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.
One of the main reasons I enjoy running this site is that I get to meet and help people from all over the world. There are many people that also do the same online in their own profession, one of which I wanted to talk to today. A great example of this is business coaches who can find great success online by helping people to grow their business in a more productive way. That’s why I have lined up an interview with Louisa Chan, a Business coach from Malaysia!Louisa runs her own site ‘LouisaChan.com’ and has also got a new book coming out called ‘Teach Online – Multiply Your Talents, Making A Difference With Your Heart-Centered Business’ (out 6th Nov). Louisa is a fantastic writer (having written for us here) and loves to help individuals and businesses to improve and grow.
Over to Louisa…
Louisa Chan Interview
What Do You Do and How Did You Get Started Online?
Thank you Matt, for having me. It is a pleasure for me to be sharing here and certainly technology has made it so much easier to connect with someone from across the world.
So to answer your question: I was an IT consultant in a consultancy firm and project managed systems implementation for medium size and multi-national corporations. I have also spent a considerable amount of time working in the educational and training industry, facilitating and training as well as designing curriculum. In fact I was designing and authoring computer based training (CBT) back when computer programs were stored on diskettes and tapes.
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and working with people and was looking to be certified as a Trainer. A friend asked if I had considered being a coach instead since she saw how people were coming to me and confiding in me. After some research I signed up for an online coaching certification course which opened my eyes to the idea of online coaching. Upon graduation, I started my own online coaching business leveraging on my experience in training, coaching, IT and marketing.
Today I help solo-preneurs and micro business owners start up and grow heart-centered online businesses, especially working with coaches, corporate trainers, teachers and tutors. The bulk of my coaching, consulting and training work is done online (through Skype and now moving towards Google Hangout’s) although I also conduct in person corporate training and live workshops for the public.
So that’s something briefly about me.
What Other Websites/Businesses Do You Run?
My first website was at www.AbundantLivesCoaching.com, that was the site I used when I was doing a lot more personal development and life coaching work in the area of productivity and stress management.
AbundantLivesCoaching focuses on helping personal management and personal development. I discuss discovering and understanding the true self, having awareness of how one functions, what one values, and how one sees one’s self and the world. I feel that before one can talk about building a business, one must be able to understand and manage one’s personal life. At that site you will see posts that help my clients work on mindsets, underlying perceptions, core values that inspire and motivate them.
Why Did You Go From Personal Development To Business Building?
This wasn’t something I planned. I was learning online marketing to promote my own online coaching program and soon people were coming to me for advice on how I use social media and digital marketing. I thought it would make sense to help coaches and other thought leaders do what I do; that is to run online coaching or teaching businesses.
The other reason too is that I believe in working with the foundation, which is the heart of the matter. With life coaching and personal development I was able to help clients work on the apparent surface issues from the inside and really deal with the issues at the root level.
So if someone says they don’t have enough time to start their own business or that they are really stressed and therefore could not get some tasks done, I was able to help them address these from the point of self management before we discussed the more peripheral issues like what social media platforms they should be on.
We know that successful business owners and entrepreneurs are motivated people and they are able to manage and control their thoughts, emotions, actions and their finance. So although I am offering more business coaching and consultation now it still touches on personal management and the background in human development work comes in handy.
What Has It Been Like Living & Working In So Many Different Countries?
This was again unplanned but work and studies have brought me to live in Canada, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Australia and I am now based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Being able to live among locals and soak in local culture has definitely enriched my life. Apart from being able to appreciate the diversity in heritage, culture and underlying beliefs, I get so see how people relate differently to the same issues in life and in business. Some countries are further ahead in certain areas and this allows me to position myself so I am ahead of new trends.
The world is a much bigger place than the country I live in and I get to play a part and contribute my work to a much bigger cause. It has given me a broader perspective of life as a whole.
What Is The Best Thing About Your Job That You Value Above Everything Else?
I love being able to participate in others’ lives and businesses, that I am able to contribute to their success and I do that by sharing what I have learned from my mistakes as well as my experience. I love that I have the freedom to apply my unique approach and work directly with people who themselves are change agents and thought leaders.
What’s The Most Important Part Of Your Site?
The site at http://www.LouisaChan.com is really a representation of who I am and what I do. The focus is on the blog posts as I provide timely posts on marketing and business building tips and solutions for my website visitors and readers. The prominent feature at my site would be the email sign up form where my website visitors leave me their email addresses so I get to communicate with them continue to send them tips and resources that may be helpful to them.
What Makes You The Most Money?
My income stream comes from coaching / training and marketing services that we provide. That would include the online coaching programs as well as the in person training workshops. Some clients prefer that we do the marketing services for them instead of coaching them through it. In those cases we help them with online marketing work that they need done. That could include web design, website makeover, email marketing, video marketing, content management, PR work and so on.
All these projects are made possible because of a strong and credible online presence. New prospects who found my ebooks or my videos online through Google or YouTube can check me out to see if I am the right fit for them through reading my posts or my white papers. Some would join me on social media and observe me while others may get onto my mailing list before they hire our services.
Are you ready to make money online? I only ask as you may be unknowingly unprepared to dive into the online realm.
I recently spoke to someone about joining my online team. This individual seemed ready for a change and was eager to get started, but their mindset was totally unprepared for what it would have entailed. This isn’t uncommon, I myself had a poor mindset when I first started making money online – I admit it! Back then, I thought like a scared, broke person before I even started and even though I attacked my online business venture with bags on enthusiasm, my mind was not right.
This is why I struggled for months before eventually prospering online. I never asked myself specific questions, never qualified myself. I was just not fully prepared to start earning online, so I ended up struggling to prosper.
You CAN make money with your website, but in all honesty, you need to know what making money online will entail before you start anything. Believe me, it will benefit you in the long run!
Here are 3 key questions that you should ask yourself before looking to make money online.
1. How Much Time Will You Spend Working On Your Online Business?
This is a key question that many people overlook when first starting out. How many hours will you spend working your online business every day? Think this one through carefully before committing to your online venture.
Let’s say that you decided to open a traditional store in your local area. Think through all of the planning, all of the hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears you would need to put into your operation to make it a success.
Now visualize yourself starting an online venture and you can quickly see that you will be working 6, 8 or 12 hours daily to make this thing work. Just because you are working online, it doesn’t mean that there is less work to be put in. You cannot succeed online unless you are willing and ready to work as much as you do at your current job, or as much as an offline business person would work.
2. What Are Your Goals?
I remember back when I was an online business newbie. I had zero direction, no goals in place when I started my venture and because of this, I struggled for a long, long time. You only succeed online if you have clear and definite goals in place before you set out to reach your final destination. You need to figure out where you are headed, otherwise you end up working aimlessly on tasks that don’t seem to get you anywhere.
Let’s say you like travelling and want to run your online business whilst on the road – great! Now list out each travel destination that you would want to visit before you take a step further. I myself have lived in Bali, Phuket, Penang, Hoi and other tropical locations for months at a time.
Now you can set up income goals, personal goals, or any goals for that matter that you wish to establish. Just be quick to write out your goals as a framework for ordering your mind toward a definite end.
3. Are You Ready to Give?
Back when I first started, I was set and raring to go and make money online. I wrote one blog post, checked my email and found no opt ins. Oh well. So I wrote another blog post, and then another and another. I saw no opt ins, no comments, no money. I was crushed! I felt like I was wasting my time, or so I thought. But what I failed to realize was that I needed to give in order to receive.
Giving freely precedes online success. Be of service and adopt the mindset of being a servant, of helping others and of course be open to receiving. If you are hungry to make money online, ask yourself the giving question and be ready to write, to give, to connect and to help individuals reach their own goals.
You can succeed if you are ready to give, but you will fail miserably if you are stingy, refusing to give at all, because everybody can sense a selfish person and will run from you when you try to offer your product or service.
So, are you thinking about making money online? If so, have you asked yourself these key questions?
If you asked yourself these questions and are currently running an online business, is it maybe time to ask each question again? Maybe you need to re-commit?
What questions would you like to add to this list? How can you better commit to your venture? How can you let online newbies know what they must do before making money online at a regular clip? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!