When to take the leap from hobby to professional blogging

I’m a writer

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is when it’s time to take the leap from hobby blogging to professional blogging. Although this answer is different for everyone, I thought I’d share my key indicators that it’s time to jump off the hobby blogger train and into the glorious world of professional blogging.

You have more than a love for writing.

When you go from enjoying the act of writing to living it, breathing it, not being able to imagine a day without it, you’ve found that sexy, passionate kind of love that tells you this is something real. Perhaps you and writing started dating casually; suddenly, everything in your life is giving you reasons to write more. So you bump it up to seeing each other on the regular. Before you know it, you can’t stop. You don’t want to do anything else but write. You’ve totally found the one and you can’t go back.

You catch yourself making a plan.

You used to post on your blog when the urge struck, but for some reason you sat down and created an editorial calendar in Excel. You started thinking about what topics would get your readers attention, and (GASP!) you even pondered what the best headlines were for clickability.

You’re making enough money from your blog to quit your day job.

Seriously? If you’re already making enough to pay the bills, why are you still working that pesky 9-to-5? It’s quite possible that you could just do this full time — and perhaps make even more money!

Professional blogger Ashley Grant feeding a lemur
Would you rather get paid to answer phones or write about petting lemurs? #stupidquestion

You have to claim blogging income on your taxes.

When you start making serious money and accountants have to get involved, you’re a pro, dude! Just make sure you don’t blow this chance to work for yourself doing what you love — be smart about bookkeeping.

A post or two has gone viral.

OK, this might not mean it’s time to go pro, but a viral post could be the perfect catalyst to shift into being a pro blogger. You know that saying, strike while the iron is hot? Well, do that!

You ooze expertise.

What happens when you become an expert on something and start posting a bunch about what you know? You’ve found your niche, my friend. Good for you! If people are picking up all that knowledge you’re laying down, then I think you might be flirting with professional blogger status. Now you can lay the groundwork to set yourself up as an expert in the industry you’re writing about and go after the big-game articles and book deals!

Ideas flutter from your brain like migrating monarchs.

monarchEven though it might not seem like it, the fact that your mind just keeps churning out blog ideas is HUGE! Some of the best professional bloggers can go into any situation and come out with one if not five different blog post ideas. Check out this post to learn more about curating post topics.

Self-starting is no problem.

As a professional blogger you have no real boss telling you what to do. Your only boss is you. You could post today, you could post tomorrow, you could go on hiatus for a month or longer. The problem is that the less frequently you post, the closer you move back to hobby blogger status. You have to have the self-discipline to create a schedule and then stick to it — or your readers will tire of your inconsistency and head over to some other blog.

You’re good at interacting with your readers and other bloggers.

The more you engage with your community, the more traffic you’ll drive to your blog. Period. Hobby bloggers comment on a few blogs and like some sites on Facebook; professional bloggers use these interactions as a tool to build credibility and forge real connections, while subtly marketing their page just by putting themselves out there.

Words like branding, marketing and reach are in your vocabulary.

When you start treating your blog like a business, you’ve definitely gone pro. Before you know it you’ll be creating spreadsheets of income and expenses, buildings lists of potential sponsors and reviews you want to pitch, thinking of guest post ideas for other blogs, and even having meetings with people to develop your blog into a household name. The coolest part about these meetings is that you can join them via Skype and the person on the other side of the table will have no idea you’re still wearing pajama pants beneath your professional façade!

Obviously, this is by no means a complete list of indicators that it’s time to take the leap from hobby to professional blogging — but these items scream pro to me. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!