Meaningful relationships create effortless rewards. So effortless you forget how miraculous they seem to others.
In your freelance blogging business — in any business — a seemingly insignificant effort may blossom into something grand, much like the growth of a garden. I’m going to show you how to step up a level in your freelancing business using complementary skills and relationship-building.
Here’s how one guest blog post landed me $1,500 per year.
Step 1: Plant the Seed
Going over a few listings in Sophie’s Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs, I came across one I could dig deeply into: Read. Learn. Write. The blog has a brilliantly simple premise — to help folks gain a passion for reading and writing.
As many great blogging gurus will tell you, the first step in landing a gig is to wow them with an unusual or controversial topic.
Many people just don’t read anymore. So in November, I sent Read. Learn. Write. a query based on an old post I did for my personal blog. The subject line (and title) was Why I Stopped Reading.
[To read the exact query from this story and others that landed my first $1,000 in writing assignments, check out my new (and free!) ebook, 4Qs to 1K.]
The blog’s creator, Brandon Monk, replied with an acceptance within hours.
The post was memorable and inspiring. It generated several comments and even a “rebuttal” post entitled Why I Started Reading. Brandon was kind enough to let me know when that rebuttal post would be published.
Take Action: Take a look at the blogging opportunities in front of you. Use Sophie’s guide. Is there a topic previously not covered you can write about passionately or with authority?
Draw from your personal experience if needed and expand on the topic in a way that’s useful to that blog’s readers.
Step 2: Nurture Its Growth
I responded to all the comments on my post and commented on the rebuttal one. Because this was my first paid guest post, my excitement was so palpable, I’m sure Brandon could sense it himself.
I felt honored. So I followed Brandon on Facebook and Twitter, sharing his content and alerting him to articles he would be interested in. I wrote about him a few times on my own blog and mailed him a Christmas card.
This wasn’t a deliberate attempt to get his attention or more posting opportunities. I wasn’t doing these gestures day in and day out.
Let’s be honest: I wrote a guest blog post about how I don’t read anymore! So his “Slow Read Sunday” posts of classic works like Pride and Prejudice didn’t get a lot of attention from me.
I was just so durn excited, I wanted to show my gratitude in every way imaginable.
Take Action: Spend time thinking about the small things you’ve done to nurture relationships within the freelance blogging community. Don’t lose contact after your guest blog posts are published. Treat each host blog like the honored client they have become.
Step 3: Reap the Benefits
The hunt for recurring clients is always in the back of my mind. Even though guest blogging opportunities are typically one-offs, remember this is a new business and you have to start earning consistently.
I’m also a freelance administrative consultant and take on admin tasks for entrepreneurs and small businesses. I consider it complementary to my writing, and I really enjoy it.
So despite how much I hated “selling myself,” I took one week to post one tweet per day promoting my freelance services in August. Yep, just one.
That next week, I was floored when Brandon emailed me to ask about editing his guest blog posts. I have never advertised any sort of copy editing services, as grammar is always optional for me. (Yep, I’m a rebel.).
I started working with him that weekend, even though I never work weekends! Thankfully, he has a search function on his website, so I was able to study previous posts and see what worked and what didn’t (and learn a lot about my own reading and writing habits in the process).
When I later gave a talk on freelancing after failing in the corporate world, I asked him whether he would’ve hired me based on my spotty work history alone.
What he said was so humbling, I quoted him in my presentation:
“I hired you based on your work and reputation online. I’ve seen you market yourself and I’ve seen you manage a blog and write on your own. I based my decision to reach out to you completely on that. In fact, it appeared to me from social media that you’d found your calling so to speak. If you’d have said you could do the work then I think I would have taken you at your word based on your online demeanor, presence, and work ethic.”
Take Action: Depending on the crop, reaping is arguably the toughest step. It requires a lot of weeding and pulling, all while tenderly protecting the plant.
Do you advertise your services on a deliberate and consistent basis? Do you have skills in other areas you could build alongside your freelance blogging? Would you be willing to drop everything to work with a new client? Write down honest answers to these questions, and determine how you can make changes to improve your business style and income.
This relationship with my client took almost a year to grow into what it is today. Patience is everything.
Never lose your sense of gratitude for clients, whether you’ve been working with them for two weeks or two years. Allow relationships to grow organically, but take steps to allow small efforts to multiply into new opportunities.
Have you leveraged a one-time blogging opportunity into a recurring client? Do you have any questions about the process? Leave me a comment below.