What Does It Mean to Be a Professional Blogger?

What Does It Mean to Be a Professional Blogger?


If you’ve been around the internet, you’ve probably seen ads that promise to give you the chance to make money from home. And you’ve probably, correctly, concluded that those ads are a scam.

At the same time, there are people who make money from home. As blogging and web design have become more accessible, more and more people are learning how to blog and make a living blogging.

They are part of a rising profession. Professional bloggers.

Professional bloggers are a far cry from scammy internet ads, and they take their profession seriously. But what does it mean to be a professional blogger, what does a professional blogger do, and how do bloggers become professionals?

What does it mean to be a “professional” blogger?

If you Google the definition of professional, one of the definitions you’ll come up with is:

“(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.”

Really, this is the definition we talk about when we talk about professional bloggers.

A professional blogger is someone that makes their living blogging. Whether they monetize their blog through ads, products, coaching, or some other paid offering, blogging is their full-time job.

make money online

These are the key ways that online businesses can make money (Source, GrowthLab)

The distinction between professional and hobby bloggers is important because of the rise in accessible blogging platforms. As free platforms like WordPress.com, Tumblr, and Medium become more popular, more and more people are starting blogs.

Some hobby bloggers are even willing to pay small fees to providers like Squarespace or Wix, to create blogs that look cleaner and are a bit more customizable.

But no matter how advanced a hobbyist becomes, they still don’t make their living through blogging. That distinction, and the different skills and blogging techniques that come with it, make all the difference.

Is “blog” a dirty word?

Some of the professional bloggers are hesitant to call themselves bloggers. They’re scared that the association with the word “blog” is going to make them seem less legitimate.

I’ve done this personally as well. I always refer to my website as a website, rather than a blog. You can still “write blogs,” but I call the things I write articles or posts, not blogs or blog posts. And I’ve noticed that people respond more positively when I use that phrasing.

  • Part of it is that, let’s face it, “blog” is a silly-sounding word. It doesn’t matter how many successful bloggers there are or how many major companies start blogging—the word sounds a bit silly.
  • Part of it is that professional bloggers don’t necessarily want their profession to get associated with the kind of blogs college students write during a semester abroad.

Hobby-blogging is great. It’s a great way to update family and friends on the events in your life, or the experiences you had on a recent trip. But it isn’t the same as professional blogging, and professional bloggers are sometimes a bit sensitive to the distinction.

guy meditating

Professional bloggers battle the perception that this is what they do all day.

Ultimately, I don’t think blog is a dirty word. But it also may not be the most accurate way to describe what professional bloggers do.

What does blogging mean, really? Someone who runs a blog that makes money is really running an online company—with blogging as the main marketing channel. In that light, maybe it makes some sense to use “website” or “article” instead of “blog.”

Two types of professional bloggers

So far, this article has been focused on one type of professional blogger. The rise of content marketing means that there are actually two types.

Although they have a lot of overlapping skills, the two types of bloggers are extremely different in the way they work.

  1. People who make money through their blog
  2. People who blog for a company
There are 2 types of professional bloggers: people who make money through their own blog, and people who blog for a company Tweet this!

Type 1: People who make money through their blog

The first type of professional blogger is the type you would usually think of when hearing the phrase “professional blogger.”

This is the person who blogs regularly on their own site, and has monetized the audience they’ve built in one of a few possible ways.

We have a whole article on how to make money blogging. But the short version is that there are a few common ways people can generate revenue (and their income) from their own blog:

  • Advertising
  • Content subscriptions
  • Membership websites
  • Affiliate links
  • Donations
  • Ebooks
  • Online courses
  • Coaching or consulting

Regardless of the specific tactics they use, the first type of professional blogger has successfully created and monetized an audience. Their blog is their living.

Type 2: People who blog for a company

The second type of professional blogger is a little different. These people are more often called “content marketers,” and they blog as part of their employment at a company.

results from blogging

Most of them get pretty good results (Source, Orbit Media)

Content marketing is about more than just blogging, as we’ll see in a moment. But writing blogs is a huge part of the job for most content marketers.

The rise of professional bloggers and content marketing has shown companies that blogging is a legitimate marketing strategy. People who blog for a company are writing to help build an audience, with the end goal of bringing more customers to the company’s product or service.

Skills of a professional blogger

Both types of professional blogger need a similar skillset—and that skillset isn’t necessarily the one you imagine when you hear “blogger.”

Of course, a professional blogger is going to need to be a strong writer. The blog writing is the foundation of a blog that makes money.

But strong writing on its own is almost never enough. Great writing can never create revenue or income unless people actually read it.

Great writing isn't enough to be a great blogger. You need to know how to get people to *read* your writing. Tweet this!

Content promotion and a variety of other skills are necessary if someone is going to turn their blog into a full-time job.

cover of Content Chemistry

This is one of the best books on the overall skill of content marketing (Source, Amazon)

The skills of a professional blogger include:

  • Content Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Email marketing
  • Lead generation/pitching
  • SEO
  • Social media

And they can expand quickly depending on the specifics of the blog.

  • If a blogger runs Facebook or PPC ads to help sell products, they’ll need to understand conversion rate optimization and customer acquisition costs.
  • If a blogger sells online courses, they’ll need to understand product-market fit, product development, and pricing.

Strong writing skills are a must for a professional blogger. The most fundamental blogging skill is the ability to write content people love—but there’s a difference between content writing and copywriting. Early on, content writing is enough. But when a blogger needs to convert and audience into a customer base, copywriting and sales become important.

The point: a professional blogger needs a variety of different skills to run a successful blog. After all, their blog is essentially a business—and a solo blogger is managing all the aspects of their business on their own.

How to become a professional blogger: Set the right blogging expectations

If you’re interested in starting a blog and becoming a professional blogger, it’s important to set the right expectations.

The idea of “working from home,” without an office, seems glamorous, but it’s important to remember that professional blogging takes work. Early on, a professional blogger is a one-person team, and there’s always more that you could be doing.

Basecamp home page

That’s why Basecamp uses this messaging on their home page (Source, Basecamp)

As we’ve already touched on, professional blogging takes more than just blogging. If you start blogging with the expectation that it’s all about writing, you’re going to get disappointed fast.

Outreach, SEO, pitching guest posts, social media promotion, email marketing, sales, and even web design can fall in the scope of skills for a professional blogger. Not every blogger needs every skill, but you’ll at a minimum need:

  1. A way to produce content
  2. A way to promote content
  3. A way to stay in touch with readers (usually email)
  4. A way to get sales

Only the first of those four components is focused on blog writing.

Every blogger needs a way to do these 4 things: make content, promote content, reach readers, get sales. Tweet this!

Finally, blogging takes time.

In Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute said that it usually takes at least 12 months before blogging and content marketing pays off. If you’re expecting your blog to go viral overnight, it might make sense to adjust your expectations.

Content Inc Cover

Joe Pulizzi invented the term content marketing, and this is his book on it (Source, Amazon)

Conclusion: What does a professional blogger do?

The life of a professional blogger isn’t quite as luxurious as “making $5,000 a day while working from home.”

There are a lot of different skills, and a ton of hard work, that goes into being a professional blogger.

Still, the increased accessibility of blogging and the rise of content marketing means that there are more resources for aspiring bloggers out there than ever before—and it actually is possible to blog as your primary source of income.