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.
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.
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