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Six Defining Moments of a ProBlogger

There are defining moments in everyone’s lives that often get looked back on as times that determined how things eventually played out.

My reader question for today is to ask for you stories of defining blogging moments.

  • What are the most important decisions and discoveries that you’ve made as a blogger?
  • What realizations did you have that shaped your blog (for good or bad)?
  • What circumstances do you now look back on things that changed your blog’s course?

Let me look back on six of my own blogging ‘defining moments’:

1. Discovering my first Blog

In 2002 after an email with a link from a mate I arrived on a site called Tall Skinny Kiwi. At the time I was about to plant a new church and was wanting to connect with others who were exploring emerging ways of doing Christian Community. Tall Skinny Kiwi did just this and it hooked me in as I saw hundreds of others from around the world discussing the very thoughts I was having here in Melbourne. That first experience of a blog showed me how powerful the medium was at giving individuals voices and helping them to form communities around particular topics. I started my first blog that very day. I often wonder how different my life would be today if instead of following that link from a friend I’d deleted the email.

2. Mistakenly Starting My first Commercial Blog

My first commercial blog was a complete accident. My wife and I were about to embark on a tip to Morocco, Spain and Portugal back in 2003 and on the spur of the moment I decided to buy myself my digital camera to help capture the trip. I wanted to share my images from the trip so just before we left I started a photoblog so that my friends and family could follow our progress – here’s one of those first posts. I also published a short review of my digital camera. On returning from our trip I discovered that no one had viewed my images (not a single person) but that the review of my camera had been read by hundreds. A light went on in my mind as I began to wonder how a blog with hundreds of digital camera reviews (and links to reviews) as well as other digital camera news would go. I transitioned the blog into one that covered digital camera news and reviews. This ‘accidental’ beginning led to me starting a blog that for a year or two grew into a full time venture. These days I don’t blog much on it and it’s earnings are much lower but the experience shaped my future blogging ventures.

3. Discovering AdSense

Around the same time as I accidentally started my first commercial blog I came across a system that enabled web masters to make money from people clicking on ads on their sites – AdSense. At the time I had not even considered that blogs could make money – I was more than happy to do it for the love and treated it purely as a hobby. However on discovering AdSense I thought that I’d give it a go and see if I could earn enough to pay my ISP costs and perhaps even my blog’s hosting. A few days later I’d earned my first few dollars from AdSense and had begun to dream about how I could build more sites that might one day buy me that laptop computer that I’d been eyeing off. AdSense has now earned me in excess of $400,000. It virtually paid off our first mortgage – I wonder what would have happened if I’d never experimented with it that first day.

4. Discovering Chitika

The 2nd biggest income earner for me in blogging has been Chitika. I look back on my journey with them over the last 2-3 years and almost take them for granted and think of them as always having been there – however it all started with one of the Chitika team leaving a comment on one of my posts. I don’t even remember what the comment was – but the person was one of the management team at Chitika and they invited me to test their ad network. Now I get a lot of these types of comments and can’t respond to them all but on this day I did and I’m very glad for that as Chitika has generated over $300,000 in income in the last 3 years. It’s another of those ‘moments’ that I look back on and shake my head with relief!

5. Starting ProBlogger

ProBlogger started in September of 2004. Before this time I had been blogging in a fairly general way on many topics on my original blog. On that blog I covered everything from spirituality, to culture, to photography to blogging. Actually the topic of blogging and exploring ways to make money from blogging had become a bigger and bigger focus to the point that some readers who were not interested in the topic started to complain. I began a separate blog on blogging on a subdomain of that blog and when I did I started to see it get good traffic and began to see the sense in investing in a standalone domain. The name ProBlogger was something I got on a whim. I’d not heard anyone use the term before but it seemed to ‘fit’ with a hunch of what I was seeing myself become. The .com name was gone (and wasn’t being used) but the .net version was available so I snapped it up. Little did I know that the term ‘Pro Blogger’ would become used to describe bloggers making a living from blogging – I certainly didn’t think it’d be anything more than my blog’s name. Starting ProBlogger was one of the best things I’ve ever done – it opened up wonderful networks of friends and business partners, has led to opportunities to start new ventures, write books and other resources and travel the world speaking about blogging.

6. Revealing My Income

Another related ‘defining moment’ from the early days of ProBlogger was revealing my income from blogging. After blogging on the blog for a few months as well as expanding my other blogs I had the realization one day that I was on track to earn over $100,000 (six figures) in a year. I didn’t really tell anyone about it at first (well not anyone except for my wife) but after a while I mentioned it in an interview on another blog. I didn’t really think about it or have too many ulterior motives for doing so – but it turned out to be a move that had some really positive impacts. It got picked up by a few other bloggers and I was asked a lot of questions about it. There was also quite a bit of anger around it too as at that time blogging was seen by many as something that was not about money at all. I followed it up with a post on ProBlogger explaining more and that post got picked up by Slashdot and sent more traffic than I’d ever seen in a day before. In many ways this ‘launched’ ProBlogger to a new level of readership. Yes it caused a few headaches with the controversy but it also brought a level of credibility for me as an authority on the topic of making money from blogs.

OK – so they are six of my ‘defining moments’ as a blogger (listed in the order that they happened). What defining moments have you had?

  • What are the most important decisions and discoveries that you’ve made as a blogger?
  • What realizations did you have that shaped your blog (for good or bad)?
  • What circumstances do you now look back on things that changed your blog’s course?
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. The most important decision/discovery I’ve made thus far was finding my voice and sticking to it. The easiest way I found to do that was to be genuine in my interest and my style of speaking which in turn removed any “forced writing” that people could not connect with. So far, alot of the people who told me they like my site have really stuck around because though I write about a range of topics with the tone of postive thinking upon – It’s still me and It feels good to know that people are liking that and I can see myself being on the blogosphere in the long run bc of it

    Some realizations that I have *really* helped me?
    -finding quality images on flickr which Skellie helped me learn to do with her article and for that I am forever greatful
    -that with time, a good blog really does pick up momentum and every one comment I’ve received gave me enough to keep tck tck at the keyboards..
    -Some bloggers are really just very helpful if you just ask. It’s amazing. So simple, yet so great.

    So far, I don’t think I’ve experienced circumstances that have changed my blog’s course. I can only assume that as I grow as a person in experience and in knowledge, so will my blog. I look fwd to this year to see where it can go

  2. Crazykinux says:

    Let’s see

    1) Discovering Blogger
    2) Starting my very own blog on a specific subject (the MMORPG EVE Online)
    3) Realizing I could make money out of a hobby
    4) Making my $100 off a gaming blog
    5) Realizing this was hard work!
    6) Hitting the 100k page views

    There you go. I do have to say that ProBlogger has been a great help over the last two years. It has allowed me to greatly improve my blogging abilities to a point where I never thought possible.

    Thanks Darren, I owe you one!

    P.S.: typo on your #5 -missing an “r”

  3. Dan Cole says:

    That was a nice story. Your blogs though are going to earn you well over a million dollars by the end of your 4th year. That’s cool, but misleading about blogging. You should to a post about income trends with aged blogs.

  4. Chetan says:

    I always get inspired with your words and the post about 6 figure income by blogging :)
    Its always great to read all kind of posts and love to see when you share any of your stats here.

    Btw “5. Starting ProBlogge” there is a spelling mistake ;)

  5. Mike says:

    One of my defining moments was actually finding this website. I had just started my blog on blogger.com and did a search on “make money blogging” and found your site. Your site is a great inspiration for many.

  6. The thrill of producing and sharing and archiving knowledge that may be read and enjoyed by future generations and many cultures is rewarding.

    Also decades from now, looking back at earlier periods of your life and having something to share with your descendants is rewarding – with or without any profit.

  7. Tibi Puiu says:

    Starting your first blog is always a breakthrough for any blogger.

  8. Lulugal11 says:

    My first defining moment was actually discovering blogs in general. I know I had heard the term floating around but never paid attention.

    One day I was searching for picture about contact lenses and found this blog from Singapore. It was funny and well written so I just spent hours reading it from the beginning.

    Then I found other blogs and thought that might be a fun thing to do since I like to write.

    My second moment was discovering the personal finance bloggers…because this gave me something to focus on and I got some really great tips on managing my debt.

    Then I found ProBlogger….then Adsense…

    Your story is truly inspiring.

  9. Troy says:

    For me, a defining moment would be getting the first check. There’s something to show to your family and friends that proves you’re not just wasting time :)

  10. Cookiemouse says:

    Getting my digital SLR was my defining moment. I love images and so the chance to take quality pictures for my blog posts is what changed my whole approach. Reading ProBlogger on a regular basis has been a great benefit so I guess that becoming an RSS subscriber was also a “defining moment.” The decision to focus on healthy food also changed the way I blog. Finding my niche took a long time but I got there in the end. It’s been a huge learning curve and a fun journey. I realized how far I had come when the other day I did some SEO for one of our local church’s websites.

  11. Kristen says:

    I took a year’s leave from teaching in order to set up a website for book clubs. My friend recommended that I set it up as a blog — low start-up costs, better SEO traffic — and my hairdresser sent me a list of her favorite blogs. Now, I can’t imagine my life before blogging! I absolutely love it.

    I am now trying to decide whether or not to monetize my blog and get to know Ad Sense. Thanks to a couple of guest posts, my subscriber count has been growing and I think Ad Sense might be the next step.

    Although I loved teaching for the past 15 years, I would love to run my blog on a full-time basis. We’ll see what the future holds.

    Thanks for an inspiring post!

  12. Starting first specific niche blog dedicated to earning money rather than just blogging for fun and putting a few adsense blocks on and hoping for best

  13. Very interesting post! It sounds like you more or less stumbled on blogging, and it has worked out very good for you.

    As for me, my blog is still very much a hobby. I make a few bucks a month from various advertising streams I have and that’s about it. But I love blogging! I think a big part of why my blog has lasted for well over a year now is because I’m passionate about my subject: literature and writing.

    As for my defining moment, it’s hard to say. I think discovering that blogs have become more mainstream and accepted was one of those moments. Also, discovering that momentum builds even more momentum was another big moment. By that, I mean just by posting good content and taking an active interest in other blogs is enough to build a healthy readership. Once you have that, it’s easier to go to the next level.

  14. Zach Smith says:

    1. Deciding I had a passion for something and wanted to write a blog, which no one was doing in my niche.

    2. Getting press credentials to professionally cover the team I write about

    3. Buying my domain name.

    4. Making my first direct ad sale.

    That’s about it, but I’ve only been doing it for 5 months, so there’s a long way to go.

  15. rjleaman says:

    The first defining moment for me, truly, was discovering ProBlogger. I remember thinking, ‘hey, this blog stuff looks like fun’ — figuring that blogging could be a good way to change mental gears between writing gigs, and Adsense earnings a ‘bonus’ as well as a measure of success. It’s fair to say that Darren Rowse got me started… as with so ery many others!

    The second defining moment came a year or so later, when I was introduced to Chris Garrett’s blog — I suppose his ‘authority blogger’ emphasis was the right word at the right time, and the encouragement I needed to broaden my view of what it meant to be a blogger — and eventually to add blogging to my ‘real world’ freelance repertoire, instead of relegating it to a off-hours sideline.

  16. Tom Beaton says:

    No defining moments other than starting the blog so far. But I will let you know when something happens.

  17. I started by first blog when I was 13 – and made tons of money from it. I eventually sold the domain name for a good amount of money when I was 15. However, it was when I started a blog on a e-commerce site of mine that sales really exploded, and I realized that a blog not only generated revenue directly… but also indirectly. As a result of that blog, the site got much more traffic,better search engine rankings, and in the end… more sales for less marketing dollars. I <3 blogs.

  18. Interesting post Darren. Its nice to see a post of this type, this is the kind of things that us, (your readers) would never have known about you, if they hadn’t read this post.

    Its nice to see how things happened for you, and those figures are pretty impressive. id be happy with a quarter of that!!!!

    You have certainly done very well for your self. Well done!!

  19. My defining moments:

    1) Deciding to experiment with blogs because maybe I could use them to help my consulting and speaking business.

    2) Booking a few thousand $ keynote speech in the first month because of my blog.

    3) Friends asking me to help them start blogs to promote their businesses.

    4) A literary agent appearing with a book contract for ‘Blogging for Business.’

    And on from there, but that was the beginning.

  20. Interesting to hear about Chitika. I wonder what effect the time zone has. Posting during the US night so you are there before everyone else in the morning.

  21. Lex G says:

    Every time I publish a post is a defining moment, since my blog is kind of new … But I’m sure that’ll change a little in the future …

    Lex

  22. Scott says:

    I’m still new to the blogging world but I soon will hopefully be able to look back on my experience as a great one. Also thats wonderful earnings with Chikita I’ve heard of them but haven’t pursued signing up with them yet. I suppose I should.

    -Scott

  23. Ty Brown says:

    I love reading the behind the scenes stories of how success is started. Great article

  24. 1. Realizing I needed to find something new to do after 10 years at the same job, pick blogging as a random hobby to pursue to get my head out of my job.

    2. Jan 7, 2007-Started NYC parenting blog as a New Year’s resolution as result of above.

    3. Discovered this site and Lorelle’s blog and became fascinated with SEO and Problogging

    4. Jan. 18, 2008 last day at job. Now working as a blog consultant and blogging full time on own blog.

    5. Feb. 2008 hired 3 ad sales people and two weeks later launched a local camp guide on my site with 30 direct ads.

    Thanks for the inspiration, advice and general good-guyness!

  25. Enjoyed the post, I think a lot of bloggers have the same moments

  26. Lisa says:

    My defining moment was when I discovered the potential of residual affiliate programs and began making the most of them. Even if my sites and blog died today I’d still make a pretty good living just from residuals alone.

    And I definitely agree with you about exposing your income level. I was hesitant to do that at first too when I first earned six figures (I felt I was bragging), but it does help build your credibility.

    I guess my 3rd defining moment has been discovering Problogger.net. I just got serious about blogging at the end of last year and I have learned a lot from this site. :) I feel my writing has improved and I am much more selective about my blog topics. Thanks Darren!

  27. eplwallpaper says:

    IT is such a good story..
    It is first time I surf at your digital camery website and it give me some idea…

  28. I am about to have my first defining moment: finding a WordPress designer to design my blog.

    It’s no surprise that finding a great designer is really tough. The majority of blog designers whose work I admire suggest on their home and services pages that they are available for work. I am not the first to have trawled through their portfolios, only to find the message ‘Sorry, I am not available’ on the contact page.

    One designer suggested on a blog news site recently that potential buyers should expect to wait five days for a reply to an email requesting work. Five days? If this is true then if there is one business to be in right now it’s custom blog design – but treat buyers with respect, not like cattle. Price your work accordingly.

    Serious professionals – and there will be millions – wanting to get into blogging will have healthy budgets to ensure that their blog stands out. But they don’t want to work with partners who are here today, gone tomorrow.

    I’d be grateful for any suggestions – any great designers out there available for work? I’ll keep searching.

  29. Oh, I forgot to say thanks for a great post and a brilliant blog.

  30. Barbara says:

    My defining moment, was when I got my first comment. It meant I was being heard, and motivated me to continue on. Now, my loyal commenters inspire me in unimaginable ways. I’m hooked!

  31. Joseph says:

    My defining moments so far have been:

    1) When I created my first blog (on Blogger);
    2) The first substantial post I made (as opposed to providing a link to some other site and making a one-line comment about it);
    3) When I registered my first domain; and
    4) When I signed up for Google AdSense (and got the idea that, maybe, if I work hard enough I might be able to make some money blogging) [hasn't happened yet, but it's still early days :)]

  32. thanks for the mention. now i need to think about my defining moments,.

  33. Barry Cleave says:

    Just writing a post on my blog of a “defining moment” in my short blogging career and visited Problogger to check the spelling of Darren’s surname. (This defining moment was the decision to change the blog name).

    So, I came across this post and thought it quite a coincidence, particularly as I am sure my final choice of “ProReviewer” is heavily influenced by this blog!

    So thanks for the advice you have given me through your may posts.

    Barry Cleave

  34. Sangesh says:

    My defining moments were:

    1) When I was curious about web sites and web pages and did some “research” of my own.
    2) When I learnt about Php and Open source
    3) When I found out wordpress and what it could do, and more open source softwares
    4) When I found out about online advertising programs
    5) When I found about problogger and the interesting articles it publishes which get me hooked quite often ;)

    Cheers

  35. 1) Finding out that I can make money by blogging.

    2) Learning how to make money from blogging. Might as well say ‘discovering ProBlogger’. Thanks ProBlogger :-)

    3) Deciding my blog has to be different from other blogs.

    4) Discovering blogging networks like BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog. These have given me much more traffic than StumbleUpon and Digg, although StumbleUpon is slowly but surely picking up as a result of blogging network contacts.

    http://necrofiles.blogspot.com

  36. Barry Cleave says:

    Doh!

    “So thanks for the advice you have given me through your may posts.”

    I am sure your may posts were excellent however I did mean your MANY posts

    Barry Cleave

  37. Ken Hanscom says:

    Great and informative post. I look at my top two right now and they are:

    1. Stumbling into something fun and making a little money off of that — and it still remaining fun and not a job.

    2. Passing the 200k monthly page view milestone in January 2008!

  38. amelia says:

    for me, I found problogger as a very good source of information :)

  39. PC says:

    well, There are no six defining moments for me.

    I just have one that is when I got the domain and I m glad that I am able to get it by just working online.

    I m just 3 months old as far as blogging is concerned.

    When I look back I see that blogging requires more hard work than which I m putting in.

    Thanks Darren. Your blog is the first thing I read when I entered into blogging and It helped me a lot with all the terms and ways of doing it.

  40. Yvette says:

    I have owned a dataprocessing business for 11 years. When asked, I wiould offer up any information I had. I still do. I started blogging this year (2008), now I’m helping many more people. Since my clients have always been greatfully, maybe others will be too and become clients. I started the blog with google adsense and other ads on the site, so it’s to early to talk about a payday. If I get a client from it or just keep my current clients happy that’s great.

  41. CatherineL says:

    Hi Darren – I think it’s brilliant that you invented the word problogger. And of course, when people are writing about probloggers, they’re almost always going to mention you, just as they mention Seth Godin, when they talk about Purple Cows.

    The most important discovery I’ve made so far is probably on my smaller business blog. I didn’t realise how tough it would be blogging about your own business, and we now realise that we approached it in the wrong way. So – we’re starting that one all over again.

    My main blog, which teaches people about business is the one I enjoy blogging on most. Probably, it’s because I find it easier to write about something that I have a good amount of knowledge on. And also, it’s rewarding to help people avoid some of the traps I’ve fallen into.

    I never intended to blog this much, but I love writing.

  42. Darren, I am always interested to read your blogs. Though I am still not a blogger but a web publisher, your writings always puts ideas in my head to start blogging. Of course, the monetary part is also taken into consideration. One thing, your website is aptly named.

  43. Martin Becker says:

    Very useful & Helpful thanks Darren.

    Martin

  44. Hmm…interesting post. I might as well make a new post on my blog and then tell my defining moments :)

    Thanks for the idea Darren.

  45. Andy says:

    For me, it was discovering WordPress, it makes it so easy to post content to the web and has all the bells and whistles that we need.

  46. I own several profitable non-blog sites with solid page one results. My important discovery was realising how important it is to have “resources” available to launch future projects. You know, a way to generate buzz, a flagship site if you will.

    My latest site, Popular Wealth, is a self-test to see if I can convert a decades worth of non-blog experience into a successful blog because blogs can be an amazing tool to help launch other projects with (yours and for others).

    Not being one to back down from a challenge I jumped into the deep end of the “Make Money Online” crowd. Time will tell if I have what it takes so I have more such moments coming. If I fail miserably, throw me a lifejacket will ya ? :)

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  47. Mick Franck says:

    Would it be a defining moment if your blog was made into an eBook for offline reading?

    One blogger is doing it –
    “Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog 2007″
    http://www.amazon.com/Wikerts-Publishing-2020-Blog-2007/dp/B0013O9D7S/

  48. Kirk Warren says:

    Starting my blog and hitting several short and long term goals I had set for myself (100 uniques, 200, 400, 1000, 100 rss readers, etc), but nothing major on the money front or critical acclaim. I guess I didn’t expect to really be blogging 6 or 7 months later, but here I am. I’m hoping to break $100 on Adsense before the end of my first year, but who knows. I did get $20 from Amazon though, so couple free gift coupons there.

  49. Kirk Warren says:

    Oh, since I can’t edit last post, I also just started a second blog (first was on graphic novels) recently. I suppose that’s a defining moment. This one is dedicated to learning Japanese, a on again, off again hobby of mine for hte past couple years that I’ve just recently got serious about. It’s probalby more niche than my first site, but I’ll be blogging the steps I’ll be taking on it, so should be interesting to see how I handle two blogs compared to just one.

    Kirk Warren
    Kirby no Nihongo
    http://kirbysnihongo.wordpress.com/

  50. paul merrill says:

    I’m up to a whopping $5.23 on AdSense.