I’m excited that you’re reading this.
Why? Because it means you’re interested in freelance blogging, which is the best way I know to start making money online.
Freelance blogging enabled me to quit my job, and ultimately served as the catalyst for everything my online business has become. These days I run a blogging agency (which grew naturally from my freelance blogging career), but it all began with no qualifications, no experience and a few long-shot pitches.
That’s all well and good, but what about the all important question: How do you get started? That is the question I intend to answer in this post, by telling you exactly what I would do if I was starting again from scratch.
What I Would Do if I Had to Start Again
Although I didn’t know it when I was first starting out, there’s a simple formula to succeeding as a freelance blogger:
- Become a good blogger
- Demonstrate the quality of your work
- Find paying clients
It is all too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of freelancing, but in reality, there are just a few key things you need to nail.
Let me show you how I would achieve each of the above three steps.
How to Become a Good Blogger
When it comes to writing and blogging, a paradox exists.
You can be a good writer and a bad blogger, and similarly, a “bad” writer (by many people’s standards) but a good blogger.
You can take advantage of this paradox. If you’re a good writer, you could be a great blogger by studying and absorbing the simple rules of effective blogging (something that a lot of “good” writers ignore). Meanwhile, if you’re not the world’s greatest writer, you could make the most of your talents by adhering to those same rules.
If I were starting from scratch, the first thing I would do is figure out those rules. My first port of call would be the Yahoo! Style Guide, which I consider to be the definitive resource for online writing. As a freelance blogger, it was my bible, and I use it to this day as a reference.
If you’re looking for a quick start guide, check out my post on the most common blog writing errors I come across on a regular basis. Those are the rules that I would look to follow first.
Once I had an idea of how I should blog, I would start practicing; I’d launch my own blog. As for subject matter, I would pick a topic that I wanted to write about. If I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, I would grab a myname.com domain and start writing about anything and everything that came to mind.
Writing something is better than writing nothing, and the simple act of blogging would improve my skills, regardless of the subject matter.
I’ve said it more times than I can count but I’ll say it again: If you want to be a successful freelance blogger, you must have a blog. It should go without saying; after all, what client in their right mind would want to hire a blogger to blog for them if they didn’t have their own blog?
How to Demonstrate the Quality of Your Work
Next on my to-do list would be paid guest posting opportunities. After all, we’re in this to get paid, right?
There are a huge number of paid guest posting opportunities out there. While I’m a little reluctant to plug my own product, at this stage I would grab myself a Paid to Blog Jobs subscription. We’ve currently got around 70 paid guest posting opportunities published on the site, with many more to come (another 70+ in the next few days).
At $30 or less per month, I could make my monthly subscription back with one paid guest post.
Once I had my subscription, I would read through the guest posting pitching guide, so that I knew exactly how to pitch successfully. Then I’d go through the list of paid guest posting opportunities, pitching any opportunities that I felt I could do a decent job on. I wouldn’t be too picky; after all, any experience at this stage would be invaluable.
Freelance blogging is nothing but a numbers game, so if I sent enough pitches, I would get a number of positive responses. My next task would then of course be to write and submit the guest posts, from which I would receive two things:
- A byline
When it comes to pitching for jobs, guest posts are invaluable for demonstrating that other bloggers have seen fit to publish your content. Nothing beats that kind of seal of approval; especially if you can get a relatively high profile blog to publish your article.
I’d follow up with each blogger, asking for a testimonial to include on my own blog.
Once I was done with my guest posting campaign, I would aim to have at least five published guest posts, $250+ in my pocket and three or more testimonials (your results may of course vary).
At this point it would be time to use my guest posts, along with my own blog posts, to pitch for ongoing jobs.
How to Find Paying Clients
But before I started pitching clients, I’d need to get my own blog sorted out. Most importantly, I’d need a ‘Hire Me’ page (like mine here on Leaving Work Behind).
I’ve got a comprehensive section devoted to putting together a great Hire Me page in my Paid to Blog course, but I also have a blog post on the topic if you want to keep your money in your pocket. That should give you a good amount of information with which you could put together a solid Hire Me page.
At this point I would be in a position to pitch clients. Not only would I have my own blog, I’d also have a Hire Me page complete with varied samples and multiple testimonials.
So I would return to Paid to Blog Jobs, read through the blogging jobs pitching guide, and start checking out the latest job opportunities. To get started I would browse through any opportunities in the past 1-2 weeks and pitch anything with promise. At this stage I wouldn’t worry about topics; I’d be casting my net wide to see what I could catch.
Nor would I worry about perceived expertise; I’d leave it up to the prospective client to decide whether I was right for the job or not.
I’d come back to the site every day and pitch any new opportunities. Again, I’d remind myself that freelance blogging is a numbers game. At this stage, if I had learned the blogging craft well enough and had good quality samples published on other sites as well as my own, landing jobs would take nothing more than time and persistence.
If I wasn’t sure about the quality of my pitches (or wasn’t getting a positive response), I’d use PBJ’s Pitch Review Service to get personal feedback from…me. That’s a bit of a paradox, isn’t it?
I’d like to think that I’d have clients in no time at all. The pay might not be superb, but I would have my foot in the door.
Before I went any further, I’d check that I wasn’t committing any of these fatal freelance blogging mistakes. One thing I learned as a freelance blogger is that a client isn’t just looking for someone who writes good blog posts; they’re looking for someone who acts professionally and is easy to deal with. They want a solution, not a problem.
When I started freelance blogging I made around $20 per hour. From there I maxed out at $161 per hour as a freelance blogger, then moved onto make in excess of $400 per hour with my blogging agency.
All that took about two years. Your growth can be quick if you have the right attitude.
I would continue to procure new clients, secure bylines across multiple sites, and keep working on my own blog. In time this would lead to prospective clients coming to me; the kind of clients who would be happy to pay me far more than $20 per hour for my trouble.
At this point, if I hadn’t already I would read through my guide to setting and negotiating freelance rates. If I had an excess of low-paying clients I would attempt to negotiate raises across the board. I might lose a client or two with this approach, but my overall pay might actually increase (as I would be getting paid more per article). Then it’d simply be a case of rinsing and repeating as my rate increased.
That’s it folks! You might argue that I’ve made it sound easy, but that’s because it can be if you let it. With the right guidance, good writing skills and the necessary dedication, you can succeed as a freelance blogger. I’ve outlined the process above; all you need to do is execute it.
Please leave any comments or questions below and I’ll get back to you!
Photo Credit: orse