Does a blogger have a career path?
A few years ago I asked the question whether bloggers fulfilled the role of either journalists or columnists. It is true that the popularity of the Internet has changed how we view writing forever, anyone can publish anything they want and they frequently do, but can they make a career doing it? One of the greatest challenges of the Internet though is one of quality and value, statistically 99.99% of everything published on the web is poor quality in one of the following ways:
- Offers little valuable information.
- Is badly researched.
- It was written by someone having no subject matter expertise.
- The piece is poorly constructed.
- Demonstrates poor use of language.
The Role of the Writer in the Modern World
Select any subject and there is someone writing about it! No longer does anyone have to search long and hard to find a journalist to tell their story to (if you are lucky). They merely write the story, self publish it through a blog or writing site and hope someone will pay attention (helped by a push from Social Media). I saw reports of a local incident published on a blog and through Twitter 12 hours before any of the TV news outlets reported the story and the first that did was on another continent.
Most bloggers do not see themselves fulfilling the role of the journalist, they probably see themselves as columnists, telling the story behind the story and doing so for the love of writing or because they were impacted by events. If they witness an earthquake, hurricane, a plane crash, a murder, or a robbery at their local drug store there is no need to wait for news reporters to tell their story to, they can do it themselves and start publicising it.
Journalists in our local metropolis advertise on local TV stations providing their email address as a way to seek out stories to report on. In truth there is a potential role for the Blogger to become a journalist, but they would be better of working with an on-line newspaper, like the Huffington Post, than adding the story to their own blog.
Most bloggers specialise, they write on a topic they are passionate about, but there is no reason why they cannot branch out, once in a while, and write something different. Most bloggers, however are not looking for a writing career.
At one time I had a specialist IT strategy blog, related to my former career. Next I was working with a company involved in Social Media and marketing, so I started adapting that blog to those topics. Then I became interested in writing on a wider range of topics so migrated to general writing sites. I then took on a role as an editor for an on-line magazine and became interested in improving the quality of the written word, it was also about this time I started moderating for a general writing site. Thinking about writing ultimately lead to contributions made for Two Drops of Ink then the formation of GobbledeGoox.
Whilst I am taking steps to monetise the site I still anticipate earning a living through the use of other associated skills, e.g. copy-writing or editing assignments.
Can there be a Career as an On-line Writer?
Some bloggers have made money from their blogs, those that do generally provide associated expertise, training courses, e-courses, e-books, speaking, consulting services etc. Another angle is to ask your network of contacts if they need a writer or blogger showing them your blog whenever examples are required. In other words the blog becomes an avenue for generating income by other means.
It is true that some writers earn from writing sites, but the majority supplement their income by a few dollars a month, leaving their writing as more a passion than a profession. Look on Craigslist or any job site covering your local area and there are jobs advertised for writers and truth is most on-line only jobs pay much less than their counterparts working in corporate offices.
You can build a living by selling your services and most writers I know do precisely that, seeking roles creating advertising copy, editing, or something similar, while continuing to write their blog for the love of it.
The On-Line Columnist?
A columnist provides an analysis of events and tend to offer a more critical perspective either by looking back at precisely what happened or analysing future possibilities. Some bloggers are clearly columnists because they add their own perspective as well as that of learned academics or business leaders to their commentary.
To become this type of writer takes in-depth knowledge of the subject plus a willingness to point out the misdirection a business or industry is taking. The columnist challenges how people think, and often demands an alternative.
Perhaps Another Role?
Not all bloggers report news or provide a regular column, some simple write as an outlet, some a place to publish their stories, or poems, others love to provide specialist tips (one of the origins of the blog). Many bloggers have no interest in making money from their creations.
There are writing jobs to be found for any writer seeking them, many of these will be normal 9 to 5 roles in an office in a city near you while others allow the writer the flexibility to work from home. The choice is yours.
A Word from ProBlogger
Darren Rowse has laid out where he makes his money through blogging (first half of 2016):
- 46% Affiliate commissions
- 31% Product sales
- 8% Adsense advertising
- 6% Sponsored posts
- 5% from his job board
- 3% from events
- 1% from speaking and book royalties
I use Darren as an example as he has been making a living from his two blogs for many years, it is his career. You should understand that if you are going to make money from your blog it is likely to be done in a similar manner and you will need to identify places that provide affiliate sales opportunities as a starting point and then expand from there.
Writers Digest often talk about ways to make money from writing and Brian Klems suggests the following strategies for success in building your on-line writing career:
- Specialise or generalise (make the choice).
- You must seek out leads (potential clients) and cold call them.
- Generate ideas.
- Use your personal experience.
- Don’t be stuck to your computer (e.g. go talk to people).
- Think about relationship building.
- Look for a steady income stream (e.g. from ad copy or resume writing).
- Be smart with social media.
The point is that if there is a career path for an on-line writer then there must be an income and where better to look than at an expert, someone who has been making a living doing it for nearly ten years. As you may have noticed I have started to monetise this blog but I will be the first to admit that I still have a long way to go I am working on many of these methods, but will revisit this subject in time.
What do you think about the possibility of earning from your blog? What tips do you have to offer?
Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee to thank him for the thoughts expressed here. The featured image here is by Peter Giblett based on an idea by Dave Crisp. Other images used here come from royalty free or public domain image collections, such as Pixabay.