When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a freelance blogger. This typically piques their interest. Reactions often include:
- What does that even mean?
- You mean you really make money writing?
- How can I get into that field?
I’ll answer all these questions in a moment, but first let me be clear. Freelance blogging is not a road to getting rich quick. It’s not something you spend two hours per day on while your kids are napping and hope to rake in the big bucks. I’m just a normal girl making an average income doing something I love.
Are you interested in building a career out of writing as well? Then perhaps you’ll consider a career as a freelance blogger.
What Does It Mean to Be a Freelance Blogger?
As a freelance blogger, I simply write blog posts for various clients. My clients range from business owners with blogs on their sites to marketing agencies that outsource writing tasks to me. I also write occasional posts for blogs that pay contributors.
What I don’t do is make money off my own blog. Though I write blog posts for my site, I don’t make money from it. The freelance portion of my job title tells you I’m working with a variety of clients.
I also don’t manage my clients’ blogs, although that is a service some freelance bloggers offer. As a blog content manager, you would organize the editorial calendar, edit contributors’ posts, prepare posts for publication with images and tags, etc. My services, however, are just limited to the writing portion.
How Much Can You Make as a Freelance Blogger?
This question is a tough one to answer. It’s like asking how long a string is. Those who work part-time may not even break the $5,000 mark. Others are making six figures. In general, however, the average income for full-time freelancers is comparable to U.S. averages.
Last year, I made $35,000 while going to school full-time. With the cost of living in my area (which is low), I can tell you that I’m living comfortably. However, you have to consider that without benefits, with higher taxes (since you pay the employer and employee portion), and with business expenses, it is difficult to compare a self-employed income to what you might make as an employee. (I’m lucky enough to get health insurance through my husband’s employer on a family plan, but all my taxes, retirement savings, etc. comes straight out of my take-home pay.)
Let’s break it down to the basics. Right now I make between $60-$200 per post depending on the length and topic. While it may sound like a lot, there’s much more to each blog post than simply writing it. I typically write 1,500 words per day for client work. The rest of my time I spend on other duties of keeping my business going, such as:
- Attending meetings on Google Hangouts
- Sending invoices
- Brainstorming topic ideas
- Pitching ideas to publications
- Writing blog posts for my own blog
- Tweaking my website or social profiles
(I’m also a fiction author, so parts of my day are also allotted toward fiction writing, editing, marketing, etc.)
As you can see, there are a lot of behind-the-scene tasks I’m not getting paid directly for, so the seemingly high cost per article helps sustain my business so I can keep writing awesome blog posts!
When you get down to it, the only real way to answer this question is: It’s up to you. Factors like where you set your rates, how many clients you work with, how efficiently you work, and how long you work can impact your income.
How to Make a Living as a Freelance Blogger?
If you think you’d like to get into freelance blogging, here’s what worked for me.
1. Understand Your Motives
The very first thing you need to do is understand why you want to be a freelance blogger. Too often I see people come into the field wanting nothing more than a big fat paycheck. That’s not how freelance blogging works, unfortunately, and those people don’t last long.
Want to know why? They have no direction.
Instead, if you’re looking at this from a long-term perspective, you can see where you need to go and how every step is going to help you get there.
So, do you want to do it because you have a passion for writing? Then I have high hopes for you.
But still, why blogging? There are tons of other writing opportunities out there, from writing magazine articles to advertising copy. I do it because blogging takes a creative, conversational style that I’m personally fond of.
Sit down and think about why you want to pursue this as a career. Once you understand your own reasoning, it will be much easier to make it over that first hump to set yourself up for long-term success.
2. Approach It As a Career Opportunity
The main reason I see people quit freelance blogging right away is because they don’t treat it as a career. They see dollar signs and think it will be a great way to earn money on the side.
Using it as a source of side income is totally fine, but only if you approach it with a career-oriented mindset. If you choose to keep your day job, think of it as a secondary career. And remember, you are a business owner.
The moment I put myself in this mindset was the moment my business took off. I built my website, began commanding higher rates, and invested my time in learning about the craft. That all set me up to make a living off my writing.
Freelance blogging can be tough at first as you begin establishing yourself as a voice in the industry. Thinking of it as a career and putting yourself in the business-owner mindset, however, will make easing into freelance blogging much easier.
3. Set Goals for Yourself
Another reason people fail? They don’t know what they want. And when you have no idea where you’re going, you can’t take the steps you need to get yourself there.
When I became serious about freelance blogging, my goals started with things like:
- Launch my website
- Get published on one of my favorite blogs
- Land a client willing to pay me $100 per post
And all of these things happened. Now I outline my business goals for the year. In 2016, my goals included:
- Become inbound certified by Hubspot
- Guest post once per month
- Make $45,000 this year
- Raise my rates to $0.30 per word for ghostwritten and $0.20 per word for bylined content once I graduate.
Because I outlined these goals and wrote them down, I’m on track to accomplishing them.
Start small with 1-3 goals and a timeline for each one to help you ease into freelance blogging. As soon as you can check that goal off the list, add a new one to take your business further.
4. Know What You’re Worth
One of the hardest things about becoming a freelance blogger is setting your rates. One of the reasons some people give up so quickly is because they realize the money they’re making isn’t worth the time they’ve spent writing. The sad thing is that they don’t believe there are clients out there willing to pay more.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: there are.
Clients don’t just come from low-paying content mills and freelance marketplaces. They also come through private contacts, such as referrals, social media, search engines, and more. And there are plenty of clients willing to pay you what you’re worth so you can sustain your business.
How much are you worth? At the very least, you shouldn’t be taking jobs paying less than $0.10 per word. The time you invest in writing, researching, editing, finding images, etc. is worth more than that.
5. Launch a Website
I firmly believe that I wouldn’t be where I am as a freelance blogger without my website. It serves as a platform where clients can go to learn more about me. With a professional layout and well-written copy, it shows that I’m a serious business owner.
My website also attracts certain clients who search for freelance bloggers and writers for hire on Google. I’ve built my business to the point where I don’t have to search for my own clients; they come to me and contact me through my website.
I suggest investing a bit of money into web hosting (like with Bluehost) and a domain name (like www.aliciarades.com). I also use a premium theme and plugins (which are bits of software that expand your site’s function) to give my site a more professional appeal. Not sure where to start? Here are the elements you should include on your writer website.
6. Build Your Portfolio
Your portfolio is a collection of blog posts you’ve written. When you group them all together on a single web page like I have, it makes it easy for potential clients to see what you’re capable of.
I’ll tell you a little secret: I wrote most of the articles on my portfolio page for free. That’s because I ghostwrite most of my clients’ posts, which means I don’t earn credit for writing them. However, I do get my name next to posts I write for free, and I do it as a way to gain exposure and impress clients with my writing.
The best way I know how to build your blogging portfolio is to guest blog. Simply come up with an idea for a specific blog, pitch the idea to the blog’s editors, write the post, and submit it according to their guidelines. In about 6 weeks or less you should see your post published with your name next to it.
That’s not to say that you have to write for free to get samples. Some blogs pay for guest posts. (Check out the Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blog Gigs from Sophie Lizard for a list of sites that pay.) Other times, clients may credit you as the author, and you can use those samples in your portfolio.
The point here is to get writing and gather several samples (even if it’s just 3-5 to start with) so that you have somewhere to direct prospects when they ask to see some of your work.
7. Secure Ongoing Clients
The cool thing about blogging is that blogs always need new content. Continuously publishing new posts is what makes them successful. That means that most blogging clients will stick with you for several months (or even years), so you don’t have to keep searching clients to make sure the money is flowing in.
There are numerous ways to find blogging clients, including:
- Searching job boards and applying for openings.
- Searching for freelance job announcements on social media.
- Asking people you know about clients who might be looking for a blogger.
- Networking with other writers who can refer you to their clients or contacts.
- Cold calling businesses to see if they need a blogger.
- Using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to get your site to rank on search engines.
- Researching who other writers are working for to see if they have another opening.
8. Develop a Schedule and Routine
One of the best things about being a freelance blogger is that you have the freedom to set your own schedule. Clients give you a deadline, and you can work whenever or wherever you want within that time frame.
Unfortunately for some bloggers, this is also one of the biggest downsides. To succeed as a freelance blogger, you have to be incredibly self-motivated. That’s where outlining a schedule and developing a routine comes in handy.
I personally work from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. most days because that’s when my husband is at work. It’s also when I’m most productive. By having this routine down, I always know how much time I have to dedicate to work, and it keeps me motivated.
That said, I also outline my client work, due dates, and daily task list through Trello. Figure out a routine and scheduling strategy that works for you, and you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding as a freelance blogger.
9. Consider Ways to Diversify Your Income
I mention diversifying your income not because you need to do so in order to make a living as a freelance blogger but because as a freelance blogger, you have the skills and resources to do it. You can use the freelance blogging platform you’ve built to succeed at other opportunities.
For example, many freelance blogging clients also need a social media manager. You could bundle your services and do both. Or if you’ve built your own successful blog, you could start making money with affiliate marketing.
Diversifying your income means creating multiple revenue streams for your business. It can mean taking on several different clients so your money is coming from several sources, or it can mean offering another service.
For me personally, I’m a fiction writer in addition to a freelance blogger. Over the last couple of months, my books have become more popular, and I’ve started making money from them. This is just one example of an alternative revenue stream.
Other ideas include:
- Writing an eBook
- Developing an online course
- Offering design services
- Doing other types of writing
- Becoming an affiliate marketer
- Becoming a freelance editor
10. Continue Learning
The key to ongoing success as a freelance blogger is to never stop learning. The field is constantly changing, and it’s changing fast. To keep up with the industry and to always put your best foot forward with your clients, never assume your writing talents or knowledge has peaked. Continue to follow writing and marketing blogs, stay engaged in the community of other writers, or consider training opportunities.
I hope you will take these ideas and use them to succeed as a freelance blogger. Have more questions on getting started? Feel free to leave a comment or contact me with your questions.
Alicia Rades is a professional blogger for hire who specializes in blogging and freelancing topics. When she’s not writing for clients, you can find her hanging around the Be a Freelance Blogger forums, reading or writing YA fiction, or browsing Netflix. Contact Alicia to see if she can help you with your blog content strategy.