Do you have dreams of making a living working online, possibly through blogging? Do you have a plan for how to achieve that? This year marks three years of serious blogging for me, though I have been a freelance writer and published author for much longer. Since becoming a committed blogger, the tough decision has always been whether to blog for myself or to freelance. Both have their positives and negatives.
Here I am nearly three years later and still mostly freelancing, not putting enough time into my own web properties. But in general, I’m questioning if there’s any future in pro blogging for the average person wanting to be a web publisher. Don’t get me wrong. I’m almost never short of opportunities for paid work online. But some months are real downers, or the stakes per project are high. So if I miss a deadline or cannot complete a project, there’s that much more to lose. There’s no half-billing if I only finish half of a project. But my own properties are so neglected that they earn very little. Quite the dilemma.
If you’re just starting out in the blogosphere, what should you do? Short answer: learn the good and the bad aspects of both blogging options. Here are just a few of both that come readily to mind.
Pros and Cons of Blogging For Yourself
- Freedom to blog whatever topics you want.
- Lots of choices for ads and monetization.
- Might take a long time to build enough traffic.
- It’s easy to get discouraged when traffic doesn’t come, and yet another blog on the topic pops up.
- You brand your own web properties.
- Your income is not limited to a per-article or per-project fee. If your site’s earnings increase, the money’s all yours.
- A lot of the highest-earning niches are often very saturated or tough to crack the cliques.
Pros and Cons of Blogging For Hire
- You might build your reputation and personal brand, but not on your own web properties.
- There’s a market for bloggers, with lots of opportunities.
- The pay isn’t always enough for the amount of effort.
- The pay isn’t always enough to quit a “real” job, and income can fluctuate significantly.
- If your contract ends and you’ve invested time in learning a niche, it may not always be easy to replace the work. You may have to switch niches.
- Freelancing in a niche might require that you maintain your own blog(s) in that niche, as part of promotional efforts.
- Freelancing full-time leaves you little time for your own blogging.
My preference is to follow a mixed schedule of freelance work and my own projects, but it’s not easy. To build your own web properties – and your reputation – it takes a lot of initial effort. I used to believe it’s an exponentially decreasing curve of effort, getting easier each year. Well, that’s true, but only in very minute amounts. I am spending less and less time blogging (including research) each week, but my overall monthly average income doesn’t seem to want to budge.
Now, all that said, I don’t want you to go away with a picture of doom and gloom. My father’s favorite saying when I was a kid was, “where there’s a will there’s a way.” What’s more, my experience will not necessarily be yours. My health affects the amount of time it takes me to write, and it’s a catch-22 for me. I can’t get better unless I get out of my chair and become active again, but if I do that I’m worried that I won’t get my work done. (Though as I’ll discuss in the future, this is a self-imposed illustion.)
Still, I’m gravitating back to offline work in the next few years – not because I think there’s no hope for online careers but because I actually miss the social aspect of working offline. But for those of you dedicated enough to do what’s necessary, blogging can be rewarding.