Have you ever thought about what it would be like to run a blog as your job?
For the past ten years I’ve been earning a living by managing my own blogs. Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the daily life of a blogger and what it’s like to work from home running an online business. In some cases, people are surprised by the truth.
In this article I want to share a few things about life as a blogger and what it’s really like (at least for me). Some of these things may be what you would expect, or they may surprise you. If you’re considering turning that side hustle into a full-time business be sure that you consider all of the details first.
My goal here isn’t to encourage or discourage anyone from blogging. I simply want to shed some light on the realities of full-time blogging.
1. Blogging Isn’t for Everyone
Blogging may seem like a dream job, and I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed my work a lot during the past 10 years, but it’s not a good fit for everybody. It’s not so much the work itself, but the challenges that come with the lifestyle. Here are just a few things that can present problems:
- You need to have patience and put in a lot of work before you see results.
- Your income will fluctuate every month, which means you need financial discipline (and even if you’re disciplined it can still be stressful).
- If you work from home you’ll have very little human interaction in your work.
- You’ll need to be self-motivated because there’s no boss to hold you accountable.
Working from home comes with plenty of challenges. The first 4 or 5 years I worked from home there were no kids in the house. The last 5+ years have been a lot more challenging, and now with two kids I’ve had to learn to work with more noise and distractions around me.
I’m not complaining though. I love working from home and I hope to be able to do it for a long time, even if it does come with some challenges.
2. The Flexible Schedule is a Huge Perk
When I first left my full-time job to work for myself, several of my friends asked me if I was sleeping in every morning.
From the start I’ve always tried to keep a schedule with typical working hours. But one of the major benefits of working form home and being self employed has been the flexible schedule.
I still work more than 40 hours per week, but when I need flexibility in my schedule it’s there.
I’m able to go see my kids at school and pre-school when there is a special event during the day. I can schedule appointments whenever I need to. I have more control over the days and weeks that I use for vacation and travel. I can take 15 minutes and go for a walk around the block to get some fresh air. I just need to make sure that I can get my work done as well.
Although I still work just as much as I did before, the flexibility makes life a lot easier. I can also work while traveling since I can work from anywhere. It’s easier to be away for a longer period of time when I can check in and work for two hours a day (like while the kids are napping).
3. Blogging is Hard Work, But it Pays Off and Gets Easier
If you want an easy job, blogging probably isn’t for you. Building a successful blog from scratch takes a lot of work and patience.
But the nice thing about blogging is that all your work in the beginning can pay off for years to come. It may take you a year or a few years to build an audience, but once you’ve built that audience and established a connection with your readers, everything becomes easier.
As your blog grows it’s very possible that you can actually scale back on the amount of time you put into it, and still watch your income grow. Of course, you don’t want to neglect your blog or the success will be short lived, but the point is, the work gets a lot easier once you’ve had some success.
4. A Blog Itself Isn’t Going to Make You Any Money
There is a lot being written about blogging as a side hustle or making money as a blogger. The truth is, you need to turn that blog into a business in order to really make money. Your business model may involve selling your own digital products, promoting your own services, promoting affiliate products, or other things like attracting as much traffic as possible and selling advertising space.
The most successful bloggers have a plan that they follow to monetize their blogs.
When I first started blogging I made most of my money from selling ad space. Over the years my approach has changed. Now selling digital products is my favorite way to make money from a blog. You can use the blog to attract a targeted audience and to establish your reputation, and then make money by having a quality product to solve one (or more) of the major problems your target audience has.
5. Networking is Essential
Almost every successful blogger is well connected within their industry or niche. Networking with other bloggers and influential people in your niche is one of the most overlooked aspects of blogging.
Be proactive and make an effort to get to know other bloggers in your niche. Don’t view other bloggers as your competition. In reality, bloggers can help each other in a lot of ways: guest post opportunities, links to each others content, social media sharing, testimonials, affiliate promotions, collaborations, and more.
If you’re just getting started with your blog, networking should be one of your priorities.
6. My Friends and Family Have No Clue What I Do
I hate talking to friends and family about what I do for a living, so I avoid the subject as much as possible.
Aside from my wife, no one really understands what I do.
My first blog was a web/graphic design blog and I did some web design work for clients, so if someone asked what I did for a living I would simply say “web design”. It was an easy answer because everyone understands it and there are very few follow up questions.
After I sold my design blog I wasn’t involved in web design anymore, so for the past 5 years I’ve referred to my job as “internet marketing”. I do get some questions about what I do, but I can usually just say that I manage my own websites, and then change the subject quickly.
I’ve never referred to myself as a blogger when someone asks me what I do for a living, and I probably never will (I only describe myself as a blogger within the blogging community, where people actually understand it). I’ve never shared my websites or blogs with any friends or family other than my wife, and with very few exceptions my sites haven’t been seen by people that I know personally.
I know many blogging experts tell you to get started by sharing your blog with friends and family. I’m not saying it’s bad advice – I’m sure it can be helpful – I just don’t want to do it.
7. Time Management and Focus Are Major Challenges
My single biggest challenge as a full-time blogger is managing my time. There are so many different things to do, and there is no way I’ll ever be able to get to everything that I want to do.
Each day I have to try and decide what is most important and urgent. I have to do my best to stay focused on the projects I’m working on and not chase after shiny objects and every new trend that I read about.
If you’re not careful it’s very easy to spend your time doing things that really don’t matter.
As a blogger you are responsible for your own success and you need to evaluate how you use your most valuable asset, your time. You need to have a plan and stick to it.
8. Writing is Only a Small Part of the Job
You might think that a blogger spends the majority of their time writing. If you’re a freelance blogger this is probably the case. But if you’re managing your own blogs, writing is just one of the tasks that you’ll need to do. You’ll also probably spend time on social media, promoting your content, responding to emails and comments, researching and staying up-to-date in your niche, managing finances, and everything else related to running the business.
Writing is actually one of the easiest things to outsource, so it’s very possible that you could run a successful blog and not do any of the writing yourself.
For me this is a good thing. I enjoy writing, but it can be draining if I do too much of it. Right now I’m managing a few different blogs, and most weeks I only write 1 or 2 new blog posts. I hope to increase that, especially here at Vital Dollar, but for now, writing takes up much less than half of my time.
9. Success Can Be Stressful
Of course, as a blogger the goal is to build a successful and profitable blog. In general, the work of a blogger gets easier as the blog grows. You don’t have to do as much promotion to get exposure for your content and you can focus more on running the business.
But, at least for me, as the business grows it can also increase stress. I’ve had situations in the past where I got really stressed out over challenges and setbacks that happened when my blogs were going strong and making a good income. Once the blog is making a good income the stress, for me, comes from a fear of losing that income.
Fortunately, I’ve never had a blog experience a significant drop in income, but I did have a few scares along the way.
10. There is Money to Be Made on the Way Out
One of the reasons I love blogging is because if you own the blog you’re building an asset that you can sell in the future. You might be able to sell that blog for 2 or 3 years worth of profit. That’s a pretty nice parting gift!
Personally, after a few years of working on a blog I’m usually ready to move on and do something else. Selling makes it possible to transition to something else and to benefit in a big way from the past few years of work.
If you want to read more about my strategy of building and selling blogs, please see my article How I’ve Made Over $1 Million Blogging.
Still Want to Be a Blogger?
If you haven’t started your blog yet (and this article didn’t scare you off) you can follow this step-by-step guide to start your own blog. You may also be interested in my free 7-day email course, Blogging Fundamentals.