Will Blogging Become Your Real Profession this Year? Thoughts on How It Happened to Me!

Will you leave the 9-5 to become a professional blogger?

[This is part of the Escaping the 9-5: My Road to ProBlogging series.]

I read a fascinating article from the Wall Street Journal about how blogging is becoming the newest profession in america and how more and more enterprising individuals are finding full time incomes through their blogs. In fact, the number of american adults discovering this as a source of income is reaching 1%:

The best studies we can find say we are a nation of over 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income. That’s almost 2 million Americans getting paid by the word, the post, or the click — whether on their site or someone else’s.

Wow. That’s great news! I’ll admit that I didn’t believe it was possible until I was actually doing it myself, and even now I often times find it somewhat amusing that I get paid for my “opinions” (which is why I try to stay pretty practical and thus more useful).

A few more interesting things from this article as well as my thoughts:

  1. The barriers to entry couldn’t be lower. Most bloggers for hire pay $80 to get started, do it for about 35 months, and make a few hundred dollars.
  2. Pros who work for companies are typically paid $45,000 to $90,000 a year for their blogging.One percent make over $200,000.
  3. They report long hours — 50 to 60 hours a week.
  4. For now, bloggers say they are overwhelmingly happy in their work, reporting high job satisfaction.
  5. It takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year.

For starters the first point is absolutely true and if some of my Series Posts have given you anything to think about then you can see that getting started quickly and effectively hasn’t been more easy than it is today! The challenge, of course, is finding a rhythm and interest that is both sustainable and profitable, not just from a financial perspective but from one that is internally rewarding.

I have found that most bloggers that join strictly with the intention of earning money fail in the short and long-term – blogging is both a practice and a passion and you need a bit (or a lot) of both to succeed!

I would also agree with the long hours – blogging full time is not a cakewalk and it’s not a few hours here and there and then you coast for the rest of the week. Like many activities that you really enjoy you find yourself spending a lot of time doing it and it shows. Sure, there are always exceptions to this rule but the vast majority of professional bloggers have to work a lot to stay at that professional level. And, of course, not only does it take some time to achieve that level of professional status but it’s not guaranteed.

#4 makes me smile ear-to-ear as it’s quite true: I absolutely love what I get to do and I’ve never been more satisfied with my lifestyle and financial situation!

Finally, the last point is where I wish the article could have expanded a bit more and reminded the reader that there are so many different factors that need to be considered when calculating one’s potential income.

Sure, 100,000 unique visitors a month is awesome but some sites and blogs that can pull that out do even more in income and some do considerably less! How do I know this? Because the properties I manage do about double that and I plan on making only half of that purported amount! Last time I checked $44,000 a year does not equal $75,000+!

You see, there’s a lot of strategy that’s assumed and the context and industry in which you find your blog makes a truckload of difference. But you knew that already, right?

My suggestion is that you drop the numerical calculators for financial feasibility and just decide that you’re going to kick butt every single day as a blogger and spend the time necessary to build a execution strategy that works for you and your blog and your community. You’ll find that you’re less stressed because your comparisons become less nebulous and more real to how your blog is doing – in fact, you won’t be comparing your blog anymore.

You’ll also find more satisfaction in what you do overall.

Blogging as a profession surprised even me.

Will It Become “Real” for You This Year?

January 1st, 2010 was a Friday and so my goal for that day was to finish the day strong and then go watch a movie or play video games until I passed out late into the evening after having an awesome meal with my wife and my 3 year old daughter. I thought nothing about the future that day and didn’t have a clue what that year was going to look like.

Fast forward through that year and I went from having a full time gig at a job that I loved to becoming a full time blogger.

Yikes.

It wasn’t my “plan” or my “goal” but it quickly became apparent that it was the right time to try it and see if I could really do it. That first day was exhausting but also exceedingly exhilarating (although it wasn’t too apparent); as you can see from my video I truly look tired!

And since then it’s been a pretty interesting ride. It hasn’t been a “wild” one but it’s opened my eyes to this profession from an entirely different perspective. I suppose it’s now been more than 6 months. In fact, today marks day number 200 exactly! Wow, time does go by so quickly!

The point is this: I didn’t see myself as a professional blogger and it kind of crept up on me, but I certainly was investing my time and interest into it like it was a full time job. And over the last 6 months or so I’ve been able to identify some landmarks or potential identifiers that might help serve as guideposts for you as you make your trek toward full time blogging. Here are a few…

A Few Signs That You Might Be on the Right Track:

  1. You’ve been blogging for a while and you still love doing it. In fact, you’d still be doing it even if you weren’t getting paid for it!
  2. Your readership and community around your personal brand has increased steadily and people have come to trust your opinion and insights into your industry. They come to you for advice and seek your counsel. They trust what you have to say via your blog!
  3. Even though you’ve been blogging for a while (for context I’ve been blogging for 10+ years!) and you still love it you’ve found that you enjoy it more and more. In other words, you’re only increasing your interest as time passes! It’s like a good wine that gets better with age (or something like that).
  4. Your short term traffic goals (as well as financial goals) are pointing up and to the right with a fair amount of consistency. If you haven’t started making any money then try just making $1. Yup, it all starts there!
  5. You begin to realize that you’ll have to make a “jump” – whether or not it’s going to be a “big” one is up to you but you realize that there appears to be a head-on collision that’s going to happen at some point and you will have to decide if you’re going to do it full bore. I started getting this feeling early in 2010 and it became a whirlwind by the time I needed to decide.
  6. You can’t wait for that “jump” to happen and even if it never does you’ll still be blogging because you love it.

Sure, a lot of these are a bit touchy-feely but I believe you get the point: It’s going to be different for everyone but it’s very doable and very possible for even you! It won’t be easy but it’s fun and very rewarding.

So, did you wake up on January 1st, 2011 and think about being a full time blogger? Or was it just like any other Saturday where you slept in late and had breakfast around 3:00 in the afternoon?

Yeah, me too. Who would have thought it could have happened to me? Sweet.

[This is part of the Escaping the 9-5: My Road to ProBlogging series.]