Great article, Joe! I’ve thought about this a lot…whether blogging is passive or not. By definition, it probably isn’t (since the income goes away if you stop), but it FEELS passive. “feels”. Ew. Feelings. Blegh. Anyhoo…even if it isn’t passive, I can’t stop doing it because I love it so much. So if you like writing and interaction with readers, it seems passive, but to anyone else, they’ll have to put in a lot of work for very little gain, so it seems VERY active.
The net operating income is the amount of money that has been made once all of the person’s expenses have been subtracted from it. For instance, in order for an author to determine his net operating income, he would have to deduct the costs involved in creating the book from the amount that he earned. Designing the book cover, editing the book, and publishing the book are all examples of these kinds of expenses.
One specific moment came when I was approached by the United States Green Building Council, the company that administers the exam that I was writing the guide for. I got a cease and desist letter saying, “Stop what you’re doing!” and I freaked out. I was like, This business thing — I can’t do it. I’m in way over my head. And then I went to a lawyer, and they were like, you just can’t use their trademark in your domain name. Everything else you’re doing is fine. But there was a good week or two where I didn’t know what was going on and I was truly ready to give it all up.
I generate all of my online income through advertising and that’s passive. As long as the traffic is stable, the blog should continue to generate income. The real test will come in a few years when we take a year off from retirement to travel around the world. (It’s going to be hard work to “road school” our kid.) I plan to post twice per week, one post about travel and one refresh/rework of an older article. One year is a long time and I’m not sure how traffic will be affected by this change. I guess we’ll see what happens.
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Also, I know from my personal experience that when you only do something because you think it’s a money-spinner you end up nearly killing yourself to get the idea over the line.  I remember creating a careers advice site that bored me to tears.  Every word I wrote, hurt a little.  All 200,000+ words!  Do not put yourself through this pain.  I know I won’t ever again.