As part of my three year retrospective and the count down to five hundred posts on this blog, I wanted to make sure I covered how I started blogging full time, and how things have changed today. I wanted to cover how stressful it is to be a full time blogger and how it can be hard to say “no” to jobs that come up. I think too many people still think that it is either too easy or too difficult to become a full time blogger, and I think that this post among others will help people understand the career choice a bit better.
Becoming a Problogger
My history with blogging has been as much about passion as luck. I have always enjoyed writing fiction, but never assumed I would take a career in writing as computers and technology were my primary passions. When Darren Rowse decided to go on vacation, I applied as one of the people that would guest post on one of his many blogs while he was gone, and despite not blogging on his most important blog, Problogger, I was still noticed by Jacob Gower, who has purchased a variety of high profile blogs.
At first it looked like I was going to have two part time blogging jobs, but Jacob stepped up and hired me full time. My pay was fairly low, especially after taxes were set aside, but thanks to the support of my wife, we were able to make ends meet. My first tip for someone looking to go full time in blogging is to find ways to cut your expenses. The lower your expenses, the easier it is to find a blogging job that can pay for them. Especially today with competition getting higher and higher for the positions available online, you will want to find ways to make yourself very valuable to companies while still being able to afford to eat reasonably.
I started out doing over a dozen posts a day on a variety of different sites. I was writing for a large group of brand new blogs as well as a small group of heavily established sites. I found it very stressful but also very exhilarating. I was working from home for a living. I didn’t care about the long hours or low pay because the job was interesting and fun. I spent hours researching my favourite technologies and writing about them. I was on top of the daily advancements in computers, cell phones, and blogging. It was a hard job, but also felt very fulfilling.
As time progressed, I slowly made more, and was able to do less posting. I was grateful for this change as it allowed me to switch from being a low end content producer into a writer. I was able to give thought and emotion to my articles, as well as really start to show my creativity and passion. And again, I felt fulfilled by my job.
The biggest issue that I started to notice though was that I had made everything I was interested in, into a job. I no longer had any hobbies outside of work, and even playing video games became a work oriented expenditure of time and energy. Instead of diving into a game and enjoying it, I was thinking about the storyline, graphics, controls, and plotting out my thoughts for review later on when I was back in WordPress composing a post.
This realization changed blogging for me, and made me wonder about my ability to do it for a longer period of time. If all of the things I was interested in were connected to my job, how would I unwind and just enjoy myself? I still recommend that anyone who wants to really get into blogging start writing about your passions first, as it will help set you apart from the masses of new blogs being created every day where the sole purpose is to generate profit.
Taking on Too Much
Money was still tight at the time, and so I didn’t have long to really reflect on that realization, and then did what most bloggers end up doing: I took on more projects.
I started a few blogs of my own in hopes of one day working entirely for myself, as well as working on some blogs for another network, dailypixel. I went from working ten or more hours a day to spending all day on the computer. I tried to set some time aside for my wife, but otherwise I was glued to my RSS reader, or the WordPress administration panel. Sometimes, I would pull an all nighter in hopes of catching up in work, as I always felt like I was falling behind.
When taking on the job with James at dailypixel, I really didn’t think about my worth and ended up requesting a rate of around ten dollars for every three posts. How did I come to this rate? I assumed that I could write around three posts per hour, and so I would be making a rate of ten dollars an hour. The issue is that I didn’t think about research time, nor the fatigue I would have from both my full time blogging job and my own personal projects.
Soon the blogging burnout hit all of my work and Jacob, my boss at Bloggy Network noticed it and asked me to adjust the deal so that I would only be working for him. Other part time blogging opportunities came my way, and I turned them down. Either because of the deal with Bloggy Network or because they weren’t going to offer me a rate that could really make it worth my time to ask Jacob to break the deal.
I eventually closed down the blogs I had started for myself as they weren’t growing very fast, and looking at the statistics of the newer blogs that I was working on for Bloggy Network, it would take upwards of a year before the sites started showing any real signs of making a profit from the time I was putting into creating content for them.
Changing Blog Networks
Pick the right network. One thing I learned early on was that different bloggers do exceptionally well in different blog networks. It takes a variety of different pieces that need to fit together perfectly before you create an amazing blogger to blog network relationship. For the most part I experienced that connection with Bloggy Network. I was pretty much in charge of a variety of projects, and was depended on for a variety of things. This made me feel important and successful. Being in control of the content I produced, and feeling like I was part of the executive team helped me remain inspired and committed to my job.
Switching over to Splashpress Media, I felt a little like a small fish in a big pond, and despite Mark Saunders, the owner, working hard to integrate me well into the team, I still always felt like an outsider. Add to that the lack of response to some business related ideas I had, and it just wasn’t a good fit for me at that time. I definitely learned a lot by being in the wrong blog network for me, and so I am definitely glad I had that experience. Also, I want to mention that Splashpress Media is a great company to work for, but it just didn’t suit me at that time in my career.
Bigger blog networks definitely feel more secure in nature, but if you aren’t part of the executive team, you end up feeling like little more than a content producer, and after doing that for a few years, I wanted more control, and responsibility. Smaller blog networks feel more unstable, but also more agile and responsive to business related ideas. Also, at Bloggy Network, everyone needed to be a swiss army knife with a wide range of usable skills over and above writing and so there were very few instances where I was bored.
My main tip in this post would be that anyone looking to become a full time blogger in a blog network take the time to research the blog network and talk to both people within the company and outside of it to really get a good understanding of the culture and needs of the network before you join and don’t take every job that comes your way.
This post is part one of three parts. The third part will be the 500th post on this blog and as part of my work towards this milestone I will be working on improving this site greatly, so please keep checking back.