A great way to succeed as a freelance writer is by specializing and focusing.
Tom Ewer is a master at that. He’s mastered the art of freelance blogging and he now averages at least $4,000 online every month by freelance blogging.
Tom recently released what I’d like to call “The Ultimate Guide to being a Successful Freelance Blogger“; I enjoyed the guide so much that I decided to interview Tom to share his process with us.
Bamidele: The WritersinCharge audience would love to know more about you. Can you please introduce yourself and let us know where we can find you?
Tom: Absolutely! I am a 27 year old guy living from the UK. Last year I decided that I wanted to quit my job, and at the end of 2011 I did exactly that! The main driving force that allowed me to do so was the rapid expansion of my freelance blogging business. I have my own blog, Leaving Work Behind, where I reveal literally everything about my efforts to make money online.
Bamidele: Are there any major benefits to becoming a freelance blogger as opposed to being a general freelance writer?
Tom: Lots! I’m not saying that freelance writing is bad, because it certainly isn’t. In fact, certain forms of freelance writing (such as copywriting and white papers) can earn you a great deal more than blogging.
However, I love blogging for many reasons. It’s so flexible and easy-going. It’s pretty easy to establish yourself and earn a decent rate (think $50 per hour and up), and if you’re interested in establishing your own blog, working on clients’ blogs can teach you an enormous amount about the whole process!
There are actually a bunch more reasons why I love freelance blogging — I could go on for a while. But the above should be enough to whet your appetite 😉
Bamidele: How was your journey to making your first $1,000 as a freelance blogger? Will you say it was easy or difficult?
Tom: For me it was surprisingly simple, but that is not to say that everyone will experience the same results. I guess the key for me was that I was simply not willing to work for really low pay. I had no interest in the $3 per article content mill stuff, nor was there any pressure on me to accept such work when I was starting out.
As such, I only applied for jobs that offered decent pay, and only got those! As you can see from my income reports I made my first $1,000 in January 2012, which was about 3 months after I started. As soon as freelance blogging was my sole income-provider, I was able to ramp it up relatively quickly to $4,000+.
For anyone struggling to make good money as a freelance writer, I would advise that you focus on the fundamentals:
- Value yourself appropriately
- Curate a great collection of samples
- Concentrate on sending great pitches
- Look to deliver above and beyond what you promise
Bamidele: In your guide, you recommended having a blog and even outlined a step-by-step process freelance bloggers can follow to create a successful blog which gets freelance blogging clients. Is it possible to make it as a freelance blogger without a blog, or with no interest in having one?
Tom: I would say that it’s a contradictory move. Unless you have a great portfolio of published blog posts on authoritative blogs, why would anyone want to hire you?
Having your own blog is a great way of demonstrating your capabilities — not only as a writer, but to also show that you are familiar with content management systems (especially WordPress), image formatting, and so on.
But most importantly, a blog can be an excellent source of client referrals, as you know Oni. If an aspiring freelance blogger had no interest in creating their own blog, I would do all I could do to convince them to change their minds.
Note from Oni: Tom is on-spot here and this is something I’ve learned from experience. I’ve shared my process on this blog before, but I think something worth noting is the new blogging challenge where I plan to build a successful freelance, client generating blog in 3 – 6 months. Don’t miss the challenge!
Bamidele: Based on your experience – having done this for a long time, do you think a newbie can build a successful freelance blogging business and make a full-time living out of freelance blogging. If yes, how long can this take?
Tom: Absolutely, and it doesn’t have to take long at all.
I had a rather lackadaisical approach to freelance writing when I started — in fact, I’ve never really pushed hard to win new clients. I’ve been happy to work 15-20 hours a week and make a decent living whilst I focus on other areas. So if you are focused and determined (and of course, a talented writer), I see absolutely no reason why you can’t build up a full-time living within six months or less.
Lack of experience is not an excuse — I had barely even read a blog before June 2011, let alone written for one. Even moderately talented writers can succeed if they take it seriously, follow the right advice and really hustle.
Bamidele: If you were to start again as a freelance blogger with no connections, influence or resources whatsoever, how would you go about making 4 figures monthly in 1 – 2 months time?
Tom: That’s a really interesting question — I’m almost tempted to do it as a case study (although I believe you already are)!
The first thing I would do is create a blog — just a nice clean design, nothing fancy. The topic would be in whatever niche I’d like to write about. I’d write perhaps five posts up front, and add a new post every week. I would then go out and guest post on five authoritative blogs. I’d add a “Hire Me” page to my blog and add a selection of links to the guest posts, as well as the posts on my site, to serve as samples.
Once I had done that, I would scour all of the best job boards (such as ProBlogger and FreelanceSwitch) and apply to anything that seemed promising. I would use Google to find the most authoritative blogs in my chosen niche and apply to write for them (even if they were not advertising). Given the short timeframe, I would probably also reach out to local businesses to see if they needed help with their blogging (although business blogging isn’t something I major on). I might also consider joining a site such as PeoplePerHour.com.
Assuming I could attract an hourly rate of say $20 in such a short space of time (and I’m being very conservative here), I would need to work just 50 hours in a month to make $1,000. Piece of cake!
If the prospect of freelance blogging sounds interesting to you, then you should check out Tom’s newly-released freelance blogging guide which I’m a proud affiliate of. It’s the ultimate guide on the subject and you also get a bonus list of 45 sites that pay you to blog for them so you can get started asap.