The Slow Road to Professional Non-Academic Blogging

So I’m doing NaBloPoMo, as you know, and they help us out by suggesting prompts for what to write about each day. We can take them or leave them, and it’s a bigger challenge to come up with my own, but I certainly appreciate the help (it’s pretty challenging as it is). I’m also excited about some of the prompts, and look forward to writing about them. Achievement unlocked!

I didn’t do yesterday’s prompt because I wanted to write about street harassment, but I like yesterday’s prompt better than today’s. So here we go.

Yesterday’s prompt asks the question, do you consider yourself a “professional” blogger?

Tough one. There’s more to professionalism than money, but professional does imply paid, and that’s been very slow to come along, especially for blogging. Yes, I am paid for writing, but not a lot, and I’m sorry to say not all the time. I’m also sometimes “paid” in concert tickets or press passes, but it’s hard to eat or get shelter with those (shelter for longer than the length of the concert, that is). I certainly love seeing shows for free, but the cost of my reviewing a work isn’t quite the same as going to see the work itself.

I’m definitely working as a professional writer, but it’s challenging and slow going (and I won’t even go into the frequent bouts of Imposter Syndrome I battle…perhaps in another blog post). I’ve only been doing this a short time, really. I started, or re-started, in 2012 when I moved to California, even though I’d been writing for some time before then. I was in academia, where surprisingly, people are expected to do lots of writing for no money. In academia, the money (such as it is) comes from working at a college or university, preferably in a tenured position so that you can teach and not worry as much about stability. But you’re also expected to continue doing research and writing in your “free” time—you know, that whole “publish or perish” thing. But you’re not expected to make any money for that, and usually you don’t. Most journals don’t pay for submissions, and book royalties are small, especially if you write about a niche subject that won’t sell many copies. It’s a labor of love.

I switched to journalism from academia for a few reasons. For one, I definitely prefer to write in a more informal, relaxed style, and I hate academese. But I also, perhaps naively, thought that I’d be able to make a little more money. The idea of researching and writing articles and stories is certainly similar, but journalism articles are generally shorter than academic ones (academic articles are often like book chapters, literally), and there are magazines that will pay for your articles—if you can pitch them successfully (but that part’s true in either genre). The problem is, there are a lot more publications that are start-ups, or struggling, or just won’t or can’t afford to pay their writers.

I wonder if the attitude toward teachers and academics has an effect on how journalists make money. Are people just used to assuming that writers will work for free, whether they’re in academia or not?

So while I’m trying to make some money from writing, I’m certainly not making any money from my blogging (yet?). I hope that will change, of course, and I’m looking into ads for my blog, and other ways of monetizing it. I someday hope to do guest posts and sponsored posts here or elsewhere, which should help with visibility, if not eventual income. But making money from ads is very difficult unless you have thousands, or millions, of readers. At this point I’m not sure if I have many readers at all. If you’re out there, please comment and let me know!

I’m very interested to see what happens after the month is over, since I’m doing more blogging for NaBloPoMo than I have since I’ve owned this blog (which again isn’t that long). It’ll be good to see if posting daily has any affect on my visibility or my income.

How about you? If you’re a blogger or writer, do you make money from your blogs? Or does the money come from the other tasks you do in your business?

4 thoughts on “The Slow Road to Professional Non-Academic Blogging

  1. I love the graphics you post for these blogs. I have no idea how you find them. I guess Google Images is starting to work for you and not against you?

    Let’s hope someone with deep pockets recognizes your talent, and soon!

    • That would be lovely! 🙂
      Yes, I just search google images and borrow stuff I like. I certainly can’t draw anything like this!

  2. gina

    I’m reading, Renee!

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