Blogs emerged on the Internet as personal diaries where people would publish online their daily activities and personal experiences. As the phenomenon evolved, though, bloggers started to focus on niches, providing services or useful information for readers, blurring the line between blogs and traditional websites.
Nowadays very specialized blogs like TechCrunch or PerezHilton compete directly with mainstream media, and the people behind those ventures arrive to earn tens of thousands of dollars monthly.
Despite those success stories, however, making money through a blog is not a simple task and it will probably take just as much hard work as any other project, be it online or offline.
Below you will find a check list to evaluate whether you have the requisites to become a professional blogger or not. Bear in mind that most of those points can be developed, therefore the list should also work as an action plan to improve your blogging career.
1. Time: the first point on the check list is time, without plenty of it you will find it hard to build a successful blog that generates a good monthly income. Time is important not only for writing content but also for interacting with other bloggers, gathering information, keeping updated and so on. There are bloggers out there managing to generate money despite blogging only for a couple of hours daily (i.e. John Chow), but that is the exception rather than the rule, and most of the times those bloggers already had a lot of online expertise to begin with. If you are planning to earn a full-time income from your blog there is no reason to assume that you will not need to dedicate full-time to its development.
2. Expertise on a topic: apart from having plenty of time to blog you will also need something to blog about, and you must have some expertise around the chosen topic otherwise the blog will not be credible. Do not get me wrong here, you probably will not need a PhD in Physics to blog about “alternative energy sources”, for instance, but you must have a minimum background and you must also be updated with the latest developments on that field.
3. Passion for the topic: even if you know a certain subject inside out you will still need to write about it in a persuasive and engaging way. In simple words, if you are expecting to make money through your writing you better write some damn interesting things! People can feel whether you love what you are writing about or not, and if you do they will be more likely to become loyal readers.
4. Writing skills: are you able to write without grammatical mistakes? Do you have facility to communicate concepts and ideas through words? Those are some questions that you need to answer if you are planning to make a living out of your blog. Some bloggers might get away without outstanding writing skills, but only if the content is really compelling. Do not worry if you are not a Shakespearesque writer, though, as your wiring skills will probably improve naturally along the way.
5. Technical Knowledge: like it or not blogs are based on content management software, which in turn is backed by databases, located on web servers and so on. Hosted blogging solutions (i.e. Blogger or WordPress.com) probably eliminate the need for such technical knowledge, but those platforms do not offer advanced features and they are not completely customizable. If you are planning to create a professional blog you will want to have your own domain name and run it on some paid hosting service, meaning that you will need a basic knowledge of PHP, DNS servers, MySQL (mainly for backup and server transfer issues), scripts, plugins and so on.
6. Blogging Knowledge: apart from the technical knowledge to keep your blog up and running you will also need to understand how the blogosphere is structured and how you can leverage certain features to improve the visibility of your own blog. You will probably need to learn how to use trackbacks, ping services, blog carnivals, social bookmarking sites and the like. Secondly you also want to have a basic knowledge about search engine optimization. Some successful blogs get as much as 50% of their incoming traffic from search engines, so make sure your blog is optimized right from the beginning.
7. Web Design Skills: design plays a very important role on the credibility and success of blogs. Content is surely king but an appealing design will make readers remember your site, it will make it stand out from the crowd. Someone willing to invest money in his blog right from the start could probably outsource this part, but that is not the case with most bloggers. Make sure you study some HTML, CSS and website accessibility.
8. Business/Marketing Knowledge: if your blog is supposed to generate a full-time income you will need to treat it as a business entity. Every successful venture, be it personally or professionally, is based on carefully crafted strategies. Make sure you have goals and action plans for your blog. This will help you to focus your energy and time on important activities. Secondly you also need a basic understanding of marketing and how certain techniques can be used to promote your blog across the Internet.
9. Creativity and Innovative Ideas: are you able to think out of the box? Do you have creative ideas that other people might find interesting? Most professional bloggers were also innovators on their niche. Real value is not created by doing things better but rather by doing things differently. Creativity and innovative ideas will help you to write quality posts, to discover new ways to promote your blog and to find new monetization opportunities.
10. Network of contacts: you know what they say: “It is not about what you know but who you know”. Having a network of online contacts might make the difference between a money making website and a small blog that attracts a hand full of visitors. Contacts include bloggers on your niche, bloggers on complementary niches, web designers, web developers, advertisers and the like. One of the secrets to success is to pursue win-win situations, remember that.
Some good tips but interesting you don’t mention getting to grips with Technorati and Feedburner. Surely they are essential for the modern day blogger?
I’ll be a good blog and continuous tracking thank you master anaikin
Ajay Jha says
Thanks for tips. These tipes ate really usefull for me.
Bang Kritikus says
Thanks for your tips.
This was very informative. Thanks.
I think that time is the main and everyones problem. But we all have to try at least.
I am not a proffessional blogger.I am a student who blog out his ideas at times..I am soon planning to become a proffessional blogger..Thanks for the tips.
JoLynn Braley says
All are very good points. Being a professional blogger is not a get rich quick project, and it does take A Lot of time, if you want to truly realize a full-time income from it.
I think it is so important to really think about whether or not you have any desire at all to turn your blog into a pro-blog….if so, don’t even spend the time with a free account. Get your own domain and build your site from there. 😉
He he he
Still worry, tuvie?
nice list, but the hardest thing would time, since I’m still 9-5 employee, but then again, if you enjoy what you blog about, you won’t stop blogging …
If they were to given priority then Network of contacts should rank top.
Time and passion is what is required for blogging……..but i think of the all points presented above time is a major hurdle as every other thing will come to you if you have enough time..its not over if you have time then you will need to know time management..which i am trying to manage 😀 really its not easy sometimes..
Luke C. says
This was very informative. Im new to the blog community and need all of the help I can get. Its saddens me that I research for hours on end just to find one legit person who is trying to help.
Thank you…… Luke
For me, just starting out, it is going to definately be just getting some viewership and people responding to my posts. Second that with the time factor and you have yourself a semi-frustrating beginning few months of a blog. Good article.
4, 7 and 9 are great ones. Those are simply ones I actually need to focus on. For the most part, I think I’m getting there. Like you said, writing will get better with time. My grammar is there but writing efficiently is another thing. Sometimes I get lost in my own words and thoughts. Almost impossible to relay the exact message I’m trying to relay without having to resort to deleting my entire post and starting all over again.
Hello there.. Very interesting article here..
From my point for view i will say: “personal knowledge of what you are doing + creativity” are the 2most important factors..
Btw, i’m a new blogger and it will be nice if you guys could drop by to my blog for some advice/comments 😉
I’m glad you put time on the top of that list. 😉
Bes Z says
Good points Daniel! Well explained also. #8 is one of the most important things people should focus on. If you have the most brilliant idea and do not know how to market or sell it, you won’t be able to do anything with or about that idea.
Andy, the purpose of the list is rather ensure that as many bloggers as possible make money from their blog. But in order to make money they need to be aware of what it will take, and what competencies they must develop.
I agree with the points you mentioned, but most of them could be enclosed under “Business Knowledge” (i.e. project management, outsourcing and people management are stuff you learn on business schools).
Andy Beard says
Ultimately, this is a list intended to ensure that only 1% of bloggers make any money. You forgot to pay any attention to what people really use to make money.
OPC (other people’s content – legitimately)
Whilst 9 partially covers this, you have to have a “niche”
As Ajay said time is everything in blogging. The more you interact, the greater are you’re chances to come under the radar.
Good one 😀
I dugg it. 🙂
Writing is the most important element to me. Blogs are basically 98% text and everything else is just dressing.
I love reading bloggers who can write creatively while expressing themselves with ease.
Ashish Mohta says
@CeleverDude:Dont wait for your blog to stabilize.Its always a constant change, you learn while u blog.Dedicate reading some blogs You will learn from them
Just one cent of mine
Clever Dude says
I’m finding that once my site design starts to stabilize, then I can focus more on reading others’ blogs to get the lay of the land.
I started out with no experience, but other bloggers have definitely helped me to get where I am today.
Ashish Mohta says
Great points Daniel.Not only from probloggers but some points can be taken for even part time bloggers.Its all about managing things
Great list Daniel. Time is probably the biggest hurdle for most of us. I know it is for me.
Time is my issue too. The tough part is trying to make a fulltime income from blogging part time. You can’t really quit your job to blog full time if you aren’t making enough. A lot of the other skills can be learned along the way, although it’s good to know from the beginning. Technical knowledge is a must, but again, you can learn that if you have the time and are serious.
Ajay, I agree that time is the main issue, specially for people that get into blogging while still having a full time job.
I believe for me Time is a major hurdle. Besides blogging I’m handling a lot of stuff that results in limited time. I prefer coding so WordPress development takes a good amount of time with little monetary return.
Contacts… is another issue, but its improving now.