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How to Become a Highly Paid Freelance Blogger

A lot of people are asking whether it is possible to make good money offering freelance blogging services.

The answer in one short word is – yes. (Who can forget that Jon Morrow charges around 3K for a blog post, I certainly haven’t).

Yes, it is totally possible. However, that doesn’t mean it is also easy.

Most of the successful freelance bloggers, including myself, who have gone down this path have only started making money after putting in a lot of effort and tons of hard work

You can’t start blogging today, and make money tomorrow – unless you are a celebrity or have major connections in the blogging industry that will back you and make sure you get noticed

Why I became a freelance blogger

I am obsessed with two things in life: books and Internet. That’s what I live on, that’s what I devour.

When I left my full time marketing/teaching job in the education sector to raise my kids, I did not know that I won’t be coming back for a long time. Things took a turn for the worse (story for another time) at home front and my life was literally changed for ever.

I continued to stay home. Then I thought I would teach in a primary school because the hours were shorter. I already had experience teaching Business Communications, Business Writing and Interpersonal Skills, but on a higher level.

I went back to Uni to get a teaching degree, and also started my blog, known as Marya Writes. This was two years ago. For two years, I pursued my post-grad degree, did my teaching rounds, looked after my kids and wrote on my blog.

I was following all the blogs that interested me – mostly blogs about blogging, writing and marketing. I learnt to write like an A-list blogger. I started paying attention to headlines and spent hours looking at how to make my posts engaging, compelling and share-worthy.

Within 6 months, I changed the blog title, moved to self hosted wordpress platform, and chose a minimalist theme for my blog. And I did not make a cent from my blog.

I only started offering my freelance copywriting (I have a MBA – Marketing) and blogging services this January. I slowly started landing work and now I am making half of my income from blogging projects.

Other success stories

Do you think I am the only one? No, I am not. A lot of freelance bloggers are sharing their success stories all over the web.

For instance, Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind did this post recently at Daily Blog Tips aptly tiled ‘7 Lessons from a Full Time Freelance Blogger’. Not to be outdone, Oni of Young Prepro followed up with his story ‘4 Smart Ways to Get Freelance Clients from Your Blog’.

And finally the last post that caught my eye; the post on Freelance Switch with the title ‘How to Become a Freelance Blogger’ by Leo Babauta. The Leo Babauta. I was still scratching my head until I noticed the words that the post originally appeared in 2007.

The Question is: why do you want to become a freelance blogger?

Ask yourself, why you want to become a freelance blogger in particular? Why not other forms of freelance writing? (I am assuming you are a freelancer so not debating if freelancing itself is the right choice for you).

To answer my own question, I ONLY read books or blogs. I am not a magazine or (unfortunately) a newspaper person. This is the style of writing I enjoy immensely. This is the way I connect with people. So it makes sense for me to do this.

I also have experience of working as a business writer and I enjoy helping others market their services. This allows me to offer blogging as part of my overall copywriting services.

You might have a preference for writing in other genres where the tone and style requirements are different, and could explore other options. Blogging is not easier, by any means. The kind that anyone can do, will earn you $5 per post – if you are lucky.

So you are still interested? Good, let’s go further then.

What you need to become a successful freelance blogger

You need your own blog, of course.

You need to have spent some time – months – developing content worth referring your potential clients and readers to.

You also need a niche. What sort of topics will you write about? If you intend to write for businesses in the health care sector, you could identify a niche and write about that. If you want to go after companies that sell software, your blog will naturally focus around that sort of topics.

You should have some sort of a testimonials page. This could initially include a list of influential blogs where you have guest posted on. You could quote what the bloggers have said about you.

By doing this you are not only providing clips (samples) for your work, you are also establishing yourself as an expert. You are saying to companies that you have the industry knowledge and you know what you are talking about.

You also need mentors. I have a few but one of them worth mentioning in this context is Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing blog. She has tons of resources on how you can make money blogging and always has great advice on offer.

And finally, learn why businesses need blogs so you could offer consultancy service on top of your regular services.

How to find companies that will hire you

You have done all the ground work i-e, you have been blogging at a professional level for a while, you have your niche and great content on your site, you have guest posted on a few A-list blogs and you have set up a Hire Me tab with the necessary information.

Now is the time to start approaching businesses.

Remember,
• The only kind of business that can pay you well, will have substantial marketing budget. Mom and pop operations, start-ups, one-person shows generally can’t afford to hire serious freelance bloggers.

• You can demand higher rates if you are a subject matter expert.  Your niche will help here – tremendously. Because of my higher education background, I specialize in writing for e-learning, online educational and training businesses. This also helps to keep things in check and avoid overwhelm.

• Understand blogging as a marketing tool for businesses. Be prepared to educate them about the benefits of blogging for business, if necessary. However, it works better if they already have a blog that needs regular content.

The steps are simple really:

  1. Identify companies that meet the two criteria detailed above.
  2. Get in touch with them and enquire if they hire any freelance bloggers.
  3. Highlight your experience, qualifications and what you bring to the table.
  4. Make the pitch about them, how you can help them attract more traffic, leads and convert them into paying customers. Spell out all the benefits.

So there you have it. That’s how I did it, And I would love to hear your thoughts. Do leave a comment. If you think this will help others, tweet it.

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)

26 Comments

  1. ASHOK M VAISHNAV Says :
    Posted on July 10, 2012 at 4:06 am

    If there is one lesson that I would like to take home from this lucidly written, no-nonsense guidance, as Marya always does, is that first and foremost thing is to develop a simple and direct communication of style of writing.
    I need to ponder over what I write, keep on practicing correcting myself on what I write with the help of my own natural instincts and guidance ‘bench-marked’ writers.
    If the task does appear difficult, it can be made do-able by rigorous self-discipline.
    If I do not have all of these, it would still worth keep on game-fully practicing, because my basic objective is to develop GOOD writing style. Every other benefit that may accrue is a bonus.

    • marya
      Posted on July 10, 2012 at 4:24 am

      Thanks Ashok. No-nonsense style? That is a big compliment! I am a very impatient reader myself so naturally I feel like I should not waste other person’s time as well. That is why this medium suits me so much. I hesistate to think of myself as a writer – I am more of a communicator. 🙂 Appreciate your thoughts.

      Cheers,
      Marya

      • ASHOK M VAISHNAV Says :
        Posted on July 10, 2012 at 4:33 am

        I liked the subtle difference that you have emphasized in “communicator” over “writer”.

        • marya
          Posted on July 10, 2012 at 4:41 am

          Good to see you picked up on that. I write to educate and to persuade. Effective communication is what I aim for, rather than making my prose worthy of publication in literary magazines. I know what I am doing … 😉

  2. Linda Says :
    Posted on July 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Good evening Marya!

    How timely this post is for me. I’ve been building my blog and writing about a few select, reasonably high profile attractions in Austria; have got a few testimonials from them; and am now ready to move to the next phase, which you so kindly outline (points 1-4).
    The main problem as I see it at the moment, is that these businesses don’t have blogs – so I’ll have to create one for them….

    Watch this space – ‘Wilson’s Writing World’ is about to be born!

    Kind regards,
    L

    • marya
      Posted on July 11, 2012 at 1:55 am

      Hey Linda, my advice would be to approach businesses that already have blogs but haven’t updated them for a while. Even if they initially pay you less than what you expect, it is much easier to get your foot in the door. I have done this, and find it really, really hard to convince people to start blogs. It is an investment and unless they are totally on board, they won’t go for it. Hope this helps. And best of luck. 🙂 Marya

  3. Derek Says :
    Posted on July 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Marya,

    I’m still stuck on the third sentence. 3K for ONE blog post? Really? Who pays that kind of money for a single blog post and can it really be THAT much better than anyone else’s blog post to warrant that kind of price tag? Are you paying for the name?

    • marya
      Posted on July 11, 2012 at 2:01 am

      Hi Derek. I totally get your reaction. I too felt the same way when I first heard about it (from a lot of people, and from Jon himself). I look at it this way. For a highly successful company, whose products or services are geared towards high end customers, they can afford to spend this kind of money getting a post. Also keep in mind that Jon Morrow is HUGE. He is the associate editor at Copyblogger, and a bit of a celebrity in the world of web marketing. He would promote the post through his networks, could potentially get it linked from many other sites and bring insane amount of traffic to the site. If they make sales over 25K from this one post, what’s a little investment of a few thousand? That’s why he commands that kind of rates … it is the difference bewteen getting a local speaker for your office function or Seth Godin … 🙂

  4. Sophie Lizard Says :
    Posted on July 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    There are so many paths to becoming a freelance blogger, I always love to hear the routes others have taken to the same destination! I started out as a marketer and copywriter who only blogged for fun, but so many of my clients were keen to get a blog going that I wound up blogging (and blog editing) full-time.

    Your point that niche skills help a freelance blogger to win the better jobs is very important. As a science and gadgets geek, I’ve found it easy to get well-paid work blogging for tech companies.

    It’s worth noting that niche knowledge doesn’t have to come from the business world, too – experience gained in other aspects of life such as travel or parenting can also be the basis of a freelance blogger’s expertise.

    Thanks for the very clear overview of your process!

    • marya
      Posted on July 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      Hello Sophie, I agree that it is most important to make sure you are worth every single penny you bill your clients for. Most would agree that the best way to do this is to write stuff that only a few people can. I believe Oni said something similar over at his blog today (great post, too).

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sophie. And welcome! 🙂
      Marya

  5. Becca Says :
    Posted on July 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Very interesting article that you’ve posted. Found the views to be quite informative and intriguing. Thanks for sharing.

    • marya
      Posted on July 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Glad you liked it Becca. Thank you!

  6. Joseph Says :
    Posted on July 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Awesome post Marya. I have learnt something new Today.

    • marya
      Posted on July 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Thanks Jospeh. Hope you stick around … 🙂

      Marya

  7. BarryCrow Says :
    Posted on July 26, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Hey Marya,

    Thank you for sharing your life and your experiences. I love writing and I can say writing is my passion but I haven’t made a blog of my own. I think I’m going to try your tips.

    • marya
      Posted on July 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Yes, definitely go for it. And let me know if I can do anything to help. 🙂 Marya

  8. DJ Rony Says :
    Posted on July 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Good initiative. My first 2 blogs were a failure to me- but till then I have got success with all of my blogs and I am still on to the journey. This time I have taken a 2 long year blogging project personally.

    dedication, good content and time- these three can make you a successful blogger.

    • marya
      Posted on July 30, 2012 at 2:36 am

      I agree – you need total dedication to succeed. Lack of persistence will make a failure out of you for sure. Thanks DJ Rony.

  9. Denise Loughlin
    Posted on August 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Wonderful authentic advice – a great help to me as a start up freelancer. There’s so much info, get rich quick blogger-advisors that it’s great to find you!
    This is sound seasoned advice for all of us. Thanks for sharing!

    • marya
      Posted on August 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words Denise. I hope you stick around as I have got a lot more stuff coming up as far as freelance blogging is concerned. Cheers. 🙂
      Marya

  10. Crystal Spraggins Says :
    Posted on March 2, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Hi Marya:

    I found your blog through Carol’s “linking party.” Thanks for the advice, I particularly like the practical steps for getting clients. I’m just about ready to go for it!

  11. Why it’s Sooo Hard to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Subscribers | Writing Happiness Says :
    Posted on March 12, 2013 at 2:30 am

    […] of me having to chase them). Lo and behold, I was making a pretty decent income as a result of my blogging efforts. It gave me credibility, showed my skills and put me in front of all […]

  12. How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger (and Actually Enjoy Your Work) Says :
    Posted on January 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

    […] “You can demand higher rates if you are a subject matter expert. Your niche will help here – tremendously.” — Marya Jan of Writing Happiness […]

  13. mohamed ayanle
    Posted on May 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    thank you very much marya, very interesting and i’m really enthusiastic about it.

  14. Karen Martínez P. Says :
    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Great advice, Marya!

    Understanding your reason to become a freelance blogger is important.

    It’s not about making money alone (of course it’s necessary). It only works if you have something meaningful to say and you are willing to learn things like marketing and great customer service.

    Thank you for this awesome resource 🙂

  15. Alex Taylor Says :
    Posted on June 25, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Hey Marya,
    I found this article on random search, It was amazing….
    I would like to share that only thing stand on the way of my freelance writing dreams is the fact that I love to write informative and unique content and I do want that other read my content and appreciate it. I have not much concerned for revenues while writing.