Some of you have asked me to share more about the blogging process. I know it's not of interest to all my readers, so if you're not interested in a behind-the-scenes peek at the world of blogging, I recommend skipping today's post. XO
Blogging as a Full-Time Career (the good, the bad and the super ugly)
This post is a LONG time coming. You see, for the last 10 years, my dream has been to blog as a full-time career.
There's no part of blogging that I don't love - from the community to the creative content development to the techie side of SEO. It's so rewarding to connect with like-minded people, share ideas and inspiration and live and work on your own terms! If freedom and independence are high on your priority list, this might be the right move for you.
However, while working from home and on your own terms is awesome, there's a ton of frustration that many bloggers feel. From mean comments by angry readers to dealing with Google Analytics (<- the. worst.), it can be hard to keep pushing through when the wind is taken out of your sail. So you have to love it. A lot. Which I do, so if you're still with me, let's break the process down further.
Blogging Full Time Is Competitive
It turns out, we're not alone in our passion for blogging, my friend. In fact, there are over 500 million blogs out there right now, and I can assure you, most of them don't generate a penny, much less a full-time income. But also consider that even though more people are starting blogs every single day, there are always other people that are letting go of their blogs as well. Most blogs are abandoned within the first 6 months of launch because the rate of success is so freaking slow! It's worse than watching paint dry. That's why you need a ton of patience and again, a genuine passion for what you're doing.
What it takes to be a full-time blogger
To be successful at blogging, I have found that you need:
- Tenacity & grit
- Passion for your topic
- The right set of skills
I think the first two items above are pretty self-evident, but the skill development piece is tricky because there's a lot of skills to master - from writing and editing to marketing and sales, but it can be done. In my own experience, I over-indexed on the tenacity and grit along with the writing and editing but failed to really keep myself up to date on the skill development part. As a result, I'm still playing catch up, both from an audience traffic perspective, but also from the technical and strategy side.
What Skills do Full-Time Bloggers Need to Develop?
The thing about blogging is that you need to wear a lot of hats. Sure, you have to be a creative writer, a good photographer and have the social skills to connect with an audience, but that won't actually help you earn a living. You also need serious businesses skills - from understanding workflow and automation (so you can scale) to pitching brands to work with and negotiating contracts. It's a lot of work!
There are a lot of skills that are required to be successful, but listed below are what I think are most important. That said, please don't freak out if you don't feel like you have these skills. Nobody does when they first start out, but over time, they develop as you grow your business.
- Organization and ability to think strategically
- Having a vision, mission and strategic objectives that you carry out consistently
- Messaging and branding skills and the ability to communicate your message in a way that resonates with your audience
- Storytelling and creative writing/photography skills
- Contract negotiation skills
- Technical skills - understanding WordPress, hosting, SEO, and online marketing tools
- Analytical skills and an ability to extract critical information from data.
- Ability to work with others and collaborate
- Self-starting, self-motivated and be very thick skinned!
Developing Blogging Skills is a Commitment
If you want to make this a full-time endeavor, it's imperative to learn the right skills for your genre (or outsource them). Most people don't want to invest in hiring out when they're just getting started and that's smart. You have to try it out to see if it's for you or not. You also have to have some area of knowledge about all things blogging, so you know who to hire and for what.
Should you Pay for Blog Training?
I once heard a saying that "nobody makes money blogging except the people talking about how to make money blogging". I disagree. I think you can make any niche profitable with the right strategy. However, there are a lot of people out there making money off selling aspiring bloggers training and skill building courses. Some are great, some are not so great. The key is knowing what you skills you need to develop and finding the right programs to suit your experience level, niche and revenue goals.
What's the Benefit to Investing in a Blog Course?
I think you're going to get ahead a lot faster if you do, but it's not absolutely necessary. Many successful bloggers have never taken a course or training. Everything you need to know about blogging is out there on the internet for free... I'm pretty sure of that. However, the upside of investing in a course, particularly when you're new to blogging is that you don't know what you don't know, so it's hard to Google your way to success. For example, if you're not aware of how important understanding user intent and keyword research is to getting your posts to rank on Google, how would you know to even study that topic?
Covering the Basics with a Blogging Courses
If you're brand spanking new to blogging and you have no idea what you're doing, there's only one program I would recommend starting out with, but I'll warn you - it's a big investment! Elite Blog Academy (EBA for short) is designed for anyone who is new to blogging, or even seasoned bloggers who haven't seen much success. Typically the reason for that is that they don't have the right skills yet. If you want your blog to become a business that financially sustains you, you need a set of skills that are completely different than blogging as a hobby.
Elite Blog Academy for Full Time Bloggers
Now, EBA isn't the only blog course there is, but it's the most comprehensive. It's particularly useful for people in the lifestyle or financial niches. If you don't yet have a niche and your blogging about everything - then you DEFINITELY need this program. The beauty of EBA is that it takes you through an entire step by step experience that takes most people a year to get through. It's REALLY comprehensive. Also, you get a lot of access to the founder and course creator, which isn't true of most successful online training programs. It's still small enough that she's very accessible to ask questions (she does a live Q&A every single week) and every year the course gets updated so you're always getting the most current information (but you only pay for the courses once).
Thinking about Food Blogging as a business?
If you're blogging about food along with other topics, then you're a lifestyle blogger. If you're just blogging about food, then you're a food blogger. When it comes to food blogging, there's a different skill-building path that I think is more helpful (and a lot cheaper). If you haven't already heard of it, Food Blogger Pro is a membership site specifically designed for food bloggers, and it's pretty awesome. Again, it's not just about the course content, which is created by a VERY successful blogger, but it's also about the amazing community you get access to. This course only opens a few times a year, so jump on their waiting list to get the head's up when it closes!
One of the major reasons I feel like I haven't seen success as fast as I'd like, it's because I ignored the community and networking aspect. This is critical.
All the Blogging Resource You'll Ever Need (free and paid)
Let's start off with the free training because there's a lot of it out there and it can really help. Don't expect a ton of in-depth training from the free stuff. They're just little downloads that will help you think through important steps to blogging success.
Free Blog Training for Beginners
- Quick ways to boost your blog income.
- How to make your blog posts go viral
- Bad blogging habits that you'll want to avoid (if you want to be successful)
- 120 blog post ideas to get your brain going!
- How to guest post - something you'll want to do to gain more followers and readers.
- How to structure your blog - this is important for user experience, so don't skip it 🙂
- An overall blueprint to success (and a high level).
- How to get your blog set up
Free Food Photography Training
- I love The Bite Shot for awesome food photography training which is critical if you want to be a successful food blogger.
Paid Blogging Courses that I Believe Made the Difference
- Food Blogger Pro - only opens a few times a year, so do your research and be ready to jump in when the program opens. I waffled at first and ended up missing the window (and they won't let you in late - I tried).
- Elite Blog Academy - this program only opens once a year (in March), so jump on the waiting list and wait for it to open up!
- Hashtag Jeff SEO training (if you're super brand new to blogging, this might be too advanced. If you're a seasoned blogger or starting a new blog, this will be the best investment you ever make in your blogging career and I'm not overstating it's value even a little bit).
- Creative Live has a few food photography courses, both for iPhone and DLSR. They have a ton of social media and business courses as well, so definitely check them out. These courses are always high quality and created by a demonstrated expert (not some chump with a video camera and a pipe dream).
How to pick the right online course for your needs
Hey, I never think education is a waste. That said, online courses can be expensive, especially when they're not specifically designed to your needs. For example, I paid $2000 for Marie Forleo's B-School back in 2014, and I can confidently say it was a waste of money for me. It's not that the program is bad, but it was so generic that it wasn't helpful for what I wanted to do! So be careful when you're thinking about where you're investing your money. The course you invest in should solve for a specific result you're looking for. If it's a general business course (like B-SChool), it's not worth your time and money.
If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, or reach out to me via email. I'm happy to answer any questions!