How to Jump-start Your Blogging Career
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If the title of this article peaked your interest, then I would like to formally congratulate you and welcome you into the fold as a professional writer. Yes, you read that right. The moment you decided to turn that blogging afterthought in your head into a reality, you accepted the fact that you will have to treat this like a job in order to succeed and survive in this trade.
There will be three major ways that you can go within the first year of your career to monetize your blog/blogging: putting advertisements on your blog, selling your own or another vendor’s products on your blog, and/or using your blog as a springboard into more lucrative and stable opportunities. Because I have experienced the most success with the third route, this is the main angle that I will be talking to you from.
The first thing you will need to do with this route is to build your own space. By that, I mean that you need to have either a Facebook page, Google Plus profile, or Tumblr blog at the very least that you can blog on and begin to build some authority on a subject amongst a public audience. I’m assuming that if you have made it this far into your journey as a blogger, you already know what niche you will be writing about. If you don’t, then there still isn’t much pressure just yet. I started my writing career as a songwriter when I was 17, then switched to being a “music plug” when I was 19. Music was my first love, but, when I realized that I didn’t have the chops to be a professional in the music industry just yet, I switched over to my other lifelong interest – professional wrestling. At this particular point in time, I didn’t even have my own long form blog, just a Twitter page.
After tweeting for a few months, and getting some good feedback and interactions in my mentions, I decided to apply for some non-paid wrestling writing positions with some smaller online publications. Much to my surprise, I was offered a contributor spot by two out of the three publications that I applied for. This brings me to the second thing that you will need to do on this route of monetization in your blogging career: write for free.
In the arts, you will find yourself giving out a lot of freebies just for the sake of getting your name out there and networking. Don’t even try to fight it. Unless your major is Journalism or Communications and your senior internship was a major success, you will have to start from scratch and start cold calling editors who are looking for free work. This is for two reasons: one, because, no matter how good you are, most full time positions that pay a decent rate or salary are going to require a resume that sets you apart from the other applicants. In order to have such resume, you are going to need some experience writing for publications that are willing to take on rookies and teach you the ropes of the writing business. Secondly, even though said editors are taking on people with no experience, you will need to learn what makes editors happy and what doesn’t.
Using this route of monetization involves practicing your writing just like you would practice any other skill that you’d need to succeed in another trade or sport. No one wants to hire a carpenter that can’t saw, and a 5’10” point guard with no handles or passing ability isn’t getting to the NBA anytime soon. Getting your first gigs will require some trial and error. Some magazines will require you to email them a writing sample, while some will have so many applicants that it doesn’t matter how good your writing sample is because they will never open your email. Sucking it up and taking some free assignments at first will allow you to write bad articles, get rejected, get discouraged, and build a thick outer layer of skin all before some actual money is on the line.
Speaking of getting discouraged and making money, this leads me to the last thing you need to do before embarking on this path of making money as a blogger: love your art. At the end of the day, beginning a creative career is a slow, slow grind. Through all of the rejections, free gigs, and low numbers of views and comments, you need to know your worth as an artist and as a professional. Truth be told, nobody is going to outright tell you when you’re ready to begin charging for your work – that’s your milestone to reach and your summit to climb. If nobody else believes in you, I believe in you. And I also believe that, with patience, commitment, and a hard head, you will begin to make money and power moves as a blogger way sooner than you think.
This article was originally published in the January 2017 "New Authors Editions" of Entrepreneurs of Color Magazine