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Do You Have What it Takes to be a Professional Blogger?

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on January 8, 2013 in Professional Blogging
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Do you enjoy blogging? Do you enjoy it enough that you'd want to make a career of it? If so, professional blogging might be in your future. But do you have what it takes?

Let's look at what professional blogging means and some of the attributes that you might need if you want to successfully launch a career as a professional blogger.

What is Professional Blogging?

Let's look at the money issue before we get into the types of professional blogging you can pursue. Some people would say you're a professional blogger the moment you get paid to blog. I disagree with that, strongly.

Many hobbyists are paid for what they do. That's why being paid alone doesn't legally differentiate a hobby from a business (in the U.S. at least). While getting a payment for your blogging is nice, I don't think it's enough to start calling yourself a professional blogger.

Instead I'd consider someone a professional blogger if they're truly treating their blogging as a business and if that's where a significant portion of their income comes from. At the very least, they should actively be trying to make blogging that significant income source. There's no simple line in the sand here.

Types of Professional Blogging

If you still think professional blogging is the right move for you, you can approach that career in a few different ways. For example, you could:

  • blog for clients;
  • run your own blogs as income sources;
  • pursue some combination of the two.

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I fall squarely into that third group -- blogging for clients as well as running dozens of my own blogs through my company. That said, I'm gradually moving away from the freelance blogging side of things to focus entirely on my own publishing efforts.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these options. For example, you can start your own blog right away and in any niche that appeals to you. But your own blog might take months, or even years, to bring in significant income.

On the other side, you could blog for clients. The benefit there is that you can start earning good money right away (professional bloggers are often paid hundreds of dollars per post and the work can be ongoing).

The downsides include the fact that most of the good professional blogging gigs are never publicly advertised and you might need specialized credentials to land the most lucrative.

That's why I like having a balance of both options. While I've had blogs bring in thousands of dollars per month, that's never as reliable as client blogging payments. That's why I now diversify my own blogs so much. It's a safer bet and offers a lot of growth opportunity.

You should choose whatever professional blogging path suits you. It's won't necessarily look like mine. And it won't necessarily look like that of your favorite professional blogger.

What it Takes to be a Professional Blogger

Do you have what it takes to make one of those professional blogging strategies work for you? Here are some of the skills and qualities that might improve your chances.

  • You should have a solid understanding of marketing (an emphasis on social media tools can help). This is most important when you manage your own blogs. It doesn't matter how good your blog is if you can't attract readers. Clients may also expect you to promote posts written for them.
  • You have to able to work well with others, whether that's interacting with your readers on your own blog or interacting with clients.
  • If you plan to rely solely on your own blogs for income, you have to have a good balance between patience and perseverance. It isn't always easy, and you don't want to quit too early out of frustration.
  • You should be a solid writer. Sure, some professional bloggers skate by with dreadful writing. But they also lose some readers and respect in the process. Be prepared to offer readers your best at all times. If you don't write well, hire an editor.
  • You'll have to be reasonably well organized. Whether you have to juggle client deadlines or manage your own content and marketing strategies, planning and organization can go a long way.
  • You should be open and honest. It's one thing to blog under a pen name. It's something else entirely to pretend to be something you aren't. Your readers want to get to know you. Don't betray their trust.

Would you consider yourself to be a professional blogger right now? Do you want to be one in the future? Tell us why professional blogging appeals to you, and what approach you prefer, in the comments below.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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5 Comments

  1. Sharon Hurley Hall January 8, 2013 Reply

    I definitely fall into the professional blogger camp, Jenn, though I haven’t spent as much time on my own projects as I should. That’s something I’m planning to address this year.

    • Jennifer Mattern January 9, 2013 Reply

      Awesome! Any new sites in the works, or do you want to spend more time on the existing sites you have (or both)?

      • Sharon Hurley Hall January 9, 2013 Reply

        Both – I want to focus on the travel site a bit, as it’s been around for a while, and I also have some new domain names going to waste – haven’t quite decided how to develop those yet. They are writing related, most of them, and the space is crowded, so I need to give it some more thought.

  2. Anne Wayman January 9, 2013 Reply

    I’m a pro too, Jenn.

    The only thing I’d add is something like “or if you don’t know marketing, you’re willing to learn it, really learn it in a hurry.”

    Am forwarding this to a coaching client who wants to start a blog.

    • Jennifer Mattern January 9, 2013 Reply

      Definitely Anne. You don’t have to be a marketing expert up front. But you do have to be willing to learn. Heck, no matter how long we’re at this, there’s always more to learn. :)

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