Whenever my non-blogger friends find out that I have a blog, they’d often give me this piece of advice: “You should make money from it! Then you can quit your day job and live off of the fat profits.” Riiight. All I can say is, they have way too much blind faith in my super-awesome writing prowess and they obviously, and understandably, have no idea what they’re talking about.
There are a lot of successful full-time bloggers out there who derive most, if not all, of their income from their websites and I think that’s admirable. Blogging is hard work and it takes a lot of time and effort (maybe even more time and effort than other day jobs) to be good at it, more so to earn from it.
Most of the I-created-a-blog-and-quit-my-job stories I come across are from travel bloggers, probably because writing is a line of work that fits well with being mobile. And probably because it seems to have become the cool and wickedly adventurous thing to do these days; a way to break free from the typical “get a stable job, get married, have kids, buy a house, retire at 65” roadmap of middleclass life. I also enjoy traveling and I do get envious when I read about other people traipsing across Europe, hiking in Nepal, chilling on a beach in Thailand or eating bugs in Cambodia while I’m stuck in front of a computer staring mindlessly at a badly written policy paper. Okay, I’m not really crazy about ingesting insects but it sounds like fun if you do it in another country.
I’d love to travel more and to do it on a longer term but for now, I just make do with the long weekends or the week off I get from work every other month or so. As for being a full-time blogger and having my very own famous website, I have serious doubts on the likelihood of success. Here’s why:
1. I’m not consistent. There are days, like this week, when I’m brimming with enthusiasm on writing mundane blog entries and obsessing over comments, stats, links and whatnot. There are also days when I just don’t give a rat’s ass and I’d much rather sleep or watch reruns of Modern Family, Chuck and Dexter. I’d even go for months without a blog update. For proof, check my archives.
2. I get bored easily. And I’m lazy. This is true for pretty much everything I do, not just blogging. Boredom and laziness trump self-discipline for the most part so I usually just leave off doing something when I’m bored with it or I don’t feel like doing it. I couldn’t even remember anymore how many blogs I’ve abandoned in the past just because I lost interest. With my record, it’ll only be a matter of time before this one becomes another casualty. With work though, I have bosses who will kill me if I don’t deliver so I’m forced to trudge on and finish the job even if my neurons are about to commit mass suicide. Not the most ideal motivation but so far it works.
3. I’m hopelessly self-indulgent. A common tip for successful blogging is to provide interesting and useful information to your readers. That is not my main goal. When I blog, I just want to rant and talk nonsense and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. So while other travel bloggers share helpful advice on where to go and what to do, I talk about how many times I got drunk on a trip and how I got a scar on my arm (not from being drunk, I swear). With my day job and my other writing gig, I have to write about serious stuff that mature adults in the real world care about so I have to shed off every bit of self-indulgence and focus on things other than me, myself and I.
4. I’m not so crazy about online marketing. My very first full-time job was web content writing and everything to do with driving up site traffic. I absolutely hated that job and it pretty much ruined the entire concept of online marketing for me. SEO, bookmarking, link building, I had to do all that for a bunch of random websites every single day and after a year, I got so sick of them I swore I’ll never do them again. With a free WordPress blog that only serves as a repository of my rants, there’s no pressure to market it aggressively and drive up traffic. If it becomes my source of income, then I’d have to be serious about all those marketing stuff and I’m not sure yet if I can do them without bringing back traumatic memories.
5. I don’t/can’t have a coherent blog theme. Another common tip for successful blogging is to have a unifying theme or brand. Your blog could be about travel, food, fashion, arts, etc. I can’t stick to a sensible theme and/or brand. I tried with this one. I chose Nagbabasang Pinoy (Filipino Reader) because I thought of having a blog on books with a special feature on Pinoy books. So I wrote about Butch Dalisay’s second novel and a memoir on the Japanese occupation and, well, that’s about it. I planned on writing about Ilustrado, Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street, A Question of Heroes and a bunch of F. Sionil Jose’s works but never got around to it. As much as I love reading and writing, I also got tired of writing about books so I wrote about other things which mostly turned out to be ramblings about whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.
I can probably come up with more reasons for potentially tanking at professional blogging but these are the five off the top of my head. Will I never try to do it then? I can’t really say. After all, I also never thought I’d try hiphop dancing but I ended up doing it. Once. Of course, I looked like an epileptic baboon in the throes of a fatal seizure so I swore that I will never EVER do that again.