For a couple years I’ve been encouraging fellow bloggers to really de-emphasize sponsored posts and text link ads on their main site(s) – or sites they care about not getting crushed by Google. Google has helped expedite the decline of direct advertising with its frequent algorithmic changes and warnings. It’s understandable to go after the easy money, but I’m absolutely positive that as long as you focus most of your advertisement revenue on direct advertising, your content quality will suffer and you will never be able to “break out” and generate outsized traffic with a consistent revenue stream.

I don’t think hosting a link or sponsored post that is relevant and pertinent to your site once in a long while is necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot of good content out there that can help readers, and it is your site after all. Just don’t over do it. Growth of readership is where you start making the really large money from CPM, affiliate income, and maybe CPC – I’m talking tens of thousands a month, which more people make than you realize. Most people who make such income just keep quiet.

The focus of this post is to highlight another reason why you should minimize direct advertising and maximize affiliate advertising based on my experience over the past two months. 


Many of us blog because we not only enjoy writing and interacting with the community, we are also searching for ways to find more time and freedom to do the things we really want to do. We know that growing a site large enough to allow us for such opportunities is difficult. But we keep the faith because we know it’s possible.

Freedom is the main reason why I left my corporate job after 13 years. I wanted to experience what true freedom felt like. I recently reflected on two years of freedom away from work, and I must say it was quite an exciting experience. But one of the things on my bucket list is to experience startup life during San Francisco’ golden age. I’m now contracting part-time at a financial tech startup as I mentioned in the past, and a lot more work has gone into contracting than I initially anticipated.

For the past two months I’ve been working around 40 hours a week to build Personal Capital’s blog into one of the best corporate blogs in the space. There have been a lot of challenges involved in coming up with the right voice and marketing strategy for the content. There is a lot of collaboration that’s needed as well. As a result, I’m spending about 60% more time than what the contract initially discussed. I don’t really mind the extra work in the short-term, because I really want to overdeliver on results. But longer term, a renegotiation is in order.

One of my concerns about going back to work full-time is a potential negative impact on my writing and income on Financial Samurai. I used to work 50-60 hours a week and then work another 20-30 hours a week on Financial Samurai on the side. But I don’t think I have as much energy now that I’m older, hence the part-time proposal of working 25 hours a week. From a financial standpoint, it would be counterproductive to make money as a contractor and then make less money online.

Because I spent the last two years focusing on affiliate income, I’ve managed to maintain a steady 3X a week writing schedule on FS while working 40 hours a week as a contractor without a problem. Affiliate income is considered relatively passive online income compared to direct advertisement income. Affiliate income is much easier to execute because you know and love the products you talk about already. There’s no SEO or advertising agency to deal with who makes you write a post that might not fit your style. There’s no need to chase down payments, disrupt existing content, or risk any punishment by Google either.

The affiliate income business model basically allows me to write more freely. There’s no need to do any more legwork to try and make more money, unlike those who must continuously search for direct advertisement opportunities. Because my online income is almost like auto-pilot, I am able to focus my attention on my contracting work, which pays a decent income. By doing a good job at Personal Capital, who knows, maybe I’ll even join full-time.


Direct advertising not only hampers your online revenue stream potential, it may very well hamper your offline revenue stream as well. I think most of us like the idea of blogging full-time because we can then write and earn from anywhere in the world there’s internet access. But how much fun is blogging really if you’re spending the majority of your time negotiating direct advertisement deals instead of just writing?

If it’s a new job in a different industry you’re looking for, then affiliate income will allow you to be better at your job because you will have more time to do your job. The better you do, the more money and opportunities you’ll have. Meanwhile, you’ll feel great knowing that you’ll have a perpetual recurring income stream backing you up in case anything changes.

Related post: How can you use your blog to get a full-time job?


I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, learn how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like this one. 

Leverage the 3+ billion internet users and build your brand online. You never know where the journey will take you! There are professional bloggers now who make way more than bankers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs while having much more fun, much more freedom, and doing less work. 

Updated for 2017 and beyond.