You’ve heard of people who ditched their corporate posts to do freelance work. And now you’ve decided to join them and become a freelance writer. You read advice on how to start but you find yourself getting confused. You search for jobs on online job boards. But competition is stiff. What’s more, most clients ask for a portfolio, which you don’t have. [Read more…]
Freelance writers and bloggers have a lot of things on their plate. These days, we don’t only write for our own sites and clients, but we also play other roles like being a social media specialist and a content marketing expert. These other roles expand our knowledge, our client base, and our income.
One aspect of these other roles is blog outreach. Guest blogging reached its peak years ago, and it has often been said that it’s dead. In my experience, however, when done right, guest blogging can still bring you benefits – not only for the links but for contacts and exposure.
I’d like to emphasize contacts. [Read more…]
You may be able to sling words skillfully like a crusty old wizard casts spells, but without developing a solid online foundation to augment it, you’re likely to find yourself bereft of work; in other words, a wizard without a willing (or unwilling) experiment to transmute, burn, poison, or curse.
Like it or not, online writing is one part penmanship prowess, one part online marketing. The sooner you accept those two seemingly disparate activities as halves of one complete entity called the online freelance writer, the better off you’ll be — and the sooner you’ll be landing more gigs that require a dash of both.
Here then are five steps you should take immediately to build your online presence.
1. Start (and maintain) a personal blog
The key word here is “maintain.” Starting a blog is easy enough. There are any number of free blogging platforms such as WordPress you can get started with, and finding a personal or professional area of interest to focus on shouldn’t be difficult.
Maintaining it and posting to it consistently is not as easy, however; yet it’s something employers will be watching for when they pop on by for a look-see.
Writers have a reputation for unreliability, so exhibiting such signs on your own blog such as disappearing for days on end will trigger warning signs in a prospective employer’s eyes … even when your words managed to compel such eyes to stay riveted to the screen.
2. Guest blog for prominent websites in areas of interest
Personal blogging is a great start, but to increase exposure for your name and drive traffic to your blog and/or website, you should also consider guest blogging.
Many blogs allow guest bloggers who have something valuable to contribute. While you won’t be paid for your efforts, you’ll earn the weight of your words in gold; or at least in golden exposure.
3. Engage with other professionals on social networks
LinkedIn and Google+ are tremendous networks where you can connect with other people, show off your skills and portfolio, and make new friends. Don’t neglect other networks, however — including this very site.
Whenever you can leave an intelligent or thoughtful comment that can be tracked back to your blog or website, that’s one more indelible impression you’ve left on the Internet.
4. Build followings on social media
You may find social media shallow and a dreadful timesink, but many employers do not. Increasingly, more and more blogging sites and other writing gigs are seeking writers who already have a following on social media.
Your contacts and resources in this regard are as valuable as your writing in getting the word out there on a new blog, website, or product.
No one is expecting you to have thousands of Twitter followers; though it can’t hurt to actively try to build your following. Being active and having a moderately sized network that can spread your word around is enough for most employers.
To do that, try to build a content theme around your Twitter handle, and follow like-minded people and groups. They’ll often follow you back and create further opportunities for still other folks with similar interests to find and follow you. Then just upload a post here or there so your followers don’t desert you in a great migration to more fertile Tweeting lands, and you’re good to go.
5. Create a professional website
While a blog is nice, a branded website should be the ultimate goal of any professional writer. Here you can describe your services and showcase past work in a personalized and elegant way.
A professional site also enables prospective clients to reach out to you; it will bring work to your virtual doorstep, and allow you to eliminate some of the need to engage in the constant rat race of searching out more work.
Many quality web hosting services are available for a small fee to provide you with everything you need to get your own website up and running and furnish a focal point where all your other online threads converge.
I’m a writer, not a marketer.
I’ve heard/read that phrase often enough. I’ve even said it myself many times. Writers, they say, have a unique personality in that they want to focus more on getting that jumble of words and ideas in their heads and putting them together in a coherent piece of writing. Whether people read the piece and like it or not is a different matter altogether.
Then guest blogging/guest writing comes into the picture.
The practice has become so popular for many reasons, not the least of which is to market your own content and bolster your brand online. In themselves, there is nothing wrong with content marketing and brand building. That happens in the brick and mortar world as well. But I totally understand why many online writers shy away from the idea of guest blogging.
Some common (negative) reactions are:
- Why should I give my content away for free?
- Why should I spend time and effort in writing for someone else without getting anything back?
- I don’t have time for that.
- I write. I don’t do marketing.
As I said earlier, these reactions are rather understandable. That is not to say, however, that writers should not consider guest blogging.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch!
Here’s my reply to concerns such as giving away your work for free. Guest blogging is not really for free! Sure, you may not get paid your usual $100 per article (I wish!), but compensation comes in other forms. Don’t worry, I am not talking about Craigslist-type nonsense like “the good feeling that you’ve helped someone out”. (Though there is nothing wrong with that in some cases!)
You may be the world’s biggest introvert (I can give you a run for your money, by the way), but if you want to get more writing gigs online, you have to create connections. There really is no way around it, unless you’ve hit the jackpot and you land the dream client, the kind that will give you tons of work regularly for good pay. If you’re like many freelance writers, you have to actively seek out work. And you need connections for that, connections that can be made by engaging in guest blogging.
“Building your brand” is a term that may put you off, but it is also an inherent part of freelance writing online. You want your name to be associated with quality writing, often in a certain niche. Having a web site or blog to showcase your work is one way to do it, but that may not be enough. You have to get the word out there. You have to expose your name – and back it up with proof. That’s what guest blogging can do for you.
Sometimes, you have to get out of your writer’s shell.
Sure, writing is lonely work. I don’t know about you, but I write best when I am alone at home. I can also work at a busy coffee shop, but I do surround myself in a self-imposed, even imaginary shell where I am alone.
However, in order to keep work flowing in, we do have to get out of that shell.
Have I mentioned connections?
Yes, connections are needed. We need to interact with others – potential clients, existing clients, and fellow writers. This is essential for many reasons. We need to keep in touch with the world out there in order to be able to produce relevant and timely pieces. We need to get out there to connect with people who may throw some work our way or people who may serve as inspiration.
Marketing yourself may be part of guest blogging, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Look at the situation from a different perspective, and you won’t fail to see the benefits that guest blogging can give you as an online writer. Give it a go?
About the Author
Jackie is the epitome of the introvert writer, but she pushes her limits as she improves on her craft. She has recently gotten involved in guest blogging services, and recommends fellow online writers to keep an open mind.
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…]
Focusing on only direct sources of income is the hugest (yet the wide-spread) mistake many freelancers make. It is quite understandable though: you get so much used to hunting for paid opportunities that you can hardly ever find time or enthusiasm to do anything else – especially something that you won’t see any immediate result from.
So let me share my own experience: it is your non-paid hard work that will allow you to grow personally and professionally and consequently grow your income exponentially.
I’d been freelancing for about 2 years before I was offered the full-time position at BlueGlass (where I still work from home by the way because I am not based in the USA). I’ve earned my living online for almost three years – that’s my full-time job (I am really happy with and would never want a better one). And throughout all these years I came to understand one most important thing: it’s the work I have done for free that accounts for my successful online career.
The biggest misconception of making money online is that it’s all about money.
It is not. Money is just the secondary index of your progress. In my understanding, freelancing is not about earning some quick money here and there – it’s about continuous growth of your income.
Your income grows together with your professionalism and your experience. You get paid exactly what your skills are worth.
It’s not about pure luck (spotting an accidental paid gig) – it’s about how good and well-known you are so that you didn’t even have to look for paid gigs.
The work you do for free is what makes your personal brand strong enough to let clients look for you (not vice versa). I for one spend only 10%-15% of my time daily actually working for money. The rest of my time is dedicated to doing work for free.
So what sort of non-paid gigs are worth your time and effort? Here’s what I do:
1/ Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is by far the most powerful way to build a convincing online portfolio. Many freelancers tend to shy away from blogging on other people’s blogs without being paid – look, the first comment at Susan’s post announcing the great guest posting opportunity at Freelance Writing Jobs was the question if it was “a paying gig”.
Those who say they have no time for guest blogging miss the hugest benefits of guest blogging:
- Build your personal brand: position yourself as an expert;
- Network: build more connections online (meet new people and potential clients)
- Become famous: ultimately it’s all about how many people know you and can recommend your skills to someone else. If you contribute to the blogs where the audience should get interested in your expertise, these will be highly targeted connections and they are more likely to turn into clients (or get ones for you) one day.
Guest blogging can result in your career boost – that’s what can really make a difference.
2/ Social Media Networking
Being “well-socialized” requires plenty of time and commitment. You can’t know many people and do without maintaining those relationships on a daily basis. Of course, you can’t be active on all social media networks out there but actively participating at the selective few of them is essential:
- Get more people to learn about you: your social media profiles are your resumes: they demonstrate how influential you are;
- Manage your online reputation: Google usually ranks high social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn and soon enough, searching for your name, you will see all your profiles and resumes on page 1 of search results. Imagine how well it will work to re-assure your prospect to rely on you.
- Get social recommendations and testimonials. The power of social media testimonials is that they can be easy verified. Social media users are public figures and if they recommend someone – that’s the most convincing advertisement.
All in all, social media networking is a must but be prepared that that’s a hard work and it is unlikely to show quick results. Time is the most powerful factor in building influence.
3. Your Own Projects
It is funny that I have always been eager to start my own projects – and I spend plenty of time working on them daily – but they hardly account for even 5% of my income. The major reason for why it happens so is that I never really aimed at earning money from them: Take a look at any of my personal websites or projects: none of them is monetized or runs paid banners.
So why would I need them then? The real reasons are:
- Self-education: with clients’ website I’d never had the required freedom and flexibility. With my own projects I can do whatever I want – which lets me test theories, try new tools and be up-to-date with what is happening online.
- Inspiration: being free and flexible allows me to get as creative as I want. This keeps me inspired and lets me enjoy my job.
- Networking: building your own community around your blog or forum is a great way to get closer to people you meet via guest blogging and social media networking. My own sites are landing pages where all my connections can come to learn more about me, get closer connected to me and return whenever they need my services.
So what are your thoughts? Are these only paid gigs that may take you busy? How much do you work for free?
This is a guest post by Ann Smarty who has started My Blog Guest – the fast-growing community of guest bloggers. MyBlogGuest.com is also the exclusive partner of Freelance Writing Jobs – if you want to land a great guest posting opportunity at this blog, register at MyBlogGuest!
Would you like to see one of your articles published on Freelance Writing Jobs? We’ve automated the guest post submission process and teamed up with MyBlogGuest.com to make it quick and easy for you to submit guest posts to Freelance Writing Jobs and several other Splashpress Media blogs.
MyBlogGuest.com is a growing community of bloggers and blog owners, led by Ann Smarty who is well known across the Web for her search engine optimization expertise. You can learn more about MyBlogGuest.com in my recent interview with Ann Smarty.
One guest blog post will be published per week (on Wednesdays) on Freelance Writing Jobs. Be sure to read the rules and all the benefits on the FWJ Guest Post submission page before your send in your guest post. If your guest post is informative, interesting and useful to freelance writers, and it follows the rules on the FWJ Guest Post submission page, it will be put in the queue for publishing here on Freelance Writing Jobs.
I have a love hate relationship with guest blogging. On one hand, I enjoy sharing with other bloggers’ communities. The flip side is that as a freelance writing blogger I’m supposed to discourage writing for free. It’s kind of a sticky situation because we complain that too many people are advertising on Craigslist for free labor but then we turn around and offer our expertise to other blogs because they’re supposed to be good marketing. So as you can see, we’re a little contradictory.
What I’d like to explore in this series is whether or not guest blogging works. Over the past few years I’ve guest posted on both low and high profile blogs including ProBlogger, Freelance Folder, Successful Blog, the Demand Studios blog and quite a few others. I can tell you they all offered some sort of return on my writing investment. The smaller blogs offered an immediate but very small boost in traffic, while the more high profile blogs continue to send traffic this way.
Regardless of the size of the blog and popularity of the blogger, I noticed a few common results after each guest post.
Week 1: The Curiosity Seekers
During the first week of guest blogging, I get a nice boost in traffic. If it’s a blog like ProBlogger or Freelance Folder the traffic increase can be significant – but not always. I did one guest blog post that only brought it 43 visitors over time and it was a very high traffic blog.
In my experience, most of the traffic coming from the host blog during the week of my guest blog post is noncommittal. Mostly they’re curiosity seekers. They’re clicking the bio link to look at my blog but they’re not necessarily looking to learn more about me or what I do. Maybe one in ten people will subscribe or come back to become an interactive member of this community. This is the reason I make sure to have my best content up the week of a guest post. I want readers coming from the host blog to know that what they see from my guest post is what they’ll get here on my blog. ( Incidentally, I wrote one blog post for ProBlogger that became Twitters top trending topic for that day. I wrote another one that was picked up by Guy Kawasaki and ended up crashing this server. So the results can be significant.)
Incidentally, when I write for smaller blogs, I don’t see very much traffic in return. I mostly guest blog for smaller blogs because I enjoy sharing and to help the blogger add content and bring in traffic.
Week 2: The Stragglers
The second week after guest posting I see the stragglers. Only a few visitors per day come from the host blog, as opposed to up to a few hundred per day the week before. Like linkbait, the huge surge in traffic due to a guest post is short lived. However, that doesn’t mean it stops living altogether. I still bring in traffic from a guest post at ProBlogger written in 2007, it may be a few visitors per month but it’s still visitors. When added to all the monthly visitors from all my past guest posts, that number isn’t insignificant. Never underestimate the straggler love.
I like to use the stragglers as a good excuse not to get lazy with my blogging. It’s sort like in real life life when company is coming and we put out the good silverware. Straggler traffic is still welcome traffic. If I’m inclined to be a little lazy I’ll remember the stragglers and the ….
Beyond 30 Days: Searchers
When ever I guest post I’ll have stragglers for about three weeks or so. After about a month, I get a few hits a day from search traffic landing on the host’s blog. What sets Searchers apart from Stragglers and Curiosity Seekers is that Searchers aren’t necessarily a part of the host blogger’s loyal community. Instead, they’re looking for information on a particular topic and landed on the host blog via Google or another search engine. These are very valuable visitors in that they’re searching for my topic of expertise – expertise that I shared on another person’s blog. They come to my blog to learn more about the topic. Hopefully they like what they see and subscribe or come back to visit.
Is it worth it?
Now, this isn’t an official case study. I don’t have charts and bells and whistles for you to study. I can tell you that when I guest post on a high profile blog, I continue to receive traffic years later. This isn’t necessarily the case with the lower profile blogs, however. Usually I get very little return on my investment when guest posting on a lower trafficked blog. (Again, that’s not why I’m doing it for those blogs.)
Is it worth it to guest blog? For me, yes, it’s absolutely worth it. I feel guilty about it because freelance writers are always preaching against writing for for free, but the ROI speaks for itself. I think it’s important to choose the right blogs, though. If you’re looking for exposure, you’re going to want to choose a blog that offers exposure. A blog only receiving 60 visitors a day might not be the best place to start. I’d also recommend finding the blogs and bloggers who are the best fit for you, your community, and your brand. Choosing a blog with a community that doesn’t share your vision isn’t using good judgment.
How about you?
Originally this post was going to be a series of quotes and statistics from other bloggers. However, this post got a little long and I’m still gathering said quotes, so look for this series to continue. We’re also going to be exploring links, ranks and branding. In the mean time, feel free to share your experiences guest blogging. Did they bring you the desired results? Are you still enjoying traffic and recognition as a result of your guest post?
I’ve been thinking about guest blogging a lot lately. Not a day goes by when I don’t receive emails asking about guest blogging opportunities at the Freelance Writing Jobs network. As you know, I don’t actively solicit guest bloggers for FWJ anymore because I feel it’s akin to soliciting free work. Instead, I look for paid contributors.
To be honest, I always hesitate before accepting a guest blogging proposal because I don’t want to be accused of taking advantage. I’m a little gun shy because I was called out as looking for free content on two separate occasions in the past, once during guest blogging month and once when we had a writing contest. The backlash against these events made me think twice about accepting guest blog posts.
I’m not against guest blogging opportunities…as long as they’re really opportunities
When I began paying guest bloggers and contributors, many people in the freelance writing community took it to mean I was against guest blogging and didn’t recognize it to be a terrific marketing opportunity. That’s not true at all. I guest blog on my own and I occasionally post guest submissions here.
To me there’s a difference:
Actively seeking free content for your blog in the name of exposure = smarmy.
Offering to guest blog in exchange for visibility=marketing.
If I made an announcement on Twitter about looking for guest bloggers for FWJ, I’d get dozens of takers. If I posted a similar ad on Craigslist looking for free writers, I’d get an angry response. Where we look for writers and how we word our requests make a big difference.
Why are you offering a guest post?
A couple of months ago I explored guest blogging in a post entitled, Guest Blog Posts: Good P.R. or Free Content? In that post, I didn’t suggest writers NOT write guest blog posts, but rather, they consider each opportunity. For example:
- Who are you blogging for?
- How will this help your career?
- Are you responding to a call for free writers?
- Will you truly gain something of value from the experience?
What’s in it for you?
In another post about guest blogging I confessed to being confused by the mixed signals I get from the freelance writing community. On one hand, people who advertise for free writers are considered to be taking advantage. Yet, we actively encourage writers to get their free writing on because it’s good marketing. Can we have it both ways?
When is it a good idea to write for free, and when are writers to proceed with caution?
My suggestion is to ask what’s in it for you. When I do a guest post, I do it for several reasons:
- The other blogger is my friend.
- I’m trading services with another writer or blogger.
- For exposure on a high profile blog.
I turn down guest blogging opportunities when:
- The owner of the blog is only trolling for free content, not a guest blogging discussion from another blogger.
- I don’t agree with the blog’s message.
- I don’t know the blogger and it’s a brand new blog with no traffic.
As I struggle with whether or not I should open FWJ up to guest blogging opportunities and whether or not I’m a hypocrite for guest blogging on my own, I’d like to revisit this discussion.
Is guest blogging vs. writing for free a matter of semantics? Is writing for free good marketing, and if so, why are we so upset whenever anyone looks for free writing on Craigslist? Why are we pissed off when a content studio wants to pay $20 to a bunch of writers when we’re advocating free work in the name of exposure or marketing?
I’m very interested in your thoughts.