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Blogging as a Job – The Perceptions of Others – Convincing Those You Love that You Can Be a ProBlogger

In my recent question box Nick from Put Things Off asked me a number of questions that I thought I’d answer together as a single post as they almost read like a mini-interview – with questions revolving around the legitimacy of blogging as a career, helping others to accept it (family especially) etc. These are questions I get a bit – so I hope this is helpful.

Have your partner, family and friends always accepted blogging as a serious full time profession?

Hell No! :-)

Actually they I’m surprised just how supportive they’ve been overall, but there was a time when I first started to talk about blogging as a potential job, business and career when I’m pretty sure that people thought that I might be having an early midlife crisis.

I totally understand their reaction because when I first began to realize the potential of blogging to become a money maker I had a lot of doubts and uncertainty myself. I almost pushed the ideas from my mind and got ‘real jobs’ on numerous occasions however for some reason I kept on track and managed to convince those around me that what I was doing had potential.

I’m often asked how a blogger should convince their partner about the potential of blogging….

I think the thing that convinced people the most was not my telling them how blogging could earn money but by showing them. I’m thinking particularly of my wife here who understandably had some doubts (remember 4 years ago no-one was really making a living from blogging – or they weren’t talking about it if they were – I couldn’t even point her to examples of anyone else doing it). What convinced her was that cheques gradually started to arrive in the mail and money started to trickle into our bank account. Over time this was the clincher.

The other thing I’d say that helped me convince V about blogging as a profession was that I really took it gradually and over time. Originally I worked numerous part time jobs while I blogged – I gradually increased my investment of time into blogging as the income that it was bringing in justified it. You can read more about his process here in my story of becoming a ProBlogger.

What work are you doing to change peoples’ perceptions of your profession?

I’m not sure that I’m doing much that is intentional to change people’s perceptions. In my personal relationships I obviously talk about blogging and people see and hear about some of the successes of what I do on the grapevine.

However in the bigger picture of helping the wider public to have a change in perception about blogging I think that this naturally happens over time as more and more people become familiar with blogging as a medium.

When I first started blogging five or so years ago it was a fairly uncommon thing to do (at least here in Australia) and I regularly had to explain what a blog was. Then over time more and more people understood what a blog was but I found myself explaining how a blog could make money. In more recent times I’m finding I need to explain how they make money more and more – people are gradually becoming more familiar with the concept over time.

Sure I still get raised eyebrows when I say what I do sometimes – but I think that that’s more because they’re surprised that a guy like me can do it (I’m fairly ‘ordinary’) rather than them being surprised that it’s possible.

In 2008, is “problogger” an acceptable job title?

I’m not really sure it’s unacceptable. I’ve heard some pretty wacky job titles over the last few years – I think ‘problogger’ is still going to get people having a second look when they see it on a resume or form, but it’s not too crazy…. is it? Of course I don’t use this term that much (read on).

What do you call yourself on professional forms like mortgage applications etc?

You can watch my video on this topic here. I don’t think I’ve ever used ‘blogger’ on a form in the occupation space – I tend to use web publisher.

If your kid/s told you they wanted to grow up to be probloggers just like Dad, what advice would you give them?

I’d tell them that they’re probably 20 years too late. While I’m sure blogging will last for years I’m also pretty sure that there will be plenty of other forms of communication arise in the next 20 years before my kids get to working age that they’ll probably want to explore first.

I think blogging will continue to grow but that those wanting to make serious money from it will need to become familiar with other mediums also. I’d rather encourage my kids to learn about principles of communication and become savvy with technology than to just focus upon becoming ‘bloggers’. Blogging might be a part of what they do but I think a broader perspective will set them up better.

It seems to me that there’s a long way to go before blogging is accepted as a serious career path, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m not so sure that it really matters whether blogging is seen as an accepted career path when it comes to the wider population. There are plenty of very successful people out there following their dreams and doing unorthodox things very successfully that are not stopped by people saying it’s not a legitimate career path.

Of course I’m talking there about the big picture – it gets harder when the ones that you love and live with struggle to accept the dreams we have. I wrote more about this back in 2005 in a post called How to Tell Your Partner that You’re Going to Be a ProBlogger. I still stand by most of what I wrote there and hope it helps others who find themselves in this situation.

PS: The last thing that I’ll say on the topic of convincing others that you want to be a Professional Blogger is that at times it’s important to listen to them. While it is possible to go Pro as a blogger the reality is that not everyone makes it and sometimes those around us are the voice of reason. Help those around you to see the possibility but also give them permission to have a say and keep you living in reality. It’s a tricky balance sometimes but my concern is that I’ve seen a number of bloggers blaze ahead without listening to those around them – sometimes with some fairly drastic consequences. Tread carefully.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Nathan Rice says:

    Not only would it not be easy to tell your loved ones that you are going to blog for a living, it’s pretty hard to tell them that you are quitting your job and working from home, PERIOD. It’s just not an easy conversation to have.

    And I, for one, can say it’s not exactly easy to tell yourself either. Life without a guaranteed paycheck can be scary. But sometimes the risk is worth the reward!

  2. David says:

    I have started to use the word “writer” instead of “blogger”, and that is something people understand. When they ask you who you write for, just tell them “some websites” and point them in the right direction.

    It just makes it easier to explain it to some folks, who don’t (and probably never will!) get it…like Grandma :-)

  3. Dan Cole says:

    I think the misconception about blogging are due to the fact that it was given a special name. If your would have related your web publishing to a site like Google or some other major site, then the general public wouldn’t have the same misconceptions. Even though relating a blog to Google is bad on a technical aspect.

  4. Well hey I am absolutely convinced that I will find success with my site and for the most part, my attitude is contagious. My mom keeps telling me to remember she will SO be there whenever it is I make it on Oprah.

    … Seriously :)

    About convincing others – well, I just allow my work and what they’ll allow me to show them explain it best. Otherwise, I honestly don’t spend much time trying to convince people of anything.

    As long as I have the support of those who are immediately close and dear to me – one I earned by my consistency and their love for what I’m doing, I’m pretty ok with everyone else thinking I’m a touch crazy.

    It’s ok because they will be the same audience that will marvel when I get there :)

  5. Cory Huff says:

    I still explain to a lot of people how bloggers make money. It’s sometimes stunning to me how many people don’t know about it.

    Even more than that, you can make a serious difference in your own life and the lives of others if you blog about topics that people care about. More than making money, that’s what I care about.

  6. Mike Goad says:

    I think “web-publisher” is more accurate for me as I am making more from that than blogging — and most of the people I know don’t really understand what a blog is anyway.

  7. Buy Website says:

    I prefer “Author”.

    What we do is present information, but in electronic form.

    Michael

  8. Bush Mackel says:

    I think you point out some really interesting things in regards to teaching your kids about blogging. Though I’m definitely not there yet (as far as becoming a successful blogger), I do know enough to know that you need a lot of skills to do good in the field.

    Being a talented writer could easily be the most important part, but being tech savvy so you can fix and update things is crucial as well as having a marketing or communication background so you can successful spread the word, work with partners and get advertisers is essential too.

    I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb by saying that top bloggers (or web developers for that matter) have to be comfortable in all these hats at one time or another.

  9. Forrest says:

    Titles really don’t concern me much, author, blogger, journalist are all fine. I could care less what they call me as long as I’m making a comfortable living.

  10. Agent 001 says:

    I am a great fan of yours.But you have changed a lot since I last visited your blog.I subscribe to your blog feeds so didn’t came to your blog for long time.I see you are also now going for earning money, at least it is more visible than before.I like your current web design it is very good but contents looks less.Happy blogging.

  11. Ty Brown says:

    I know where you’re coming from. I’m not a pro blogger yet but I am a dog trainer by profession. A lot of people didn’t believe me when I said I could earn 6 figures training dogs. One year later I have received a few apologies. My own mom just apologized to me and said that she was sorry for doubting me.
    Now we’ll see what happens as I am going after a new niche with blogging about dog training.

  12. Lisa says:

    Darren, I can relate. I don’t do as much blogging as you, but as an affiliate making six figures I have a hard time convincing people that this “online stuff” (as they call it) really is a legit, full-time job. As far as titles go, I generally use Web Publisher or Web Developer.

  13. Parth says:

    I agree, I think writer is the best way of explaining it. But to tell you the truth, I did not consider myself a blogger until I came to this website. Now I consider myself more of a writer and have been writing for other blogs. I think I have found a good way of making a career from writing, the way I always wanted to. Forget 9-5

  14. jsanderz says:

    Interesting interview, I like to be called a writer, even though I have a lot to learn. Blogging as a living is bloody hard work, but fun.
    I agree with you Darren you have to listen to those around you. I have been in business before and although it was collapsing around me, my partner and accountant were telling me to close it in, I would not listen. Eventually I did.
    Regards.

  15. Lid says:

    I have working part-time, freelancing for several companies over the past few years, but have decided to try (fingers and toes crossed) to go pro blogger this year.

    The problem with me though, is that I have written a certain way for so long (the stuff that’s pumped into you at j-school), that I am worried it will be detrimental to my cause. I’d much prefer to write like Naomi Dunford, over at Itty Biz – love her style – but am too big a baby :)

    The great thing is my family is really great about it – especially when it comes to me slaving over the PC. And even though they are great about it, I worry that I’m missing out being with my little people. So it’s a bit of a trick to keep going when my mind wants to be out rollerblading with them.

  16. Tom Beaton says:

    This is very similar to the calling yourself blogger or web publisher etc post. It will always be tough to convince people this is a career because there is so little structure and guidelines. People cant see or understand what we do or how we do it. It does not really matter though as long as we are happy.

  17. Lid says:

    Hey Darren, there’s this really cool plugin that would be super useful right now called WP AJAX edit comments ;)

  18. Robert says:

    My fiancé is actively pushing me to take up blogging as a career. Though I suspect it has more to do with me being around the house available as her 24/7 tech support guy ;)

    Still, it is nice to have your nearest and dearest backing you up and believing in you.

  19. Sean Hodge says:

    I think that guest posting on other peoples blogs and getting paid for it will help legitimize your ability to make money with the blogging profession. I think Darren made some interesting points about the job title not being so important.

  20. CatherineL says:

    Interesting Darren. I think you’ve answered a few things that many people have wanted to ask.

    I’m guessing back then that wanting to be a full time blogger would have been received by many in a similar way to – I want to be a stripper, or I’m off to join the circus.

    How many bloggers would there have been online at that time – roughly?

  21. “Has your partner accepted blogging as a serious full time profession?”

    Lol luckily at the same time I started, a psychic told her I would be working on a project ‘which would see great revenue – but those revenues would take a long time to materialize’

    Since then she hasn’t said boo about it.
    How lucky am I?

    She doesn’t even believe in psychics but it was too coincidental for her.

  22. Rehuel says:

    This is amazing! I’ve just had a talk with my wife less than half an hour ago about what I want to do with my life. I explained to her that, no matter what I’m going to do, having a network of “friends” will definitely help. And blogging may be one of the ways to grow such a network.

    I explained that I’ll be spending a lot of time working on that network, so it may take months before I really see any real income from this form of work, but, if done right, it can have long term benefits.

    She asked questions like “How do you make money from a blog? Who pays you?” After some explanation she understood how it works.

    Even though she doesn’t understand all the technical mumble-jumble, she understood my position and seems to support my plans.

    Good thing she makes enough money to take care of us both for a couple of months :)

  23. Frugal Dad says:

    I could see this being a tough sell, particularly to our parents or grandparents. My grandfather still doesn’t understand what a “blog” is, and my mom thinks the only people who make money from it are “those swindlers on the late-night TV ads.” It’s taken some time to convince her that my efforts are slowly building some decent PT income, thought I doubt I’ll ever reach “problogger” status. I still applaud Darren’s efforts, and enjoy reading his advice, even if I apply it on a smaller scale.

  24. Christi says:

    Darren, I wrote a post this afternoon using you as an example of a successful blogger. After publishing it – the words “poster child” came to mind. That’s you – the poster child of successful blogging.

    It’s not enough for people to just point to you and say, “See, if he can do it – so can I.” Not so – you have to be dedicated enough to hurdle some of the stumbling-blocks that are often in the way.

    I’ve worked as a professional blogger for other companies, but making it on your own is much more difficult. Certain days and months are hard, and for me – the money doesn’t just pour in.

    I guess I’m very luck that during those tough times, when I think out lout about not having a “real job” my husband is hte first to argue the point.

    What it really boils down to is this: We are often our own worst enemy, and because we let others make us feel that blogging is not a “real job” – we limit ourselves to the least of what we can do.

    Blogging is a real job, and it takes a certain amount (and type) of education to do it. For some, you must even learn a whole new language (i.e. CSS or HTML). The point is, there is more to blogging than just slapping together a few paragraphs. For many, it’s a living – and for some, it’s a way of life.

  25. Kathy says:

    I have a question for full-time bloggers: How do you deal with the loss of certain benefits that you would have by working a “corporate” job, such as health care and retirement benefits? Do you miss it? Do you get the benefits from a spouse’s “traditional” job? This is a question more for those who live in countries without universal health care. Also, do you take real vacations, or do you feel on-call constantly? Thank you, and sorry that was more than one question!

  26. Bold Lentil says:

    I certainly think that the concept of “corporate” blogger has gone from a possible oxymoron to being a sanctioned activity. This may have has much impact in the long run for blogging as problogging.

  27. Barbara says:

    My husband still calls my blog, a “blob”, but he knows I enjoy writing. He says, “if mama’s happy, everyone’s happy”. What a guy.:)

    You brought up an interesting point. You did start blogging when it wasn’t the norm…when people were still intrigued by flashing banner ads, “click here”, and ordering online. Now many use ad blockers and are smart enough to bookmark their favorite shopping sites.

    I think it will be interesting to see how “making money online” will change.

  28. Thanks ever so much for answering my questions so thoroughly, Darren. It’s really helped. (And apologies if my questions read like the Spanish Inquisition!)

    It’s particularly interesting to hear what you’d tell your kids, and that blogging/web publishing will continue to be only a tiny part of an increasingly broader communications spectrum. It’s a great point, well made.

    Like many here I shy away from the term, “blogger” for the various negative connotations it has. “Web Publisher” or “Writer” seems to carry more respect and understanding. Similarly, after seeing your video, I’m beginning to think of my own blog less as a blog and more as a website.

  29. m07 says:

    First of all i did thank you for this as it will help me in convincing my parents(i m single) that there is huge potential out there.Actually i think i will give them i link to this post.thanx once again

  30. B Carter says:

    Darren, those answers are down to earth and realistic; that’s what keeps me coming back. Thank you.

  31. Darren, currently.. blogging is my second job and I hope it will be my first job at the end of this year.. thanks

  32. jopals says:

    I am now much interested in blogging, thanks man for enlightened my mind. i am now serious on posting in my blog regularly, yesterday I’m very happy upon receiving $19.50 in my blog.

  33. Many people still don’t know what a blog is (in today’s terms), most people still think that blogs are always personal and that you can never make money out of them. It can be difficult to explain to people what you really do, especially your family. But as you said, they usually understand after the money starts rolling in…. ;)

  34. suresh says:

    First of all adding some extra money other than natural profession gives self satisfaction and self confidence.

    Secondly blogging gives self confidence and authority over subject .

    At last if a part time blogger gets confidence that he can go on

    fine he will be automatically becomes a professional.

  35. Neil Roberts says:

    I’m not blogging full time yet but one of my mentors is. He, James Brausch, doesn’t call himself a pro blogger though. He prefers business owner.

  36. Jeremy says:

    “I’d rather encourage my kids to learn about principles of communication and become savvy with technology…” I couldn’t agree more. Blogging is an excellent communication vehicle, but the important thing for kids is to learn and understand the value of effective communication and the power of technology as a means of dissemenating a message. Blogging will change and evolve, and good communication skills will be necessary no matter what. Thanks for some great insights!

  37. I have been an affiliate marketer for about three years. I started with a kid on the way and no way to pay the bills other than doing that or cutting myself in two so I could work three or more full time jobs. I shifted to blogging in the last few months. My wife stood beside me this whole time. Even when I went into freelancing for a while and realized it would not work for me. I don’t work well with others. Jobs suck. If you have a career you like, your boss sucks. I am making it my job to teach my kids that. The less people that have you under their thumb, the more you can do with your life. You call the shots. I never want my kids to take a job they didn’t want to. This has been every job except what I do now for me.

  38. Arham says:

    nice post.. :-)
    but,As College Student whose made to get an a job, how can I explain, Prof.Blogger is my career ?
    .
    it’s mean Problogger is an entrepreneur so not, an employee which made for getting some a job.

    oh ya, is any Blogger wrote Problogger on their card ?

  39. I don’t blog for a living, but my business website is a blog. Among other things, I train on blogging and I create blogs for my clients.

    My company’s recent success though has been due to my blog. It’s given me high credibility and made me known in the local market. Due to Google (love ‘em) ranking my posts so high I’ve been getting a lot of traffic and, more importantly, a lot of business through my blog.

    I love blogging, I run another community blog too and next week I’m launching a new personal blog. I think it’s just so powerful.

    But back to the point, when I use to spend hours at home blogging my wife couldn’t understand it, it was a waste of time for her. But now she’s seeing the fruits of those efforts, and she now sees the value in blogging. My focus is training so I wouldn’t consider an exclusively blogging career, but if I did happen to change my mind I think my wife would be able to adapt easier than before.

    I think we need to share with our partners what we do, and also share with them our challenges and successes. That works for me!

  40. Thank’s Darren, for helping us understand.

  41. Allyn Paul says:

    The idea of your family (particularly your spouse) looking down on you for choosing the career of “blogger” is the same ANYTIME you make a career change in your late 20s or 30s.
    You could tell your wife you’re going to quit being an accountant and be a police officer and she’d have doubts.
    Its the age of the career change that blocks your family and friends’ perceptions… not the occupation.
    AL

  42. jd says:

    Hey Darren –

    What are your favorite “principles of communication”?

  43. It’s really hard to make all my family members to understand that when i’m graduating from college I don’t plan to get a job, I rather would be working from home on my blog and on affiliate marketing. They don’t believe me and think I’m a phsycho!!! All I can wish is my blog income beats the job…

  44. Martijn says:

    Having setup and created a business that does quite well in creating a living I have quite run out of (technical) challenges. The business won’t go away — its feeding quite a few families by now, but the fun for me was always in building neat solutions that save time and money. The rest is just every day (boring) paperwork.

    The attraction of a “pure” web income would really be living on the sharp end of your skills. I am sure the wife would understand, but she would like to see cash first ;-)

  45. My wife never takes me seriously even with 700 or so a month in income. When a clickbank check for $1000 showed up two weeks ago though she changed her mind.

    It is important for family to see what blogging buys you instead of what it takes away in the form of time

  46. rubu says:

    It’s particularly interesting to hear what you’d tell your kids, and that blogging/web publishing will continue to be only a tiny part of an increasingly broader communications spectrum. It’s a great point, well made.

  47. BusyBlogging says:

    Like many others, nothing worked more than the statement “I can pay my bills with it”.

    I actually just told my boss that I will be pursuing my blogging career and my wife was supportive of the idea only because I was able to show her the paypal transactions.

    Nothing beats results :)