Bloggers and money.
It’s a topic that persists in the blogosphere, like an annoying gnat that just won’t go away.
Part of the reason it’s such a persistent topic is because a) many people want to make a living off of blogging and b) it’s really difficult to get good, solid information about what, when, where and how people are being compensated. You never really know if you’re shortchanging yourself or have the world’s biggest ego in asking for X dollars. There is a veil that is not easy to pierce.
My friend Natalie and her readers felt this dichotomy, and Natalie decided to do something about it. In the spirit of helping other bloggers, she and several other bloggers, including me, are having a round table discussion today called Lifting the Veil on Making Money In Blogging. This discussion is designed to look at monetization (and the choice to not monetize) from different perspectives and angles.
My topic is freelance work: how to get it and what to charge. Let’s dive right in and talk about some ideas on how to get freelance work.
What You Need To Know to Get Freelance Work
I’d like to say “just work your ass off, the end.” And that’s partly true. But there’s more to it than just that. Here are a few things to consider.
It’s a Grind
The idea of freelancing sounds pretty cushy. Working from home, staying in your jammies with Oprah on in the background. But it is a grind. It is very hard work, particularly when you are managing multiple assignments. Finding freelance work is a grind too. You’ll likely knock on a lot of doors to start out with and it takes a while for one to open.
I get at least 2-3 emails every week from bloggers asking me how I’ve gotten my freelance jobs and do I know of any open opportunities. It seems that everybody is vying for the same jobs or wanting to do the same things. Know the landscape. Know that it will not be easy. Know that you will have to differentiate yourself. To that point…
Your Blog Says Something About You
If you are considering pursuing freelancing, whether it’s in social media or writing, take a long, hard look at your blog. Because your potential client or employer most certainly will. They will look at the quality of your writing. They’ll check out your vibe, voice or tone. They are searching for professionalism. Make sure your blog conveys this.
I’ve worked on about eleven major freelance assignments in the last 18 months. I secured 8 of those 11 gigs through connections. Whether it was a former colleague recommending me, or networking at a blog conference, relationships, combined with a really professional looking blog, made the difference between me getting the gig and it going to someone else.
Where To Find Work
I found my very first writing assignment through ProBlogger’s job boards. About.com’s list of where to get freelance jobsis pretty comprehensive as well. Let everyone around you know that you are looking for work. 5 bloggers I know well currently have jobs that I used to hold. People pass work on and refer their friends.
How To Get Paid Fairly for Freelancing?
Part of the reason there’s so much mystery around making money blogging is because hard and fast rules don’t exist regarding what to charge. Here are a few of the things I have learned thus far.
Pay Varies Widely
I’ve been paid $10 to write a 250 word post. I’ve been paid $150 to write a slightly longer post. I’ve been paid anywhere from $20 to $70 an hour for consulting work. A big blogger I know doesn’t write for less than $250/post. It is all over the map, truly.
Know The Expectations of Every Assignment and Determine Your Hourly Rate
The per-post or flat monthly rate methods of pay don’t take into account the level of work involved. That’s why I always try to determine what the hourly rate is for any potential assignment. For example, my very first writing gig paid $10/post. When I told my friends about it, they were outraged that I’d work for such low pay.
But after discussing with the client, I discovered that my responsibility was to write a simple 250 word post. No real research was required. I was not expected to do any SEO activities or to even promote the post. I was able to write 4 of those posts in an hour. $40/hour was something I was comfortable with.
Monthly rates can seem attractive because they’re a lump sum, but they often result in a very low hourly rate because you’ve not accurately estimated the work involved. Ask the hard questions. It will save you feeling underpaid down the road.
Decide If You’re Willing To Smart Small
I chose to work at some lower-paying jobs when I started to just get my feet wet, build my portfolio and learn. I have been offered more lucrative opportunities at every turn since then and have been able to grow what was once “mad money” to a full-time career that supports my family. But this approach will not work for everybody. Decide for yourself what you’re willing to be paid and be okay with your choices. Don’t apologize for them. Always try to earn more with each new gig, though.
Ask Your Friends
It is super helpful to have friends you can bounce things off of when it comes to earning money. I have several friends I can consult with and ask them whether an opportunity sounds like BS, if they think the pay is fair, and so on. Having a sanity check is so valuable! If you don’t know anyone who freelances, feel free to email me with questions. I am happy to help.
I hope this overview is helpful to some of you as you’re branching out into freelancing. I could write for a whole week on this topic!
Be sure to check out the other discussions happening on the topic of making money, most of which are going live at 6 a.m. PST today:
Katie (Sluiter Nation): Not My Business, Baby