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To Blog or Not to Blog: Blogging as a Career

To Blog or Not to Blog: Blogging as a Career

To Blog or Not to Blog
To Blog or Not to Blog

Blogging has been a widely known concept for quite some time now. While some may not know the technical ins and outs of how it works, many  have heard about blogging in pop culture.

Julie and Julia is a good example of this. It’s a movie that originated from a true life tale of Julie Powell, who set out to blog about her experiences cooking each of Julia Child’s 524 recipes from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just 365 days.

Her blog became so popular that she was offered a book and movie deal for her efforts, and she also published her second book. Her success isn’t common, but not everyone needs a book and movie deal to make a substantial profit from their blog!

Blogging Conceptsblog-49006_1280

Looking for “blog jobs” online is something many people do these days. They know they love to post on Facebook and they hate their current 8-5 job, so they think they’d love to get hired as an official blogger for a company.

It’s true that more and more companies are coming onboard as blog entities – because they understand the value of having a social media presence online, part of which is their blog audience (in addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, for example).

But you have to understand that when a company sets out to attract a blogger to represent their business online, they don’t want an amateur blogger. They want someone who understands the business side of blogging – because when you’re a blogger, you’re building a brand (or destroying it, in some unfortunate cases).

When you start looking at professional blogger-for-hire jobs, you’ll see that they want you to understand online marketing fully, they want you to deliver a certain number of blog posts per week (usually five), and sometimes want you to go out and find guest blogging opportunities where you can blog elsewhere and link back to their main blog.

It’s not a good career for someone who is new to blogging and thinks it “might be fun.” This is for seasoned professionals – and sometimes the company will even want to investigate to see what kind of current reach you have with your own content in the social media world.

If you’re already at a company that doesn’t have an online presence, then maybe you can make a suggestion that they allow you to head up that operation. This would give you a little experience so that you could then go out and brag about launching and generating a good buzz for your current company.

Choosing Blogging as a Career

Blogging as a Career

The do-it-yourself route is far more rewarding when it comes to blogging. It’s something you can do anytime – in the morning before work, on your lunch hour, after work and on the weekends.

Then when it becomes profitable, you can use it to replace your current income and begin blogging fulltime. When you choose this path, you have much more personal satisfaction in your blogging career.

Blogging is a real business when you start pursuing it for financial reasons. Yes, it gives you much in terms of happiness – but when you’re making money doing something you love, it’s very rewarding.

You have to treat this like a business from the very start. If you start blogging haphazardly, then your readers will recognize that it’s an amateur site. Yes, some will become fans anyway – but others want to know they’re following a leader in whatever niche you choose to blog about.

How do you pick a niche for your blog? Some blogs have a multitude of topics – from entertainment to fashion to business to health. You can do that, but unless you have a team of contributors, it’s hard to maintain the momentum needed for a broad blog like this.

A better option might be to narrow down your focus into something that you really love. It can still be broad – like a women’s health blog for example. But it’s not as narrow as “everything” or “health in general” (including both genders).

You can even drill down more and go with one form of women’s health, like menopause or pregnancy. You don’t even need to be an expert in it – it’s all about sharing information and as you learn, you can share!

One thing that’s important is that you make sure that you love whatever topic you’re blogging about. You should want to wake up every day, eager to get to your computer.

If you dread it because it bores you or it’s depressing, then you won’t help your readers and the blog won’t become profitable for you.

Aside from the overall slant, you get to choose what each individual entry on your blog is all about.  If you were blogging for another company, they might tell you what to blog about each day – even if you found it mundane.

You can set an entire editorial calendar for your blog where you choose which topics are presented to your readers. You also get to pick the tone for the blog pieces.

For example, let’s take the diet niche. You could be a fad and trend diet blogger who emphasizes fast weight loss – or someone who harps on the fact that weight loss should just be the adoption of better nutrition and exercise and the pounds should come off slowly.

Developing a Relationship with Your Readers

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Having a relationship with your readers mean they value your blog and they share the link to it with other people. You want that type of connection because as a professional, the traffic and branding that you gain will be priceless.

When blogs have a loyal readership, they enjoy a fantastic word of mouth traffic flow. While many bloggers are out there buying links back to their site and paying people to help them get traffic, you can do it all for free.

First, pick topics they want to know about. Part of your job in relationship building is to listen to your audience and meet their needs. There are many ways you can do this.

Do some preliminary keywords researches to find out what people want to know in your niche. Using the menopause example, you could go to UberSuggest.org and type in what is menopause.

This is known as a sentence starter – and it gives you some insight into what type of blog post you might want to do, such as:

  • What are menopause hot flashes like?
  • What are menopause symptoms caused by?
  • What are the best menopause vitamins?

A good keyword tool gives you help on what to blog about. But there’s more that you can do to find topics. You can look in forum threads and see what people are asking.

You can also simply invite your readers to submit questions to you. You can do this on your email auto responder opt in form, or have a special contact form on your blog where people can engage with you that way.

Whenever someone emails you with a question, you can assume there are more people out there who are wondering the same thing. Use those questions as fodder for your blog topics.

When you start blogging about all of these things, it makes the audience feel like you’ve really got your finger on the pulse of the marketplace – like you have great instincts.

Next, write in a highly conversational style and end each blog with an invitation to connect. People need to feel like you’re speaking just to them – even if you’re not.

If you write, make sure it’s conversational and not stuffy like you’d write for a professional publication. If you make a video blog, look right in the camera and be casual and relaxed, not stuffy and nervous.

When you end a blog post, you can ask a question or invite people to share their own $0.02 about the topic in the comments. Make sure that whatever comment system you’re using, it’s easy to find – because some are almost hidden.

Participate in the conversation that goes on in your blog comments. If people are kind enough to take you up on your invitation, then make an effort to have a dialogue with them.

Thank them for their comment, call them by name, and open up a discussion about what they had to say. You can use a plugin to help the comments become “threaded,” which helps all of your readers see who was responding to whom.

Supporting Yourself Financially With Blogging

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When you start blogging for profit, you should be consistent with your efforts. You should blog regularly – daily if possible, but at least several times a week. There are a few ways you can make money as a blogger.

Build a list from your blog so that whenever you have a new blog post, you can notify people about it. Also have an RSS system set up for people who use RSS feed readers to get notified of your new content.

Whenever you have a list, it gives you a certain amount of power – the power to instantly communicate with your target audience when you are selling or promoting products.

Because of this, you have to make sure that you don’t abuse that power by spamming their email with useless or irrelevant offers. If you do this, you build a reputation as a spammer.

Sell ad space for a certain amount of profits. You can arrange a specific area of your blog for ad space that people rent on a monthly basis, paying the ad revenue to you directly.

If you go this route, make sure you have specifics in place to control what kinds of ads can get placed on your blog – all the way down to the colors and animation of it if you want.

Sign up for AdSense, too. This can help you get clicks and revenue. You can put different sized ad banners on your blog, from buttons to skyscraper ads. You can include images or go with just text.

One thing you have to remember whenever you place any ads on your blog is that yes, it gives you some money when people leave your site for somewhere else – but in leaving, it also means someone else is capturing their name and email address and selling something to them, not you.

Promote tangible products as an affiliate. You can sign up as an Amazon Associate and promote anything they sell there that they offer a commission on.  Using our menopause example, if you promoted a chilled pillow, you could earn a percentage of each sale from your blog post.

Promote digital products as an affiliate. Digital products can be found at sites like ClickBank. You can sign up for free and get a hoplink (affiliate link) where you earn around 50% for each sale.

Create your own products and sell them from your blog. You don’t have to promote other people’s stuff. Why not create an info product (eBook, video or audio course) and teach something you blog about in more depth – or in a more comprehensive manner?

Offer services from your blog. Freelancing like writing, graphics, or other services can be offered right from your blog. Coaching is something you can offer. Many people pay top dollar for one on one coaching sessions via Skype or even email!

Blogging can be a very fun and very profitable venture if you approach it correctly. Don’t make the mistake of flying by the seat of your pants. If you do this, your blog will be scattered with topics, have no set monetization plan, and you’ll end up unhappy with the effort you’ve put in.

With proper planning and enthusiasm, you’ll never need to look for “blogging jobs” again – in fact, you might be the one putting out feelers for a professional blogger to come onboard and help you with your content needs! Don’t you agree that being in a position of power makes a world of difference?

Comments

Are you a blogger that has found success? Please share some of your success tips, struggles, or anything else about blogging that might be of interest to a new blogger.

How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

How to Succeed in Making Money Online - Freelance Work
How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

Welcome back to the How to Succeed in Making Money Online Series. To recap, in part one, I introduced you to the concept of affiliates and discussed how to make money online with affiliate marketing programs. That was followed up with part two and the discussion about incorporating and developing information product creation to your website. In part three, I discussed membership marketing sites; what they are, what they do, and how to build one.

In the fourth part of the series, our main focus will be on freelance work. Working as freelancer, as your talent, is a good way to earn money online. There are always marketers that are looking for freelancers who know how to do a great job.

Freelancing

If you’d like to get into freelancing, the first thing you need to do is pick what type of freelancer you’d like to be. A Freelancer has many career options and can branch out into many different career paths including:

  • Copywriter
  • Editor/Managing Editor
  • Writer
  • Blogger (Niche) Writer
  • Technical Writer
  • Marketing/Sales Manager
  • Creative Director
  • Editorial Director

When you are first starting out as a freelancer, you can find clients on sites such as Upwork, Fourerr, Guru, Freelancer, or Fiverr. The amount of money that you can make on these sites will vary. Remember that these are your starting points into the freelance world where you define and redefine your writing skills (and niches), build your portfolio, build a following, and attract clients. Once you’ve established yourself as a freelancer who delivers good quality and services, then you can consider branching out on your own by finding clients so that your business continues to thrive and expand.

Finding Clients

Finding clients to build your income doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re a freelancer, you need to have a professional website with a personal blog on that website. Building a professional website doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money as you should be able to get started with a domain name and hosting services for around $25 or less a month.

Before you balk at the $25 a month, consider this fee as a small investment into your future. Sure you could go with a free hosted website such as blogger, but a self-hosted blog (through bluehost) gives you the peace of mind that you have control of the website and also allows you to easily monetize your site at any time.

Think of your website as a letter of introduction to potential clients. These clients may go to the Internet and search for freelance services. Because of this, you want to make sure you have a professional website to tap into the market and pull in traffic, while gaining clients.

On your website, you want to include a blog, an about you page, a page for your portfolio with testimonials, and a page of writing samples. The blog and about you page will pull the client in and let them get to know you and your personal writing style.

The portfolio page would include a collection of work that you have currently completed including links (if allowed by previous clients) for the potential clients to view. This is your time to shine so try to showcase your best work. You will also want to include a list of your skills like you would on an online resume. This will let the potential client know your previous work experiences (example: 10 years developing websites and creating web design), your expertise (example: creating standard operating procedures manuals), and you skills (example: 10 years as an Administrative Assistant who sent out email notifications, typed business letters, sent out marketing and advertising materials, etc.).

Don’t forget to include testimonials that you have gathered from previous clients. This will let potential clients know that you have completed exemplary work, satisfied a client, and are the type of person they are looking to hire.

If you are just starting out and don’t have a portfolio or testimonials, then you will want to have a page of writing samples. What you will need to do is create sample articles, blog posts, and other materials that will showcase to potential clients the type of work you are capable of completing.

Now that you have your website set up and your list of potential clients and freelance websites in hand, you are now ready to venture into the world of freelancing.

Comments Welcome

If you have experience as a freelancer, I would love for you to share your experiences with my readers by commenting to this post. What are some of the obstacles/successes you have faced as a freelancer or blogger?

Please come back again to read the final in the series, part 5, where I discuss making money online as a success coach.

 

Freelance Writing – Learning From My Mistakes

Freelance Writing – Learning From My Mistakes

Freelance Writing - Learning From My Mistakes
Freelance Writing – Learning From My Mistakes

Learning From My Mistakes

In 2010 I was laid off from a job I held for almost 20 years. Without a backup job and knowing that unemployment checks would not cover all of my expenses, I knew I would need money and fast. I decided to look into other ways of bringing in a paycheck while still passing out tons of resumes and being on the job hunt for a regular 9-5 job.

I started off by making a list of things I liked to do and had the skills to do. The first things scratched off my list was doodling, coloring, and kids projects. Unless I could get hired as something related to drawing with kids (which I don’t have the patience for), I knew that I had to look elsewhere.

The skills that kept popping up on my list all had to do with writing and research. It was not a surprising discovery as I had a previous background working at a library and a few years as an administrative assistance behind my belt. Having been taught by a master (highly regarded reference librarian), I not only knew the Dewey decimal system but also how to research things without a computer. That is when the lightbulb went on over my head and I said: “I could do freelance work as a writer and researcher”.

Freelance Writing?

Not know the first thing about freelance work, I typed in “freelance writing” on Google and came up with hundreds of pages of topics from work from home, online writing jobs, blogging, article writers, and content writing.

Let me say that with my inexperience (and need for money), I got lured in by content mills. Oh, I didn’t know that is what they were known for in the business, nor did I know that any reputable freelance writer would avoid them like the plague. So, there I was signing on the dotted line to become a freelance writer for Demand Studios, Guru, oDesk, and Elance.

It was hard work trying to get a client as many were looking for the lowest bidder and there are thousands of other desperate writers trying to get the same gig. If you did win, chances are you were being paid to write a word a cent article. With all the research, writing, and editing that went into the article, this meant I was making $5 for about 1-3 hours of work.

All I can say is, if you haven’t done any writing before and you want to gain experience (but not money), then a content mill might be a good learning experience. Otherwise run as fast you can away from the content mill jobs!

No Experience Needed

Three months (YES, three whole months) into the content mill type jobs, I knew I could not do it anymore. I was making about $50 – $75 a week and the bills kept piling up.

That is when I saw an ad that said: “no experience needed – writers wanted”. A company called Examiner.com was looking for local writers to write in the niche of their choice for their new online newspaper. The pay was per click, but it would give a writer the experience of working with editors and copywriters along with learning how to market their talents and gain followers.

Much like the content mills I was not making quality money, but I have to say the experience alone made it worth working for the Examiner. I was quickly hired on as the local arts and crafts writer, which allowed me to introduce my readers to local shops, crafting events, DIY projects, and so much more. Nothing could contain my excitement of having my own page and column, which I could post to multiple times a week. My editor (a patient millennial) introduced me to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms that I could “advertise” my column and gain followers. She also helped me with my grammar issues and gave feedback on all my articles before they were published online.

Opportunity Knocks

Three months into my job at the Examiner, I got an email from a local CBS.com rep. At first, I thought it was just an advertisement or some kind of joke, but an editor saw my Examiner column and loved my style. He asked if I would be interested in writing a few “top 5” local articles for their Chicago online news site. The pay would be $10 an article and they would give me the topic, which I had free reign to run with. Jumping at the chance, I spent six months writing every top 5 article you can imagine. They even spotlighted for 3 weeks my article on “The Top 5 Places to Go in Chicago with Your Dog”.

Around that time I got a call from a company that was interested in hiring me for a regular 9 to 5 job doing my previous line of work. Needing a full-time paycheck, I had to abandon my writing gigs to focus back on a “real” job.

Today and Beyond

That was 4 years ago and there hasn’t been a day that I don’t miss writing. I didn’t know the path that should be taken to become a full-time freelance writer and I allowed my fear of not having a paycheck rule over my dreams.

So here I am today starting over! While working my regular 9-5 job, I am taking every free course that I can find, reading every article and book, and signing up for all the free webinars about freelance work.

In the next weeks and even months, I will share with you the courses, webinars, blogs, books, and articles that I have used and found helpful in my journey to becoming a full-time freelancer. I will also share with you all of my triumphs and failures as a learning tool for anyone just starting out in the freelance business.

I welcome feedback from longtime freelancers and newbies too! Do you have a story to share? Any triumphs or failures? How is your journey going with the world of freelance writing and freelance work? I would love for you to share your experiences by making a post in the comments.

 

 

Is Freelance Writing the Right Career for You?

Is Freelance Writing the Right Career for You?

Is Freelance Writing the Right Career for You?
Is Freelance Writing the Right Career for You?

So, you are thinking about becoming a freelance writer? When you first start out, it is more than a life without a boss to report to, a time clock you no longer have to punch, or working wherever and whenever you want. Freelance writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, dedication, persistence, and the ability to self-manage your time and tasks.

But don’t let me scare you away from your dream of writing. Freelance writing offers you the opportunity to make money working part time to pay off some debts, full time to make a decent living, or something in-between to afford you the extras in life.

Just the Facts

Did you know that the average pay for established freelance writers is $28.50? If you work 40 hours a week, every day of the year that is roughly a $60,000 annual salary. The salary goes even higher for skilled bloggers and technical writers that are able to create SEO quality materials for specific niche markets.

A Freelance writer has many career options and can branch out into several different career paths including:

  • Copywriter
  • Skilled (Niche) Blogger
  • Editor/Managing Editor
  • Technical Writer
  • Marketing/Sales Manager
  • Creative Director
  • Editorial Director

What it Takes

Are you tired of the lack of creativity in your current job? What about the mundane 9 to 5 routine and boring work?  For me, add in a job that is not well-paid and you have my current working situation.  Freelance writing opportunities can open the door to a fulfilling career of stringing words together like music and outputting quality work with solid information that consumers want.

If you were to look at the typical job description and tasks for a freelance writer, you might see the same theme of buzz words:

  • Strong drive
  • Solid organizational and time management skills
  • Flair for words and the ability to pitch stories
  • Must be able to write books, create/update websites, develop brochures and scripts, and conduct research
  • Must have the skill to promote (advertise) and distribute (market) written and electronic materials
  • Has the ability to conceptualize books, stories, brochures, manuals, and website content

The typical skill set of a freelance writer includes:

  • The ability to spell. If you can’t spell, then invest in a great dictionary and utilize an effective spelling-checking tool on your computer.
  • Know the rules of grammar and follow them. If you aren’t sure when to use punctuation or when to start a new sentence, you might want to take a college course in grammar. Also, consider installing a free application such as Grammarly on your computer.
  • Must have the ability to write well. If you can’t write well, take a college course, free online course, or start off with a blog to learn how to craft well-written and clear content.
  • Make sure you can proofread your work. Your grammar and spell-check software can only do so much. Make sure you know how to spot errors, fix them, and create the best-finished product.
  • You must know how to research and fact check your information. Before you quote a source, hit post on your blog, or submit a project to your customer, you must always make sure that you have thoroughly researched your topic, cited your sources, and have factual proof for any claims that you make.
  • Know how to market yourself. Freelance writing is one field that requires you to not be modest about your work and abilities. You need to be able to sell yourself and market your talents.
  • Have the ability to communicate both written and verbally. Freelancing requires you to be able to send pitch letters to potential clients, communicate with editors and/or other writers, and have verbal/written interactions with clients about current projects and stories.

If everything you read seems like the dream job,  then freelance writing is the right career path for you!

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