Want to be a professional blogger? After several years of hobby blogging, I decided to take the plunge a few years ago and go pro.
Since then, I often get asked how to break into the blogging business.
The idea of getting paid to travel, designing your own schedule and working barefoot from home understandably appeals to many people.
And for good reason! It’s a great gig!
But like everything, it comes with trade-offs.
I try to be both encouraging and realistic about tackling blogging as a full-time job. So today, I’m taking a break from the world of witchcraft to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes pros and cons of being a professional blogger.
There’s a reason so many people consider becoming a professional blogger a dream job.
Because it is. I mean, really. It is. As far as paying gigs go, this is by far the best one I’ve ever had. So let’s start with the positives.
As long as I have a camera, a laptop and an internet connection, I can work anywhere in world. I love this part.
I never enjoyed feeling tied down to a job that required me to stay in one place.
There are exceptions depending on the type of content you’re creating, but in general, you can blog anywhere.
This opens so many doors.
If you’re single, you can live out of a backpack for months.
If you have kids, take them on the road every weekend or home school abroad all year.
And if travel isn’t your thing, you can move somewhere where the cost of living is low and save a ton of money.
If you researched starting a blog at all, you probably know that finding a niche audience is crucial to success.
This seems counter-intuitive to creative freedom. It’s actually just the opposite.
Research indicates that constraints actually make you more creative.
With blogging, I spend my day however I want to.
All I need do is put it in the context of my niche.
If I want to spend some time cooking, I whip up a kitchen witch recipe.
If I feel crafty, I think of a witchy craft I want to share with my readers.
Even if I want to spend all day reading or watching a movie, I write about it in a way that I know my readers will love.
Blogging is its own “back-up plan.”
When rolling the dice on a highly competitive job like becoming a professional blogger, most older, more experienced people encourage you to come up with a “back-up plan.”
But blogging is its own back-up plan. Because in order to blog, you need to learn skills that other industries value.
Things like online marketing, data analysis, team management and editorial skills beef up your resume for all kinds of jobs.
So if you decide you want something more stable or you need to supplement your income, your skills translate well in many professions, such as:
-social media promo
-SEO analysis and enhancement
-online publishing/Wordpress skills
-technical writing (sometimes)
Over time, it can become a passive income.
For the uninitiated, a passive income is a revenue stream that requires very little work.
If you produce a lot of evergreen content (content that is not time-sensitive and fleeting but useful year-round) that gets a lot of traffic, eventually, you just put up ads with a premium ad network and cash out once a month.
It takes a while and a lot of effort on the front end, but once you establish yourself, it’s the very best way to quit your day job and do whatever you want.
Perhaps the single greatest risk as a blogger is discovering too late just how damn hard it is.
I don’t say that to discourage you. I say it because you need to know that up front to succeed.
Knowing how tough you have to be to get your blog off the ground is a good test of how motivated you really are to make it happen.
If you’re willing to confront the following things honestly and with courage, your chances are better than you think.
You need to prepare for the long game.
If 95% of blogs fail in the first 6 months, only 1 in a 10,000 take off right away.
Social media love starts as a trickle.
Google doesn’t recognize how fabulous you are for months.
Anyone who claims they “Made $10,000 in the first 2 months of blogging!” is probably lying to sell you something.
Or, they began with a huge head start, like former professional blogging experience and connections with powerful influencers.
If you don’t have any of that, it takes months, or even years, before your blog earns a full-time income.
For me, it was definitely the latter.
There’s a steep learning curve.
Both writing and photography take years to master at a professional level. Many people start with one, but almost no one starts with both.
Even if you work at an expert level in both, portrait photography is not the same skill as blogging photography.
Or, you may know how to write short stories or technical language at a professional level, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know the importance of things like white space for online content.
Personally, even years later, I still constantly work to improve both.
It’s a lot of screen time.
Especially in the beginning, when you likely can’t afford to hire outside help. Because as a beginning professional blogger, you do everything.
Social media promo, editing photos, dealing with tech problems, updating plugins, and, of course, writing posts, means tons of screen time.
The best way to mitigate this is to limit screen time to certain hours of the day and cut way back on all the ordinary, time-wasting you do on the internet every day. Because if you don’t, you find you’re just glued to your laptop all day long and it’s so not healthy.
Spend time totally immersed in nature daily and leave your phone at home.
The competition is stiff.
Fifteen years ago, blogging professionally was kind of a new concept. It was much easier to break into popular niches like mommy blogging or travel blogging.
Now, it’s much harder.
The tightest niches have limited market potential, and broader markets are totally saturated.
That means you need to become the very best at what you already know well.
You have to be your own boss.
This is both a pro and a con. Being your own boss sounds great—if you’ve never done it. In order to make it work, you must:
–Structure your own day well. Whatever that means for you. Whether you need to implement a formal writing schedule or just make a point to get dressed before noon, if by the end of the day you got nothing done on your blog, you’re in trouble.
–Be the jack-of-all-trades. Taxes, hiring, public relations, web development—that’s all on you in the beginning. You don’t need to know how to do it all, but you have to be willing to learn it.
–Understand work/life balance. Believe it or not, workaholics do not make a good self-employers. They almost always burn out and end up hating the job they started out loving. As a work-from-home self-employer, you absolutely need to find a way to resist constantly feeling “on.” Some bloggers even rent office space to create work/life separation.
–Have a high tolerance for instability. Crisis happens. Your site gets hacked, your ad revenue tanks, you get hit with a shadow ban on Instagram. I don’t know anyone who likes dealing with that stuff, but the best of them stay calm and carry on.
If you got all the way to the end of this post and still feel undaunted, you’re a good candidate for professional blogging! Good luck!