When I first started blogging, I did so on a freelance basis, providing content for clients rather than running my own blogs. Today, I have a foot in both camps, but the majority of income has always been from my freelance work.
Initially, I was paid pennies for my work, but eventually I learned how to make an actual living in this industry. Zac Johnson wrote a great post about how to create content that clients will reward, but it takes more than killer content to be an in-demand freelance blogger. Here are five skills to master if you want to make more money blogging for others:
As someone who has hired freelancers as well as being a freelancer herself, I can confirm that reliability is at least as important as actual writing talent. At one point, I had anywhere from eight to twelve people working under me, and there were always at least ten unreliable people who would disappear without a word for every one legitimate worker.
Do your job. Do it on time, and do it well. Stay in close communication with your client, and don’t leave them hanging. Most clients reward freelancers who they don’t have to chase. It sounds simple enough, but you’d be amazed how rare this is in the freelance world.
Flexibility is a trait admired in most industries, but clients respond best to this trait when paired with availability. In other words, it’s not enough to be flexible with the content you’re writing so you fit the client’s needs, but you also need to have a flexible schedule to finish changes quickly or take on extra projects. Sometimes, bloggers have to burn the midnight oil, so if you’re a 9-to-5-only type of person, it will be hard to command the big bucks. Clients want to know that when there’s a breaking story, you’re on it.
You might be hired for your skills as a writer, but clients will pay you more if you’re also a savvy networker. Building your social media followings means that posts you share reach a wider audience, and while it may not be in your contract that you have to tweet about new clients post, doing this at least occasionally is a smart professional move. Not only does this allow you to showcase your work, but it also helps you drive traffic to your clients’ blogs – which means you’re a more valuable commodity.
Networking skills go beyond getting others to like your Facebook posts, though. Clients also like to work with freelancers who can make connections. When they’re looking for a new editor, do you know someone perfect for the job? Can you connect your client with a new investor? Can you bring business into the company not only in your content marketing efforts, but also by introducing your clients to potential customers? If you bring in more money for a client, there will be a trickle-down effect to you.
As Zac mentioned in his post, clients will pay more for content that really brings in the big numbers. However, the “if you build it, they will come” approach doesn’t always work. In other words, it takes more than killer content to drive traffic to your blog (or in this case, your clients’ blogs).
So, you have two options: you can put your nose to the grindstone and set them up for success with the best content possible, leaving the rest of the work to them, or you can tell your clients when you see ways for them to improve. I’m a fan of speaking up, since it means more money in your pocket!
If your clients truly need a consultant, you need to work out a contract with them so you’re paid fairly, but offering simple tips for free is a great way to become more valuable as a writer. Can you recommend a great plugin that will help them attract more readers? Is there something about their blog design that is a little off and causing high bounce rates? Would a different blogging schedule give them more bang for their buck? Speak up, and as their traffic increases due to your advice, you can ask for a higher pay rate per post.
Lastly, almost all clients want freelancers who can work independently. You will come across the occasionally obsessive micro-manager, but most of the time, your job as a blogger is just a very small cog in the machine of a business. They don’t have time to answer 17 emails a day from you. Be careful not to overstep your boundaries by making decisions without asking the client, but take the initiative to solve your own problems whenever possible. If you’re an independent worker who is (going back to point #1) extremely reliable, the client will trust you, and in the freelance world, trust equals money.
I don’t want this post to downplay the importance of providing quality content for your clients, which should always be your biggest goal. These are just five ways to go even further with the service you’re providing. Definitely check out the blog track at NMX this January, paying special attention to sessions about content production. The skills these speakers will teach you about creating content for your own blog can, and should, be applied to creating content for your clients’ blogs as well.