Being a professional blogger isn’t an easy career path, but like with all choices in life, it’s a lot easier to make it when your family is standing behind you. Unfortunately, quitting your job to blog full time isn’t a decision most non-bloggers understand.
I first started freelance writing when I was still in college, but with graduation looming, I had to make a choice: Should I continue down the path of freelancing after graduation or should I get a “real” job*? At the time, my freelancing experience included both general copywriting and blogging work, but when I made the decision to go full time, I started focusing on blogging, my true passion, and I started a few blogs of my own.
My family didn’t get it. My friends smiled and nodded. Even my boyfriend at the time was concerned that I wasn’t thinking clearly.
So today, I wanted to write a bit about how I turned things around to gain their support not just because they love me but also because they feel like I made the right decision to pursue a career in blogging and the new media world. If you’re considering quitting your job to blog or are in college and want to blog full time after you graduation, I hope some of these tips help you talk to your loved ones!
1. Put it into terms they can understand.
My grandparents still don’t know what a blog is. And that’s okay. Sometimes, in order to talk about your career goals with your family, you need to choose your words carefully so they understand. Many people still equate the word “blog” with “online diary.” While this can be the case for some people, most blogs out there are much more: they’re marketing tolls, they’re businesses, they’re money-makers. If it helps your family understand, talk about your website instead of your blog. The word website sound more professional to some people, because they’re used to the fact that big brands have websites. And if it helps loved ones think about your career more seriously, talk about being a writer or even content marketer instead of a blogger.
Over time, slowly transition into saying the words blog and blogger more and more. As an industry, we want people to start acknowledging that these are professional terms just like website and writer. But an important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t force people to suddenly think about things differently. You have to help them bridge that gap over time.
2. Talk about your back-up plan.
Blogging (or doing any freelance job really) is a risky venture. Often, our loved ones, especially parents, can be harsh about goals because they’re worried. No parent wants to think of their child struggling to pay bills. So, it can help to talk about your blogging goals in relation to deadlines, as well as to outline your back-up plan if your goals are not met. For example, when I talked to my friends about being a freelancer after college, I set the deadline of one year. If I wasn’t on a good financial footing by then, I’d quit blogging and look for a corporate job. I talked about the connections I had that could help me hunt for a job and mentioned the possibility of going back to school. Having this plan helped my loved ones feel more at ease with my decision.
3. Actually show them what you do and how that translates to money.
It’s hard to talk to people about your job as a blogger if they have no idea what a blogger does, other than post funny cat pictures on Facebook. Give them a “day in the life” tour of your career. Explain to them the basics of why social media helps your career. Teach them exactly how you make money. Going back to the “terms they understand” tip, I like to compare it to a magazine, because it’s easier for someone to understand how a magazine makes money through ads, partnerships, etc. and how it is important for a magazine to get subscribers, not just because it’s income but because more readers means bigger deals with brands.
4. Invite them to guest contribute to your blog.
Okay, this tip might not be for everyone, but if it’s possible, ask your loved ones to be a guest blogger. My sister and I got my mom involved with blogging on The PinterTest Kitchen. Before that, I once had my cousin contribute to a TV blog I ran, and I’ve often asked friends for opinions that I’ve then quoted (with permission) on my blog. When they take part, it’s easier for them to see how fun and addicting blogging can be.
5. Be happy and proud of your accomplishments.
The very best way to get your loved ones on board with your being a blogger is to allow them to see you happy. So don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments the same way your sister would announce a promotion or your best friend would announce a pay raise. Go out and celebrate when you reach a traffic goal. Throw a real-life launch party when you start a new blog. Share your success when you land a big sponsorship. When you’re happy, anyone worth being in your life will be happy for you too.
Your turn: what are your best tips for talking to your family and friends about becoming a blogger?
*For the record, I hate the term “real” job because it implies that working online is somehow not real or hard work.
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