Way back in 2011 when I first started blogging, I had no idea that it would one day become my full-time job with Break The Loop. You don’t learn how to blog professionally in school, or how to work with clients on a freelance basis, you have to figure it out as you go along… With lots of trial and error, along the way.
Thankfully, we made all of those mistakes, so that you don’t have to. Disclaimer – You still need to make mistakes, it’s how you learn. However, some of the real rookie s*** that has historically gone down in blogging land, you can sidestep entirely.
How to Blog Professionally
Seriously, it all might seem like loads of fun when you’re away on a paid trip reviewing some hotel or other but knocking back tequilas until you can’t see straight is a big no-no. Sure, you can be more relaxed than if you were in an office but remember, blogging is still a job and people (clients) still expect a certain level of professionalism. Oh, and if you’re not professional, word will get around. Bad mouthing the client or campaign will only ever damage your own reputation, if you’re ever disappointed with a situation, then speak to someone directly or write an email detailing your concerns and any constructive criticism you may have. To summarise… Turn up on time, be prepared, treat everyone you encounter the same and get ready to do. the. work.
If you want to blog professionally then you have to start charging actual real-life money for your work. You might start out accepting freebies in return for a write-up or share on social media but you’ll quickly learn that those freebies don’t pay your bills. Get out of the habit of working for free as quickly as you possibly can and remember, anything you earn as a freelancer (over a certain amount) will be taxed so factor that into your fees. The sooner you know your worth, the sooner others will too.
Following on from the point above, you want your hard-won audience to trust and respect you. You want them to know that you have integrity and that you’re not just pushing any old products you happen to get sent. My rule is to say no, way more than I say yes. And I mean that in relation to the work (both paid and unpaid) that I take on, when it comes to opportunities (actual opportunities) then run, don’t walk towards them. Obviously, you have to pay your bills, but try your hardest to keep your voice authentic and true.
Considering I do blog professionally, this is one area that I definitely aim to improve on. If you want to be seen as professional, think of yourself as an online magazine. A print magazine wouldn’t go out empty one month, full of blank pages because you know… life got in the way. They push out content on a set day, religiously and without fail. You might not be able to blog every day but pick a posting schedule and stick to it. Twice a week is fine, once a week is fine… Eighteen times one month and once the next, is not.
As a professional blogger, you’re nothing without your relationships. Your writing may get you work but your relationships will keep it long term. You will liaise with PR professionals constantly, they are generally the gatekeepers between bloggers and brands. If it’s not immediately apparent, you’ll soon learn which emails to take seriously and really engage with but you should still respond to all emails politely and as timely as you can manage. (Unless it’s a total shocker – addressed to the wrong blogger, no punctuation, bad spelling etc – they go straight in the trash). Not only is it nice to be nice but it’s also worth remembering that people switch jobs and progress up the professional ladder all the time. On a peer-to-peer level, you should also think about growing your tribe and collaborating where possible. Your peers will be invaluable in helping you navigate the blogging-as-a-job landscape and bonus points if they turn into lifelong friends. If you don’t know where to start with growing your tribe, check out Get To KNOW. A community and space specifically for creative women.
I could go on and on but if you are thinking of attempting to blog professionally, these 5 points would be a good place to start and some good foundations to build upon.
Hands up who wants to turn blogging into a full-time job?
It’s not all plain sailing but I feel incredibly lucky to make a living doing something I love! On that note, I’m planning a post all about how to monetise your online presence… Anyone have any burning questions?