Why You Should Stop Writing Blog Posts (and What to Do Instead)

Carol Tice

Blogging conceptYou may think this is a funny piece of advice for me to write on my blog.

But if you care about earning more as a freelance writer, then you might want to stop writing blog posts.

Why do I say this?

There are four big reasons I want to steer you away from blogging:

 

1. It’s a time-waster

One common affliction currently plaguing many aspiring freelance writers is that they start a blog because they’ve heard they should. Next, they fall in love with the blog, and then spend way too much time on it. All at the expense of finding the paying clients they need, and without examining what they’re blogging about or why.

Unfortunately, the typical diary-you-put-online type blog posts rarely attract many readers. And they don’t make a good writing sample for luring clients, either. Businesses want fact-filled posts written on a single topic, not random posts about your personal thoughts.

But it’s so empowering, pushing that ‘publish’ button on whatever you want to say…that it becomes addictive.

It’s not unusual for writers to tell me:

“My goals for this month include posting twice a week on each of my three personal blogs. Plus…um…guess I need to do some marketing to find clients.”

The blogging sucks up all your free time, the marketing falls to the bottom of your priority list, and next year, you’re still starving.

2. It has a crummy reputation

No client is impressed to hear that you’re writing blog posts.

Blogging is the entry point. The bottom rung. There’s no barrier to entry. Often, you have no editor — and your prospects know it.

That’s why blogging isn’t a prestigious type of writing.

If you can manage to guest post on a big, popular, brand-name blog, that helps your cred a bit. But it’s still not a byline in Vanity Fair or the New York Times.

3. It doesn’t pay well

Yes, there is an elite rank of business blogging clients that now pay $100-$300 a blog post and more. But even this upper end of blog-post pay is low compared to what you can earn from other types of writing.

And the vast majority of blogging gigs are still going for $5-$25 a post, which isn’t a living wage in any First World country, no matter how fast you write.

4. It’s a shrinking market

With the ongoing efforts of Google to exclude mass-content sites from its search results, the forecast is for less blogging-for-hire work in future. Most of the cheap, SEO-keyword driven, short-post assignments are drying up.

It’s a dying niche because semi-literate, half-baked posts you dash off in 15 minutes for search robots to index don’t work any more. They don’t drive traffic because they’re not turning up in search results. So businesses are not going to pay even $5 for them in future.

If you’re dependent on this sort of work for your living right now, it’s time to make plans to move into a new niche. You’ve got all your eggs in a vanishing basket.

What to write instead

If I’ve made you rethink your feelings about blogging, good.

I’m not trying to tell you to stop writing, of course. Just that blogging isn’t the greatest format if you’re looking to earn a living from writing (short of seeing a moonshot success on monetizing your own blog).

So what should you write instead of blog posts? Articles.

Here’s why:

  • Articles pay well. You can earn $1 a word and more, from better companies and publications.
  • Articles are a prestige assignment. You’re not ‘just a blogger’ anymore.
  • Article clips are respected. Editors and marketing managers alike are impressed when you show them article clips.
  • People love to read articles. This is a format that’s been around a long time, and readers ‘get’ it.
  • Blog posts are becoming articles. The call for 2,000-word blog posts on many top blogs and websites really means they want articles.
  • Businesses need articles. Increasingly, corporate clients are looking for article content for their websites, to set them apart from all those ordinary, low-value blog posts. I’ve earned $2 a word in this niche.

The secret of online writing success

I’ll let you in on a little secret that I think was key to this blog’s success: I never thought of myself as a blogger.

My concept for this blog has always been that I’m writing and publishing an online magazine, and these posts are the articles. And that has made all the difference.

That’s why while most blogs blather on about the author’s personal feelings or whatever strikes their fancy that morning, I do exposés, report on news that affects freelance writers, and discuss trends. Because this is a magazine for freelance writers and advice on how to become a freelance writer.

When I started writing article-style posts back in 2008, I think I was a little ahead of the curve. But now, in-depth, fully reported blog posts — (cough) articles — are fast becoming the online norm.

If you like writing online, know that article format is the future.

Which makes sense, because readers want great stories and useful information. Fascinating interviews and unique facts. Always have, and always will. In the future, when they’re laser-beaming content into our brains, that’s what we’ll want.

If you don’t know how yet, you should learn to deliver this.

Reposition to earn more

To sum up: stop writing “blog posts.” Stop thinking of yourself as a blogger. Become an article writer instead. If that idea scares you — of doing interviews and finding facts — I just want to say: You can do this.

Sell what you’re writing to clients as articles instead of blog posts. “Instead of short blog posts, we should create better content that’s article quality, with interviews and research data — that’s what builds authority and really gets you traffic and leads.” Then, ask for $.50-$1 a word for it.

Ride the trend toward better, article-style content and you’ll be positioned to earn more as a freelance writer in 2015. Then, you can write whatever you want on your own blog.

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138 Comments

  1. George Donaldson

    As a newbie trying to start up a freelance business I’m glad I read this before diving into the task of creating a blog. I too assumed I needed a blog to get the ball rolling, but now I feel it may be best to put this off until later or just avoid it altogether.

    • Carol Tice

      Reread the post — not telling anyone to not have a blog, George. I’m telling people to not think of their posts as slapped-up junk, and to write the heck out of them.

    • George Donaldson

      I get what you’re saying. Given that I don’t currently have a writer’s website or a blog up at the moment, would you say I need to do both, or should I just put up a writer’s website and try to focus on getting some initial portfolio pieces? (Given what I’ve read online so far, this seems to be a debatable topic).

    • Carol Tice

      It is — it really depends on your goals and what sort of writing you want to do.

    • George Donaldson

      As far as my goals: I’m broke, but I don’t want to apply for a job at Walmart. As far as my “niche” I am basically a very nerdy guy. People tell me: “You sound like Bill Nye the science guy.”

      I love far-out science stuff, but I have no expert credentials in science. My career experience is in classical music and a brief foray into the I.T. world. I would enjoy creating a blog about subatomic particles and dark matter, but that won’t pay the landlord.

      I could write informative articles about most topics, but I’m not an actual expert in anything accept orchestral music (and I don’t want to write about that).

      It seems like the current trend in the online content market is for experts that can write reasonably well about their area of expertise. I would say I am the opposite: I can write well on topics about which I don’t have expertise. I can research a subject and create a nice, informative piece about it – but without credentials or writing experience, how do I sell that to a client?

  2. Jaimie

    Excellent information! Carol, yes I tried out a free blog once but decided it wasn’t for me. I have always enjoyed fact based content myself and can write articles in my sleep. It’s a cut throat business though and like logo designing its so competitive. I actually want to write articles for businesses but with so many doing it, it seems extremely difficult to get your voice heard. Right now am focusing more on my books on Amazon.
    I like writing books best but would have no issue writing articles as well. I just don’t want to waste my time and try to chase down businesses that are not serious about content. Any advice would be very valuable to me. You really saved me a lot of time today, I was going to start a new blog and start posting but now am going to go into article writing like originally planned. Your right its much more lucrative. I actually did a course on Udemy on this so I know.

    • Carol Tice

      There are some big business platforms like HuffPo and Business.com that allow free guest posting from thought leaders — they might be a place for you to start breaking into the business-article niche. I gather Entrepreneur is taking free contributors on its blog as well.

      The authority you gain from appearing there can help you impress businesses or get into writing for business mags. Most businesses don’t need reported articles written…and if you read through the post, you’ll see I’m not telling people not to blog — just telling them to write article-quality work on their blog.

      That’s what gets you noticed and impresses business blogging prospects — that and getting a lot of views and shares on a big platform like those I named above.

  3. Kevin J. Duncan

    Hi Carol,

    I know I’m late to the party, but I had to chime in say well done. Quality trumps quantity every time. If bloggers want to blog every day or two, they certainly can — IF they’re willing to put in the time and effort to make those posts very high quality.

    Of course, unless your name is Neil Patel, this is easier said than done. Hence your advice: Only publish great work. If that means you publish less frequently, so be it.

    Thanks, Carol.

    – @kevinjduncan

  4. Tracy Antonioli

    I realize this is an older post, but it came up in my Facebook feed today so I clicked on it. And I have some thoughts.

    First, I don’t see how blogging can actually hurt a writer. After all, writing is a practice. It’s like telling a runner to run less if they want to make more money running.

    Second, what if one’s blog is not just a random collection of poorly composed personal thoughts? What if it is a well-curated collection of articles about one specific area (a niche, if you will). And what if that blog actually has gotten you repeat clients and paid work? Because that’s what my blog is, and that’s what my blog has done for me. It has also taken me all over the world, introduced me to amazing people, and opened up opportunities I’d never have had without it. To assume that all blogs are just collections of diary-style ramblings is even more outdated than this post is old.

    And third–is this not a blog post? About writing fewer blog posts? I’ve scrolled through the comments and no one seems to have pointed that out. I find it rather humorous.

    • Carol Tice

      Tracy, I think you might want to re-read the post. I’m not telling people to post less — I’m telling them to write article-quality posts, if they’d like their blog to be a platform for building their writing career. In essence, to up their game, and use their blog as a showcase for better-quality work than the typical blog post offers.

      Sounds like you’re probably doing just that, and writing in service of an audience — which is how blogs succeed. So congrats on that! I’m certainly not assuming most blogs are random ramblings…but from my experience reading many of them for the many blog reviews I do, many, many of them are.

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