I started out blogging in 2000 before most of us were calling it blogging. It was a form of web content but we contributors were in charge of bringing in traffic to our “online columns” and encouraging community participation. As you may have guessed, this planted the seed for a successful blogging career.
There are two reasons I enjoy blogging so much. The first is that I can be myself. I don't have to follow a strict A.P. Format or certain professional guidelines. Of course, I have to know something about writing and use proper sentence structure and grammar. Generally, I blog like I talk, and folks seem to enjoy it.
The second reason I enjoy blogging is because it gives me the chance to communicate with like-minded people. As my community grows so does the intensity level of our discussion topics. It was my love of people and blogging that led to my seeking (and successfully landing) a Community Manager position.
Freelance Blogging is easy and fun, but if taken seriously can also become a lucrative career choice. Now that more and more businesses are looking to have an online presence, blogging and social media jobs will abound. Don't believe me? Do a search on Indeed or another job search engine for “Blogger” , “Commuity Manager,” or “Social Media Expert” and tell me what you find. Go ahead, we'll wait...
Convinced? Let's get you started.
First of all, blogging isn't just another work at home or make money online job. While some bloggers do very well for themselves, thank you very much, the truth is, blogging isn't a get rich quick scheme. Blogging takes time – months to years – to pay off. If you're entering into blogging thinking you'll have John Chow or Darren Rowse's income level in 30 day's time, you might as well just find something else to do. Blogging is a huge time investment, even if you're freelancing. With that in mind, let's discuss getting started as a freelance blogger.
Skills Needed to Blog:
Writing Skills – Yes, you need to know how to spell and form a sentence, but you should also draw people in with your words and keep them interested until the end of your blog post. Brevity is key. The long-winded need not apply.
People Skills – The difference between blogging and other forms of online content is the interaction between the blogger and the reader. Bloggers are encouraged to build up a community and keep folks engaged in discussion.
Social Media Skills – Since most bloggers are expected to bring in traffic, you'll need to be able to rock the social networks. Bloggers need to be able to visit other communities and convince folks to drink your Kool-Aid.
Traffic Building Skills – Yep. The dreaded SEO. Know it. Embrace it. Love it. Just don't get too obvious with it, if you know what I mean.
Communication Skills – Goes hand in hand with people and writing skills (that's three hands actually), and the brevity thing too. Blogger have to be able to effectively get their point across in 300 to 1000 words.
So you do have the skills? Fine, let's move on to pay. There's really no standard for blog pay rates yet, so it's up to each individual blogger to make sure payment is equal to work. Here are some typical scenarios.
Glory – Believe it or not, some misguided folks want to convince you that it's a privilege to work for for free. It's not. You're not going to make a name for yourself blogging for nothing for Joe No-Name. If you're going to take a glory gig, make sure it's truly offering you something for your time. Is it for a prestigious non-profit or charity that will look good on your resume? Go for it. Is it for someone who gets about 20 visitors a day? Pass!
Rev Shares – Revenue shares , where your client offers you a portion of the advertising revenue, are almost as bad as glory gigs. After all, how much revenue do you think a blog receiving 100 hits a week will generate? Before agreeing to a rev share, have your client drop some digits. Find out how much traffic his website receives and also how much revenue is coming in. If it's a brand new site, payment won't be immediate and you should pass.
Base Pay – A base pay is ideal. Many blog networks and clients will pay an agreed upon fee at the end of the month. Say $500 for five to ten posts per week. Some places pay more and some pay less. Some pay a lot less. Do the math and don't allow yourself to be paid the equivalent of pennies or even a couple of dollars a post.
Pay Per Post – Many networks and businesses pay by the post. Payment ranges from the low and insulting ($1) to very desirable ($100 plus). If you're being paid by the post be sure it's a livable wage.
Base + Bonuses - My favorite scenario. An agreed upon base pay plus bonuses for traffic and other good deeds. Many networks pay a certain amount per 1,000 page views on top of the base. Again, before agreeing to this scenario be sure the payment is a livable wage and also, there is enough traffic to justify the bonus. If you're getting a small base and an even smaller bonus, it may not be worth it.
If you're going to blog for a living, be sure the ends justify the means. Don't apply for blogging gigs simply for the sake of working at home. Rather than accept a low paying job, you're probably better off starting your own blog from scratch and keeping everything you earn in revenue. Weigh the amount of work, including research, promotion and community management vs. the pay and see what you come up with. If it's a bum deal, pass.
Ok. So obviously the brevity thing isn't working for this post. There's no way I could do a Blogging 101 post and keep it short though. If I had more time and space I'd talk to you about the importance of building traffic and community, where to find freelance blogging jobs and the types of blogging jobs available. The most important things to remember are:
It takes time to build up a readership and community and your employer should be realistic and not expect miracles. Most brand new blogs don't receive hundreds, let alone thousands, of visitors in the first month. Don't promise something you can't deliver, and don't let an employer have unrealistic expectations.
Don't work for pennies. Blogging is a lot more than writing a post. Make sure your pay equals the work put in.
Be passionate about your topic. Without passion there's no way you can write about the same topic all day, every day.
Enjoy what you do, otherwise why do it?
Deborah Ng is a freelance writer and professional blogger who built Freelance Writing Jobs as a labor of love in 2005. Originally a place for work at home moms to gather and discuss available opportunities, FWJ is now the number online community for freelance writers. Deborah also is co- owner and blogger of Kommein, a resource for Community Managers and community builders.
In addition to her blogging for herself, Deb’s past clients include Oxygen Media, About.com, b5Media and others.
To Deb, the best part of blogging is growing and interacting with the community. This passion for people shines through at Deb’s job as full time Community Manager for the online social radio community BlogTalkRadio.
To talk to Deb about guest blogging, consulting, or to just say “hey” give her a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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