Blog Your Way into the Writing Business
By Daisy McCarty
Are you trying to break into the writing business without doing a bunch of free work? Blogging can be an excellent place to start. Monetizing your personal blog may be one way to create recurring revenue over the long term. But an easier way to start making money fast is by ghostwriting blogs for successful small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs).
Why Target These Clients?
SMBs are frequently late adopters of web marketing, especially if they’ve built their brand via word of mouth advertising over the past few decades. By this time, many companies have realized that they need to enhance their online presence if they want to remain competitive or take their company to the next level. They already know that a blog is a good way to do this. They simply don’t have the time or the skills to create excellent content on a consistent basis.
That’s where you come in. If you are willing to take the initiative, these clients will quickly come to rely on you as part of their team. As your clients discover they have a need for other types of written content (including high paying content such as case studies or white papers), you’ll be at the top of their list as a writer who knows their business inside and out. They will also refer you to their network, increasing your chances of landing more blog clients.
Focus on What Matters
New writers often have erroneous ideas about how to market themselves to business owners. Here are a few facts to keep in mind when you start approaching prospective clients.
If you focus on somewhat specialized content, your chances of landing well-paying blogging jobs will be higher, and competition will be lower. For example, companies in legal and technical fields tend to pay more for blog content than those in the food or fashion industries. The harder it is for a company to find a good writer, the more they will value your services.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a subject matter expert or an authority on your client’s industry to be their blogger. Your client is the expert. They are the face of their brand, giving it credibility. For marketing purposes, it’s usually best for the company’s blog not to be published under your name. Your job is to write creative and engaging material that gives your client a voice. It’s a good idea to put together a brief questionnaire to help your client clarify exactly how they want to present their company. This shows the client that you know how to ask the right questions to get their message across.
Build a portfolio of blog articles in advance so you always have one or two relevant work samples to show prospective clients in your target industries. You can create an online portfolio on a site like Behance or on your own website to display these work samples. The pieces don’t have to be published in a prestigious venue. In fact, most business owners aren’t particularly impressed by credentials and bylines. You do need to demonstrate that you can do accurate research and that you understand what makes their customers tick so you can write effective content. When you pitch these clients, suggest a few blog topics that might interest their readers.
How Do You Negotiate Blogging Projects?
The scope of work (SOW) can vary a lot from one blogging job to the next. Often, your clients will not know what they want and you can suggest a “package deal”. However, it’s always important to clarify exactly what’s included so neither party makes any assumptions.
- What is the approximate desired word count for each post?
- What is the schedule for posting and who will be uploading the content to the client’s blog?
- Will you need to write meta-descriptions and do other formatting?
- Will you be asked to incorporate on-page SEO? (The client should supply the keywords for you to use unless you are also an SEO consultant)
- Is a round of revisions expected for each blog post? (Offering 1 free revision on the first two blog posts you write can help you offer an affordable price while keeping requests for changes under control)
- Does the client want you to find images for each post? (This can take a lot of extra time, and misunderstandings about licensing can lead to copyright issues for your client)
- Does the client want you to post guest blogs on other sites? (This kind of service is hard to price effectively since you can put in a lot of hours contacting blog owners without getting a response)
These are just some of the areas to cover when you are negotiating an agreement. Be prepared to adjust your pricing when you will be taking on tasks that require extra effort on your part. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time doing administrative work instead of getting paid to write.
Extra Success Tip
If you land a blogging job with one business client, look for additional clients in the same industry. When you write for multiple clients with similar needs, you can research a topic once and then write several original blog posts based on your research. Always offer a project-based or per-post price rather than an hourly rate. That way, you’ll automatically make more money as you become more efficient.
Daisy McCarty is a self-educated writer and co-founder of Freelance Text, a professional services firm that specializes in web content creation. Since transitioning out of a seven year career in Corporate Procurement in 2008, Daisy has been using her negotiating skills to navigate to the higher levels of the online writing industry. Today, she mentors informally at Professional Freelancers Network, and offers formal one-on-one consulting services to freelancers who are ready to increase their income.