Lately, it seems like the personal finance blog-o-net has been invaded by a new kind of blogger. We still have the usual suspects – the frugalites, the investors, the guys who want you to maximize your income, etc. – who will never go away because they have valuable things to say, at least to their chosen audience. There are niches in this world, and certain blogs do a great job catering to those people. Or, we have other ones who try to talk a little about everything. Each of these business models has potential for success, it’s up to the owner of the site to figure out what model interests them the most.
Lately though, there seems to be a new personal finance blogger out there. These ones are young, full of ambition, say controversial things, and do all sorts of yakking about passive income. Say, do you guys know why my ear is itching? These people don’t want to screw around with traditional ways of thinking. They want to work from home, preferably in their underpants, because that’s just comfy. They want to spend time travelling abroad, impressing the local girls in Thailand with their wads of cash and pale white skin. One tip: for the love of God, wear a condom. I cannot stress this enough.
Yes, these are the make money online guys. Since most blogs end up becoming at least marginally profitable if you stick with it long enough, the ideas spouted from these guys are starting to gain traction. They’re unapologetic about their main goal, which is usually making enough money online to make a decent living at it. They’re working hard to make it happen. I’d be lying if I said their ideas don’t appeal to me, even a little.
The problem I have with them isn’t so much their ideas, but in the way they’re presented. Everybody should strive for financial independence, and I think most everybody could benefit from diversifying their income sources beyond their job. And if these people want to become entrepreneurs, their effort should be cheered. There’s just one little problem.
It’s not passive income.
You know it’s an important sentence when I bold it. As other bloggers can attest, blogging is a considerable amount of work. We all spend hours dealing with all the behind the scenes stuff. It takes me a minimum of an hour to write a post, mostly because I have the attention span of some sort of farm animal. (Not to mention smelling like one – heyo!) Seeing other bloggers present it as passive income is laughable.
There’s really no such thing as true passive income. If you have a vending machine business, you still have to restock the machine and take the money to the bank. Even if you have a diversified portfolio of real estate or income producing stocks, you still have to keep an eye on said portfolio, even if you have someone else managing it.
Every time I go a few days without giving you guys fresh content, my stats slowly dwindle. The very nature of the medium is that you keep coming back because there’s constantly new stuff, some of which is hopefully entertaining. If there’s no new content, people stay away. Sure, there’s a trickle of search engine inquiries that will bring people to any blog, but they will start to suffer as well without new content. Blogging may be the exact opposite of passive income. All you do when you buy a blog is to buy yourself a job.
But wait, there’s more. These very same people claim that since they’re so good at creating “passive” income, they can therefore afford to retire in their 20s and 30s. Yeah, imagine my surprise when I read that for the first time. Since they hope to be in a position to be making a decent income from their blog, they plan to quit their job and earn their living online, hence retiring.
THAT’S NOT RETIRING YOU MORONS.
Retiring is when you don’t work anymore. You do what my former co-worker does – you sit at home and watch Bowl games while deciding what crappy e-mail forward you’re going to send your former co-worker today. And then the next day you do the exact same thing. When you’re retired it means that you don’t work anymore. Putting in even 25 hours per week keeping your blog updated means you’re not retired. All it means is that instead of having a traditional job, you make your living online.
Inevitably, they get called out on their loose definitions of passive income and retirement. Their response is as predictable as my early morning leak. They want to redefine retirement and passive income. They don’t mean to mislead anybody, they say, even though everybody knows they’re selling a dream more than they’re selling concrete advice. And selling a dream means using terms that invoke certain emotions. But it’s not misleading. Somehow.
There’s nothing wrong with telling people they can make a living blogging. The interweb is full of people who have done just that. Hell, if you take a look at the quality of content from some of the top bloggers, having engaging and entertaining posts isn’t even a requirement. It’s very possible to make a living at this. But all you’re doing is exchanging one type of work for another. It’s not passive income and it’s certainly not retirement. Can we stop calling it that?