For this post, I set out to find people who started a blog and went on to do well; and I asked them about their story.  What inspired them?  What traits helped them?  What circumstances helped them?

The results of my search were interesting. Many common themes emerged among their stories, and it reminded me of my own journey.

Trying to make a living as a blogger is a lot harder than you might think. You may have read about how great it is to start a website that makes money while you sleep. It’s easy to forget about the intersection of factors (talent, hard work, circumstance, etc.) it takes to be successful.

Learning the story of five successful bloggers and what they have in common will help you to decide if the journey is for you.

The five Bloggers are:


What Inspired You?

I started by asking the question, “What inspired you.” I wanted to know their motivation for embarking on such an uncertain journey.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to reflect back on the reason we even got started in the first place.

I stumbled upon blogging because I’ve always had a love of creating content and a desire for freedom. I was looking for a way to be able to be creative and to make money at the same time when I stumbled upon Steve Pavlina’s blog and learned that he was doing what I wanted to do.

When I asked the question to my panel of bloggers, their answers had a familiar tone.


Avoid an Office Job

The desire to avoid an office job was the most common theme I recognized when asking bloggers what inspired them.

Man, I can relate to that. The vision of sitting in a cubicle for eight hours a day and getting bossed around by Bill Lumbergh from Office Space is enough to make my skin crawl.

I’ve debated whether this aversion to authority and structure is a sign of creativity and the desire for greatness; or the result of an unhealthy and over-inflated ego. The fact remains: many of us get started because of it.

Ramsay Taplin of said this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.48.07 AM“I’ve always had two goals: avoid an office job and do something to help people.

I sold a blog in college for 5-figures, and that inspired me to think about taking blogging and online business more seriously.

I never wanted to go to an office and join in with all that politics and nonsense. And I always had the goal of doing something that would free up time and money to maybe do more charity work and help people.

It’s been a long road with many ups and downs. I’ve still never been to an office for a ‘real’ job all my life!”


On his blog at, David Risley says:

headshot_200_200“Back in college, I decided that the 9-5 and the life in a cubicle wasn’t for me. Not everybody is cut out for it.

There are people in this world who want to make the world better by fulfilling their own passions and following their own rules.”


Erik Emanuelli of told me this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.59.58 AM“I started blogging back in 2010, searching the web for an alternative way to make money.”

“The passion for writing about what I love, turned then into a steady monthly income.”


Through my work as a blogger and entrepreneurial consultant, I’ve spoken to thousands of people of over the years who feel the same way.

What is it about the current corporate career path that seems to suck the life out of a few talented and creative people? It’s a shame. There’s got to be a way to create a company environment where these people would thrive.


Passion for Telling Stories

Erik points out something imperative: you have to love storytelling and content creation to be a successful blogger. His preference is writing, but some bloggers tell their story through video, audio podcast, or other forms of media.

I’ve seen people, who didn’t share my passion for storytelling, try to start a blog with dismal results.  If you don’t love it, you just won’t be happy doing it all the time.

A blogger has to be a unique blend of introvert and extrovert.  You draw from your introversion when you lock yourself in your room to start the creative process of creating content.

The extrovert in you has the desire to connect with other people to tell stories, to listen, and to help.  If you’re too introverted, you don’t reach out enough for people to find your work.  If you’re too extroverted, you can’t sit alone for long enough to tap into your creativity.


Sue Ann Dunlevie of told me:

Sue-Anne-200”I started a stress management blog after I wrote a book on stress. After a year, I was getting a lot of email about how I began a successful blog.

So I switched to and now blog a step-by-step plan for beginning bloggers.”


Sue is a natural content creator as evidenced by the fact that she wrote a book on stress. Blogging is a very interactive process where you have a lot of back-and-forth with your readers. Sue’s blog gave her the feedback she needed to make a pivot.


Personal Branding

Zac Johnson of told me:

31533d40ebee5506579097d9fa07aaff_400x400“I started a blog so I could expand out into my own brand and get my name out there.”

It was very forward-thinking of Zac to know that blogging would grow his personal brand. I didn’t realize until years after I started that personal branding was positive byproduct of blogging.

The growth of the internet and ever-changing job market has significantly increased the need for personal branding for everyone. It used to be that only authors or celebrities were concerned about their brand. In today’s world, it’s important even if you’re “workin’ for the man.”


Twist of Fate

On, David Risley writes:

headshot_200_200“…I read an article in Yahoo Internet Life about how to build a website in 20 minutes or less.

Before long, I was a webmaster of a beautifully horrible little website, complete with blinking text and animated icons.

It was, however, the beginning of what would end up being my life’s mission.”


I love this paragraph because it reminds me of my journey. I had my own “beautifully horrible little website” fifteen years ago. I wish I had kept the domain… It would be fun to visit it from time to time to see how far I’ve come.



You have to have a knack for producing content. Blogging is all about producing something the audience wants to consume: an article, a video, a podcast. You don’t necessarily have to be a great writer, but you have to have something interesting to say.

Not everyone has the talent.

Even if you can write, speak, or produce video; you might not have anything to say.

Even if you have something to say, you not be moved to say it.

You might be writing 2,000 words a day, and making all the right moves, but if no one wants to consume the content you’re putting out, it’s not going to happen.

That’s why I’ve always strived for quality over quantity, contrary to the prevailing conventional wisdom.


Hard Work

If you’ve got the talent, the next ingredient is energy. Blogging is hard work. You have to corral your mental energy and channel it into producing content. Avoiding temptations and distractions becomes your primary task. Cranking out content is your primary objective, even when you don’t want you.

If you’re getting into this business for easy income, you’ve come to the wrong place. No, you won’t have a boss telling you what to do and be locked in a cubicle all day. The tradeoff is that you have to exercise discipline and work harder than you would have otherwise.



Zac Johnson of writes on his blog:

31533d40ebee5506579097d9fa07aaff_400x400“The point of this story is that connections are EVERYTHING.

My business and success would never have been the same if I did not attend CJU. You would be amazed at how much just one thing can change everything.

I can map out almost everything I have done and some way or another it comes back to who I have met in the beginning and/or what/who I was working with at this time.”


I struggled with the concept of connections and networking when I starting out. I had the talent, I kept my head down and worked my butt off, but I wasn’t much for reaching out into the world and making connections.

I think a lot of creative people are the same way. It’s not that you have to be super outgoing, you just have to be willing to come out of your shell every once in awhile and make a connection.

You won’t make it in a bubble.

You can’t expect to have a bunch of readers without reading anyone else.

You can’t expect to get a bunch of comments without commenting on someone else’s work.

Good connections can accelerate your success. If someone with a bigger following vouches for you, it can exponentially grow your business.



Even if you are doing everything right, it can take a long time of working long hours to be successful as a blogger. Does your circumstance allow for this?

If you were to quit your job and jump into blogging, do you have alternate income to support you for the months (even years) it might take to replace it? What would happen if you spent all that time and it never happened?

If you decide to keep your job and blog on nights and weekends, do you have the time? Do you have a family? Do you have other hobbies and interests?

If you weren’t born into money, it will be a juggling act at first. You’ll have to make up for the fact that you don’t have money, by putting in the time.

If you don’t have time or money, this might not be the career for you.



Many people who desire to become entrepreneurs and bloggers are multi-talented individuals that could potentially excel in many areas. Being multi-talented is a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

A common mistake of multi-talented people is to frequently change directions and never spend enough time in one pursuit to be successful.

It takes a considerable degree of “stick-to-it-iveness” to make it in this world. Many blogs don’t start making enough money to live on for years. Many never reach this level at all.


The Ability To Sell

Sue Ann Dunlevie writes at

Sue-Anne-200“Remember that kid who won the bike for selling the most at the school fundraiser?

That was me. I’ve always had a gift for sales—even back in those days.”


On his blog at, Zac Johnson writes:

31533d40ebee5506579097d9fa07aaff_400x400“Instead of carrying books and pencil in my backpack, I would carry around comic cards and later soda cans.

During fourth grade, Marvel Comic Cards were big in my school. What I would do is buys packs of cards for $1 each (with 12 cards per pack).

I would then bring them to school and sell them at lunch for around .25 per card.”


Selling is not always seen as a noble profession, but the truth is: the ability to sell is one of the most important factors in anyone’s success.

Like it or not, the ability to sell affects almost every aspect of your life from getting a promotion to choosing which movie to see with your significant other.

Salesperson and blogger seem like the exact opposite career, but one could learn a lot from the other. Salespeople are helped tremendously by content marketing, and bloggers are helped tremendously by learning how to sell.


Moving Forward

The need has never been greater for expanding your personal brand and staking your claim on the internet by sharing content through a blog.

I hope some of these stories have either inspired you to get started or saved you the trouble of finding out that it’s not for you after wasting months or years.

I have found that for the right person, blogging can be an incredibly rewarding way to express yourself, leave a legacy, and maybe even make a little money while you’re at it.