Don’t you sometimes wish someone would just tell you the exact steps to building a successful freelance blogging business? That are guaranteed to work? A fool-proof plan?
Because then YOU could be an A-List blogger.
The one that has it all.
Clients who pay the big bucks. Thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook likes. Hundreds of comments to every post they publish and they don’t even need to comment themselves to bump up the numbers.
When will you ever get there?
You devour their business advice like your life depends on it. If I just do what this guy’s doing, I’ll hit the big time.
What they don’t tell you, in the detail that you’d like, is the time and experimenting it took to get there.
And it’s all about experimenting.
Which is why you shouldn’t listen to all the famous bloggers’ advice.
And instead? Create your own formula for success.
So what are the A-Listers telling you to do that you simply shouldn’t?
A whole bunch o’ stuff, apparently:
1. A-Listers say:
FIRST define your ideal client
Ah yes, that elusive ideal client. If you don’t have this person defined, who on earth are you writing for?
So of course you must now spend the next week of your life making lists and defining the entire life of this mystery person. Right down to their eye colour, weight and guilty pleasures.
And then you can target their inner thoughts with every word you type.
Good luck with that.
How many of your competitors will be defining the exact person? Using the same, generic descriptions of a-small-business-owner-struggling-to-write-and-desperately-searching-for-the-one-person-who’ll-take-it-off-their-busy-hands?
Don’t listen to the A-Listers by relying on ideal client definitions, and risk being like everyone else.
Here are some alternatives:
- Write for yourself.
Would you buy your services? Would you read your posts? Write the way you want to be entertained, or informed, or supported. Your thoughts are likely to be shared by others that think like you. So start building an audience based on the one person you know best — yourself.
- Know your existing audience.
Those people that are already working with you? Get to know them. You’ve already won them over. Build relationships with them. Get into email conversation and make the effort to get inside their heads. And do this whilst your blog is being built.
You don’t have to have your ideal client profile defined from day one. You can tweak it as you’re building your blog.
2. A-Listers say:
Don’t write for content mills
Low pay. Poor quality writing. Damage to your reputation. These are just some of the things that writing for content mills is associated with. Add never-ending writing and zero articles to show off in your portfolio, and you have a recipe for freelance writing disaster.
But as we read recently, writing for content mills shouldn’t necessarily be shunned.
Especially at the start of your freelance writing career.
As well has having the opportunity to write about a variety of topics, content mills also teach you discipline. You write to strict criteria, and to a deadline – two crucial skills to build early on.
And what’s more? Content mills are great for your skin – a thick skin, that is. Because their requirements are so specific, they’ll take no time to ruthlessly reject you. Rejection early on toughens you up and makes you realise these are the rules of the game.
The sooner you learn this, the tougher you’ll be.
3. A-Listers say:
Posting daily is a mistake
I get it. Reading that sentence sends chills down your spine. If I don’t post every day, then my audience will forget about me. How will they know I still exist?
But the A-Listers tell you not to post every day. And they should know. After all, they’ve built successful blogs.
So what to do?
The answer is to definitely post every day. But not on your blog alone.
Consider your followers on social media. Your Facebook group, your Twitter followers, or Pinterest fans. Posting daily on those platforms is not only normal, it’s expected.
The cherry on the cake is to take a week’s worth of tweets and use them as material for a post.
Remember: always make whatever you post useful for your audience. Nobody wants to see a picture of the lamb shanks you’re about to have for dinner.
Which leads us to…
4. A-Listers say:
Only focus on one platform
The famous blogging gurus tell us that in the beginning, you must focus your effort on your blog alone. Grow your audience there first. Until you have 1,000 loyal fans. Then you can move onto other platforms. Makes sense, right?
What happens when you post something new on your blog? Hundreds of writing enquiries? Ok, tens? What? None? Those crickets are a pain…
The alternative is to find your audience on the platforms they do hang out at, and build relationships with them. So they eventually come to your blog, and become raving fans.
Be careful not spread yourself across every platform available. Pick one that’s relevant to your audience, experiment with it, and see what successes it brings for your blog. If it doesn’t work, move onto the next.
Experimenting is key to find what works.
5. A-Listers say:
Show off your writing and clients will notice you
Good writing stands out. Anyone who can read appreciates a good writer, right? All you have to do is have some good-quality blog posts on your site, email a few applications for writing jobs, and the good client on the other side will take one look at your posts and beg you to write for them.
This may work for some, but it all sounds like a bit of pot luck.
Whereas the posts on your website don’t necessarily have to be related to the topic your client wants, your email applying for the writing job must sell you as the perfect candidate before the client views your site. If you don’t nail that first email, the client’s never going to visit your site — and then all your wonderful content stays unread.
The role of your site is to support your application, not do the sales job alone.
So what should you write in your email? The following:
- If you’re responding to an advert, follow any instructions given in the ad. It demonstrates your professionalism. Period.
- Make a direct link between your experience/abilities and the topic of interest for the client.
- Add links to your writing, either on the same topic, or different topics.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the client and their business. Compliment them and show enthusiasm for working with them – make it genuine.
Don’t just take it for granted that your talent will be spotted. Work for it.
6. A-Listers say:
Don’t use personal stories
When it comes to selling you as the ideal writer for your client, personal stories don’t bring value to the sale. In fact, the majority of folks on the internet are looking for facts, concrete evidence, and high-quality testimonials alone. Your personal life stories don’t work in this context.
Or so the A-Listers lead us to believe.
But consider this: how many blogs are live right now? Tens of thousands are using WordPress alone. And how many blogs are live in your particular niche? Thousands, if you’re in marketing (and hello, blogging is marketing). Even more if you write about writing too.
How exactly will you stand out? If you’re all offering similar services and formulas-that-work?
What do you have to offer that’s unique?
Your personality. And this includes personal anecdotes.
Your personal stories connect to the emotions of your audience and your clients. Channel some vulnerability and aim for the heart.
Those A List bloggers? They didn’t all use the same formula to achieve their success. So when they advise you on what works, they base it on their own experience.
You can do the same.
Look at the advice they give, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Relax. Shake off the pressure and have some fun.
And before you know it, you’ll be the one with the hundreds of comments, thousands of adoring fans, and clients on a waiting list.