and product capsules, all deliberately arranged to engage readers. | Source

Make an attractive, engaging layout

There is a reason that virtually every writing platform includes options for adding links and other content (i.e. photos, videos) and altering the text (i.e. bolding, multiple fonts, changing the font size). An article that consists solely of a large block of text is virtually unreadable. An article with paragraphs of text and headings is approachable. An article that also includes strategically placed photos, links, and other relevant content is much more engaging. Yes, these articles packed with relevant content take a lot of time and energy to put together. However, every bit of this effort is well worth it.

Rank your HubPages statistics by page views - ever. Do you notice any trends among the top 10 or even 20 or 30 most-viewed articles?
Rank your HubPages statistics by page views - ever. Do you notice any trends among the top 10 or even 20 or 30 most-viewed articles? | Source

Pay attention to what works well

One of the biggest ways that you can increase passive writing earnings is to build on previous success. What topics have done really well for you? Do people click on articles with videos more than articles without videos? There is no single factor that is going to be the key to success for every writer. However, with time and experience, you will be able to determine what does work well for you. Maximize this potential.

For example, one of the first articles that I ever published on HubPages was about beadweaving. I put a piece together on a whim for someone who was interested in the topic. Later I decided to flesh out the content and publish it. I quickly learned that beadweaving was a largely unexplored niche with a lot of potential. While some of my beadweaving articles have done better for me than others, overall it has been a successful niche for me.

Christmas tree at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI.
Christmas tree at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI. | Source

Don't discount seasonal and holiday topics

People are often quick to dismiss seasonal and holiday topics because of the limited amount of time that they are applicable each year. While a seasonal or holiday article will have a peak traffic period, you have to consider the following:

  • These peaks can be huge. It is great to have articles that perform well year round, but there is nothing wrong with articles that do really well for a couple months out of the year.
  • High quality seasonal and holiday articles often get decent traffic all year round. I might not have believed this if I hadn't experienced it myself, but people search for Valentine's Day card ideas and Christmas stocking patterns every single day. It won't be the same as the traffic during the peak period, but it's still notable.
  • If you get enough seasonal and holiday articles in rotation, you'll have high traffic numbers across the board for multiple months in a row. There have been years that I started getting traffic for Halloween in early to mid October that didn't die down until the week after Easter. Having even a couple well-performing articles brings all of your numbers up for a given site (i.e. HubPages, a blog).
  • While seasonal and holiday articles can have short runs, they are still applicable the next year. One of the best parts about any well-performing article is that you often have to do very little work to keep the views coming. As long as topics are still applicable from one year to the next, the peaks will return. For example, "Unique Handmade Christmas Tree Garland Ideas" will have a lot more general appeal the following year than "Make Christmas 2013 Great With These Decorating Tips."

How to Grow Your Business with Evergreen Articles

Do you have a brainstorming notebook or word file? If not, it's never too late to start one! When you keep the ideas flowing, it's extremely rare that you suffer from writer's block.
Do you have a brainstorming notebook or word file? If not, it's never too late to start one! When you keep the ideas flowing, it's extremely rare that you suffer from writer's block. | Source

Keep writing and improving your craft

It is extremely rare that someone gets lucky and has an article or post go viral when he or she has only published a handful of articles. Most people build to substantial passive writing income by publishing high quality content on a regular basis for months or even years. If you haven't hit earnings that you're happy with yet, don't give up. It takes time, patience, and discipline.

As you keep writing, work on improving your craft. Read high quality articles and learn everything that you can about writing online and making passive income. Consider taking workshops and classes. Set personal goals and challenges to keep yourself motivated.

Time Management Tips for Freelance Writers

© 2014 Rose Clearfield

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful. Yea, the camera's the thing. Thank you for these very clear and relevant instructions.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great hub, Rose. You highlight excellent points, particularly with seasonal hubs (who could have imagined?) and using good photos. Too often I see good writers shortsell themselves by failing to use imges or using the same tired images that really aren't all that good in the first place. We are such visual creatures. Voted upend +++ sharing.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 3 years ago from Canada

      Super hub filled with great reminders. I took notes as I read this to get me started on the right foot as I attempt to reach my writing goals this year.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Vicki L Hodges 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is great! I would love to build my passive income. This makes me want to set some specific goals. Thanks for the hub. I'm pinning it to my freelance writing board!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      These are very helpful ideas Rose. Beautiful photos, popular long tail keywords, attractive layouts, and repeating successes are great ways to increase your readership.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      Excellent advice we should all read. I'm pinning this to My Online Writing Board.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for all of the feedback and shares, MsDora, FlourishAnyway, Thundermama, Vicki, Shasta, and ologginquito!

      FlourishAnyway, I completely agree with you about good writers selling themselves short. I spend a lot of time taking and editing new photos, hunting through old photos, and searching for photos online when I write blog posts and articles. I am very picky about what I post when it comes to images. It's completely worth it, though.

      Vicki, I've been hesitant to set specific goals for 2014 when it comes to things like number of hubs that I write or projected earnings. As I get back into a regular routine here, I think it will be easier to put together some realistic numbers.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A wonderfully interesting and useful hub.

      Voting up and wishing you a great day.

      Eddy.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, Eddy! Take care. :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Great tips, Rose. I had a good month of December in terms of passive income here on Hubpages, which has me kind of fired up about building a bigger portfolio. Your article came at just the right time!

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 3 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      So much valuable advice! I'm going to have to go back over this more than once; thank you!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm so glad to hear that, Deb and AMFredenburg! Best of luck to both of you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Thanks for the refresher on how to improve your writing. You certainly have excellent advice!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 3 years ago from Western NC

      I love this, Rose! It's full of great tips and inspiration. Interestingly, I tried blogging, but it just didn't fetch the views and revenue that I have grown to love on HubPages. :)

      Keep on writin' and I will, too. :)

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm so glad to hear that, Dianna! Thanks!

      Cyndi, I've never had anything close to the views and revenue from blogging that I have from HubPages. At this point, though, I'm just not interested in focusing my blog and pursuing the avenues that I need (i.e. BlogHer, Wordpress) to make serious revenue. I'm happy to have my blog be more of a freeform outlet that drives some traffic to Etsy and HubPages. I don't doubt that you're going to keep writing. :)

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 3 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great list of tips. I lik the resources too:)

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, frugalfamily!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Thanks for the tips, Rose. This was a great read for t he new year. You've got me really wanting to get on the ball. I seriously need to do something about my blog. (tweeted and shared)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

      All good tips! Thanks for the nudge to get us going this year - I needed it!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Dolores and Marcy, I'm glad that the timing of this article worked out well with the new year! Best of luck to both of you. :)

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I 100% agree with you on writing seasonal hubs and articles. Yes, there are ups and downs, but I consider it an adventure. I know Halloween and Christmas will be an exciting time for my hubs. I am still working towards getting more traffic for Valentine's Day and Easter. Maybe 2014 will be my year!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      It's good to get some confirmation on this topic, Jeannie! Best of luck with growing your Valentine's Day and Easter article base. :)

    • GoldenRod LM profile image

      John R Wilsdon 2 years ago from Superior, Arizona USA

      Lots of good advice. I just opened a new account on HubPages after having a lens on Squidoo transferred. As I was looking for this kind of advice to start another account, your article did me well. Thank you.

      PS: My sister lives in Glendale, Wi. Wish I could get back there more often.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm so glad to hear that, GoldenRod! Welcome to HubPages and best of luck. :)

      P.S. That's awesome. I've been here three years now and absolutely love it.

    • LaurieMaxson profile image

      Laurie Maxson 2 years ago from AL

      Love the article. I should say articles. You provide a lot of great insights. As a Personal Development coach, I look at what people are doing and writing and I can normally tell if they have a passion for it, or if they are just working at it. I hope I'm right, but I truly feel this is your passion and I applaud you. You are truly using your gift to serve the world!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Laurie, I'm sure that it's not hard to tell if people have passion for writing or if it's just work to them. Now that I'm writing full-time, it certainly does feel like work sometimes, but it's still a passion for me. I really appreciate your feedback!

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