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Full time blogging - a reality or just a dream?

January 13, 2016

blogging as a career

Early 2013... I was starting out with my self-hosted health food Wordpress blog with hopes and dreams that it would grow out into a full time job with a good monthly income. Seriously, WHAT was I thinking?! But I'm sure that you, as a blogger, had these dreams as well, and maybe you still have them or they have become your reality. Anyway, I thought it was about time to write a little about this subject that is on the mind of many bloggers. Is it realistic to dream about a full time career as a blogger? Does it even become reality for people? And if so, what did they do to get there? Let's find out!

MY OWN EXPERIENCE SO FAR

Back in 2013 I was like many new bloggers. I was inspired by some of the big blogs (mainly food blogs at that time). The bloggers behind it worked from home, filling their days with recipe development, food photography and writing blog posts. There are worse jobs, right? And for me, as a mom of a teenager with severe autism, a job from home would be the best. That way I could assist my child whenever I needed and work in the hours that suited me most.

At the time I was working about 12 hours a week in a health food/supplement store, so I definitely had affinity with the subject of health food. It wasn't just something I made up one day and thought would be a great topic for a blog. No, I was genuinely interested and involved in the lifestyle, so I thought I would have enough to share with my readers.

I started the blog in February and quit my job in April. I didn't quit the job because I wanted to become a full time blogger though, but because my son started a very intensive therapy program that asked a lot of my attention as well. But I hoped that I could grow my blog in such a way that it would provide me with some income one day. At that time we were mostly living on my husbands income and we were able to survive on one income, but just barely. But we made the decision that our son was more important than money and I never regretted it.

Ever since he was born I have been a stay-at-home-mom for most of the time, and every now and then I found a very small part time job to make a little extra money for the family. Up till this day I am also still working as a cleaning lady every other week on Tuesday mornings for a family in our village. It pays some bills and it is nice to get out of the house and meet some people. Digital design can be a very lonely profession ;-)

Anyway, with my hopes set on the food blog I began researching ways to grow my blog and improve my food photography and other blogging skills. And while I worked hard, the food blog never spiralled into that big success I had hoped for. It never paid any of my bills but I guess I needed it to find out what I was really good at and what could really bring in some money for me, which is digital design! So in the end it did work out, only not in the way I had in mind when I started out. I am now making a nice extra income for the family with my digital design products and services which I can do in my own time, from my own home.

So I am happy as can be, but I also want to share the reality with other bloggers. A blog doesn't become a success overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and commitment to make it grow and put it in such a position that you are able to make some money with it. So is it a good idea to quit a job for it and invest all your time in? There are bloggers that eventually are able to turn their blogs into a full monthly paycheck. But what do these bloggers have in common and what can we learn from them?

FIVE FULL TIME BLOGGERS THAT MADE IT

Over time I found some blogs that I like to follow myself and that are actually written by people who do this as their full time job. But none of them started out as a full time blogger from day one. Blogs need time to grow, even the really successful ones.

I have selected five blogs, all with a different blog subject, to take a closer look at:

Averie Cooks - a recipe blog with the focus on baking
Oh She Glows - a vegan health food blog with the focus on clean, healthy recipes
Cider With Rosie - a UK based lifestyle blog (fashion, travel, recipes, every day life etc.)
Gala Darling - a blog on self improvement and alternative ways of thinking
Design Sponge - everything that has to do with design (from interior design to food and travel)

So what are these people doing that make their blogs so successful? While I am no marketing and business expert I have a few ideas though.

WHAT THESE FULL TIME BLOGGERS HAVE IN COMMON

I started looking at what all of them are doing and it seems like there are a few things that they all have in common:

They all have professional looking websites

Their websites have a design that makes it easy to find what readers might be looking for. The menu bar is categorized correctly, it is easy to find the page where to contact them or to be redirected to any online products/services they might offer.

Their photography is outstanding

Even if you wouldn't read their stories at all, you would want to follow them for the pictures. They either put a lot of effort into learning great photography skills or they hire a professional.

They are very active on multiple social media platforms

This is a must in this time and era and it is not something that comes naturally to me. That is probably one of the reasons why my food blog never really took off. I realize that I would probably be able to double my  income when I would get really actively involved on social media, but I have decided not to spend my time on it since I need time for my family as well. But if you really have the desire to become a full time blogger, you have no choice.

They offer solutions to problems

Did you know that that is the number one reason that people read blogs? They want to learn something or get practical advice on daily stuff, whether that is making a healthy recipe, selecting the right kind of wallpaper for the living room, or tips on travel and fashion. Just rambling on about your personal problems on your blog might be a great outlet for your feelings but it will not create a great platform for blog success.

They post on a regular basis and make sure that the content of the posts is awesome

Full time blogging doesn't happen when you just post a couple of times a month. And when you have advertisers on your site they want to see a steady stream of content as well. No new content means a drop in reader numbers, and as a full time blogger you want to maintain a steady stream of blog traffic. You also have to make sure that what you write is always interesting for your readers.

They put a tremendous amount of time in behind the scenes work

Whether it is recipe development, photography or researching blog post subjects, full time blogging is not just about writing the posts, the behind the scenes work often takes up most of the time.

They are not scared to outsource certain tasks

If a blog really gets big, you might not be able to do everything on your own anymore. Some of the big bloggers hire people for photography, social media management, or even to write part of the posts. 

Most of them create other products or services in line with the blog to create income

Full-time blogging is so much more than sitting behind the computer writing stories. And you need an incredible amount of monthly page views to actually make a full-time income on advertising fees alone. That is why so many professional bloggers create products and services on the side that they sell to their readers. Examples are online courses, e-books or printed books, product reviews, coaching etc.


When I look at my own blog I can say that I am doing some things right: I post on a regular basis, I think that my content is interesting enough and is offering solutions and tips for readers, my website design (although maybe not every one's taste) is professional and easy to navigate, and while I don't photograph myself I try to use good quality stock photography for the visual aspect. Still, my blog is hardly bringing in any income. I get a few clients for my Etsy shops through the blog every now and then, but most of my clients come through Etsy itself. If I wanted to really grow my blog and take it to the next level I know I should invest in social media. But, like I said before, I value my family time over social media.

THE CONCLUSION

So does that mean that we should all give up on the idea of becoming a full time blogger one day just because it is a heck of a lot of work? No, absolutely not! If you are really serious and passionate about it you should always try. But don't quit your job just yet. Do your research and really invest in it. It's not going to be a success overnight, but if you keep believing in yourself your blog might provide you with a full income over time.

If full time blogging is something you are very interested in, then don't miss out on next Monday's post. It's an interview I did with Sarah Inkson, a blogger and photographer that took a sabbatical from her office job to invest in her blogging and photography career. She's going to give us an honest look into her life!




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