Want to be a professional blogger? Act “as if” blogging were your day job.

The first time someone referred to me as a “blogger” I was at dinner and someone asked me what I “did,” a friend shouted from across the table, “Jennine's a blogger!” It was a strange feeling. At the time, I earned my living as a graphic designer, and probably about $1.50 a month from my blog, but in my heart of hearts, I was a blogger. It's what I wanted to be, full time, professionally.

 

What happened between that night and today was a long road to actually becoming a professional blogger. For a few years it was rough financially. It didn't happen over night. The one theme that ran throughout that time whether a majority of my income came from graphic design projects or teaching English to Germans abroad is that I always treated blogging as if it were my day job.

Show up every day

Whether you post every day or if you post once a week, it's important to show up every day to work on content creation, marketing, networking, learning the industry… With blogging, the work is never done. There is always something to do. I'm a big fan of practice, two books that have heavily influenced me, Outliers and The Creative Habit, really stress on the importance of hard work because talent doesn't happen naturally, and it doesn't happen overnight. Even the Beatles put in a lot practice in order for them to get as good as they were. The same thing applies to the rest of us.

 

Take time off

While this may sound like it conflicts with the previous tip, it doesn't. Everyone needs days off. Taking time off helps establish boundaries in life by developing clear work times, and clear resting times which at the end of the day, helps fight off burn out. Bloggers have a very high burn out rate, and many quit before the real good stuff starts happening. The first few years of blogging, I worked on my blog twelve hours a day, six days a week. I loved it, but it began to mess with my mind, and it really affected my relationships. These days, I have to make time for family and friends. Sure there are a few times a month when things get really crazy, but for the most part I take weekends off to spend with the important people in my life.

 

Business Cards

It's highly suggested that in order to take blogging to the next level, a blogger should make real life networking appearances. There are blogger events in nearly every city, and there are bloggers everywhere. Everywhere. Business cards are cheap, some are even free so there is no excuse for not having a business card.

 

Take your blog seriously

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear bloggers say they only blog for a hobby, or they don't take their blog seriously then go and apply for a blogging job. Blogging is a real business, and bloggers who treat their blogs seriously tend to go far with their new careers. Not everyone gets to be a Susie Bubble or a Tavi, but many bloggers go on to do really fun projects for companies and have interesting careers. A blog doesn't have to be the most famous or the most popular, but the blogger does have to be professional in order to get the interesting jobs.

 

Be creative about your career

Think out of the box when it comes to earning a living through bloggings. It's not all about banner ads. In fact, I'm thinking about doing away with banner ads all together. They don't work for me, and I prefer to do projects like eat, sleep, denim which offer a lot more creative freedom. Depending on your talents, you can create value for any potential business that your blog is the foundation for. Many bloggers use their blogs in conjunction with their online shops, they offer consulting services. They sell their photography and writing services. They sell products directly from their blogs like eBooks.  They provide integrated sponsorships. They throw events. The possibilities are endless.

 

Patience, Grasshopper

Professional bloggers don't arrive overnight. Especially if those who want to play by their own rules (like me) it'll take time. Every professional blogger put in years of practice before they started earning a living online. Don't quit just because it doesn't happen right away or in a couple of months, good things will come. Trust me.

 

Image by kevindooley

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56 Responses

  1. AsheMischief

    Great, great post Jennine, and something I think that we all need to hear. Just like my real day job, I get fried and burnt out. But I still log in to WordPress each night….

    Reply
  2. Evie

    Great article. Right now I’m not personally aiming to be a professional blogger but I am keen to be a better blogger, a successful blogger and I’m interested to see where my blogging takes me.
    I think your point about showing up everyday is really important. More recently I’ve been doing this and my satisfaction and success as a blogger definitely seems to be increasing!

    x

    Reply
  3. Treacle

    Though I’m not a professional blogger yet, I agree with everything you’ve said here. People won’t take you seriously until you start to take yourself seriously.

    Reply
  4. Kristen

    So true! I have felt the same way telling people I was a Fashion Blogger and I have just became comfortable with the concept. The work doesn’t ever stop but it’s always pulling me back in – I love it! Thanks for the post and congrats on all your success. x

    Reply
  5. Previously Owned

    I DEFINITELY needed to read this today. Sometimes it does work with the mind a little as you say. Specially when other projects are also popping up!

    Thanks so much for this! Really made me step back and breathe + continue.

    <3

    Reply
  6. Sandra at DebutanteClothing

    Great post Jennine. I totally agree with you on being ok with taking a break. Anything creative requires the brain to breath. My blogging brain was on vacation for nearly two months! But I’m so much better for it.

    I think you hit on an important point. Blogging alone will probably not get you far in terms of career. But the days of doing one thing as your job are over. To survive, I think you really have to have multiple streams of income. I think about the poor folks who did one job, one thing for 20 years and then were laid off. It’s a whole new era career wise.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      yeah, so many bloggers get stuck on ‘my blog doesn’t make money, or my blog doesn’t have traffic’ which may be the case, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t lead to lucrative and interesting projects. that’s why i think one should be creative about monetization.

      Reply
  7. sirdorian

    well said, as usual:) i also think that its important to do a constant development, have something like a concept and corporate design/ID is also a good thing.

    Reply
  8. Krista

    Wonderful pearls of wisdom. It def doesn’t happen overnight. It’s so nice when people aren’t too snobby to share some of the things they learn along the way. That’s what sets you apart 🙂

    Reply
  9. ProFeChane

    Thanks so much for the advice, I feel as if you were talking directly to me. I am a stay home mom, of twins( hectic) and I wanted so bad to be in the work force, however, it seems almost impossible for me to obtain employment. I decided to take my passion of make-up and fashion and blog about it. Ideas, budget and bargain tips, reviews, and fashion trends. I truly love what I am doing, and this is my “day job” Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
  10. My CoCoon Vintage

    Great article. Simple and inspiring.
    It seems when you mentally and professionally commit yourself to your blog that things really seem to happen.

    Cheers! Thanks Jennine.

    Reply
  11. Rachel

    Amazing post. Slightly similar to blogging, as it’s a job that stems from my blog I identify myself as a writer and an editorial consultant- though it’s not my day job! But thats what I feel comfortable introducing myself as when people ask me what I do, so that is exactly how I present myself!

    Reply
  12. Amber

    I totally agree with this: I’ve been blogging full-time for a few years now, and the main piece of advice I always offer people who ask me about it is “treat it like a business, because that’s what it is”. I’m able to make a living from blogging because it’s a full-time job for me (and then some!), and I take it as seriously as I’d imagine any other small business owner takes their business.

    I really agree with your point about taking time off, too: at first it was all day, every day for me, but now I do my best to keep the weekends work-free. It’s just hard when the computer is right there all the time, and I use it so much for entertainment, too – it can be really hard to resist just checking email one more time!

    Reply
  13. lisa

    I don’t think your advice to show up every day but remember to take time off is contradictory at all. With day jobs, when you need a vacation because you’re feeling burnt out, you request days off with your manager or HR. In the case of blogging, you let your readers know that you’ll be on hiatus for a while and you’ll return as soon as you can. In both cases, it’s about accountability and responsibility; you wouldn’t disappear without warning from your day job, so why do it on your blog?

    Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent there. Great advice overall, Jennine.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      absolutely. i had to slow things down for a while the past few months due to some personal matters. it was hard to really take time off for real for that length of time however.

      Reply
  14. Diana

    I have a blog that I’ve worked on for years along with other projects. It’s started to take off, and I’ve begun to realize… it is my full time job. I certainly had a wake-up call when someone asked for my business card last week!

    Reply
  15. Pilar

    great post. i think it’s especially intimidating for new bloggers (like myself) to see so many successful bloggers and think it happened overnight. for some, maybe. but for most, it was a process like you described.
    thanks!

    Reply
  16. nancylicious

    thank you so much for recommending creative habit! i’m halfway through it and find it such an inspiration to keep showing up to do the work.

    Reply
  17. joann, sidewalk chalk

    This was so inspiring. I especially found #2 to be true — I’m in that phase right now where it would be so easy to burn out — but I’m still trying to keep going…

    Thanks for writing this!

    Reply
  18. Suzanne

    Thanks Jennine. You’ve been very helpful to me all along the way, since I started posting on my old blog mommydrinkstyle back in 09. Your advice has helped me hone in on my own direction, and feel more confident. When in doubt about what I’m doing, I always recite my mantra or my elevator pitch to remind me of my focus. My blog has been an excercise in exactly what this post title is, pretending it was a day job. Thanks again!!! xx

    Reply
  19. Bella Q

    Ah, more IFB goodness. Great perspective. I especially like the part about taking time off. I’ve been blogging consistently for about one year, and there are handfuls of people I started with that are no longer posting. I think it’s a good reminder that to stick around, you’ve got to set some real life boundaries.

    Reply
  20. Casey

    This is such a great, timely post! I have finally gotten the guts to call myself a “blogger” (or writer to people who don’t know what a blog is), rather than just some wishy-washy “I don’t know what I do” statement. After all: I do spend a good deal of my day tending to my blog, writing posts, and tracking down new things to enhance the blog a bit. It’s a lot of work, and it’s draining at times. But I couldn’t imagine not doing it!

    ♥ Casey | blog

    Reply
  21. Tashrin

    Oh Jennine,

    Thank you so much for this post. I don’t know when this happened but one day I just started really thinking of myself as a blogger and created a regular schedule for my blogging. Granted I do not work at it like a full time job, but I do put in part time hours and every single day. I am still a full time student and have another part time job, but I have noticed since I made that conscious decision of blogging regularly according to a set schedule, setting goals for myself and trying to exceed them, things have really turned around.

    So yeah I know that this really works from personal experience.

    Best wishes from Toronto, Canada

    Reply
  22. Eboni Ife

    Thanks Jeninne. I moved about a month and a half ago and I am now working from home for my full time job, which also gives me a little time to focus more on my blog. UNFORTUNATELY the working from home part has totally turned my routine of taking photos of my work outfits on it’s head and I am approaching the fatal burn out trying to establish a routine and rework the vision of my blog. Anyway, your article has inspired me to just stick it out, and eventually I will get into a new groove.

    I really do need to get out and network with my fellow bloggers in my new city. My social life has also taken a nose dive since I moved and that is just ridiculous considering how many cool people I’ve met via my blog.

    anyway, great article!

    Reply
  23. Denisse

    Great Post! Thank you Jennine. You make an excellent point at not just creating a schedule for content, but also for marketing, networking, etc..
    I will definitely follow this now! Networking specially can take soo much time…
    Thanks!
    Big kiss from Madrid : )

    Reply
  24. julianarossoni.com

    Thank you so, soooo much!!!!
    I’m living this blogger dream for 2 month, and its beeing really thankfull to see how the accesses are raising day by day.
    But… im also tired! Just like you, working 12/13 hours a day!

    Yes… good things are about to come! 😉

    Xo from Sao Paulo!

    Reply
  25. Emily Belleau

    these are some useful, insightful tips. thanks for sharing! I love blogging too much to stop because I don’t become the best blog overnight. It’s about loving what you do and being interesting in what your writing about. I really enjoyed this.

    xx

    Emily

    Reply
  26. de la Pen

    This was an awesome article! As a blogger who just became full time, I would say this is very good advice. I try to follow this mantra as much as possible.

    Reply
  27. Chelsea

    What a great article! I really benefitted from reading this as well as the links to other articles! My blog doesn’t gain income, but I am always thinking about it and wish it was my actual job! I love what I do and had been thinking about business cards, but now I’m definitely going to go through with it.

    Reply
  28. Vinda Sonata

    thank you. very inspiring, jennine.

    “A blog doesn’t have to be the most famous or the most popular, but the blogger does have to be professional in order to get the interesting jobs.”
    i love this part. i’m totally agree.
    i wonder if someone has to monetize their blogs in order to be considered as a ‘blogging professional’?
    thank you!

    Reply
  29. Kaho

    What an awesome post. Thank you so much for this. It is very helpful. I take blogging as sort of my job and I do appear everyday. Since three weeks ago, I started taking a weekend off. Now I post from Monday through Friday. It is so true that you can balance your life better by taking some time off and focus on those who are important to your life. I sometimes feel I’m too consumed by my blog and I don’t think that can allow me to be a good blog author. I will keep your words by my heart. I hope one day I can earn some income with my blog or it’ll lead me to do some jobs I like to do. I’ll keep working hard and make sure to take a break.

    Reply
  30. Jill

    Great article! I’m still pretty new to all of this and I’m trying to figure out the direction I want to go with all of this! I’m currently giving a lot of thought to building my brand.

    Reply
  31. Busichic

    Thank you for sharing, Jennine! Reading your piece has kept me inspired on a very wet day in Melbourne, Australia. I believe that the proportion of professional-to-amateur bloggers here is lower than in the US but reading pieces like yours; well it’s exciting to think what the possibilities may be here in future! Xx

    Reply
  32. Cheryl Lynn

    This was a fabulous post. I’ve been slacking off on my blogging because I’ve had so many financial and other emotional problems going on in my life. I’m just starting to get back to my writing and have a lot to catch up on, so this post came at the right time.

    Thanks so much for your sound advice.

    Reply
  33. Maroushka

    I know this is in reference to blogging, but it also applies to every dream, goal, aspiration and or hearts desire. Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Lilly

    Thanks Jennine! Great post, so honest and true. Blogging is a job in itself. Writing doesn’t come easy, especially when experiencing “writer’s block” there are times you need to step away from the computer and come back when you’re ready to post great content.

    Reply