Over the weekend, there was a thread on the Friend Friday Google group, started by Courtney of Those Graces who asked: ‘Do You See Yourself as a “Professional” Blogger One Day?’ I was going to reply on there, but my comment was getting a bit unruly, so I thought I’d just to a post.
It’s an interesting question for me, because I’ve been blogging for two and a half years now, and am lucky enough to have found a decent number of people who like this blog enough to keep reading and commenting. And this completely motivates me to keep going! I’ve also managed to keep blogging regularly through a major increase in the busyness of life when I started my Open University course, and since going to three posts a week blogging feels much more sustainable, and i’m pretty confident I’ll keep going for a few years yet at least. I don’t feel like a new blogger any more, so this is a good time to take stock.
And I admit that occassionally when I’m rushing a blog post (like this one!) when I know I should be studying, I do have daydreams of spending whole days planning and writing posts, editing photos and making everything look really professional. I would love to learn more web design and graphic design and so on, and if I’m not all studied out when I finish my economics degree, I may just do a course in one of those! But honestly, the professional blogger thing is just a daydream that evaporates as soon as I start thinking about it properly.
Because honestly, my resounding answer to Courtney’s question is no, absolutely not. I am a hobbyist through and through. There are a few reasons for this:
1. I genuinely like my day job and have no desire whatsoever to leave. My day job in government has nothing to do with fashion or art or creative writing, and I like that. Plus I have studied for my job, I am still studying for it, I am bloody good at it, I like that being good at it is recognised (not so much down to random luck in social research thankfully), I like that it is a professional job with a decent career structure, I like the face to face interaction with my colleagues and policy customers, I like that I can see exactly what difference my work makes and I like the money and (relative, post Cameron/Osbourne/Clegg public spending rampage) job security. Even if it would be possible to make a living blogging, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t prefer it.
2. I like writing about a random mix of things. If one wants to be a professional blogger, I imagine it helps to have a really strongly defined niche and to make oneself into a brand that can be defined in one sentence. If you’re a shoe blogger, or a vintage blogger, or a denim blogger, or a jewellery blogger, you can gain sponsorship from the relevant companies. But honestly, who is going to pay for a blog that is one part outfit photos, one part photography, one part craft and one part assorted musings on how contemporary consumer society is unsustainable and/or bad for women? But I like writing about these things as they take my fancy, and not to feel that I have to write about any of them if I don’t feel like it. I think one of the main reason I’m still about after all this time is that I am free to explore whatever avenue I want. And I think (hope!) that people reading appreciate the fact that I am only writing posts that I care about.
3. I just cannot see how it would possibly work financially. Apart from a very small number of superbloggers with huge sponsorship deals, or bloggers who operate more like journos and write for companies’ blogs covering events or reviewing stuff, I don’t see many examples of professional bloggers who are properly making a living off their blogs. Unlike Courtney, I don’t really mind adverts/sponsorship links on blogs, as long as they are relevant and for something good quality, but I see people with much bigger blogs and better stats, selling sponsorship places for prices that basically cover hosting fees. And I remember this post on monetisation by Steph at the Loudmouth, which shows the miniscule amounts involved in affiliate programmes. I know opening one’s blog up to sponsorship is a gamble, it works for some people and doesn’t work for others, but for me to do it I would want to have at least a decent chance of a favourable result. And at the moment I just cannot work out how a blog of my type could ever make anything even near minimum wage.
And so, I am staying happily sponsorship-free and non-professional (unprofessional?).
What do you think?
p.s. These are just my own views for me personally, I don’t at all mean to say that noone should attempt to become a professional blogger. Just in case that wasn’t clear!