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Why Bloggers Should Also Be Freelance Writers

This guest post is by Ali Hale of DailyWritingTips.com.

Blogging can feel like a long, hard road—especially when you’re starting out. You haven’t hit 100 subscribers, let alone 1,000, and it feels like you’re writing into a vacuum.

And even when you’re a little way down that blogging road, it can still be tough. You might be spending two or three hours a day on blogging—writing content, answering comments, building up friendships on Twitter and Facebook. Chances are, you’re not making much money from it, though.

I’m not going to suggest that you give up. I’m not going to suggest that you work harder, either, pouring more and more hours into your blog.

Instead, I’m going to suggest something which you might never have considered before: becoming a freelance writer as well as being a blogger.

This might sound like a huge step. But really, you just need two key things:

  • the ability to write well
  • some contacts who’re willing to pay you.

These might well be challenges—but they’re not insurmountable hurdles.

Prerequisite #1: Being able to write

You certainly don’t have to be a budding Shakespeare in order to write a competent, professional blog post—but you do need a strong grasp of grammar, and the ability to write engagingly.

There are certainly a few sites out there which will pay you for sloppy, lazy content—but the rate of pay will be abysmal. If you’re going to write for a good, reputable blog, your writing needs to be solid. That doesn’t mean flawless (even professional authors have copy-editors) but you should know:

  • how to construct an engaging blog post, with a gripping introduction, clear message, and strong conclusion
  • how to format your posts for easy readability, using subheadings, short paragraphs, bold text, and bullet pointed lists
  • how to adapt your writing style for different purposes—some blogs will want a much more casual approach than others.

I firmly believe that writing is a skill. It comes more easily to some of us than to others, but everyone can learn and improve. (Reading the posts here on ProBlogger is a great start.)

Prerequisite #2: Contacts who can pay you

You might not have many contacts yet, but if you’re thinking about freelancing, you’ll want to start getting to know editors of big blogs and websites. Sure, plenty of jobs are advertised (you may well have taken a look at ProBlogger’s own job boards), but most higher-paid positions never get publically advertised.

If you feel a bit intimidated by the idea of networking with editors and blog owners, take the pressure off. Believe it or not, big bloggers are human too! I’ve met several of my blogging heroes—like Darren Rowse and Daniel Scocco—and they’re lovely, friendly, normal people.

A great way to strike up contact is by using Twitter or Facebook to send a friendly message letting an editor know how much you enjoyed a recent post. Don’t be smarmy or fake about this—focus on blogs which you personally love.

My first few blogging jobs all came from sending in guest posts. A well-written, targeted guest post is a great way to get an editor’s attention. It proves that you can write, and that you know their audience. (And even if you don’t land a paying job as a result, you’ll still get some traffic to your own blog, plus great exposure.)

You’ve probably got your hands pretty full with just your own blog. You might think it’s not worth taking the time to improve your writing ability, or to build up your contacts.

But here’s why you might want to think again.

You’ll make money (fast)

Of course, money isn’t everything, but if you’re in the problogging game, chances are that you’d like to see some financial reward for your hard slog. Problem is, you can’t attract big advertisers and you don’t have any products to sell yet.

If you write a piece as a freelancer—whether that’s for a blog, a magazine, or a newspaper—then you get paid. For a typical freelance blog post, you’ll receive around $40–$60.

Doesn’t that sound a lot more efficient than watching the pennies trickle into your AdSense account?

The money from your freelance writing might let you quit your day job, so you can put more time into your own blog or other projects (that’s how it worked for me). Or, if you keep your freelancing as a job on the side, it’ll at least let you afford hosting, premium themes, and training materials for your own blog.

You’ll build your blogging network

When you’re Joe Newbie in the blogosphere, you’re probably used to big bloggers ignoring you. It’s not personal—they just don’t have the time to reply to every single comment and tweet.

But when you’re a freelance writer, your editor will definitely know your name. In fact, they’ll probably get to know you while you’re building up your freelancing contacts—perhaps you’ll have been a regular commenter on their blog, or you’ll have sent them a couple of guest posts, before landing that paid gig.

Plus, when you’re regularly having work published on large blogs or websites, other big bloggers will start paying attention to you, too. Instead of trying to get attention to your own blog, you’ll be able to leverage an existing audience—quite possibly one of tens of thousands of readers. And you’ll be getting paid to do it.

Even if you only freelance for a few months, you’ll have made contacts which you can maintain throughout your blogging career.

You’ll get audience feedback

When you publish a post on your own blog, how many comments do you get?

It’s probably not as many as you’d like. Maybe most of your posts seem to sink like pebbles dropped into an ocean—no-one ever sees them, and they don’t make any ripples.

If you write for a blog that’s big enough to pay writers, you’ll get feedback. That might be:

  • comments from readers who loved the post
  • comments from readers who hated the post—this can be tough to take, but it can also teach you what doesn’t go down so well
  • tweets about your post, or Facebook “likes” for it
  • indirect feedback from the editor—if bits of your post were edited, try to work out why the changes were made
  • direct feedback from the editor—they may tell you to do more of the same, or they may ask for something different next time
  • emails from readers—there’s nothing better than a heartfelt message from someone who was really touched by your writing.

As a writer, you need to get feedback on your work: this is how you know what’s going well, and what’s in need of improvement.

You can write about anything you want

This might seem like an odd reason to freelance—but it’s one of the reasons I love it: you get to write on a whole range of topics, and you can often choose exactly what you write about.

If you find it hard to stick with one interest—perhaps your own blog is suffering because you post about several diverse topics—then freelance writing will give you an outlet. You might be writing one post every week or every month, so you won’t run out of things to say.

Plus, writing about lots of different topics is a great way to stay fresh and to continually hone your writing skills. You might end up researching an area that you knew very little about—or writing for an audience of people who have a very different background from yours. Getting out of your writing comfort zone is an essential part of your growth.

I know that the problogging dream is to have your own huge, successful blog with hundreds of thousands of readers, a line of products, some great advertisers and lots of affiliate income. The truth is, though, that it takes an awful lot of time and hard work to get to that stage. So while you’re working your way up, why not give freelance writing a try?

Have you done freelance writing? Share your experiences in the comments—I’d love to hear about them.

Ali Hale is a writer, blogger and writing coach. You can read more from her on DailyWritingTips.com, where she also offers a course for those who want to get started with freelance writing.

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  1. This post rung true to me as this is exactly my plan! Blogging to become writer essentially. Thanks for the tips!

    • You are already a writer if you blog, but of course yes it could lead to a professional career in writing.

      This post is excellent for people who consider themselves either, especially the ability to write about anything that was mentioned, sometimes you can feel a little tied down to the topic of your blog.

    • I agree. This post is very timely for me, as I’ve been approached to write freelance work. Some I am not getting paid, only exposure, but others I AM getting paid.

      Yeeha!! :-) my Aussie Dad blog is doing well enough for me not to go sourcing work outside my blog that people come to me. But it’s posts like this and progblogger that help me get to where I am.

      I will definitely have to find the time to check out the jobs board.. cheers for the post!

      – tork

  2. Nice work. If you have no job at all, the 5 years starting up can be too much for some people!. It’s a good idea to freelance write. I would recommend going freelance in year 3 of your site launch. Some have done it in quicker time than that, but that’s my opinion.

    All the best Ali,

    David Edwards

  3. I have done a very little bit of freelancing (only two articles) and I actually applied for another job just last night.
    I would love to have my blog be wildly successful, but what I’m really aiming for is being able to work from home so I can be with my kids, and do it while doing something I love. I’m willing to do that however I can.

    I’ know you said that guest posting can lead to freelance work, but I don’t quite understand how. If major blogs have people lining up to guest post for free, what is the advantage to a major blog to pay me to write for them?

    Thanks for the great post! :)

  4. I write because I enjoy it and I don’t really care if I got paid or not. However, if I did become a freelance writer it would certainly be much better than my current job.

  5. Nice Post. Looks like a cuctomised post for me considering that I started blogging only recently. Thanks for all the ideas

  6. I have looked into freelancing in the past, but really recently I discovered that I can be a freelance blogger which I kind of enjoy the idea of a lot more. Jon Morrow talks a lot about the powers of guest posting and getting your name out there, but I’m having a difficult time finding these sorts of jobs. I’ll keep looking through, I love blogging and it would be amazing to do it as freelance!

  7. I found this really interesting. I am new to blogging – being on a journey with cancer has given me time and a topic! I may be new to blogging but I’m not new to writing or communicating. All my previous writing has been either in a voluntary capacity or professionally as a teacher. I am currently collaborating with an author to provide case studies for a book.
    It had not occurred to me that freelance writing on the Net could be an option. My treatment means I’m not up to writing much one week in three, but not having deadlines would make freelance writing an option. This has excited me at a time when I have felt that doors were closing for me. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to new horizons.

  8. This is something that I am considering. Although I do have day job (from home, on internet also). I would find myself as a better blogger if I would be earning money from it and getting better at it, with audience feedback from the get go.

    I am certainly going to give it a thought, maybe even try. Thanks for a friendly reminder, that I am not only about tech work.

  9. It’s definitely a perfect fit. Bloggers are writers, and your blog plus guest posts is the perfect portfolio! Once you’ve built up your authority in your niche and as a writer, you’re all set!

  10. Hi Ali,

    Great! I took your advice already and started to offer freelance writing service since two months ago. I must say I am enjoying a lot of benefits apart from the extra cash, of course. Especially the reader responses and social sharings are a great boost to watch as a freelance writer.

    Sure blogging and being a freelance writer goes hand in hand, perfect. One helps the other both in terms of skill and money.


  11. Was a freelance writer before I got into blogging… one leads to the other today in a circular fashion I think.

    Most of my freelancing is now for my own blogs and coaching clients plus ghostwriting books. I guest post occasionally, and accept guest posts… it’s the community aspects of blogging that are the most fun and rewarding I think – money is nice too of course.

  12. I haven’t done any freelance writing yet, although I would love to start. Thanks for the informative article!

  13. This is a great list. All have been true for my own experience as a blogger/freelance writer.

    I’d like to add a few things I’ve learned too:

    1. Editors who provide feedback have taught me so much about how to effectively write a good article/blog post. I now write better leads and delete content that doesn’t fit.

    2. Writing for a website as a freelance writer helps me think more about how I write and arrange information since I’m not as close to the content. If I’m writing about how to find a good welding school for one of my clients, I’m thinking a lot harder about developing good research skills, how to incorporate quotes, and how to effectively introduce and conclude the post.

  14. I am the exact person you are talking about in this post (less than 100 subscribers, just starting out).

    I was actually looking into freelance writing just yesterday as a way to start generating my income from the internet, however, I find it difficult to actually find big blogs that pay a decent amount for a guest post.

    As Amy said above me, how does a free guest post turn into a freelance job? You mean just getting recognized as a writer and that gives you some creditability?

    I am going to look further into freelancing so I can quit one of my jobs (I work A LOT) and spend more time on working on my online business. I really think this is the outlet I need to get started.

    Great post Ali! You have definitely persuaded me to give freelancing a shot.



  15. Hello!

    I am definitely interested in freelance writing, but have decided to take some time to build my blog (content, readers, etc.) to increase my chances of landing a paying freelance writing gig. If anyone knows of any sites that list freelance writing jobs, I would greatly appreciate the information. I would like to do some research first as to what the expectations and qualifications are for these types of jobs.

    Thanks, Kendra

  16. Do you think it would be worth while to go into a local newspaper to start networking? Or do you think sticking to the online game would make more sense?

  17. Great article! I am a blogger, but I started writing freelance BEFORE I really became a blogger. I had learned a lot about writing and blogging, and it helped when I decided to have my own blogs.

    Personally, I was mid-way between what you describe: peanuts and about $50/article. I’ve never really written for a magazine or newspaper, but I know I can so this post is motivating :)

    For the very beginners, freelancing sites like Elance or oDesk aren’t bad. It helps to get a base, make some contacts and earn. Plus, it is an easier process than looking to build relationships directly with bloggers although perhaps writing directly for bloggers has many more advantages as you pointed out.

    All in all, great post! :)

  18. I almost totally agree. Certainly it’s better to write about stuff on which we are involved as a hobby, for example.

  19. How exactly do you make the move from Guest Poster to Freelance Writer for a bigger blog? Have these offers come from them to you or did you approach to be paid?

  20. I think we bloggers love writing but the main problem is finding a good freelance writing job. Many companies asked for a resume, and i tried to convince them that my blog itself is my resume and they won’t simply understand. As a result i got so frustrated i never looked for freelance writing jobs again. But after reading this article i think i will hunt some cool freelance writing jobs. Your help will be much appreciated.

  21. nicely written article. I am also writing for 2 blogs as of now. Both are tech blogs. 1 post a day makes my day. But as i am a newbie, my pay per post is very less. I am planned to write for any one big or medium blog. Waiting for the moment.


  22. Personally, I do freelance writing for eBizAfrica Review; the editor reads my blog and communicated to me about the job on twitter :-) now I hustle freelance deals

  23. I think freelancing is a natural step for a blogger to make. I’ve done a few posts for another site and I want to expand and write for other sites as well. I think that if you enjoy writing and/or want to get better (paid) doing it, then freelancing presents great opportunities to do so.

  24. Very nice post! Blogging requires a lot of hard work and effort to truly get noticed. What a great resource for bloggers and a great strategic approach. Thanks for sharing!

  25. I consider myself a writer first and a blogger second. Blogging is a very specific type of prose more akin to copywriting. As Ali mentions, if you have wide interests and you want to become a skillful writer, it’s best to branch out!

  26. I just started thinking about this too. I post monthly updates of my blog stats and income and I want to make June “guest post month,” like a little case study on how effective guest posting is for me. But the other day I came across a site that I wanted to guest post for and saw that they offered payed jobs- so I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and get paid to do what I was going to do anyway. So I’ll be looking for more opportunities like this- it seems like a great idea to build readership for your own blog.

    Here are my monthly updates if you’d like to take a look:

  27. Archan Mehta says: 05/27/2011 at 5:39 am


    I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for contributing this guest post. Terrific work.

    It would be interesting if you could give out details about how exactly you made the transition from guest poster to staff blogger, that is, provided you feel comfortable doing this.

    A lof of readers have been wondering about how you managed to earn money from your writing gigs.
    Did you approach the bloggers? Did the bloggers approach you? How did you work it out?

    Also, do tell us about your copywriting gigs and webwriting gigs and freelance work for newspapers and magazines. Give us the juicy details. How did you overcome challenges of being a blogger and freelancer? I am sure a lot of us around here would like to know. Your commentators are a curious bunch.


  28. I have followed Steven Aitchison for a while, from Change Your Thoughts blog. He advertised himself as a freelance writer, and I always wondered why: Now I know! Your comment about slogging and slogging for an Adsense trickle rang true for me as well :) That, in itself, is a good reason to write for others :)

  29. I blog for fun and to educate clients. However if I could be paid for it it would be a great opportunity and I would jump at it as a supplement to my family income. In the meantime I will keep my day job and do it just for fun and education.

  30. I’ve been blogging for several years now about home beer brewing and I get your point about the adsense pennies dribbling in and posts dropping like pebbles. What is the sound of one hand clapping? So, I went off the reservation and submitted an article to a magazine that shares the subject matter of my blogging and they accepted the piece and payed me real money (I think it was $75). Wow, this got my juices flowing, now I’m constantly looking for the next opportunity. Thanks for a great post.
    Beer Diary…

  31. Hi Ali,
    I am going to do some guest-posting this week. After I get my feet wet writing for other people’s blog I will do some freelance work. This sounds like a great way to earn some income from writing and gain some experience.

  32. This post came at the right time for me. In the short time I’ve been blogging I’ve had bettter than average success, but even though I’m averaging about 2,000 hits a day–I’m making pennies from adsense.

    I was thinking about finding some freelance jobs. That way I can earn some money and still work on my blog. I’d do side jobs until my site is making some real money. I think I’ll start looking tomorrow, thanks!

  33. I currently work as a marketing freelancer. Primarily, I write content for websites, emails, press releases, video scripts, and collateral. It would be great to add blogs to that list. That could be a valuable add-on service for some of my clients. Great advice Ali!

  34. This is very good advice. It can start off slow and shaky at first, but it’s all worth it once you get in to it!

  35. I agree with everything, except for the last point – You can write what you want. This is not strictly true. Most employers will have specific requests pertaining to what they want and how they want you to write. It’s not really as flexible as it might appear.

  36. Sometimes writing commissions find you. I’ve just been commissioned to write a book about insect illustration. I was found by the commissioning editor through my blog. It was there to be found on google or maybe by a recommendation.

  37. This is a well-thought through post with great information for freelancers. Regarding using guest blogging as a launching pad – even the busiest, biggest and most popular blogs want more content. By adding some market related affiliate marketing to the site, you can really increase your earnings too.

  38. nice topic – but for non english speaker like me, it seems to work harder to make a well written article …
    btw thank for posting this :)

  39. so here is the deal,

    you write a cool post on your blog, which mean more traffic to your blog (you put your blog more important than your self branding), -> your blog became more credible,

    or write cool post on other blog which mean you make a value for your self first,

    well that just my opinion

  40. Great post! This is actually what I have been doing, and I have wondered if it was a mistake to be spending time freelancing rather than solely working on my blog. It is always nice to have a little reassurance that one is on the right path.

    Checked out your site too, and lots of great info there. I would have loved to share the site on Twitter (or even Facebook) but did not see a button to do so. Let me know when you do. :-)

  41. MyBlogGuest.com has a section for paid guest blogging services. Also for those interested, Demand Media and Associated Content still pay for articles… Everyone hates content farms, but there’s no harm trying to change them from the inside.

    • How would one go about changing them from the inside?

    • Brandon,

      How would one change them from the inside? I’ve not worked with them, but I have heard that everybody hates them. :) Just curious.

  42. Fantastic post! It’s very sound advice and found that many of the instances applied to me.

    I started blogging 6 years ago to little or no subscribers/comments. But I continued on doing it because I enjoyed it. Jobs started trickling in slowly and now I’m managing bloggers. It’s my dream job and never a million years would I think that I would get an opportunity like this.

  43. I think us bloggers tend to be fairly selfish and want to control our content and what we write and not feel as if we are answering to anybody else. I can see the attraction of writing on other sites for money but I’m not sure it is in a Bloggers mindset to do it for too long TBH

  44. Freelancing can be a great idea, IF, you have the time for it.

    Many of us are strapped for time. While we do part time blogging, we cant find enough time to write a great blog post, comment on other blogs or build blogging connections.

    So I am not sure how one can find time for freelanmce writing, hooking up with clients etc.

    Maybe you can divide days in a week to accomodate blogging, freelancing, and marketing on different days.

  45. Still trying to break into the freelance business. I have enjoyed producing the articles that I have done for magazines. Just trying to figure out how to freelance, novel-write, and blog while tweeting and trying to drum up likes on FB. Time to prioritize! Thanks for this post and spurring me back into the mood for freelancing!

  46. I’m a ghostwriter turned blogger which has been kind of a weird transition. I think having the freedom to write whatever you want on your own blog, without any official deadlines, no one but yourself to answer too has been challenging. Having the discipline to write consistently and build a platform requires so much discipline, and the ability to socialize, kinda hard for an introvert, but the pay off is grand! It’s an amazing feeling when someone leaves a comment of appreciation, or saying they can relate to so and so…

  47. Freelancing is good if you have the time. I think most people blogging today are no where near the point of quitting their day jobs and living off of blogging income alone. Great article though. I know a couple of stay at home moms that do make a decent extra incoming from freelancing and writing articles for others.

  48. Blogging for me is a start for on online version of my business. I have this whole plan and then my business as an insurance broker (service, service, service) completely hogs my time! I want to make blogging a bigger part of my business, but no one ever commments on my blog. I guess I have to be patient.

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