Who wouldn’t want to have a life and a career that allows for a great deal of flexibility and freedom?
Most of us desire those things, and that is a big part of why so many people would love to make blogging their full-time work.
For the past 5+ years I’ve been working online full-time, mostly as a blogger.
While I love what I do and the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, the truth is that blogging full-time is no easy job.
In this post I’d like to share some things that I think you should know if you are considering blogging full-time.
This comes from my own experience, as well as from talking to friends and colleagues who are in similar situations.
What You Need To Know Before Becoming A Full-Time Blogger
1. Building a Successful Blog Takes Time
In order to be able to make a full-time income from a blog you’ll need to build an audience, and that doesn’t happen overnight.
Sure, there are some exceptions where a blog becomes popular almost instantly, but those are extremely rare situations that most of us can’t count on.
But if you’re willing to work consistently at growing your blog the results will come with time.
If you hope to be able to maintain a blog as your full-time job the best approach is to get started as soon as possible and work to grow the blog part-time while still maintaining a full-time job.
Unless you’re in a position where you can afford to live without much income for a while, jumping straight into full-time blogging is not likely to work out very well.
Most of the successful bloggers that I know were willing to put in the time consistently and had some patience while their audience grew. This approach isn’t easy, because it requires putting in a lot of effort for several months (sometimes longer) without getting much income in return for your efforts.
But if you’re willing to work consistently at growing your blog the results will come with time.
2. Running a Blog is Like Running a Business
For some reason when it comes to online businesses many people don’t treat it the same as they would treat a more traditional business.
Building a successful blog will require dedication, just like if you were trying to build some other type of business.
The truth is, at least in my opinion, building a profitable online business is a lot easier for the average person than building a profitable brick-and-mortar business, but it still takes work and a commitment.
If you approach your blog like a business you will be more dedicated and consistent with your schedule, you’ll be willing to invest in your success, and you’ll have a long-term focus.
If you treat your blog like a hobby that is exactly what you are likely to have.
There is certainly nothing wrong with blogging as a hobby, but if you hope to make a full-time income from your blog you need to view it as a business.
3. Networking is Just as Important as Content
I believe there are two main factors that determine blogging success.
The first one is content, and everyone knows that good content is critical if you want to build a popular blog. The second, and equally important factor, is your network.
Every successful blogger is well connected with other bloggers and marketers.
Yes, if you have a successful blog it is much easier to make valuable connections, but you need to be focusing on building your network from the start.
There are so many different ways that you can benefit from the people in your network.
A strong network can lead to more inbound links, interview opportunities, social media shares, recommendations and referrals, invaluable advice and guidance, partnership opportunities, and much more.
If networking hasn’t been a priority for you in the past, start setting aside some time in your schedule specifically to connect with others.
For more on this topic please see 10 Principles of Effective Networking.
4. Your Income Will Be Inconsistent
If you have always had a salaried job where your income was consistent and predictable, becoming a full-time blogger will involve some change.
Regardless of how you make money with your blog there will always be some fluctuation from month-to-month.
This isn’t a bad thing, it just requires some adjustment, and some people are more uneasy about it than others.
Personally, I like knowing that my income fluctuates because it’s very obvious that the potential to make more money is right there, and it keeps me motivated.
Although your income will fluctuate, it will usually stay within a certain range, and hopefully that range will be increasing with time.
If you can adjust your lifestyle and your monthly financial commitments to fit with the low end of your range, anything that you make above that will be extra.
5. Traffic Does Not Always Equal Money
When I started blogging my main focus was on traffic and visitor statistics.
If I had a good day in terms of traffic I considered it a success.
However, just because you have decent traffic doesn’t mean that you’ll have a profitable blog. Likewise, just because your blog’s traffic isn’t huge doesn’t mean that you can’t make a good income from it.
Selling advertising is one of the first monetization methods that comes to mind for most people who want to make money from a blog, but in most cases it is not the best monetization strategy.
Other options like affiliate marketing, creating and selling your own products, providing services, and having premium members-only content all offer higher income potential for most bloggers.
Advertising revenue is highly dependent on traffic, but the other monetization methods allow you the possibility of having a successful blog without having high traffic numbers.
Just because a blog has high traffic doesn’t mean that it is maximizing it’s income potential. I would encourage you to focus on revenue and profit more than traffic. Make sure your site is optimized to convert the visitors that it receives into something valuable. In many cases this will be email subscribers, but it can also involve other things like product sales, affiliate product sales, and membership signups.
For a great example, see Yaro Starak’s post You Don’t Need As Much Traffic As You Think.
6. Having a Responsive Audience Leads to Opportunities
If you’re just getting started with your blog don’t get too overwhelmed by all of the different ways that you can go about monetizing your blog.
Most likely your monetization plans and approach will change from time-to-time anyway.
As you build your blog’s audience new opportunities will arise, and some approaches that didn’t seem possible earlier can suddenly become a lot more realistic.
The point is, if you focus on building your audience (regular readers and subscribers) there will be plenty of income opportunities.
With my most successful and profitable blog (I sold it last year) I started with advertising as my main source of revenue. After a while I added an AdSense unit. As the audience grew I eventually moved to focusing on membership and selling my own products. And then a while later I also started doing some affiliate marketing. I didn’t start the blog with plans of doing most of that stuff, but as the audience grew it opened up new opportunities.
Membership and product sales probably wouldn’t have been very successful in the early days of the blog when the audience was small, but it became a more profitable option later on.
7. How Well You Use Your Time Will Impact Your Success
One of the biggest challenges of being a full-time blogger is making effective use of your time.
You have to write new posts, interact with readers in the comments, participate at various social networks, respond to a lot of emails, manage whatever monetization method you choose (managing advertisers, creating products, providing customer service, etc.), promote your content, network with others in your niche, manage your finances, analyze your blog’s stats, and anything else that might come up.
You also won’t have a boss telling you what you should be focusing on, so you’ll need to be able to set your priorities and stay on task. Working effectively and efficiently will allow you to get the most out of your time.
When it comes to time management, what works best for one person may not work well with others. For me it is critical to have a daily and weekly to-do list, but others prefer a different approach.
The key is to find what works best for you and always look for ways to tweak or improve your routines.
8. Blogging Can Be Draining
The main task that is most obviously associated with being a blogger is writing new blog posts.
However, most people get burnt out pretty quickly if they are constantly writing blog posts.
You need to take the long-term sustainability of your content schedule into consideration to avoid this from happening to you.
The ideal posting frequency will depend on a lot of factors, but personally I try to avoid getting into the habit of publishing new posts on a daily basis.
With most blogs I find that anywhere from 1-3 posts per week allows me to grow the blog without burning myself out from too much writing.
Publishing more frequently does make it possible to increase traffic and to grow the blog faster, but it does require a lot of time for creating new content. Rather than dedicating the time to writing more posts I like to use that time for other things like offering client services or creating products to sell. These things still allow you to make money from your blog, and they will add some variety to your work and routines.
This blog is actually a great example. Pauline’s monetization strategy includes offering services like social media design and website maintenance. Instead of writing constantly and monetizing the site only through ads she’s able to make money from services.
9. Future Success is Not Guaranteed
It’s important to understand that success today does not guarantee success for the future.
Over the past few years Google’s algorithm changes have badly damaged thousands of blogs and websites by completely taking away or significantly reducing search engine traffic.
In some cases those bloggers and site owners took shortcuts that put them at risk, but in other cases the people impacted didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary to cause it.
There is no reason to believe that Google won’t continue to make big changes to its algorithm, so search engine traffic is never guaranteed and you should be working to get diversity in your traffic sources.
Likewise, certain sites and topics just lose popularity eventually.
If your blog is directly related to a trend or anything that can lose popularity, your traffic and income is likely to eventually slow down or completely dry up.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid any topic that may be short-lived, but you need to be prepared.
Many bloggers wind up having multiple blogs. Having success with one blog certainly gives you some valuable experience that will give you a better chance for success with your other blogs, but it is never guaranteed. This can also apply if you are considering selling your blog and starting over with another one.
10. A Good Accountant is Very Valuable
If you’re making a full-time income from your blog it will likely be well worth the money to hire a good accountant.
Bloggers wear enough hats, let someone else handle the taxes.
A good accountant can advise you on the best business structure for your own situation and will help you to get the most out of available deductions while keeping you well within the law and away from anything that could get you in trouble.
Taxes can be quite complicated when you have income and expenses related to your blogs, so having an expert on your side will free up your time and ensure that your taxes are done right.
What’s Your Experience?
If you have other advice or tips that you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment.