Tuesday, February 4, 2014


My Advice To Aspiring Pro Bloggers

**I originally wrote this article back in 2009, and it's kind of surprising how relevant it still is today.. I've thrown in some updates too (starred and italicized).** 

* * * 

It's funny how widespread this pro blogging dream has grown over the years. It seems like it was just yesterday that word came out about bloggers earning a full time income online, and suddenly hundreds, then thousands, and now maybe millions of people are trying to do it, too. (I don't know how many, to be exact. I was never one for statistics.)

And it kills me to think that so many people are under the impression that they can create a blog, update it, plaster ads all over the place, and make money.. Yeah, that's pretty much the gist of it, don't get me wrong here. But really, do you have any idea how difficult it is?

I have been blogging for several years now. **Over a decade!** I have created many blogs, and abandoned half of them for various reasons, which I'll get into later. While I am not considered an A-lister by any means, I do make money from my blogging, and have learned a LOT. And of course, I continue to learn new things every day.

Here's a long list of things I feel must be said about this topic:

1) Why do you want to be a pro blogger?

I have to ask you this before I continue, because it is the most important of all. Why do you want to blog professionally? What reasons, other than money, do you have?

Would you do it for no pay? Because let's face it- it is incredibly difficult to earn a living from a blog alone. Would you be willing to put in the time and effort required to create a popular blog, with a high possibility of your plan failing? Would you take what you've learned and try again? And again? Does it mean that much to you?

2) Know what you want to achieve.

What do you want to achieve with your blog(s)? Are your goals realistic?

3) Understand that blogging isn't easy..

I don't care how many people say it is, or who they are for that matter, it really isn't as easy as it's made out to be. In order to be "successful" as a blogger (Success takes on many forms- it depends on your goals, so I'm being very general here), you usually are required to treat your blog as a full time job.

Many people have a full time job already, and must keep it in order to pay the bills. Now, to go from that to blogging full time, it's usually necessary to invest a similar amount of time into your blog in addition to your job. And if you have a family and kids to take care of, well, that's another full time job in itself. What a burden. Most people cannot do it.

However, there are quite a few whose life situations match up nicely with a career in blogging. I am one of them. The number of unemployed people is pretty high where I live, and it's hard to get what most would call a "real job". I have dedicated much of my time away from "real work" to blogging, as well as my various music projects. Each of my career goals supports the other, and I am working hard to build my future. **I have had a few other jobs since writing this article. I currently work at a tattoo shop (however out right now due to health issues), I blog every day, make music, and when something interesting comes along, paranormal investigation. Oh, how life has changed over the years!** 

And it definitely isn't easy.

There are many days when I don't get paid. Then there are days when my financial situation is looking fantastic. And you never know for sure what's going to happen next. It's scary sometimes. But I love what I do, and honestly feel that it will work out in my favor one of these days. **It looks better every day.. I still have my ups and downs, but looking back, I've come a long way.** 

4) ..And there is no "happy ending". Not for a while, at least.

Like I said, the results of your blogging will vary from day to day. You have to keep working hard at what you're doing, despite the "bad days", which are bound to happen every now and then.

In addition to that, you must understand that the blogosphere is constantly changing. It's important to keep up with the current times, as well as push to improve beyond that. Never stop learning. Never stop trying new things. Take everything you've learned and use it to push beyond your current limitations. Break new ground. As a blogger, your job is never-ending.

5) You learn through trial and error.

You will make many mistakes on the way to becoming a pro blogger. If you are afraid of failure, you will probably never make it. Don't be surprised if you fail on your first attempt, or even your tenth. Just analyze what you did wrong and learn from it. Try something new. Keep trying. Keep learning.

This applies to many aspects of blogging. Whether you're trying to find your specific niche(s), or style of writing, or the best way for you to earn money, you will learn through trial and error. Many ideas will fail. And that's fine. Either revise your technique, or accept it and move on to something new.

You may wind up abandoning several blogs, because you later realized they didn't suit you, and that's fine. I did. And I learned a lot from doing so.

6) Develop a schedule.

Just like a "real job", you need to have some sort of routine. Work out what time you have available for blogging, and do it. Work during the hours you've allotted, stick to a general posting schedule, and work out some sort of content creation routine that will help you continue blogging, as well as avoiding as many mental roadblocks as you possibly can.

7) Prioritize.

Good time management is important. Even with a schedule, you will often find that some things will require more time than others, and you may not have enough time to finish what you wanted to do that day. Get your priorities in order- do the most important things first, then take care of the rest.

Distractions are, well, distracting. But it's important to keep mental clarity, and stay focused on the important topics at hand. Do what you need to do first, then have fun. I know, it's a hard lesson to learn. And it's one of those things that need to be mastered if you want to be a pro blogger.

8) Never rely on a single income stream.

It may be common sense not to rely on a single source of income (like AdSense profits alone), but it's surprising how many bloggers do. Earnings are hardly ever steady, and rarely can you pay all your bills every month with a single check (or funds transfer) you've earned. The few who can are putting themselves at risk- if their source of money dries up, they have nothing to fall back on. Don't put yourself in that position.

9) A full time income may require more than one blog or website.

While there are some who support themselves with one blog alone, they are few and far between.

Don't be afraid to take on another project if you have the time. It's common for people to have several interests- don't limit yourself to just one. Having a few blogs/websites can be more than just financially rewarding- you will have the opportunity to learn more, and blogging about a variety of topics helps to prevent boredom.

You don't have to start a new website if you don't want to, either. There are plenty of sites already that are looking for contributing bloggers, and many of them pay well. But make sure that's what you want to do before you commit. Blogging for someone else isn't a gig that's right for everyone.

Think of blogging as a way to further your dream career, rather than a career in itself. Your "empire", ideally, should reflect what you ultimately want to do. Because let's face it, not all of us are interesting characters worthy of earning a living by simply documenting what we do every day.

10) Know when to say no.

Don't take every opportunity that comes your way. You may encounter some opportunities that seem great at the time they're offered, but won't be beneficial in the long run. Analyze any offers you receive, and the positive and negative effects of taking on that project. If the negatives outweigh the positives in relation to your goals and current projects (time is an important issue), then turn down the offer. And don't feel bad about doing so. Do what is right for you.

11) Cater to your readers..

Your readers are important, so you need to make them happy. Respond to their comments and emails, chat with them on Twitter, **Facebook, Google+, etc.,** really get to know them and what they want. If you understand your readers and what they are looking for, you will be more apt to satisfy them with new content. They will reward you with their support, by referring others to your blog, perhaps even buying products or donating money.

12) ..But don't lose yourself in the process.

Always keep in mind what is important to you, and don't deviate from that simply to satisfy others. 

**Being yourself is important! Not everyone will like you, but who cares? It can be a good thing when someone unsubscribes- you're cultivating your audience, people who appreciate you for who you are and what you do. These are your supporters.** 

13) Get to know your readers on a more personal level.

Too often I see bloggers forget that their readers are people too, and not just numbers on a traffic report. (And yes, I have been guilty of this in the past.)

It's emotional engagement that keeps people coming back to your blog, so give them something to laugh at, or think about. Really connect with them. Treat them as the competent people they are, and not search engine spiders.

14) Sometimes we have to "sell out"..

In order to pay the bills, it is often necessary to support other products/companies on our blogs. The most common is contextual or banner advertising, but it is not rare to see text links, posts advertising a product or website, or bloggers selling products of their own. There is nothing wrong with this, if you put your readers first.

15) ..But don't really sell out.

Keep money in its proper place. Don't advertise products you wouldn't buy yourself. Don't create something crappy and sell it for a fortune. That's just bad business.

16) Be transparent.

Trust is based on transparency. Tell your readers who you are (on an 'about' page), and your motives for blogging. Label all sponsored posts as such. Never misrepresent yourself if you can help it. What readers do or don't know about you and your blog will impact their trust in you.

17) Social media is your best friend.

Get on Twitter and Digg and Facebook and any other social media websites that you feel will best help you and your brand, and use them often. Network with people who share similar interests and keep in touch with them. With the help of social media, a good blog can spread like wildfire.

However, don't use your social profiles simply to advertise yourself, make a point to connect with others and provide them with value when possible. Help them with any problems they may have. Participate in discussion. Be friendly. Be an active community member. You must give before you can receive.

18) Keep writing.

There will be many days when you will feel uninspired, and words will be hard to come by. When this happens, just keep writing anyway. Write a personal entry, or some other writing exercise (that you may never even publish) to get the creativity flowing again. Usually that will help.

Keep writing through the tough times. The more you avoid the problem, the easier it becomes to procrastinate. And you'll never get anything done.

19) Keep improving.

Always look for new ways you can improve your blog, whether it be your writing, design, monetization tactics, etc. Don't focus on working harder, try working smarter. Don't be afraid to try something new.. you may learn something in the process.

20) Feel free to break the rules.

While there is a sort of blogging etiquette to follow (spam=bad, etc.), don't be afraid to break the various unofficial blogging rules, such as how many times you should post each week, or how long each post should be. Every blog is different and there are really no set rules. Figure out what's right for you and just do it.

That's all I have to say on this for now. Do you have any advice you'd like to share?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I am impressed to see how many people are out there trying to make a living from a blog!
    I have started mine with the intention to have a hobby, nothing more, then I got to know about the blogosphere, and wow! I see sooooooooo many people that only do that for money, you can see on their blog it's only that! A thousand blogs talking (only) about makeup and superficial stuff, like the clothes of the actresses and such... Because they think it's easy to be a blogger, that it's easy to elaborate an interesting post almost daily, create a good looking layout (I think that now I got where I wanted with mine), make your facebook page and your content in general be noticed and appreciated....
    well, I think these kind of blogs will always disappear after some time (because their owners get tired and quit). And, the most important, the readers know when you take your blog seriously or what, so the "gold diggers" will not standout.


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