I once saw bloggers as one of either two kinds of people: geeks hiding behind computers writing desperate prose and sending it out into the abyss in search of other lifeforms; or stay-at-home moms and ex-journalists begging for sponsorships and free products to review. Regardless of why they were blogging, I saw all bloggers as self-promoters, free spirits, Jacks-of-all-subjects, masters of none.
I wanted in.
Since becoming a professional blogger myself, I’ve discovered that there are lots of stay-at-home moms and dads and ex-journalists … along with representatives from just about every other part of the population. Cat bloggers. Healthcare bloggers. Star Trek bloggers. Sometimes I do feel like nerdy recluse, but I’ve also come to understand that I’m part of a big and vibrant professional community. Yes, many people from all walks of life try out professional blogging, but making money at it isn’t easy.
I’ve spent an entire week at a computer only to find that I made a paltry $50 and blew more than half of it on grandé iced lattés to keep me awake long enough to keep writing.
And there are times when I’ve felt like I’ve sent my precious prose into the great unknown — sort of like applying for jobs online. I’ve published posts and waited weeks for the first comment from a non-relative. To help supplement my blogging income, I’ve sent copies of my posts to “traditional” media outlets and crossed my fingers they would find my writing amusing enough to give me a decent paycheck. Then waited to hear back. And waited. I’ve landed some decent freelance gigs, but they’ve all been temporary.
By necessity, I’ve had to become an expert on everything from diamonds to glass blowing. My clients have been diverse as real estate agents, shrink…er, psychologists, a golf company and a diamond importer. I’ve written about preparing for the best sex on your honeymoon, staging your home to sell it for more money, creating blown-glass masterpieces, and what should be in your golf bag. Between you and me, I know NOTHING about most of these subjects. (It’ll be our little secret, right?) I research the topic and then write a post and voila — money in the bank! It’s like high school: memorize, regurgitate, forget! Only instead of trying to get an A on the final, I’m trying to pay my rent.
I love that I’ve had to stretch my knowledge base, even if the motivation was to pay the bills. But honestly, I have felt like a sell-out once or twice. I’ve accepted assignments about “personal care” products and naughty conventions. The price? My Baptist mother on the other end of the line: “ASHLEY RENEE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” I’ve tweeted, I’ve Facebooked, I’ve pinned, I’ve begged for shares and likes and even bribed a few folks to repost some of my posts. (Not proud of that one.)
Despite the challenges of breaking into professional blogging, I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences.
Why? Because I love it! Blogging allows me to be myself with all of my quirks, my passion for writing, my ADD … Squirrel! Hmm, I wonder what will be on the next episode of Blacklist. I think I could really use some more sequins on this shirt but I’m also kind of craving pizza right now … Oh wait! Blogging! Let’s get back to that…
My path to pro blogging
The truth is I am one of those pesky ex-journalists I mentioned earlier. After two magazine internships I was suddenly a newlywed, unemployed graduate with a journalism degree and no clear direction. Unwilling to accept that my career as a writer was over before it officially began, and definitely not willing to move into my parents’ spare bedroom with my new husband, I stumbled into a part-time blogging job.
Now, I was making some money that was nothing to sneeze at, but still not earning enough to completely abandon the 9-to-5 job as an office temp that I’d taken to make ends meet. I don’t know about you, but it really frustrates me to have to wear pants every day; I prefer blogging from home in my pajamas. A blogging stereotype? I don’t think so.
Luckily, at the beginning of 2014 I found the book, “The Art of Freelance Blogging.” It sparked an epiphany: Since I couldn’t earn enough money with my own blogs, why not start blogging for others? I had my first client before I knew it, a travel agent with a blog but no time to write the posts. I had both the time and the need for income. I gradually landed more clients (we’ll talk about how some other time), and now my professional blogging career has started to gain some traction.
I still work on my personal blogs in my spare time, but the important thing (to me at least) is that I’m making money doing something I love. In fact, by the time you read this post, I will have left my 9-to-5 office job to focus on writing full time!
Do you want to be a professional blogger, too? If so, I’d like to invite you to join me on my journey. You’ll see the highs, the lows, the good and bad, the freebies and the fun of this exciting adventure. Maybe together we can both figure out ways to get rich writing these web log thingies that no one ever thought would last. Who knows? We might even discover a new lifeform in the process.