Blogging

Blogging as a Full-time Career?

Last week, Barbara Whitaker, who writes Fresh Starts, a monthly jobs column for the NY Times, contacted me about a blogger jobs listing I had posted somewhere. We had a conversation over the phone, and I sent her several URLs for her research. The net result is that I have a one paragraph mention in the NY Times’ article Can blogs be a big source of jobs? [May require free subscription]. No link, unfortunately, and not much detail, but it’s still nice. To be fair, there aren’t many outbound links in the article, period. But I’m mentioned amongst such blogging dignitaries as Robert Scoble aka the Scobleizer, Jeremy Wright/Ensight of b5media, Steve Rubel/ MicroPersuasion and others.

If you’re interested about what else I said in my conversation, here’s a synopsis, followed by a list of tips for pursuing a blogging career.

  1. Blogging can be a full-time career.
  2. The opportunities are out there, but true full-time positions are often part of PR/ communications jobs. Those are typically the ones that pay a nice salary – or can.
  3. Freelancing can be full-time and beyond, if you have the writing and blogging skills and are willing to hire yourself out. As a long-time programmer/ consultant/ technical writer who has worked for both employers and clients, I have no problem with this. Others may feel differently. In which case, you’re best to build your own blogs.
  4. I’m currently hiring for both myself and clients, and while I’m looking mostly looking for junior bloggers at present, there are positions for more advanced bloggers coming up – both from my clients as well as other sources.
  5. The blogging opportunities are increasing in general. I’m bootstrapping very cautiously for my blogs because past entrepreneurial endeavors have sunk me when I expanded too fast. But there are other network owners or corporations that will likely decide to hire, either internally or on a contract basis.

I also mentioned to Barbara Whitaker the blogger jobs listings at Performancing Jobs and Problogger Jobboard, which she mentioned in the article. Consider that about a year ago, I was only working part-time on a couple of blogs. Since then, I’ve had more more work than I can handle and have ended up neglecting my own blogs as a result. It’s not hard for me to choose, though: go with what pays right now, and build up my sites on my own time.

Overall, it’s an excellent starter article about the trends of blogging jobs, and if you’re considering a full-time blogging career, you should read it. As well, here are a few tips:

  1. Browse the job boards.
    Especially keep an eye Performancing Jobs and Problogger Jobboard, not to mention regular job sites. (Positions may or may not mention “blogging” in the job titles.) Also make sure you read Jim Turner’s and Tris Hussey’s One By One Media and Bloggers for Hire – the latter mentions the NY Times piece.

  2. Read to keep up with the blogging industry.
    Read Performancing, Blog Herald, ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Daily Blog Tips, Dosh Dosh and so many other good ones that I apologize for not mentioning them all.

  3. Be free.
    Sometimes, blogging for free could be the best thing you do. Take opportunities as a guest blogger, if they come up, and if they suit you. I started off contributing free at Performancing back in Dec 2005, and it has brought me so many opportunities that I actually often feel guilty being paid for writing here now – it’s partially why I don’t write that often. But I’ve gained nice links back to my sites as a result, and is part of what keeps me writing despite the guilt.

  4. Build your brand.
    If you plan to be in this game for a long while, go register a domain in your name and build your blogging brand. Typically, first and last, followed by .com. However, variations such as Scobleizer, ChrisG, and Pearsonified work, too. Even if you don’t feel like you’re ready to maintain such a personal site, hold the name for when you’re ready and feel “expert enough”.

  5. Improve yourself.
    Keep trying to improve your writing. It seems that the blogosphere is mostly forgiving of typos and the occasional poor grammar, but future credibility relies on good communication skills. While I never managed to fit in the journalism degree that I once long wanted, I did try various journalistic and storytelling exercises over time, in hopes of bettering my writing. I still occasionally suffer from weird grammatical quirks, which are likely due to English not being my mother tongue.

  6. Write.
    This should be obvious, but while you’re looking for paid opportunities, you need to keep your writing up by actually blogging somewhere. While I always recommend getting your own domain, for many reasons, this isn’t always an option for everyone. So you could try a hosted platform such as LiveJournal, WordPress.com, or Blogger. Some of these do not allow you to run advertising.

  7. Be equipped.
    Make sure you have a good blogging editor and that you have at least the most basic of blogging skills (researching, writing, applying hyperlinks, posting ability on the blog platform of choice). Obviously, you need access to a computer and the Internet – preferably high-speed. When you feel up to it, you might want to start learning more about link building techniques and other facets of SEO/SEM.

  8. Explore alternatives.
    Remember that there are alternatives to earning a living that are indirectly related to blogging. This includes selling ebooks, giving workshops, consulting, and more.

  9. Be persistent.
    If it’s important to you, don’t give up. Building your own blog takes time, promotion, networking, and persistence. If you prefer to write for others, it also takes time to establish yourself well enough that you can gain the equivalent of full-time work. Yes, there are some bloggers who earn $40K, 60K or 100K from a single blog, but they are rare – and they’ve become expert at their topic. Still, persistence might take you there someday.

  10. Be yourself.
    Write in the style(s) that you’re good at. Everyone cannot be a Jack of All Blogs blogger. I made the huge mistake of thinking I could be snarky and provocative. As a result, I’ve offended a few people. Not everyone can be both publicly serious and simultaneously snarky. If you want to be both, do so anonymously. And more importantly, get your facts right – a problem I have due to a frustrating illness that causes both short-term memory loss and juxtaposition of facts and contexts. I seem to be safe if I stick to technique posts, not so much with opinion posts. My blogging takes twice as long as it probably should, but I love it anyway.

I’m sure I’ve left out a lot of tips, but those are the ones that come to mind. Blogging will open up many opportunities for people, including those that are unable to work a “regular” job. I wrote about this in a self-indulgent post, blogging can be a real job – which was inspired by Performancing alumni Chris Garrett’s Get a Real Job post. As I’ve surely said multiple times, blogging is an ideal career for me for many reasons. It could be for you as well.

Author: Raj Dash

20 thoughts on “Blogging as a Full-time Career?

  1. I enjoyed this post, very informative. I’ve been considering a career at blogging, and this post was very relevant. Been doing it for 5 years, now just getting feet on the ground and moving forward.

  2. I assume by “buy it” you mean the legitimacy of flight? Given my current age and the fact that I’ve yet to buy it, and have lost good friends in the Air India crash of 1985, I’m not sure when that time will be. My plan to walk around the world, dreamed up in 1999, was explicitly about walking because I don’t want to fly.

  3. Weird that they’d close the doors, so to speak. Still, sounds interesting. I’m really hoping that we’ll have more conferences like this up in Toronto soon. I’m planning on starting one in 2008, if someone else doesn’t beat me to it. [I’m extremely afraid of flying, and have only flown a few times in my life. My over-analytical mind can’t come to grips with thousands of tons of steel in the air, despite the scientific soundness of flight. So it’s unlikely I’ll be going to conferences in the USA.]

  4. I was going to go to PostieCon when it was scheduled for Orlando in June(couple weeks back originally). I will probably go now that its been bumped to November in Vegas. The speaker line up didn’t originally impress me all that much, but I did want to meet the bloggers that were going, all those people I’ve been working with for a year now.

    From a speaker and learning perspective, I gained a great deal more from the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario California (http://www.newmediaexpo.com/. Its in September, Its about $300 for the conferences, but they were worth it. I think they have a total of 4-5 tracks this year, last year they had Leo Laporte and the guy from RocketBoom(just forgot his name) plus the writer/producer for Battlestar Galactica, Ronald Moore, as keynote speakers. Not sure yet who the keynote speakers will be this year.

    Track Info
    – Track 1: Audio & Video Podcasting 101 – A to Z for Beginners – Get Up To Speed Fast
    – Track 2: Attracting & Growing Your Audience – Building an Audience & Guerilla Marketing
    – Track 3: The Business of Podcasting & New Media – Monetization & Business Podcasting
    – Track 4: Advanced Audio & Video Creation – “How To” Techniques for Editing and Creation
    – Track 5: New Media for Special Interests – Educators, Musicians, Non-profits and more

    Personally, I think PostieCon will be a better and larger event if PayPerPost opens it up to the rest of the industry.(Its open to all bloggers, but not to other supporting companies of bloggers necessarily.)

  5. …on being in the Times. Too bad they didn’t hyperlink you! You’re right that blogging definitely can be a full-time career and more and more people are doing it. There’s a cool conference in Vegas in November called
    PostieCon where those who do manage to do it for living give tips and advice as well. It’s free too, which is a plus.
    Take Care Raj,
    aB.

  6. thebutler: While it’s entirely possible that Barbara Whitaker already knew of Performancing, I made special emphasis to her of its job listings, and Problogger’s job board as well. Now whether that’s translated into traffic, I don’t know. (It has for my personal site and my tech site.)

  7. Its great that performancing was mentioned in the article. In the PR business world a nice mention (verse bad press) in the NYTimes is something that a PR flack would be jumping up and down all around the office in some weird PR frenzy. Not any easy task.

  8. I got an email copy of this article from a friend that I have been mentoring a bit. I found it somewhat ironic that he had forwarded me a copy of the article that mentioned you, especially as you have helped me so much.

    Congrats!

  9. Thanks, Marcel. I’m actually hoping to be doing a LOT of screncasting, video and free/ paid ebooks. My forte has always been how-to-do-slightly-techie stuff for the non-tech. I was a teaching assistant in college, so I’m okay with that stuff, but I seem to be terrible at the opinion pieces. So I’m shifting most of my focus from writing about how to blog to how to webcast/ podcast/ broadcast/ vlog, as well as netrepreneuring with minimal budgets (i.e, bootstrapping entrepreneurs)

    You’re very entrepreneurial yourself, Marcel, and I’m always wondering what you’ve got cooking.

  10. Good News Raj. I’m not suprised though Can’t wait to what you will be working on in a few years.

    * This post is worth printing out and adding to a Blogger Binder*

  11. Jim, wise advice, thanks. Maybe the key is to not market the professional as a “blogger” per se? As you said, communication specialists might work. New media specialists, new media communicators. I know some of those sound so corporate, but the same thing happened back when “webmasters” became rockstars in 1996. Most of the webmaster jobs I came across were assigned to technically unqualified PR people. Things are obviously different now, and it’s all a matter of educating businesses – which you and Tris, amongst others, have been doing.

  12. Thanks for the mention Raj. I get many companies finding me because they want to hire bloggers. This is becoming a good way to earn a living, and prices are going up for bloggers! I’ve done interviews with other publications that are curious about this new career. We have adjusted our contracts recently to put in terms for when a blogger is hired on a full time employee basis, not too unlike a temporary agency. We have had companies that have hired bloggers into their ranks with full salary and benefits, after a short time of seeing what their talents include. Many of the bloggers are now considered company communication specialists. We are also getting other social media tools requested besides bloggers. We can now provide podcasters and videocasters for companies. Your bag of tricks should also be learning these other areas of social media.

  13. Ahmed: I don’t have any problem writing for others, but when my creative juices are low, I feel guilty. And if I’m not getting work done for “clients”, that’s never good. They’ve put up with it in the past, so I’m very lucky that way.

    My time mgmt isn’t the issue, it’s my health, which literally affects my productivity because my short-term memory is affected, as is my concentration.

  14. Shade Jon: When I announce the 1st Carnival of Internet Pros soon, I hope you’ll enter that one.

    Ahmed: thanks for the compliments

  15. btw, congratulations for the mention.

    You, my friend, need better time management skills, if you’re taking on too much work.

    My advice – do more blogging for yourself, and take on high-priced consulting work to pay the rent until your own blogs take off.

    As simple as it sounds. Although I don’t know about you – I started to hate writing for other people, or working for anyone else. It quite hard to manage that, so if you have that covered you’re good to go.

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