Oh, it’s not that being a freelance blogger doesn’t sound awesome to you, just like it did to me.
It’s not that there isn’t awesome example after awesome example of people doing it. In fact, this website is dedicated solely to getting you there.
It’s just that all this crap gets in the way. And by crap, I mean, my own crap. But your crap is very much like my crap. How crappy is that?
Good thing you’ve found this blog and you’re reading this post. You’re about to learn the 7 things that stand in the way of your freelance blogging career and how to get around them.
Bonus: They’re all your own fears, so they’re totally under your control.
First, here’s the backstory:
Oops, I Forgot to Be a Freelance Blogger
About a year ago, I quit a darn successful gig in Corporate America. I just couldn’t hack it anymore.
I wanted to live the dream, being a writer. I pictured a day on the beach with a laptop and a story to be told, my fingers pecking away at the keyboard.
The problem is, I never really got to the writing part. Well, not yet, anyway.
I didn’t count on the fear, the stuff that “has to be done first”, or the reality of finding people to pay me. In fact, there were a bunch of hurdles. Some, I hadn’t considered, and others I’d known about but didn’t really think were going to be issues.
Now, here I am to tell you one thing: don’t make my mistakes. Let’s make sure you don’t spin your wheels on stuff you can get through with a little roadmap…
Roadblock #1: Finding Your Niche
If you’re like most people, you’ve got a bunch of different interests. The niche problem comes in deciding which one you want to focus on. Do you want to create a name for yourself as a design blogger or in pet care blogging?
The answer is easier than you think: just try it. Pick a topic and start.
It will take a lot less time to see if one niche is successful than it will to flip-flop endlessly between two or more. There’s a big learning curve when developing content and many people will change topics. Be comfortable with that.
Another option is to find where your interests intersect and focus there. The beauty of this convergence is that you can naturally sway outside of that intersection without alienating or confusing people. “Designing pet care products” could be the foundation of your niche. Writing something broader about design or about pet care would fit with your foundation.
Roadblock #2: Your Authority Complex
You’re just starting out. You’ve never been paid to write. Who’s going to listen to you? The answer is: a lot of people.
You don’t need to know more than anyone else. You only need to know more than your audience.
Think about why you look things up on the Internet. You don’t know much about the topic, or you’re looking for something very specific. If you’re already interested in something, chances are you know way more than the average person about it. So, you are an authority to every person just beginning to learn.
Sometimes, the ultimate expert on a topic completely forgets what it’s like to be doing it for the first time, and talks way over the beginner’s head.
For example, I know how to brew beer… as a hobby. I could write entry level beer brewing tips that would be useful to you if you were looking to brew your own. More importantly, my knowledge will get you started, not cloud your head with “expert” facts about the biochemistry of beer. Experts aren’t always the best explainers.
Roadblock #3: Your Identity Crisis
When you say “I’m a freelance blogger; pay me to write for you,” the first question someone’s going to ask is “What have you written?”
It’s a legitimate question. You have to have some type of writing history to show prospective jobs.
This will take a concerted effort, but you can have it covered in a week. Follow this basic 3-step guide, assuming you’re starting from scratch.
- Create a LinkedIn profile. Somehow LinkedIn sold its soul to Google and shows up top in rankings when searching someone’s name. Fill out your current position as “Freelance Blogger” or “Freelance Writer”. In your summary, state something in your professional or personal history that gives you credibility to write about what you’re writing about.
- Write. Yep. Write. Write five articles. Average them at 500 – 750 words. Have at least one that is over 1,000 words. You can write these anywhere and in your spare time. One of my favorite articles was written on the bathroom floor, because that was the only room in the house with heat. True story.
- Publish. You can submit posts to free content sources or create your own blog. Many writers consider creating their own blog anyway, so now’s the time to start.
This is a hurdle many people struggle with: make my work public? A less public option is to use Evernote to create your post and share it. You can send a semi-private Evernote link to prospective clients along with your proposal.
Roadblock #4: Your Confidence Issues
You don’t think your writing’s good enough, do you? It is… and I totally tricked you into proving it! Now that you’ve written five posts, you’ve got some practice and you’re beginning to develop your voice. Keep blogging. Develop the practice of writing.
Now that you have practice, show people your writing. Show it publicly or submit proposals for pay. You will get rejection, but rejection is an opportunity to refine your writing and become better. The feedback you get when being turned down is perfect to help you improve your writing.
Blogging, like anything, takes practice and a feedback loop to master. You may not be the best writer in the world now, but you’re helping people with the knowledge you have or the creativity you posses. Either way, you’re absolutely “good enough”.
Roadblock #5: You Missed the Starting Gun
You just don’t know where to start finding paying jobs.
This used to be really hard. You’d find a suggestion here and a few sites there, putting together your own list of places to seek jobs. Now, it’s incredibly easy. You can simply download the ultimate list of blogs that pay $50+ per post, and it’s free. (Sophie didn’t even tell me to put this in here. I promise.)
Roadblock #6: You’re Waiting for the Right Time
This is the next huge issue we all face. You think you aren’t ready yet. You think everything has to be perfect. You think, “As soon as I have X in place, I’ll start freelancing.”
What you’ll likely do, though, is find another X to fit that sentence. There is no “perfect”. Start sending blogging proposals now.
How many of these sound familiar?
- “I’ve got five articles, but I know I can do better.” OK, we know you can do better, too, and you will with practice, but start looking for gigs now with those five articles.
- “I’ll start writing articles when my blog is up / is redesigned / has more posts.” Your blog design is fine. The articles you publish now will still be there when you finish your redesign.
- “I don’t want to publish this one yet. It’s my masterpiece and I want a bigger following before I show the world.” You can always re-use your own content for yourself. (Note: This isn’t the case for work you sell to clients. They normally expect unique content.) Also, there’s no rule that says your email list has to be tied to your blog’s RSS feed. You can create an auto-responder series with your best work… like this masterpiece you’ve written.
Roadblock #7: Do You Mean Business?
The final hurdle you’ve got to get over is yourself. The old “life getting in the way” distraction. Life still is and time still marches on… but this is your new job. You’ve got to see it that way or you’ll never get started.
The perfect way to get into the freelance blogging mindset is to treat it like the job it is.
Set a specific writing schedule like your job hours. It can be for a specific time of day or a specific word count. Sit in front of the computer and write. Don’t interrupt your writing for anything that you wouldn’t leave a job for. So, would you get up and walk out of a job for a phone call? To pay the electric bill? To check Facebook? Don’t stop writing for those things either.
I may not understand the depth of your life, but I do understand how even the littlest task can keep you putting off that article day after day. Setting a routine will counteract that.
These 7 things are within your control. You can do this. The underlying key is to just write… then write… then write. The practice will make you great. Great writers get paid to do it.
Everyone struggles at first to find their zone, but put the work in and you’ll be successful as a freelance blogger.
You know how I’m positive of it? I went through every one of those 7 roadblocks. I even still struggle with a few… but… THIS is my first paid blog post.
You can get paid to blog, too. Just start writing and don’t be afraid to show it to people.
P.S. Need some help to launch *your* blogging business and land your first paying clients? Check out Sophie’s step-by-step training for beginners:
Get Started for Freelance Blogging Success.
Image: The Blind Glass