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How a Blogger Landed His Dream Job

This guest post is by Brad Dowdy of JetPens.com.

I had no expectations when I started The Pen Addict that it would turn into anything more than a fun hobby. There were no monetezation goals, I didn’t focus on SEO, and I didn’t take my brand into consideration.

But what I did have was a passion. A passion for pens, a passion for paper, and the drive to find the best products available for myself.

As it turns out, there were many others out there looking for the same answers. The search for those answers led The Pen Addict to become the top blog in its niche, and recently led me to taking a full time job with the online retailer JetPens.com, where I can live and talk about my passion every day. Here are some of the steps I took that allowed me to make the jump from blogger to my dream job.

Do it for yourself

I have a thing for ultra-fine pens, but as it turns out, those are very hard to find on your local office supply store shelves. I was strolling the aisles of one of those retailers back in 2007 and came across a pen with an 0.38mm tip size (the smallest you normally see is 0.5mm, with 0.7mm and 1.0mm being the norm). At the time, that was almost a holy grail find for me. I had no idea that type of pen even existed.

I took to the Internet and found there were other options and even smaller tip sizes. I couldn’t wait to order, but I was curious, how would those pens perform? Trying to answer that question for myself was how The Pen Addict was born.

Tell and show

There are a lot of blogs out there that will tell you what the product they are discussing looks and feels like, but how many take the next step and show you? And by “show you,” I don’t mean adding in some stock photos or promotional shots. I mean fresh content of the product actually being used in real life situations. If you do that, then what you are telling the reader becomes more believable, and the more believable you are, the more of an expert in your niche you become.

In my particular case, pens are easy to photograph and talk about, but I found almost no writing samples online of the pens I was interested in. I made it my focus with every pen review I did to include at least one photo of the ink on the page so readers could get a glimpse for themselves. What can you show your readers?

Become a regular

Blogging was never my full-time job, so I had to set aside the time in my busy schedule to accomplish everything I wanted to with it. For me, a single blog post consisted of (at a minimum) a hand written ink sample review, a typed review, and a photograph to be taken and edited. This is before I even logged in to my blog platform to layout and upload the post.

I knew with the amount of time it took for me to complete one post, The Pen Addict could never be a blog that posted every day, much less several times per day. I settled on three content posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then one additional link/conversation post on the weekend. This worked out well for me and was a pace I was able to manage successfully for almost three and a half years. The readers became used to my work flow and always knew when they could expect a new post.

Along with posting on a regular schedule, which I know readers of ProBlogger don’t really need to be told about, I made sure I responded to nearly every question, comment, or email in a timely fashion. If I had to take an hour before bedtime after putting my kids to sleep to catch up on those things, I did it. I wanted the readers to feel that I was regularly available to them, which again led to me becoming a valuable resource in my niche.

Everything you do matters

There are endless social media outlets these days, and an equal number of articles about how to handle them in relation to your blog, but I can’t stress one point enough: Everything you do matters. Every blog post. Every comment. Every email. Every tweet. Everything.

Within six months of starting my blog, JetPens reached out to me and asked if I was interested in receiving some pen samples. Being the fledgling blogger that I was, I jumped at the opportunity. They liked the work I had done so far, and definitely put me on their radar.

Over the next three years, I kept churning out the content, and of course, that expanded to social media sites like Twitter, Flickr, and more recently, YouTube. Anything I ever typed, photographed, or took video of for any of those sites became a reflection of The Pen Addict, and most importantly, me as a person.

They say it is hard to convey your true personality online, and I agree that it is on a small scale. But if you take the sum of my entire body of work—blog posts, Twitter feed, photos, and videos—you can start to put together the picture of who Brad Dowdy really is, and get some insight as to who I am as a person.

Not to put words into my new employers mouth, but they didn’t hire a blogger or a marketer, they hired a person. They had seen me in action on my blog, in my comments section, on my Twitter feed, and were able to see the passion I had for their product, and the way I related to their current and potential customers. When interviewing for this job, I was up against candidates with much more marketing experience than myself, but I believe my personality, my passion, and my work ethic came through on the virtual pages, and I got the job.

My blog helped me land my dream job with JetPens, and I sure am happy to be here.

Has your blog landed you a gig—a job, a speaking engagement, or some other big bonus? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Brad Dowdy is a Marketing Associate for JetPens.com, an online retailer of Japanese Pens and Stationery. The Pen Addict is where he honed his online chops, and can be found tweeting regularly @dowdyism and @jetpens.

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Comments

  1. Cash Coach says:

    Sounds like product placement is what you are talking about with your pens. Great post. So cool that you were able to land your dream job. None of my blogs have lead to something like that elaborate but I have gotten plenty of guest posting opportunities with them.

    • Great point – and you nail exactly one of the fascinating challenges with the blogosphere. For Brad, the blog is a work of passion for things. And things are easy to package and sell – like you said, product placement. For a lot of bloggers, though, their blogs are built around ideas. The end-product is information, abstract by nature. We can ground it, but the sales approach has to be different.

      For instance, the focus of my blog is success. It’s about sharing concepts and experiences to help you become more successful. However, I can’t put success in the mail. You can’t give it to your wife as a present. It’s more like software – the information can be captured in an object, but it only achieves the goal when used. It’s a different challenge – you have to sell the object and the mindspace. It’s the house and the property. It’s also very, very cool when you make it all work.

      Congrats on your success, Brad!

  2. Good post, One of my blogs which is a popular Celebrity Blog has not necessary landed me a job but through the blog, I have met several celebs and have moved on to become good friends with some of them.

    Blogs can really help in self discovery and can bring you into contact with your dreams or open a new opportunity for you, like my case.

  3. Amy says:

    This is an interesting post. More proof that you never know where following your passions can take you.
    I like the suggestion of thinking about what you can show you readers. I definitely need more of that.

  4. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story. Personally, my blog helped me get a nice writing job with an international magazine and it is still opening doors for me I would not have dreamed about if I never started blogging :-)

  5. This is funny because before I do any research for the bible highlighters, pens, or pencils that I am going to write about or even use before I post on my own site the VERY FIRST website I check is Pen Addict! I absolutely love that site and all that it brings to the table! Congrats and awesome job landing your dream gig!

  6. Graham Lutz says:

    I’ve gotten asked to be a contributing writer for a few larger publications, but when it comes to “dream job,” it’s not my goal to get a paycheck from someone else.

    My ultimate dream is to get to where my online income surpasses my offline income – speaking of a dream, I’ve always wanted to help other people get out of jobs they hated – like I have.

    • Alfonso says:

      I’m with you Graham…

      The primary reason I got involved in blogging and online marketing was to secure my own future as my own boss. “Self-employed” is what they call it.

      I want a more balance life, ‘cuz I’m uber tired of the rat race and squirrel cage that my life had become. I’m done working long hours for slave wages for somebody else.

      My primary goal in this endeavor is to be useful and helpful to others in this world, while using the talents that God has given me. And doing it all while living in a balanced and ecologically sound manner that shows sound and good solid common sense to me.

      I like setting my own work schedule and yes, sometimes I work long hours, but I do it for me and mine all while sitting comfortably at home in my jeans or sweats which to a fantastic way to live.

      Oh,and I also save a ton of money on not buy and using gas.

  7. Dave Rowley says:

    I haven’t landed a job from my blog, but it’s sure been a good way to connect with some amazing people. I make the mistake sometimes of trying to push too hard to make things happen. What I really enjoyed about your post was seeing how just pursuing your own interests led to a great outcome, with a minimum of hustling.

  8. Stefan says:

    Follow your passion and the rest will follow – it always does

  9. Jana Quinn says:

    Great story, Brad!

    The number one thing that jumped out at me was this: “There were no monetezation goals, I didn’t focus on SEO, and I didn’t take my brand into consideration.”

    Most blogging “professionals” would balk at this, but I believe it could be one of the most important components of your story. Your focus from minute one was good, original content – it was unique and it provided answers in a more efficient way than you could find anywhere on the web. With solid content, the pen companies – and later, employer – found YOU. Certainly the structure of your blog as a product review site helped, but you did have a three year long hiring process that ultimately paid off in a dream job.

    Congratulations!

    • Brandon says:

      I agree with Jana 100%. A lot of good blogs start as hobbies and guides for the author rather than professional ventures. People who take the time to put in the kind of effort you did do it for something more than money. And if a job follows from it, then it really does count as a dream job.

      • This highlights what a multi skilled job blogging is. But without the passion there’s no blog. With passion the rest can and does follow. Personally I wish I could afford to pay a team to do the SEO stuff etc. But beggars can’t be choosers.

  10. This is a very inspirational story and is really encouraging me me to keep things going with Thirsty Dudes, the non-alcoholic drink review blog I run.

  11. Brad, thanks for sharing your story. I found it inspirational in that I, like you, started blogging for fun! Although I’m not writing about pens (cool topic!), your advice transcends blogging subject lines. A bit ago, I started blogging on an Atlanta TV station’s community website about my upcoming wedding and loved it so much that I started my own blog site, I Said, ‘Yes’. Your inspiration (and the inspiration from others’ who’ve commented here) about the possibilities are very encouraging… I’m lovin’ it!

  12. Patrick says:

    I’m really glad you were able to land your dream job from your blogging efforts. That’s what it’s all about. Doing something your passionate about and helping others. Hope everything works out well for you!

  13. Brad says:

    Interesting. I like the idea that JetPens hired a “Person”. I try to be as real as possible and not sacrifice my personality in any way on my blog. It may lose some readers who don’t align with me but at the end of the day, the ones that stay are my kind of people.

    Good to hear your hard work paid off.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      All I want is my kind of people around. Even if it’s fewer people than you might get otherwise, a close knit tribe like Tim Ferriss has will kick the butts of the homogenous throngs at the mainstream sites.

  14. Rory Mullen says:

    I never thought I could make money online when I first started out, but with continued persistence and dedication to this form of making money, I am now making $100 or more a month of hands free passive income.

    So do not stop if you do not succeed. If you continue with your dreams, even you can become a millionaire!

  15. “What can you show your readers?” is so important.

    I love how you saw the opportunity to photograph actual ink samples since other bloggers in your niche were lacking this component.

    If you want to connect with readers, demonstrate value that translates to offline experiences—where readers take action after doing research.

  16. This post is great. I recently started a blog on my writing and I hope that I may land a few jobs through it. I struggle with finding freelance jobs online. I’m glad your blog came through for you! Good luck in the future!

  17. Yes I will have to agree with Darren, that if you do it your self you will bring more success to your blog. I don’t trust all of those online marketing gurus that claim they have the formula for Internet success. When a blogger works hard, he or she will be happy in the end. I my self am a newbie blogger, 1 month only of experience, but I have learned a lot, and my blog is starting to grow, I am being patient and waiting for my time to shine, I am writing good content 2-3 times a week, to increase the chances of somebody finding me.

  18. Archan Mehta says:

    Brad,

    Thank you.

    I enjoyed reading your guest post. You have an interesting story. I felt inspired by your experience.

    You were able to land your dream job without even trying for it. How many people can say that? How many job-seekers can claim that the employers came to them, asking for help? Way to go.

    Persistence pays and passions shows you the way. If you move forward, sooner or later you are rewarded for your efforts. That seems to be the story of your professional life and that is great news.

    I think your story holds a lot of promise for those of us who are searching for that one, lucky break. We should keep on writing and contributing–blogs, guest blogs, comments like this one. Cheerio.

  19. Ann says:

    It landed me a guest spot at a trade show….

  20. Brad Dowdy says:

    Thank you for the kind words everyone! I know the post is slightly different than the normal content here at ProBlogger, so I am glad I was able to contribute to the discussion positively.

  21. yes, you are right bro.
    we must keep blogging regularry to make our visitors feel that they are always get an update of our blog everytime. i use this methode. i always posting in my blog every day. then what happend? my visitors always increase, increase, and increase because of it. i’m very happy! :D
    what a beautiful way! ;)

  22. My blog has just landed me a commission to write a book about insect art/illustration. Which in effect is an extension of my blog and my artistic passion.

  23. Samantha says:

    Very inspiring!

    It just goes to show that that old expression is right: “Do what you love and the money will follow.” You evidently started blogging based on your personal interest and passion for pens, not with the goal of making money. That is likely the difference in why you were able to gain interest and a following: people could tell that you were writing from the heart, not just with the thought of making money. A great lesson to all of us bloggers. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Congratulations on the new job. This is truly a testament to the power of blogging.

    My blog has opened so many doors for me and has helped me land quite a few jobs. By being immersed in writing and showing initiative, having a blog has been a great platform and portfolio. And I would recommend to anyone looking to start or build a portfolio to have a blog.

  25. Eddie says:

    Fantastic! It was such an inspiring post.

    This is something we all strive for. I love how we could make connections through our blogs and various social media sites.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  26. Nick Bostic says:

    I had something very similar happen. I was working a job that paid well, but wasn’t happy doing. I started my blog and about 6 months in named a big online player in the niche on my blog. Within 24 hours I had an email and job offer talks began. I work from home managing their entire social media marketing strategy. It’s awesome.

  27. Interesting, usually people start blogging to quit their full time job :)

  28. e-saglik says:

    Thanks My blog has opened so many doors for me and has helped me land quite a few jobs. By being immersed in writing and showing initiative, having a blog has been a great platform and portfolio. And I would recommend to anyone looking to start or build a portfolio to have a blog.

  29. Jared says:

    Congrats Brad! My blog had a huge part in landing my dream job as well. I started my blog in mid-2009 with the hopes of one day getting that dream job. I thought it would take years for me to build up the credibility in my niche. Instead, when the job opened up just six months after I started my blog, I had positioned myself as the ideal candidate. Today those same skills that came out of blogging has become the central part of the work that I do allowing me to have the freedom to do what I love and never work a day in my life!

  30. Corve says:

    This was inspiring to read. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Sue says:

    Great job brad. Started reading you over a year ago and now you are working at my favorite web site for spending extraneous cash (little). I work on a computer mostly and actually write very little but won’t leave for work without my current favorite pen. Thanks!