When people find out that I’m a professional blogger, they either ask me what the hell that means or how is it possible to make enough money to live on by blogging. Many people seem to think that there must be some hidden secret to easy success that only a few know and that is what has kept them from being able to make more than a few hundred dollars a month blogging.
While you will likely be disappointed to learn that there are no secrets or an easy path to this success, you should be encouraged to know that it’s possible for anyone to be a pro blogger if they really want to. The main catch is that if you want to succeed, you are going to have to work hard. Really hard. Probably harder than you have ever worked before. However, if you are willing to do this, you can make money. I’m the perfect example of “if he can make money on the Internet, anyone can.”
I have no special skill that has allowed me to make money blogging. I write a decent amount, but I am by no means prolific. There are many bloggers that produce much more content than I do. While I do know the subject matter I write about, all the information has, for the most part, been self taught. So the question is why have I been able to make blogging a full time job when many others who have better skills and talent than I haven’t?
I believe most of it simply comes down to attitude. While it helps to have superior writing skills, that in itself isn’t enough to succeed. I won’t BS you and say that making money blogging is easy or simple. It’s true that some people get lucky blogging and making money ends up being easy for them (just like there are lottery winners that make money) but far more of the people who are making money simply appear to have been lucky. The truth is that they worked long hours to get where they are. While this is probably not a typical list of traits and skills that are associated with blogging or Internet entrepreneurship in general, I don’t think I would be blogging full time today without them:
Stubbornness: 90% of making money blogging is not quitting. There is a lot of talent out there that simply doesn’t have the stamina, willpower and just plain stubbornness to keep going when the only two people reading your blog are yourself and your (mom, dad, sister, brother, friend). A stubborn streak has helped me keep going even when it seemed that nobody knew that I existed on the Internet.
Most people quit because the success doesn”t come quickly or easy enough for them. It takes a substantial amount of work and dedication (likely much more than you ever imagined), to make any business successful and the same is true with blogging. Having a stubborn streak that made me refuse to give up has helped me clear numerous hurdles that could have easily stopped me dead in my tracks.
Passion: I love what I do and if you don’t love whatever you choose to write about on the Internet, you’re going to make it nearly impossible to succeed. In fact, I can say that I would be doing what I am doing now even if I wasn’t making a cent. I know because when I started I wasn’t and even after 2 years of blogging, I still had no reasonable expectation that I would.
It takes time to make money on the Internet because people have to discover you. If I didn’t truly enjoy doing what I’m doing, I would never have had the stamina to keep going. Passion let me spend long hours working on the Internet without realizing how much time I was actually devoting. Even with all those long hours, I still enjoyed spending the time doing what I was doing above all the other choices I had.
Creativity: Working on the Internet will always pose unexpected problems and it will be essential to use creativity to help solve the numerous problems that are bound to arise along the way. The solution to the problems often won’t reveal itself right away. I have had to try new ideas including multiple failures until I hit on something that worked for what I was trying to accomplish. Being able to be creative and adapt has helped a lot in making everything work.
Self Motivation: If you want to find an excuse not to do something that you know needs to get done, but which you really don’t feel like doing, there are a lot of easy ones to adopt. You are your own boss and if you want to waste time, it’s easy to do. Since I work for myself, being able to motivate myself to keep writing and putting effort into my current projects when it didn’t always seem to be worthwhile to do so was essential. If I hadn’t been able to find ways to keep myself motivated at all stages of growing my blogs, none of these would exist today. It wasn’t always easy to keep going when it seemed there was no reward for the effort, but even during those times I found a way to motivate myself to keep producing material.
Vision: I don’t believe I ever had a grand vision of where my writing would eventally lead, but I have always had a vision of where I wanted to go next. Instead of being at the bottom of a mountain and looking at the top and saying I wanted to get there, I started at the bottom and saw a step in front of me that I wanted to climb. From there, I found the next step. and then the next step. As the blogs have grown, I think I am beginning to have a wider outlook, but that concentrated vision in the beginning was extremely helpful.
Time: I knew I was in this for the long haul from the beginning. In fact, when I started there wasn’t any platform out there for people to make money from content alone (adsense didn’t exist). It never entered my mind that I would make a lot of money quickly, let alone ever. I felt that if I could produce good quality content and information for people that eventually it would be of value for advertisers and figured it was going to be years down the road. Had I assumed that I was going to make money in a short period of time, I would have been highly disappointed and probably quit long ago.
Voice: Everyone has their own voice and you need to use it. I have brought my own voice into my writing. While this may sound obvious, it has been been difficult to accomplish. I’m not the best writer in the world and I would even say that a good description of my writing style is “common.” When I see other writers that put the words down so much more eloquently than I am able to do, I want to change my style. The few times I’ve tried this, it has been disastrous because it simply isn’t me. That is not to say that I don’t incorporate ideas that I see other writers doing that I like, but when I do this, I do it in my own style instead of trying to change mine to theirs.
Faith: Not faith in the spiritual sense, but the faith that what you’re writing or creating is helpful to others. When I first began writing, I received little feedback because there just weren’t a lot of people reading what I wrote. I had faith that what I was creating was worthwhile and helpful to those few that did find their way to my writing. Having that faith will help you to keep going and creating content, and even more so when you do begin to receive positive feedback.
Help: I would never be near where I am today without a lot of help from others along the way. When I first started out, it was brutal and downright frustrating trying to get the word out that my blog existed. Over time, however, I was able to find other people that were in the same situation as I was and we banded together to help each other and our blogs as best we could. There were also some slightly bigger and more established sites that took a chance on my potential and drive by helping me out when they could have very easily ignored me. I could have never done it on my own.
No Outside Life: You have to be willing to give up a lot of the activities and free time that you had before beginning the project. You have to be willing to put these other activities aside as you build your presence on the Internet, especially in the beginning. When I first started, I was working full time at another job. It was literally like doing two full time jobs at the same time. I had to make some big changes in how I spent my free time. If you think your are going to be able to succeed only spending an extra hour or two when you can find the time, you will be sadly disappointed when the money doesn’t come.
As you can see, my list of what you need to be a successful blogger doesn’t match up well with most of the others you have probably read. It certainly isn’t the “quick and easy” success that seems to scream in every advertisement you see. I do, however, believe it’s a realistic list of what helped me get to where I am today.
For those that are hoping for directions on how to make easy money, I apologize if my list disappoints. What I can say is that the skills listed above are ones that every person has within them and therefore anyone can succeed if they are willing to put forth the effort. Even with all the work, disappointments and frustration, it’s a wonderful experience along the way. And it is due to those many obstacles that it’s all the more satisfying when you can say writing on the Internet is your full time career.