Creating and maintaining a blog is hard work. Developing a successful blog is even harder. Creating a successful blog isn’t impossible, but it takes dedication, hard work, time, and money. Even when you outsource your content creation, you have to source and upload images, format content, and make sure each article gets posted to the right category. [Read more…]
Blogging is becoming very popular today not just because you can put up anything on it, but because you can make money with it. Some people put up ads on their site, or post surveys to get other people to answer it and earn money. Another thing you can do is to write articles for other people’s blogs which is called guest blogging.
Guest blogging is when you write articles for other people while getting paid. There are, however some things you have to consider if you want to work as a guest blogger. You have an option of working full time or part time depending on how much time you can allot for it. And if you happen to be a blogger yourself, and you decided to work part time then its best if you write for websites that have a high page ranking. [Read more…]
Another shocking statistic:
76% of companies do *not* have any form of conversion optimization… and 48% believe they have zero control over conversion.
I think that is ridiculous.
Conversions are one of the few things you do control. Unlike most marketing efforts – which require third-party sites like Google or Twitter – conversion exists on your site, which puts you in 100% control of your destiny.
But can you improve conversions? Absolutely.
Here’s how… [Read more…]
There is perhaps no other topic in the freelance writing world that generates more controversy than the concept of writers writing for free. Bring it up and lines in invisible sand are drawn, commenting spikes and in the case of Harlan Ellison, a few F-bombs are dropped.
It’s understandable. Shady publishers and editors prey on vunerable writers who want to see their names in print. Writers are constantly burned by “write for free now and earn later” promises in which “later” never comes.
However, in the angry buzz of the debate something gets lost. Choice and education. There will always be writers who consider using their talent without traditional compensation. Instead of helping writers make informed decisions, we as a community often take the abstinence-only approach – IT’S WRONG, NEVER DO IT.
Is it really free?
The first step to weighing a work-for-free option is to look at whether the project has any compensation opportunities. Writers work in exchange for items and services all the time. A little web content work in exchange for a new website. A little PR work in exchange for lessons from a yoga studio.
Just be sure that you follow three simple rules when bartering services:
- Set clear boundaries. Define the services you will provide and the services or products you expect in return. This prevents misunderstandings and keeps either party from taking advantage of the “freebie” situation.
- Determine cost. It should be expected that your standard rates are used for services you provide.
- Put it in writing. This is not only helpful for tax and business record purposes, it makes the transaction official and binding.
Is it for the greater good?
Wielding a hammer may not be some people’s idea of how they want to volunteer, but wielding a keyboard may feel just right. Providing writing services to help a charity or organization is a good thing. Sweating over a keyboard or a hot stove both take time and effort and each can be a great help to someone in need.
Are you prepared for the lack of payoff?
Writing for exposure. *Sigh* That’s a tricky one. Certain publications swear by it, but when their blog only reaches 12 people and four of those are family members, the “exposure” doesn’t help a writer one bit. Then you have the Huffington Post model: huge reach and definite opportunities for exposure. However, when the publication makes a deal for a large sum of money, whether it’s for advertising or through the sale of the blog, there will be writers who feel slighted when left out of the monetary windfall.
There is, of course, the possibility that exposure may never come. Before you get into an “exposure” deal,
- Use metrics to define success. How many blog hits, how many subsequent work requests, book sales, etc.
- Recognize and get comfortable with not being able to eat, spend or pay bills with exposure. Exposure has to translate into dollars through other avenues to be successful.
- Have a time limit and exit strategy. Give the exposure enough time to produce results, but have an end date in place if it doesn’t show signs of panning out.
Can you afford to do it?
Whether working in exchange for goods and services, as a volunteer or for “exposure,” carefully weigh the costs of the commitment. There are time costs, including time away from other business-growing opportunities, i.e. querying, working on gigs for other clients, etc. There are also actual costs: electricity, Internet, the standard writing rate… This is one of those tough choices that a writer has to make from a business perspective, especially if the project will be ongoing.
Most of the time I’m against writing for free. It distracts writers from doing things that can both further their careers and enable them to pay bills. Writing for experience can be accomplished while making money – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are, however, situations in which free can work out for writers though they are not as common as “job” listings would have you believe. It’s a personal, business decision that should be made with research and with realistic expectations.
Have you written for “free?” Why or why not? What other things should writers consider when weighing a non-traditional pay option?
Deb’s note: I started writing this post on the plane to Las Vegas (and BlogWorld) last week. Since then I’ve seen Darren Rowse’s post at ProBlogger called, “The #1 One Reason My Blogging Grew into a Business.” Check it out if you can, it’s a must -read for anyone who wants to blog for a living.
FWJ began four years ago as a blog filled with leads for work at home moms like me. As you know, it’s evolved quite a bit over the past few years. Something happened this past spring that caused me to change my outlook about FWJ. Instead of a simple blog or network of blogs, I treated it like a business. Don’t get me wrong, I was always business-like in my dealings and accounting, but in June, I took it to a whole new level.
When I lost my full time job, I decided I wasn’t going to look for another. Instead, I wanted to work harder on making this network more profitable, and more beneficial to those reading it. Instead of looking for a job, I was going to make FWJ my full time job. It made a difference. Instead of simply posting and building traffic, I’ve also been:
- Meeting with accountants to find out my next course of action as a small business owner.
- Negotiating with advertisers
- Researching advertising, traffic, SEO and other blog building techniques
- Working hard on branding
- Working hard on FWJ’s (and Deb Ng’s) social media presence
- Forming lucrative partnerships which will enable this network to keep going
- Doing some heavy analysis into the demographics of this community and other freelance writing communities
- Networking, not only with other freelancers, but with other people and businesses to form mutually beneficial relationships
Some of the things I learned at this time:
- You can’t please everyone
- You have to spend money to make money
- Networking totally rocks
- If you focus on one thing, instead of multitasking, you’ll have better results
- Sometimes you just have to go for it
Some of the changes I noticed since devoting my full time attention to FWJ:
- Traffic has seen a significant increase
- Advertisers have been coming to FWJ, instead of the other way around
- Ad revenue beyond private sales (Adsense, etc.) has increased to the point where it’s a full time income
- A major online brand inquired about purchasing FWJ
- Lots of Tweets and ReTweets featuring FWJ links
- Community growth
- A whooooole lot of email
- More links to blog posts at FWJ
- Major brands have taken notice
This is only a few months worth of work and effort. Can you imagine if I had put this much time and energy into FWJ since day one? Of course, that wasn’t possible because I needed to help provide for my family. However, being patient and persistant and not giving up over 4 1/2 years enabled met build FWJ and see it to its potential.
Luck vs Hard Work
Someone once told me I was lucky. This has nothing to do with luck. I worked hard to build this network. It became a huge part of my life. I focus attention to it every day. It’s kept me up late, and caused me to rise very early. It’s been the subject of blog wars and forum spats. It’s my life, not luck. I have to tell you, it’s not easy to come up with content every single day for 4 1/2 years.
Is it Worth it?
You bet it’s worth it. I’m not going to claim to be some expert, guru, A-list problogger, but I managed to find something that I love – something that works. It’s been worth all the time and effort I put into it. As Darren Rowse begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting said in his post about blogging as a business, when I stopped treated my blog as a hobby and more as a business, it began to work for me.
If you want to make your blog work for you, know that it’s not easy. It’s not as simple as opening up a blog, stocking it with keywords and slapping on some ads. There’s a lot of research, promoting and networking involved.
Tell us the story of your blog. Is it a business? Can it become a business? What are you doing to ensure its success, and what are some of the results you’ve seen since beginning?
I always liken blogs to real estate. There are several similarities. For example if you choose a good domain name, your location, you can sell your property for a good price. Moreover, if you have curb appeal, the right kind of traffic and valuable content and a steady revenue base, you can sell for a good price.
I’ve entertained several offers to sell over the past couple of years, but turned them all down. Usually those offers weren’t enough money to warrant serious consideration. Not when you consider I earn a steady income, have over 6500 subscribers and thousands of visitors each day. Not when you consider how many advertisers seek me out on a regular basis. Not when you consider how many new writers consider FWJ to be the place to go for advice for getting started.
Yesterday the CEO of a very recognizable brand asked about buying FWJ. After I picked myself up off the floor, I experienced a flood of emotion:
- Validation: A major name in our business likes what I’ve done here enough to not only notice FWJ but to own it.
- Confusion: Why do they want to buy MY blog? There are thousands of blogs about writing and freelancing? Why does mine have value – and how much is it worth to them? Why FWJ?
- Greed: It would have to be a really (and I mean REALLY) good offer to sell FWJ.
- Sadness: What would I do if I didn’t have FWJ? This is my life and my livelihood. It’s my biggest source of income and my favorite thing to do each day. What will I do every day if I can’t blog for you?
- Pride: See validation above. Plus, to have this company want to own my “baby” is truly an honor.
Now, as I write this I know I won’t be idle. I have several other properties, one set to launch very soon. I enjoy building things from scratch. I can flip blogs like some people flip property. However, it’s FWJ. Not just some little blog, but my pride and joy. Something I put my heart and my life into. How can you put a price on passion?
I’m torn and I didn’t sleep well last night. We’re talking about FWJ. The little writing job blog I built into a network in four and a half years. It’s like selling a beloved family home or marrying off a child. FWJ is me, it’s my brand.
Think about your blog and everything you put into it. Would you sell? At what price?
I’ve been thinking about sponsored advertising a lot this week. Many bloggers won’t have anything to do with sponsored post advertising as they feel it’s a sell out and will turn off their readers. I can appreciate that. I think, though, many of us are lying if we say we don’t wish to make good money with our blogs. Make no mistake, FWJ is first and foremost a blog providing a useful service to freelance writers. However, it’s also a business. Blogging is a business. The bloggers at this network expect payment and I hope to turn a profit.
With that said, I’ve turned down most offers for sponsored posts because they don’t fit with this community. I mean, I have a price but I’m not a total whore. I also believe in full disclosure and transparency for sponsored posts, which means if anyone paid me to write a post for them, you will know so you can draw your own conclusions.
As I wrote earlier, the rules for blogging are that there are no rules. We all do what we feel best works for our own situations. Sponsorship isn’t selling out. It’s a business decision some bloggers choose to make. I can’t fault them for that. As long as a blog continues to provide awesome content, advertising and sponsorship is never a deal breaker for me. No one thinks twice about buying a heavy issue of Vogue featuring 100 pages of content and 500 pages of advertising. I look at it the same way. As long as it’s not overly spammy and they’re honest about sponsored posting, bloggers should do whatever they feel best to survive without being accused of selling out.
What do you think?
As the Freelance Writing Jobs community grows in popularity and network, the task of monetizing becomes a lot more difficult. This network of blogs does well with Adsense and some other clicky type ads, but it’s not enough to keep us running. The good news is that more advertisers are seeking us out for their ads. The bad news is that I’m often torn between my need to pay our bloggers and techie and keep this network going, and my dislike for places that don’t pay writers a livable wage.
I’m always asked if I turn away advertisers and, also, how I choose the ads displayed at FWJ. Since I received a flurry of advertising questions over the weekend, I thought I’d answer them here.
Yes, I’ve Turned Away Sponsors
I’ve turned down quite a few sponsors because I didn’t appreciate the way they treated their workers. I have to tell you though, it tore me apart to do so. When you run a business and you need to pay the bills, you don’t want to discourage a revenue. It takes six to eight hours each day to write for and maintain FWJ, plus the bloggers who work here have families to feed. Sometimes I’ve taken ads from places I wouldn’t work for myself, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work out well for other members of this community. Keep in mind I only choose places with a good reputation, even if I don’t always approve of their pay rates. If they have a history of treating writers poorly, I pass.
How I Choose Ads for this Network
Some people might consider me a hypocrite for choosing some ads, while not allowing others. For instance, I’ve allowed advertisements from some residual-based websites. If you know me, you know I don’t much care for residual based websites because I don’t think many of them ofter a livable wage. Before I approve an advertiser, I research his track record. I look online, I talk to other writers, I might even give them a phone call. If they can convince me the majority of their writers are earning a good living, I’ll allow their ads.
I choose ads from places with a good reputation. If a majority of the writers in this community work for some of these places and have a good experience, I may choose their ad from their recommendation even if I don’t agree with the pay. In the upcoming weeks you may see an ad here from a popular residual based network. I spoke on the phone with their people and they assured me the majority of their writers receive a livable wage each month. The average reported monthly earnings for their writers convinced me to allow their ads.
The Ethics of Choosing Advertisers
I try to be ethical about who advertises here and who doesn’t. Sometimes I receive emails from people who question why certain ads are here. It’s tough to explain my reasons to others, especially the folks who don’t want to “get it”.
I allow ads if I:
- Feel it’s a good place for brand new writers to get their start
- Feel they treat their writers well
- Feel it’s a place offering a positive experience to writers – especially writers who are just starting out.
I don’t allow ads if:
- They’re scammy
- The majority of their writers don’t earn a livable wage
- They’re scammy
- There’s just no way I can personally endorse them.
Do I choose ads with my readers in mind? I try to. There might be an advertiser I’m not sure about but if members of my community use them and swear by them I’ll go with the ad. I also look for the places that offer writers a good beginning, even if I wouldn’t personally use them.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to write me to ask about advertismeents on FWJ. I hope I answered all of your questions.
The past year was an interesting one for me. After taking six years to build up a successful freelance writing career, I decided to take a full time job for an online company. I took the job for several reasons:
- I was able to work at home
- I would be doing what I love
- I was looking to gain more social media experience
The job was a valuable and enlightening experience, but I missed working for myself, especially the flexibility. I decided to return to freelancing, but also to build up a business as a social media consultant. My biggest priority however, is returning this blog to it’s former glory.
Don’t get me wrong…
This blog does well, don’t get me wrong. Without being front and center to promote, write tons of content, toss out the link love and schmooze with advertisers, we were beginning to lose traffic and revenue. I have a year’s worth of ground to make up. Which brings me to today’s topic…
Redefining my blogging goals
In the past my goal was to earn money as a blogger for hire, and keep this blog going as a lucrative side project. Now, I’m going to vice versa the whole thing. I have blogging and social media clients, thankfully, but my main goal is to build this blog to be my number one source of income, so I can rely on others less and less. I will do so by posting more, networking more and working with advertisers more. It was a mistake to put this wonderful blog network on the back burner, but you can bet we’re cooking with gas now.
What are your blogging goals? How can you take it to the next level?
After my last post, 5 Reasons You’re Not Making Any Money as a Blogger, some of the members of this community asked if I could offer a few tips for promoting blogs without being spammy or annoying.
A key to successful blogging is knowing there’s a fine line between self promotion and spam. The important thing to remember is to build relationships rather than spreading links everywhere you go. If you only drop links, you’ll turn off potential readers. However, if you take the time to participate in discussions and get to know people, they’ll want to learn more about you and what you do.
Here are a few tips for promoting your blog without spamming the people you need most:
1. Post in forums – Forums are a terrific way to build up relationships and have a conversation with like-minded people – as long as that’s what you’re doing. When every comment you make is pimping an article (“I wrote a post about that once, check it out…”), you’ll find yourself banned or shunned in no time flat. When you take time to have an intelligent discussion with people who share the same vision, they’re going to want to check out the links in your signature. Conversational marketing works better than spam.
2. Visit other blogs – Other blogs in your niche are not your enemies or your competition, they’re colleagues. Instead of worrying about another site stealing your traffic, or who is higher in the Google Rankings, use other blogs to your advantage. Participate in the comments and offer a useful point of view. If you left a thoughtful remark, others might be include to check out the link in your signature line. Keep in mind it’s considered spam to drop your links anywhere but the appropriate space. Don’t drop links in your comment post unless invited to do so. [Read more…]