One of the wonderful qualities of the web is that anyone can put their content out there for everyone to see. This means YOU! Of course you probably already knew that. What you might be interested to know is that there are literally thousands of people out there willing to pay you to do it. For a bit of info on writing and finding jobs, check out last week’s article.
Once you’ve found an opportunity or two that looks interesting to you, vet it a little bit. What kinds of time commitments are they asking? What topics are they looking for? Do they want a lot of experience or is it a low-end job? How do they pay you (by the post, by the month, sliding scale, Adsense-only, etc…)?
Most of these are self-explanatory and you can judge how well you fit into the mold they are looking for. Usually blog owners are looking for a very specific kind of content, but if you really like their blog, don’t be afraid to offer something slightly different. Some people are very flexible and email is free.
When sending an email to a potential employer, remember to be fairly formal. Usually you can refer to them by whatever their name is on their website. Once they reply, switch to whatever they sign-off as. Feel free to upgrade to a little more formality if you’re not comfortable with that though. Also, be sure to check over your spelling and grammar, as any editor who gets a shoddy email will probably not even respond to you.
Make sure that you get your pay grade straight as soon as is polite. State how you prefer to be paid (Paypal is the industry standard for regular blogs) as well as a rate per post. This is the best way to get started because Adsense-only pay won’t get you much money for a long time (if ever) and monthly salaries will probably require more work than you’re ready for.
A sliding scale, as I mentioned above, is how I term a system where you earn more by posting more per month. While this can be a great way to make yourself write a lot, if you ever slow down in your posting you may find the job is no longer worth the pay. It’s also an easy way to get burned-out because you push yourself too hard to get the highest pay grade.
Here is an article Wendy published about a week ago that includes a section on freelance writing relevant to this part of the process.
Be sure that you are clear about what you can actually do for your employer. If you’re new, let them know. If you’re experienced, prove it to them with an intelligent game-plan. Tell them exactly what areas you are good at writing about and what kind of work you are comfortable with.
If you want to add a bit of pizazz to your email, I suggest making an email signature. Without saying it should be the name by which you want to be known, but it should also include a link to your blog (or blogs). Don’t go overboard, though, as a super-long signature can gum up an email with many replies. Personally I prefer Retagger for my email signatures:
Notice that the badge has a picture of me, clear statements of my interests and expertise, and numerous ways to contact me. Unfortunately this badge doesn’t contain a direct link to my blog, so I typically put in a a separate line just under my name for that. All of this can be saved as HTML in most mail clients or webmail accounts, so it’s an easy habit to build into your emailing.
Now once you have a few blogging jobs under your belt, you may be tempted to forget about the personal blog you started out with. While you are not required to keep this blog at all, it may serve a useful purpose or two. First of all, depending on the quality of the blogs you write for, they may give you the ability to link back to your personal blog.If they do, and their PageRank is high, you may find your blog taking on more traffic than you ever expected. Also, if you ever have a piece that is either rejected or is simply too “hot” for any of your paid gigs, a personal blog is a great place to put it up and not waste it completely.
If you don’t want to preserve your blog for posterity, there are other ways to market yourself. A great way to do this is by keeping a microblog. Twitter, Plurk (if you’ve never heard of Plurk, here’s an introduction), and others not only let you quickly reference your pursuits around the web, but they will let you connect to other bloggers who you might not talk to much otherwise. Getting to know who’s who in your field of interest can be a great boon and might lead to interviews with that person (for later use in a blog entry).
Twitter is by far the most popular microblogging service and most bloggers I know at least have an account, even if they’re not incredibly active on it. Here are some recent posts about Twitter that can help get you started:
- Twitter Related Apps in MakeUseOf Directory
- Track Your Twitter Popularity With TwitterCounter
- 4 Tools for More Productive Twittering
- Tools, Apps and Bots to Improve your Twitter Experience
- TwitterFeed – Post Your RSS Feeds to Twitter
While this article covers a lot of different aspects of blogging, I believe this is because of the wild and varied nature of the blogosphere itself. Some may find these tips almost exactly the rules you need in order to stay on top of your blogging life. Others may toss them all out and proceed successfully in an entirely different manner.
If you’re in either category, let us know what you think about the freelance process and any pointers you’ve picked up on your cyber travels!
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