The Catalyst: How Do You Know When It’s Time To Go Pro?

The decision to “go pro” as a blogger isn’t something you can take too lightly. Like starting any small business, you’re putting your whole livelihood in your own two hands. It's risky, to say the least.

So, how do you know you’re ready? How do you know if you’re making the right choice and that things will work out? Well, of course you don’t! It's a decision that requires as much tactical planning (finances, budgeting, lifestyle) as it does unrelenting ambition.

The topic of “going pro” has been hotly discussed lately among industry insiders, magazine editors and bloggers alike. Mainstream media mostly quantifies “success” and “going pro” as reaching stratespheric heights like The Sartorialist, BryanBoy and The Man Repeller.

Successful vs. Famous

What's important to keep in mind though, is that just like in any creative field, in blogging, you don't have to be famous to be successful. Think about acting, music, art – you can make a living without being Emma Stone or Justin Bieber (but keep in mind he got his start on YouTube).

For example, bloggers like Kat Griffin of Corporette, Gary Pepper‘s Nicole Wayne, or Glitter Guide‘s Taylor Sterling are all full-time, professional bloggers and entrepreneurs, who are largely unknown outside of our community (and those who follow style blogs). (You can read about Kat and Taylor's experiences in our Professional Blogger Spotlight series.)

How do you know it's right?

For Kat, it was the right piece of press that showed her an opportunity she couldn't pass up. “there was a very flattering magazine article that called me “the go to site” for professional fashion, then listed my competitors,” said Kat. “I looked at the very short list of competitors, and decided I really did like my own site the best — and that if the field was so wide open, I had to seize this opportunity and devote the time the blog needed.”

Jenni Radosevich of I Spy DIY recently decided to quit her day job (at InStyle magazine) and devote her professional career to her blog and the book she recently published in April 2012.

“After finishing my book, I Spy DIY Style, I knew it was time to go pro,” said Jenni. “I wanted to put my all into the website and promoting the book. I also made the decision to start selling ads on my site, which helped with income while transitioning to a full time blogger.”

For Bri Emery, the Los Angeles-based blogger behind Design Love Fest (who is also a graphic designer), the decison to strike out on her own came about naturally. After launching her blog in 2009, she started DesignLoveFest Studio in January of 2011. She expanded her blog to include weekly contributors and freelances on numerous projects.

“What pushed me to freelance was my sanity,” Bri said about her decision to devote herself full-time to her business. “I had been working a full-time job and freelancing for over two years and it took a real toll on me. One day I wrote down on a piece of paper “QUIT YOUR DAY JOB” and I did that week. It was scary, but I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. I am finally able to explore my creativity and not be completely overwhelmed with juggling another job. Freedom!”

No one can answer for you when it's the right time for you to strike out, go pro and quit your day job. Whether you're up to your ears in potential projects, struggling to find a balance in your life or just plain driven – there's no expiration date on when you can make a change, and no rules about how you shape your business. The future of our industry belongs to those who break the mold.

 [Image credit: Shuterstock]

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17 Responses

  1. Martha

    I just today registered my blog as a real business…I filed for an EIN number and voila…I’m totally official.
    I personally think that if you’re going to do this full time and you see a vision of this blog becoming something bigger…then you need to lay down the foundation for it to stand on.
    Take the steps now to be able to build a strong future.
    And with anything in life…you’ve got to have faith and a whole lot of courage to make the jump…but if you believe in it, work hard it, strive to be learn all about it and push yourself to be the best in it…than you can’t fail 😉

  2. zoobia

    I dream of the day I can go pro. Its far too early to quit my day job right now, but not too early to create a plan for when the time comes.

  3. Tamara

    I think going pro just comes naturally, but hen it comes to giving up your day job for full time blogging, thats a different thing 🙂 xo

  4. Richard

    Literally just started my blog three days ago, but hopefully I can get to that point one day!

  5. Courtney

    I think you listed great examples of people who truly are PRO bloggers. However, the examples I get annoyed with are women and men who just choose to quit their day job and live off a spouse or trust fund. They may call blogging a career, but it’s certainly not making them much money. In any case, thank you for featuring people who really have made this in a business not just in name only.

  6. The Style Kaleidoscope

    Anyone who can make it into a full time business then fair play to them, it’s certainly not a defined business as far as I’m concerned, as you could end up doing one thing and then something else completely different, so if you’re flexible enough to take on different things then I guess you can make it work, because you don’t really know what you will have to do in 6 months time to bring the money in and the blogging landscape can change very quickly.

  7. Avé Renée

    My plan is to be able to make a living from blogging and my art work. I’m still in school and I have a year left, so i figured I could get a jumpstart now while I’m still living with the ‘rents without too many financial obligations. It would be a dream come true if I make it!

  8. Angele

    Working full time in market research and taking 5 ballet classes a week I am still trying to find my direction on my blog. I have had two business offers come in to my email address but I do not have a lawyer and have no time to learn all the different aspects of running a profitable blog I have heard the blogs that make money have professionals behind it and that makes sense. In the mean time I hope I can come up with a creative idea while blogging. We shall see.

  9. goodbadandfab

    I think it’s also a great idea to slowly transition into full time blogging. There’s no need to quit your day job w/o testing the waters first. Set small but realistic goals for yourself so that you can make sure blogging full time is feasible option.
    personal style and fashion musings of a LA fashion lawyer living life in the fab lane

  10. Erica via glamBLOUSE

    This is definitely a relevant topic and a few bloggers have successfully managed to carve out a niche for themselves and see it expand to lucrative business deals. I wouldn’t quit my day job though unless I was absolutely certain I’d be set.

  11. Maggie

    This is definitely a scary thought: to quit my day time/ full time responsibilities to become a full time blogger.

  12. JayMarie

    I have a feeling it may be time to go pro, but I feel like my status isn’t there yet. It’s already work trying to get the name out so I can imagine the work of going pro! I think you just KNOW! It’s in your heart!

  13. sunshine & daydreams

    Really? People are really making a decent amount of money, for a decent amount of time, doing this? I never really believe people when they say they are. It is surely just one fragment of a larger career in fashion. Doing many different things (styling, photography, designing) is surely what would keep you interesting and relevant?

  14. Cases 2 Go

    Hugely enjoyed this post :), keep up the great writing and I’ll keep coming back for more.
    Will be sharing this with my instagram followers and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it as well!