How to be a Successful Blogger and KEEP Your Day Job

“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.”

Welcome to Becoming Minimalist. This is not a blog about blogging, websites, or getting rich. Never has been, never will be. This is a blog about minimalizing possessions, simplifying life, and focusing on what’s most important. It’s a blog about inspiring others to find the same freedom that we have found in removing the nonessentials from our life.

However, I would like to digress for one brief moment because there is something that I need to tell you.

I have no desire to quit my day job and become a full time blogger. There I said it. It may not sound all that important to you, but it was important for me to say. 

I love my day job. I love Monday mornings because I look forward to another week of doing what I do. I guess that makes me one of the “lucky ones” to end up in a career that I enjoy, am good at, and brings me more fulfillment than a weekly paycheck. I encourage high school students to live fulfilling lives by helping them develop spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. And I invest 50 hours a week into my day job because I believe in what I do. There are countless bloggers who have quit their day jobs to blog full-time (Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, and Colin Wright). I’m just not one of them… nor do I plan to be one of them.

Because of that, as this blog has become more and more successful and continues to grow everyday as people resonate with its simple message of freedom, I have been forced to reevaluate its role in my life on a consistent basis. And I keep coming to the same conclusions: I am committed to my day job, I am committed to writing a successful blog, and I am committed to living a simple life. Balancing these three commitments has taken time and patience.

This post is for all of you who desire to blog successfully, keep your day job, and keep your life focused on the things that really matter. Hopefully, I can save you same anguish. These are the essentials that I have found necessary to be a successful blogger, keep your day job, AND live clutter-free.

  • Love to write. I have had countless friends with a desire to start a successful blog but lacked one key quality: they didn’t enjoy writing. They soon found other hobbies because well, blogging includes a lot of writing. Writing exercises your mind. It causes you to research, solidify opinions, organize, and articulate. Every person should sit and write for 30 minutes everyday regardless if they blog or not… that just comes easier to some than others. If you love to write and share your thoughts with others, you are well on your way to being a successful blogger.
  • Concentrate on your writing. Your content is your blog. Nice layouts, designs, graphics, or widgets will never replace good strong opinions and crystal clear writing. Focus your energy like a laser beam on your writing skills. Do that first, the rest will come as you grow.
  • Find your voice. This was the best piece of advice I ever received about blogging and maybe the only thing I couldn’t learn from someone else. When you find your voice, you’ll know it. Blogging will just become a natural extension of who you are. Find something that you want to say and decide how you are going to say it. If you keep saying it in a way that people understand (see the first two points), people will start listening. Don’t believe me? Just consider the fact that this blog started with me simply telling the story of the stuff we were removing… and it has grown to 3,000 subscribed readers.
  • Define success. Decide on your goals for the blog. If your goal is not to quit your day job and blog full-time, what is your purpose? To keep your family informed about your life? To inspire others? To educate others on a particular topic? To enjoy a new hobby? To make a little income on the side to supplement your salary? If you accomplish the goals that you have spelled out, you are a successful blogger.
  • Learn from full-time bloggers. Remember, there are people who do this for a living. They have a lot to offer. Study them. Read their advice. Learn from them. Here are a couple of articles you may find helpful: Write to Done, Copyblogger.
  • Don’t compare yourself to full-time bloggers. Remember, there are people who do this for a living. They have more time to commit and more riding on it. It pays their rent, their grocery bill, and their health care. Obviously, they are going to spend more time than you designing their site, writing their posts, analyzing their data, and researching trends. Don’t let jealousy or your competitive side drive your time investment or definition of success. Jealousy will quickly rob you of your joy in blogging.
  • Network. Most bloggers are lovely people who understand that the pie is not finite. They gladly welcome new people into their niche. If you are producing great content, they want to know about it and will gladly promote your material to their readers. And you don’t have to attend some large conference in Las Vegas to accomplish networking anymore. Just jump on Twitter. Or join the conversation on other blogs in your niche by adding valuable comments. Trust me - they’ll notice you.
  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Define them and keep them! Your employer is paying you to work, not to write on your blog. Your children need you to be their parent more than your readers need a new post. Your wife still needs you to sit and talk and your husband still needs you to make out. Because blogging well takes time, you will need to establish clear boundaries defining when you are going to blog and when you are not.  Here are the boundaries that I have established: I do my actual writing early in the morning before my family is awake. Following a new post, I will check the blog two times daily (lunchtime and right after work). If I have a significant post that I am working on, I will steal some time before bed to do some research, networking, or promotion. Be aware that there are life cycles to a blog that may require more attention for a period of time (i.e., a book launch). But the more you keep the boundaries you have defined, the better.
  • Don’t post everyday. When I first started Becoming Minimalist, I used to post everyday. Sometimes, I would just stare at a blank screen until I could come with a post. But then I noticed something… some of the biggest (most successful) blogs in the world don’t even post everyday. Why should I? Quality is more important than quantity. Consistency is more important than frequency. And your family is more important than staring at a blank computer screen.
  • Get some help by including other writers on your blog. Ask people to write a guest post for your blog. Ask a fellow blogger if you can interview them by e-mail. Or simply reference an existing work from someone in your niche. Bloggers love the publicity. Oh sure, not even full-time bloggers accept every guest post request and your writing quality, blog history, and reader numbers will certainly be considered… but it can’t hurt to ask.
  • Hold on to your blog loosely. In my list of priorities, this blog is low on my list (literally, I have a written list of values that I view daily). Because this blog is less valuable to me that most other things, I have learned to hold on to it loosely. The next time my wife or kids need to capture an extra hour of my attention, I’ll take it from blogging. I always do. And I know that as soon as tragedy strikes my family (which it will at some point… it always does), this blog will be the first to go.

I enjoy blogging. I’m so glad I started. It has become my favorite hobby of all-time. But I love my job more and I love my family more. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a successful blogger, it just means I have to be a little more intentional about it.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Loved it!! I am new to blogging, and realized that I am spending time staring at the screen. Mainly because there are so many things that I’d like to blog about but get caught in the ‘where to start’ mode. It’s wonderful to have you as an example that you can be successful and still have a life ;0)

    • di says

      Committed to a job and daily blog?

      How much time is actually left to devote to family? Is that someone else’s job?

  2. says

    All your points are excellent advice. Every time I read becomingminimalist I learn something new or am reminded of what I used to know but forgot. I orginally began blogging because my kids wanted to know what I was doing on a daily basis. Then I rediscovered my love of photography. For a time, I hoped to launch a small home business through my blog, but life changed that. Since I teach writing in my day job, I often let my blog languish for a few days because my little grey cells are tired of forming sentences, phrases and words. Your guidelines are a perfect reminder to me to refocus my intent and reprioritize my values. Thanks!

  3. says

    Thanks Joshua, that resonated with me.

    I am also one of those who quite enjoys his day job (there are still some of us around it seems). Blogging is a great outlet though. I’ve find that as I’ve simplfied my life I have more time and energy for blogging and expressing myself (another of the benefits of simple living I guess). Blogging is a priority for me, but nowhere near the top of the list. That might change one day (who knows), but I’m fine where I am for now (6 subscribers at last count – woohoo!).

    Incidentally, (and I don’t know if this is true for you or not Joshua), finding a job that worked for me was not something that happened overnight. I engineered it. For example, I didn’t like commuting so I *sought out* and changed to an employer who lets me remote work. It takes time and a bit of effort to find the “right job”. I mention that in case anyone was assuming a good job drops in your lap – it doesn’t (at least not for me).

  4. says

    Hello Joshua,

    Thank you for this timely post.

    “Hold on to your blog loosely.”

    I’ve had a recent passing in my family and finding it hard to get back into the blogging groove. Now, I can breathe because it’s OK. I have confidence that my readers will be there when I resume.

    Peace,
    “Guided by the Ancestors”

  5. says

    Thanks for this great post and for laying out some ground rules that many of us can benefit from in our own blogging lives. I couldn’t agree more with your first point – love to write. I have always loved to write, do it professionally and am so happy to have found blogging as an outlet so I can make it my hobby. It surprises me to think that those who don’t love to write would even consider starting a blog (last I checked, it’s all about writing!).

    Perhaps you’ve found this too, but blogging has actually brought me closer to my long-distance family. I think my thoughts give them insight into the “real me,” rather than the me who provides reporter-like updates on the phone once a week. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at their interest, and love posting if for no other reason than to share my thoughts with the people I love the most, but don’t get to see as much as I’d like. What a great blogging benefit.

  6. says

    Wow! Just happened upon your blog and I’m already following it and loving it. This is exactly the post I needed. In blogging, it’s not about going from 0-60 in 3 seconds, but rather doing something consistently that makes YOU happy. Once you are happy, others will jump on the train and follow you.

    Thank you for providing this great content to help me blog AND work a full-time day job. I would eventually like to quit my day job, but in the mean time, this is INCREDIBLE advice.

  7. says

    These are wonderful tips, thank you. Learning from A-list bloggers while not trying to compare yourself with them is a great tip.

    Another wise idea is to allow guest posts. I’ve had huge success inviting guest posts as well as guest posting myself. The site that turned a great help was My Blog Guest: http://myblogguest.com/ That’s a community of guest bloggers. It has lots of blogs allowing guest posts as well as lots of authors willing to contribute to your blog.

  8. Mike says

    I am SO glad to see you stand up and be counted for your day job! There are so many bloggers with their blogs and ebooks making it sound as if the end-all and be-all of life is to not have to work for somebody else. This country would not be what it is today if those before us thought that way. Truly, it’s that many of these bloggers are very, very young and will one day look back on how “simple” they make it sound to just pick up and leave – and they will be embarrassed. Great post!

  9. says

    thanks for your input, mike. just for the record, i am not against blogging full-time. i just really enjoy my fulfilling day job and have no intention of giving it up…ever. this blog has never about that. and this post was about how i have learned to balance them both.

    in defense of my full-time blogger friends, i’m confident that each of them had different reasons for quitting their job: some to stay at home and raise their family, some to travel the world, and some to get out of a full-time job that was killing their spirit. some when they were young. some when they were established. some will make it and some will not. but i do give them credit for trying.

    and while our country would not be where it is today if everybody had quit their jobs to write blogs, our country would also not be where it is today without its entrepreneurial spirit and risk-takers willing to step outside the box and try something new. again, i give them credit for trying.

    nobody is less for staying. nobody is less for leaving. we’re all just trying to find a life that means something more than the model of automobile in our two-car garage…

  10. says

    I have struggled to create these rules for myself; it is certainly nice to have them laid out in such a succinct manner! Especially since some of these are ones that I hadn’t considered, such as not comparing myself to the pros.

  11. says

    I read Leo Babauta and Chris Guillebeau and came away so pressured that it took away my desire to continue my blog. I love what their thoughts are, but it just doesn’t work for me, YET. Thanks so much for writing this and stopping the pressure to write the “most successful blog” with xxxx readers. For now, I’m contented finding my topic which is Third World minimalism.

  12. says

    First of all, I LOVE your blog! It’s such a great reminder every time you post about how unimportant things are. Even though I’m far from being a minimalist, it helps inspire me to focus on the important things and to clean out all of the things I have laying around that I’m not using…

    These tips are great! Sometimes there’s so much pressure to have a successful blog or to try to keep up with all of the blogs you want to read (which is completely impossible!) that I forget that I started blogging simply to have a place to write what I was thinking about. And I LOVE your tips to hold onto your blog loosely and your reminder that blogging is, essentially, about writing. Such a simple thing that so often is overlooked.

  13. says

    amazig post…something i exactly needed. how to balance your day job and blogging and most important family time. i enjoy your blog the most, becasue your posts are short bu every line is meaningful. i am trying to incorporate your advice into my dail life. thanks :) neetika

  14. says

    I find that when I blog about the things I would normally write about, I do a lot better. I may not have a large readership, but hopefully it will grow. Instead of blogging becoming my full time job, I would rather gain freelance employment via my blog.

  15. says

    Thank you for this post! I’m not sure if I have commented yet (I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for a few months) but I’m an aspiring minimalist with no intention to quit my day job – I work with special needs students and come home feeling like I’ve made a difference. Yet, I want to blog. I love to write (I have a creative writing undergrad background) and I love to share. This post has given me reassurance that I don’t need to be a full-time blogger to write amazing content. Cheers!

  16. says

    Excellent post. I’m another one who has no intention or desire to quit my day job. There is definitely a lot of peer pressure amongst bloggers to say good-bye to 9-5. I remind myself of what I often tell my kids – “just b/c your friends are doing it, doesn’t mean you should…”

  17. says

    I am a bit late to the game with this post, but it is relevant nonetheless. As my blog begins to take off (modestly with 10 new subscribers per month instead of 2), I am realizing how much I love my day job and new desires to start a non-profit and continue with ministry. My blog is fulfilling and I have a passion for writing, but it is only supplemental to my work and not the work itself. Very nice to hear the same from others and to see you reaching so many through this medium.

  18. says

    awesomely written piece of information. I will definitely choose a path where I am happy enough and believe me I am not a full time blogger. I just write for the sake of others information and my hobby. The blog is helping others to know spices better and various kind of spices usage. My blog is also great information for anything and everything and little more is worth.

    Looking forward to get some more useful updates from you.

    Cheers

  19. says

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you happen to be using? I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any recommendations?

    • says

      Which sort of security issues you are facing and in which platform? I may be able to render some help.
      I am a blogger and I help people secure their blogs against hacks and malware.
      Though its an old comment but replying just to see what was the issue #curious

  20. says

    I think Quality posts is the main key for success
    This one was difficult to measure as some people will get more value out of some posts than others. There wasn’t much else I could do but just base it on my personal view of the article and whether it was helpful or informative to me in some way. I looked at the last 10 blog posts for each blog.

  21. says

    I used to think that the only way for me, and others, to see myself as a successful blogger was to lose my day job. But the value of a stable, consistent paycheck is something that’s just too good to give up altogether. Instead, I’ve made it my goal to find a career that better suits my interests, and believe it will be equally as fulfilling (and will make it a priority that my blog continues to grow)! Thanks for the great read.

  22. di says

    You mentioned that you don’t blog for profit. Aren’t you making a profit from your book?

    Would you be doing your job if you did not receive a pay check?

    Some do not seek mental, spiritual and emotional fulfillment.

    Not everyone enjoys writing. Some enjoy less research, fewer opinions, to be less organized or less articulate with vague concepts.

  23. di says

    I enjoyed reading about what people found to be essential. The process is individual. What remains is the solution.

    For example, are you going to continue to minimize? What items did you keep? There seemed to be many variables left unsaid.

  24. says

    I wish that more people could understand the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    Each year over twenty people are needlessly killed by this odourless,
    colourless gas escaping from faulty central heating boilers and many hundreds
    more suffer health problems caused by it.

  25. Kasey Reid says

    Hey Joshua,

    Firstly I would like to say that I have truly been inspired by this post and few others. I discovered your blog from a friend of mine just a few days ago. Every post I’ve read so far has given me good insight in regards to how I should approach starting a blog. My friend and I are starting a fashion blog and I wanted to know if you have any advice or links to other websites about starting a blog that you could give me.

    Thanks,

    Kasey

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