Recently, I put up a post entitled, My Time Line – Rise and Fall of a Problogger, where I discussed year by year how my career progressed. What I didn’t really remark on was why I wasn’t more successful?
Focused on Money
When I first started blogging as a career, I was young and I hadn’t really spent much time in the work world. I didn’t have much debt, but what I did have was a relationship with a woman that had some pretty lofty life and career goals. I sacrificed elements of my long term career for short term monetary gains that allowed us to buy a house, and for her to go back to school.
This focus on earning more money lead to some mistakes in my blogging career that took me out of the community, and soured my emotional state when it came to blogging.
Wore Too Many Hats
Another issue that was a partial barrier in my career was my focus on not becoming a specialist. The idea of doing the same thing day in and day out scared me, and so I constantly fought against that. I worked on developing WordPress themes, helping do system administration, worked as a project manager, and anything else that got me away from “just being a blogger”.
I now am constantly telling amazing writers to focus on their writing and marketing skills, and let designers worry about design, and technical people worry about technology. Focus, dedication and becoming the best at one thing could have easily helped me break through some career barriers.
Network to Grow
They always say, it is not what you know, but who you know, and that is very applicable in professional blogging. While I was decent at networking and making connections online, I lacked the mastery that seemed to come natural to others. This not only limited my career growth, but also my personal well being. Blogging can be very isolating and even people that enjoy a solitary life can start to feel a little stir crazy when they realize they’ve only had a cat for company for weeks on end.
I have always had a bad memory for names, and as such, I get a bit of anxiety when it comes to social situations and adding people to the frustratingly broken Rolodex in my head.
One of what I consider the smaller issues of the five, is that I moved around a fair bit. Over the half decade that I was a full time blogger, I never stayed on a single website long enough to really build a self sustaining community. Looking around, I watched as bloggers coming in months and years after me were able to build a platform where their personal brand and the blog were nearly one and the same. Some were able to transfer that community capital to their own endeavours, which leads me to my final point.
Always a Worker, Never an Owner
I never really created my own site. Sure, there are plenty of bloggers that spend their entire career writing for someone else, but more often than not, the ideal situation is to have your own opportunities for community building, marketing, and potentially even income, if those blogging gigs ever come to an end. Unlike other bloggers, I didn’t really maintain a separate, central presence online, and as such, I was left homeless when the economy changed and my brand trajectory flattened out.
For those looking to become a full time blogger, my biggest piece of advice would be to write well and write often. Don’t focus on all of the distractions. Don’t focus on money or let someone push you to focus on money. Make sure you always have a home base that no one can kick you off of, and nurture that community.