Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger?

By Yaro Starak
43 Comments

In the first part of this series on professional blogging as a business model I explained the content = traffic = money equation as the root formula for nearly all currently successful professional bloggers and those who are working to replicate their success.

If you have not done so already, please read the opening article here –

Is Professional Blogging A Sustainable Business Model?

Darren Rowse, A Leading Professional Blogger

I first came across Darren Rowse in 2004, and his Problogger.net blog appeared to be well put together and intriguing, but at the time I was beginning my research into blogging and was far from making any money from my own blog – in fact I didn’t have any intentions of doing so. If it wasn’t for one unique thing, that Darren was an Aussie from Melbourne and I am from Australia too, I would not have spent nearly as much time studying Darren and his blog as I did.

Darren has a lot to answer to in the professional blogging world. It’s partly his fault that so many people currently do or are attempting to make money from blogging. If it wasn’t for events like this slashdot news post in July 05 about Darren earning between $10,000 and $20,000 per month from blogging, and the countless articles, blog posts and offline newspaper features on Darren’s success (he’s probably seen cheques and payments at double or triple his 2005 monthly income average since then – Darren?), not quite as many would know that this whole professional blogging thing was possible.

If it wasn’t Darren then no doubt some other professional blogger would have risen to spread awareness of the potential of blogging for income. No matter who did it, the outcome was always going to be the same – professional blogging rising in popularity as a new hit online occupation available to the average person with a computer and net access.

What Does Darren Have That You Don’t?

I could quickly claim that Darren was in the right place at the right time as the explanation for his success. There’s definitely an element of that, but behind every success story there is luck and timing involved. Darren may have had luck and timing, but that’s not the reason he enjoys the success he does – it’s because he took action at the right time to realize his luck and then ran with it like a charging bull.

Many people assume that it’s Problogger.net where Darren makes big bucks from because it is the first blog they find with his name on it. Worst still, some bloggers walk away thinking that writing about professional blogging is the key to becoming a professional blogger, resulting in all kinds of little “mini-Problogger” sites sprouting up, either constantly linking to Darren’s posts, or providing weak content because they don’t have the experience – they are not professional bloggers and don’t earn like Darren earns – you have to walk the walk before you can talk the talk.

There are a handful of blogs that produce great content on professional blogging, but none do it like Probloggers does it. Darren owns that niche.

If you take a look at Darren’s post – How Much Do I Earn from Blogging? – you will see that it’s in fact because he operates 20 blogs (that could be an old figure now) that he earns so much and I’m pretty sure if you did some analysis of Darren’s network, a small number of sites bring in the majority of his income (another example of the 80/20 rule). Those sites are very likely his heaviest trafficked sites, relying extensively on search traffic since search engine visitors are more likely to click ads, unlike Problogger.net readers who know very well what an AdSense or Chitika ad looks like.

Part of the explanation for Darren’s success is the amount of blogs he runs, the timing he had starting certain blogs early enough in hot niches so they would come to dominate search results in time, and finally the man himself – Darren’s prolific writing abilities that provided all the content over the years at multiple blogs on a range of topics.

Does any of this make Darren different to you?

Do you think you have the potential to become a professional blogger of Darren’s calibre?

Motivated Like Your Life Depended On It

Have you ever noticed how many Russian tennis players dominate the top rankings? As I type this there are 12 Russian women in the official WTA world rankings top 50.

It’s a widely held hypothesis in the tennis world that the Russians are doing so well presently – as opposed to past tennis powerhouses like America, Australia and the origin of tennis, England, who struggle to produce grand slam stars like in previous years – because Russians want it more.

Tennis in Russia isn’t just a sport, it’s a ticket to a better life. In Australia and the USA if your tennis career doesn’t work out your lifestyle remains pretty good, hence the burning desire – the motivation – isn’t there. To Russians, every tournament and every training session is taken extremely seriously – you can see the hunger in the player’s eyes and attitudes.

Darren Rowse in a way is like a Russian tennis player. In his previous life before blogging he earned standard salaries, did jobs that involved manual labor and based on the variety of jobs he had (see this post he made for examples), faced difficulty finding an occupation he enjoyed that brought in much money.

Once Darren’s blogging started to take off you can imagine that he was blown away by the potential and knuckled down hard, looking at blogging as a ticket to a better life because he enjoyed it and because the income potential was there. Not many people would have invested the energy that Darren did and still does, hence he is one of the rare cases of solo-blogging success on a big scale.

Is The Key To Professional Blogging To Act Like A Workhorse?

Certainly your ability to produce articles is vital if you plan on being the only source of content on your blogs, but as I discussed in the first article in this series – most bloggers fail for all kinds of reasons to remain on track for long enough and don’t provide enough quality output. They might be lazy, lack enough positive reinforcement or signs of incremental success, and results are too slow for the amount of work required.

Many hard working bloggers don’t realize professional blogging level profits for another bunch of reasons like poor topic selection, little income potential from their audience, too much competition or the luck element is just not there.

Even those professional bloggers who do realize full time income from blogging and enjoy the independence of the occupation, eventually realize that rather than creating a business with a sustainable income model they have created a job for themselves. Essentially professional bloggers are like freelance journalists, dependent on their ability to perpetually type day after day in order to keep the content = traffic = income equation functioning.

You might argue that top bloggers can one day quit producing content and still enjoy ongoing passive income because the search engines will keep bringing traffic to their archives of content, producing perpetual ad revenue long after the fresh content drip is severed.

This theory is okay and I suspect it proves true for the elite blogs, but it is not a very solid exit strategy because it relies on the whims of Google and search engines for stable income. Darren Rowse recently suffered this exact predicament when Google switched off the juice.

To quote Darren –

The first time it happened to me my traffic (and income) plummeted to a third of what it was in December of 2004. It hit me hard and almost knocked me out of blogging for money.

Source: What should you do if your Google Ranking Falls and you lose all your traffic?

Steve Pavlina is perhaps one of the best examples of a blogger who could stop writing and currently doesn’t write every day (although he does write some nasty sized articles) and can expect reasonable income – very high income compared to most bloggers and salary workers – for many months and even years to come thanks to his blog archives.

I can’t see Steve losing his traffic since he has so many sources of it. Not just Google and search engines, but the millions of incoming links from blogs, other sites and social networks and all kinds of communication channels both online and offline, and the no doubt the most powerful source – offline word of mouth, to bring in visitors.

As much of a shining success story Steve’s is, most people have to accept they are not like him, they don’t blog in a topic so widely applicable (how’s “the human race” as a target market!), they don’t have his gift for teaching with words, they haven’t the self awareness raising experience and education to draw from for content. The fact is the quality of his content and the size of the niche he dominates makes him a very rare case – a gifted blogger if you will.

What About You?

I for one never want to be entirely dependent on Google for my income, either for the traffic through search results, or from revenue streams like AdSense, if I ever grow tired of blogging. I don’t want to blog every day either, or at least I don’t want the pressures of having to blog everyday or even regularly knowing that if I don’t I won’t be successful or make much money. I also realize my niche and my content, while certainly valuable, will never be as crowd pulling powerful as Steve Pavlina’s is.

I suspect you mirror my sentiments and eagerly await the solution I propose.

Before that, let me state a very reasonable – and profitable – outcome that is certainly one way to exit the professional blogging game, although it doesn’t make professional blogging a sustainable business model.

Blog For Sale

If you have had enough of blogging but you rely on it for income, you can always sell your blog(s).

Depending on how much you currently earn from your blog, how much traffic you receive, what topic you write about, what type of audience you attract, how you have structured your blog (how dependent is traffic on your personality, experience and writing style – your personal brand?) and what the future potential for your blog is, you can expect to earn multiples of between ten and twenty times your current monthly revenues as a sale price.

For some bloggers this will be a significant amount – Darren Rowse could probably bring in excess of a million dollars based on what I expect his monthly earnings are. Steve Pavlina, similar amounts. For others selling their blog will bring in enough to sustain them for long enough to have a holiday for a few months or buy a nice care – maybe a year’s salary at most. Sadly though, most would-be professional bloggers can expect maybe one or two thousand dollars per blog, or less, given the average income of bloggers.

Creating and selling blogs can be the specific reason a person begins blogging in the first place. This is a blog flipping strategy and it is possible to earn a living doing it, but yet again it lacks a sustainable system if you are the only person producing the content and managing the blogs.

Professional Blogging Is Not A Sustainable Business Model

As far as I can tell there is no way to create a sustainable business model if you are the only person doing the work as a professional blogger. The best result you can hope for is a very well paying scenario of self employment.

This is good for a while, but as every truly successful entrepreneur knows, self employment is not the secret to attaining a superior lifestyle. Self employment reduces freedoms and creates dependencies on your labor. That is not what most people want.

Happiness is about freedoms, freedoms that come from having the financial resources to do what you want to do AND the time to make use of those financial resources or just do whatever you want whenever you want to!

That of course doesn’t mean that blogs and blogging for money cannot be the foundation for a successful business model that doesn’t place you in a situation of self employment.

In the next article in this series on professional blogging as a business model we look at situations where bloggers are earning top income and top traffic thanks to a little secret advantage they have that most aspiring professional bloggers do not. Stay tuned!

Click here to continue and read part three of this series…

Yaro Starak
Blogging Strategist

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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43 Comments

  • Yaro,

    Very well thought out post, and timely.

    When I read this post I thought of Guy Kawasaki’s recently published AdSense earnings income for 2006 (just over $3k US). And there was an interesting post in response from Chris Anderson called Don’t Quit Your Day Job. All related to your post, so worth a look.

    Your comments about Darren Rowse show what happens when people focus on blogging for a specific outcome. Guy Kawasaki is one of the most entertaining bloggers (and of course well ranked in Technorati), but he is hardly doing it for the cash. But someone like Darren – with a focus on blogging for income – show just how much income can be produced.

    My personal interest lies in what you might call the indirect income. So rather than AdSense or other direct revenue for the blog content, there are other indirect ways for people to earn money for blogs. For example, if a business sells a product or service and they use a blog to find more customers, the indirect revenue is the additional sales of the product or service.

    Over the long term, I think the ‘indirect’ commercial opportunities that are available from blogging will be larger than the direct. That is because of the nature of blogs.

    What is going to be interesting to see are all the ways that people use blogging to make money.

    A bit of a long winded comment, have been really impressed by your blog, and enjoy reading about your journey.

  • […] Today, Yaro Starak, an excellent Australian blogger, posted on What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger. Some great discussion here about Darren Rowse, who demonstrates money can be made from great content. […]

  • I can’t say how accurate you were with the self-employed definition. Being one myself, I can totally relate to what you had written. Although my income is dependent to the amount of days I work, the consolation is, the sky’s the limit as compared to an employee who is paid a salary.

    Realizing this months ago, I have thus taken steps to work on other projects that will still generate income without me around. I’m hoping that in time to come, it would be able to provide the freedom I hope for, not just for myself but also my family.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  • The successful formula has to be experience + hard work + a dash of internet savvy.

    You need the experience in the field you want to blog about. You can pick up things from other bloggers but you really need to experience things yourself to truly know what you are talking about. That’s what people want to read about.

    The hard work is hard, especially when you have to come up with new posts but have already written your subject to death. Put in the effort and you will get results.

    Stay on top of whats happening with regards to making money on the web. Things change. Adsense can be terrible for certain subjects and audiences. Find out whats new.

  • Wow. I see a connection here between this article and the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyolsaki.

    Blogging as a business model is like any other business model. You need to build the business – getting employed or self employment is not a key to financial freedom.

    Thanks. It was always there as an undercurrent in my mind, and Yaro, you helped me get back in perspective.

    Waiting for the next post…

  • Great post Yaro – it has definitely put me off starting my own personal blog for a couple more months, but to be honest I think that is a good thing because like you said you have to have walked the walk before starting to talk the talk, and presently I’d saying I’m still in the process of “walking” and I probably shouldn’t start “talking” till I have racked up a few more kilometers on the old “online earnings treadmill”.

    Anyway, great post – the only thing I can complain about is having to wait for the next installment… but I have never really had much patience… so don’t leave me hanging too long :P!

  • Great Article Yaro. I love this series. Looking forward to the next one.

    – Bryan

  • I have to agree fully with this blog. I discovered Problogger about the same time and though my two blogs make a nice amount each month they are for sure not where they need to be and I for sure don’t call myself a professional blogger.

  • DE

    Without traffic your nothing,you can read all the articles you want but traffic is what makes money.Without the traffic then you have no clicks,I don’t like that darren guy he brags too much about how much money he makes then tries to sell you how to do it.No traffic no money its that simple.

  • Yaro,

    This serie of articles is excellent. I also found this problem according to self employement.

    I was owner of a pizzeria off-line, 5 years ago, and I sold it because it needed too much work, and I didn’t have enough time to spend with my familly.

    Now I came on the net, to spend more time with my familly and to practice my hobby Silat, Aikido, Ju jutsu. But again, I can’t train like I want.

    I have more than enough time with familly though. In the beginning, I thought that I would be alone with my laptop, but when you reach a certain level, if you want your income to grow, you got to outsource.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’ve always been a fan, so when I picked up blogging I decided to observe and teach a different philosophy in our pursuit of the internet dream. It has to do with more social unity and the method of walking success with others now rather then talking the talk after times change. Mind you that is a great business model that the likes of Robert T. Kiyosaki, Robert G. Allen, Donald Trump, and you blogging “big boys” can attest to.

    Credibility does depend on the walk first but what if you chose a more servant-leadership approach in the beginning? Couldn’t you decide to lift others first? That has it’s own challenges and seems to be a backward approach. Though, finding solutions to help give traffic, give community, and give monetization advantages to others first, your seed should yield an entirely different fruit and a host of opportunities not yet seen. Maybe even sweeter. I just feel that times change and I won’t be able to duplicate your strategies. But, that’s just my opinion.

    Anyways. You “big boys” offer great principles about blogging income, traffic, and the business. It’s great and we all suck it down pretty good. You talk about blogging to be ultimately self-employment so you need other opportunities and outsourcing. Agreed.

    Those principles are hard hitting and can form the basis for an entirely new approach to your pursuit of a blogging livelihood. It has for me.

    And Yaro, once again, I thank you for your wisdom and knowledge. I would not have been doing this without it! Keep up the great work!

  • […] Yaro Starak of Entrepreneur’s Journey blog has posted an interesting article about what it takes to be a professional blogger. […]

  • I thought that post was less Kiyosaki and more Schefren.

    Just wanted to leave a comment and say that Yaro, I have been reading your blog for a very long time and it has been a great source of learning for me. Don’t take my site as an example of your teachings.. yet.

    It was a hobby that had some sort of email forwarding explosion in December and since then I have been playing a little bit of catch up.

    I like the pillar article concept that you push… Although you could have picked that from somewhere else, you put it on the front page, and for that I am grateful. I am writing my articles right now!

  • I think part of the problem is the way bloggers go about monetizing their blogs. Adsense is not the way to do it…if you rely solely on Google or YPN I think you’ll be sorely disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, contextual advertising is great; however, you’re really bottom feeding for the advertiser’s dollar when relying on Adsense to monetize your blog. CPA networks like Azoogleads and Commission Junction are the next logical step, but the real money is made brokering leads for yourself, and there are companies willing to pay much more for a simple lead in nearly ANY niche, than a lousy click on one of Google’s ads. I still use YPN on my blog, which the icing on the cake for me but the majority of my income comes from lead generation. Monetize your blog properly and it is much easier to earn hundreds of dollars a day with very little traffic than trying to chase high volumes of traffic with Google Adsense. Mark Vurnum has an excellent lead generation video course that teaches how to monetize with leads, even in small niches.

  • Hey Yaro,
    Good series.

    I don’t mean to steal your thunder, but it seems like it’s headed towards creating a system to conceptualize, plan and execute blogging in a systematic fashion.

    I see many casual bloggers going about things in a hoi polloi fashion only to crash and burn soon after.

    Surprisingly, too many people don’t understand that 90% (I’m more of a 90/10 than a Pareto fan) of your success can be forecast or predetermined even before you publish your first post.

    Looking forward to the rest of your series.

  • […] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger? » Internet Business Blog | Entrepreneurs-Journey.com – by Yaro Starak Hier ein sehr schöner Artikel über Blogging als Business Modell. (tags: Blogging Business model) […]

  • I think blogging as a business is sustainable. HOWEVER, it is based on really quality information, and a niche that has a large audience. Look at Perez Hilton, this guy is now showing up at Hollywood’s event and stuff because of his blog.

    Internet Business Marketing Forum

  • I agree that for most people blogging is not a realistic way to earn a living. However, it is a great way to meet people, get ideas, and learn new things.

    I started blogging about personal finance just a few months ago and I’ve already connected with tons of people in my niche, learned a lot more about personal finance than I knew before, and come up with some (hopefully) promising business ideas.

    I’d say for the average blogger, the blog is not the destination but rather the journey.

  • Good, sound article.

    I would have to agree with what you say. My blog, focusing on leadership, is aimed at passing my knowledge onto others. If I make a few bucks on the side, great.

    Blogging is not a sustainable business model.

  • > Blogging is not a sustainable business model.

    Hi Derek,
    I think that’s a generalization.

    Because even if you’re a no-name blogger, but if you’re managing a personal network of 20-30 blogs with each generating (on a worst case scenario) $5-10 each, you’re looking at $100 to $300 each day.

    With a possible ceiling of $9000 a month, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

    The problem is that most people think that they need to earn their income with just ONE blog. That’s akin to going into battle with one bullet.

    Instead, I’d advise anyone looking at blogging as a sustainable income generator to look at alternatives.

    I’ve spent about $400 setting up my blog. It’s generated about $7000 net profit in 4 months. It’s not the greatest, but then again, the potential for massive scalability is there.

  • […] Yaro has been writing a series asking Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger? (3 parts so far) which unpacks some of the issues around going Pro and what it takes. […]

  • […] Entrepreneur’s Journey has an excellent analysis of whether problogging is a sustainable endeavor. Yaro Starak writes: […]

  • I found this article very interesting as Im currently pondering a “career” in blogging, but wanted to do a bit of research first. It is hard to get a realistic feeling for what is possible today. I just got a commment from Steve Pavlina where he is stating he now make $40k per month with 5 million page views. But of course, how do you get 5 million page views? I guess what everyone is saying is hard work and some persistance together with a bit of timing and luck.

  • […] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger?Yaro Starak (Entrepreneur’s Journey) […]

  • […] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger? Yaro Starak (Entrepreneur’s Journey) […]

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  • […] bloggers from the rest. I came across Yaro Starak’s blog Entrepreneur’s Journey and a 4-part series on professional blogging. Yaro states the case of Darren Rowse, a successful professional […]

  • Very cool article. Brought up a lot of great points that I had not thought of before.

  • […] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger? An excellent post from Yaro Starak. If your aim to be a professional blogger in the long run, it is a very good road map for you. Don’t miss it! […]

  • […] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Blogger? – By Yaro Starak […]

  • “professional blogging rising in popularity as a new hit online occupation available to the average person with a computer and net access.” – totally agree, people are talking about an upcoming blog bubble.

  • Great Post! I really don’t think “luck” has anything to do with Darren’s or anyone’s success for that matter. Luck to me happens in Casinos. Success in business, blogging, whatever comes by personal choice. How many bloggers attempted to do the exact same thing Darren did but quit before they got there.

    Thanks again and congrats on your success as well! You deserve it!

  • Nice post! It does not matter whether you are in the right time and the right place. Just make sure you are at the right way to the successful path of blogging whether for money or for anything else. Sometime blogging for money just not right for certain people. Blogging for fun may be much more suitable. Just do it consistently, and you may come to it. There is no shortcut for success.

    I may not as good as others who make tons of money from blogging, but i know with hardworking and consistent, it will fruit one day. You are one of my idol, thanks for the great post. You deserve the success!

  • Great post, Yaro. There are so many ways to make money online, but when it comes down to it, whether it’s a home based business with blogging or selling products, or even a niche online, it comes down to 1. taking action and 2. being persistent. The only way to fail is to quit and I love your post for that reason. There is so much great content on how to make money with blogging. Thanks for sharing!

  • Yaro, thank you for the great post. It is amazing how people can truly find success in blogging by staying in the game. I think the number one reason for failure is that people are overloaded with information. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to focus my attention on SEO and make a living while doing it. People these days are distracted by the next shiny object and that is why the failure rate online is so large! Thanks for keeping it real!
    ~MD

  • Awesome post Yaro. I’ve been following your blog for a little while and you constantly inspire me to make my own blog better.

    I’m writing regularly and being consistent with my strategies as you mention in your blueprint.

    I know I have what it takes. I know I’ll succeed. Now it’s just a little time and regular effort to get to my goal of £10,000 profit per month.

    Matt

  • It is very hard in the early days though. It looks like you are swimming against the current and you will be washed away whatever you do. You have to find a will and determination to go on from somewhere to not to stop trying to make a success online

  • Great Article!!

    Blogging can sometimes be a thankless task, as you start out and check your stats..Nothing or little traffic. You start to think to yourself, why am i doing this..

    It takes alot of hard work and effort to get a great blog with plenty of interested visitors returning to it. You need to provide great information and value to your visitors. However as i said sometimes it feels like nobody is listening.

    It is a must to put the work in and keep posting and working on your blog. The work will eventually pay off to those who stick at it.

  • I like the comparison to Russian tennis stars; a lot of it does have to do with perseverance and how tough you are and how much heart you have. It takes a lot of heart to sit in front of the pc 16 hours a day and figure things out until you’ve figured out what works or not. Once you make money in blogging I think it’s also important to diversify and not just depend on blogging alone for income since internet income can be volatile and unstable.

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