Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Beginner's Guide to Freelance Blogging

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.

Blogging Pay

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,, 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
FOR LOVE AND MONEY DAY 5Anyone who comments all six days will be entered into a drawing for a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.


Susanne said...

Can't believe I'm the first one here.

Good thing I brought some organic free trade rain forest blend coffee and doughnuts!

Blogging sounds like an interesting addition to a busy writers portfolio, BUT ...

Is it difficult to avoid spending too much writing-for-conventional-markets time blogging?

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Deb! I find this fascinating. I never knew anyone was paid to blog (unless they were journalists or others with claims to fame),until our very own Seeker Tina told us about her experiences doing it.

Walt Mussell said...

Blogging is definitely a time comitment, but sometimes the comments fr0m worldwide are worth it.

Maria Zannini said...

Thank you for explaining this business in plain English, Deb. I've always thought blogging for pay as way beyond my (social) expertise.

Any tips on how to bring in traffic to new blogs?


Tina M. Russo said...

Good morning,Seekerville and welcome Deb.

This is the final day of For Love and Money!!! And we are ending with a jam packed post.

Boy I wish I'd had this info long ago.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thank you Susanne for bringing coffee.

Deb, besides your great blog..where I got my first paid blogging gig...where else do you recommend our readers check for blogging jobs?

Ann said...

This has been a very helpful week. I got my Woman's World and True Romance copies bought and considered some of the other ideas.

New goal: to send *something* out every month.

Deb Ng said...

Hi all. Let me try and respond to you all before I run some Saturday morning errands. First of all, thanks for letting me write for you - I'm more than happy to come by and follow up with any questions you may have.

@Susanne, I'll take the coffee but Nustrisystem says ix-nay on the oughnuts -day. Can you spend so much time blogging, you neglect other things? Yes. Blogging is a huge time commitment. However, for a professional blogger (like me) it can also replace conventional markets. It depends on what you want to get from it.

@Glynna - Lots of people are paid to blog. Not only for content sites and networks, but big businesses are hiring bloggers too.

@Maria - Lots of tips for bringing in traffic - visit other blogs and comment, but not in a spammy way. Get involved in the social networks, go to meetups and conferences and get involved in online communities. There are so many resources online now that can help guide you in the right traffic building direction!

Hi Tina, there are lots of great places. ProBlogger has a job board, Performancing has a former,, Craigslist, the Indeed job search engine and so many others. Do a search for "freelance blogging jobs" and you'll be amazed at the results.

@Anne - Goals are good and yours is very doable. Good luck to you, and good luck to everyone!

@Walt - I live for comments!

Julie Lessman said...

Dear Deb,

First of all, let me just say that my respect level is through the roof for anyone who LIKES blogging and is successful at it. I am in awe of people like you because just the thought of writing a daily blog gives me cold chills. But I know that in today's computer-dependant world, blogging is a reality and a must, and never have I seen the details of it laid out so nicely. Your article is so good, that it almost tempts me to blog. Almost. :)

Thanks for your valuable insight!

Bookie said...

This was great information for me as I am just beginning to delve into reading blogs. I had avoided them as I thought they were time consuming and derailed me from my track.

Recently went to a writer's group (25 years in existence)because I thought I needed writing support,a less lonely writing life; I thought I was spending too much time at computer. I was disappointed to see they were less informative than the blogs I had been visiting. I realized that I had also made "friends" online that were important to me too.

This column has been fantastic. However, I do not know the term SEO.

Myra Johnson said...

So glad to have you in Seekerville, Deb! I'm with Julie, though--can't imagine coming up with new blog content several days a week. My personal blog has kind of fallen by the wayside.

On the other hand, I've come to realize the value of group blogs (like our very own Seekerville). It's amazing how word has spread, and with 15 of us (plus all our fabulous guests) to pool our knowledge and experience, we never seem to lack for discussion topics.

Thanks again for sharing this very helpful info!

Cathy S. said...


What an informative post.

Would you mind explaining a little about Blog Radio, what it is and its purpose?

Also, for about nine months I've been a community blogger on personal finance for a medium-sized city newspaper owned by Gannett. Only an average of 400 people come by per month.

With the economy as it is, is this a popular topic right now and what is a plan of action I could take to become a paid blogger? Or are these numbers similar to book sales and I'm a failure before I
start ? :(

I'm also beginning to get some workshop opportunities to help beginning writers (I write nonfiction). Are we flooded with too many writing blogs or would that be better since it ties in to my workshops?

Thanks for any thoughts you can give on this.


Mary Connealy said...

I went over to Deb's sites, really interesting stuff. If you haven't clicked on those links, do it.

I guess I can see getting hired to blog for a business but I don't quite get how a person ramps up viewers on their own blog. It's just HARD. Hard to come up with something ... often ... that's worth asking others to read.

Thankfully, with Seekerville, we can blog once a month, plus subbing for each other. I can't imagine doing this myself.

I think we could use a post for every one of your sub-topics, Deb.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Deb. Thanks for the informative post on freelance blogging.

I'd like to increase traffic to my personal blog, which is geared to readers, but I struggle to come up with topics. I hadn't thought that visiting other blogs and leaving comments would drive traffic to mine. Great point! Thanks!


Linda Cacaci said...


Thanks for the helpful info. I had not thought of blogging as an opportunity to make money.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by this week. It has been quite an exciting week. I am motivated to get lots of submissions out there.

Linda Cacaci

Vince said...

Hi Deb:

I’ve always thought Blogging could be a good way to sell products but I have not thought about it paying for itself. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks.

If blogging is like marketing in general, then a key to success would be to “provide a package of benefits -- to a target audience -- so that the value received is greater than the cost of acquisition.”


Patty Wysong said...

Deb, thanks for the post--it's informative and puts a new spin on things. I love blogging, so this is something to keep in mind. Thanks!

Tina M. Russo said...

Deb, can you give us a couple pointers on SEO?

And thanks for the link info on blog jobs!!!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Deb, thanks for the very informative post.

Just over a year ago, I went to a writing workshop where Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward spoke on the business of writing. She said if we planned to get pubbed some day, we should have our website and blog in place prior to pub'n because once your book hits the shelves, people are going to start looking for you and you want to be available.

I took her advice to heart and started my own blog a few weeks later.

Within 2 months, I'd started a blog for our church - just to keep mbrs informed of what was coming up or what they'd missed. We only have about 50 in our congregation yet over this 1st year on-line, we've rec'd over 3000 hits from all over the world. I just wish they'd leave comments!

I've enjoyed blogging so much that I've now started a writing blog with 4 friends from my local writing group. We each take 1 day a week. Not only have I already been able to talk about my pre-pubbed books, but the blog itself will be another venue for our group - the Sask Romance Writers to promote our We Dare You contest which some of you Seekers might already be familiar with.

Deb, you're so right that blogging takes time. That is the only downfall to my blogging's taking time away from my actual fiction writing.

Audra Harders said...

Wecome to Seekerville, Deb! What an informative blog on blogging!

I'm with everyone else when it comes to thinking up topics to engage folks to come back for more. Writing in general is not for the faint of heart, or those that think their first attempt is going to finance that new BMW. Blogging takes a certain personality and you certainly have to stick with it.

Seekerville is a blessing in the responsibility of keeping it going and interesting is up to 15 of us. I don't know when, if ever, I'll invest the time and talent in promoting my own blog as much.

Thanks for the generous tips and suggested websites to visit. That's where I'm going now : )

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I've been wondering how to break into freelance blogging. Thanks for the info.

I'd also like to know how to increase blog traffic. My blog is 8months old, but the traffic levels are still too low for my taste.


Susan :)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Yikes, I can't imagine getting paid to blog. Definitely a new concept for me. I'm not too ambitious with my own blog (obviously).

CatW said...

What a great post! This is a subject I knew little about before, and now feel like I'd like to explore.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It's truly appreciated.

Tina M. Russo said...

Deb, thanks so much for being with us.

Tomorrow we draw for the Amazon gift card and we'll share what's coming up in Seekerville.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Deb, What an interesting blog and so informative. We definitely are living in a new world from the one I grew up in. I'm always amazed at what comes up next.

You really gave us good info and tips on how to promote our blogs and raise traffic. Seekerville has been such a great learning experience for me and I'm sure others as well. I'm just impressed that I can even say I blog. LOL

Tina this week has been really interesting. I forgot about all of the other venues for writing. I myself write children's books as another venue for making money. Now I know how to set up a blog to promote those books. Thanks Deb and Tina.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks, Deb! I've been a frequent visitor to your Freelance Writing Jobs blog for a while. I'm always amazed at the variety of possitions that are available. You also provide tons of great information. It was a real pleasure getting to read your post today.

Kwana said...

Another great interview! Thanks so much for this series.

Danica/Dream said...

Interesting. Another way to make money I didn't know about. I always figured the "make money blogging" thing was like those letters from those guys in Nigeria... too good to be true. Nice to know there is a way to make it work.

Pam Hillman said...

Great info Deb. Thanks for stopping by.

Did anybody stick the donuts in the fridge? I'll nuke one in the micowave for 10 seconds and it'll be good as ever!

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