Learn all my top secrets on how to become a successful blogger who makes money and gives you more personal and financial freedom.

I’m a full-time blogger who started this blog in 2019 and quit my full-time lawyer job in 2022 to focus on everything from blogging for success to making better investments of my time and money and having a more flexible lifestyle that supports myself and my family better.

And I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for these days.

So, I’m here to tell you more about the journey of blogging successfully, from both a technical standpoint and a business mindset standpoint.

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I’m not here to tell you every little step in the process of actually getting your blog set up. There are a zillion resources that do that.

I’m here to tell you everything I learned BEYOND that about how to have a successful blog that is profitable. I’m here to share my blogging journey and what I learned about how to run a successful blog that actually changes your life. Because, when I myself became a successful blogger, everything in my life changed for the better. I don’t say that lightly– I 100% mean every word of it.

Of course, what makes a blogger successful is subjective. There are many excellent non-financial reasons to blog, including the joy of writing and sharing your writing.

But here, for the purposes of this article, I’m defining “success” as monetary profits, because I think that’s how most people who find this article will define it. And I think the real secrets behind this from someone who’s “been there” are what people crave.

Further, I’m defining “blogger” as someone who primarily writes blog posts on a website (versus social media and sponsored content — that can be very different).

First, I answer how long it takes to become a successful blogger. This is the first time ever I’m sharing an overview of my own personal journey, and I’m excited to do so because I think it will help you see the trajectory more clearly.

Second, I share my personal tips/hacks/secrets on how to become a successful blogger. It’s part mindset, part business strategy. It’s not a step-by-step guide, as businesses are unique and unpredictable. While someone may be able to tell you certain tidbits step-by-step, like how to install WordPress, they can’t tell you step-by-step how to go from zero to thriving business, which involves a lot of personal strategies and overcoming unique hurdles.

By the end of this article, you will have a really thorough understanding of how to successfully blog on your own.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Successful Blogger?

My education and experience have revealed that it generally takes an average of three years (and a range of two to four years) to become a successful blogger. Further, during this time you MUST be implementing best practices and doing so on a consistent basis. In other words, simply having a blog for this long will not automatically make it “successful” monetarily.

Generally, year one of blogging for beginners is all about learning and beginning to implement best practices. You need to learn how to set up a functional, robust website on a blogging platform that is efficient, secure, legal, etc. You also need to learn the basics of writing quality content in this format. Meanwhile, you should also consider starting to grow your social media accounts and your email list. You will likely not make money in year one (I didn’t either). This is normal for any business.

Year two is all about growing — growing your readership, your content base, your followers, etc. This is because you need a lot of content and a lot of eyeballs on the content to earn real money. You should also continue to hone your skills during this time. You may make a bit of money in year two (I did). This is normal too.

Year three is finally all about earning. If you’ve successfully done the above, you should start seeing regular income this year. This is when you may shift your focus a bit to protecting your asset and keeping it a sustainable source of income, as you’ll likely face more business challenges as you grow. A few months into year three is when I personally quit my full-time job and was able to sustain myself from my blogging income.

(Keep in mind these are all generalities based on a zillion factors. Eb over at Productive Blogging also published these updated statistics about the general timelines and income for bloggers.)

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My Personal Journal from Zero to Full-Time Blogger

I’ve never shared my personal journal from zero to full-time blogger before, and I think this is the perfect time and place to do so. I hear from readers all the time who ask how I got here, and it’s hard to state succinctly because it feels like both a lifetime of occurrences plus three years of dedicated efforts.

While everyone’s life is completely different, I think it’s important and helpful for aspiring bloggers to see and learn the full trajectory of how someone else got to a certain point, rather than just see the end result and wonder how to get that too, or even read a quick tutorial that promises you can “do it yourself” in as little as minutes.

The bloggers who tell you that you can do it in a day, a weekend, or even a few months are likely just trying to sell you a product. There, I said it.

It’s like telling someone they can start a restaurant that quickly. Sure, they can lease you the physical space in that time, but they can’t help you build a successful business in that time frame. A restaurant would need everything from equipment to supplies, staff, decor, a killer menu that’s been tried and tested, legal permits, marketing, paying customers, and so much more to become a success. And you need to master lots of things to make a blog successful too.

While I do believe, as stated above, that people can start a successful blog that makes consistent money in about three years if they are implementing best practices, I look at my book blogging journey as a lifelong one that I want to share with you for more insight and inspiration that shows a marathon vs. sprint mentality, which is what I think has really gotten me to this point:

Toddler years: I learned to read and fell in love with it. I can still recall the first time I read and how much of a superpower it felt like to be able to do so.

Young childhood years: I avidly read books, watched Reading Rainbow, and visited the library to check out as many books as I could.

Older childhood years: I continued to avidly read and could spend hours in a bookstore (no babysitter needed for my parents).

Early teen years: Computers became a new thing in the world and in my life. I loved to spend hours playing around with it and practicing some creative writing of my own, even before Microsoft Word existed.

Later teen years: I took advanced English classes (reading the classics) and continued to work on my writing skills, which I was now really beginning to enjoy and get compliments on. I won a writing award at my high school graduation that gave me the confidence to pursue an English minor in college. I also became interested in participating in online communities based on shared interests, which was pretty new at the time.

College years: I took a minor in English by which I chose to focus on a mix of reading, writing, and creating websites for writing (which was very new at the time).

Law school years: I maintained scrapbooks and personal blogs for visual inspiration, journaling, and creative writing, simply as an escape from a rigorous academic load. Learning how to code plus express myself in writing became a fun escape for me, as well as therapeutic. I caught up on a few books here and there over the summer.

Early law career years: I focused mostly on my career. I did love to spend time at the library since it was free and I was still saddled with student loan debt on a starting salary. And, I also learned the ins and outs of how to sell on eBay to make extra cash by cleaning out my closet a few times a year.

Middle law career years: I met my husband, who owned an e-commerce site and focused on search engine optimization. I started representing him as counsel and became interested in both his business and business in general. I devoured as much content as I could (probably thousands of hours) on all of these topics. I tested my hand at starting a few sites during many late nights, but I mostly just played around and never stuck with it.

Later law career years: More settled in my career, I was spending my free time reading and writing book reviews (on GoodReads, on social media, in my personal notes), planning my wedding (and recording all my notes), and planning an international honeymoon (and recording all my notes).

When the honeymoon was over (literally), many things came together to make me want to blog again, from having another stream of income to pay off those pesky student loans once and for all, having a diverse stream of income in case I lost my job for some reason, having a creative outlet, sharing books to promote literacy, getting my notes onto one centralized, organized digital space, and so forth.

I happened to have a stretch of time when I was driving a lot for work and listened to a ton of blogging podcasts in the car. When that time ended, I knew I would be busy with work, but I committed to doing at least one thing a day to get my blog started. It surprised me how fast things snowballed, and I was able to start posting all the content I had already written for my own personal use in the first few months.

Shortly thereafter, COVID-19 happened. This meant I was now working from home AND couldn’t go anywhere on the weekends. So, I had extra time before and after work, as well as on weekends, to blog. I spent most of my free time blogging during COVID-19, which, of course, lasted longer than any of us ever expected.

A year in, people were noticing my little blog and I realized I kind of had something that was catching on. I rebranded from my personal name to The Literary Lifestyle, made the website stronger and faster on the back end, and continued to write more content. I also continued to educate myself and implement what I learned in my free time, while also working full-time.

First year of full-time blogging: A few months into year three of this blog, a lot of things came to a head in my life again, and I decided to quit my full-time job. I didn’t really know what my new life would look like, but it quickly became pretty intense full-time blogging. This is because I realized I was now running a business, not a side hustle or a hobby. This is when I really had to double down on business ownership activities, as well as blogging activities, in order to make and maintain a living without a traditional job.

By the year four mark on this blog, the traffic and income had grown substantially as a result of my full-time efforts, and I started to feel like I had finally become a successful blogger.

Long story short, successful blogging on this blog took about 3-4 years, but it also feels like a whole lifetime of big and small occurrences that got me here.

What can you take from my personal life story?

First, I hope you can see that it takes time and dedication to become a successful blogger, and that a lot of little efforts can compound over long periods of time.

Second, I hope my own journey over decades of life helps you think about what stands out in your own life, as this can help you determine things like your niche, what format of content you should focus on, what your strengths are, etc. I found that I didn’t find success in blogging until I really honed in and focused on these personal qualities and interests.

How to Become a Successful Blogger

Now that you know how I personally became a successful blogger, I’m going to share with you how to become a successful blogger yourself, based on my personal education and experience.

I have placed them in a sequential order of what I think you should do first, second, and so on.

Educate yourself.

Anyone can start a blog, but not everyone (or even most people) will become a successful blogger. While it may seem like it’s all luck, it’s not! Remember, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Hands down, the most important thing I have done to become a successful blogger and maintain a successful blog, is to educate myself and continue my education. To this day, I am on top of hot blogging topics daily, and I am committed to at least one in-depth training per month.

You need to learn A LOT in order to grow, plus things change quickly in the digital world. Blog courses can help with this dramatically and quickly. I have taken more blogging courses than I can count (definitely over 100) and, while they haven’t all been worth the cost individually, the costs balanced out overall. At the end of the day, I made way more money than I ever spent. I just recommend doing your research before you decide on which courses to invest in because they aren’t ALL worth the money.

Below are the only blogging courses I personally recommend:

Be willing to become a jack of all trades.

Many people are used to having a job title with a defined set of responsibilities they are already educated and/or trained to do. Blogging isn’t like that. While it may seem you just post a pretty picture and a caption about your day, then move on with your life, while brands just beg to give you money, nothing could be further from the truth.

The list of jobs a blogger must regularly do includes writing, photography, videography, graphic design, social media management, search engine optimization, information technology, web design, accounting, compliance, legal, business strategy, administration, public relations, partnerships, marketing, community building, sales, and on and on.

If you’re not willing to both learn it all and do it all, you probably won’t succeed as a blogger. You don’t have to know everything on day one by any means, but you need to be willing to start and figure it out along the way. You also need to be willing to shoulder all or most of the responsibilities yourself (unless you hire out, which is another skill set to learn in and of itself).

Define your niche.

To be successful at blogging at this stage in the game, you need to have a focus. There is just too much competition to catch on as a personality, in most cases.

I like to recommend that you focus on something you are passionate about because it’s something you are going to need to WANT to talk about every single day. What makes you jump out of bed or stay up late? What would make you willing to forego all your weekend plans to work? What are you already spending your time on?

A lot of bloggers blog about topics solely because they are lucrative, and that’s something I just don’t understand. I would be bored out of my mind, first of all, and second, I wouldn’t be able to authentically engage with readers, which creates community and a dedicated subscriber base.

The other recommendation I have is to think both broad and small so that you can easily become known for something AND pivot to suit your reader’s needs.

For example, “food blogger” is too general and competitive, as is travel blogger, beauty blogger, and fashion blogger. At this point, something like “vegan food” may also be too general and competitive.

Let’s assume you are a vegan college student. It may be too narrow to call yourself “The College Vegan” because shortly you will be out of college and may not be able to relate to college students as much as you grow older. But, college students like easy, cheap food, and many adults do too. So, perhaps “The Quick and Easy Vegan” is a better brand that’s both well-defined (so you can stand out in the crowd) and general enough that you can pivot a bit over time.

My niche is basically books and bookish lifestyle, which is kind of too general, but it’s still clear what is it and it’s enabled me to incorporate a lot of different things over time, like Gilmore Girls and Harry Potter, which I didn’t intend to do on day one but became a big part of this blog as I grew.

I don’t think this is a perfect example of a niche by any means, but I’ve learned enough now that I’m advising you better than what I did myself starting out.

Build a business strategy.

So many people who want to know how to become a successful blogger don’t focus on the business side of things — just the content creation — and I think that’s totally wrong. If you are doing something that makes money, or even has an intention of making money, IT’S A BUSINESS.

Let’s go back to our restaurant example from the beginning of this post. A restaurant needs to do everything from get all the proper permits and set up their books to get customers in the door to make money.

To be a successful blogger, you too need to do everything from following the law to having a plan for your business.

As to the law, it’s up to you to research everything globally, in your country, and even locally. And there are no clear-cut answers. For example, only you can decide what legal business structure makes sense for your business (i.e., sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corp). And only someone in your locale needs to follow any particular local law.

Personally, I do a ton of research, especially when I’m doing new things, plus I have an accountant, a payroll company, and sometimes even specialized attorneys who help. (Again, it’s a BUSINESS.)

First, you can work on branding, defining your target customer, deciding how you want to start making money, and creating a plan to get blog traffic.

Personally, I knew I wanted to focus on search engine optimization for traffic and both ads and affiliate marketing for income, so I based my strategies on tactics related to that. But, there are many ways to make money blogging, and only you can decide what’s right for you, as you can do anything, but not everything.

From there, you can continue to reassess your strategies over time. For example, once I became a full-time blogger based on ads and affiliate income, I had the time to work on creating digital products to sell as well.

Take action.

We’ve talked about a lot of overwhelming topics on how to become a successful blogger so far, and that can quickly create stagnation. A lot of people get interested in learning about blogging, then become overwhelmed by the implementation phase and FREEZE.

You really need to push yourself through this if you want to succeed. And you need to BELIEVE you can push through it. This goes back to being willing to be a jack of all trades.

Remember, when I started, I told myself I would do at least one thing per day. It does add up, and it does so faster than you may think!

You can’t run a marathon from your couch. Same thing here.

Focus on the reader’s needs.

Your blog is never really about YOU, but your readers — the same way any business is about its customers/clients at the end of the day. The purposes of most full-time blogs are to help readers: sometimes by informing, sometimes by solving a problem or answering a question, sometimes by offering inspiration and recommendations, and sometimes by making someone else feel less alone.

The reader should always be at the forefront of your mind, and you should always be gathering updated feedback and learning about your customers as you grow so you can best serve them.

This is so much more important than you may think. Every time I have truly listened to what readers wanted from me and changed course in that direction, my business has grown substantially, sometimes in ways I never expected, and that’s exactly what got me here today.

Going back to our restaurant example, if the bulk of your customers asks for dessert, but you don’t currently offer it, this is a good sign you can make money from offering dessert. It may not be what you intended to serve, but it’s still related, and it serves your customers best.

I try to listen especially hard to what my readers feel passionate about and what they struggle with, then provide content on those topics. I truly believe this was a big part of my becoming a full-time blogger.

Add originality.

Especially as artificial intelligence grows, readers will be seeking out more originality from the blogs they read. I look at originality as the types of things that make readers “slow their scroll” AND keep coming back.

It can be your personal stories, but you don’t have to divulge every tidbit of your life either. Originality is everything from branding to catchphrases, graphic design, and on and on. It’s what makes you and your blog unique and memorable.

Here are a few examples I quickly thought of for famous people, who are often masters of originality, and what makes them so instantaneously memorable:

  • Prince: the color purple
  • Oprah: “You get a car!”
  • Matthew McConaughey: Southern drawl
  • Jennifer Lopez: the nickname J.Lo
  • Elton John: a piano

Each famous person I mentioned is associated with something completely different, yet it’s all very distinct and memorable, and it’s part of their brand no matter what they do professionally.

In my first year of full-time blogging, one of the biggest and best lessons I learned was to focus on building a community and a brand through originality in order to remain successful and stand the test of time.

Generic, encyclopedia-style articles just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Work hard AND smart.

As you can probably tell by now, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires consistent effort over time to reach the finish line. There’s simply no other way around it. I don’t like to promote “hustle” culture, but I also don’t think you’ll learn how to become a successful blogger if you don’t put in the work on a daily basis over a long period of time.

As a byproduct, working smart is also incredibly important. Blogging involves a lot of tasks, and a lot of these tasks can be “time sucks.” (I personally would categorize social media this way, but that’s not the case for everyone.)

It’s important to identify what the time sucks are for you, what the money-making tasks are, and to adjust your schedule accordingly over time as your business develops. You can’t do it all, and only some tasks will make you money at the end of the day.

Set boundaries.

Along these lines, since you have SO MUCH to accomplish to be a successful blogger, and you need to work smart to get there the fastest, you will also need to set boundaries on your time.

For me, one thing this meant was setting boundaries with the many authors who reached out to me for (free) marketing assistance every single day. It was becoming a job just to respond to emails, let alone read and promote their books, and it caused me a lot of anxiety and guilt as well.

So, I created a few blog posts that serve as good, free resources for them, and I can now passively help them by offering these links without giving up too much of my time each and every day. AND, I earn money from ads and affiliate income on these posts when the authors read them. Win win.

You need to continue to be strategic with your time in these ways because you’re only one person. Every time you perform a non-money-making task, you’re also losing perpetual income from a money-making task. Remember that.

Be professional.

I’ve mentioned before a lot about running your blog as a business, and a professional attitude goes along with that. Go above and beyond for others and be polite, courteous, prompt… all the things.

While blogging is a fairly casual job, you are still representing yourself and your brand. You want people to feel confident listening to your advice, working with you, recommending you to friends, buying from you, etc.

There’s simply too much competition for you to be able to grow and maintain your business unprofessionally.

Take notice of the interactions you have with folks as you grow, and who stands out to you the most as who YOU want to work with, recommend, etc. I am betting it is the people who are the most professional.

Be patient.

Last, but not least, in order to have a successful blog, you need to be patient (and resilient). It just takes time — period. You need a lot of content. You need a lot of eyeballs. And all of that requires time and gaining trust, in addition to doing things the right way.

Like any business, you need to also overcome all kinds of hurdles that pop up.

It’s really, really hard to do this when you are working extremely hard and not making that much money, if anything at all. That’s why many, if not most, bloggers burn out.

To succeed, you need to make it past the burnout phase. This simply is not one of those things that happen quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to become a successful blogger?

Yes. It generally takes several years and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to start and grow a blog that consistently generates revenue. Bloggers need to master several different disciplines to learn the best practices and implement them, and they also need a lot of content in order for their income to become sustainable.

How can I be a successful blogger?

To be a successful blogger, learn as much as you can about the best practices of starting and growing a blog, and then implement them consistently for a period of several years.

How long does it take to start making money as a blogger?

Many, if not most, beginner bloggers start making a profit in their second year of blogging. Even if they make money in their first year, the startup expenses generally outweigh their income. Blogging profits generally don’t become substantial or sustainable until at least year three.

How can I become a successful blogger fast?

To become a successful blogger as fast as possible, learn as much as you can about the best practices in blogging, implement them, and write a lot of quality content. Successful blogging requires a lot of quality content that is optimized for best practices. If you do these steps extremely well, you may be able to see some success in six to twelve months.


To sum this article up very briefly, if you want to become a successful blogger, my advice is to work hard and work smart, consistently, for a long time.

Interesting in learning more? Check out these blogging tips and tricks.

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