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:
Guest posting can be a superb way to collect email subscribers. But it can also be a huge waste of time, as you write a compelling and well researched guest post perfectly targeted at the blog’s readers — and get no engagement or new subscribers.
Maybe you know a couple of blogs you think would make a perfect fit for you, because their readers are the people you want on your list.
But how can you tell if it’s really a good site to pitch? Is there any way of predicting how many subscribers you can get?
Many factors are in play, and you can never predict your results for sure. Still, I have done my fair share of guest posting, on sites including Write to Done, The Write Life, Boost Blog Traffic, and many others.
Over time, I’ve found these five factors help me decide whether to pitch a guest post or move on:
If you think there are no great-paying freelance writing gigs out there anymore and it’s all $5 blog posts, I’m here to spread some sunshine.
I have the advantage of chatting with hundreds of freelance writers on a regular basis in Freelance Writers Den. That’s allowed me to get a strong sense of what the trends are, and where writers are finding opportunities.
I’m hearing more and more reports of rising rates in some specific writing niches, and of growing demand for some emerging assignments.
If you’re hoping to up your game and find great-paying freelance writing gigs this year, check out my list of a dozen top niches.
All of these niches have two things in common, so let me call out those two key items first: