Can Content Marketing Be Classed As Smart Passive Income?

Many people are attracted to content marketing, whether it’s through blogging, internet or affiliate marketing.

smart passive income image of tropical beach

passive income earned whilst relaxing on the beach (Image – “Rock Symbol Of Similan Islands In Thailand” by Yongkiet,

They perhaps see it as a passive income venture, possibly due to the hype of many websites seeking to sell their services in this sector.

However for serious content marketing writers and businesses, real life is very different.

There is nothing passive about using content marketing strategies and SEO.

So why would I even ask the question?

Smart Passive Income

The term smart passive income is probably most strongly associated with Pat Flynn and his own website of the same name.

However Pat doesn’t sell smart passive income as a get rich scheme, what he talks about is the use of automated systems and IT to enhance the work that you currently do.

Pat Flynn smart passive income quote

Pat Flynn’s definition of Smart Passive Income

This is very different to the website promotions that often exist, aimed at attracting people who are desperate to make money. These sites instead  promise them that millions of dollars are there, for the taking with little or  no work involved.

typical passive income adverts

typical passive income adverts

Against such ads it can be very hard to persuade clients and customers that content marketing is an effective strategy, because it doesn’t have tricks to rapidly make money –

In fact it can actually take a long time to implement a proper and sustainable strategy for attracting traffic.


So Can Content Marketing Be Passive?

Content marketing is a process that involves 4 key stages that I often explain to clients using this simple diagram. They are;

diagram content writing process

Current Content Writing Process

  1. Research
  2. Writing/Editing/ Publish
  3. Promotion
  4. Analysis

It can be tempting to think that once you have researched and written an article, then it is possible to sit back and wait for the money to start rolling in.

However the last two phases in the diagram, i.e. promotion and analysis are perhaps the most overlooked parts of the process, and yet this is really at the heart of a content marketing approach.

Content Promotion

At the core of content promotion is a digital marketing strategy. Here all the possible channels for promoting your work can be considered and a system developed to maximise your reach.

Whilst every strategy will be different some key points to consider would be;

  • Develop a posting schedule for social media so you know what content has been distributed, when and on which channels.
  • Some channels will require repeat distribution but this will need to be spaced, possibly over several months.
  • Gradually including more social media and digital channels over time.
  • Including activities such as forum blogging or guest blogging into your strategy.
social media is important to content marketing

Global social media networks are an invaluable source of potential traffic for content marketing (Image – “Working On Computer Social Media Network” by KROMKRATHOG, free digital

In addition to developing a strategy for posting content there is also the ongoing process of building up a following and interacting with other people on the site to increase your presence.

Some tactics to achieve this could be to curate content through retweets and sharing / liking content relevant to your niche.

In addition you can also be proactive in following people, especially those who;

  • have retweeted or liked content you also see as relevant
  • who have added you to industry relevant niche lists
  • who have included you in compilation newsletters (e.g. of top tweets in your niche that week)
  • who tag you in their tweets or on line posts
  • suggested people for you to follow – if they are relevant.

The key to developing a meaningful following is to continually check for relevance. This doesn’t need to be too rigid but try to avoid spam accounts.


Analysis of Digital Media Activity

Content marketing is up and down

Marketing is up and down and it needs to be analysed constantly (Image – “Marketing ” by renjith krishnan,

Unfortunately for many content writers, analysis is now a key part of the work. I use the word unfortunate because many bloggers and writers start in this field because they enjoy writing, not crunching numbers.

However the reality is that the writing part of content marketing is quite small compared to all the other components now involved.

In order to understand what kind of content is needed and whether it is effective (remembering you are writing to sell products), then you need proof of what is working.

Collecting Evidence

Even using tools such as Google Analytics can provide enough insight to see which posts are ranking and where readers are coming from in order to see them.

There are two main things to consider when you start your analysis, for content that is designed specifically to sell a product;

  • How are customers finding the content?
  • Are customers buying from the content?

For different types of content you will possibly need different metrics, so that you can monitor your other types of call for action.

For example can you currently measure the following actions on your page –

  • Are readers staying on your site and reading more content?
  • Are readers signing up for your email lists?
  • Are readers clicking through on links provided in your content?
  • Are videos or podcasts being played?
  • Is all the content being read or do readers leave the page early?

If you can’t then this would be a starting point for developing your own website analytics. Most people focus simply on the number of visitors and assume that everything hinges on this magic number.

But if you’re content marketing process doesn’t work there is no point receiving more traffic, you need to know that even when you have a small amount of traffic people are still clicking on links and going to product sites or reading further information.

They may not buy and if they do sales numbers will be low, but at least you know the system works and now you can focus on leading more traffic to your content marketing site.

Using Automated Systems in Content Marketing

This probably warrants a post in its right so I’m not going to get drawn into writing too much at this stage. This leads back to the point that Pat Flynn mentioned at the beginning. Smart Passive Income is about using software to achieve your four points in content writing.

Working hard is only productive if it leads you in the right direction. Of course you will inevitably be trying things out and some won’t work, but this should all be part of a process of leading you in the right direction.

However putting your head down and churning out content without knowing whether it is being successful or where it is failing exactly, that could be construed as wasted energy (and money).

Simple Automated Systems.

Social media can be very time consuming unless it is well managed.

There are platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer that provide a useful way to share posts to multiple sites, at the same time. Social media buttons on your site also enable others to share your content quickly and easily, which saves you time and potentially reaches a new audience.

Some plugins will provide marketing stats such as post views that appear on your WordPress dashboard. Other plugins such as SumoMe provide a link to your email responder and record all the times your email collection prompt is shown and the number of sign ups. There is also a heat map facility in this plugin as well.

Again using these needs to be for a purpose for gathering information – Avoid the shiny object syndrome, and keep focused on why you want the information and what you are going to do with it once you have it.


This post started out by considering whether content marketing could ever really be classed as a form of smart passive income. The answer lies in your definition of ‘passive’ I suppose.

Content marketing is never passive in the ‘easy money, get rich’ scheme of things.

It is a proactive approach that is analysis and research driven, and it is constantly striving to produce original content for an ever changing audience. There are tools that can facilitate this process, but unfortunately not to the extent that you can leave for a 2 year vacation any time soon.

Further Reading

Here are some other articles on the site that focus specifically on content production within a content marketing approach. There are also other posts under the content marketing category on the sidebar menu.

If you have any further questions on this topic please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoyed the article and please do share on your own social media, thanks Marie.

4 thoughts on “Can Content Marketing Be Classed As Smart Passive Income?

  1. Netta

    Hey Marie:

    Thank you! This post opened my eyes and helped me focus more clearly on the part of the blogging for dollars puzzle I’ve been missing. I can write quite well, but I’ve had difficulty monetizing my endeavors. I am working on strengthening that weakness. Your post is a lucid laying down of the things I need to work on.

    I subscribed to your website….


    1. Marie

      Hi Netta and thank you so much for your encouraging words and I’m so glad to have helped in any way possible.

      I’m constantly adding to the content here so by subscribing you will get a little newsletter with links to the latest two posts, so that will help you stay up to date, thanks again Marie

  2. Chris

    I really don’t know about smart passive income – that’s down to the individual and their chosen marketing path really! What I do know is that content marketing is effective…but in my experience at least 70% of marketers get it VERY wrong. It’s not that often that I find a blogger that is able to capture an attention for longer than a minute (for example). Good article though! 🙂

    1. Marie

      HI Chris thanks for commenting and yes content marketing is effective but it can also very difficult to do properly.

      It does involve more than just writing a short piece and expecting people to click and buy, there is a strong element of building a relationship and trying to encourage repeat visits to read your content. This process of engagement can be quite long and require a lot of time. Still it is more than worth it in the end though and selling to repeat customers is always easier than constantly trying to bring in potential new sales all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *