There are plenty of ways to make money online.
For many, writing is one way to start. It’s what we tend to suggest inside Location Rebel Academy because it tends to be easier to start.
The first place people usually jump into a writing career is by becoming a freelance blogger.
While you might hold on to the ideas of a decade ago that ‘bloggers’ are just writing a bunch of stuff on their sites and not making much money, think again.
Today, freelance blogging is a viable career path for lots of writers, and if you’re good, it pays. Successful bloggers are out there making upwards of $150 an hour, and you can do it too.
This post is going to guide you through the process of becoming a freelance blogger. So if freelance writing is something you’ve never considered before, take a few minutes and watch this video:
Step 1: Find Your Niche
The easiest place to start building your experience is a freelance blogger is to start with a blog of your own. It’s a space to gain experience, produce samples of your work and demonstrate your blogging prowess to potential clients.
But there’s one step that comes before even creating your blog: determining your niche.
Pretty much every successful blogger has a niche – the content area that they write about. A niche can help you focus on what you want to blog about, and it serves as a great way to build a specific portfolio of samples that can attract clients.
It is completely possible to just write, giving little consideration to the specifics of your topic. However, it is only once you begin to write about certain things that you can claim credibility. In order to snag fulfilling, high-paying work, you’ll need to have a solid reputation – the likes of which you can only establish by consistently producing good content in a specific niche.
Whether you are writing on your own blog or for clients, establishing credibility in your niche is imperative.
Clients want to work with people who have written in their niche before, so starting in one subject area can become a self-reinforcing cycle that leads you to bigger and better work within that niche (and closely related topics). The good news is that you can find a niche today – no matter who you are there is something that you can write about.
Your goal should be to do the majority of your work in a few related areas. For example, in her freelance writing business, Liz writes about finance, insurance, and real estate. Each of those has a lot of areas of overlap so it makes sense.
When you apply for freelance writing jobs, your samples (or portfolio) will be extremely important. Because most brands and sites will want to see samples from the same niche they’re in. So your writing samples can be a huge factor in the jobs open to you.
But even while you focus on developing your niche, remember that this will be an ongoing process. You’re not married to the topics that you write about initially. You can always expand or transition as you find niches that interest you.
Step 2: Start A Blog
The only way to become a better writer is to write.
So if you haven’t already launched your own blog, get to it!
When it comes to blogging, there are a couple of different paths you can take.
Blogging for Bucks
One approach for blogging is to go the affiliate marketing (or niche site) route.
Again, here choosing a good niche matters. You want to pick a topic and keywords that you can rank for over the long term and attract an audience.
Check out this video to learn how to do keyword research for your blog.
Rather than go after everything in the golf world the site specifically targets people interested in golf travel to high end and famous golf courses. It’s a smaller market, but that’s often a good thing, with less competition I was able to capitalize on the success of the site and build a golf community called the Eighty Club.
So having a niche and defining your audience pays off here. Write for a specific target reader and you’re going to have a much clearer focus on brainstorming topics and writing good blog posts.
Keep writing and building on this concept over time, and you’ll be able to create a site that shows off your blogging skills, establishes a niche, and helps build a nice little side income too.
Blogging for Practice and Samples
If you’re blogging with creating a freelance writing business in mind, the biggest benefit of a blog is not building an audience though that’s a nice bonus, it’s the portfolio you’ll create. You can use these to establish credibility in your niche and get new jobs.
The great thing about being a freelance writer is it’s very easy to create samples of your work. Want to get into a new niche? Write a few blog posts about it and use those as a way to get your foot in the door.
Put real effort into building your blog and you can have a great collection of posts that can help you get a job with a client. And, if you switch niches or change your mind about something, you can simply edit the posts or even unpublish them, you control the content.
Need more reasons to start a blog? Here are 56 of them.
Step 3: Expand Your Reach…
While starting your own blog is critically important, you should keep in mind it’s just one part of the big picture. At the start, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make a living solely by monetizing your blog, and that’s where the freelancing comes in.
You’ll need to go beyond your blog to get new eyeballs on your work, hopefully with a client who pays you. So that means trying a bunch of strategies (more on that below).
The more places where your work appears, the higher the chances become that you will find paying work in the future.
Samples are key in this stage. When applying for paying gigs, people will want to see what you’ve done in the past, you can point them directly to your blog. That’s the great thing about freelance blogging: every bit of work that you do should directly boost your chances of getting better-paying work in the future.
The more you write, the more developed your skills become. So whether work is on your blog, for a client, or as a guest post, you should be writing every day.
Plus, every time you write your name and a link to your site will appear in your byline. This will help you increase your profile too.
The reality is the more work you do, the easier it will be to work your way up the ladder and get more (and better) clients.
So how do you do more work? How can you expand your reach?
Step 4: …By Working for Clients
One viable option is to find paying work with a client. This is freelance blogging in its purest form: you offer your blogging skills as a service to sites and brands who need blog content.
Remember to keep in mind that you’re offering a service. You’re getting paid for your writing skills and expertise, so take it seriously, especially at the start. It only takes one or two good clients in your niche to make a huge difference in how much you can charge for your work.
If you write good blog posts, many clients will offer you long-term work.
How to Find Clients
A lot of people stumble upon large freelance websites advertising low-paid gigs and assume that those are their only options.
They are wrong, you do not have to work for pennies in a race to the bottom of the barrel.
There are plenty of places to find freelance blogging opportunities, you just have to know where to look.
First, try some of the many online job boards out there. They tend to offer better-paying work, and you can work directly with the client.
Whatever approach you take, taking a consistent focus on marketing is key. You need to spend a lot of time creating a list of potential clients or agencies in your niche and sending out letters of introduction (LOIs) to them.
The more you do that, the better your chances are of landing those high paying clients in your niche.
Step 5: …Or Starting With Guest Posts
When you’re looking to expand your reach, guest posting can be a great strategy. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s actually pretty simple: you write a post that another blogger posts on their blog, typically (but not always) as a one-off thing.
Guest posting can help get your name out there in front of a lot of different people, especially those in your target niche and audience.
Most likely, you won’t get paid to guest post. But if you choose the right sites there are lots of benefits from them like getting a good link back to your blog, more content for your portfolio, and getting your name in a place where potential clients see it and want to hire you. All of that is super valuable.
The biggest reason to guest post early on is that it can bolster your credibility and get your name out there. I cannot stress this enough: writing for high quality blogs is vital – the more you write, the more people will see you as someone they can go to for blogging services.
Step 6: Do A Great Job
Whether you’re working with clients or crafting guest posts, it’s pretty obvious that you should aim to create really good work. The last thing you want to do is just crank out mediocre posts and call it a day.
Remember, there’s a strategy behind what you’re doing. That’s why it’s key to have a targeted list of clients and sites you want to focus on in your niche. Your energy is much better served writing 3-4 really high quality posts for sites in your niche than writing 20 posts at random that are just ok.
Good writing earns good money.
Pay attention to the basic stuff. Make sure you check for spelling and grammar errors and the content guidelines for sites or clients (if they have them). Create a compelling headline and find good sources for any stats or studies you use.
Remember that clients expect you to make their lives easier.
They want you to succeed (as it’s in their best interest), and if you produce excellent content for them, they’ll continue to give you work. Maintaining a relationship with a client does not only help your bottom line; it boosts your reputation as well.
Step 7: Let More Clients Come to You
Once you start working for a few sites, you’ll probably start noticing clients coming to you or responding more often to your pitch emails and LOIs.
By writing great posts for established blogs, you can build up your reputation and that drives people from your target niches to seek you out. A good portfolio can help seal the deal.
Craft Clear, Compelling Content
The most important part of attracting new clients is to write compelling, useful content – if you write epic posts, people will be eager to head over to your site and learn more about you.
When someone stumbles upon a bland, cookie-cutter, run-of-the-mill pile of crap, they just skim through it, shrug, and move on.
But when someone finds a real gem of a blog post, they sit down and read it all the way through – maybe they share it with their colleagues or put your advice into action. If they’re looking to hire a blogger, whoever wrote that post will be at the top of their list.
Potential clients care about logos. When they see a logo of a brand in their niche on your site, it’s social proof, it acts as a pre-vetting for you. Potential clients think, well if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for me.
Bring In Better Bylines
But writing amazing posts is not enough. You need a solid byline.
Unless you’re ghostwriting, your byline will usually appear alongside each post you write, whether it be for your own blog or for that of a client.
It varies, but in most cases, you will be able to write one or two sentences explaining who you are at the top or bottom of a guest post. You should put a good bit of thought into what you write here because it’s a way to drive direct traffic from interested clients right to your site.
One strategy is highlighting that you’re a freelance blogger for hire. Make it abundantly clear that your services are for sale, you can get more people to come to you.
Watch the Clients Come (But Don’t Forget to Market Yourself)
By blogging more, you can gain credibility.
Remember, everything you do should, at least in theory, directly contribute to boosting your bottom line or advancing your career. That holds true with blogging for clients as well as your own site too.
Success breeds success – if you consistently write great content, more and more people will be willing to pay you great rates. All of this supports a key point: samples with bylines published on a variety of sites increase the likelihood that you won’t need to look for work.
Even if you’re getting a lot of potential clients coming to you, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your marketing. It just means you can be a lot more selective with the potential clients you’re reaching out to along the way.
Keep Raising Your Rates
Finally, keep raising your rates.
The way to get to being a freelance blogger who pulls in $150 an hour is not to sit around and hope it happens. The more you blog and faster you write means you can steadily increase your rates over time just by the mere fact that you can accomplish more in less time, which helps increase your rate automatically.
Then, combine that with a rate increase with every new client you take on.
So that first $25 an hour client can quickly turn into a $50 an hour client to a $100 an hour client and so on. This is the stepladder to success a lot of freelancers take.
One way to move up that pricing ladder quickly is to stay targeted in your niche and focus on building a reputation there. That’s why it’s such a key step to start.
Ready to Become a Freelance Blogger?
We’ve given you the steps to start on your path to becoming a freelance blogger, now all you have to do is give it a shot.
From having a small blog and writing for those first few clients you can grow a real business where you’re making good money and are seen as an expert in your niche.
Freelance blogging can be a pathway to success, so why not give it a try?