In early 2016, I landed my first freelance blogging client.
It was a big win for me, even though it wasn’t in my niche (because I hadn’t really figured out what my niche was yet). The client actually reached out to me after seeing some of my blog posts on Facebook.
But there was a problem. I had no idea what to charge, and the client wanted to know my rate.
I pored over everything I could find online, asked around, and finally settled on a rate of $50 per 500-750 word blog post. I sent the editor my rates, and voila – I had my first contract in place.
I jumped into writing awesome blog content for this client. But it didn’t take long to start second guessing my rate. Was I charging enough for this type of work? What were other writings charging for writing similar blog content? What would need to happen to raise my rates and keep this client?
Have you noticed that many people online would like you to pay them to teach you how to freelance — even though they just started doing it themselves? Yes, it’s spring, and bad freelance advice is in the air.
Maybe it’s because I recently hit 15 years as a freelancer (and about 10 years as a coach), but this is a trend that worries me. If you read a lot of new bloggers’ About pages, they often gush that they’re excited to be starting a freelance business…but 10 minutes later, they switch to teaching you how to do it. Before they really have time to succeed at freelancing.
Do you smell a rat? I do, too.
What raises my hackles here, as an advocate for fair writer treatment and pay, is that I’ve had a chance to check out a lot of the advice offered by newbies — and the quality of it ranges from marginally useful to wretchedly wrong-headed.
Want to know why most blogs never really take off?
I discovered the answer when I reviewed about 100 readers’ blogs earlier this week on a free-feedback day.
What’s the big stumbling block? Most bloggers are writing all alone.
No mentors. No collaborators. They’re not guest posting, and there are no guest posts on their blog.
They’re blogging in a vacuum. That means you don’t know the best practices, the trends, the sweet little design tricks and shortcuts that help you get more subscribers.
Don’t blog alone
Loads of bloggers are trying to connect with big influencers — but few do it successfully.
Most blogs are just…sitting there.
How do I know? Because I’ve been reviewing bunches of them as part of the coaching service I’m launching along with my upcoming e-book, Small Blog, Big Income.
At this point in the life of the blogosphere, I have to say I’m surprised. There’s no shortage of advice out there from mega-successful bloggers on how to build a blog-based business.
So what’s up?
I started asking these bloggers questions…and discovered a problem.
House built on a weak foundation
There are some very basic building blocks that should be in place when you launch a blog — and often, they’re missing.
We press ‘publish’ because we can, without thinking through where we’re headed. The result is incoherent, rambling blogs with no apparent focus…and vague dreams of quitting freelancing and earning from our blogs that don’t come true.
If you’re here learning how to make a living as a writer, you’ve probably already got your writing skills down.
But even the most skilled writers can struggle with the design side of their blog.
Internet users are bombarded with information, and each mental transaction taking a toll on their brainpower. Presenting content so it requires minimal effort from your audience is not just considerate–it also improves your chances that reader will subscribe and return.
What common design errors drive your blog readers away? From my experience as a user-experience expert and Web designer, these are my top five: