(If you want the fast answer, see my P.S. at the end of this post!)
Charles asked a great question on Twitter this week: "How does one become a Professional Blogger?" Before I answer that question, you may be wondering "what is a professional blogger, exactly?" It means you make a full time living as a blogger, that blogging in your niche is your profession or career. Simple as that!
A professional is a person who is engaged in a certain activity, or occupation, for gain or compensation as means of livelihood; such as a permanent career, not as an amateur or pastime. -source
How To Become a Professional Blogger
Yes, it's easier said than done. That's true for almost anything super awesome that you want to achieve in life. But it's not at all hard. There's no rocket science involved. Anything you need to know, you can learn along the way. Next month I will have been blogging for 9 full years, so I'm telling you these things from personal experience!
I'll give you 8 tips that I consider to be key points to becoming a successful blogger, plus a video I shot last year that will show you what MY life as a professional blogger is really like...
Choose Your Blog Topic Wisely!
I cannot stress this point enough. It's first on my list for a reason.
The niche you choose, or the topic for your blog, has the potential to lead you into your ideal lifestyle. You will eat, breath, sleep, live, read and become this topic - so you want to put a lot of thought into this upfront.
Don't Get Lost In The Noise
You start out with a great idea, you're passionate about your topic, you start setting things up... and then all of a sudden you realize you're drowning in a sea of noise and distractions and you start to panic!
(It's easy to get sucked into "Internet Marketing", especially while you're trying to learn how to set up and market your blog online. Learn, yes. But don't let yourself get overwhelmed with all the hype & information.)
Stay focused on YOUR business, and YOUR objective.
Be very grounded in who you are, what you do, who you want to reach - and why. The majority of the content you consume both online and offline should be related to your niche. Be educated, have a strong opinion, be intent on serving your market, and consistently be visible to your target market.
Consistency is important. Not only can you "get lost in the noise", and find yourself distracted and overwhelmed, but your voice can get lost in the noise if you aren't consistently engaging your target market and bringing value to the conversation!
Serve Your Market
I know, I know - you decided to start an online business so you could make money from home! But the way to do that successfully is to serve your market with everything that you are. Get this step right, and the money will follow.
"Keep in mind that most of your competitors are lazy and they are only in it for the profit. It doesnt take much to stand above and apart in most niches." source: How to Become a Market Leader in Your Niche
Serving your market is what's going to make you popular. Gaining popularity or exposure in your niche is what will bring you traffic and grow your readership. Avid fans and loyal readers are what you need to successfully monetize your blog.
How do you serve your market? It depends on your niche and angle, but ideas include: sharing news, discussing trends, helping them with buying decisions, telling them about new products or new solutions, giving them actionable how-to information, creating products/solutions, etc.
Make Yourself KNOWN In Your Niche
Don't rely on one source of traffic, or a limited marketing strategy. Also, don't expect people to magically come to you just because you started blogging. Figure out where your target market hangs out, and go to them.
Don't limit yourself. Look at magazines, Facebook groups, podcasts, offline events, books, blogs, etc. You need to be showing up in these places too, and engaging with your market where they are. There are some places you can't engage - such as leaving Amazon reviews - but being "seen" by your target market in multiple places online is how they will come to KNOW you, which will make them more likely to interact with you when given the opportunity elsewhere.
Focus on Building a HUGE Readership
This should be your top objective, over and above "making money". Especially starting out. Becoming a successful blogger isn't all about traffic and conversions, it's about loyal readers and avid fans. These are the people that will share your content, refer new readers to your blog, buy your products, buy products based on your recommendation, etc.
You build a readership with GREAT content, so this always needs to be your primary focus. Give them what they want or need the most! Encourage them to subscribe by email, and join you on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, so you can keep them engaged as you publish new content.
Don't skip out on list-building! I know it's tempting, but your mailing list will be a very big part of your success as a blogger. It's best to start right from the beginning.
$$ Making Money With Your Blog $$
Keep an open mind about revenue sources. There are many ways to monetize a blog. Never rely on a single source or a single merchant, by the way - you never know when you'll lose that connection for whatever reason. (said from heart-wrenching experience!)
Once you build a strong readership and a following in your niche, merchants and brands will come to you with options and opportunities. And of course you'll get approved for affiliate programs more easily.
Also see: Choosing Products To Sell Online
DO NOT Give Up!
The people who succeeded before you, and the new people that will succeed next, are the people who choose to stick it out. There's no real "failure" possible here. Worst case scenario, you discover what doesn't work, and change course. Period.
Most people get it completely backwards and go into blogging thinking about making money, before building up a base of readers or figuring out a way to really serve their market. There's nothing fun about that, and it gets frustrating real quick. But "serving your market" IS fun - and positions you nicely to monetize your blog.
You'll have days where you feel like throwing in the towel. That's normal. After blogging for almost 9 straight years, and making a full time living at it, I even have days where I feel like throwing my laptop off the back deck and getting a job at McDonald's. LOL. Aren't you glad I didn't?!
The point is, it happens. Get serious about making your blog successful, whatever it takes. And on those bad days, don't beat yourself up. Take a break, take a nap, whatever it takes, then come back to it fresh.
Most of all... Have Fun
If you did choose the right niche (see point #1), you should be enjoying your blog. It's a fun thing to work from anywhere, on your own schedule, talking to other enthusiasts and bloggers on your favorite topic all day long, and helping people and/or discussing hot topics "for a living".
A big part of that is in the topic or niche you chose for your blog. But the other part of it is all mindset. And the more you love what you do, the more cool people you'll attract in your business! That includes readers, merchants, partners, etc - those key people that can help you take your blog to the top.
Becoming a well-paid professional blogger is NOT difficult.
In fact, everything I shared with you above is downright EASY. Most people try to skip these steps though, or most of them at least, and end up frustrated and disappointed. JUST DO THE STEPS.
This is a career choice - and an awesome one at that! - not the lottery or casino. Want an super cool career that pays incredibly well? This is it...
If you want to see living proof, watch the video below. My thoughts on this haven't changed at all over the last year, or over the last ~9 years I've been blogging.
Here's a video on "The Lifestyle of a Professional Blogger" I did last year, that will give you a peek behind the curtains of my life:
(that link will open in a new tab/window, so no worries if you're still listening to me ramble on at the coffee shop -lol)
p.s. I actually teach what I do (for a living as a professional blogger) in my Niche Success Blueprint Weekly Training Modules. It's very easy to follow, very step-by-step, with tons of live examples included to help you out along the way. Check it out if you're interested in setting up something awesome, or taking your own blog to it's maximum profit potential!