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!
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 wretched 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 to 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.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.