Freelance blogging … aka the best way to make money blogging if you’ve failed to make money blogging in any other way. Even though this might sound like a catchphrase, I am not joking nor am I trying to find a clever way to get you interested in reading the rest of this post. I do actually believe (100%) that freelance blogging is THE new opportunity to tackle if you’re only brave enough to get your hands dirty.
But let’s get this broken down step by step. (Disclaimer. The advice here was actually tested on humans … on myself to be precise.)
What is freelance blogging
In short, freelance blogging is very much like freelance writing, but the “product” which you, as the freelancer, are selling isn’t the writing itself; it’s the engagement and popularity that your writing is going to achieve on your client’s site/blog and ultimately, the sales it’s going to generate.
Granted, you aren’t actually making money from your own blog; you’re monetizing your presence on someone else’s blog. But if you ask me, this is as in tune with the concept of making money blogging as it can be. Onwards then!
The rise of freelance blogging
There aren’t any stats available on freelance blogging specifically, or maybe I just wasn’t able to find them, but there are quite a lot on blogging and freelancing separately, and they do tell an interesting story. The most mind boggling thing I came across was the result of a study conducted by the company Intuit called the Intuit 2020 Report. What it says is that by 2020, more than 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers. Again, that’s a staggering 40%.
Furthermore, various other stats indicate that blogging as a business and marketing method is working for almost any company that tries it.
To be more exact:
- Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.
- 92% of companies that blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog.
- B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those who do not.
- 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
- 33% of B2B companies use blogs.
- 81% of companies consider their blogs “useful,” “important,” or “critical.”
In short, blogging matters for business. And it matters a lot.
If you combine the two together (the rise of blogging and the rise of freelancing), you have freelance blogging. Such services are indeed in demand because the problem that every company that wants to start a blog faces is that they will need a skilled professional to pull the project off. They basically have two ways of “obtaining” such a professional: (1) hire a new employee and train them to become a pro, or (2) find someone who’s skilled now and work with them on a contract-based agreement. As you’d expect, the latter is a much quicker and usually more effective as well.
So how to get in and reach for your piece of the pie?
Forget about job boards
My apologies to every job board owner reading this…
Job boards are great for some types of jobs or gigs. They are not that great, unfortunately, for most freelance blogging projects. I mean, sure, there are many gigs with “blogger needed” in the title, but most of them sit in the range of $5-%15 per post, which is not something that will turn into a nice full-time income. And yes, sometimes you can find some high paying gigs, but the minute the gig is published, it’s going to be flooded with offers from other freelancers. So, you are very unlikely to win it.
Two paths to get leads
Just like with any other business, you can either have clients coming to you, or you can go to them. For me, both paths turn out to work equally as good, but the trick is to make things very obvious, which I’m just about to explain.
So the first step is this:
1. Turn your blog into a hub
Your own blog is your business card. I can only imagine it would be really hard to get any freelance blogging client without having a blog of your own.
Apart from standard things you’d have on a blog (like posts and pages), create a customized “hire me” page where you can explain your offer, showcase your portfolio, and point out any other important detail that can help a prospective client make up their mind.
2. Build a portfolio of posts published on business sites
Guest posting is still very popular these days. And that’s despite the fact that many people are afraid that guest bloggers might be next on Google’s hit list. But not any ol’ guest post will help you get freelance blogging clients. I’d advise focusing on getting your articles published on company/business blogs, rather than standard blogs that are run without any business backing them.
Then, include those posts in your portfolio and showcase them on your blog. That way, when a prospective client encounters your “hire me” page, they can see that you have a track record of posts on other company sites. The fact that you didn’t get paid for those isn’t really important. What matters is that you had your content featured somewhere significant.
3. Capitalize on your bio box
Bio boxes under guest posts tend to get quite dull, but you can still use this space to indicate that you are a freelancer. And that’s even if the post is totally unrelated to anything you do professionally.
Here’s the thing. Even though 90% or so of people might never read your bio box, the ones who are really impressed with your writing style will. This is a perfect opportunity to use the magic words indicating that you are a “freelance blogger.” I can honestly say that I’ve gotten at least a couple of clients that way so far.
And the best thing is that it doesn’t even matter where you’re linking to from such a bio box. As long as there is “freelance blogger” somewhere in the bio, the client will find a way to contact you.
4. Capitalize on the bio box on your own blog
I guess the blogosphere is somewhat split in half on self-bio-boxes (published on a blogger’s own blog). Some bloggers use them, while others don’t, and it’s hard to get any specific reason why from either party. Anyway, this concept used to work for me. I had click tracking set up so whenever someone clicked a link in my self-bio-box, I could see it in my analytics script. (Link it to your “hire me” or “about” page, by the way.)
I say that it used to work for me because I completely forgot about this when I changed my blog theme a while ago. (Embarrassed; I do have to bring it back ASAP).
5. Capitalize on new blogging portals/tools
In general, all these sites are focused around blogging and guest blogging in one way or the other. What it all comes down to is that you can go to any of those sites and find blog owners interested in having some quality content published on their sites.
There are various ways of using these platforms and they depend on the individual platform in question. Let me give you an example on how to conduct a little research on MyBlogGuest (MBG). The site itself is a community of guest bloggers. It’s a place where site owners and bloggers meet to submit, bid on, and accept various posts for publication.
Now, what you can do is go to MBG, browse through the Articles Gallery in any category and look for patterns. Take a close look at a handful of articles and see what sites the authors link to from their bio boxes. If a given site is linked to from a number of articles then the site owner is likely paying a content marketer to get those articles rolled out. With this data, you can go ahead and reach out to some of these site owners with your counteroffer.
The above method is something you can also do on sites you find through Google. Do some sniffing around, find what guest bloggers are linking to, and then reach out to those sites with your offer.
6. Become the go-to local guy
Going back to the stats:
Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. I’m sure there are many small businesses in your area. They are all your potential clients. That’s simply because not everyone searches for help online. Some business owners still rely more on recommendations from their friends or search for reputable local professionals through more traditional channels. After all, if your washing machine breaks down, you’re not likely to search for a professional 200 miles away, right? So, building a go-to local guy status is something that always pays off and it can even help you evolve in the long run.
In my opinion, the best way of achieving such a status is through free work. You can offer free services to whoever might be interested in them. But make the services simple one-off tasks as opposed to full-blown blogging campaigns. The idea is to get on many people’s radar, so when the right time comes, they know exactly who to recommend.
7. Partner with your peers
This one is simple. Partner with consultants who handle a slightly different kind of work than you do… People like SEO consultants, WordPress developers, designers, and so on.
Since they do a lot of work themselves, every now and then, they will probably have a project for you that’s outside of their comfort zone. Of course, you should reciprocate and point people towards them too whenever you have the chance.
8. Service your leads properly
Sometimes, the easiest way to lose a sale is when you already think you’ve got it. What I’m trying to say is that you actually don’t have a client until there’s a signature on the contract or money in your bank account.
From my point of view, the process of getting leads is about creativity and being seen as an attractive person to work with (business-wise). But converting those leads to clients is pure science. It’s about being professional to the beat and making it possible for the client to make their decision as seamlessly as possible. Since it’s the 21st century, you can use a tool like Bidsketch to achieve this professional feel. In short, Bidsketch is a client proposal software – it helps you design, prepare and send out proposals. Then, it also lets your clients sign them electronically.
The secret is to craft your proposal to hit all of the right buttons with your client. For instance: list the benefits of working with you, provide various payment options, mention the data security and backing up systems you’re using, even provide a guarantee. The more you do that’s in tune with the traditional dogma of salesmanship, the better. For more help, you can also check out what Greg Ciotti has to say about freelance marketing (here).
This guide has actually gotten really “extended”. I hope you’re not mad, but I did want to mention all the things that have worked for me, and which I believe will work for you as well. I guess the next step is to take action and prepare your personal freelance blogging campaign. Feel free to let me know what you think about the idea, and as always, every question is welcome.