You know that feeling that you’ve completely lost control of the situation? That terrifying, groping-around-corners-in-the-dark sensation that accompanies the death of a really good plan you had?
That’s how my blogging business was born.
Around the time I was financially desperate enough to scrounge for stray dimes rather than use my debit card to pay for a coffee, I decided it was time to start a business.
There were a few things that led up to this decision. I wanted to be a freelance writer working out of cafes in Buenos Aires, but I was a broke intern in Chicago. To bridge that gap I accepted a full-time job with a salary and benefits, only to be laid off almost as soon as I’d started.
For me, that was that moment in life when you realize it’s time to take matters into your own hands. And you head back to the drawing board to examine the overwhelming options — none of which will actually fix your paralysis, because they’re all just steps in another plan that you have to create from scratch.
They say it takes money to make money, but I’d already lived for several months not knowing how I was going to pay the next month’s rent. I had to make something out of nothing, fast. Here’s how you work that instant blogging business magic:
To begin, just begin
When you’re first starting out, it’s really easy to get bogged down by all the stuff you think you need to do before you can even start to think about blogging.
When I set out to start my business, I thought building my website and creating business cards were absolutely mandatory first steps — what’s a business without either? I wanted to be sure people (including myself) would take me seriously before I began the arduous task of sitting down to write.
But while those are important basic steps to getting your business off the ground, providing your service is the difference between thinking about starting your business and being in business.
If you want to become a freelance blogger, all you have to do to start is… get blogging!
Not convinced? Take a look at Copyblogger’s guest post guidelines, which specifically state that having a blog is “not a requirement.” They’re more interested in quality submissions, so as long as you’re a skilled blogger you’ve got a shot at contributing.
No-cost launch tactics
A blogging business doesn’t have to cost anything to start.
You can query a blog post idea to just about anyone for free as long as you have an email address, access to the internet and your own winsome ideas. You’re in business as soon as you press “Send.”
If you’re just starting out and don’t have any published writing samples, I recommend doing some guest blogging. The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs is a great free resource to help you build your portfolio and make money while you do it. Brilliant, right?
To achieve financial stability, however, your ultimate goal should be to secure ongoing blogging engagements for several clients. I recommend checking job boards like ProBlogger and the BAFB jobs forum for listings that are relevant to freelance bloggers.
I also recommend creating a list of people you already know who might need a blogger. They could be neighbors, old contacts from previous jobs, or owners of the local businesses you frequent. Send an introductory email to all of these contacts explaining who you are, what you do, and why they could use your help. Many potential clients don’t even realize they need it until you reach out to them and explain why what you do is so awesome.
And don’t overlook the crucial step of telling your friends and family you’ve started a blogging business. It’s likely that someone already in your network will have a client lead for you.
Make money first
The great thing about being pressed for money — if I may say there’s any benefit to being in that rapidly leaking boat — is that it clarifies priorities for you.
You need money now. Rent is due five days ago. You don’t have time to labor over a logo or the perfect mission statement. So there’s no room for distractions like fear, doubt and perfection — you simply start blogging.
Eventually, you will have to put some money into your blogging business. But there’s no reason why you can’t make that money before you spend it. [What is this new, brilliant logic?]
One or two paid guest blogging gigs could fund your business cards or a training course, for instance. Or maybe landing your first client is the milestone you’ll wait for before searching for an affordable co-working space.
You may also consider finding part-time employment that leaves you enough hours in the week to work on blogging. With a steady part-time job to support you while you’re waiting for those first few paychecks to come in, you can keep the stress of entrepreneurship at bay.
It’s OK if the part-time job is unrelated to your blogging career goals. There’s nothing wrong with dabbling in retail or manning a front desk while you sort out your plans for blogging domination — you’ll gain “industry insider” knowledge you can use in future blog posts!
Whatever your priorities may be, there are some basics you’ll want to cover as soon as you have some money coming in.
Build a quality blogging empire
When you do spend money, use it wisely. Fortunately it’s easy to find quality materials and resources to support your business at little or no cost.
Here are my recommendations for the bare minimum to buy for your business once you have some money coming in:
- A website: A website can be extremely expensive or totally free. It costs nothing to start a blog at WordPress.com, and they have a lot of free design themes to choose from.
- Business cards: I’ve found it worth my while to spend a little more on these instead of going for the cheapest option. When you hand out a sleek, well-designed card on quality paper, there’s a promise that there’s high caliber work behind it. For affordable quality and great customer service, I recommend Moo.com.
- A photo to represent you/your business: No need to hire a photographer. Your photo can be any Facebook photo you feel represents you and your blogging business in a professional, on-brand manner.
- A business account: Once you receive your first paycheck, open a business account to differentiate between business and personal expenses in case you’re ever audited. You may also consider filing for a DBA and hiring an accountant.
Above all, be persistent. Money will come quicker if you get down to business, pitching and writing every day, but even then it will take a while before your bank account sees the result of your hard work. Don’t lose heart in the meantime.
Getting a business up and running is no easy feat! But with much perseverance, angry cursing and writing my heart out, I whipped a blogging business into shape from scratch.
So will you.
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.