Q&A Friday #33: How Do You Become A Professional Blogger?

Question: “Any suggestions for those of us who would eventually like to make a career out of blogging (ex: affiliate programs to join, partnerships with other bloggers, how to sell advertising effectively, the best methods & places to advertise a site etc…)?

I’ve read your blogging tips a number of times, but I wondered if you had any updated thoughts since (I believe) you initially wrote your suggestions before you started working RWN full-time.” — Buckley_F_Williams

Answer: I’m planning to write a longer article on this at some point, but here’s the short version:

Of course, the most important thing is…..

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#1) First and foremost, you’ve got to have traffic. Without eyeballs, you can’t make money, so you need to build an audience.

#1-A) Although, I do this full-time, I have simple tastes and live in a rural area that’s considerably cheaper than a big city. So, if you have big-time bills to pay, a family to support, or like living a little high on the hog, you’ll have to be bigger than I am to do this for a living.

But, let’s say you are RWN’s size and bigger. What do you need to do to go full-time?

2) Have a few months’ worth of money, if not more, saved up and ready for when you go full-time. You don’t want to have a couple of bad months and end up having to go to work at Wendy’s to keep from starving to death.

#3) As a general rule, advertisers want space as high up at the top of your blog as possible. That’s why, in my view, it’s important to have two side columns instead of one on your blog. If you only have one column, like most bloggers, you’ve cut out an enormous amount of ad space because advertisers don’t want to buy spots way, way, down your page.

#4) Knowing which ad companies to use can be a little confusing sometimes, too. I regularly get solicited by different companies that want to advertise on RWN, some that even want to handle all my business. Right now, I work with Blogads and 3 other companies, as well as running my own banner ads.

The advice I’d give you in working with these companies is:

#4-A) Blogads is the best in the business, bar none. You can make good money with them, they’re honest, and they’re going to be around and getting bigger for a long time.

#4-B) As far as working with other companies goes, personally, I think it’s fine, but remember that a lot of times these companies don’t necessarily like each other and they will compete for the exact same spots.

Because of that, you need to be polite but firm with these ad companies and really know where your bread is buttered. In other words, don’t throw the goose that’s laying the golden eggs for you out of the barn because someone you don’t know much about is promising you a platinum laying chicken.

#4-C) A word to the wise from someone who has been running web pages in one form or fashion since 1997: making money and getting paid aren’t always the same things on the net. There are definitely some very skeevy business practices that go on, sometimes because these companies are crooked and sometimes because they’re incompetent, but whatever the case may be, the blogger who serves the ads is always the one who gets screwed. That doesn’t mean all these ad companies are out to take advantage of you, but it does mean you should be cautious, ask lots of questions, and if your intuition is telling you, “look out,” then you better pay attention.

#5) Last but not least, I think the amount of money in the blogging game will keep going upwards, perhaps significantly. This might sound crazy now, but within a year or two, I think you might see bloggers regularly making $30,000-$40,000 a year off of blogs with 10,000 readers. There’s no guarantee of that, of course, but were I a betting man, I’d put more than even money on it.

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