7 Lessons from a Full Time Freelance Blogger
I am almost exclusively greeted with bemusement whenever I tell someone what I do for a living. It is something that I have gotten used to over time. “A freelance blogger? Can you even make money doing that?”
In fairness, if someone had told me that they were a freelance blogger 12 months ago, I would have probably reacted with similar bemusement. It is only recently that I have come to realize how lucrative freelance blogging can be. I am earning an equivalent of $100 per hour for some of my work.
It has been a big learning curve though – at the beginning of 2011 I barely even knew what a blog was. I’ve come a long way since then, and have gradually become aware of a few key things that have led me to where I am.
Now I want to share them with you!
1. Have a Blog
I haven’t sought out any work since last November, because people come to me asking if I can work for them. All of my recent clients have approached me my via my blog.
If you take a look at the blog, you will see that it barely screams “hire me”. On the contrary – there is a “Hire Me” link in the navigation bar, and that is it.
I blog in part about helping people to become freelance writers – i.e., I write for others like me, ï»¿notï»¿ prospective clients. And yet I still receive enquiries. If you build a blog specifically for your target clients, you should be able to fare far better than I do.
Stop wasting your time on job boards trying to find clients that may or not may not be interested in your services. When a client reaches out to you, you are already in a position of strength.
2. Get Bylines
Prospective clients often approach me having found my blog through a byline on a client’s blog. The logic is simple – if someone is looking for a blogger, likes your writing, and see that you are available to hire, they will probably contact you.
So whenever appropriate, you should get a byline. If a client initially balks at the idea, suggest that it can actually be of benefit to the blog, in showing that a recognized blogger is writing for them.
Bylines are of course not always appropriate – for instance, if you are ghost writing, or writing on a topic in which you have no real expertise.
3. Consider Intangible Benefits
How much you get paid should not be the only consideration when deciding whether or not to take on work. I still work with certain clients who pay me way under my “peak” hourly rate, because of the associated intangible benefits. These include:
- Authority – it is good to be seen as a writer for an authoritative blog.
- Traffic – certain blogs send my own blog a healthy amount of traffic.
- Potential – could the work lead to bigger and better things?
- Security – could the work be a long term source of secure income?
Such intangible benefits can help you to better rationalize the offer, and make a decision accordingly.
4. Never Price by the Hour
Here’s a little slice of freelance blogging 101 – never price work by the hour.
Instead, become faster at doing your work than everyone else, then charge the same per post or project. If you can write a 500 word article in 30 minutes and someone will pay you $50 for it, your equivalent hourly rate is $100.
The client is happy to pay $50 for a quality article – how long it took you to write it is irrelevant.
5. Type Fast
I’ve been using computers since the age of five, and naturally learned to type pretty fast (around 90 words per minute). I don’t touch type in a particularly beautiful manner, but it gets the job done.
But I digress. The point is, the faster you can type, the faster you can write blog posts. It may sound trivial, but it really isn’t. If you are interested in writing for a living, learning to type faster is effectively a business investment.
6. Write Fast
For the purpose of this article, there is a difference between typing fast and writing fast. Writing fast is about taking a blog post from its inception, to completion, in the quickest way possible.
Typically speaking, the better you plan a blog post, the more quickly you will write it. This may sound counter-productive, but how many times have you got to the middle a post only to forget the core issue you were trying to address, or how you were planning on addressing it?
Plotting a post out in bullet points allows you to address any potential issues before you waste too much time. Once you are done with the framework of the post, it is then just a case of fleshing out your bullet points.
7. Write What You Know About (or Charge More)
There is a common misconception that you must write about complicated topics (or that you need to be an “expert” on something) in order to earn good money as a freelance writer, but that is simply not the case.
It again comes down to speed. If you are knowledgeable on a topic, you can probably produce a related blog post in double quick time, which pushes your equivalent hourly rate up. On the other hand, if you are writing about a topic that you are not familiar with, it is likely to take you far longer.
Don’t fall into the common trap of charging the same rate across the board. Decide what hourly rate you would be comfortable with, consider each job on an individual basis, and charge accordingly.
Tom Ewer is a freelance blogger and the owner of Leaving Work Behind, a blog for anyone interested in quitting their job and building a better life for themselves. Join Tom on Facebook here!
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14 Responses to “7 Lessons from a Full Time Freelance Blogger”
I just going through your article and I found and much agree with your 3. Consider Intangible Benefits. you shared your experience and it can differ person to person.
If there was only an easy way to write faster… I know it’s the key to a lot, but sometimes not that easy. Thanks for the article, very helpful!
I have done some freelancing jobs in the past and I have found that writing about what you know is helpful… I was only making about $5 an hour because I was writing about medical topics I was clueless on.
Tom-Great post. I just visited your site. Now I’m jealous and feel bad for myself…lol!
Good stuff man! Keep it up and thanks.
Andi the Minion
Great tips here, speed typing is very much the key and a skill I need to learn. Writing fast again is important but sometimes the mind freezes so it is a good idea to have a piece of paper and a pen handy and plan out the article with some key points to help keep the juices flowing.
With Elance, Fiverr and Fourerr around can people still charge and earn $50 per 500 word article?
Hi all, thanks for your comments so far!
Andi – I’m afraid I don’t know how much people can charge from those sites, but $50 for 500 words seems like a lot.
I agree with the, ‘When a client reaches to you, you are in a position of greater strength’. It takes a lot of time to find good employers in job boards. Getting a byline from clients is a good idea, thanks for that suggestion.
Do you think you can continue charging the same price in future as well? What do you think about making money from your own blogs (vs) writing for others?
Hello Tom; I enjoyed the post. Struggling with what to charge is one of the hardest decisions a new entrepreneur has to make. And I have come to a similar conclusion. While i have a set percentage fee for selling an item on my site, I have given different rates for multiple listings, listings from prestigious companies, and for exclusive listings. But even five years in, i still wonder. I’m sure its even more of a problem for writers like yourself. Thanks and take care, max
‘Write What You Know About’ is great advice. I used to spend ages researching topics I had no idea about to be able to write blog posts on them. You do end up learning a lot of useful stuff as a freelance writer but sometimes it’s best to say no to clients who operate in an industry which you don’t understand or have no experience in.
I’m not sure what you mean by charging the same price in the future. Ideally, you should be able to increase your rate as your experience and portfolio increases.
As for making money from your own blog vs. freelance blogging – they’re two very different animals. The 1st is a long term play that can ultimately offer big rewards, the 2nd can offer an immediate income.
For me, the intangible benefits of freelance blogging would be far more valuable than being paid for the article itself. If I could get just one customer out of a $50 article that I wrote for someone else I would make much more money in the future.
Andi the Minion
Hi Tom, my sentiments exactly, with Fiverr and Fourerr they charge $5 and $4 to write articles, Elance is roughly the same, when you said in your ‘never price by the hour’ section about a 500 word article costing $50 I just wondered if it was still possible to charge that amount for a 500 word article. Can you get that amount for an article?
In short – yes, I do 🙂
These are good tips. Here are a few more.
Bylines do help, but you can still receive blogging opportunities without them. How? Write a couple of blog posts in your ‘niche’ area and post them on your writer website (create a website today if you don’t have one).
Guest blogging is another way to get bylines.
Writing fast is good, but you want to produce quality writing. If your posts don’t have any substance, they won’t take you far in your blogging career. For example, you may need to conduct interviews for ‘meatier’ blog posts. These can take time, especially when you schedule phone interviews.
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