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Six Defining Moments of a ProBlogger

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of February 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

There are defining moments in everyone’s lives that often get looked back on as times that determined how things eventually played out.

My reader question for today is to ask for you stories of defining blogging moments.

  • What are the most important decisions and discoveries that you’ve made as a blogger?
  • What realizations did you have that shaped your blog (for good or bad)?
  • What circumstances do you now look back on things that changed your blog’s course?

Let me look back on six of my own blogging ‘defining moments’:

1. Discovering my first Blog

In 2002 after an email with a link from a mate I arrived on a site called Tall Skinny Kiwi. At the time I was about to plant a new church and was wanting to connect with others who were exploring emerging ways of doing Christian Community. Tall Skinny Kiwi did just this and it hooked me in as I saw hundreds of others from around the world discussing the very thoughts I was having here in Melbourne. That first experience of a blog showed me how powerful the medium was at giving individuals voices and helping them to form communities around particular topics. I started my first blog that very day. I often wonder how different my life would be today if instead of following that link from a friend I’d deleted the email.

2. Mistakenly Starting My first Commercial Blog

My first commercial blog was a complete accident. My wife and I were about to embark on a tip to Morocco, Spain and Portugal back in 2003 and on the spur of the moment I decided to buy myself my digital camera to help capture the trip. I wanted to share my images from the trip so just before we left I started a photoblog so that my friends and family could follow our progress – here’s one of those first posts. I also published a short review of my digital camera. On returning from our trip I discovered that no one had viewed my images (not a single person) but that the review of my camera had been read by hundreds. A light went on in my mind as I began to wonder how a blog with hundreds of digital camera reviews (and links to reviews) as well as other digital camera news would go. I transitioned the blog into one that covered digital camera news and reviews. This ‘accidental’ beginning led to me starting a blog that for a year or two grew into a full time venture. These days I don’t blog much on it and it’s earnings are much lower but the experience shaped my future blogging ventures.

3. Discovering AdSense

Around the same time as I accidentally started my first commercial blog I came across a system that enabled web masters to make money from people clicking on ads on their sites – AdSense. At the time I had not even considered that blogs could make money – I was more than happy to do it for the love and treated it purely as a hobby. However on discovering AdSense I thought that I’d give it a go and see if I could earn enough to pay my ISP costs and perhaps even my blog’s hosting. A few days later I’d earned my first few dollars from AdSense and had begun to dream about how I could build more sites that might one day buy me that laptop computer that I’d been eyeing off. AdSense has now earned me in excess of $400,000. It virtually paid off our first mortgage – I wonder what would have happened if I’d never experimented with it that first day.

4. Discovering Chitika

The 2nd biggest income earner for me in blogging has been Chitika. I look back on my journey with them over the last 2-3 years and almost take them for granted and think of them as always having been there – however it all started with one of the Chitika team leaving a comment on one of my posts. I don’t even remember what the comment was – but the person was one of the management team at Chitika and they invited me to test their ad network. Now I get a lot of these types of comments and can’t respond to them all but on this day I did and I’m very glad for that as Chitika has generated over $300,000 in income in the last 3 years. It’s another of those ‘moments’ that I look back on and shake my head with relief!

5. Starting ProBlogger

ProBlogger started in September of 2004. Before this time I had been blogging in a fairly general way on many topics on my original blog. On that blog I covered everything from spirituality, to culture, to photography to blogging. Actually the topic of blogging and exploring ways to make money from blogging had become a bigger and bigger focus to the point that some readers who were not interested in the topic started to complain. I began a separate blog on blogging on a subdomain of that blog and when I did I started to see it get good traffic and began to see the sense in investing in a standalone domain. The name ProBlogger was something I got on a whim. I’d not heard anyone use the term before but it seemed to ‘fit’ with a hunch of what I was seeing myself become. The .com name was gone (and wasn’t being used) but the .net version was available so I snapped it up. Little did I know that the term ‘Pro Blogger’ would become used to describe bloggers making a living from blogging – I certainly didn’t think it’d be anything more than my blog’s name. Starting ProBlogger was one of the best things I’ve ever done – it opened up wonderful networks of friends and business partners, has led to opportunities to start new ventures, write books and other resources and travel the world speaking about blogging.

6. Revealing My Income

Another related ‘defining moment’ from the early days of ProBlogger was revealing my income from blogging. After blogging on the blog for a few months as well as expanding my other blogs I had the realization one day that I was on track to earn over $100,000 (six figures) in a year. I didn’t really tell anyone about it at first (well not anyone except for my wife) but after a while I mentioned it in an interview on another blog. I didn’t really think about it or have too many ulterior motives for doing so – but it turned out to be a move that had some really positive impacts. It got picked up by a few other bloggers and I was asked a lot of questions about it. There was also quite a bit of anger around it too as at that time blogging was seen by many as something that was not about money at all. I followed it up with a post on ProBlogger explaining more and that post got picked up by Slashdot and sent more traffic than I’d ever seen in a day before. In many ways this ‘launched’ ProBlogger to a new level of readership. Yes it caused a few headaches with the controversy but it also brought a level of credibility for me as an authority on the topic of making money from blogs.

OK – so they are six of my ‘defining moments’ as a blogger (listed in the order that they happened). What defining moments have you had?

  • What are the most important decisions and discoveries that you’ve made as a blogger?
  • What realizations did you have that shaped your blog (for good or bad)?
  • What circumstances do you now look back on things that changed your blog’s course?
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Blogging is not a defining moment. Finding out about blogging is not a defining moment. There are some many other more significant moments we experince every day. Sure it may help the socially dormant enthusiast let of some steam, or make some internet friends, but i wouldnt call it a defining moment. Here is an article which takes about defining moments in business. Now these are real moments:


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