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.
- Blogging can be a full-time career.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.