This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
7 Tips to Making a Career Change to Full-Time Blogging
If you’ve been blogging for a while, and want to turn your hobby into a full-time career, you are in the right place.
Becoming a full-time blogger can be quite lucrative if done correctly, and I’ve seen many people turn their amateur blogs into companies worth thousands of dollars.
If you’ve mentioned your plans to your family and friends, I bet that they all told you the same thing: that it’s impossible to make money by blogging.
They are partially correct, of course, as the world of professional blogging is a cut-throat one, and competition is fierce. However, if you plan carefully, make sure you know how you can generate income, and (most importantly) have high quality content, there is no reason why you can’t make it a success.
Today, I’ll take you through the seven steps that I think are the most important for setting up a successful blog. Some of these steps are pretty basic, and some a little more involved, but all of them are important to building a successful and lucrative web presence.
1. Choose Your Topic
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you probably think that you have your topic pretty much sorted out. Think again. If you are going to make a truly successful blog, you need to be as specific as humanly possible about what you write about.
Writing about “technology”, for instance, is not good enough. You need to come up with a personal or professional angle that will make your blog stand out. If you have specific knowledge in a particular field, use it. For example, make your blog about “time-saving technology for IT professionals”, rather than trying to cover everything.
Limiting your blog to a narrow field has several advantages. It limits your competition so that you are not going straight up against internet giants. It also means that, as I will come to in a minute, you can focus your marketing and optimization on a particular set of keywords and topics, and this will greatly improve your efficiency.
Making the transition from an amateur blogger to a professional one means linking your blog with the wider internet. Not only does this improve the performance of your blog, but it also means that you can draw on a community of like-minded professionals.
Still, networking is a task that many professional writers forget about. This is understandable, because they are focused on producing the best writing possible. To my mind, the best way of approaching networking is to schedule regular sessions into your working week. You can say, for instance, that at the end of each workday you will spend an hour cruising similar blogs, making comments, and responding to the comments on your own blog.
Networking is a task that doesn’t require much intellectual input (and is certainly easier than writing!), and so is perfect for the end of the day. Who knows, after a few weeks of getting involved, you may even come to enjoy it!
3. Sort Out Your Website
If you’ve been blogging for a while, but are still using a default WordPress theme, you are missing a trick. You might not think that your blog needs a professionally-designed website, but you’d be wrong.
Having a good website brings several advantages. The first and most obvious is that it improves users’ experience of your site, allowing them to find what they are looking for more easily, and it makes reading your articles as enjoyable as possible.
A well-designed website can also be faster to update and load than your current system. This is especially important in a world where users are becoming increasingly impatient. Research suggests that if your site takes longer than even a few seconds to load, your potential readers will click away.
By all means take a look at some of the excellent guides to setting up your own website correctly, but also bear in mind that there is a golden rule when it comes to designing your website: keep it clean and simple. The websites that win awards nowadays are often those that manage to simplify their functions as much as possible.
Clean websites load faster and look better. They also make your job, as the administrator of a site, much easier. You should aim for just two or three sections, so that you can easily keep track of the content you post.
I’ve seen a lot of people, when they make the transition from amateur to professional blogger, forget about their hosting provider. If you’ve been blogging for a while, it’s likely that you’ve even forgotten who your hosting provider is.
Using the wrong host can have many negative consequences, ranging from the trivial to the disastrous. On a basic level, your web host should be able to provide a fast service, so that your readers can load and read your blog quickly.
Uptime is another consideration. Once you’ve monetized your content, which I will come to below, your website going down for even a few hours can have significant financial consequences, ranging from reduced to traffic to lost sales. Most hosting providers are up-front about their uptime - ideally you should find a host with at least 99.5%.
If your blog is small, it might not seem that you need to upgrade your hosting provider just yet. Take my word for it, though – once your blog takes off, and you are spending all your time writing and responding to comments, you will be glad you got this sorted out at the beginning. All in all, a few hours spent comparing hosting providers, before you begin writing in earnest, will save you a lot of time and money later on.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you should know exactly what you are going to be writing about, and a killer website to do it on. It’s now time to get as many visitors as possible. That means getting your site to the top of the page rankings on search engines, especially Google.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge industry and, if you’ve looked into it at all, you may have been confused by the sheer amount of information available on the process. To an amateur observer, it can seem like it’s a very complicated process.
It is not.
There are several ways to make sure that your site is at the top of the search results. The first step is to have a look at some statistics on a site like Ahrefs.com or similar. By using analytic tools like this, you can easily see what people search for, and tailor your content accordingly. This is where having a well-defined niche, as I mentioned above, is really useful, because you can focus in on a very specific set of keywords.
Once you know what your focus is, it’s time to push your site up the rankings. Doing this requires that you understand a little about the way that Google and other search engines prioritize results. This is a complicated area, but can be boiled down to two things: the faster your website is, and the more pages that link to it, the higher it will be on the search results.
As I said above, speed is a consequence of your hosting provider and page design. Once these are sorted out, however, you need to build links between your site and others in your area of expertise. To do this, write guest posts for similar sites, or invite others to link to your own content.
6. Monetize Your Content
Now everything is in place, it’s time to make some money!
There are several ways to do this. At the beginning, it can be a good idea to take the simplest option, and sell advertising space on your blog using Google AdSense or a similar service. Just make sure that you don’t overwhelm and annoy visitors with hundreds of ads.
Another approach is to use affiliate marketing. Amazon, for instance, will pay you for every visitor who visits their site by clicking on a link on yours. If you are often writing about products, this is a great way of generating revenue, while also giving your readers a convenient way of buying the items you are writing about.
7. Have Fun
Having fun might not seem like an important step, but it is!
When you first make the decision to become a professional blogger, it will seem like your new career is inherently enjoyable. However, after a few months of SEO and grinding out new posts, you may lose sight of the bigger picture.
It's important, therefore, to occasionally take the time to remind yourself of why you decided to become a professional blogger in the first place!
Ultimately, it is your passion for a particular subject that should drive your work forward, and that will most engage your readers.
So don’t lose heart. The internet is full of blogs that were started and then abandoned when their owners’ didn’t see immediate results. I promise you, however, that given a bit of determination you can eventually turn your hobby into a lucrative career.
About the Author
Gary Stevens is a full-time front-end developer and part-time blockchain geek.