This guest post is by Valerie Khoo from www.ValerieKhoo.com
This article is the first of a three-part series on how to build your brand through your blog and get paid for your creative output and expertise.
You love being a blogger. But you’re not that interested in spending time driving traffic to your site so you can charge big dollars for advertising or sponsorship. You just love writing—and would like to find a way to get paid for your words.
While early blogging models focused on monetization of the actual blog, this series of posts focuses on how to use your blog to monetize you. After all, your blog can be the best form of advertising—a place to showcase your writing skills and expertise so that you can make money from them.
If you’ve discovered that you love writing, it’s worthwhile exploring the world of freelance writing. And I’m not talking about writing for content mills, where the rate of pay is very low. I mean freelance writing for mainstream publications (like Wired, Fast Company or marie claire).
When you write for magazines or newspapers (online or in print), as opposed to blog networks that might pay per view, it’s typically not your responsibility to also build your audience. For people who simply love the craft of writing, this takes the pressure off having to create headlines with tantalising teases, or pack your posts with lots of SEO-friendly keywords.
So how do you add “paid freelance writer” to your bio?
Hang out your shingle
Have you actually made it clear on your blog that you’re available for freelance writing gigs? Is it on your bio or business card?
If not, how are people going to know?
Let’s take the bio on your blog. While it might feature witticisms like “Husband, father and photography enthusiast; loves pepperoni pizzas and single malt whiskey”, this doesn’t give any clues that you actually want to write.
I spoke about this at a blogging conference last year and it was a lightbulb moment for one blogger who had been trying to get into freelance writing. Already an excellent writer, her blog showcased her writing skills but her bio didn’t mentioned anything about the fact she was available for freelance work.
She added this to her bio, started telling people about it and, within a month, she was offered a freelance writing project. In addition to blogging, she’s been earning income for freelance writing work regular ever since.
Define your expertise and showcase your writing
If you want to write articles on gadgets/craft/food/whatever, make sure that your blog reflects those topics. You want an editor to land on your blog and immediately get a sense of your area of expertise.
However, if you don’t want to be confined to posts about gadgets/craft/food/whatever (because you also can’t resist blogging about how cute your cat is), then at least make it easy for potential editors to find your “professional” posts.
Use category tabs and feature them in your bio or in a prominent place on your blog. You might even consider a tab called “My best writing.”
Editors often don’t have time to trawl through the last three years of your blog to find the posts which really showcase your talents. They’re busy, so help them out and maximise your chance of getting hired by handing your best writing to them on a silver platter.
Create specific ideas for specific markets
Now that you’ve tweaked your blog to best position yourself as a freelance writer (and let’s face it, this isn’t hard … you just need to feature your best stuff so that an editor doesn’t have to dig around for it), it’s time to get some paid work.
When you approach editor about contributing articles as a freelancer, here’s what works and what doesn’t.
Bad: “Hi, I’m a freelance writer. I was wondering what kind of topics you cover? Feel free to give me a call if you have an article ideas you’d like me to write. You can check out my writing on my blog.”
Good: “Hi, I’m a freelance writer. I was wondering if you might be interested in this idea for an article.
“I know that your publication really appeals to women over 30 who are coming to terms with their first few years of motherhood. So would you be interested in an article about how women can maintain links with the corporate world while they’re on maternity leave so that they can re-enter the workforce without falling behind? I’ve include four links to posts on my blog where you can see samples of my writing.”
In other words:
1. Know the market
Show that you’ve read and analysed the publication and know what topics the readers may be interested in. If you make it clear to an editor that you’ve never read their publication before approaching them, don’t expect a response; the editor has already hit Delete.
2. Don’t wait for the editor to give you ideas for article
Editors often rely on good freelancers to provide ideas for articles. If you don’t provide a specific idea then you are, by default, expecting the editor to do the work for you. So you’ll go in the “too hard” basket in favour of someone who provides an article idea that they know the readers will lap up.
3. Make it easy for editors to see you’re a great writer
We talked about this in the second point above. Editors are bombarded with pitches from freelance writers every day. Cut through the clutter by leading editors directly to your best work.
Your brand, your writing
If your blog has ignited a love for writing—but you don’t want to turn it into a monetization machine—freelance writing is a great way to get paid for your words.
Have you landed any freelance writing gigs through your blog? How did you build your brand to make that happen? Share your story in the comments.
And check back tomorrow for part 2 in the series, building your brand to get a book deal.
Valerie Khoo is founder of www.SydneyWritersCentre.com.au which offers online courses in magazine writing. She blogs at www.ValerieKhoo.com and is author of the new book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. www.PowerStoriesBook.com.