Want to be a full-time pro blogger? Be careful what you wish for

Published June 2, 2017   Posted in Blogging

It sounds awesome, at least in theory. To spend your days at home or a coffee shop writing about whatever the hell you feel like writing – a pro blogger. Escaping the office and entering the world of online content crafting is so damn appealing to many of us. And, for good reason!

The wife and I in Sayulita, Mexico

At one time, it was appealing to me, too. Granted, I don’t consider myself a full-time pro blogger even though that’s basically all I do. My wife and I have a YouTube Channel as well to chronicle our travels, but blogging has been the primary activity filling my life when I’m not doing real stuff. Like hiking or exploring.

Make no mistake about it, blogging can be wonderful work. After all, those fluorescent hell holes that we call “office buildings” can literally suck the life right out of us. They irritate our eyes. Give us headaches. Lack climate control. They are like prisons.

Office buildings just suck, big time. Who wouldn’t want to escape its wretchedย grasp?

Professional blogging isn’t easy

“Blogging” is easy. Just throw up a WordPress site and start typing shit into your computer. Boom, done. You’re a pro blogger. Way easier than you had ever imagined, yes?

Wait a sec – you might have a blog, but if nobody’s actually visiting that blog of yours, you might as well count rocks. There’s nothing “professional” about running a blog that nobody reads.

There is a lot more involved toย successful blogging than what meets the eye. Things like:

  • Writing GOOD content – putting quality content out there for people to read is the #1 best way to grow a following.
  • Writing LOTS of GOOD content – content is king. It really, really is. Even with the best marketing strategy, shitty content is shitty content. Also, pageviews aren’t the same as engagement. Learn the difference. Define “success” accordingly.
  • Dominating social media – like it or not, social media can drive a bunch of traffic to your site and help to put together a more complete (and lucrative) blogging package, but only if you do it right. Everybody’s social audience acts differently. Throwing a bunch of tweets out there won’t necessarily do it. You need to observe your audience and figure out what they like to see. Use hashtags. Understand the social medium.
  • Monetizing your blog – strictly optional, but many who blog professionally have monetized their website in some way. This point goes well beyond simple banner ads. Affiliate marketing is big business in blogging. Some bloggers make hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands with affiliate marketing. This isn’t easy. Affiliate marketing demands a ton of context that only YOUR blog and YOUR audience can uncover. Successful bloggers don’t just advertise anything under the sun (although Bluehost seems be the exception!). If your readers won’t buy, don’t waste your time. Don’t advertise crap, either.
  • Networking with other bloggers – like I wrote about before, blogging isn’t a competition. The more bloggers you know, the more successful you’ll be. Period. Networking takes time. Trust builds. Links get created. You MUST network.
  • Adding something unique – there are a ton of blogs out there. What separates your blog from that 12-year-old’s blog about gaming? The barrier to entry with blogging is so low that everybody has a blog, and they are all vying for the attention of YOUR prospective audience. What makes your drivel different from someone else’s drivel?

And by the way, you won’t get rich by reading “How to get rich by blogging in 5 easy steps”. Articles (like this one!) can only provide dry platitudes that won’t do a damn thing to get you rich or successful. You make that happen. Not anybody else.

The WILL to be a successful pro blogger comes from you. No article can force determination onto you. We can’t make you want it – want it bad enough to spend 20 hours a day on it, if necessary.

All this stuff takes time

I’ve spent days on posts before to get it just right. I write my initial draft, then re-read. Re-read some more. Take a break and walk around a bit, then come back to it later with a fresh mind. Then re-write some of it. Tweak this. Add that. That doesn’t include the research that goes into a typical post, either.

And actually writing the content is not as time-consuming as marketing the content. Marketing strategies are beyond the scope of this article, but these strategies involve lots of trial and error. Things like timing, word choice, hashtags and pictures all combine to create your marketing strategy for your content. And knowing your audience. Really knowing them!

And chances are you’ll get your strategy wrong the first time. We all do. But as the days and weeks go by, we begin to learn more about our audience and what they like. We learn what words tend to elicit more clicks than others. We learn when they are online. Are our followers browsing Twitter in the morning or evening? Overnight? Do we need something like Buffer to help us to schedule our posts?

And then there’s Pinterest, which is a whole other ball of wax. Pinterest-friendly images is an art as much as it is a science.

Everything about blogging, from marketing and networking to writing the damn content, takes time – and the more successful you get, the more time it will take. Each post contains more inherent potential.

Professional blogging can be incredibly rewarding but don’t for a second believe this is easy. Professional blogging is hard work. You gotta hustle. You gotta want it, bad. And, it’s almost never easy.

To be a successful blogger, you gotta love to blog – not just love money. Loving money is easy.

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


47 responses to “Want to be a full-time pro blogger? Be careful what you wish for”

  1. I think I read somewhere, maybe PoF, the other day that 10% of your time should be spent on content and 90% should be spent on marketing your blog. There is no way I’m close to that but maybe that’s because I want to get the content right which doesn’t leave as much time for the marketing. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day so I choose the content most days. But if things ever work out I’d like to see what happens if I spent more time on the marketing.

    • Steve says:

      It’s tough to say how much time you should spend on different aspects of blogging, but there’s no getting around the fact that marketing is a huge part of it. Write killer content, then market the hell out of it. Just don’t be annoying while doing so!

  2. The Tepid Tamale says:

    This makes sense, and I never started thinking that it would be easy, but thanks for the reminder. I am blogging first to get myself in the habit of writing, but I would also love it to be the way to escape my office prison some day. Posts like this make me wonder if I have enough hours in the day to do the second part …….

    • Steve says:

      When I worked full-time, blogging was very much my escape from work. But remember – you don’t HAVE to spend eight hours a day on your blog. But to be a professional blogger who earns a respectable income from it, that tends to be what happens.

      • Ben says:

        Hi Steve,

        I agree that blogging is a way to reduce stress from work. It also helps to generate positive feelings for one in particularly if the individual had a bad day in office.


  3. brian503 says:

    It’s a balancing act for me. I wish I could dedicate a bit more time to my blog overall to make sure I have the content right, and certainly the marketing. It’s great to be part of the community of helpful like minded folks.

  4. TheRetirementManifesto says:

    Steve, there are few things I enjoy as much as writing. That said, the time spent writing is among the lowest % of time spent managing my blog. Of an estimated 20 hours per week on my “hobby”, I spend:

    4 hours writing
    2 hours researching
    4 hours on social media (Twitter/FB)
    4 hours on Forums
    6 hours reading/commenting (like now!)

    If you don’t love the other stuff, your blog will stagnate. It’s all great, but it’s good to go in with Eyes Wide Open!

  5. Money Sloths says:

    Great post Steve! We just started a blog and have quickly realized how difficult and time consuming it is to write GOOD content. However, your blog serves as a great motivator for us! Cheers, keep up the good stuff.

  6. You know, someone commented the other day on the rock star finance forums that it seems like everything has already been stated. It has. The thing is in how you say it and making your own perspective shine through. So it also isn’t easy to differentiate your style and self from others. Marketing and that differentiation are required to be successful.

    • Steve says:

      “Marketing and that differentiation are required to be successful.” – Very true! At times it can seem like the PF community is a broken record and writing about the same old stuff. But, even offering the same product, but in a different way, can be an excellent selling point.

  7. This blogging stuff ain’t easy for sure. Even content can get tough if you don’t want to hash out the same thing everyone else is hashing out. (Not to mention hashtagging out). As far as Pinterest. I have tried and I have failed. Maybe if I had a bit more time I would be able to get into that game. Keep on blogging brother!

  8. Completely agree with you Steve – the past 5 months have been a great growing and learning experience for me.

    What I’ve learned is that while it’s hard, it can be done by being consistent and putting out great content. If you are interesting, people will come read your stuff.

    Thanks for sharing and have a good week.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Erik. Consistency is a big one, too. Churning out high quality content every week will ensure your blog stands a chance at, well…hitting it big!

  9. J. Money says:

    “To be a successful blogger, you gotta love to blog โ€“ not just love money. Loving money is easy.”

    YES YES YES!!!

    I’m so tired of seeing blogs popping up just trying to make money everywhere – that’s not a good reason to start a blog! And believe me – there are plenty of faster ways to make money than blogging, haha…. I scan 150-200 articles every day for Rockstar Finance and I can’t tell you how many of them blog about making money online by blogging about making money online. For once i’d like to see someone talk about making money from NOT telling people to start a blog to make money ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love this space just as much, if not more, than everyone here, but good Lord – the community has completely changed over the past 9 years and how I miss just reading the thoughts of someone without being bombarded with affiliates or ads or pop ups everywhere literally blocking me from reading the actual content. I’m all for making money online if it works out for you (obviously, that’s how i make my living!) but it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous out there.

    • Wow, 150-200 articles a day. How about an article “N-things that help you to scan 150-200 articles a day?” Sorry, that’s my bad sense of humor.

    • Steve says:

      There are a lot of articles out there about “how to make money” while blogging, and some of them make it seem pretty easy. Just start a blog, magically generate a huge following, and plaster affiliate links all over the place. But, as you know, it ain’t that easy.

      Also, I’m totally with you about the popups. Any blog that pops up something that asks me for my email address will have a tough time getting me to ever return.

    • Mr. Tako says:

      And how many bloggers have written posts on “how to start your own blog” — Like every single one of them!

      It’s all an attempt to get money. The best blogs in my opinion, are ones where profit isn’t the main motive.

  10. Ayuuup. As a part-time blogger I’m always flooded with to-dos. I can’t imagine how much work it would be to go full-time! You also have to consider that your income is super-variable, which means your day might not end at 5 pm if it means paying your bills.

    • Steve says:

      Very true, Mrs. Picky Pincher. If you’re relying on this stuff for your full-time income, your “job” probably doesn’t end at 5pm. Or on Friday.

  11. Yep, agreed. I just started my blog as well. It’s like a business. You get what you put in and it takes time. And just like any other business, the chance of “going out of business” within 3-5 years is probably close to 80%. Thank you for the post!

    • Steve says:

      It is like a business, isn’t it? Even if you don’t make any money at it, the similarities are tough to overlook! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Dude this is so damn true. I work just as much now as when I had my teaching job at 60 hrs a week. There is a sweet spot if you can keep your revenue at about $5k a month, but it’s always so easy to convince yourself to work more or do that one extra thing to make more money.

    Fortunately I love it, and have found a balance between writing about things that excite me and writing things that will grow the business. Very hard to figure out though.

    • Steve says:

      I can totally see that, Bobby! We see blogging as “the sky is the limit”, and we naturally have a tough time leaving potential income on the table. Gotta strike that balance. Takes a lot of trial and error, too.

  13. Yessss! I always tell people that you need to actually like blogging. There’s a ton of work that goes into it.

  14. Well done, sir! Pro Blogging is a job and if you want to succeed you have to be great at your job and it takes time, the same as it does with a “normal” job. It takes time to learn the ropes, to achieve some goals, to learn more and help others.

    Can I give you 500K likes or whatever on this “Donโ€™t advertise crap, either”

  15. RootofGood says:

    I guess I could be described as a very very part time professional blogger, though I don’t rely on the income to pay the bills. I’d hate to HAVE TO churn out new content constantly to vie for readers’ eyeballs. Total sucktitude right there. I much prefer to write when the mood strikes and spend my time doing other stuff if I don’t have anything to say.

    • Steve says:

      I’m with you, Justin. I wouldn’t want to HAVE TO churn through content just to make a living. The extra income from this blog is great. It’s icing on the cake. But, we also don’t need it, so I don’t kill myself any longer. It’s more of a free-for-all any more! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. When people ask me “What my Number 1 Tip for someone looking to get into blogging is?” I say “Don’t!”. And I mean it.

    People have no idea what kind of time commitment they’re making. It’s all or nothing if you want to make a living at it and it can mean 18 hour days (as well as doing everything else you have to do) for “a while” (how long it takes to get where you want to go depends on so many things like niche, luck, connections). I paid for my success with my health and quality time with my family. Even when I realized I wanted out, it took me almost two years to scale back to where I am happy with my life. It’s hard to give up everything you’ve worked so hard for. But, when I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be regretting my decision.

    Thanks for talking about the “other side of blogging”.

    Besos Sarah.

  17. Blogging is definitely way more work then I anticipated, but I am loving it. No where near a professional, decent novice perhaps. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, Steve.

  18. Great post, Steve!

    I agree blogging is a lot more work than just posting an article a day. But it’s also amazing how blogging can teach you a lot of things, bring you cool experiences, and meet new people.

  19. I love these points. Although blogging is hard work (especially the marketing – I am just NOT a natural social media person!), I love it all.
    I’ve never felt so passionate about a project and I’ve loved meeting other people via the internet with that same passion. I can totally see why many people let their blog slowly die after a while though – it’s a huge commitment and takes a lot more than just initial enthusiasm to keep going. Once you get into the groove though, there’s no stopping!

  20. I like your example about the 12 year old. The barrier is pretty low. My 7 year old niece have a stickers blog (she thinks she does. It’s on a word doc LOL.) Thank you for the post. It’s hard to tell if my content is good, the fact that I can’t really tell probably means its not good enough. Aw well more room to grow.

  21. Mrs. Farmhouse Finance says:

    I’m still fairly new to the blogging game, so most days I feel like I barely have my head above water. It seems like every week there is a new thing to learn about or marketing strategy to try, so my to-do list is never ending. I’d love to earn some money from the blog one day, but I agree that when that becomes your primary focus, the quality of your content tends to decline. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  22. fetchingfinancialfreedom says:

    Thank you for not telling us how easy it is to make a living blogging, only to profit from the bluehost pyramid scheme. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Good, unique content is rare. I see a ton of new bloggers (myself included, though I’m getting better) put out the same content, thinking if that’s the kind of thing X blogger does, surely my version will also be an instant success. And, damn it, sometimes they succeed because they really know how to market themselves. XD

  23. RB40 says:

    I spend most of my time on content and it’s working out okay. I’m terrible with social media and probably should hire someone to help with that aspect.
    Blogging takes up a ton of time, for sure.

  24. Reid @ Wealth Rehab says:

    Totally agree with your points. I am hitting month 5 and I feel like I am leaving the honeymoon stage of blogging. Now the real work begins!

    Great post!

  25. So true. I really love writing, but it was only when I joined a network with other UK Money Bloggers that I realised how much more was necessary in terms marketing, social media and also SEO. I’m holding firm to the idea that if I’m going to monetise my blog, I should only work with products and companies I believe in and genuinely use. For a role that was meant to fit round my family commitments, I could really do with more hours in a day!

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