Tired of earning small money for paid blogging? If you’re looking to move up, article writing can be a great next step in your freelance career.
After all, you already know how important headlines are online. And you know how to focus an idea into an article-sized slice, organizing it into subheads or a bulleted/numbered list.
All great fundamentals for article writing.
How can you cross over from the world of $50 blog posts to earning $1 a word and more for articles?
Here are five proven paths for moving up to writing articles:
1: Get interviews into your blog posts
There’s one major difference between what people think of as a “blog post” vs what they perceive as an “article,” and it’s that articles have interviews. So create an audition piece for yourself by conducting interviews and including quotes in your blog posts.
After all, you’re free to make your blog posts as sophisticated as you want. Yes, it takes a little extra time, but you can turn any blog-post assignment into a great portfolio sample that can help you land article-writing jobs by spicing it up with an interview.
I had a habit of doing this from the start on my own blog. Don’t be shy about going after big game for those interviews, either – I recently interviewed the CEO of ClearVoice for my blog, after the writer site was bought by Fiverr, for instance.
If an interview would liven up one of your posts, reach out and ask if you could chat for 10-15 minutes. You’ll be surprised who’ll be willing to talk to you.
The bonus is that your blog posts will stand out from the crowd and likely get more attention and traffic – providing another great calling card that’ll help you get jobs writing articles online.
2: Aim for prestige
Let’s face it – these days, the worlds of blogging and article writing are converging. Some popular blogs have almost as much cachet as major magazines do. Editors read blogs, and notice writers whose bylines appear on major sites.
Build your reputation and attract interest from article-based websites or print magazines by blogging for the highest-profile site you possibly can. Don’t get stuck writing for sites nobody has heard of. Any time you get a clip, think about whether there’s a better-known site on that topic you could now pitch.
For instance, I found that guest posting for Copyblogger several times opened a lot of doors for me to better assignments.
Another approach to add prestige to your portfolio is to write a piece or three for your local newspaper. Most dailies are dying for help these days, and if you’re willing to go cover that city council meeting or local protest, they may be thrilled for the help.
Yes, the pay will be a joke, but you’ll gain clips that make print-magazine editors sit up and take notice. Newspaper stories show you’ve been able to please a daily-paper editor, have print experience, and know how to gather facts and get interviews – two essentials for magazine writing.
3: Go long
The other big trend in blogging is longform. If you’re writing a 2,000-word blog post, that’s a great showcase to show you could write a long feature article for a magazine.
Seek out opportunities to write longer posts (and yes, try to weave in interviews, or at least well-documented facts from reliable sources). The pay is often not what it should be for longform blogging, but a few solid clips in this department make great article samples. As a backup, you can always create longer posts for your own blog.
4: Write for sites that swing both ways
These days, many major national magazines develop a ton of blog content and have thriving websites. Their websites offer an ideal opportunity to start in blogging and cross over to writing online or print articles for the same outlet.
Build your reputation on the blogging side, and then ask for an introduction to the editors who handle print or online articles. If they’re happy with what you’ve produced on the blog, editors are usually happy to refer you.
This was my own path at Forbes – I wrote a blog channel on entrepreneurship and franchising for them for several years, doing my best to slip interviews into my posts. Many of these got great traffic, building my credibility with my blogging editor.
After a while, he approached me with a rush assignment to cover a CEO in my city for the print magazine. And suddenly, I was in Forbes, the top print business magazine. I even ended up being flown out to interview the richest man in North Dakota (one of my favorite assignments I’ve ever had, honestly!).
5: Learn to pitch articles
Once you’ve created a few strong samples that show you understand article format, you can go after article-writing jobs anywhere you like, from top websites to national magazines. What it takes is a bit of courage, and an understanding of how to write a query letter that impresses editors and gets you hired.
If you’re new to the form, query letters outline a single story idea, usually showcasing the proposed beginning of the article and detailing who you’d interview to execute the piece.
There’s an art to writing a strong query letter that gets an editor to take notice, but if you master this format, you can leave the world of responding to online job ads behind and go after the article gigs you want.
Move up from blogging to article writing
As you can see, bloggers have many of the skills needed to move up to article writing. The missing ingredient is often a few article-ish samples, and a commitment to pitch around and land article clients.
Start now by building a portfolio of blog samples that can help you break in at better sites and print publications. Then, screw up your courage and go after your dream magazine markets by sending query letters.