If you’re chasing blog writing clients or you’re trying to manage a lot of work at the same time, you might be feeling a little out of breath.
You know…maybe you’ve got blog writing gigs with multiple clients in different niches. Or maybe you’re trying to get more freelance work writing blog posts, and pitching a ton of prospects.
There’s a lot to think about when you take that route.
You’ve got to keep track of things like editorial calendars and deadlines, come up with ideas, write great headlines, and know enough about SEO to go the distance.
It can be a fast-paced, publish-often challenge. And it can pay well. But if you’re not in shape, you might be sucking wind, along with your hourly rate for blog writing.
So how do you boost your blog writing skills to climb the path to freelance success?
You could wander around and probably find your way eventually. But you’ll get there faster if you follow someone who knows the way.
Check out these pro-blogger tips for rock-solid success.
Meet blog writing guides Ann Smarty and Kristi Hines
If you want to navigate the path to blog writing success as a freelance writer, Ann Smarty and Kristi Hines are both well-qualified to show you the way.
She’s a content marketing expert with more than a decade of experience.
And she’s helped a long list of clients and freelance writers master blog writing.
Kristi Hines is a digital marketing expert and pro blogger.
She’s even been featured on this blog about how to turn reviews of tools and products into successful posts in My 23 Best Types of Blog Posts That Grab Attention (see #21).
We caught up with Smarty and Hines in a Freelance Writers Den podcast to get their take on blog writing, best practices, and how to be a successful freelance writer.
Q1: How do you get feedback on a blog post idea before you write for a client?
Hines: I like to go to a forum and talk about those kind of things with other writers first, especially if you’re having a problem with a client. They can help you come up with a positive slant, and come up with ways to help you create a better relationship with your client about their blogging content.
Q2: What if a client asks to reprint something you’ve already published online?
Smarty: I would not do that. Google doesn’t like duplicate content. That can cause problems with SEO rankings for your client. And it can hurt your marketing efforts, especially if that’s something unique you wrote for your blog.
I would rather recommend or suggest writing a completely new blog post on the same topic. Make it completely original, and get paid for it.
Q3: How do you keep track of your hourly rate for blog writing clients?
Hines: I use FreshBooks because they’ve got a little time-tracking app in there. Every time I’m writing a blog post, I just check my time on it. After a while, I can kind of look at it and ask myself:
- Am I doing these at a rate that makes sense to what I’m charging?
- Do I need to up the rate?
- Or is it good?
You may not bill by an hourly rate, but you do need to monitor it so you charge appropriate rates.
Q4: Can you be a successful blogger if English is your second language?
Smarty: When I started, I had two problems. I couldn’t write in English quickly enough because I had to think about each and every word. And I didn’t know a lot about search engine optimization. I started writing very simple, but helpful list posts and reviews with screenshots and images.
That probably won’t work in every industry, but I created some very successful blog posts that way, gained experience, got faster at blogging, and it didn’t take me too much time.
Q5: How much should you charge for blog posts?
Hines: It depends. Some of my clients have me write 2,000 to 3,000-word posts. For those type of blog posts, there’s a lot of statistics and research that goes into them. I take a lot more time to write those posts, versus the stuff where a client wants a 400-word blog post on a simple topic.
It can take me anywhere from half an hour to six hours, to write a blog post, and you need to charge for that. Sure, there’s those clients who want blog posts for $25, $50, or $100. But there are also clients paying $300 to $500 or more for blog posts.
Q6: How do you become a recognized blogging expert in a niche and start getting assignments?
Smarty: It’s not that complicated, but so many writers are afraid to do this.
- Start talking to people online.
- Publish posts on your blog or social media channels.
- Respond to comments.
- Comment on posts other people write.
Networking is the first…the actual first step to take when you don’t have a following. Make connections and help those people, and they will help you back.
Q7: What’s one way you come up with blog post ideas to write about?
Hines: Personally, I like to use things that I struggle with. Like, if I’m just having a problem with a social media site or a particular piece of technology, I like to write about those topics. I kind of assume that I can’t be the only person in the universe that has that problem.
The other thing is, if you have topic ideas that just kind of pop into your head, even if you don’t have time to actually write the post, keep a list of those ideas. When you think you’ve run out of ideas, you’ll have this nice little list of things you’ve previously been inspired by.
Q8: Write a complete blog post and submit or pitch an editor your idea first?
Smarty: Unless the guidelines specifically say to submit a completed post, I would first pitch an idea. Then wait to hear back before you write a post. That way, you can make sure the blog editor is interested, and you’ll save yourself a ton of time.
Q9: Phone calls or email: How do you manage your blogging clients?
Hines: I try to do as much as possible to cut down on phone calls. Usually, I give clients an introductory 30-minute phone call. After that, I try to handle everything by email. It helps me keep things organized for clients. When you have multiple blog writing clients, you also really need to organize your due dates.
- I use Remember The Milk. It’s a little app that you can use on your mobile phone. You can kind of plug it into your email. I put my due dates for posts into it. Then, every day I take a look at all my due dates in one place. I find that’s really helpful.
Q10: If you’re new, how would you go about landing a guest post assignment for a blog you want to write for?
Smarty. Start following the blog. Become a member of that community. Sign up and read the emails they send you. If you’re really interested in guest posting there, start connecting with other people, reading, posting comments, regularly from day one.
As soon as you get a little bit known there, go ahead and pitch a blog post idea. You want to spend enough time there to get to know the audience, and what they like to read. That puts you in a good position to pitch a blog post idea that’s going to work.
Keep climbing to grow your freelance career with blog writing
If you’re serious about growing as a freelance writer, keep climbing. You can make a living writing blog posts for clients. Blog writing is also a common stepping stone that leads to more complex and better-paying projects. Take the next step. Move up. Earn more.
Need help with blog writing? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline, or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultramarathon.