What Makes Someone a Professional Blogger?

Not too long ago (it may have been on a forum or something), I saw someone say that you aren't a "professional writer" until you're earning six figures. I think most of us would disagree with that (I'd reckon that most "professional writers" - authors, journalists, etc. - aren't earning a solid six figures every year actually). However, it got me thinking about professional blogging a bit more.

I don't consider myself a professional blogger yet, but it's a goal I'm working towards (shooting for the end of 2009). But what exactly is a professional blogger?

Here are some of my thoughts on what does or doesn't make someone a professional blogger (and you're welcome to share your own thoughts and disagree with me here):

  • A professional blogger has to be earning money from blogging.
  • You don't have to be a member of a blog network to be a professional blogger, and being a member of a blog network isn't enough in and of itself to make someone a professional blogger.
  • You don't even need to have your own blog to be a professional blogger (corporate blogging / ghostblogging is a growing trend, and quite lucrative I might add).
  • You can be a professional blogger if you only work on your own blogs.
  • A professional blogger should be earning not just something, but enough to be considered a living if they do it full-time, or enough to be equivalent to other part-time job options available to them if they're doing it part-time (something reasonable when compared to their main writing or other work). In other words, earning $100-200 per month doesn't really qualify many as a "professional blogger" in my eyes. (To me, that would be like saying someone working in a McDonalds kitchen is a "professional chef.")

For me personally, I don't think I'd call myself a "professional blogger" until I'm doing it full-time and earning enough to get by solely from my blogs and sites (I have a few non-blog sites, so maybe a better term would be "professional Web publisher" - I don't know).

Last summer, my blogs were earning the equivalent of a low full-time income for part-time work for several months before dropping off (mostly because I slacked off to focus on client projects). So does that mean I was a "professional blogger" during that time? (I don't think so.) Exactly how long do you need to be earning significantly from your blogs to really earn the title?

I recently quit consulting to focus full-time on writing. My next move is to quit most client writing to work full-time on my sites (although I'll still do part-time client writing a few hours a week at that point - probably early 2010 if things go according to plan).

Because I'm choosing this route of looking to go full-time, I would say I'd need to earn at least $3000-4000 per month from my blogging part-time (not including service referrals) for at least 5 or 6 months before I make the jump to full-time (to invest more time to building the income further) and consider referring to myself as a professional blogger.

Do you think that's enough time? Too much? Too little of an income goal to make the switch? Too high?

There aren't any right or wrong answers. The thought just kind of came to me today, so I figured I'd throw it out there and see what other writers / bloggers think about it.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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2 thoughts on “What Makes Someone a Professional Blogger?”

  1. According to Merriam-Webster, a professional means participating for gain or livelihood as opposed to an amateur; having a profession as a permanent career; or engaged in by persons receiving financial return. Nowhere does my dictionary indicate the amount of money one makes – only that they bring in an income. Somehow the six-figure tag was applied to success and off went the herd. I applaud your career plan, but you are already a pro!

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  2. Would making $5 per month in Adsense be enough to qualify someone as a professional blogger then I wonder, seeing as there’s “financial return,” or can amateurs make a little bit of money and still be amateurs (like self-professed hobby writers who may sell an article here and there, but who don’t treat it in any way as part of a career)? The definition seems to say two different things: 1. It should be a “career” move, and then 2. It only requires “financial return.” Just asking – I like questions. 😉

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