Can blogging full-time become a real paying job?

By Catherine Potts | Jun 11, 2007
More Articles by Catherine

When trolling the internet for items I think I’d like to pass on or speak to, I come across a lot of blogs with a lot of ads. This makes me wonder… “can this be a form of gainful employment? If so, how?” Can people actually just get paid by doing something they TRULY love (or need to) to talk about? Hmmmm… I set out to find out more on this topic. I don’t assume my article will be an earth shattering discovery — quite the contrary. It is addressing a topic that has seen a lot of attention in recent years. If this article helps just ONE reader… I will have been successful *sniff*.

A good example of blogging for a living is Dooce. I came across her blog not that long ago and read her bio. She started it as a personal venture and stated opinions (yeah, that free speech thing) about people she knew (at work). This, a year or so later, ended up getting her fired from her day job of being a web designer. Her blog went from a hobby to being able to pay her family’s bills, albeit inadvertently. Not bad eh? I guess necessity is the mother of all invention?

At this point she runs enough ads (McDonald’s!) on her site, that she doesn’t have to withstand the average daily grind anymore. In addition, her site is an easy read and very witty. She combines personal stories and anecdotes with pictures (see her Daily Photo). For a reader like me, that style of blogging is attractive and I’ll always keep checking back to see what’s up. Advertisers know this and are willing to place ads on blogs of the sort. Not to mention she’s an incredible photographer, fulfilling that side of us all that digs the picture book over reading, sometimes. I’ve got to find out what kind of camera she has…

Grey Wolf wrote an article about blogging for dough recently:

The first thing you really need to consider is your subject matter. Rand did a much better job covering that than I could so check out “Blogging in an Oversaturated Market is Usually a Poor Decision“. When deciding what to write about there are two schools of thought “write about what you like” or “write about what’s profitable”. It’s something of a catch-22, it’s much easier to write about something you like, but there’s not always money in it, and let’s be honest how many of us are really interested in the intricacies of reverse mortgages. My advice try to find something that interests you and step up to a slightly wider focus where the money is. For example maybe you really enjoy raising African cichlids in your aquarium, I’d step up and cover freshwater aquariums as whole and focus (maybe 10-25% of total posts) ever so slightly on your specific topic of interest.

Grey Wolf also suggests that a blogger get a regular schedule of posting, something a reader can rely on. Keeping the content new and fresh is the key. He also mentions in his article about blogging for money that not everyone can accomplish what Dooce did. There is something that has to “stick” with your readers. If you’re blogging about something that is too widely discussed, you may not be able to surpass those already present. There are millions of blogs and not all will be able to get the advertisers attention, especially if someone is a virtual unknown. So there are several keys to drawing attention and potentially earning money: find a niche, have good content and visibility.

How do you gain visibility to your blog? I’m not going to try and improve on what Steve Pavlina said on his personal development blog. Can’t improve on perfection, right? Below is a bulleted list from Steve Pavlina:

* blog publishing software
* blog comments (and comment spam)
* RSS/syndication
* feed aggregators
* pings
* trackbacks
* full vs. partial feeds
* blog carnivals (for kick-starting your blog’s traffic)
* search engines
* search engine optimization (SEO)
* page rank
* social bookmarking
* tagging
* contextual advertising
* affiliate programs
* traffic statistics
* email

Optional: podcasting, instant messaging, PHP or other web scripting languages.

Grey Wolf suggests that you start promoting your blog address by adding it to your email signature, link exchanges with friends who also have websites or blogs. You can also find blog directories and RSS feed directories to post your blog info in. It may take a little while for people to find you but if you strategize and build your blog site with multiple levels of entertainment or informational sections, chances are you’ll peak someone’s interest. Who knows, it may go viral.

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