So you want to learn to be a freelance blogger. What do your first moves look like?
Let me guess, something like this:
“Oh! Oh! I need to know this for sure!” Click. (Spends hours clicking from post to post, blog to blog.)
“Oooh this blogger looks cool!” Click-click. (Stalks them for 30 minutes.)
“Ohh, I need that!” Clickety-click click. (Spends 45 minutes clicking through training class advertisements and products, reaches for wallet.)
Four hours later you’re slumped over your computer, brain scrambled and eyes glazed over. Even worse, your path to success isn’t any clearer and you’re down a couple hundred bucks.
Time to admit you have a problem. You need a tour guide to help you trudge through the vast wasteland that is the internet. Allow me to assist. I’d like to show you how to get your feet wet in this community without overwhelming your brain, your inbox or your wallet.
And chill out with the clicking—time’s a ticking!
The good news
There is nothing quite like the freelance blogging community. Never in all of my job-related experiences have I encountered a community of mentors so hell-bent on my success.
Not only do they want us to succeed, they invite us to connect with them, ask questions and allow them to guide us. Everywhere I turn there’s a wealth of resources waiting to be absorbed and implemented into my freelance blogging journey.
The downside is that we are often limited in the time we can spend furthering our knowledge and making new connections. We have to actually write at some point, right?
Here are a few pieces of advice to make your journey a little less painful and time consuming.
Choose your main hangouts
Start with one well-written, trustworthy blog about freelance writing and blogging. Here are a few signs that a particular writing blog will be helpful and trustworthy:
- It’s not overloaded with advertisements and pop-ups.
- It’s free to subscribe.
- It’s simple and easy to read.
- You can sense the author’s passion and genuine desire to help you become successful. (Check out their “about” page to get a feel for this)
Most good writing blogs will have suggested posts for you to start with, which makes things easier. Take your time on this site, and learn all you can from it before moving on. This site should lead you to other high-quality blogs either through guest posts by other authors or recommendations within posts.
When you are ready to branch out, start by exploring at least one or two other blogs about freelancing. Widen your horizons by checking out marketing or business blogs and explore other relevant niches such as creativity, inspiration and lifestyle. Trust me, you’ll want a go-to blog when you’re feeling defeated and need a pick-me-up.
Plant networking seeds
This is where you crush your social anxiety before it has the chance to surface. In the blogging business, you simply cannot be a silent observer and learner; you must interact and engage in the community. Raw talent will only get you so far — the relationships you build will take you the next level.
Start by sending a personal email to the author of each of your main hangout blogs. First, make sure you’ve thoroughly read and absorbed all of what they have to offer and can show that you’re a true fan. If you read a great guest post, email that person as well. Frame the email like this:
- Introduction: Introduce yourself and state your mission.
- Thanks: Show a genuine appreciation for their work. Give one example of how something they’ve written has helped you.
- Questions: These are optional but are always beneficial. Ask one or two well-thought-out questions. Theseshould be queries you are genuinely curious about and feel will benefit you on your journey. They’ll most likely be questions related to how they got where they are. Examples:
- “What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you started blogging?”
- “As a writer, how did you overcome self-doubt?”
Tip: Make sure the answers to the questions can’t be found on their blog.
Next you’ll want to stay active in the comments sections of their posts, and if they have community forums, join them. Make sure your comments are always genuine and thoughtful.
A note about social networking: yes… do that. I won’t go into detail about how to do it because there are plenty of posts out there to guide you. Choose three of the most popular social networks (I recommend Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for starters) and master them before joining any others.
Spend your money wisely and sparingly
Take the time to assess where you’re at in your journey and determine your basic needs. For example, there shouldn’t be an immediate need to purchase any expensive training videos or software before you have read the free information available. Here are some basic financial guidelines for beginner bloggers:
Smart Spending Choices:
- Domain name and hosting for your website
- Email subscription service
- A few professional photos of you
- Computer upkeep
- E-books by your favorite bloggers
Save for the Future:
- Expensive “boot-camps” and “masterclasses”
- Super expensive themes, or hiring a designer for your website
- Costly subscriptions to job boards — use free boards like this one instead
It’s easy to get pumped about all of the awesome, useful information available to us as new bloggers. However, it’s important to remember that information burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen to you!
You can’t possibly subscribe to every great blog, attend every webinar and read every e-book. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed (or when you sleep, all you dream about is blogging) take a break for a day or two.
Have a “screen-free” day where you break out the old pen and paper and journal to reflect on your progress. Go outside in nature and set your mind free to wander and become inspired.
Above all, never forget to practice your love, your passion, the thing that brought you here in the first place — your writing.