Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #10: How to Get Gigs With Just Your Blog

Are you writing a blog? If so, great — blogs are one of the best marketing tools around. Yet, most blogs fail to snag their authors any good-paying writing gigs.

Why? It’s because the blog fails as an audition piece. It isn’t set up to show prospective clients that you are a blogging pro and that you would be a great hire.

I’ve done a lot of paid blogging, which all began when I used this blog as a sample. Over the past few years, I’ve written for companies, publications…even a TV network. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about $10-a-post type work — I’m talking about landing real-pay gigs at decent hourly rates. I’ve gotten as much as $300 a blog post, and don’t write for less than $50 a post.

In my experience, there are some basic elements prospective clients want to see on your blog that make them go “Aha! This person is a pro blogger who could help me build my audience.”

Many blogs have some of these features, but most blogs don’t have them all.

Here is my list of the top ten things you want to show on your blog in order to turn it into a client magnet:

  1. You know how. Most of you will have this one nailed, but to take it from the top, clients want to see you know how to put up a post. It looks nice and clean, in a big readable font that’s consistent through your blog.
  2. Your design is uncluttered. There aren’t a bunch of goofy widgets, flashing ads, mutiple sidebars, or dark backgrounds with white letters. Clean design also means not having .blogger or .wordpress or something in your URL. Pay the tiny fee and get hosting — you look a lot more pro.
  3. You write compelling posts in blog style. Your posts are short, focused on a single topic, and scannable, with numbered or bulleted points or useful subheads that guide the reader through your post. Paragraphs are short, too. Each post has several links to other useful information that are successfully anchored to appropriate key words, not ‘naked’ or dead. You don’t use ten exclamation points, three different colors of fonts, or otherwise make your posts look like a note a gushy high-school girl is passing her friend in class. As far as quality, you write your posts like they are $1-a-word magazine articles. You tell moving stories, report trends with interviews — whatever it takes to create content that’s a cut above.
  4. You write powerful headlines. If you are going to blog for pay and help a client drive traffic, you must understand what makes a headline that readers will click. Learn how to write great headlines.
  5. You stick to a niche. In my experience, it doesn’t really matter what your niche topic is (as long as it’s not your love of porn or something). What matters is showing you understand niche blogging. The prospect sees you can develop a lot of post ideas on a single topic. You’re not blogging about what your cat ate or whatever comes to mind that day or weird YouTube videos you saw…just about your chosen subject. Every paying client will want you to stick strictly to their niche, so it’s really important to show you get this.
  6. You find, upload and credit images. They should be simple, clean images installed at the top of each post, nice and big, half-column width (not taking up the entire top of the post so that the first paragraph is pushed down below it). If you’re really slick, you understand sightlines, and eyes in faces or diagonal lines in photos point readers toward your copy, not away from it. If required, you have a citation and link.
  7. You use social sharing buttons and are active in social media. Most paying clients are hoping you’ll know how to retweet your posts and help promote your content. Buttons on your posts (not just by your name with the exhortation to “follow me!”) show you get social-media marketing.
  8. You get and respond to reader comments. Prospects want to see you know how to write the kind of posts that can engage readers enough to leave comments. If people do leave comments, they can see you respond appropriately.
  9. You have a ‘hire me’ tab. Don’t let prospects wonder whether or not you are available to blog for others. I know writers who got inquiries immediately after they added a ‘hire me’ tab.
  10. You are easy to contact. If the only way to reach you is by filling in an email contact form, know that you are sending many prospects away. Who wants to fill that out? Not me. Post at least one real email address (or a clickable graphic that links to one, if you’re worried about scrapers) on that ‘hire me’ tab — or better yet, in the sidebar so it’s visible from any page. Ideally, include a phone number, too.

Yes, it takes more time to put up a blog with all of these strengths, versus the usual slapped-up, visually unappealing junk that dominates the blogosphere. But a few design tweaks on your blog and a stronger commitment to working on your headlines and posts can really pay off in landing you quality paid blogging gigs.

Have you gotten a paid writing gig off your blog? Leave a comment and tell us how it happened.

Need more marketing help? Here’s a place where you can get a bunch…


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22 comments on “Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #10: How to Get Gigs With Just Your Blog
  1. Great tips Carol. I have moved to Auckland in search of better writing opportunities. I have learned a lot from the tips that you shared via free webinars and blog posts. Congratulations for a very progressive career. I saw how your MALW site has grown a lot based on your PR and site theme. Awesome!
    Jonan Castillon recently posted..Improve Your English Usage via Jose Carillo’s English Forum

  2. Debra Stang says:

    I figured out how to do the “Hire Me” button, but I still can’t find anything on TypePad that allows readers to re-Tweet or post to Facebook. Any ideas from TypePad users?

    Thanks!
    Debra
    Debra Stang recently posted..To Swear or Not to Swear?

  3. I’ve also found including an About Me page can do wonders for your blog. And it also seems to be one of the most viewed pages on a blog. People like to get to know the person behind those wonderful words. In addition to letting your personality shine, it gives you another chance to sell yourself as a great writer without being overly pushy.
    Terri Huggins recently posted..Diamonds are Nice But I Prefer Referrals: Referrals are a Freelancers Best Friend

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Terri –

      Your About page is critical, and is the second-most visited page on most sites. I didn’t name it because I think everyone already knows to have an About page…but as you point out, writing a great one also helps strengthen your blog and position it as a good sales tool for your writing services.

  4. Great post Carol! I recently toned down the background image on my blog and went with a solid color instead. Even though I liked the old graphics, I figure simple is safer in this case. I’m glad I came across your blog and look forward to following!

  5. No paying gigs yet, but I’m proud to say I’ve hit pretty much each of these. While I feel I’m a “niche-less” blog, others probably lump me into the “parenting blog” category (i.e. mommy blogger, even though I hate that term). But I think more importantly than sticking to a niche is just approaching whatever topic you’re writing about with a specific angle in mind – and then not veering from it. I approach each of my posts with a conceptualized angle and think my writing has improved overall as a result. And yet my writing still runs the gamut from parenting and family to blogging and social media, and is both humorous and poignant (sometimes at once).

    I don’t have a “Hire Me” page but do have my availability and contact info clearly listed on both a portfolio page and a contact page. And I just underwent a gorgeous re-design. I love my blog’s new clean, professional look – such a far cry from where I was a year ago on Blogger.

    My entire blogging journey has been a constantly evolving learning process at which I’ve worked very hard over the past 18 months. So, I hope it will lead to some paid opportunities within the next year.
    Kristin @ What She Said recently posted..Friday Tapas: The Smelly and Aged Edition

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Kristin — I know you’re being all snappy with the branding by calling your portfolio page “She writes” but I think many prospects may not get that. You’d be surprised what saying HIRE ME (or Hire Her) does for you.

  6. Hi Carol,

    Nice article on improving one’s blog to get some client running after you.

    I think ‘hire me page’ is one of the most important way to get clients to contact us for some work. I After reading this article, I feel that there are lot’s of things I still have to do. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  7. This is a great list. Thank you.

    My blog has only been up for a little over a month now. I let my first blog die over the years when I got too busy writing for my clients full-time but I regret it now.

    I’ll be adding a few things that you suggested here.

    In particular, a “hire me” page.

    I’m also not a fan of forcing potential clients to fill out forms. I can’t believe how many people force their clients to jump through hoops.

    Sometimes I wonder how in the world these writers pay the bills.
    Courtney James recently posted..The Pin Head’s Guide To Marketing

  8. Amandah says:

    Thanks to Carol’s website evaluation, I’ve been working on improving the look of my writer website. I have a “Hire Me” page, but I’ll see if I can ‘create’ a “Hire Me” button. I’ve been learning about HTML coding and all that web design ‘jazz.’ It’s funny … I have an easier time writing another person’s “About Page” than I do my own. :)
    Amandah recently posted..Comment on Blogger Reveals: 3 Servings of SEO for Your Constipated Blog by How to Use a Blog and Social Media to Build and Increase Web Traffic -Amandah Tayler Blackwell-Savvy-Writer

  9. I’ve attracted several opportunities to write for other sites that relate to my niche…paid posts. And now I am marketing more to write review for products that relate to my niche. It’s been slow….but at least it’s moving in the “write” direction!
    Janis Meredith recently posted..Dangerous sports: which ones are the riskiest?

  10. Hands down, bar none …

    If you intend to get paid for your writing, then the biggest takeaway from this post should be to create a “Hire Me” page.

    Lots of other takeaways, too, but I think that’s the BIGGIE.

    Glad Ameena Falchetto’s post caught your eye, Carol, and prompted you to entice me to head over here and catch your post. I believe both you and Ameena are making some doggone good points.

    If you’re just blogging for fun, great. Have at it and have the time of your life!

    But if you’re blogging for “dough”, then stay 100% focused on crafting posts with your ideal customers or clients in mind. No silly, willy-nilly blogging. And definitely make sure your site is designed with professionalism.

    Thanks for connecting over at Facebook. :)
    Melanie Kissell recently posted..The Sea Of Infocrap

  11. Ruth Ekblom says:

    Hi Carol,
    Thank you for another great post. I like the clean easy list of things to do – if we are not doing it already. I shall have to spend some time overhauling my site, I think.
    Ruth Ekblom recently posted..One day at the London Book Fair

  12. Marcie says:

    As usual, your topics are super timely as I have been trying to figure out how to become a mobile app or gadget writer. Duh! Just start writing about the ones I use and enjoy, and start submitting my work to different publications.

    I don’t know how big this market is but I’m certain there is a place for me in the app writing world.
    Marcie recently posted..My Story is in “My Now Entrepreneur” Book

    • Carol Tice says:

      Judging from the number of press releases I get from startup app developer companies, there is a TON of opportunity in that niche, I think! Run a Google alert for news about apps and go to town — lots of potential clients.

  13. Excellent Advice Carol!

    I have been following you for some time now and I want to let any new readers that you may have know just how empowering your tips and suggestions are.

    You really do not cut around the bush, so to speak. You give each of your readers practical advice that they can start using immediately in their businesses.

    I look forward to reading your next post!
    William Ballard recently posted..Freelance Writers: How to Get Writing Clients With Your Freelance Writing Website

  14. Sameer says:

    Hi Carol,

    I do read your articles, and I must say they are really helpful. The points listed above is a great way to impress a probable employer. But I felt sorry when you said .blogger is not something the employer would like to see. I have a blogger a/c and and I publish my blogs there. Also I write about everything like politics, sports, travel, entertainment, current affairs etc. I mentioned this because you talked about niche topics. I have 45 articles published on my site.

    I totally agree with what you say, and I would certainly make those changes like compelling titles, uncluttered content etc.

    Do I have a chance of getting gigs ? I know it would be difficult to comment on this, but since you are a professional your tips would def help. I am doing everything possible to see that I write compelling, trending topics which would interest the readers.

    Best Regards
    Sameer

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sameer, it’s very hard to get gigs with a blog that’s about various topics…because no client’s blog is like that. Paying clients all have focused niche blogs. And being on a free blog platform says to prospects, “I’m a dabbler. I’m not serious about this.” Consider paying for hosting and migrating your blog to a self-hosted platform that doesn’t have .blogspot in the title, for starters.

      To learn a lot more on how to leverage your own blog to get paying gigs, you can check out my ebook How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger, right here: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/ebooks

      There’s always the chance of having a prospect like your blog…but if you follow the basics of what paying clients want on their own blogs, you have a much greater chance of impressing them. You also need to be guest posting on the biggest blogs you can, because that exposure is often where you’re going to get found by clients, not on your personal blog.

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