Becoming a Professional Blogger was never harder than today

Over the weekend, thanks to a feed refresh (again) in Bloglines of the feed, the owner of this very blog, David Krug wrote a post titled Becoming a Professional Blogger was Never as Easy as Today. Naturally before I start this editorial, I’m on the payroll here, from David, so there is a preexisting professional relationship. Lets hope I’m not about to destroy it…but having said that I know he’s got thick skin, unlike some others of late.

Becoming a Professional Blogger was never harder than today, except maybe 3-4 years ago when the revenue wasn’t there.

David’s argument in short is that the tools and knowledge are now freely available and hence everyone has the power to use them to become a professional blogger.

I’m reminded of an episode of the excellent BBC series Top Gear which I literally watched last night in Australia on SBS (we’re about 12 months behind the UK). Presenter Jeremy Clarkson took the challenge of finding out whether knowledge of a race track gained by (car) racing on a Playstation can be used on a real track, in this case California’s Laguna Seca. Suffice to say, despite numerous attempts at matching his time from the Playstation, Clarkson feel short…indeed by a considerable time difference. He concluded with words to the affect that knowledge of a track doesn’t relate to the fact that to actually achieve in real life using that knowledge, you must have an exception skill set, in this case the veracity and fearlessness of a professional racing car driver.

The same holds true in blogging. The knowledge is there, but using that knowledge doesn’t automatically give you the edge to be a professional blogger.

Having said that though, there has never been a better time to make money from blogging, but there is a line between making a decent part time/ extra income and actually blogging for a living.

I’m comfortable in saying that I could train any one to the point that they were making a reasonable part time income from blogging. I don’t however hold the recipe for the magic star dust that creates a professional blogger. Dare I suggest that dependent on your own beliefs, the secret recipe is either inherited in the genes, or bestowed by god.

But how many really professional bloggers are there? those that are actually making there income entirely from blogging? Take a quick sweep across the top of the blogosphere and find someone who actually makes a living from blogging alone. You’d be hard pressed, if you found someone at all. What you usually find is that top bloggers often act as editors, for example Peter Rojas at Engadget, not only blogging but managing other bloggers. Others used their knowledge gained from blogging to do other things, blog networks, ebooks, training, speaking gigs to name but a few.

And last but not least: the competition. Many people who made good money from blogging, even at times being a professional blogger, did so because they were either lucky or had good timing. If you started a niche topic blog 3-4 years ago you’d have a pretty good chance of having made a living from it. The problem today is that just about every single vertical you can think of is being blogged by someone, and chances are that many of them are trying to reach the level where they are blogging for a living. If, as David’s article suggests, the knowledge is freely available, everyone could and is using it. Competition today is more fierce than it has ever been. Again though, you can make money from blogging, good money, but there is a line between this and becoming a professional blogger.

If you are dreaming of becoming a professional blogger, dreams are good. Books such as Think Big and Grow Rich are true, if you don’t aim high you’ll never get there. I wish you all the luck in the world, but note that don’t be disappointed if you don’t get there, if you can make a decent part time income and most importantly of all, enjoy doing it, it can be far more rewarding than all the money in the world.

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  1. I guess it is all about striking a few good shots that spike you into fame and then people start to take note of you. After that it is smoother sailing.

    However, blogging for a living… that is a totally different level indeed because then you need to make a lot more money as opposed just getting that part time income.

  2. Ajay
    you hit it on the head totally. There’s a world of difference between blogging for a living and doing it to make a good p/t income, or even at the level that you are noticed. Getting noticed doesn’t always deliver the goods, it helps, but f/t v p/t….

  3. I don’t know if there’s a need to look at it from a FT vs. PT perspective. It’s definitely possible to be a PT “professional” blogger while earning what many would consider a FT salary. I take that to be in the likes of at least $50k/year depending on where you live, lifestyle, etc. But I think that’s a good round number.

    At a certain point, your workload will not need to increase for your audience and earnings to increase.

  4. Terry,
    sort of agree, you can become a PT professional, but I think in context that professional= full time, and that’s a leap of faith again.

  5. Actually I love the insight and should do a followup post over on Performancing in regards to what you’ve added to the conversation.

  6. Full time vs. part time is always the issue. Terry does point out the valid point of making sufficient as a part time, but unfortunately, making good money requires a lot more time for most people.

    Ofcourse I know a few who have struck gold part time, but then everyone doesn’t have that luck.

  7. Timing is always a huge factor with so many different successes. For example look at No one would look twice at this page today in this web 2.0 era but at the time it was pure gold (and rakes in $300K per month) There are over 1.5 million blog postings daily so you’d better have some pretty interesting content for anyone to see it.

  8. Duncan,

    Although I think I understand the gist of what you are driving at, I must ask for some clarification about your definition of a “professional blogger”. By defining your terms, it may make your argument stand better scrutiny. As it currently stands, it doesn’t really hold water. David’s statement is true if you are considering a professional blogger as someone that blogs for pay. In your case, you seem to intimate that we are talking about blogging for a living. I consider them mutually exclusive. Anyone with a blog and a keyboard can make a couple of bucks and they have lost their amateur status. Just take PPP for example. Now consider paying the mortgage, benefits, eating regular and trying to have a vacation. Now we are talking of a completely different scenario. In your case, what is a professional blogger?

  9. Terry makes an interesting point about cost of living, lifestyle, etc… In a third world country such as the Philippines (where I am), for instance, $1,000 – $1,500 a month would be enough for a person who is single and living alone to pay rent, buy food, pay utility bills, get insurance and have a vacation (as Jim mentioned). So if one had a blog that made atleast that much money and lived in the Philippines, that would already be considered full-time income. So it isn’t really just the amount of money that one earns from blogging but it’s also about whether or not the money earned is enough to become a blogger’s main source of income. And that varies greatly depending on where you live and how you live.

  10. Oh pardon me, I think I should have used the phrase “developing nation” instead of “third world” :)

  11. I’m not an expert, but I have a feeling that again and again, the new amazing blogs will appear. We can see more niches, more color tones and shades, etc.

    Blogging, actually, is in a very beginning stage yet.

    I think somewhere at the end of 2007 we can see totally different interface, unobtrusive and easily integrated with online games, browsing experience, office work, online shopping…

    Voice generation and recognition systems undistinguishable from human voices could merge with the existing wave of podcasting.

    Even if nothing revolutionary happened, blogging will find new talents all the time. New short online stories, new diaries, new stories.

    It does not matter that some library has 100 mln. books, and another 1mln. What is important is the part of books in the constant demand on the regular basis.

    New books come all the time, the same with blogs, no matter how much of them already exist

  12. If I’m not mistaken there are 100.000 new blogs made everyday. Keep this in mind and remember that a blogger reads a lot more blogs than a person who uses the net just to buy something from and find info on wikipedia.

    The more blogs the more (and most importantly the more returning) visitors probloggers will have.

    Its something that we should keep in mind.

  13. There can be only a number 1. To be the number 1 you need to be a pro.

    Note: blogging is only a hobby for me. After coming from a day’s work, it is hard in those 2 hours you might have available to read forums, rss feeds, email and post at least an article.

    Those who start early (opportunity seekers) are the ones who gain. They took a gamble and they won.

    There are exceptions. Look at Google. Search engines existed before. Google just introduced a new way of thinking (Page Rank) and it become number 1.


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