You may think this is a funny piece of advice for me to write on my blog.
But if you care about earning more as a freelance writer, then you might want to stop writing blog posts.
Why do I say this?
There are four big reasons I want to steer you away from blogging:
1. It’s a time-waster
One common affliction currently plaguing many aspiring freelance writers is that they start a blog because they’ve heard they should. Next, they fall in love with the blog, and then spend way too much time on it. All at the expense of finding the paying clients they need, and without examining what they’re blogging about or why.
Unfortunately, the typical diary-you-put-online type blog posts rarely attract many readers. And they don’t make a good writing sample for luring clients, either. Businesses want fact-filled posts written on a single topic, not random posts about your personal thoughts.
But it’s so empowering, pushing that ‘publish’ button on whatever you want to say…that it becomes addictive.
It’s not unusual for writers to tell me:
“My goals for this month include posting twice a week on each of my three personal blogs. Plus…um…guess I need to do some marketing to find clients.”
The blogging sucks up all your free time, the marketing falls to the bottom of your priority list, and next year, you’re still starving.
2. It has a crummy reputation
No client is impressed to hear that you’re writing blog posts.
Blogging is the entry point. The bottom rung. There’s no barrier to entry. Often, you have no editor — and your prospects know it.
That’s why blogging isn’t a prestigious type of writing.
If you can manage to guest post on a big, popular, brand-name blog, that helps your cred a bit. But it’s still not a byline in Vanity Fair or the New York Times.
3. It doesn’t pay well
Yes, there is an elite rank of business blogging clients that now pay $100-$300 a blog post and more. But even this upper end of blog-post pay is low compared to what you can earn from other types of writing.
And the vast majority of blogging gigs are still going for $5-$25 a post, which isn’t a living wage in any First World country, no matter how fast you write.
4. It’s a shrinking market
With the ongoing efforts of Google to exclude mass-content sites from its search results, the forecast is for less blogging-for-hire work in future. Most of the cheap, SEO-keyword driven, short-post assignments are drying up.
It’s a dying niche because semi-literate, half-baked posts you dash off in 15 minutes for search robots to index don’t work any more. They don’t drive traffic because they’re not turning up in search results. So businesses are not going to pay even $5 for them in future.
If you’re dependent on this sort of work for your living right now, it’s time to make plans to move into a new niche. You’ve got all your eggs in a vanishing basket.
What to write instead
If I’ve made you rethink your feelings about blogging, good.
I’m not trying to tell you to stop writing, of course. Just that blogging isn’t the greatest format if you’re looking to earn a living from writing (short of seeing a moonshot success on monetizing your own blog).
So what should you write instead of blog posts? Articles.
- Articles pay well. You can earn $1 a word and more, from better companies and publications.
- Articles are a prestige assignment. You’re not ‘just a blogger’ anymore.
- Article clips are respected. Editors and marketing managers alike are impressed when you show them article clips.
- People love to read articles. This is a format that’s been around a long time, and readers ‘get’ it.
- Blog posts are becoming articles. The call for 2,000-word blog posts on many top blogs and websites really means they want articles.
- Businesses need articles. Increasingly, corporate clients are looking for article content for their websites, to set them apart from all those ordinary, low-value blog posts. I’ve earned $2 a word in this niche.
The secret of online writing success
I’ll let you in on a little secret that I think was key to this blog’s success: I never thought of myself as a blogger.
My concept for this blog has always been that I’m writing and publishing an online magazine, and these posts are the articles. And that has made all the difference.
That’s why while most blogs blather on about the author’s personal feelings or whatever strikes their fancy that morning, I do exposés, report on news that affects freelance writers, and discuss trends. Because this is a magazine for freelance writers.
When I started writing article-style posts back in 2008, I think I was a little ahead of the curve. But now, in-depth, fully reported blog posts — (cough) articles — are fast becoming the online norm.
If you like writing online, know that article format is the future.
Which makes sense, because readers want great stories and useful information. Fascinating interviews and unique facts. Always have, and always will. In the future, when they’re laser-beaming content into our brains, that’s what we’ll want.
If you don’t know how yet, you should learn to deliver this.
Reposition to earn more
To sum up: stop writing “blog posts.” Stop thinking of yourself as a blogger. Become an article writer instead. If that idea scares you — of doing interviews and finding facts — I just want to say: You can do this.
Sell what you’re writing to clients as articles instead of blog posts. “Instead of short blog posts, we should create better content that’s article quality, with interviews and research data — that’s what builds authority and really gets you traffic and leads.” Then, ask for $.50-$1 a word for it.
Ride the trend toward better, article-style content and you’ll be positioned to earn more as a freelance writer in 2015. Then, you can write whatever you want on your own blog.