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Hobby To Pro: The Journey To Being A Professional Blogger

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If you had said to someone 20 years ago that you aspired to be a blogger, they would have looked at you with a blank expression on their face. What on earth, they would inquire, is a professional blogger?

Of course, you wouldn’t have said it – because blogging as a profession didn’t exist.

For such a young industry, there’s no doubt that blogging has taken a vice-like grip on popular culture. Blogging is the new normal; a genuine competitor to the traditional print media that had it all their way for so long. Bloggers can now be celebrities, appear on TV shows as authorities on their subject matter, and write best-selling books as a spin-off from their site.

There are two types of bloggers. The first is the hobby blogger; the person who began their blog, perhaps even on a whim, largely for their own amusement. They don’t make money from their blog. There’s a good chance that with free services like WordPress and Blogger available, they don’t spend any money on their blog. They have a readership, but they still fulfill the idea that blogging is for them.

Then there’s the second category of blogger: the professional blogger. For these bloggers, their blog is a source of income – and in the most successful cases, it’s their only source of income. While they can still blog for the pleasure of it, there’s no doubt that they have transformed their blog from a basic hobby into a viable business venture.

So what if you’re a hobby blogger, but you want to make your way into the professional category? After all, making a living working for yourself and writing about anything you want – that’s pretty much the dream, isn’t it?

There are many things that  a hobby and a professional blogger does differently, but these are the big ones that separate the amateurs from the pros. If you want to make the leap, you’re going to have to address these as soon as possible.

Blog Design

A hobby blogger… will do much of the design themselves. They might pick a template and customize it a little, use a logo generator to give them a unique look, but that’s pretty much it. The rest of the design of their site is enforced on them by the limitations of their template.

The design of a hobby blog is also more likely to remain static. Like anything, blogs go through trends. For example, the early blogs all posted their content in chronological order – but that’s fallen well out of fashion now in favor of featured posts and popular content. However, hobby blogs are less likely to keep up with the trends, and will often have the same layout and design features for years.

A professional blogger… doesn’t use a pre-made template; they use one that’s been designed for them. If they are going to go pre-made, they will pay a premium for it, and have plenty of customizable options so they can truly make it their own.  

Their blog will also fall into all of the fashion trends going – including the bad ones sometimes! Importantly, however, they will recognize that if there is a popular trend, they need to be seen as up-to-date with how the general industry works.

Photography

A hobby blogger… Frankly, many hobby blogs don’t bother with photography at all. They continue to subscribe to the idea that blogs should be about written content. While content is always going to be vital for a blog, the idea that a blog could thrive on its writing alone is somewhat outdated.

If a hobby blogger does have images, they might try to make them as good as they possibly can – however, they’re not going to break into a sweat about it. They’ll take great pictures on bright summer days when the sun helps them out with lighting, but they’re otherwise content to snap whatever and wherever, irrelevant of the conditions.

A professional blogger… understands that photography is almost as important as written content to their blog. They have a proper photography setup, such as light diffusers and even studio lights so they can combat those dark winter days. They will also have a PhotoShop subscription so they can edit their photographs to look their very best.

Their images will be well lit, clear, and taken with signs of photography skill. They will have worked hard to improve, and probably cringe when they see the photos they used back in their hobby blogging days!

Content

A hobby blogger… is all about content, but what kind of content do they use? Back in the beginning of their evolution, blogs were primarily a form of online diaries, the successors to LiveJournal and similar sites. Many hobby bloggers still stick to this, with their blog being primarily about their life or – at the very least – the things that they like and enjoy.

A professional blogger… will also tend to have posts about their life, personal preferences, and everything else that you’ll see on a hobby blog. However, they will also understand the necessity of evergreen content. Diary posts quickly go out-of-date, but evergreen posts will keep bringing new traffic from search engines year after year. They will also feature a lot of posts that are helpful to the reader, such as how-tos and guides on subjects they know a lot about.

So Could You Become A Professional Blogger?

There are many things that separate hobby bloggers from their professional counterparts. If you want to join the ranks of the probloggers, then you’re going to need to update and bring your blog into line with the norms. You’re going to have to work harder; though this is standard in any business venture.

The key change you need to make involves the last two words of that sentence: business venture. To change from hobby to professional blogger, you have to understand that your blog is now a business rather than your personal diary and pet project. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but it’s an important state of mind to reach. As soon as you make that switch, you’re halfway to the finish line already.

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About Author

Ben is a follower of Christ, a rabid computer geek, small business owner, and breaker of things. He is married way above his station in life and has three wonderful children who have made driving him insane their mission in life.

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