How Pros Make Money Online

Income Diary

How To Autopilot Your Blog

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For so many reasons, I decided to change my strategy for my online business in 2011.

I realized, if I ever wanted to sell my online business, it couldn’t require ‘me’. Michael wasn’t for sale, just the business. That’s something a lot of top bloggers get wrong. They work on building their brand, they make it all about them and then when they lose interest, they aren’t able to do anything with their blog.

It wasn’t just so it would be easier to sell, I just didn’t want to have to focus on it, day after day.

I decided I wanted my business to run on autopilot. Basically, It had to grow month after month, with no work required from myself. So..

  • I didn’t want to have to write posts
  • I didn’t want to manage blog post schedules
  • I didn’t want to have to work with advertisers and continually monetize my site
  • I wanted to continue to get lots of traffic
  • I didn’t want to have to draft emails to subscribers, do my social media etc.

So who’s now doing it and how did I achieve what I have?

1. Getting People To Write For Your Website

I didn’t want to deliver content that was less valuable than what I have published before. That wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I firstly tried guess bloggers, people I didn’t pay to write, but they got a link to their site. I got a few people ask to write but the majority were really bad. I found a couple good writers but they couldn’t prioritize me at all, which is understandable as they weren’t being paid.

I then decided to pay people to write. This has worked rather well. I have a set price and I tell my writers I want a post every Monday morning drafted so that we can schedule it during the week. I’ve had some ups and downs with this but overall it’s been quite successful, hopefully with in a month or so, I’ll have it nailed. One thing that has really helped is getting someone to manage it. My brother does this for me and it doesn’t take much of his time. If they don’t draft their post, he will get on them and make sure they do.

I have found a few good writers who don’t charge. Like I mentioned above, they can’t prioritize me. However, I think if I can get 8 good free writers, to publish one post every 2 months. It will be a day a week that I don’t have to pay for a post.

2. Publishing & Publicizing Your New Posts

A few months ago, I hired my brother to work for my business. Regular readers will be use to his blog posts. I installed a WordPress plugin called WP Editorial Calender and what it allows you to do is put blog posts in the calender and publish it at those set times. So for example, I can drag a post to a Thursday and then choose the time. By doing this we can see which posts go live when, we know posts wont conflict and we know they will automatically be published for us.

The majority of my regular readers subscribe via email for updates from the blog. Every time I publish a post, I had to draft and send the email via Aweber. Aweber rocks and does what I want it to, however, It was taking me 20 or so minutes each time to get the email out. What I decided to do, was to start using their blog broadcast function. It automatically emails your list every time a new post is published. It’s highly customizable which you will see below, I was able to make it look like I have written it, not only that, I got my web designer to design a great looking newsletter.

Every time a post is published. We automatically post a link on our Twitter feed.

3. Monetization & Passive Income

I knew that one thing that stressed me out and took up time was monetizing a site. If you have advertisers, you have to firstly find them, negotiate, work with them to get the deal and then they change their mind regularly, so you have to constantly, add/edit/delete the advert and sometimes, more often then not, have to start over again with the next person.

Affiliate marketing doesn’t require you. You link to a product, if a reader buys that product, you earn a commission. It’s not a guaranteed set income, however it saves you a lot of time and takes the pressure of you.

I also use a lot of space to advertise two of my products. Digital products don’t require any real support. If they don’t like your eBook, they can automatically get a refund via the merchant. Once purchased, the thank you page will notify them how to download the eBook. All very straight forward.

I do have one advertiser. Every month, he sends me a nice sum of money and he has his ad on my site. He’s been advertising since April and hasn’t been any trouble. What I recommend is go for one advertiser and charge threw the roof but at the same time, make them a priority for ad space. When I brought out my newsletter, I added his advert to it for free. Since he started advertising, the traffic has gone up a lot, the price has stayed the same. I know that money pays for my writers and It’s important he stays.

You could argue that an affiliate product could out perform an advertiser, this is true. But often, it’s not. Who knows? Who cares? It’s more important to me to diversify my income so I’m not reliant on one income stream. You can only promote an affiliate product so many times before it becomes irrelevant for a lot of readers. A great way to make adverts more relevent to readers and more successful for advertisers is by rotating 2 adverts with 2 different landing pages. This way your advertiser gets a much higher click through rate.

4. Conclusion and Moving Forward

I hope these quick tips helped. Month after month I grow my business yet I’m not around.

My main focus in 2012 is to get more writers and more blogs online. Writers are a large cost but for me it’s worth it. At least long term. Nick Tart wrote on his blog about how every new post is worth 1320 new visitors a year. For me it’s a lot more. Every time I publish a post, thousands of people rush to my site to read it. Out of all those people, I only need 3 to buy an affiliate product and I’ve made a profit on the post. Sometimes this isn’t the case but sometimes it worth a lot more. The importance of me telling you this is, you may not make your money back in the first day or even the first month but over a year, buying an article pays for its self and by not doing it, is really stupid.

INVESTMENT is king. People thought I was made spending so much on redesign after redesign, blog post after blog post. But looking back, if I didn’t do it, I’d not be reaping all the rewards I am today. An almost passive income.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear how you think the site has progressed.


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  1. Duane Rackham says:

    Hi Michael
    I recently started hiring writers for my blog, this is a great way to have regular content on your blog . If you want to be successful online you need to outsource, people think they can go it alone, you simply cant.

    Passive income is where it is at, making money while you sleep is a dream that every internet marketer has, but only a few ever put in the effoft in the early stages to make this dream come true.
    Great post

  2. Curt Donohue says:

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. It’s what I needed to see today.

    I’ve hit a point with my blog where I’m burned out and need some help getting more content up. I just don’t have the time nor the interest to produce all the content myself anymore.

    I’ve tried occasionally to get free writers, with little success and am now looking at paying people for quality content. However, I have no idea what to pay. Also, I don’t really know how to set expectations with the writer.

    Is this something you can elaborate on?

    Thanks again for your great article.

    • Michael Dunlop says:

      Hi Curt,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Working out what to pay someone is always hard. This post took me around 30 minutes to write. So at $30 a hour, perhaps $15 would be fair? No.

      You see, I’m quick, other writers will take hours, they perhaps need to research, do graphics etc, so it’s going to take them more like 3 – 5 hours. So around $100 – $150 an article I think is fair both parties. You need to pay them enough to make sure they turn up each week, but not so much that it means you make a loss. Basically, you pay for what you get. 1 great article is worth more than 20 rubbish articles.

      As for the article and expectations. I tell them straight. This post isn’t good enough, I don’t want it. Personally with the writers I have at IncomeDiary, I don’t have this issue. They are all very professional and do a great job. I think this is partly down to payment but also picking someone who I can see has great writing skills. Hold out for great writers, if your not sure, either give them a test or move on.

      I also do a word doc that outlined what I wanted. Graphics, excerpts, introductions, post images, steps etc.

      Hope that helps,


      • Whoa! At $100+ per article, I would lose a lost of money, unless that somehow resulted in a much larger income for my site. Right now, I’m doing less than $100/month income on the site. I’d like to be able to publish at least 4 articles per week, so the math just doesn’t work at the current level.

        • Sheyi Shobayo says:

          Howard, I can help you out with this. I’d take a less amount though and will write first 3 articles for you if you like them you pay and if not you keep them. Let me know if you are interested… sheyi AT

  3. Hi Michael.

    Awesome article. I like how you shared your thought process on the decisions. I think that is more important than the decision itself.

    I have started my site just about 3 months ago. I am enjoying doing everything for now but I am also thinking of hiring writers or virtual assistants once I get my product out.

    Where did you get your paid writers? What is the reasonable amount to pay for a good writer in your opinion?

    Here’s to a big year this 2012!


  4. I really think that you have to be careful when getting outsourced posts so it doen’t ruin the feel of the blog. I often see the gueast posts at problogger and while they are ok it is oftena re-hash of the same thing. I would agree that the work to keep content fresh is a pain but I would rather see a re-visit to some older topics and see how things have changed and you can further update an older post.
    I also think you have to plan things out further in a weekend brain storming for post than to try to do it every day. Looking forward to the new year posts

  5. Dear Michael,

    I subscribe to your mail list, and thanks to your inspiring work
    My blog has received visitors from all over the world too.
    It has been a amazing journey and my blog is getting more
    And more popular every day! Thank you.

  6. Cold Sore Expert says:

    Great advice Michael. I am going out to hire some good writers as well for my blogs.

  7. Interesting idea, and I may want to incorporate it into my own blog (GuestDietBlog). I currently have over 20 authors, but as you mention, they are not particularly consistent, and some of them are not really very good writers. Some have submitted one acceptable article, followed by a bunch of obviously-spun crap.

    I’m convinced that in the long run, quality matters more than just about anything else. Crap might sell well now, but the search engines will eventually figure out how to penalize crap. The process has already begun (thankfully — I personally get really tired of crap results on the 1st page of Google when I’m seriously searching for something).

    Perhaps I could work out a performance-based payment of some sort for my guest authors. That would mean some extra work for me, but I am very concerned with keeping the quality of my site at a high level. I would need to figure out what sort of performance is worth measuring, and how much to pay. Suggestions would be welcome.

  8. Troy Rizzo says:

    2:28AM here are after reading this post on my mobile I just had to boot up my mac to comment. Just wanted to say once again another great post and was wondering where you have been on the blog. I see now you’ve been living the dream! 😛

    Also I’ll be installing that calendar plugin tonight and could you talk more about how you found your free writers just to help me kick off as I’m saving for a wedding and my misses would kill me if I started paying for writers at this point.


    • Alina Navarro says:

      I Love the little Nuggets you drop everywhere!! 😉
      I haven’t had time to play & chat on forums in the last couple of months, but now I guess I will resume the effort with more focus. I usually end up helping others, instead of getting the help I need.
      LoL…. yes, it’s all good!

      Thank you again Hun, for your candid and informative post!
      Gotta love ya!!

  9. Good one Michael !!
    Happy new year to you…
    I have been trying for last few months to start a blog.. i have almost read all of your articles.. but due to my other commitments i have not been able to kick off..
    This post has surely shown me an another way to start a blog. and run it good without losing on my other priorities.

  10. Amit Mathur says:

    HI michael you are a great writer i have subscribed for your posts through email.I am a regular Visitor of your site.I need to hire some writers for my blog.Can you help me from where can I hire ?

  11. Nice to have you back Michael (at least for a while). You really have a team of awesome writers here. I really learned from them a lot (in terms of information as well as writing style). Your blog is probably one of the very few that still provide value to their readers. I congratulate you on your success and i wish you accomplish whatever goal you’re putting in mind in 2012. Good luck

    H David

  12. cash4wealth says:

    hi Micheal happy new year to you, your blog has been so valuable to me because as a financial writer i ve benefited alot especially with the basics of blogging. this is another great post from you worth reading, thanks buddy.

  13. Hi Michael – I like Troy had to “boot up” to comment. You and your writers give so many valuable tips that I can’t thank you enough. My blog is about to launch…and I have followed just about everything you suggest to the letter. Including building my blog from scratch self hosted with wordpress… I thought I had to use blogger lol! The calendar plug-in is exactly what I was thinking I needed. Your blog has become a MUST READ for me everyday and I wanted to take a moment and tell you THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    All the best to you and your team in 2012 and beyond!

  14. Hi Michael – I think this is great advice for someone to have passive income with a blog and not have to work very hard. But I think most bloggers can’t afford to hire high quality writers on a daily basis. What advice would you give them? I am guessing the timing has to be right for the blog, after it has established traffic and constent followers in order to hire quality writers and high ROI.

  15. Tram Tran says:

    Awesome post. It’s true you can’t do everything at Once by yourself. Outsourcing is the key. This is sOmething I have discovered since the start of my blog. However finding the right people is also as important. I love your tips on where to find your people. I agree with some of the comment above that sometimes it lacks the personal touch the readers long for if there is too much content from Other people. Everytime you publish a new post, I would rush to your site to read it because I know you would provide great values. Thank you

  16. Kenny Fabre says:


    this is a very smart way of automating your blog, I currently run my blog, but when it starts getting bigger I might automate it this way too great blog post

  17. I want to start a blogging business but I need start up money. Also, how can I use the money I collect online. I’m only 12 years old so I can’t have a paypal. And my parents let me use theirs and won’t give me a debit card ethier. Any solutions?

    • Hi Daniel,

      I don’t have a solution for you being able to make your own money online at this point, but I do want to give you some encouragement because judging my your almost perfect spelling and grammar, and being able to get your point across very well, I think you will be an extremely awesome blogger (much better than most adults).

      If you cannot make money on a blog yet, I would say blog anyway, get your name out there, start building traffic. You will have a huge following in a few years when you will be allowed to start earning the money.

      Heck, maybe if you get enough followers to your blog you can convince your parents to handle the money your blog could earn and then put it in a bank account for you. Do it! 🙂


  18. sachin kundu says:

    Good post Michael. The real sweet about this whole blog thing is to have a passive income. Its cool you explained how.

    I think to build any online adventure one requires either money or requires time. You cannot spend both less time and less money.

    For example new blog publishers probably cannot pay for writers or ppc campaigns and such stuff.

    But they have time to write good guest posts.

    I think over time one can follow your strategy to build a real income generating passive stream.

  19. Cheptiony Mutai says:

    This is a great blog. I am aways ispired by the posts.

  20. Dean Saliba says:

    Sadly my blog doesn’t make enough to risk paying someone to write posts for the blog, maybe that will change within a year.

  21. Hi Michael,

    I’m an avid reader of your posts and your blog in general but this is the first time i have responded or left a reply. In my opinion Income Diary is one of the few significant ‘credible’ reference blogs on the internet. I enjoyed the post – as always very informative and well written – its an easy read. However, over the past months i am left surprised by the amount of basic spelling mistakes and incorrect descriptive words contained not only in this post but almost every post, plus the replys using your own name. When you yourself were involved in a more ‘hands -on’ capacity basic errors like these were seldom seen. Taking into account the high profile nature of Income Diary and the fact that it essentially informs and advises others how to get things right re internet marketing etc, it is surprising to find a lack of proofreading and attention to detail. I’d be happy to help…

    • When I first read the article, I had some of the same thoughts about the sloppy proofreading. But my first thought was *not* to offer help. That sort of sloppiness is an invitation to *compete*. An offer to help is usually viewed as an insult by the blog owner, and is unlikely to be accepted, anyway. Competing, OTOH, puts the ball squarely in your own court. If you are lucky, he won’t notice until he gets ‘pwned’ and has to play catch-up.

      I generally don’t bother to critique grammar and spelling, either in an article or the comments (er, ‘replies’), since I’m prone to the occasional typo myself, and I don’t particularly like looking like a fool.

      One of the things that I always do with my own blog articles is run them by my editor (aka my CPA aka my wife), who does a fantastic job of catching my typos and grammar errors. I’ve also been taking more care in my own writing, and I’m actually getting good enough at it that my editor rarely finds any problems these days.

      If I end up hiring writers, I will almost certainly also hire editors.

      Other than that, this article did contain some useful, actionable ideas that I plan to test — and maybe blog about, depending on how the tests go. Oh — and compete with 🙂

  22. Jamie Northrup says:

    I’m starting to apply some of these things to one of my blogs. I run several blogs, but one at a time I want to reduce the amount of work I have to do, the biggest piece is the writing (on the blog and guest posting back to it), I haven’t hired a writer yet, but I’m looking for someone local. In the meantime I have people writing for my blog in exchange for backlinks.

  23. Sheyi Shobayo says:

    I guess paying people to write is a great thing. That I will agree to it if the b mean a blog that can be sold later – such idea of hiring writers is great for such blog.