I launched my first blog right after Christmas, 2008. It began as a hobby, like many side hustles do. Eventually my blogging grew into a full-time job. It was an income generating enterprise allowing me to work from home five days a week. I would also travel internationally to learn and talk about my professional blog business. I eventually launched a second company of my own.
With millions of people trying to make blogging a career, it’s difficult to figure out how to carve out your own space in this industry. Here’s a few tips to become a professional blogger:
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On your mark, get set, GOALS!
You’re going to need to set some.
Blogs and the professional bloggers behind them have many purposes — sharing with family, being a resource, selling a product, making money — and if you determine yours from the onset it will steer you towards actions and investments that support your purpose and away from ones that may derail it.
Brandi Riley, fellow blogger at Mama Knows It All and creator of Courage to Earn, one of the most active and informative Facebook groups for female bloggers and influencers, calls it finding your “why”. You need to fully understand why you are doing what you’re doing online and use that knowledge to guide you. As Riley explains, “When you start a new project with a goal in mind and intention behind your work, it’s bound to succeed.”
Start with something you know
Bonus points if it’s also something you love.
It is easier to create excitement and interest around a topic you find interesting and exciting yourself. Claire Payne, Frederick based blogger behind the relatively new blog Waking Up Inspired, would agree. Claire shared her philosophy for blog content saying, “What I think is important is to write about things that inspire you as much as possible.” She said this is what helps her focus and reach her goals when it comes to making a space for herself in the blogosphere.
Don’t expect it to happen over night
Building takes time. Building a site, building an audience, building a following, building connections — none of it happens quickly or easily or without strategy and precision and effort and time.
Pam Stultz, one half of the Frederick based dynamic duo who writes the popular, long-running blog, Housewives of Frederick County, understands the struggle. “Blogging can be a fun hobby. If you really want to take it seriously, gain a following and even make money, you have to really put in serious hours!”
Remember it’s not all fun and games
It’s also a lot of sweat and toil.
Blogging for income is a business. With it comes all of the tough, hard working, nitty gritty challenges every small business owner struggles with. There are trademarks, licensing, and insurance, to bookkeeping, contracts, and employee taxes. Bloggers spend as much time working on actual work as they do taking selfies on a free trip to Cozumel.
Level up your skills and education
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the job for everyone.
Yes, there are 15-year-old Instagram stars out there making your master’s degree look like an epic waste of paper. But that kid with the million dollar sneaker closet and the celebrity friends in his feed has acquired certain skills and abilities to help propel him to that position.
Content creation and optimization is a great place to start. Do you know how to create content and imagery that reaches people and engages them enough to act? The most successful bloggers and influencers have found a way to create content that is unique, informative, interesting, and shareable. Take the kid with the sneakers. He is uniquely young, rich, and the owner of some seriously fly kicks that celebrities, pro-athletes, and pretty much every person under the age of 25 finds interesting and shareable.
There is a common misconception that a lot of what professional bloggers and influencers do can easily be duplicated because everyone knows how to use Facebook. Wrong. Everyone knows how to post photos of their kid’s kindergarten graduation. They all know how to passive aggressively complain about their neighbors’ barking dogs on Facebook. But, everyone doesn’t know how to actually use Facebook. It is important to understand how interpreting analytics to creating Facebook ad funnels that lead to conversions. Those who utilize Facebook to grow their bottom lines understand that it’s about a lot more than likes and comments.
It may not be easy, but there’s really nothing stopping you from launching your career as a professional blogger!
Need some extra help with building and monetizing your blog? We HIGHLY recommend joining the HerPaperRoute Society (we’re members ourselves!). Join The Society today!
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Sass Magazine.