2012. Twenty four hours of no internet access on an international flight from the US to China, and I discovered my blog earned earned $500.
2016. Twenty one days and eighteen states later, my business hits an all time record, earning more in a single month than every before.
2020. A surprise c-section, a new son, and 3 weeks of recovery during a pandemic, and an affiliate network sent more than $4600 to my bank account.
This is what “autopilot income” looks like. It's pretty freakin' cool. I love that I can take off and do whatever I want and my business continues to make money. 24/7/365. Rain or shine. No matter where I am in the world.
Any emergency can hit, and I know that my business will be OK and continue to make money.
Sound like bullshit? It's not. However, there's more to the story. There are ton of scams in the online space regarding making money online, so I don't blame you if you are skeptical about anything related to autopilot income.
This blog post is about the truth and myth of autopilot income online based on my own experience with my affiliate blogs over the past decade. I want to share my experiences with you so that you can get excited about this type of business, but also come into it with realistic expectations.
The Myth of Autopilot Online Income
It doesn't happen fast
Owning a successful, cash-generating online business is an amazing feeling. Building it is another story. It's a lot of work, and it can be stressful. There will be many times where you feel demotivated and inadequate, especially if you've never done something like this before.
What's more, if this is your first business ever, it can seem like it's taking forever to see results. Working your ass off for an entire year without any monetary results might seem crazy and very risky!
My advice is to compare this business to other types of businesses out there. How much does it cost to start a restaurant and how long until you make your money back? What about a boutique clothing store? When you look at it like that, the idea that you can be profitable in just a few months (making more money than you invested) is actually quite fast.
In fact, if you work hard, you may be generating thousands of dollars per month within 6-12 months of operation, without any employees, and working from home.
All of that is to say even though success doesn't happen overnight, it does happen relatively quickly and easily compared to other types of business. If you can't risk a few hundred bucks and a few months of your time to start a business, then you probably aren't cut out for entrepreneurship.
You actually have to build something valuable
If you're down for all that, the next step is to understand that as a business you actually need to provide some kind of value to the user. I speak from experience when I say that a lot of people just want to “make money online”, and forget that in order for you to make money, someone has to spend money.
Businesses exist because they provide value to consumers, and blogging is no different. The value may not be something traditional like a product, or even something like customer service, but the value is there.
THE VALUE IS YOUR CONTENT
This is why all over One More Cup of Coffee I emphasize content creation. The articles on your website are how you deliver value to readers, and it's something you should always keep in mind. Your website doesn't exist to make sales. Your website exists to help people, and making sales is a benefit of helping people.
That help you provide can be in the form of a tutorial, product review, or even just a listicle. Someone searches something in Google, and you deliver information relevant to that search.
I wasted many years publishing content on my blogs with the main intent of just ranking and making sales. This was a frustrating process because it was binary results. Rank and make money = happy. Not rank and not make money = unhappy. Not only was my content garbage, but my mood was garbage too.
These days I have a much more holistic and long term approach to blogging. I'm always thinking about the person making the search, and how I can deliver the best content for that search. What was the intent behind their search, and how can I craft my article to best suit that search term? How can I make my website so that it accurately and interestingly displays information related to my niche?
This approach as a dual benefit.
One, I tend to rank better over time because people click my authentic articles more often, and I suspect that Google is rewarding people with original content versus regurgitated stuff just rewritten from more authoritative blogs.
Two, I don't stress as much about specific posts ranking or not ranking. I'm creating an awesome website and resource which will grow for decades. As long as the content is good and I have a use for it on the site, then it's good to have. Maybe it doesn't rank in Google, but it's good to link to in the future as an internal resource. Perhaps in the future I can revisit this article, improve it, and maybe rank better.
In playing the long game, my business is simply higher quality, and results in more traffic and sales, gradually increasing over time.
It doesn't last forever without upkeep
I think the biggest reality check for me, as a blogger has been that online income doesn't last forever. I can see in my own experiences, that I'm constantly fighting two main elements.
- Atrophy of current income
- Encroaching competitors
Products you promote may go out of style or have updates. Content on your blog will become stale over time. Who wants to read a product review of version 1.0 from 3 years ago when version 2.0 is the new one and just released this year?
Information on your blog will also become stale over time and need updates. Other websites in your niche may continually update their content, or new bloggers will start websites and jump in your niche with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.
Those are your competitors.
Being successful online with a blog is not just about ‘set it and forget it'. You have to treat your blog like a business, and as a content-focused business your content needs to be relevant.
I've seen many successful bloggers over the years rest on their laurels for a year or two, only to wake up and find that their site is no longer ranking as well as it did, and their income is starting to slide. Then it takes several months of rehab to update their content site-wide, or even worse, their blog never returns to its former glory.
Though I didn't start out with this mentality, an idea that's stuck with me over the years is that your business is either moving forward or moving backwards. There is no standing still. These days I try my hardest to make sure I'm always moving forward.
The Truth Of Autopilot Online Income
You can truly make money when you sleep
The crazy idea that you can make money while you sleep is actually true. The internet runs 24/7 and is available in every country in the world, so sales on your website can happen any time of day. While Americans are sleeping, people in in other countries around the world are awake and shopping!
While you're sleeping, someone across the world is browsing your site, reading your blog posts, and clicking your links.
Any “average” person can do it
The good news is that you don't have to be some kind of business or computer genius to make this happen for you. After 10 years blogging, other than work ethic, I can boil down my success in generating autopilot income to just two main tasks.
- Topic Research (reading)
- Publishing Articles (writing)
So the core of my business is basically thinking of topics to write about, then publishing articles about them.
Of course, it takes training and practice to know what to write about and how to write about it so it gets found in search engines. You can't just sit down and write anything you want. Still, earning a six figure income publishing articles from your bedroom is a pretty sweet gig and the only basic skills you need are reading and writing.
The feeling of success is beyond amazing
The big truth of autopilot income is that it's feels freakin' amazing when everything comes together. It's a lot of work to set up, and it's not like you can just do it once then let your business run forever. You have to maintain a business like a real business. You have to learn, grow, improve, invest, and plan.
However, once you get to a comfortable place where your website is getting lots of traffic and earning consistent sales, the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want is incredible.
In the beginning of this blog post I talked about 3 main stories from the past where my blog income really solidified my confidence in my business.
The first time was when I was traveling from the US to China on a 24 hour flight. I didn't have internet for a full day while I was in the air, and couldn't check my affiliate accounts every 5 minutes like I was used to doing. This was back when I was first starting out, and my business has only been around for about 2 years.
I got on the plane, and by the time I landed I had earned a whopping $500. Amazing. Five hundred bucks without touching the keyboard was a first time experience for me.
Then, a few years later, I took a 21 day trip across the USA on my motorcycle. I was on the road every day for most of the day, and completely exhausted and the end of the ride each day. All I did was log in and answer some emails for a hour a day, and by the end of the month, I had hit an all time high for monthly business earnings. Not only did I make money, but I was setting records!
Just recently (2021), my son was born. We went in Friday when my wife's water broke. She was in labor for more than a day, then ended up having to do a c-section after that. Add 3 days in the hospital for monitoring and recovery, and we finally got home on Tuesday or Wednesday some time (honestly, I don't even know). My business was still chugging along.
In every one of those situations, being able to do life on my terms without sacrificing earnings from the business was a massive privilege most people don't get to experience. It was all thank to my online blogging business. The feeling was simply amazing, and each time it made my so happy that I put in the groundwork when I did so I could enjoy those moments.
Autopilot income online is that it takes a lot of work to build the foundation, and then maintain it. However, the truth is that anyone can do it, including you, and if it's a goal of yours to build an online business that generates earnings while go about your life, affiliate blogging is the best way to do it.