As I started this post I realized something… this is going to be LOOOOONG. But hang in there and enjoy my journey and my transition from a regular job to full time blogger.
If you’re here for some quick advice on blogging full time, scroll down to the end of this post, where you’ll find some tips on being a full time blogger.
Before attempting to make a living from your blog, I recommend putting together a monetization strategy for your blog.
I can’t talk about the transition without giving you a little bit of background on our situation.
In 2010, I started my first blog (LookBeforeSpending.com) because I wanted to share deals with people. I had recently begun coupon shopping and thought everyone should know how to get free toothpaste, shampoo, food and other things just by using coupons and shopping smart. Within a year, I was spending 40-50 hours/week on the blog, chasing deals and posting them. 15-25 per day on average. I was also working 30 hours a week at a restaurant. My wife was doing almost the same thing, helping me with Look Before Spending and building her own blog. Together, we were working an average of 70-80 hours per week. Each.
I knew something had to give.
We decided that it would be our jobs (we worked together). In a decision that solidifies the fact that we were/are nuts, we decided to pick up as may shifts as possible and save 3 months of living expenses and then we would quit our jobs. Why did that mean we were nuts? Because at the time, our online income was not even topping $300/month.
Like I said – nuts.
But I knew that we just needed to be able to focus on our blogs and try to build our own business.
So we did it. August 8th, 2012 was our last day at the restaurant. I had been there 11 years and Katie 5. It was not an easy decision to say the least. What helped us make this decision? Well, we had no bad debt at the time, no kids and pretty reasonable monthly expenses.
So here we are. August 9th and no stable income. No bosses. No commute. No excuses. Did I mention no stable income? Which meant no room for error and no time to be lazy.
The first month that we quit, our income more than doubled. Then it did again and it continued to rise. The holidays were awesome. You see, when you run a coupon and retail deal site, you live for the holidays. If we made half of what we made during the week of Black Friday/Cyber Monday every week, we would still be deal blogging. The truth is, we didn’t. Once the high of the holidays was over and January rolled around, things started to look bleak. I knew the holidays would be great and knew there would be a drop-off, but I wasn’t predicting the drop-off would be so huge. Something had to change.
We were spending close to 60 hours per week chasing deals, matching coupons to store sales and creating 15-25 blog posts each day. The reward was not enough. We didn’t want to chase deals anymore. So we stopped.
You see, that’s the beauty of doing your own thing. You can do whatever you want. Within reason of course. I am still passionate about saving money and being smart with finances, so Look Before Spending is now successfully running as a personal finance/money tips site.
As Katie’s blog began to pick up more steam, I noticed that there was a need for a site like the one you are reading now. A site to help bloggers who maybe didn’t start out to make money or build a huge audience, but are now considering taking their blog to the next level.
So I looked into a blog of this type and saw there was room for one more. I planned on doing it differently. You see, when you have an idea for a blog, you’re probably going to find out that a blog like that already exists. What you have to do is figure out how you are going to be different. I noticed that all of the blog help sites out there were written in very technical jargon and not really all that great for learning basic things. I decided I would write my blog for beginners, and for bloggers who don’t necessarily think of their blog as a business right now.
I now have 5 blogs that earn at least some kind of money. To add to the 3 already mentioned, I also own Look Before Drinking, which is an alcoholic beverage review site. In addition to that, I own a niche site (which is a site built with the intention or ranking very high in Google for a certain keyword). Why so many? Because I am constantly learning about online business, and constantly trying to build my own. And because I have bills to pay! When you decide to become solely dependent on your online income, you have no choice but to scratch and claw for whatever money you can earn. So for us, if something is not working, we have to re-evaluate it. If something is working, we have to try and replicate that.
That’s how you have to be as a full-time blogger. You have to go with the flow of the money. This is touchy though, because you have to do this while also staying true to yourself and your blog. Sometimes no matter what you do, the numbers just don’t add up. You’re not making enough to get by. It happened to us. So what did I do? Well, I reached out to a couple of great bloggers in the coupon blogging niche and asked if they needed help. Now, along with doing my own thing on my own sites, I am a virtual assistant for a small handful of other blogs as well. As more and more income comes in from my own ventures, I will pull back on the hours that I work for other sites.
Again, roll with what works. And if nothing is working, change and adapt.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.
I guess you could call us entrepreneurs at this point. It has been almost a full year and we are still making it work from home.
What Does Being a Full-Time Blogger Mean?
Well, in our situation, it means doing whatever it takes to get by. No longer were we having to stop working and get ready for our real jobs. We were faced with a new challenge. When the late afternoon rolled around, we had to keep working. You see, going to a job was easy, it was “right”. Staying at home was strange. We had to force ourselves to be more disciplined than ever.
When blogging is your full time job, you don’t get to be lazy. You don’t get to pass things off to your coworkers. It is all you.
My Top Tips for Blogging as Your Job
Treat it as your job.
At the bare minimum, put in as many hours per week as you would at a full-time job including your commute.
Keep an agenda.
If you’re blogging as you job, you are going to want to write a post plan on a weekly or monthly basis. You want to run your blog like a well-oiled machine, so being organized and keeping everything in line is important. Also set monthly blog goals and stick to them.
Do what you love.
If you are blogging about something that you are not passionate about, it will show. Make sure you are blogging about something that you truly love and care about.
Don’t give up.
There comes a point when every blogger trying to make an income questions everything. The amount of time they are putting in doesn’t match up to the money they are earning. No one ever comments on my blog, I think my blog hit a wall or I don’t know how to build my blog. These are all things that everyone faces, but you have to push through. This is your JOB, so fight for success. Look up ways to build your blog and to find solutions for your obstacles. Chances are, if you are fighting a battle, someone has blogged about it and could possibly help you.
Don’t let doubt enter.
When you tell your family that you are going to be a full time blogger, you may not be treated with balloons and party poppers. People still have a hard time seeing how bloggers make money, so they think it is impossible. Well, it’s not. You just have to be ready for doubters and maybe even some haters along the way. It is a good idea to connect with a couple of bloggers and create a support system for you and your blog.
Bring in help.
I don’t know of any bloggers who make a living online without some help. If you find yourself doing too many little tasks that you feel are taking time away from building your business, hire someone to do them. Pay for graphic design instead of trying it yourself if that is not your thing. Pay for some content writing. Hire someone to write pitches for you. When you admit that you cannot do it all yourself, it will be a very freeing day.
Be an entrepreneur.
You can’t run your own business if you don’t have that spark inside. You have to want to make it work so bad that you are willing to make some sacrifices to make it happen. If you have to get a post done by 1:00 PM one day, you have to be ready to eat lunch at your desk. Nobody ever made any money working for themselves by taking the easy road. Making enough money to live by doing your own thing is HARD. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It takes incessantly hard work, determination, a “never say die attitude” and perseverance, but you can do it!
There you have it! My crazy transition from an employee to a full-time blogger. I’m about one year into being reliant solely on an online income. I would call it a success, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be to prevent future employment. As long as we are constantly building and working toward our goals, we’ll be doing just fine.