So you want to blog for a living?
That’s a tall order. But it is possible.
I used to think that blogging was this magical shortcut, as though success could be achieved through the right combination of factors – social media, snazzy SEO tricks, and a couple breaks. A viral post could make a career and all you needed was the lucky pill.
Of course, that’s wildly far from the truth.
So, what is the (short) answer? If you want blogging to be your career, you start treating it like your career.
You show up every day. You improve yourself. You grow over time and you let that momentum carry you.
Jobs versus Careers
I’m going to take one second here to explain why this wasn’t titled “How Do I Turn Blogging into a Job?” We don’t want a job. A job is merely a means to an end. Something you “put up with” so you can pay rent.
We want a career. The reason this is so important is that honing your craft requires deliberate practice and the persistence to keep showing up when it gets really hard. It takes the sacrifice and determination to show up every day and not know how it all will work out. You don’t stop getting better and you don’t stop working.
Evaluating yourself honestly and frequently is essential for developing a blogging career.
If you’re blogging to help other people, you need to get outside of your head. You need to make sure your message gets across in a meaningful manner.
Don’t be afraid to get critical feedback. You’re going to need it. This may look like asking other bloggers, friends or even strangers to critique your site. Be sure to ask those who you know will be honest – their insight will be most valuable and constructive.
You will also likely receive feedback from your readers – some positive, some constructive, and some unreasonably negative. But when they speak, listen! If they are requesting things of you or swarming to some posts and neglecting others, take note! This is so important. Let it guide how you determine the overall direction and landscape of your content (not entirely, of course, but certainly let it have influence and impact).
Honestly evaluate where you are now
Is this critical to you?
Are you willing to keep swinging when your back is against the wall?
Is this you? Do you enjoy this? Is this a good idea?
Don’t know? Keep working at it.
Honestly evaluate your work product
Think about your current work product (blog posts) as well as your idea overall.
Is your site a fresh idea? Does it fit within a niche? If not, can you make it do so?
Would it be better to find another idea/concept that you can commit to?
Honestly evaluate your work ethic
Can you work hard on this?
Do you want to work hard on this?
We will touch more on this, but a big part about blogging as a career involves the process of deliberate practice. If you don’t care about what you’re learning, or you’re only in it for another reason (you might think it’s easy money, just want to leave your job, etc.), you’ll burnout. You have to care enough about what you’re creating to do it once, honestly evaluate it, critique, and then do it again – multiple times over.
If you wanted to be a hair stylist, what would you do?
You wouldn’t just sit there and tell people you want to be a hair stylist.
You go apply to a styling school. You buy styling equipment. You work to get better at styling (your craft). You show up to work. You keep learning, day after day.
You must find ways to invest in blogging. Sometimes monetarily, but mostly your time.
Investing your money
Occasionally we will get emails that asking the equivalent of “I don’t have any money, how I can make my blog great anyway?” It doesn’t cost much to make a great blog, but that’s beyond the point here. If you really care about this, start making it a priority.
In hindsight this sounds crazy, but sometimes you have to be a bit ruthless. About three years ago, we sold our couch and bought our first dslr camera.
Of course, I’m not telling you to go sell your couch if you still use it, but I love the heart behind this story. We didn’t know how things were going to work out or what it would take, but we were willing to start swinging with everything we had.
Additionally, I’d love to challenge you with considering what you have in your life that you don’t use. Could you sell it? Could you somehow reinvest that money into blogging? I won’t get on my simplicity pedestal, but this was a huge catalyst for us.
I’m not saying you have to have the latest and greatest gadget or drop thousands of dollars into your blog right away. But you will have to make financial investments.
If this is something you really want to do, you should be prepared to treat it like your business and make financial investments in it.
Investing your time
Part of getting good at your craft is simply showing up every day and putting in the work. If blogging is what you want to do, you need to find ways to invest your time into it.
Need to improve your photography? Grab a book. Check out our Food Photography School. Google some free resources.
But most importantly, take more photos.
Quit believing that you can whip up the right combination of social media and a viral blog post to make blogging your escape from hard work. The reality is that you will need to work harder at this than anything else you’ve ever done.
Start treating your blog like a career. Show up every day. Clock in, work hard, don’t quit.
Investing your heart
This is the reason honest evaluation is so important. You need to make sure you can invest your heart into this. Can you really care about blogging? Do you really care about your topic?
Just because you love your work doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. In fact, if you love your work, you might find it the most difficult thing you could do. However, the fact that you love it will help you persevere when it seems like there’s no good reason.
Invest in your blogging career.
You have to work freakin’ hard to make blogging your career.
Blogging isn’t so much about the lucky big break (although, those can be important). Rather, it’s about the hustle.
It’s about showing up when you don’t want to.
It’s about doing the hard work when it sucks.
It’s about shedding a few tears and moving on anyway.
What happens is the magic of hustle. If you show up day after day, actively learning your craft, you start to get better. In the moment, you really only improve minutely. It is as though you can only move one little building block a day. However, with enough time, all those little building blocks become a pretty cool piece of work.
More importantly, once you actually get better at what you’re doing, your poorest work is still better than your best work when you started. That is, your standard of work naturally elevates. You do better work because you’ve deliberately improved through your invested time.
Here’s the secret: Hustle works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go. Rather it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.*
Have you ever seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi? If not, get on Netflix and watch that bad boy tonight. It’s your homework.
Here’s my 30 second version: Adorable 85-year-old Japanese man has spent 76 years perfecting one thing: sushi. Traditional sushi – simply rice and raw fish. He’s certain that he still hasn’t learned everything there is to know about sushi.
Jiro is still learning how to get better at making sushi by investing one day at a time. You’re trying to build an internet blogging career. Give yourself some grace, look at the big picture, and show up and do your one thing today. Then improve and show up tomorrow.
Is this a lot of work? Yes.
Is it sometimes unreasonably difficult? Yes.
Are people turning this into their careers every day? Yes.
You can do this.