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How to blog for a living

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DENVER -- What if you could work from home, be your own boss and make more money? It sounds far fetched, but more Coloradans are making it a reality as bloggers.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For Ashley McLaughlin, though, her pictures are worth a lot more than that.

“I made a kale and cabbage shredded salad and I roasted delicate squash,” she said as she arranged the dish in front of her camera.

McLaughlin is a trained architect. She moved to Colorado with her husband a few years ago and couldn’t find work.

“I was looking for a job full time and just blogging to stay busy and avoid boredom,” she said.

She turned her hobby into a website called Edible Perspective, where she blogs about healthy food and photography. The page gets up to 400,000 views per month, which is enough to make a living.

“It’s completely different from anything I ever thought I’d be doing,” McLaughlin said of being her own boss. “It is everything from amazing to scary to like crying meltdowns not knowing what to do.”

She makes most of her money as a freelance photographer, a business that grew out of her blog. She never took Edible Perspective to full-time status, even though she could have.

Fellow foodie Barb Kiebel took the leap of faith and began blogging full time in 2014. Before that, she designed websites. The first one she designed was a recipe site, which inspired her to create her blog Creative Culinary. She began working on it eight years ago as a part-time gig.

“Somehow it’s just grown and I decided a couple years ago to sell my business and just do this full time,” Kiebel said.

She gave some insider tips for anyone considering switching to a blogging career. First, pick a topic and set up a website. Kiebel suggests WordPress as it is considered the industry standard.

Then, begin to write posts regularly and share them on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Once you gain enough followers, you can partner with companies or join ad groups who will pay you to advertise on your site.

“You have to have a lot of traffic to have it really start to add up, but I get paid a certain amount for each person that comes to my blog,” Kiebel said.

The more page views you can generate, the more you’ll get paid. Bloggers can make anywhere from $50 to $1 million or more per year depending on how much traffic their site gets.

Most importantly, Kiebel suggests treating the blog as a business instead of as a hobby. If you have children, enroll them in a day care. If you are not good at keeping track of money, get an accountant.

“Have a business plan and get some financing and a decent website built,” she said. "All the things that you have to do to run a successful business.”

While blogging for a living does have some pretty good perks, it is also a lot of work. Kiebel’s typical work day includes developing recipes, shopping for ingredients, photographing the food, editing the photos, writing the blog post and then promoting it on social media sites.

“I spend easily 50, 60 hours a week,” she said.

Bloggers usually work weekends, whether it is answering emails or setting up content for the next post. It is also nearly impossible for them to take vacations for the first few years because there is no one to cover for their absence.

If the blog doesn’t produce content regularly, it will begin to lose followers. Once a blog is established, older content that had fewer views can be recycled for new readers, allowing bloggers to take some time off.

Blogging also does not make a lot of money at first.

“I put a lot of time in before I really turned it into something that was able to pay a bill. One bill. Much less all the bills,” Kiebel said.

Both bloggers agree, any aspiring bloggers should start slow and write part-time while growing their site. It is not a good idea to quit your job and jump right in to blogging. While it is a leap of faith, it is possible to quit your nine to five job and do what you love instead.