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Lessons Learned Blogging As A Freelance Writer

Lessons Learned Blogging As A Freelance Writer

Good news to all the writers in the world: you don’t have to be a novelist to make money from your writing. With the invention of the internet, the world as we know it has changed. The opportunities for working online and from home continue seem to expand with every passing year. One such opportunity that many people are drawn to is that of Blogging.

Whether it’s the idea of blogging on a site you’ve created or writing for others, blogging has become increasing popular.

How I Got Started Freelance Blogging

How To Become a Freelance Blogger

Image by jesadaphorn via Shutterstock

I sort of wrestled with whether or not to write this section. I mean, who would really care about my journey into blogging? I’m really not all that interesting of a person — not being humble, just honest.

My only real claim to fame in life is that I graduated high school when I was 15 and I have a pretty cute kid (I can take a bit of credit for that one right?). Even still, I personally feel that it helps to connect with what someone is writing when you feel like you know a little more about them. With that being said, this section seemed a little necessary.

So, here goes nothin’.

When you read about how or why many others started blogging, you’ll be drawn in by their rags to riches story. Those stories are captivating and inspiring, and I love them just as much as the next guy, er… gal. I, however, don’t have one of those stories. I wish I did, but alas, I do not.

As a kid, you could probably label me a bookworm. I always had a book in my purse and preferred to spend time in a bookstore instead of a clothing store. When I was around 14, I started writing little stories in my rather large collection of notebooks (I have a *clears throat* small notebook obsession) and songs for my two man band made up of me on guitar on my best friend singing.

Now I know this doesn’t sound like anything all that interesting, but this was the where my love for writing really started. Little did I know that scribbling song lyrics and stories in a notebook would turn into something else.

Flash forward to the beginning of 2014 and life for me had changed a bit. My hobby of writing was put on pause after marriage and having a little one, but I still fantasized about becoming a writer.

What can I say? Some dreams never die.

Honestly, I can’t even remember what I was researching online (probably something WordPress related since I had was doing mostly freelance web design back then), but one day, by sheer happenstance, I stumbled across a popular site called BloggingPro. One article led to me reading another, but it was a blogging job ad that was being advertised in the sidebar that caught my attention. Someone was looking for a blogger who knew WordPress and they were willing to pay $50 for an article on a related topic.

“$50 to write something I already know about?” I asked myself. “That’s cool… Ah, what the heck! I’ll just send an email and see if I can make some grocery money for the week.”

That small action changed everything.

It was the first blogging application that I had ever sent in, and I had nothing to prove that I could write other than my initial email. Surprisingly enough, I landed the job, wrote the post and got paid.

After that, I began to wonder if there was real money to be made from writing for other blogs or from creating my own. I mean, being paid to write? Was it possible to do that? Turns out that it was very possible. Stumbling onto that site opened my eyes to a whole world of writing that I didn’t even knew existed. I’ve been freelance writing ever since and have no thoughts of ever turning back.

Lessons I’ve Learned From Being a Freelance Blogger

I could probably write a book on all the lessons and mistakes I’ve learned and made since starting down the path of freelance writing. However, I realize that not everyone reading this is looking into freelance writing as a career choice.

Since most of the writing that I have done consists of blogging, I have learned quite a bit about blogging and the world of writing for an online audience.

Writing and Blogging are Very Different

One thing I quickly picked up on when I started blogging professionally was that blogging and writing were very different. Sure, blogging requires writing, but it’s not the same as the creative writing like you would see in a fiction book.

Blogging, in its own right, could be labeled as its own genre in the writing world. When you’re writing in a book, the formatting of paragraphs and dialog are very different when compared to a blog post; the styles are completely different.

Blogging and great blog posts are usually conversational in nature or relatable somehow, the paragraphs are short and easy to digest before moving on to the next; and while reading a book can capture one’s attention for hours on end, someone reading something online will only give about 8 seconds of their time before deciding whether or not they will keep reading you post.

Studying other blogs and bloggers taught me a lot about blogging and writing for an online audience, but the point of all of this is that blogging is its own style and it takes time to really make it your own.

If you’re writing for you own blog, it’s important to become relatable to your audience. If you’re writing for others, you have to follow their formatting and style guidelines. Either way, there are a few general rules that I’ve found that myself and others tend to stick to:

  • Write High Quality Content | Creating “High Quality Content” really means that you should be writing with a specific audience in mind and that they are the ones who should be shaping what is written.
  • Titles | Headlines are just as important as the rest of the post. A good headline can be the difference between someone clicking on a post in the search engine or choosing another with a similar topic.
  • Formatting | There is no single rule to perfectly formatting a blog post, however, short paragraphs make it easier for people to follow the post to the end and so those are best to use.
  • What’s The Point? | Bulletpoints help readers retain things that could get lost in a paragraph so their important
  • Pictures | Pictures are powerful as they tend to keep a viewers attention and help with social shares and can even boost conversion.

Edit, Edit, EDIT.

When first starting out, I didn’t realize that I was the one who would do the editing on a post, however, I quickly learned most people expect you to edit your posts before submitting the article (which seems so glaring obvious to me now *facepalm*. I mean, duh!). Even if you’re writing on your own blog, spending the time to edit your post, though tedious, is vital.

Words that have been misspelled or placed in the wrong spot will trip up the flow of your post and frustrate a reader. Therefore, you should always take the time to edit your post before publishing.

But after spending a good couple of hours writing, the last thing my brain wants to do is edit a blog post, so I don’t. I’ve found that it helps to not write and edit back to back. When I do that, I tend to rush through and miss something. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a word here and there — it’s bound to happen to even the best of us.

Even still, you should take the time to edit before you make a post live.

Passion Will Get You Started, but Determination Will Get You Through

Love for writing has always been at the foundation for my decision to become a freelance writer. However, after a few months of working as one, I discovered that passion cannot be the main motivator behind my work and business, and I think the same can be said of anyone looking to work for themselves.

Passion for writing or any endeavor online really can quickly be quelled when you dump life’s day to day stresses on it, so it’s really not the best foundation to build a business one. Working for yourself takes both discipline and determination — or in my case, a bit of stubborn tenacity works good too.

On days where you just have to get that post written, edited and published, digging deep and finding the determination to power through can be tough, but when you’ve lost that passion for the moment, you’ll need that determination to get to the finishline.

A Bit Of Advice For Budding Freelance Bloggers

If you’ve come across this article because you want to learn more on how to become a freelance blogger, then I hope that the following tips will help you on the right path.

You Can Make Money From Writing, But Don’t Call It Easy Money

Whether you’re starting to blog for a personal site you’re planning on profiting from, or you’re looking into becoming a freelance writer in order to make money that way, there is one thing that should be settled right now:

Yes, writing can be extremely profitable, but it is no means easy money. If you plan to write because you think it’s a way to get rich with little effort, you’re going to be quickly disappointed.

Many have the idea that writing is easy and that anyone can do it, but it’s more than just pounding out words on your laptop. Blogging and writing online copy is a skill that takes time and even some training to get right.

The people who make a good living from blogging put a lot of time and hard work into what they do, and only a few of those people land in the category of millionaire status. No matter what your reason for blogging is, it’s important to be realistic about what you’ll make — especially when you’re just starting out. So, yes, you can make a good living from blogging, but it’s not a get rich quick scheme.

Learn To Love Constructive Criticism

Is taking criticism about your writing easy? No, but it is necessary. Now I’m not saying that you should just swallow being bullied and put down when it comes to your writing and your worth — that is definitely not something I’d ever support. However, constructive criticism when based around helping you become a better writer is some of the best criticism you can ever get.

I know that because I’ve received such assessments, and they’ve only bettered my writing.

Earlier, I mentioned the first post ever write. Well, what I didn’t mention was who it was for. The person I wrote for was someone that many here on Elegant Themes would know: Kevin Muldoon, who is a freelance blogger and has contributed some of the best articles to here on the blog.

Kevin was the guy that gave me my first “big break” into blogging. During and after writing the post for him, Kevin gave me some pointers and was honest with me about what he thought of my post.

His critiques were a some of the best I could have asked for in terms of bettering myself as a blogger. He also told me that I had potential to become a really great writer, and hearing that from someone who had been in the field for a lot longer than me was hugely motivating.

I never properly thanked him, so if he reads this, I hope to use this as a chance to extend my appreciation for his help.

While having people critique your hard work is not always an easy pill to swallow, I can say from personal experience that if you keep an open mind, you can use that to push you to become better. It’s invaluable and worth the cut to the misplaced pride that we all tend to carry around.

Confidence Is Just As Important As Your Skill

If you decide to venture down the road of full or part-time freelance writing, then you’ll need to be able to hold your own. Confidence is a struggle for some of the best writers, but a lack of self-confidence in your skill or your worth will wind up with you stuck in a rut that’s hard to get out of.

Now, don’t walk around like you own the world — no one likes someone who is cocky. But don’t get so low that you think you’re not good enough to write or that you can only work for low pay because you don’t think you’re worth better pay. Confidence can take some time to build, so once you have it, don’t let it be something that can be undermined. If critiques or criticism come your way, take it all with a grain a salt, learn from it and move on.

Strive To Better Your Writing

Do you want to know the secret being a great writer? It’s always looking at your art as evolving and growing. Whether you write for your own blog or you’re going to become a freelancer, being able to continually learn and grow your skill will do you wonders. So how to you grow? How do you become a better writer, a better blogger? Here are a few tips:

  1. Read Blogs | Read blogs like Boost Blog Traffic, Be A Freelance Blogger, ProBlogger and the like. The people who run these blogs, and the people who write guest posts there have already accomplished what you’re trying to do. Gobble up the information and learn from others who have mastered the skill of writing viral posts and who make good money from blogging.
  2. Get Training | Even great bloggers like Job Morrow from Boost Blog Traffic had a mentor. If you’re serious about bettering your blogging or writing skills, then why not find someone who will train or mentor you too? Many bloggers offer courses or one-on-one training to budding freelancers and can help you hit the ground running.
  3. Read Some E-Books | You know what the best part about e-books is? They’re cheap. $50-60 in e-books will give enough reading material for a couple months. There is a plethora of e-books on the subject of blogging, freelance writing and bettering your writing skills and they’re worth so much more than the few dollar your pay for them.

If I could offer any advice to new bloggers, it would be to aspire to always grow. Grow your experience in life, expand your art and be willing to learn something new. All of that will translate to readers in a way they’ll love and appreciate, and you’ll also be proving that you’re worth your salt.

These were just a few things I’ve learned along the way as both a writer and a blogger. But you know what I love most about Elegant Themes in particular? It’s the amazing community that is here. With that being the case, I’d love to hear from you.

What advice do you have to share with new bloggers? Any tips on blogging or freelancing that you’ve found particularly useful? Is there a point that you thought I missed or would have liked expanded on?

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