Blog Writing Workout: 10 Expert-Blogger Tips for Rock-Solid Success

Evan Jensen

 Rock-Solid Success Tips for Blog Writing. Makealivingwriting.comIf 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

Ann Smarty: Blog Writing

Ann Smarty

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.

Ann Smarty is a pro blogger and founder of Viral Content Bee and several successful blogs.

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: Blog Writing

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a digital marketing expert and pro blogger.

She’s written for over 50 brands, businesses, entrepreneurs, and publications including HubSpot, Moz, Neil Patel, Oberlo, Salesforce, and others. 

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.

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  1. Luana Spinetti

    I agree with Hines: writers’ forums are a wonderful resource. And even some hashtag-based communities on Twitter. Wherever writers can help each other, good things happen. 🙂 Ah, starting with one own’s problems is a great idea, too.

    I love Ann’s input (more so since she’s a fellow ESL writer). Networking can change everything; from dark-horse to known expert. Twitter is my favorite place to network. Personally, I got some success with HARO but I definitely need to do more networking. On a tiny scale for now, until my mental health improves with further medication and therapy, but it’s a start and I’m happy with it (probably I should write more about how I do things with mental disability, could help other people; I don’t have it all sorted yet, not every diagnosis is here yet, but I’m working toward that goal).

    About studying a blog and connecting with their readers before landing a guest post assignment, I’d add that the more you become a ‘fan’ of that blog, the more your can see where there are gaps in the content and you could always offer a piece that fills that gap.

    I couldn’t listen to podcast live, but this post totally makes up for it! Loved it.

    – Luana

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Luana —

      Fascinated that Twitter is doing well for you — I feel like it’s kind of died out for me in favor of LinkedIn.

      Are you in Binders Full of Freelance Writers on Facebook? TON of essayists in there, always brainstorming with the group about where to place their personal stories — bet they would have some ideas for you on where you could sell that! Everybody loves productivity stories, especially with special challenges to overcome.

  2. Cynthia

    Thank you! This was much more helpful and encouraging than so many articles I read. Most articles seem to make writing a blog, or blogging as a negative, or complicated process.

    • Carol Tice

      Not sure who you’ve been reading, Cynthia! If blogging were complicated, millions wouldn’t be doing it, I think.

      I’d say the negative is that many people dive into blogging without a goal. They don’t know what they hope to get out of it, or who they are blogging FOR. And then a lot of time gets wasted.

      Learning how to write a competent blog post isn’t complicated — FYI I put all my tips on how I built THIS blog here:

  3. Amy Diaz

    Starting small and improving your skills incrementally is the best way to go about anything really.

    As a writer, you’ll need to know that much of your income depends on your ability to market yourself.

    Clients are willing to pay from $20 all the way up to the high hundreds (or even more in some cases) for the same piece of content.

    Be smart, and never sell yourself short.

    • Carol Tice

      Amy, I’d challenge the idea that the same piece of content could go for $900 or $20. That’s not true in my experience. In general, better pay for blogging comes from writing about more complex and expensive solutions than simple for markets where standards for content are much higher.

      And of course, writing for bigger, better companies with a real understanding of the value of content marketing tends to help you charge what you’re really worth.

  4. Ahaduzzaman

    Hi Carol, I’m a new blogger who is trying build writing skills.
    Here,answers of 10 questions helping me a lot.
    Could you plz specify, is there any way to practice blog writing skills?

    • Carol Tice

      Great question, Ahaduzzaman!

      Many writers practice their blog-writing skills by starting a blog of their own, or posting on LinkedIn Pulse (LI’s blog) or Medium.

      The grammar errors in what you’ve written tell me that blogging in English for clients is probably not an option for you right now, but consider blogging and looking for clients in your own language. There are companies blogging everywhere.

      More tips for you here:

    • Ahaduzzaman

      Thanks a lot for your detailed answer.
      I’ll definitely look into more tips.
      You are doing great jobs, thanks again.

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