Monday, 13 July 2015

So You Want To Be A "Pro Blogger"?

When I first started this blog in January 2013, I had no idea that it would one day become my job.

I didn't even realise back then that bloggers made any money from what they did - call me naive but I knew very little of the blogging world and how it worked - I hadn't heard of Zoella or any of the "famous" bloggers and vloggers on the scene, it took me quite a while to cotton on to any of those people or to realise that many people actually earned a decent living from their blogs.

I simply loved to write and had heard mention of "blogs" so thought it seemed like something fun to try.

5 months later I was offered my very first sponsored post - I was so very excited and I started to wonder if I may be able to earn a little "extra income" from this hobby that I loved so much and thought of what a dream come true that would be. Just a bit of extra pocket money would be so useful whilst on maternity leave....

Little did I know this blog would end up being the reason I never returned to work after my maternity leave ended.

Fast forward to now and I guess I fall under the "pro blogger" category - this is not a term I personally like to use as I feel like I'm still learning in many ways. I feel anything but a "pro" most days when I have deadlines up to my eyeballs and I'm trying desperately to balance my time between babies & blog work. 

But a "pro blogger" is quite simply somebody who earns their living from their blog work - it is their profession - and so that is true of me, now.

I no longer earn a little extra money from this blog, I earn the equivalent of a full time wage.

And although I am very very grateful for this and I enjoy my work immensely, it certainly isn't easy - in some ways it may well be one of the hardest jobs I've ever had, but it's also the most rewarding.

I so often see new bloggers on the scene who say they want to go "pro" with their blogs, and although I am certainly not a font of all knowledge on the subject I thought I would offer up some tips based on what I do know - I hope it can be useful.

1. Take advantage of tools to help

Life is made so much easier by getting to grips with the many tools at our disposal once you go into blogging full time...there are so many sites and apps you can use to manage your tasks, help keep you focused, help you improve your skills and even help you find work.

A relatively new site I've been using is Hiive which a fantastic place for creative types to congregate online - you can use the site to search for job vacancies or opportunities, or use it to improve your skills with courses. It's a fantastic place to mingle and network with likeminded people which I feel is a hugely important part of going pro with your blog, and certainly an app I recommend getting to grips with.

I like to use socialoomph for my social media scheduling - as soon as I write up a post I schedule a certain number of social media shout outs promoting it to go live over the next few days, and then I know its done and I can forget about it.

I also use HootSuite to keep track of certain hashtags of relevance to me on Twitter, to save having to constantly scroll through and search for them.

And finally FocalFilter is a fantastic tool for temporarily blocking yourself from distraction such as Facebook, YouTube, etc - I find this invaluable when I'm trying to work through a list of posts to be written and feel my attention wandering! I can let it know which sites to block me from (Facebook!) and for how long, and I'm all set!

2. Be prepared to do the jobs of several people

People tend to think you simply write a blog post and that's it...Not quite.

One blog post for me means I need to do the following jobs:

Writer - I need to come up with the idea for the post, and write it of course. As the writing is what interests me, that's what I find to be the easiest part...the rest is more of a challenge to me.

Photographer - Your post needs images to accompany it if you want to make it stand out, and although you don't need to be a professional photographer I have personally found that my blog reach and my offers of work have increased as I've improved my photos over the years....and there's still a LONG way to go for me yet!

Editor - Once the photos are taken - they need to be edited. If you have a lot of photos this can take hours. I recently did a weekend-long press trip which saw me take over 600 photographs - editing those took just over 2 hours.

I then needed to edit the post itself - to check it for errors, spelling mistakes etc, and make sure it read well - that took a further 15 minutes or so, on top of the 45 minutes it took to write. That's 3 hours spent producing just one post already....and there's still more work to do for that one post...

Time Manager - I usually have a fair few posts each week that need to go live by a certain date as agreed with the client, I also then have my own content that I want to slot in too - in order to fit things in and get everything live when it needs to be, I need to work out a blog schedule which usually runs weeks in advance.
Right now my blog has no free space available for the next 3 weeks - this helps me to know what I can take on and what I can't, but it takes time to work out and continually amend this schedule to make room for new commitments when they arise.

Promotion - There's no point in putting all that effort into a post only for it to sit there unread - and so in order to get it out there, you need to promote it.

There are numerous ways to do this - personally I choose to schedule some mentions of it on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts so that my own followers are aware of it. I then link to it on some blog Facebook share groups, and I then list it on sites such as Stumble Upon, Reddit and Digg.

I also schedule some tweets for it a few months down the line, as you never want a post to become buried and never seen again - it's nice to revisit it further down the line and promote it to a new audience.

All of that promotion takes approximately 30 minutes for each post.

So that equates to roughly 3 and a half hours spent producing & promoting each blog post written - this blog tends to have around 5 posts per week on average (sometimes up to 8 on a busy week), which means I would spend an average of 17.5 hours per week working on it.

But that's JUST for the posts...

Admin - As well as producing and promoting posts, there's a lot of back office work that goes into blogging too.
When you blog as your job you'll find yourself with a lot of emails to go through each day - I can receive up to 60 emails per day on average, all of which need to be filtered through - many of them will be things that aren't suitable for me but I try my best to reply to every email anyway and this takes time - I spend around 2 hours per day replying to emails.

Then you will want to engage with your followers and fellow bloggers on social media, reply to your blog comments, and network with other bloggers - I spend probably a further 2 hours per day doing this (and could do with a LOT more time on it, as I don't feel I network or engage with other bloggers nearly enough as I should!)

So that totals a 37.5 hour working week....and people think blogging is just a "side" job which doesn't take up much time?!

3. Balance your responsibilities & manage your time well

Being your own boss sounds fantastic and means of course that you can set your own hours, which can be great and certainly a blessing when you have children to work around.

But it can also be very, very difficult.

You are responsible for managing your own time - and it's all too easy to get pulled away from work and find yourself just taking half an hour out to bake with the children, or stopping early to go to the park...I'm not going to lie, I do this a LOT!

I see it as the main perk of my job and I probably give in to temptation far more often than I should and suffer for it when work piles on top of me.

I find it helps to give yourself a set working schedule - for example, mine currently looks something like this:

Monday - Photography day! I photograph any products that have arrived in the last week, and take any necessary photos - I upload them, edit them and get them labelled and ready for use in their relevant folders.
I then do my usual blog admin and email responses for the day.

Tuesday - Morning of admin & email responses, and afternoon off!

Wednesday - Writing day! Write up as many posts as possible! Email responses too.

Thursday - Admin & email responses in the morning, and writing any left over blog posts in the afternoon.

Friday - Do any YouTube filming and editing needed, and finish off any admin, email responses and posts to be written up.

I find that having a schedule to stick to helps to ensure that tasks are completed on time, and I struggle so much more when I let the schedule slip!

4. Be prepared to work HARD

When you run a "for profit" blog (a blog that you are happy to use to make money from) you are in charge of your own success.

Nobody is going to appear in front of you and dish out opportunities to you just like that (Wouldn't that be lovely?!) - you need to be prepared to put in the hard work in order to reap the rewards.

There are numerous ways you can earn money from a blog - you can accept sponsored posts (these can be self written or guest written), you can offer advertising on your blog, you can use affiliate links, or you can accept product reviews whereby you are compensated by way of a product to keep after you have reviewed it.

But in order to gain these opportunities, you will first need to build a following - those interested in supplying you with work will most likely want to see evidence of the number of followers your blog and your associated social media accounts have & the number of unique views your blog receives each month.

They also often like you to have built a "decent" DA score.

You need to be prepared to put in time and effort creating good content in order to boost all of your figures and followers to a decent level - and once you have those figures you also need to spend time engaging with people too, most clients like to see some social engagement going on in the comments section and across your social media accounts- there is no point in having 15,000 Twitter followers but never tweeting is there?! Clients like to see that you are active on social media and on your own blog, engaging with your followers and demonstrating a decent social reach.

So there you have it...the amount of work that goes in to "pro blogging" is considerable and not something to be taken's certainly not the "free ride" a lot of people tend to think it is but it does have so many benefits, I'll always be so grateful that this blog gave me the opportunity to work from home so that I could spend as much as time as possible with my children and I will always be grateful for the amazing opportunities it has given to us a family...If, knowing just how much work actually goes into it, you still want to give pro-blogging a try I whole-heartedly recommend it and wish you every success!

You may be interested in my previous posts How To Start A Blog & How To Grow Your Blog, and I am planning a few "How To" posts with some blogging tips over the coming months...let me know if there is anything particular you'd like to know more about and I will try my best!

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  1. Great post as always Hayley! I have been blogging for years, and still have so much to learn. Mainly because I just don't have enough time to fully commit - maybe that will change once I'm on maternity leave, who knows! Love the sound of the focal filter - I need to install this!!!

    Kay | xxx

  2. Love this post Hayley. Some great tips and advice which is valuable to upcoming bloggers like myself who is just beginning their journey in the "pro-blogging" world. I definitely agree that running a blog requires you to be so many different people at the same time. thanks for sharing your schedule, that's something I definitely need to work on.

  3. I've always kept my blog "not pro" even refusing to accept any sponsored posts at all, which is sometimes looked down upon since so many people ARE using their blogs to make money. But for me, it mostly boils down to not wanting to have to commit to all those things you mentioned above. I love being able to use my lifestyle blog to only share what I want, when I want, and never having to invest all those "behind the scenes" hours into it. I think it's great that people can and do use their blogs to earn a living, but it's definitely not the route for me! You've done a great job here of explaining just how difficult (or at least, time-consuming) it can be to use this hobby as an actual career.

  4. I would love for my blog to become a full time job for me, but evidently I'm just not good enough. I have been blogging for 6 years now and still only get odd offers for sponsored posts and such. I work very hard at my blog and to be honest I don't know if it's my writing that isn't good enough, whether it's just because I don't have a niche, or something else.

  5. Fab post and if I could earn enough I might fancy the change but as things stand, blogging very much remains a hobby x

  6. This is a great post and will be really helpful for bloggers who want to or are thinking about making money from their own blogs. A lot of hours goes in to pro-blogging, I actually didn't realise just how many until reading this, as I'd always put off working it out. It's also a lot harder when you're a parent blogger, as clearly your time has to be split between work and the children. Even though, I rarely am away from Ethan (and now Logan) whilst he's at home and awake, as luckily Ethan still naps most days, I really suffer with Mum guilt and also sometimes feel a lot pressure when it comes to blog commitments. xx

  7. This is a great post Hayley. I've been blogging for nearly a year and I've had some great opportunities through it. I don't know if I'd be able to commit that much time to my blog, be a mum and still have a normal job. Some great info here for anyone wanting to take their blog to the next level x

  8. Great tips Hayley! I always forget how many hours we put into blogging, and many people don't realise that! It is a FULL time job! I tend to not blog as much during the day now that Harry is getting older and rely on doing most of it once theyre both in bed at night but by then im knackered and play around on facbeook haha so i need to take a look at that site you mentioned! I too don't really like the term pro-blogger xx

  9. This is really useful, thanks. I make a little from my blog so its just how to earn more regularly but it is a balance of finding the time to do it all too x

  10. This is an amazing post! I know how much hard work blogging is and I've only earned mere pennies from it so far. I think you ones who earn a full time salary from it are amazing - I would definitely put up with all that hard work if it meant I could do the school run! There's still time! Thanks for sharing :) mmwbh

  11. Yeah, that is a load of work. I love reading blogs but have difficulty writing things that are real - I'm always scared of sharing too much I guess, or something. But I really appreciate all the work/time/effort that people put into their blogs for me to enjoy!

  12. Fab tips - as a new blogger I am still very much in the building a following stage, but it's nice to read success stories and know that eventually blogging full time is a possibility. To be honest, I already feel like I blog full time, I just don't get paid for it lol :) #mmwbh

  13. Great advice especially for a newbie like me. It would be great to earn some money from u blog too but I wouldn't have a clue where to begin. So thanks for the tips! #MMWBH

  14. Fantastic post! I'm building up slowly and my schedule is all over the place, I need to take a leaf out of your book. Thanks so much for sharing

  15. Great post Hayley - running a pro blog is hard work indeed. I think that those bloggers who are pros do a great job - their time is well spent :-)

  16. Hi

    Great post I'm 6 months in to blogging but have only put the "real" work into it in the last 6 weeks. I'm obsessed with posts like this trying to gain as much knowledge as possible!! I'm still stuck on SEO and DA/PA I understand what they are but not how to improve, track, manage it. I'm on blogger so would love any info on a word press type plug in for SEO or just any help in general you can give in the way of a post about those!! thanks so much for sharing your experiences its really appreciated! #MMWBH

  17. Great informative post with some very useful tips.
    Thanks for sharing :) x

  18. Great post! Very informative.... being new to blogging, I've learned a lot in this article.
    Keep it up!

  19. This is really helpful, with some really great tips. Thank you for sharing

  20. Really helpful post and great advice.
    I think I may need to write a scheduele of when to blog, answers emails and days off etc May be hard during the summer now though, but going to do it from September onwards I think x

  21. Great post - as someone who has a full time job, my blogging has to slot in. I've finally realised that it's completely unrealistic to try to blog more than 2 or 3 times a week and draft posts are my life saver...if I have a spare 5 minutes I quickly jot down an idea or start to build a post - far easier than blocking out a couple of hours to do it from scratch.

  22. Fantastic post Hayley. Like you I never imagined that I could actually make money from doing something that I love but ‘pro’ blogging and or freelancing is a seriously hard slog isn’t it?! There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done that I need to do, I often find myself up working until 2am and that is a sacrifice. I am so glad to see you doing so amazingly well and you are an inspiration to other aspiring bloggers! I have never added up the amount of time it actually takes to write and promote a post, just goes to show why we all get annoyed with the chancer PRs who ask us to work for pittance! xx

  23. Great post Hayley. There's some serious food for thought here for anyone who dismisses hard working bloggers who quite rightly ask to be paid for their time. My blog is still at the 'hobby' stage, but I would like to think I could make more of it at some point. I do spend a lot of time on it and love it. I'm not quite sure yet what the catalyst is going to be to take it further #MMWBH

  24. Congrats on the ability to stay home with your kids, it is a lot of work this blogging thing, I learn more each day, and then I relearn it when I forget to do it! LOL! Keep on wearing all the hats until you can hire on some help! Continued success!

  25. Thank you for this extremely useful and informative post. I've only just started, really, and I know I have a lot to learn, but I am finding posts like this inspiring. I've got a long way to go, but something to work towards, and I'm very excited about it. #MMWBH

  26. Great post, I've been thinking about going pro in the future, but still very new at the moment! I love blogging and being at home with the kids and already realising how many hours go into blogging, it's definitely hard work with lots of tasks, but fun as well. Thank you. #MWBH :) x

  27. Really loved your post. Found it very informative even though my blog is just a hobby.


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