Earning a living as a full-time blogger is a dream for many people. For those who are making some money blogging part-time it may seem like it will never be possible to make the jump to having your blog as your primary source of income, but with the right approach and a consistent effort it is certainly possible.
In this article I’d like to look at some things that I found to be helpful when I made this jump more than 5 years ago, as well as a few things that I would do differently if I were in the situation again.
1. Focus On Building Your Network
In my opinion the two biggest factors for achieving success as a blogger are your content and your network . Every successful blogger is well connected to others in the industry or niche, and having a strong network can help you in so many different ways. Your network may be the key to important guest posting opportunities, introductions to potential partners or others that can help you in some way, more links to your blog, more sharing of your posts through social networks, advice when you need it, and so much more. With this in mind, I strongly suggest that you make networking a priority.
Take a pro-active approach and reach out to other bloggers and influential people in your niche. Select some bloggers that you want to get to know and leave a comment every time they publish a post. Share links to their posts through your social networking profiles and interact with them. You can even email them or fill out a contact form to get in touch. Some of the people who have become my closest online friends are people that I met just by sending an email to introduce myself.
Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and wait for others to reach out to you. Set aside a little bit of time each day, or at least a few times a week, specifically for the purpose of networking. The results of your networking efforts aren’t always easy to measure, but I think you’ll find that as your network grows and gets stronger you’ll see your blog growing as well, and you may also come across some unexpected opportunities.
See Identifying and Building Relationships with Industry Influencers for some great insight on the subject.
2. Consider Freelancing Temporarily
When I made the decision to quit my full-time job and pursue blogging full-time I actually made a decent percentage of my income from freelance writing. While you’re working on your own blog and attempting to increase the income that it produces, you can also do some freelance work to make money in the meantime. There are so many blogs and websites out there that plenty of opportunities exist. A lot of blogs pay writers, although the amount will vary greatly from one blog to the next. Aside from writing, you could also find opportunities to freelance in areas like social media marketing and design, if that’s something that you’re able to do.
If you’re looking for freelance blogging opportunities you may want to reach out to the leading blogs in your niche to see if they are looking for freelance writers, and you can also find a lot of opportunities at the ProBlogger job board. Sites like Elance and oDesk provide opportunities for you to bid on projects as a freelancer, but be careful with these types of sites because you can wind up spending a lot of time giving proposals and wind up with no paying jobs. If you’re a designer you can try something like Microlancer. Your blog is also a great place to promote your services. Create a “Hire Me” page or a “Services” page where you can provide information about the type of work that you do, and encourage visitors to contact you about opportunities.
By combining the money that you make from your own blog and what you can make freelancing, you may be able to earn enough to go full-time. And as the income from your own blog grows you can scale back on the freelance work.
3. Set Specific Working Hours
One of the major challenges of blogging part-time is that you have to be very disciplined and efficient with the limited time that you have available. If you’re working a full-time job you may not feel like working on your blog when you come home in the evenings. It’s easy to let distractions take away the time that you have for the blog, and the result is slower growth.
I highly recommend that you approach your blog as if it is a part-time job. Set working hours for yourself and stick to them. You could set a window of a few hours that you will work in the evenings, or maybe specific evenings that you will work each week. You can also set weekend hours that will be dedicated to your “job” of building the blog. If you approach it this way you should wind up with more time working on your blog, which can speed up the growth process.
While it may not seem like much fun to give yourself a part-time job, if you view it as a temporary situation that could lead you to being able to leave your full-time job it may give you more motivation.
4. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
This advice really applies to any blogger, but it’s especially relevant for anyone with very limited time for working on the blog. As a part-timer you won’t be able to compete with top blogs that crank out high volumes of content. Regardless of how knowledgeable or how talented you are, you simply won’t have the time to be able to stand out based on quantity of posts.
I recommend that you make sure that each post you publish is the higest quality possible in order to make your blog the most useful for visitors, which should ultimately lead to more traffic and more income for you. If that means that you only publish one quality post per week instead of three lesser quality posts, that’s ok.
5. Diversify Your Income Sources
If you’re relying exclusively or primarily on one source of income you’re probably not maximizing what you can make from your blog, and you’re also not in the most secure position. With my first blog ad sales was my only monetization method for a long time. Although I made a decent amount of money from as sales, once I worked to add some other revenue streams the income from the blog really took off. I started using AdSense and then moved into product sales and a little bit of affiliate promotions. If I had done that earlier I could have made a lot more money from the blog and had better security by not relying exclusively on ad sales.
Whatever monetization methods you are using with your blog, take a look and see what other types of income sources might be a good fit as well. For some detailed information about different options please see the Ultimate Guide to Blog Monetization.
6. Build an Email List
Building an email list is something that should be a priority for part-time and full-time bloggers alike, but it’s a great way for part-timers to help themselves get over the hump. With an email list you can send links to your posts to increase traffic, promote affiliate products, promote your own products, and develop stronger relationships with your readers and subscribers.
Another great benefit of email lists for part-time bloggers is that the time requirement is not that significant. You can sign up for GetResponse, MailChimp, AWeber or another company for managing your list (GetResponse offers a free 30-day trial and MailChimp is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers). Once you’ve signed up you can set up your list in just a few minutes, and they’ll give you the code to paste into your blog for opt in forms. Now your list will start to grow as some of your visitors subscribe, and as your list grows it will become increasingly valuable to you.
If you want to speed up the process and grow your list quicker you can offer a offer a free resource as a bonus to anyone who subscribes. Things like special reports, case studies, ebooks, exclusive interviews, and premium content work very well for this purpose. You can also consider using popup plugins like Popup Domination or OptinMonster to increase opt in rates.
One of the great things about email lists is that they can be used in so many different ways and they are valuable regardless of what monetizaton approach you take with your blog. If you’re making money with ad sales and AdSense you can help to send more traffic to your blog by sending subscribers a link to your posts. If you’re selling your own products an email list is a great way to promote those products. If you’re monetizing your blog with affiliate links you can also use the list to promote those affiliate products.
If you have a full-time job and you’re blogging part-time I highly suggest that you live on only the income from your full-time job, if possible. Re-invest some of the money that you are making from the blog, and also set some aside for savings (more on that in a minute). That way, you can;
- Use the money you’re re-investing to hire a designer to create a custom theme to make your blog look more professional.
- Outsource some work to create a product that you can sell for months or maybe years to come.
- Pay for some advertising to help grow your blog and your list faster.
There are plenty of ways that you can improve your blog and your business if you have some money to re-invest.
8. Establish Emergency Savings Before Going Full-Time
I also strongly recommend that you save as much money as you can while you still have a full-time job. This savings can be used to pay your living expenses when you first leave your full-time job in case your blog does not produce enough income right away.
Another reason to save and re-invest instead of spending your part-time blogging income is that you won’t have to make as many lifestyle adjustments when you do leave your full-time job. If you get used to living on the income from your job as well as the income from your blog it will feel like a big change when you leave the job. If you never get used to living on the blog income you’ll hopefully get to a point when you can basically replace the income from your job with what you are making from your blog.
What’s Your Experience?
Have you made the jump from part-time to full-time? Are you currently working towards being able to leave a full-time job? Feel free to share your experience and your own tips in the comments.