Blogging is now a legitimate career option for millions of people around the world who want to do something different with their life.
But, as with any non-traditional work, you have to be prepared for the fact that people won’t understand, and some people will down right try to talk you out of it.
This can be particularly hard when it’s a family member you’re trying to support financially.
In this article I want to take little look at my own experiences dealing with this tricky issue in the hope that it might help someone out there who is just getting started.
Is blogging a legitimate career?
I want to start this post by stating something really clearly: blogging is absolutely a legitimate career option.
I’m not saying that bloggers are as useful to society as a nurse or a doctor or an environmental scientist, but in some cases bloggers can have an even larger impact that those people due to the sheer numbers that a blog can reach.
So what makes something a “career” anyway?
I guess it’s a job or pursuit that can provide financial security, or stimulates you creatively, and leads to opportunities for future growth or expansion.
Blogging can do all of that.
No, we don’t get degrees and practice as professionals, but neither do a lot of business people or entrepreneurs and those careers are usually seen as admirable.
Given the fact that many college degrees are obsolete by the time that they are completed, one has to wonder why there is so much opposition to people seeking new and different career options in a rapidly changing world.
My own experience in this area
If you read my little two-part series on how I made my first dollar online you’ll know that part of the story involved dropping out of University because I had sold my first blog.
While my family was very proud of my little mini-achievement, they were also really not on board with the idea of me leaving school to pursue something that was totally new to both myself and the world at large.
It caused a little bit of tension.
But, they also knew that I was very unhappy at uni and had been “lost” for a few years, and I think they knew that some change was needed. So, in that respect, they encouraged me to try some something but to keep the degree on the table for the future.
I think they always thought I’d go back…
Why family members get scared
I guess it’s important to note here that not all family member’s are going to care what you do for a job as long as it’s warm and there’s a comfortable seat…
But seriously, whether you want to be a professional blogger or just run some other online business or entrepreneurial activity, it’s important to think carefully about what might make a family member scared.
In my experience listening to friends and observing my own situation it normally comes down to a few things:
- It’s too spontaneous
If you are making a snap decision to change your career that can be really worrying to a loved one. Change is hard for almost all human beings, and if you’ve got bills to pay and a family to support, this type of thing can really shake things up and leave people feeling isolated.
- It’s untested
The thing about any new business is that, most of the time, it is completely untested and comes with a lot of risk. You have to invest time, money and energy into the project and the uncertainty around the outcomes can be a cause for a lot of worry.
- It’s unfamiliar
If you tell a family member that you want to go to school to become a doctor they know there will be a period of study, internships, and then a stable employment. But with blogging or online business they might not even know what many of the terms mean!
If you’re aware of these things it might help you to understand why a family member might not be seem very supportive of the path you’re thinking about taking.
How to ‘pitch’ your new career
More importantly, once we think about these things we can come up with some strategies for how to educate them (and ourselves!) so that we communicate our plans carefully and bring important stakeholders (wife/husband/parents) in on the discussions so that they get the say that they deserve.
Here’s some thing that have helped me over the years:
- Make a specific time to chat
Try not to just talk about the whole thing in parts over weeks when you’re cooking dinner. Request a specific time to go for coffee, sit down and discuss your ideas, plans and thoughts. Make sure you spend a lot of time listening.
- Get them involved
The next thing is to make sure that those around you have an opportunity to become involved. This is more important for your husband/wife than your parents, but make sure they know that you’d like their input, skills, etc. Even if it’s just picking out a desk.
- Be deliberate
I’ve noticed that my partner gets nervous when I flip flop around different ideas. While she knows that a lot of the good stuff comes from experimenting, she also knows that those risks should be deliberate calculated ones.
- Don’t waste time
Early on in my career I spent a lot of time doing things I shouldn’t be because I was working from home and setting my own hours. This lack of discipline can really worry those around you if they feel that you’re not putting in 100% at a time when they’re supporting you with this risk. This is especially true if they are working to support you.
- Share your wins and losses
If your career stays a mystery then it’s likely that it’ll stay a source of confusion for those around you. It’s important to share all the little wins that you have, but it can also be really helpful to talk about the losses and what you’re struggling with because it helps to show people that it’s just like any other job.
The great thing about all of this is that it will actually help you to run a better blog because you’ll have to plan, think carefully about each step and then follow through with hard work.
It can be easy to forget that this stuff that we do online is not “normal” for everyone. Make sure you exercise a lot of patience with those just getting used to the idea.
How did your family react?
Did your family understand your choice to pursue a career as a blogger? I’d really love to hear from someone out who has some good solutions that might be useful for someone reading. Please leave a comment.
Top photo © Daniel Villeneuve