Many bloggers have dreams of becoming a full-time blogger so they can quit their jobs and work around their own schedule on something that they will will enjoy. Of course, the reality is that only a very small percentage of those who start off with these intentions will ever achieve “pro blogger” status.In order to make it to the point where you can sustain yourself on just a blogging income, you’ll first have to get started somewhere. Building a successful and profitable blog part-time can be a real challenge, but with a strategic plan and a lot of discipline you can certainly build a blog on a part-time basis that can do very well for you financially.
When I started blogging I had no intentions of doing it long-term or making money from a blog, I just wanted to add some content to a static website, so I added a blog. However, a few months later I started to see how much potential existed. I now have three blogs that make money directly (although this one only makes a small amount), plus I do a good bit of freelance blogging for additional income and my primary blog indirectly promotes my design service. My blogging efforts have always been part-time (at least for now), so I know that it’s possible to have some success on a part-time basis starting from scratch.
Tips for Building a Blog Part-Time:
Have Realistic Expectations, but be Aggressive
During the time that I’ve been blogging, I’ve come across a huge number of bloggers who start out with so much enthusiasm and passion for building their blog and earning a substantial income. Unfortunately, most of them no longer have the same dedication to their blog or expectations for the future, because the reality was disappointing to them.
If you start out by expecting to earn six figures by working part-time hours, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed, even if others would consider your results successful. Those who have realistic expectations of what they’ll get out of their blog and what they’ll have to put in will usually be able to stick around long enough to see the fruits of their labor.
Although I think it’s important to realize how much work and time is involved in building a blog, I also think it’s important to be aggressive and to go after success. Those bloggers who I know personally that have done very well did not just put in some effort to see what would happen. Aggressively go after success and it is very achievable.
Approach it for the Long-Term
As I said earlier, building a blog takes time. If you go in with the approach that you’re building an asset that will help you more in the long-term than it will in the short-term, you’ll have an outlook that prepares you for success. Very few bloggers are able to build a strong blog overnight, and if you’re willing to put in a lot of hours early on without a whole lot of reward, you’ll be paid off in the long run. If you’re looking for a short-term answer to making money online, there are better methods than blogging.
Find Your Motivation
Building a blog part-time will require you to make sacrifices in order to dedicate time to your blog. Maybe you’ll lose some time with family and friends, or maybe you’ll have to temporarily give up something that you enjoy. During these times you’ll need to have something that motivates you to keep going. By knowing specifically why you want to build a successful blog, you can always keep that motivation in mind when you’re questioning why you are making sacrifices.
Focus on Building it First, Making Money will Come Later
When it comes to monetizing a blog, I’ve tried both approaches – monetizing from the start and waiting several months before attempting to monetize. Actually, when I waited to sell ads at Vandelay Design I was actually monetizing the blog through design services and freelance writing, so it’s not like I was making nothing for the 6+ months with no ads.
After trying both approaches, I think my next blog launch (whenever that may be) will have no ads for a while. Making money from ads with a new site is possible, but the space used for ads may be better off being used to promote something on the site and helping to encourage growth.
Whether you sell ads at first or not, the main focus should be on building a strong blog, not on making as much money as possible. A blog that’s full of valuable, well-targeted content will have plenty of opportunities to make money, but if your focus is on the money rather than the content, the results are likely to suffer.
Set Your Weekly Schedule
Some bloggers encourage a very structured posting schedule and others prefer more flexibility. Personally, I think it all depends on the blog and the style of the blogger. However, even if you’re not scheduling your posts, it’s helpful to have a rough schedule of when you’ll be working on your blog each week. Building a blog takes time and effort, and it’s easy to let other things take priority if the time isn’t scheduled.
Get the Support of Your Family
Depending on your current family situation, your blogging efforts may impact others in a big way. You may be willing to make some sacrifices, but others will also have to be willing. It’s important that those in your family are made aware of your intentions and why you’re doing it. I know I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the time that I do if my wife wasn’t behind me 100%. We both make sacrifices right now, with hopes that it will pay off in the long run.
Set Monthly Goals
As a part-time blogger you’ll need something to keep you going from time-to-time, and you’ll also need some direction in order to keep yourself on the right path. By setting measurable monthly goals you’ll always have something to be working towards, and it will be easy to see how you are progressing.
One of the keys to setting goals is to set the right goals. If you’re main priority is making money, then income should be one of your most significant goals. Other things like pageviews, subscriber growth, inbound links, etc. can ultimately help to make you more money, but don’t lose focus of what’s most important to you, whatever that may be.
Get Involved in the Community
One of the biggest factors in building my primary blog was the help and support of others in the blogging community. Whatever niche you are in there are certainly other bloggers that would be valuable members of your network. Take some time to comment on other blogs, use Twitter, write guest posts, even visit some forums.
You’ll find that blogging is extremely interactive, and it’s pretty hard to build a successful blog without surrounding yourself with other bloggers. People help those that they like and they also tend to follow the blogs of other that they’ve gotten to know on a deeper level.
Find Your Style
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers can make is trying to be like the leading blogs in their niche. There’s nothing wrong with learning from others and observing what works, but make a strong effort to find your own identity and go out of your way to be unique. Do whatever it is that you do best and give others the opportunity to take notice. This is especially important in crowded niches where readers have plenty of other blogs that they could be reading.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to quantity of posts, there is a huge variety. Some bloggers post a few times per month, and others crank out several per day. There is no right or wrong, but make sure you’re allowing yourself enough time to create the highest quality content possible. One really strong post per week is better than 3 or 4 mediocre posts.
Limit the Number of Projects at One Time
As a part-time blogger you’ll be stretched for time as it is. Most likely you’ll have plenty ideas of other projects that you could be starting, but resist the temptation to take on too much, at least until your blog is established. Often, building the blog’s audience in the early days will take more time that it will to maintain the blog in the future, so your schedule may open up a bit if you can be patient.
This is something that I struggle with personally. I currently have 3 blogs and although I post to each one a few times per week, I know that they’re not as strong as they would be if I had fewer responsibilities. In my case, I’m able to manage the three, but it’s not an optimal situation for a one-man operation.
Know What You Want
In terms of income, there is a huge variety of goals from one blogger to the next. One person may want to make $300 a month and another may want to be John Chow and make $30,000 a month. It’s important to know what you want so you can always keep that in mind when you’re working on building the blog. Don’t let others tell you what you should be making or what you should be after, it’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
Celebrate Minor Victories
Because building a blog part-time can take a great deal of discipline and persistence, it’s a good practice to be able to appreciate and enjoy even your minor accomplishments. What you do to celebrate or acknowledge your achievements is up to you, but it’s important that it gives you a sense of satisfaction, yet still motivates you to do even better.
Pay Attention to How You Use Your Time
Efficiency is critical for part-time bloggers. There’s very little time to waste, so pay attention to how you are spending your time and what is producing results. Use a to-do list and daily goals to keep yourself on track and you’ll find that you get more done and you waste less time.
Find Multiple Sources of Income
Selling ad space isn’t the only monetization option for bloggers. I highly advocate mixing in some other sources of income, such as some type of relevant service. Doing freelance writing for other blogs can also help hold you over until your own blogs are producing more income.
Learn from the Best
Take some time to really examine the leading blogs in your niche, or even in other niches. Take notice to what they’re doing to create success and see how you can apply it to your own blog. Make an effort to get to know some of the leading bloggers in your niche, you never know what you’ll be able to pick up from them. Personally, doing freelance work for blogs like Smashing Magazine and Freelance Switch has helped me to get to know some successful and influential bloggers and I’ve learned some things about what it takes to create an A-list blog.
What’s Your Advice for Others?
If you have some advice of your own for part-time bloggers, please leave a comment.