Getting the gig: How to be a freelance blogger

When not speaking and consulting, I’ve been working as freelance blogger for the past seven years. During that time, I’ve learned a thing or six about the freelancing business. If you’re getting started, you’ll find the following tips helpful.

Write well and often.

Anyone interested in hiring you will want to kick the tires first. A potential client cannot evaluate your writing chops if you have nothing to show. But who’s going to publish your stuff? The good news is that you don’t need permission and a big budget. Set up your own blog on WordPress.com or Medium. You can be up and running in five minutes. If you haven’t written anything of substance in six months or more, it’s fair for someone to ask if you’re current.

Make it easy to show off your portfolio.

Of course, not all of your content is likely to be in one place, especially as you amass clients. What’s more, some of your work may qualify as ghostwriting. Telling a prospect to “Google me” isn’t likely to land that lucrative writing gig. Why not make it easy for someone to view all of—or at least your most prominent—work? For this reason, I spent a great deal of time on my own writing page. Note that the page contains many visual elements. A simple of list of articles is unlikely to make an impression.

Know your SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big deal. Media sites often keep their lights on via advertising, much of which comes from page views. Brass tacks: It’s not enough to write a solid piece if people aren’t going to find it and read it. In your posts and preliminary conversations with would-be clients, demonstrate you know what keywords, headings, and permalinks do.

Get yourself registered on freelancing sites.

Sites such as WriterAccess make it easy to find freelance gigs—and for interested parties to find you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that registering for these sites, though, means that immediate opportunities will come your way.

Compete on quality, not on price.

As with anything in life and business, you get what you pay for. Content farms may only pay $50 for a 500-word article or blog post—and that price may well drop in a year. I’ve found it best to set a relatively high rate and decline opportunities that don’t fall in that ballpark. (This may not be possible for first-time freelancers, though.)

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How to be a freelance blogger

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Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology authority. He is the award-winning author of seven management books, most recently Message Not Received. He consults organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fox News, and many other sites. In the fall of 2016, he will be joining the faculty at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

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