• Blogging: From Hobby to Career

    March 15, 2012

    I started Carrots ‘N’ Cake to keep me on track with eating well and exercising in preparation for my upcoming wedding. It was a personal food and fitness journal, and I really had no intention of anyone ever reading it. I definitely didn’t think that it would become such a huge part of my life—let alone my job! But, it did, and I’m ever grateful for finding a career that I love so much.

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    With that said, here’s what helped me turn my little blog hobby into a career!

    Pick a topic you are passionate about.

    This is key. Be sure to pick a topic that you really enjoy—something you can see yourself still wanting to blog about many years down the road. There are so many blogs that go by the wayside when people lose interest and motivation, but when you care about something so much, you will constantly be inspired to write new blog posts. Plus, for the most part, the longer a blog is an existence, the larger readership it will have, which makes it more likely for you to do as a full-time job.

    Blog often.

    Frequently updating your blog is the first step to building your blog’s readership and getting you on your way to doing it as a career. (A substantial readership often means bigger and better opportunities!) You don’t need to blog three times a day, but you should have a fairly consistent schedule for when you post to keep your loyal readers interested and coming back for more. For instance, if you set a goal to blog three times per week, stick to it! Your readers are waiting to hear from you!

    Give your blog a personality.

    Blogging my meals everyday is somewhat interesting, but I think readers keep coming back because they get to know so much more about me than just what I eat. There are tons of blogs out there, so you want to make sure that yours is slightly different than the rest. What makes you unique? What makes you stand out among all of the other blogs? Photos and personal stories let your readers know there’s a human behind your blog, so have fun, give your readers a peak inside what makes you tick, and show them what makes you special.

    Seek out and say YES to opportunities.

    It’s sort of like what Ellie Krieger said about “planting seeds.” Every blog starts out the same way with a handful of readers, so you need to do some work to get things moving. Usually, it’s not with a big publication or company, so seek out smaller/local opportunities that make sense for you and your blog. No matter how small, say ‘yes’ to them. From there, develop those relationships and work on them. Eventually, you’ll grow as a better writer/blogger and so will the opportunities.

    Get ready to put in some serious hours.

    Some people think bloggers just slap up some text and photos and call it a day, but there’s a lot of work that goes into running a blog, especially if you do it full-time. I put in WAY more hours than I ever did working at Harvard or any other job, and blogging for me doesn’t stop at 5:00 PM on Friday for the weekend (or vacations). Of course, this is the style of blog that I choose to write. I love it and enjoy sharing my life, but it’s still a lot of hours and, sometimes, it’s all-consuming. With that said…

    Set some boundaries.

    I spend a lot of time blogging, but I’ve learned that I need to set some boundaries or otherwise it takes over my life. Back in the day, I used to blog morning, noon, and night, which meant I was always sitting at my computer working away. Since then, I’ve changed my schedule so that most of my blogging is done in the early morning and afternoon, so I can  ‘unplug’ in the evening and spend some quality time with my favorite guys. I also blog less on the weekends as a way to separate work and life as much as possible.

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    I know a thing or two about blogging, but I definitely don’t know everything about it, so I asked some of my full-time blogger friends for their best advice for turning a hobby into a career. Check out what they had to say!

    Advice from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers:

    Create a blog you would want to read.

    This is all about being yourself and writing content that you find exciting and fun.

    I’ll be the first to admit that my blog doesn’t cover mind-blowing topics. My blog is light-hearted and my goal with my content is to make you smile, while creating a space where we can share ideas and experiences and simply have fun.

    I want Peanut Butter Fingers to be a positive place on the internet and try to write content that reflects this. I love writing about the things I feature on this blog and figure that the people who read my blog likely have similar interests to me and might share similar experiences.

    I would also say not to sit back and expect things to happen. I am being 100 percent honest when I say that I didn’t just sit behind the computer, blog and cross my fingers, hoping that my blog would grow organically. I put a lot of time and effort into putting it out there. Look into local media outlets. Utilize social media. Reach out to friends and family. Connect with other bloggers.

    Advice from Kath at Kath Eats Real Food:

    Go with your gut instinct when making business decisions surrounding your blog. People will try to tell you what to do or you might feel pressure to do what others are doing, but only you know what’s best for your blog.

    Advice from SkinnyRunner:

    Be prepared for some of your readers to not be quite as excited about your career move (switching to blogging full-time job) as you are.
     
    Some people will instinctively think you’ve “sold out”, your blog will become more boring or for whatever reason, just not want you to turn your hobby into a profession.  It’s ok: everyone’s entitled to their opinions and those opinions are fueled by different emotions and feelings so don’t let others get you down or doubt yourself.
     
    Be prepared to put in the time (and more!) just like a “real” job.
     
    Just because you are known in your little niche of the blog world and going to be a full-time blogger doesn’t necessarily mean every company in the world is going to be blowing up your email, dying to have your blog be a part of theirs.  You will still have to send out proposals and emails and sell yourself daily.  You might find yourself working more than ever!  But again, it’s ok if it’s something you enjoy and you’re passionate about.
     
    Be prepared to not make millions
     
    Blogging is work; it’s generally not hard work but it’s still work.  And most of the time, you’re not going to strike it rich.  Budget well, be smart with the money you do make and be content with making enough from your passion project (your blog).  It’s an amazing feeling knowing that someone/company values your hard work enough to pay you for it!

    Advice from Meghann at Meals and Miles:

    Take time for yourself during the day.

    Schedule a few hours where you turn the computer off and just walk away. That time allows you to save your sanity!

    Advice from Monica at Run, Eat, Repeat:

    Don’t take your blog on your honeymoon unless you want a full time job but no husband.

    Don’t try to be Pioneer Woman or Kath or Dooce. Find your own style and do your best impression of YOU. The readers will come.

    Blogging for a living means you rely on ads for your income. This varies from quarter to quarter as the time of year (and holidays) have an impact on readership and how many ads are up. Be prepared for your check to be different every month. This isn’t a corporate job, so there are some aspects that are unstable. 

    If you’re looking for even more tips and advice about blogging, be sure to check out the Blogging page on CNC. There are tons of posts devoted to the topic!

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    { 45 comments… read them below or add one }

    Colleen @ What's Baking in the Barbershop?! March 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Great tips! I enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts. :) It seems pretty difficult to “make it” though in the blogging world, as there are SO many blogs out there. Congrats to those who do make it!

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    Emily March 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Congrats to you for writing a blog that I love reading! :-) And thanks for all of the information too.

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    Khushboo Thadani March 15, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Awesome blog post, Tina! These are great tips and I also want to add one: don’t start a blog with money being your main motive…when bloggers force content, it’s apparent and a surefire way to lose readers.

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    Tina March 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

    @Khushboo Thadani: YES! Agree X 1000!

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    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh March 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Thanks so much for the wonderful tips. All wonderful ones to keep in mind. I think if you’re going into it for the money is usually the fastest way to not make any. As long as you’re passionate and you are yourself, people with similar interests will gravitate toward you.

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    Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life March 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for this advice Tina, (and all the other full-time bloggers who shared)! I definitely agree that writing what you would want to read and sticking to who you are is very important! We can’t be like other bloggers we love, we have to be ourselves! :-)

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    Katrina @ 'Sota is Sexy March 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Love this! I’m trying to transition into full-time blogging and found this really helpful. It’s also nice to have someone be open and upfront about the “reality” of blogging (lots of hours, not always as much $$).

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    skinnyrunner March 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

    thanks for featuring me in this post! i feel like a mere mortal among (blogging) gods. :)

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    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 15, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Great tips, Tina! Thank you for putting this together, and adding the advice from some other bloggers! Even a couple I’d never heard of!

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    Ashley @ The North Carolina Cowgirl March 15, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Love, Love, Love this post!! The tips you offered were wonderful. I started my blog a little less than a year ago and finding time to keep it up and work a full-time, plus go home to be a mommy is extremely difficult but luckily I do blog about something I’m passionate about…HORSES! :)

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    Erica @ For the Sake of Cake March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for compiling this post, Tina! These are all great tips. :-)

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    Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life March 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Great tips for a blogger newbie like myself!

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    Stephy C March 15, 2012 at 9:19 am

    This is a great post! Thank you for all the tips! I love reading blogs when I can tell that the blogger really likes their job :)

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    Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Great tips from some awesome bloggers!! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 15, 2012 at 10:11 am

    This is such a great post! Love that you went and got tips from other bloggers, too!

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    honeywhatscooking March 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

    love your tips.. trying to get to 3 times a week, sometimes i can, other times i can’t. it’s hard with work and commute, but i’m trying.. and i want to hang with my hubby. i love how you balance your life.. and you are on a schedule, you don’t lose time and push things off. you’re disciplined and you have to be when you work for yourself.

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    Jolynn March 15, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Awesome post!! Thanks to you and the other bloggers for your input!!

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    Shut Up and Run March 15, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the tips. It’s always a good reminder to keep some focus. I don’t know that blogging will ever be my career, but I still like to make it the best that I can.

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    Lauren @ What Lauren Likes March 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Awesome tips! Loved this post :)

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    KerriAnn March 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Awesome tips. Although, I don’t think I’ll ever make a career out of blogging, this also helps me in ways to up readership/make more people listen to what I have to say :)

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    etel March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Tina, I am following your blog for couple of weeks now, you are so inspring! Someone smart told me: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It seems like it was written about you! (and me….).
    Inspired!

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    Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl March 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I am glad you all pretty much mention the hours put in. People get the inkling blogging is easy work, but to make it a biz is a whole other story! Great post!

    And don’t lose your individual style!

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    RunEatRepeat March 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Carrots N Cake is interesting, helpful and fun to read. THAT is a huge part of the reason you’ve been so successful :)

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    Julie March 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Mad Props to you and all of the other full time bloggers that you featured. When I first started blogging I didn’t realize there was such a huge time commitment that went into everything. Of course, like you say if you love it then it’s easy to spend a lot of time on it, but I find myself constantly thinking of new ideas or pictures or videos or… the list goes on!

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    Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet March 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    This is such an awesome post! Reminds me as to why I started my blog. People always asked me about my weight loss journey and what I ate so I wanted to inspire others and let them know anything is possible! Thanks for the info :)

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    Laurel March 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts/tips on this subject. It seems an impossibility but it is inspiring to see you and many others making it work!! :)

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    Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona March 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Such good advice! It’s great to hear from so many bloggers that I admire.

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    Lexi @ Cura Personalis Foodie March 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Love the tips! I admire all you ladies for putting so much time and effort into your blogs.

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    Ali March 15, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! For all the ladies, all the hard work truly shows! I hope it is paying off for all of you. Funny, there is such a high percentage of females in the blogging community…. I wonder why that is?

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    Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction March 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Great tips! Love all your blogs :)

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    Ivana@Practicing Perfect March 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing your journey and your tips. I too started my blog as my own personal journal or outlet. I hope to one day be able to inspire and entertain as many people as you do.

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    Heather March 16, 2012 at 12:27 am

    great tips, tina! I just started a blog, and i’m really unsure about where I want to go with it.
    i am really passionate about running, health, and cooking. i don’t feel gutsy enough to create my own recipes yet, but i’d really like to get to a point to where i am!

    also, i would like to be able to post health tips, as my family always says that’s what i’d be great at because i am always giving them tips, except most of them come from blogs i read (like yours!) so i don’t want to be repeating things

    i do like what you said about really being ready to put in the hours. i feel like i am ready to start carving out a time of day that for writing posts…but who knows what focus i will end up with!

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    Ryan @ PauseTheMoment.com March 16, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Excellent post Tina!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the point about picking a topic that you’re passionate about. Tens of thousands of blogs start each and every day. The blogs that don’t last are usually the ones who have authors that are attempting to blog about things they are not 100% passionate about.

    What I think most people fail to realize before starting a blog is how much time and energy it takes to run and maintain one. Since transitioning from blogging as a hobby to my full time gig, my work load has increased ten fold. Fortunately, I LOVE documenting my travels, therefore I LOVE what I do. If I didn’t love traveling and writing about it, blogging for me would be absolutely miserable!

    The most rewarding part of blogging for me is the amount of people I have reached and helped through out the last few years. I receive emails on an almost daily basis from people thanking me for my travel tips. I also have ran into people on the road while traveling who spotted me and approached me saying, “Wait, are you Ryan from Pause The Moment!?”. Sure, it’s that 15 seconds of fame feeling, but I find it amazing to be able to connect with people from all over the globe. Meeting up with long time fans of your blog is the icing on the cake…

    Thanks again for sharing such a great post and keep up the good work!

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    Sara March 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

    hey tina,
    i just started reading your blog a few weeks ago (found it via health.com) —

    thanks for this post on how to start a blogging career, i’m doing some unpaid work now (on political issues) and wondering if this has a future!

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    michelle kim March 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I appreciate all the tips you posted! I’ve also been blogging just to keep myself accountable as I continue in my journey to get healthier and run faster. It would be an amazing blessing if, down the road, it could be more than a hobby!

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    Life's a Bowl March 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Great suggestions and from some of my fave bloggers! Thanks for sharing :D

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    Luv What You Do March 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the advice from the other bloggers as well. I love what a thoughtful and generous community you healthy lifestyle bloggers make!!!

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    Linnie March 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! I shared it with my fellow blogging friends and realized you’re friends with Anne (fANNEtasticfood.com). What a small world! Keep up the good work !

    -Linnie
    LinnieatLarge.com

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    Anna, Fitscally Responsible March 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    This is a great post! I am very new to blogging and still in the stage where I’ll just be happy if anyone more than my mom reads it, but I love to hear the stories of people who have been blogging for years. When I’m giving career advice to my employees, I tell them you never know which project or task will be the thing that snowballs into your new passion (or will lead to a future job) so it is important to always take a task seriously. I think it is fantastic you have turned blogging into a full-time gig.

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    Tasha @ Running on Salsa March 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Great post! Definitely good tips for someone like me who’s new to the blogging world. I’m not necessarily looking to make it my career but it’s nice to know there are resources out there to get tips and advice. You never know what the future may hold!

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    Dawn @ Karma Apple Crunch August 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the awesome tips, Tina! Your blog is always a joy to read. I agree that it is important to write about a topic that you are truly passionate about, because that is what drives us to write everyday :)

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    Rohit Gupta October 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    The leap to turn into a pro from a hobby blogger must be a defining one. I was searching for the same information, and your article is bang-on!

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    Nicole @ OneRunningMama April 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for the awesome post, Tina. I’ve just started blogging – and I work full-time – so this post and your “Tips for 9-5ers” are so helpful!

    I have one other question… Do you use software (like Windows Live Writer) to create your posts?

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    Tina April 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Yep, I use WLW to write all of my posts.

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    Maria August 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you for motivating & educating me at the same time on becoming a full time blogger!

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