You know that cringe-worthy moment when someone asks you what you do for a living, and then they say…
“You’re a freelance blogger? That must be fun, but it’s not exactly a job, is it?”
Take heart — next time that happens you’ll have all the evidence you need to show them blogging isn’t only a hobby. In fact, you can prove it’s a bona fide, lucrative career choice.
If you’re a freelance blogger ready to join the big time, you need to treat blogging like a business and get your knowledge and tactics ready. Studying the business case for freelance blogging won’t only build your confidence in dinner party conversations; it’ll make you better at understanding and negotiating with clients, too.
Blogging is BIG business
According to Hubspot, businesses spend a lot of money on creating blogs and reaching their customers through this medium.
So, position yourself to take advantage of this growth.
Blogs need bloggers, and savvy customer-oriented writers can charge a high fee for their expertise. Most businesses are aware they need a blog, but need guidance from you — the expert — about how to use it as a marketing tool.
To see more of these marketing statistics, check out the PDF from Hubspot here.
To establish yourself as a successful freelance blogger, you need to know your market and be able to show potential clients the value of employing you. All businesses want to know what the ROI (return on investment) is on using blogging as a marketing tool.
These statistics show the effect blogs have on purchasing decisions.
The more value clients perceive in hiring you, the more they are likely to pay you well!
Use statistics to support the powerful argument that customers use blogs as part of their decision-making process. If your client isn’t blogging, he or she is probably leaving money on the table.
You also need to understand market segmentation and who your client is targeting.
Let’s look at how this blog affects its mostly female audience. This infographic from Blogher illustrates how much blogs influence their readers perfectly: the majority of consumers check out relevant blogs before buying stuff.
Your client may not be aiming their product at the women (even though women make the most buying decisions in the average household), and the percentages will be different in different market segments — but people have learned to trust blogs for shopping advice.
As a professional freelance blogger it can be part of your job to educate your clients in the mysteries of SEO and traffic. If there are no eyes on their product, there are no buyers.
So another key element in the value of blogging is the power to create interest, eyes on the site, and trust.
The search engines’ view of your client’s website is vastly improved if it includes blogs with relevant links, as illustrated by this BlogConomy graphic [original here].
So, having established that blogging is no amateur sport, how does it compare with other forms of marketing?
Blogging blows outbound marketing out of the water
Traditional marketing is outbound marketing, or marketing that “interrupts” your potential customers’ day. TV adverts that stop you watching your favourite program, or radio ads that cut off the end of your favourite song. To make an effective ad that entertains rather than irritates can be expensive, beyond the reach of most small to medium enterprises.
Businesses that don’t want to spend all their hard-earned revenue on traditional advertising need your help to get a return on their marketing budget.
This diagram shows the inbound marketing process, and blogging is one of the entry points. [To see the full report on inbound marketing go here].
Inbound marketing means focusing on targeting potential consumers to drive them to our content, and is a lot less costly than television or magazine advertising.
To convince your client of the value of inbound marketing, show them that diagram and quote the VP of digital strategy at Café Press:
Inbound marketing is no longer a convenient add-on or experimental area for companies. It is a required method of doing business in today’s more consumer-focused world… Inbound is often more cost efficient than old-school, outbound marketing. Inbound is often better at building long-term customers rather than short-term sales… Understanding how and why companies are using inbound vs outbound marketing is critical to building these more effective approaches for your own business.”
—Jason Falls, Vice President of Digital Strategy, CafePress Inc.
Be a business savvy blogger
Shift your mindset: Yes, you write blog posts, but really you’re a marketer.
Think strategically about your potential clients and their needs, and make sure your own return on investment is worthwhile too. Approach freelance blogging as a business and understand the evidence for its value.
According to Ignitespot, who based their findings on information from freelance writing sites, this is the typical cost of hiring a freelance writer:
- E-Books: $15-$25 per page
- In-Depth Articles: $600-$2000
- Articles For Web Content: $10-$50 per hour (based on word count)
But according to BlogConomy [original here], only 14% of bloggers make a salary from blogging.
Blogging as a pastime is not lucrative for most bloggers. Blogging as a BUSINESS is a different matter altogether!
Do you have a unique selling point? What else endorses you as the freelance blogger a client should employ?
You’re a writer, so show off your writing knowledge. Many business owners shudder at the thought of blogging; they can’t think what to say! The first thing they get stuck with is the headline; they can’t even get started.
As professional bloggers we know the value of compelling language, and we’ve had a lot of practice — make killer headlines, engaging introductions or high-converting calls to action your selling point!
Did you know…
Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline
Upworthy co-founder Peter Koechley and his team do in-depth split testing of their headlines:
“The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive. It’s not a rounding error. When we test headlines we see 20% difference, 50% difference, 500% difference. A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
So, what do readers want in the headline? Check out Conductor’s analysis of headlines that work:
Other results from this survey showed that you need to avoid wishy-washy headlines and be clear as to what your post is about. (By the way, yes, I did read this survey before crafting my headline and sub-headers for this post!)
10 mind-boggling blog stats you need to know
Knowledge is power! Check out these stats and think: how could you use this knowledge to convince a client to hire you?
- 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better (useful means engagement and ROI).
- Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes (because they work).
- There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago (it’s a growing industry).
- Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.
- B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that don’t, and B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
- More is better: companies that have more than 51 articles on their site get a median of 77% more monthly leads.
- 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads (inbound rather than outbound).
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those that don’t have a blog.
- 61% of US customers have made a purchase based on a blog post.
- Companies with fewer than 10 employees typically allocate 42% of their marketing budget to content.
[To see the original sources of these stats, follow the links elsewhere in this post.]
Blog billionaires to learn from
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we should always learn from those around us. So, check out these top 5 blogs and what they can teach you.
- The Huffington Post: Started by Ariana Huffington — perhaps the originator of the social blog. Brilliant use of categories, experts and guest bloggers. The magazine-style layout means there’s always likely to be a topic a visitor wants to click on.
- Mashable: Pete Cashmore started blogging from his bedroom and astonished his parents by creating a million dollar business. This is an outstanding tech blog that perfectly illustrates the type of blog people consult before making a purchase. Plus, it has a useful article on blogging mistakes you might want to check out!
- Gary Vaynerchuck: A vlogging pioneer; check out how Gary uses video to get his message across .
- Seth Godin: Not just any old blog, but podcasts and wit and the art of saying a lot in as few words as possible! Plus, an interesting article on writing in a meaningful way (which sets you apart from other freelance bloggers).
- Problogger is well-known, but did you know Darren Rowse also owns a lucrative digital photography blog? Here you can see him put into action all the blogging tips and tricks you read about on Problogger.
Your next steps to blogging brilliance
- Check out the latest news and statistics about blogging for business. Repeat every week.
- Talk to potential clients about what you’ve learned and share the statistics with them.
- Use those stats when you’re negotiating rates and rights!
That’s all there is to it. Go!
P.S. Of course, if you’re one of the many Be a Freelance Blogger readers who hasn’t started their freelance business yet, you probably can’t just step out and sign up clients today.
But we can get your freelance blogging business up and running in just one month. So if you’re ready to get started, check this out.
Thank you for such a helpful post and an interesting read.
Thank you so much Mel! I appreciate you commenting 🙂
Thanks, Sarah! Just what I needed to get my lazy blogging butt into gear.
I know you are anything but lazy Allison! However, sometimes we just need a little reminder that we are in a profession that deserves reward!
Srijan Bhardwaj says
I totally second you Sarah! Freelance Blogging can be seen as a full time profession and even as a business. I am doing freelance blogging for the past 2 years and the experience has been overwhelming. Blogging has taught me a great deal of lessons which I feel I couldn’t have learned anywhere else in that much time.
Your write up makes so much of sense. It is wonderful to see that there exists people who share the same ideology as I share. Awesome post.
Best wishes! 😀
Yes Srijan it is a steep learning curve- but very satisfying! Thank you so much for your positive comments.
Jackie K says
Thanks for such a great breath of info. Really interesting stats on the money you can make blogging, and I also especially liked the headline chart. Will have to remember that…
Headlines are crucial…and really is a copywriter technique. You have a 30 second chance at the most to persuade someone to read what you write…and it is a shame that so much good writing gets missed due to poor headlines.
Keith Reilly says
Great article! It’s enthused me to get on with some serious writing, and also armed me with the tools I need to make sure I get paid correctly for it.
Most bloggers I know do love writing, but many are almost embarrassed to ask for decent money for doing it!
Bobbi Kline says
Great article! I am new to blogging as a way to grow my own business, so am NOT a professional, and found some great tips and lots of information I never knew about the power of blogging. Thanks!
Bobbi- welcome to blogging!
It is one of the best ways you can have a “conversation” with your potential customers. I’m glad my article helped.
Great article! Will be passing along to some my writer friends.
especially for passing this on- the world needs more writers showing business the value of the written word!
Elizabeth Jones says
Great information to know and thanks for the generous gift!
Thanks and enjoy- Be a Freelance Blogger is a fabulous resource for bloggers!
Great article about the importance of blogging with a ton of supporting facts and figures!!! Appreciate the detail and your writing style. I also posted to my personal Facebook page!!
Thank you Mark
I am glad you enjoyed it and my writing style- and do appreciate you sharing this.
Steven Lucas says
Not blatantly obvious but there are a lot of lessons up there. Well beyond the discussion point of blogging as a way of making some money. If anyone hasn’t seen these lessons I strongly recommend a re-read, especially of some of the infographics. (Not only that but it will keep you on the site longer or you’ll come back again later, both of which are good for SEO).
Nicely written and an easy read. Thank you.
Thank you Steven.
I love infographics- a great way to get a point across in a visual style and definitely something that anyone blogging should think about using.
The article tried to show how you can use data effectively in an article without it becoming dry or difficult to read- oh and yes- it does help with SEO!!
Glenn Shepherd says
What an interesting post. I’ve been blogging now for around two years but never have I considered freelance blogging.
I think blogging is a hugely underestimated form of marketing and not nearly enough businesses recognise its value. It would appear that there’s certainly a niche market there to be met that has a lot of potential and could be a goldmine for freelance bloggers.
Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative post, Sarah.
well- you now have two years experience under your belt that many businesses would truly appreciate. Most business owners are worried when confronted with that blank blog post page- you are not- so get out there and add to your career portfolio!
Absolutely right, Sarah. Blogging for a living is just like any other business and needs to be approached as a business. It’s a whole different mindset from the hobbyist. Clients and potential clients need to know the benefits you’re going to provide and you need hard data to back up your claims.
I was amazed, when doing the research on this, at just how much hard data was there- showing the value of blogging for business. A lot of the time we intuitively know that what we are doing works- but it is crucial in a business environment to be able to show concrete proof!
Edward Thorpe says
Among your many stats, this one stood out: Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors. That’a huge!
Excellent article about the merits of blogging. I’ve convinced: blogging IS big business.
Yes- I know- it is amazing isn’t it? I feel very strongly about this- if business is not using blogging, they are literally leaving money on the table!
Mark Piltz says
Well done post! Lot’s of interesting and useful information. I’m heading back to my blog now to have a really good look at my post headlines.
– headline creation is both an art and a science- but actually I’ve found that if I write the post first- the headline kinda comes along later- too many people get stuck at the start and then the post never gets created!
Lindsey Hayward says
Great post chock full of really good information. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome Lindsey- glad to be of help 🙂
Steve Cargill says
Excellent post, really insightful Sarah. Gotta ask tho, why didn’t you put a number in your title? 🙂
Good question Steve- it depends who you are aiming the post towards. If I was writing this directly to businesses would probably add a stat to the title- but in this case the audience is freelance bloggers. On this site they are looking for something slightly different.
So the emotional key words are Valid and Lucrative!
Rob Newman says
Excellent point! Thank you. I never really thought of my guest posts as marketing tools for other blogs, but you are exactly right!
Your article is well researched, Thanks!
EVERYTHING you write is a marketing tool! If you think of it that way it shifts your thinking and you constantly put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Thanks for the interesting read Sarah, the ‘proof is in the pudding’ in the stats for headlines – quite a significant advantage to the ones with numbers.
There are whole sites devoted to “LIST” and number style articles!
It works in terms of people liking bit sized pieces of information- it also helps as a blogger if you think of the key points you want to get across- sometimes helps to cut down on the fluff in an article!
However- you do need to mix it up a bit- so finding the “emotional” key words for a headline is just as important.
Danica Favorite says
Very informative article! Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome Danica!
I appreciate you taking the time to read it 🙂
Jan Hill says
Thanks for a great post Sophie! My writing focus is law and legal technology, and about 50 percent of my monthly freelance income is from blogging – it’s my favorite type of writing, and a great way for legal professionals to find clients! If anyone knows any lawyers who need a blogger, send them my way! It’s definitely been a valid career choice for me!
Great to hear that Jan!
I love it when professional bloggers validate the data! Glad you enjoyed the post.
Jan Hill says
OMG – Sorry I called you Sophie, Sarah!!! I found your post on LinkedIn – it was recommended by another blogger, Sophie Lizard!!!! Gotta love late nights catching up on social media – haha
No worries Jan! Sophie is an awesome blogger and her site has really helped me!
Gina Horkey says
What an awesome article – thanks so much! Going to be incorporating some of these stats in to my pitching process with clients from now on:-)
Sarah, Great Post! Wow, very well done! I was thinking about taking my blog /blogging skills to become a freelance blogger. Trying to juggle a few things at the same time and as a freelancer you need some time to think 🙂
Thanks again for such great post!
Be a Freelance Blogger is a great site to help you with that. Sophie’s training and resources are awesome- so you’re in a good place to learn!
You need a plan and some tactics- then you can turn your love of writing and that talent into a lucrative career.
Leslie Jordan Clary says
Great article! I will definitely be using this as a resource for pitching clients. Thanks.
many clients have absolutely no idea of these statistics- and they need to! Good luck with the pitching. 🙂
Marianne Griebler says
Thank you, Sarah, for pulling together all these wonderful stats! What an excellent resource for proving our value in the marketplace.
I can’t recall where I read this, unfortunately, but I have read that more and more content creation is going to be outsourced by companies in the months and years to come. That was my experience as a marketing director when I worked full-time. In the past few years my staff got smaller and of necessity I had to rely more and more on freelancers. This is a huge opportunity for writers who, as you so correctly point out, think like marketers. It’s as much about knowing the audience as writing pretty prose.
Gartner’s 2013 “U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Survey.” said that up to 50% of digital marketing is now being outsourced!
What we Professional Bloggers need to make sure is that this does not mean a low pay and “do it for cents” mentality creeping in!
We need to stick together in ensuring that freelance does not mean cheap!
Blogging is marketing and as we all know marketing requires skill and professionalism.
Thank you for your appreciation. 🙂
Oh man, after reading this I’m realizing that my rates are just way too low. I want to attract bigger better clients instead of clients who think its okay to wait 2 weeks before even paying me a measly 40$ for my article. What do you think about creating a portfolio within my exisiting website? I’ve been contemplating it but I don’t know if I should just make a separate website for that or meld it with my existing one. Thanks for the great read!
I know, all too easy to set your rates too low- let’s be honest most of us are grateful for the opportunity to earn..anything!!
However, when you start out that may be OK but if you set too low- you get resentful in the end that your hard work is undervalued.
Ref a portfolio on your site- take a long hard look at your site and decide- does it say friendly chatty blogger or professional marketing blogger?
A portfolio can showcase your work- perhaps with links- but a lot of businesses don’t want others to know they didn’t write the blog posts themselves- so it’s a balance!
At the very least you should have testimonials ( and I’m guilty of not putting mine up on my site- note to self- go do that!)
Try weaving direct marketing AT business throughout your site.
Also- Be a Freelance blogger has lots of resources and training on how to pitch and setting rates- I highly recommend Sophie’s training – take a look at that.
Mandi Bowerman says
Wow. My mind is blown by this post. I never the numbers broken down like this. I really need to rethink some strategies. I need to improve my headlines and market differently. Thank you for this informative post!
Thanks Mandi- glad it helped!
Katherine Swarts says
Will definitely remember this one; exactly what I needed!
Thanks Katherine- glad to be of help!
Don Ocso says
Iv always wanted to be a successful blogger but clients that pay are not regular. Why?
approach this like a business- get training on areas you are not sure of- and clients that don’t pay are not clients- they are headaches- find better ones!
Daryl George says
Just want to echo everyone’s sentiments on what an insightful post it is.
I think the problem that we freelancers face (myself included) is that we don’t properly target the businesses that *actually* have a marketing budget – dealing with websites who only generate a few hundred or thousand dollars in income, or small businesses, means that we don’t see how much money is actually made from many of the larger small to medium sized businesses (e.g. those with 20+ employees and a decent marketing budget!)
But again, useful information that I’ll have to put into practice myself!
it takes hard work to find the right clients- but don’t dismiss the smaller blogs- they do have marketing budgets- they want to be bigger blogs/websites!
It is a case of putting in the work with research and pitching- using stats in pitching shows you are a professional- and can sway a website owner to invest with you.
But yes- it is the targeting that is the science- I know there are lots of useful resources on this site that help with that- I am always looking at Sophie’s stuff for ideas and training on pitching and targeting
Jake Mcspirit says
Hi Sarah, this post really highlights the importance of conducting ourselves as business professionals.
As you said, it really is the defining trait between a hobbyist and someone who can make a living from blogging.
Thanks for this, it was very helpful.
Thank you Jake!
glad to be of help 🙂
Richard Seaton says
Thanks you for this very useful post. I really enjoyed reading it, as well as following through the comments.
I have been consistently blogging now since June 2014, and slowly I am starting to get some great comments, backlinks and even a guest blog or two.
The penny really dropped for me when I stopped thinking about blogging for money, and started to enjoy the process. I am now starting to realise that, at least for me, the whole of internet marketing is about seeing what you can do to help other people, and about building relationships with them. This is almost a 180 degree turn around from the person who started out trying to earn out of any and every opportunity. I don’t mean ignoring the ROI and the data, but if you can’t love what you do it will come over in the way you present yourself and your content.
I will be following some of those links you posted,as well as looking at ways of finding other ways to offer my experience.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments Ric
I absolutely agree that you have to enjoy what you are doing! I’m a bit of a word addict- I love writing! When I figured out that people would pay me for it I was overjoyed- but then became awkward and embarrassed about just HOW MUCH was OK to charge.
My mind shift came when I understood the value I was giving others with that writing..and the results I was generating for them.
I don’t think you need to be financially obsessed but you do need to be financially aware.
I guess it is also tied up with your own view of self-worth and if, like me, this is your career you have to be business minded about the process.
However, I wouldn’t be doing this unless I felt it was actually helping people- like you I get a real pleasure out of that!
Krithika Rangarajan says
PUMPING my arms in the air and saying, “YEAH! You go girl!” 😉
BRILLIANT – thank you, Sarah #HUGS
Big HUGS back Kitto!! 🙂
Joy Healey says
Oh, if only I had read this article before a recent visit to a local business networking group!
I wrote a blog post about it last month (of course!), but briefly – the members seemed keen to learn about my services, but the leader said blogging wasn’t a proper business model and she didn’t want me in the group! Ouch 🙁
Then I got squared my shoulders and thought: “Her loss – and the group’s loss too.”
Since then I found two other groups who welcomed me with open arms and I’m happily established with them.
What a great post for me to read and be armed with facts, instead of hopes. Thanks so much.
Katherine Swarts says
I know of at least one entrepreneurs’ group that is almost ALL bloggers; in fact, I was referred there by the director of another networking group.
Wow- how dare they! Well Joy, their loss..as you are an awesome blogger businesswoman!
Some of these groups are a bit stuck in pre-internet marketing ways!
I have looked at some in my local area and they are, in the most, fascinated by the blogging business model and want to know how to incorporate it into their businesses.
Seems to me we just keep being uber professional and the rest of the world will catch on!
Katherine Swarts says
It’d be easier to make use of this if there were more direct links to individual infographics that illustrate the points. I would love to show some of the Blogconomy items to prospective clients–but not necessarily the whole Blogging Statistics page as a unit!
Kayla @ Five Figure Writer says
Interesting stats! I love this post. I will definitely be sharing it with the skeptics in my life.
Just visited your site- awesome and am already implementing some of the advice there!
Melody Van De Graaff says
Can we use these statistics on our website and in our pitches? How should we source them?
Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together!
Angela Sticca Snyder says
Magnificent article, Thank you. I really appreciate your work!
Can we use these statistics on our website and in our pitches? How should we source them?
nice information for freelancer work
Great Infographics! Thanks for sharing
Mary Andrews says
So glad that I came across this blog. I am a career coach based in Surrey, London and recently I dealt with a client who was confused with whether to go with freelance blogging or not. This blog seems like a validation that my advise was indeed correct 🙂
Behold! Proof That Freelance Blogging is a Valid [And Lucrative] Career Choice, true comment
Even i have seen many people who have chosen blogging as a full time career option. Nice Informative article by the way!!!
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