By Lauren Stevens of Lauren B. Stevens
Whether freelancing has been your plan from the beginning, or your blog is beginning to open doors for you, you’re now in the position to transition from hobby blogger to pro.
Just over three years ago, I began blogging with one goal in mind – to build a skill set and network my way into making a living from home while raising my son. I floundered for about a year, and then something clicked. I began meeting moms like myself, skilled writers carving out a living while remaining at home with their children. The more I connected with these women, witnessing and sharing in their successes, the more I knew the path for me.[bctt tweet=”You’re now in the position to transition from hobby blogger to pro @LaurenBStevens”]
Once I began submitting pieces to larger outlets, and getting essays published, I began transitioning away from my blog. Unless I had a piece I wanted to run on The Huffington Post, I looked for paying outlets rather than publishing on my own blog. My writing grew stronger, my network grew larger, my resources expanded and I was now generating a monthly income from freelancing.
I began by adding sections to my blog; a portfolio for potential clients to view my work and a “Hire Me” section that covered the types of work for which I was available. After six months of freelance writing success, I decided it was time to focus my energies on my freelance career; I created a site devoted entirely to freelancing. My freelance site is much less involved than my blog, with fewer menu options, and only recently, a business blog.
After freelancing (and learning) for the past year-and-a-half, I’m sharing some of my own tips for transitioning away from a personal blog and into a full-time freelancing career.
Decide whether you want to write for money, recognition or building a blog community
This is not always cut and dry. My goal was to earn money when I started my blog, so it was easy for me to walk away from my blog after a year-and-a-half of consistent 3x weekly publishing. If I have something personal to write, that’s not a great fit for a general audience, or if I have a sponsored post opportunity, I will publish on my blog. I do, however, maintain my social media accounts and following because those are a nice way to generate bonus income (and I spent a lot of time building those platforms!). In this sense, I write for money first, but I do maintain the community I’ve spent 3+ years building.
Which hat will you wear?
Again, this is another difficult decision. I’ll be honest and say that my monthly income is [extremely] diversified. I remember reading a piece about how to talk to your family about your job over a holiday dinner – it was spot on! When people ask what I do, I respond with “writer”. If they are truly interested and probe me further, I’ll go into greater detail. I’ll be honest, even my husband doesn’t know everything I do, I just share key articles/essays and keep him abreast of my monthly earnings! My income definitely isn’t streamlined, but I’m extremely organized and it works for me.
Approximately 60% of my monthly income is from writing for businesses (blogs, articles, press releases, newsletters), 30% is from social media management, and the remaining 10% from blog-related revenue (sponsored posts, social media marketing). I find that many small businesses want package deals, so I take on social media management for clients just so that I can have their writing business.
Taking the Leap
I had a transition period where I developed a portfolio on my blog, and sent potential clients the link. Once I decided that I was “all-in”, I started a website completely devoted to my freelance business. In my business site’s portfolio, I have a link to my blog, just to show that I have years of blogging under my belt and the ability to build both a website and a following.
If your blog has personal posts, I would suggest building another site to send potential clients to. If you have favorite pieces, by all means, link to your blogs in the portfolio section.
Leveraging Your Personal Blog
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for beginning writers is fear, and that fear surfaces in many forms. When I was in sales, one of my mantras was “fake it ‘til you make it.” When I began approaching businesses for writing jobs, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t been paid before, I had a blog with some really strong writing examples. Not only that, but some of my blogs had been published on The Huffington Post, which had heft when pitching prospective businesses.
Think of your personal blog as your portfolio in those early days. If you’ve not published outside of your blog, send potential clients to your strongest pieces for writing examples, or, blow them over with an amazing pitch. You don’t have to write for free to gain exposure, but I will say that my writing for Scary Mommy and The Huffington Post (for free) landed me some of my highest paying jobs early on. In a very real sense, that exposure brought clients to my doorstep, asking me to write for them or do some type of other work for them (I’ve been asked to do a bit of everything — PR, marketing, blogger outreach, etc.).[bctt tweet=”Think of your personal blog as your portfolio in those early days @LaurenBStevens”]
Remember the social media platforms I continue to maintain from my active blogging days? I leverage those as well — businesses like the fact that I share all of my published content on those platforms, so don’t be afraid to sell your social media influence!
Once you’re up and running, the most important thing you need to do is to stay organized; not only will you not lose your mind with accounting and other project details, but your organization exudes professionalism to potential clients. Remember how many different revenue streams I manage? I use a spreadsheet to keep track of my business revenue & expenses, personal and editorial calendars, and file folders (digital & hard copy — I’m still ‘old school’) for each of my clients to keep track of contracts, invoices, interview notes and project deadlines.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Whenever I interact with a brand or a business, I always, always solicit my services, and I have no shame in doing so. I’m good at what I do, and every business with a website needs quality content. If it’s a small business, I’m able to offer my entire skill set in a nice, neat package — PR, marketing, social media/content management and writing. And really, what’s the worst they can say, no thank you? As writers, we’re champions of rejection![bctt tweet=”What’s the worst they can say, no thank you? As writers, we’re champions of rejection! @LaurenBStevens”] Lauren B. Stevens is a Philadelphia-based writer, whose articles and essays have appeared across the internet, in addition to several print anthologies. When Lauren’s not creating content or marketing strategies for businesses, she enjoys drafting creative nonfiction essays about all aspects of her life. You can follow Lauren on Twitter at @LaurenBStevens