Freelance blogging is an amazing career.
You don’t have to write about something you don’t care about to make money. There are so many niches that you’re bound to find one (or several) that is both lucrative and fun.
You can find clients that make payment arrangements work for you, and you set your own hours. It’s possible to spend time with family and friends while still working on passion projects.
However, it’s also ripe with problems and complications that can drive you mad: disappearing websites, changing regulations, unpaid invoices, ghost clients, writer’s block… you name it. And life’s regular lemons like health problems, family emergencies, and beyond can also interfere.
I’ve been a freelance blogger for about a decade now. And even though it’s a dream career, it hasn’t been a smooth ride.
2019 proved especially challenging with a loss in the family, recurring health issues, computer breakdowns, and a decent-sized collection of rejections. There were times I questioned why I was doing this, whether I should follow a less bumpy career path.
But when I think about the pros of this life, they win easily. Every period in my time of freelancing also featured great moments. In this “awful” 2019, I got to go on a fantastic writers’ retreat where I met fellow writers and hung out in New York, have a beach vacation when I wanted because I don’t have a boss, release my second book, and work with wonderful editors at some of my favorite publications.
So yes, there are a lot of ups and downs. And while it’s not possible to be prepared for everything, improving your defenses can help your bank balance, sanity, and overall health.
Here are some suggestions on what you can do to offset (or even eliminate) the bad times:
Shopping is fun. Being able to afford things is a blast. You earned it in every sense of the word. But you need to think about potential problems before they occur.
Some clients may pay their invoices late or attempt to avoid paying altogether. Maybe your favorite editor left the publication, and you aren’t sure how many pieces you will be assigned this month. Clients can change business models or leave the industry.
So it’s wise to take precautions even when the money seems to be rolling in. Save a reasonable amount whenever you can, so you have a nice safety net for a potential emergency or a much-deserved vacation.
Keep pitching and marketing
Marketing never stops for the wise freelance blogger. Until you’re in a place to turn down work, keep pitching and marketing.
Where you pitch and how you choose to market your services are up to you, but keep yourself in demand. Once you are more experienced and clients are coming to you, you can afford to market a little less, but you shouldn’t stop.
Back it all up
Back up your business documents as well as your published pieces online.
Don’t just keep text copies — take screenshots. Three publications I wrote for either shut down or changed their focus. My pieces can no longer be linked to, and I can’t find some of the latest drafts even though I’m an aggressive saver. That’s why I started saving in more places, and I take screenshots regularly.
You worked hard for those bylines. Don’t let them disappear; you never know what your next pitch might need you to include.
Celebrate the good
There is a reason I talked about both the awesome and awful stuff that happened this year. When the negative seems to pile on, distract and motivate yourself by thinking of the positives. Even when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, there is a way up, and it’s closer than you think.
Take care of your health
You can’t work if you aren’t well. And even supposedly simple stuff like moving a lot for exercise might not come easily when your job requires a lot of sitting down. As a freelancer, it’s up to you to protect and care for your assets, including your health.
You need your mind to be fit and ready to work, too! So when you’re figuring out how to stay in shape, think about your mental and emotional health as well as physical health.
Take time off work
You need me-time and social time, plus time to deal with household stuff. Schedule some time off each day and each week to make sure everything gets included, and plan to take a longer break every once in a while. Work isn’t everything, no matter how much you might enjoy it.
Experiment with other niches
No matter how much I love a niche, I’d be bored if I wrote only about that one thing.
If you find yourself itching for a change, write about something else. You never know what might come out of it, and it’ll get you out of the
Write just for you
Writing for clients isn’t always fun, even if it’s a niche you chose happily. Rewrites, the editing process, coming up with fresh ideas regularly, or keeping to a certain word count can take its toll.
So don’t neglect your own ideas and bouts of inspiration. By all means, prioritize client deadlines. But then nurture your creative juices and write whatever you want.
Keep reading and discovering
…so that you are never out of ideas, whether you’re blogging for yourself or your clients.
Live life to the fullest
(To the best of your ability, in whatever ways your health and bank balance will allow.)
New experiences will give way to more and better ideas. So grab your bucket list and start checking things off!
Learn new skills and improve old ones
Clients increasingly demand more from the bloggers they hire. Writing well isn’t enough. Can you optimize for the web? Can you upload it on WordPress? Can you edit and source images? Can you edit other writers’ posts?
Being more skilled gives you a distinct advantage. Instead of hiring two people for different tasks, the client can just hire you at a higher fee.
Keep in touch with the clients you like
Clients come and go for various reasons. Still, you never know who will end up working where, and it makes sense to be friendly with your favorite clients. Depending on your relationship, you could congratulate them on milestones, send birthday wishes or share stuff with them that they might enjoy or find useful.
Let’s roll with the pitching!
Pitchfest is a blog post pitching contest run here on BAFB every six months.
I’m psyched that I’m a guest editor for this Pitchfest! That means I’ll be reviewing and commenting on your pitches. I’ll also get to pick the three winners and runners-up.
My name is Pinar Tarhan, and I’ve been writing for the web for nearly a decade. I’m a huge fan of BAFB, and I’ve written for the site several times – some of my posts were picked as a winner or a runner-up in previous Pitchfests. I’ve also been published on CNN, The Washington Post, The Billfold, WOW! Women on Writing, Brazen Blog, and Horkey Handbook among others.
How does Pitchfest work?
You’ll pitch guest post ideas for this blog on a topic relevant to its audience of freelance bloggers and aspiring freelance bloggers. The topic of the post is up to you, as long as it pertains to freelance blogging. Then we’ll select a few winners for publication and prizes!
How to enter the Pitchfest
To participate for a chance to earn up to $150 and be published on Be A Freelance Blogger:
Step 2. Tell us your blog post idea in the comments below before 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, September 14, 2019.
Only ONE pitch per person, please. Be sure to include everything listed below, and remember that your proposed blog post must be useful to freelance bloggers. You have actionable tips on how to get better clients? Have more time for other projects? Get paid better and faster? We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas.
What to include in your pitch:
- At least one headline designed to make freelance bloggers want to read your post.
- Between 30 and 60 words you’d use to open the post. You DON’T need to write a whole draft before pitching; we’d prefer to give you feedback first.
- Up to six key points you’ll make in the post, with a one- or two-sentence summary of each point.
- Up to three sentences about why this is a great fit for Be a Freelance Blogger and why you’re the right person to write it.
Put your pitch in the comment box at the bottom of this page, and check the little box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments” so you’ll know when you receive feedback. Your comment might get held for moderation, especially if it contains links. Don’t worry if that happens; we’ll get to it and reply!
Step 3. I’ll respond to every pitch to offer feedback to help you optimize your idea and improve your pitching skills. You might also get feedback from other readers and pitchers.
Step 4. You can revise (or completely re-do) your pitch after getting our feedback if you’d like. Just re-submit it by pasting it into a follow-up comment before 11:59pm Pacific time on Thursday, September 19, 2019.
Step 5. I’ll choose three winners and up to three runners up. If you’re chosen, we’ll ask you to send a draft of at least 1,500 words, so keep that in mind when crafting your pitch.
I’ll announce the winners via a comment on this post on Saturday, September 21. If I choose your pitch, plan to deliver your first draft to Sophie by end of October.
Here’s what you could win
I’ll choose three winners and up to three runners up. On acceptance of your final draft for publication on BAFB, winners will receive:
- 1st prize: $150
- 2nd prize: $75
- 3rd prize: Kindle copy of How to Pitch a Blog Post
- Up to three runners up: Unpaid guest post spot on BAFB
The contest starts today. Pitch on! 🙂