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Life as a Pro Blogger

ElyanaI am a professional blogger and have been for some time. What I mean by that is that I make my living and pay the bills through my online activities with my blogs. Most bloggers out there are not pro. Many would like to be and are trying to get to that point. But, what is life like when you’re actually doing it? People like Darren Rowse make their living talking about it. I just make my living doing it, but I’ll talk about it here (since it is my personal blog).

Simply put – it is a lot of frickin’ work.

I’m usually up around 7 in the morning. I check email and activities on my own sites first thing. I literally make a B-line from my bedroom to the office almost every morning. After that, I grab some breakfast and walk the dog. Sometimes I may get a little exercise, too (but not often enough). I usually start actually working around 9 AM.

I am trying to get out of the programming/consulting business, but I still have one primary client that I cannot get rid of quite yet. So, I will attend to some programming crap in the mornings. Then, it is off to check up on the tech news of the day and write about it. My fellow PCMech writer, Rich, has usually already posted a few items by this time. We make an effort to post 3-4 items per day if we can. Blogs die quickly if you don’t keep up with them.

After lunch, I’m usually working on various site enhancements to perfect the site or increase revenue. PCMech makes it’s revenue from a mix of third-party advertising, affiliate sales, online store sales and memberships. The membership program is new and is something I will go into more detail on a little later. So, the afternoon is usually about maintaining and enhancing these revenue streams by improving the site and exploring new ventures.

I usually psuedo-quit around 6:30 PM. I say psuedo-quit because I do leave my office, but I’m not done for the day. Typically I will do some work on the laptop in the evening after dinner. I do this out with my family and with the TV going. During this time, I am usually catching up on RSS feed reading (after all, a blogger has to know what people are talking about), commenting on other blogs, social media catch-up (like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed), or doing some research on some ideas I had earlier for the business. At night, I try to also live a bit of an integrated life, spending time with my family and doing work at the same time.

So, 4 days per week, I’m pretty much “working” from morning to bedtime. It really doesn’t feel like work to me because I truly enjoy it. Friday nights is no computer time that I’ll spend with my wife and baby. Over the weekend, I may get some work done, but the family takes priority. It is my balance for having worked my ass off the rest of the week. Besides, I have a beautiful 5-month old daughter, Elyana, and nobody can tell me my blogs are more important than that – as much as I love my job.

Being a pro blogger is rewarding for the following reasons:

  • I set my own schedule
  • I get to write about what I love – technology and the Internet
  • I can work from home
  • It gives me an excuse to load up on the latest technology (it’s a business expense = nice excuse)
  • I am my own boss and my income is dictated only by my ingenuity and execution of ideas. I don’t have to kiss ass to the man or climb a “career ladder”.

The drawback is that:

  • It can be hard to get started. Busting into pro blogging if starting from scratch is a lot of work. The key to the whole thing is lots of eyes reading your site. And that takes time to build.
  • Most people don’t understand. It can be really hard to describe what I do for a living to people who ask.
  • It can seem unsecure. My wife really doesn’t get what I do. In many ways, she’d probably rather me have a 9-5 job where I get a steady paycheck and a 401K plan. Blogging isn’t like that. And, yes, it was definitely a weird feeling making my money like this when we had our little girl. After all, my little girl is depending on a blog for her food. This IS pressure. But, you can either cave to it and give in to the 9-5, or you can stick it out and make it work. I chose the latter.

The secret to making it as a pro blogger is to think outside the box. The model of “get lots of traffic, throw up ads” is a TOUGH one to start from scratch. There are MANY MILLIONS of blogs out there already. So, while I definitely say ads are one way to do it, explore other models. Information products. Affiliate sales where you use your blog posts to promote a product you believe in and can make a small commission if they buy it from you. Or as mentioned above, perhaps a membership program. Perhaps use the blog to build credibility then use it to build up an offline business.

Blogs can and do make money every day. I’m proof of that. But, it comes down to providing strong value to your readers and then finding ways to leverage that following.

Life as a problogger is fun and rewarding, but not without its stresses.

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