Blogging is no longer the province of so many stay-at-home moms posting pictures of toddlers and baking experiments. Blogs are business ventures and integral parts of marketing strategies for every major company throughout the world.
And you want a piece of the action. As a freelance blogger, you don’t always get to choose your niche, but you have to be authoritative, accurate, entertaining, and unique every time. If you write something irrelevant, old, or just plain wrong, you’ll be lucky to get posted. If by some miracle you do achieve a post, you may well be lambasted for your lack of quality.
Never fear—there is a way to survive as a freelance writer and guest blogger (case and point: me). Happily enough, I happen to be a real expert in the freelance blogger world, and I want to share with you what took me so many posts to discover:
Rule #1: Don’t Fake It
Well, I admit to having told stories that weren’t exactly accurate, but the stories I told were always relevant and credible. How so? A blog I like to follow said it best—you’ve got to layer information.
As a freelance blogger, you’ll find yourself writing about carpet cleaning, running shoes, and Medicare packages (sometimes all before lunch time). If you’ve done your time at a creative agency, you know the drill of so many different topics in such little time. But let’s say you studied English or marketing in college (not carpet cleaning), you hate running, and you’re 28 years old. “Just how do you propose I not ‘fake it’ when I have these topics AND a deadline?” You may ask. I’m glad you did.
A lack of direct experience in an area does not preclude your ability to write about it. If you studied English, for example, then you are probably a master at drawing parallels and creating relationships where they are not readily apparent. If you’re an English major worth your salt, you have done this more times than you care to remember about every book you’ve touched from Geoffrey Chaucer to John Steinbeck.
This is where those (seemingly useless) essays come in handy. The ability to write sound business advice by hearkening back to that one time you helped your dad with the hardwood floor when you were 13 is not only interesting, it’s desirable.
Rule #2: Have Fun
SEO blog posts can get tedious, it’s true. Your client needs ten blog posts a month for the next 6 months, and by the time you get five deep into the first month, you’re spent. That’s because you’re not having fun.
photo by stuck in customs
Rule #2 gels quite nicely with Rule #1, because you’ve got to draw from old memories, past roommates, and last week’s blow-up between your 16-year old and her 14-year-old sister. Suddenly Medicare becomes the topic of a growing drama, and the denouement can last as long as your client’s budget.
Besides, if you’re not having fun, then why are you writing, anyway? Ok, so maybe the topics aren’t something you care much for, but part of the work is having fun with the mundane (no matter what your job may be).
Rule #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Network
Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes your leads run dry. If you work in a network, you can pass things around, take a break from a topic, and have a steadier stream of clients than you could do yourself. You may work cheaper, but you work more steadily.
And that’s where I like to leave it. In fact, I don’t dare give you more than three “rules,” because the art and beauty of blogging is our ability to be candid. Say what you mean, get the spelling errors out of the way, and don’t worry about an editor. Your unique voice is about to go out to the world, so let it go.
What experiences have you had with sending out guest blogs? Tell us about it in the comments!
Jared Heath is a freelance writer who writes for a wide variety of clients. From SEO copywriting to technical writing, he’s done it all, and he’s an expert at being the half-hour expert.