There are a lot of hard skills you'll need to make it as a professional blogger and internet marketer.
(Or hard skills you'll have to learn on the job).
- Social media marketing
- Conversion rate optimization
- Analytics & data tracking
But there are also a lot of soft blogging skills you'll need if you want to make a full-time go at this. Really, they're more like virtues than skills.
Not everyone is cut out for being a solopreneur. I'm not saying it's harder or easier than having a "normal" job, but it utilizes very different skillsets and presents completely different problems than everyone else faces at work.
To be a successful blogger you'll need patience, persistence, integrity, courage, and adaptability.
If that sounds a little vague and whoop-dee-doo, don't worry... I'll try to give you as many interesting real-life stories and data points from my business as I can to make it all real!
Let me explain...
Here's a harsh truth:
You'll probably see very, very little in the way of results your first 6 months running a new blog.
It's pretty likely you won't make any real money off of it for 8 months to a year.
Do you have that kind of patience?
Even once your site is a little more established, you'll need to exercise enormous amounts of patience each and every day.
The average blog post you write will probably take about 4-6 months to start ranking for your target keyword.
Sooner if you're lucky.
A lot longer if you're not.
And a lot of the stuff you write might completely flop. Even the absolute best writers and marketers have hits and misses.
Getting your butt out of bed and writing new content can sometimes feel... pointless.
What's the hurry to get anything done? It won't matter for at least a few months.
But that's exactly the wrong mindset.
You have to keep moving forward even when it feels like you're moving at a snail's pace, because eventually it WILL be 6 months from now and when it is, you'll probably wish you had worked harder TODAY.
Here's a fun graph of one of my most successful blog posts. It starts slow, but climbs and climbs and climbs, and it's just now peaking about 6 months after I published it.
You're doing really well if you can get a brand new blog to earn about $1,000 per month after a year.
That's great extra income, but it's not even close to a full-time salary!
Getting to that level will take enormous amounts of work and patience; probably two or more years of frustrating ups and downs and tireless work.
Man, I can't tell you guys how often I have to be a total pain in the ass.
SO often, someone I'm working with or want to work with:
- Won't respond to me
- Won't pay me on time
- Won't help with something I need (that they ought to be helping with)
I apply to a lot of different affiliate programs and usually don't hear back, or get auto-rejected by the system.
I then have to email these brands, sometimes over and over and over, in order to get a response.
I frequently have to follow up on payments or invoices.
And even right now, I'm dealing with a major crisis in my business and it's forcing me to be SUCH an asshole, but I have to.
The affiliate links are broken for one of my main programs — one that makes me about 25% of my income.
The links are just... down. And they have been down for going on two weeks.
I'm literally bleeding money, and no one seems to want to help.
So I have literally been bombarding this brand, and the affiliate platform, with emails. Reaching out to generic support emails and individual people, over and over, and I'll continue doing it until someone can help me.
I feel bad haranguing people like this, but there's no one who can do it for me, and every day the problem goes unfixed, I'm losing huge amounts of money out of my own pocket.
I'm not naturally an aggressive or overly persistent person, but I've had to nurture those skills for situations like these.
(See what else I do during a day in the life of a blogger.)
I recently ran into a competitor who has been stealing my content for months.
(That story will be its own blog post soon).
By stealing I mean, copying all of my article topics at-scale (dozens of them) and using all my existing research, thoughts, and observations with just a quick paraphrase of the wording.
Beyond all of my frustration and anger at this person, I found I just feel kind of sad for them.
What must it be like to have so little integrity? So little belief in yourself and your own voice?
Do they really think that ripping off other people is a viable way to build a successful business in the long run?
You'll probably have a lot of opportunities on your blogging journey to take shortcuts, screw other people over, or shill some horrible product like a dangerous diet pill because it has a great commission rate.
Don't do it.
The people who do this stuff almost always lose out in the long run; plus, it kind of makes you a shitty person.
I spend a good amount of time reading discussion forums and other communities where people talk about their blogging and affiliate marketing journeys.
You would be SHOCKED at how many people have been "thinking" about starting something for years and haven't done a single thing.
If you're going to make it in this business you have to be brave enough to just start, fail, screw up a thousand times until you start figuring things out.
You're never going to have the "perfect" blueprint that eliminates all risk of failure.
And the truth is, getting started with a blog costs very little money.
That's not what scares people away, the thought of losing money.
It's the idea of putting their work out there and failing and bruising their ego that most people can't take.
Yes, it sucks when you get mean comments from people. Yes, it humbles the shit out of you when you get excited about something and it doesn't work out.
No, it's not the end of the world, and yes, it's a mandatory part of the journey.
Let it go and "just start".
Things change FAST online.
Google updates (don't get me started on those), commission rate changes, new competitors, new marketing channels.
Just because you have a successful blogging business NOW doesn't mean you always will.
You can experience major gains or losses nearly overnight, even without doing anything "wrong."
It's happened to me.
(Honestly, you'll usually take a hit. It'd sure be awesome to wake up and see your blog performing 1.5x as well as the previous day but that's pretty rare, in my experience.)
This has been a frustrating year for me in a lot of ways. Tons of things haven't gone my way:
- Major traffic drops from Google updates
- Major affiliate program performing worse than previous year
- Serious and unexpected downtime from top affiliate program
- Competitor stealing my content
- And on and on
But you know what?
You have to adapt and soldier on.
I reflected deeply on this recently, and I realized something.
This business is my absolute best shot at earning the kind of money I want to earn along with the freedom and flexibility I want to have for my family.
It's been a tough year, but if I went back into the workforce, I'd probably earn about the same or less, with a much lower income ceiling, and be chained to my office for the rest of my life.
I can't go back to that, so my only other choice is to keep fighting.
Figure out new ways to grow the business even when it seems like everything is going wrong.
So there you have it.
A little peek behind the curtain at what it really takes to run your own blogging business.
Yes, you need to learn to write, work with Wordpress, and do some basic SEO.
But if you want to earn a full-time income from a blog, you have to treat it like a business. And business owners need a different set of skills than most other people do at their jobs.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.
And if you're looking to get started, check out all the blogging tools I use on an everyday business as a professional blogger.