“Blogging? Is that even a real job?”, you ask.
There’s a misconception that blogs are merely platforms for outspoken enthusiasts and hobbyists to express themselves. It’s partially true, but not the full picture.
Many blogs are in fact an integral part of a marketing strategy — or the very business itself. Yet despite the success and profitability of many popular blogs, the term “blogger” is still commonly dismissed as being nothing more than a glorified self-given title. In other words “not a real job”.
Make no mistake: somewhere along the line, every successful blog was earned through hard work and smart marketing.
Bloggers Are Types. It’s True.
It’s true to say bloggers share similar attributes.
Skills, bankroll, and freedom are three key factors separating those with a realistic chance of becoming a successful blogger, from those who don’t:
- Skills: you don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg to run a blog. But you need the ability to create engaging content, communicate clearly in your target language, and monetise your material. This is a prerequisite for almost all forms of blogging. So naturally bloggers tend to be fairly well educated.
- Bankroll: money is required if you intend to advertise a website or profile. Other expenses — like web hosting — are unavoidable. Hence a lot of bloggers are fairly wealthy, and able to invest in their blog to start with.
- Freedom: you need time to work on a blog. Some people might be unable to fit it in around other commitments (e.g. parenting). Constraints — such as employers prohibiting online activities from their employees — also factor in here. Hence, a lot of bloggers are young and independent.
With this demographic comes stereotypes.
Bloggers don’t usually go out of their way to tell you how difficult and time consuming it was to create their content. As a result you only see, and consume, the end product. This doesn’t quite reflect the reality for many hard-working content creators.
On the surface blogging might not seem like very strenuous work. It certainly doesn’t always look like a real job.
And I must admit, the word “blogger” still conjures up images of certain negative stereotypes. Here’s a few which spring to mind:
- Hipsters. Over-privileged, sit-at-home, coffee-drinking ones. Low work ethic, nice drawing pad.
- Braggers. Jealousy-inducing phoneys, posing by their Yacht or Ferarri, boasting of their success. Claim you’ll earn million by following their words of wisdom. A self-proclaimed expert in some field.
- Travellers. Probably playing a ukulele by a camp fire somewhere in a third world country.
Some bloggers invite criticism.
Yet they’re almost ‘actors’ playing the role of characters; an image catered to what an audience wants to see — or wants to be. And like any theatrical production, not all characters evoke a positive response.
That’s not to say it doesn’t sell.
Forget the characters. Consider the efforts that go into producing the site (or channel), building a loyal audience, and marketing content, and you’ll see through facades. You’ll start to wonder whether bloggers portray an image for a reason.
Success — no matter what pretentious form it manifests itself — still has to be earned.
How Much Work Is Involved In Blogging?
It’s often presumed that even the most successful bloggers are in some way fortunate enough to avoid working a “proper” 9-5 job. Yet many hard-working bloggers would disagree with with that notion.
There’s different extremes.
Less Work for Some
A small percentage of bloggers succeed without over-exerting themselves. But how is that possible?
I think it’s usually because they’re able to leverage from elsewhere — connections in high places, funding, access to valuable information or locations, financial freedom, for example.
Socialites have an advantage in blogging. Being popular, confident and good at networking lends itself to generating leads. That 6,000+ following on Instagram will come in handy for promoting new products. Successful blogging comes more easily, and naturally, to some more than others.
Wealthier bloggers have another advantage: the option to pay for their content or products to be produced, or plugged. This can help to boost a blog’s popularity, and gain an edge over those working with little-to-no investment.
Easier circumstances aren’t necessarily down to good fortune or hand-outs, though. Some bloggers have simply earned their spare time, funds and lifestyle from hard work put into existing or previous ventures.
More Work for Others
There’s also many struggling bloggers. Those working extremely hard at producing and marketing their content in order to drive new traffic. Or those freelancing on behalf of companies. I sense this is the case for the majority.
There’s YouTubers posting video after video of well-scripted (or just brilliantly free-flowing) content. Others continually write posts to keep their followers entertained in hopes that their traffic will creep up over time, and generate more sales as a result. Keeping the dream of financial freedom alive is difficult for many. Only those who persevere make it.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of successful bloggers have self-taught the skills needed to produce engaging content that works for their niche. Achieving a unique style takes a lot of fine tuning. This goes for video/image editing as well as writing.
So for most bloggers, there’s nothing easy or passive about the process. It’s a real job. And like any other job, some people have it easier than others.
Importantly, a real job must earn something. Let’s talk about that.
How Much Money Can You Earn From Blogging?
There’s an enormous range in what bloggers earn. Most blogs aren’t profitable.
A survey of 1,500 ProBlogger readers who said they’re trying to earn from blogging, found that:
- 9% make between $1,000 and $10,000 a month and
- 4% make over $10,000 a month.
- The vast majority make less than $3.50 per day.
It’s tough going, but the most successful bloggers earn extremely well.
There are of course plenty of non-profit blogs with no commercial interest — hobby websites, for example.
If you’re still in the dark about how websites (such as blogs) earn money, then check out my post: How Do Websites Earn Money?
To learn practical ways of converting your traffic into profit, read my post on the Fundamentals of Online Business.
What Traits Do Successful Bloggers Have?
If you read through the previous section and saw the figures, it might have motivated you to start a blog.
So how can you make blogging a full-time job? What does it take to succeed in becoming a professional blogger?
1. Vision — An Eye for an Opportunity
Above all else, you need to identify an opportunity; a niche where you can add value.
If you simply rehash whatever everyone else says and does, then you’ll find it tough to differentiate yourself. Successful bloggers do something new and fresh.
Often the opportunity is staring us right in the face. A familiar subject that we know a lot about, and have a passion for.
Try to identify an area that’s:
- Lacking, poor quality
- Inaccurate, incorrect
- Non-existent, hard to find
Then it’s over to you to improve on it. Make it interesting, add an original twist, present it better than your predecessors. Provide value — that’s how the most successful bloggers continue to attract new followers.
With an audience/following, comes an opportunity to monetise your content and earn an income.
2. Determination — The Drive to Succeed
No blog becomes an instant success. People follow a blog or channel because it provides something — entertainment, information, value. To achieve that takes drive, determination and time.
It’s even more difficult for those in an existing job already. Coming home from work and focusing on a blog when you’d usually switch off, relax, watch TV, cook, or go to sleep is tough. You have to be motivated. Only certain characters will find the time and energy to do it.
The good news is that Google rewards effort! The more you work on your blog, and the more content you produce, the more traffic you get. Google of course has ways of detecting quality (measuring bounce rates, writing style, site/page layout, etc). But at times it feels as if their search engine encourages the most active bloggers to keep on going by feeding them traffic.
So don’t give up.
3. Belief — Talking While Nobody’s Listening
Bloggers must continue to create content, keep working on it, keep on marketing. All the while there’s no certainty on whether it will earn, and how much it will earn.
It takes hard work to get your content before an audience. Not every piece you do will be a success. At times — particularly at the start — it’ll be like talking to yourself. It can be disheartening. Mentally, it’s one of the toughest parts of blogging to overcome.
You have to see it as something you’re building — like an asset that gains value with every new item you add to it.
Many bloggers take the “fake it until you make it” approach. Start out by pretending that people are already listening. Publish content with conviction. If you’re an expert on travel, sports, trading, comedy — then you can’t be too cagey from the outset.
Believing your content will take off off is a big part of actually making it happen in the first place. Many successful bloggers will attest to that. So if you have faith in an idea, and know it will add value to the web, then go for it.
4. Bravery — Putting Yourself on The Line
This leads on nicely from my last point. A successful blogger has to be brave and thick-skinned.
By putting yourself into the public domain you exert pressure on yourself. The hope is that the upsides of running a successful blog will outweigh any downsides.
Abuse, bullying, threats, trolling, racism and other problems can arise. But the good news is that this usually impacts those who are most popular. Success breeds enemies.
You have to be aware that anyone can see your content. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, enemies — can all hear what you’ve got to say. Some will love it, some will like it, some will hate it. Toughest to stomach is the risk of public humiliation. That’s part and parcel.
But whatever you do, hit on the points you want to. Don’t hold back too much. Differentiating yourself, as opposed to sitting on the fence, is crucial to gaining followers. Do as you see fit, and accept the results.
Publishing public content is about being brave. Those who put themselves on the line are the ones that succeed.
5. Presentation — The Ability to Portray The Right Image
What you project online reflects on you as a person. So you have to be careful what you portray. Are you a character, or are you entirely yourself?
Someone once gave me the advice: “be provocative in what you write. It’ll attract more views”. I took the point on board, but didn’t take that advice for a few reasons. Firstly I don’t think being purposely antagonistic suits me. Secondly I think my change in voice would have deterred some existing readers. Thirdly, I felt it would undermine any authority I’d earned. For others, however, this approach might be spot on.
Your image is important to both you and your blog. Striking the right tone can help to retain an audience. But bloggers also have to be weary that what they publish online could have a lasting effect. If someone wants to learn about you and your past, they will.
It’s not for everyone. Indeed, being conscious of privacy can deter some people from starting their own blog (or even using social media) in the first place.
6. Planning — Forward Thinking
Bloggers don’t stand still. Once there’s a following, there’s has to be something to keep them coming back. There has to be a game plan.
- Recycling: Is there any way of reusing old content? Can it be presented with a new twist?
- Fresh ideas: What direction shall I take my content? What’s relevant now that my followers might be interested in?
- Marketing: What efforts can I make to promote my website to new readers? How can I reach further?
- Management: How much spare time do I have to incorporate new content and marketing initiatives? What realistic time frame am I aiming for?
Generating new ideas, realigning content and pushing your blog out to more people takes innovation and forward thinking.
Can Blogging Be Considered A Real Job?
Marketing and SEO is considered a job. As is journalism, copy writing, video editing, acting, scripting — branding, even.
Jobs require effort and input — much like producing this post did. They require a set of skills, the ability to plan and manage time, as well as communicate with co-workers and potential customers. Some jobs are harder than others.
Real jobs also earn money, to varying degrees. The intelligent and most skilled tend to go further.
Perhaps the resistance to accepting “blogging” as a real job comes in that bloggers name themselves an expert without being titled one by an authority (e.g. an employer or education board).
But for me, anyone that propels their self into the public eye, earns enough credibility to be regarded a influencer in their field — and makes a sustainable living from it — deserves some respect. That takes determination and a very particular mindset. Content marketing is tough.
In an age where we’re increasingly working from home, in a world where the internet has spawned countless new industries and careers, blogging can surely be considered a real job. If that’s what you want it to be, of course.