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How to Get Lots of Paid Blogging Gigs

how to get lots of paid freelance work

Blogging is a unique profession. Many of us started as hobby bloggers, documenting our lives and craft projects for fun. Our readers responded, and our traffic began to climb, and slowly, we realized we had something pretty special going on here.

Taking your blog from hobby to business is not for everyone, and I don’t recommend that EVERYONE make the leap. But that’s not what this article is about. The target audience of this article has decided that professional blogging IS for them, and wants to figure out how to do lots of it.

Get over yourself.

Step 1: You are Not a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake

Okay, that’s not exactly true. You ARE a beautiful and unique snowflake, but, you are not the ONLY beautiful and unique snowflake. You are one flake in a storm.

The point is, you are awesome, but you’re not THAT awesome. Work hard and be humble.

Yes, you are “important” to marketers and public relations people, but you are just a cog in the machine. It’s really not all about you. Do you think the endgame of a marketing plan is “Get mentioned on XYZ craft blog.”? No, it’s not. You are PART of the overall plan, but you are just a component that makes the whole thing work.

Recognize that you are just a blogger. Respect yourself and your blog, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are the center of the universe.

Step 2: Be Faithful in the Little Things

This is a principle from the Bible, but it applies whether you are religious or not. If you do well when you have a small job to do, you gradually get entrusted with bigger jobs.

For those of you who are a few years out of college: remember when you graduated and you thought it would be REALLY EASY to land a great job in your desired field? You were a big college graduate, and you “had arrived!” You had a degree, so what were all these companies waiting for? They should hire you as a manager or a vice president right away.

And, after many job applications, interviews, and so on, you finally landed a big job. As a barista at Starbucks.

What most college students don’t realize is that the DEGREE is just a piece of paper. It doesn’t tell your prospective employer anything but that you studied a subject. It doesn’t prove you can handle clients, or even show up to work on time. You have to put time in at the bottom of the ladder to prove you are ready to work your way up.

And like that degree, a BLOG is just a virtual piece of paper. Kind of. Just because you have a blog, doesn’t mean you are worth paying for sponsored posts, freelance writing gigs, or brand ambassadorships.

Everyone and their great aunt Edna has a blog. If you can fill out a two-part internet form, you can start a blog.

Having a blog is meaningless. You have to start at the bottom rung and work your way up.

By doing a good job on the bottom rung.

Step 3: Learn How to Do a Good Job

When I was in my 20s, I worked on a movie set. I was a PA (Production Assistant, which is a fancy title for “person who does all the worst work”) among several other PAs. The job was challenging — we had long hours, had to do various levels of crap work, got yelled at, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I had never been on an official movie set, so I had a lot to learn.

It was at this job that I learned to shut up, get over myself, listen and learn, and separate my personal feelings from the job.

What makes a good PA? This person is dependable. They show up when they are supposed to and do the work asked of them. They don’t screw around and then make excuses about it. They listen to assignments and deliver what they are asked to do. They do more than they are asked to do. They are polite and respectful. They get along with others and don’t stir up trouble or make demands on others.

Know what happens to a PA who isn’t where she’s supposed to be or makes life difficult for ANYONE else on a movie crew?

She gets kicked to the curb.

How about a PA who figures out how to do a good job? By the end of the movie shoot, I got promoted to props assistant, and finally to set decorator. By being reliable and easy to work with, I put myself ahead of most of the other PAs.

Apply this to blogging. What makes a good blogger: This person is dependable. They show up when they are supposed to and do the work asked of them. They don’t screw around and then make excuses about it. They listen to assignments and deliver what they are asked to do. They do more than they are asked to do. They are polite and respectful. They get along with others and don’t stir up trouble or make demands on others.

Sticking with the movie-making theme, Here’s a little anecdote I just read, from actor Matt Damon:

 “I remember Tom Hanks saying to me on Saving Private Ryan, we were all sitting in a foxhole and he was saying to all of us young actors, ‘I don’t care if it’s your milkman, your mailman, anybody is one movie away from being the biggest movie star in the world, anybody,’ and he’s totally right,” Damon says.

“I just remember that always stuck with me, because he was somebody who stuck around and I asked him about that and he said ‘Look, they weren’t great movies – I was the guy who wasn’t on the A-list but I was dependable and if they couldn’t get any of the others, they’d go, well, what about that Tom Hanks guy, he’s a pro, he always comes in, he always does a good job’.

–Source: Herald Sun

What I want you to take away from that little quote is the part that starts with “that Tom Hanks guy, he’s a pro…”

Step 4. Realize The World Doesn’t Owe You a Living

One hard lesson I had to learn in the process of going from hobby to business is that no matter how “big” your blog gets, nobody hands you anything. I thought when I hit 500k pageviews a month, I would start making money without even trying. Didn’t happen.

I made some money, but it was less than I would make in a part-time job at McDonalds. To build up an income, I had to hustle to put together multiple streams of income (for which I have to work very, very hard.)

TANGENT:

The world also doesn’t owe you free swag.

You might have a platform to promote craft supplies, or fertilizer, or that new blockbuster movie or whatever, but nobody OWES you that stuff. Acting like a primadonna just makes us all look bad.

If someone offers you free stuff, either decline politely or accept graciously.

Declining politely looks like this: “Thanks for thinking of me, but it’s not a good fit for my site/I don’t have time to cover it properly right now/I only review craft supplies.”

Accepting graciously looks like this: “Thanks for thinking of me, I’d be glad to review/use your product. I plan on posting about it in October.”

Guess what, free swag comes with a lot of hard work, too. If you don’t want to do the work, don’t accept the swag. That just makes us all look bad.

Oh, and grubbing for more swag after you have agreed to accept some already, or complaining about swag once you get it, or bragging about it on your blog — those things are NOT a good way to get more paid blogging gigs. All of those things make you look like a jerk.

Okay, end tangent. Back to the steps:

Step 5.  Provide Solutions Instead of Placing Demands

I used to be a bookstore manager. I had lots of college student employees working for me, and the good ones quickly distinguished themselves. Unfortunately, so did the bad ones.

Some of the worst employees made my job as a manager harder than it would have been without them.

A REAL LIFE SITUATION

EMPLOYEE: Hey, Heather. I can’t find a pen. Where are they?

ME: UM, no, you didn’t just interrupt me to help you find a pen. Take the initiative to find one yourself. When you have exhausted ALL other avenues, ask yourself if this is something that requires my help. If it’s not, deal with it yourself.

Just kidding. I used different words.

The point is, before you call or email someone you are working for, ask yourself if you can figure it out yourself. Things to do before you make yourself a nuisance:

–Google it.
–Look through your email correspondence or on the company’s website to see if there is an answer.
–Ask a friend who is also working for the company.
–Ask yourself if it is urgent or not. If not, is it really worth taking someone else’s attention away from their own long to do list?

When you DO contact the person you are working for, make sure you have done your due diligence BEFORE contacting them. Those people, like you, are busy. Don’t place extra demands on them.

Speaking of demands, avoid demanding stuff from strangers (or friends, or colleagues). If you want to get something from someone (payment, free stuff, a shoutout, etc.), make it easy for them to say yes.

Asking gracefully looks like this: “Here are my credentials and what I have to offer.”

Asking like an amateur looks like this: “I know you don’t know me, but what are you going to give me?”

Once you’ve decided to go pro, you need to start acting like one. Follow these five simple suggestions, and I promise you will start getting more paid blogging gigs, referrals from happy clients, and a great reputation.

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27 Responses to “How to Get Lots of Paid Blogging Gigs”

  1. Jessica Hill says:

    Thanks for the non-sugar-coated advice! It is MUCH more helpful than vague platitudes and something that we all need to hear.

  2. Mandy says:

    How about the resources? I would like to know who, where and how to get freelance work/deals.

  3. amy says:

    I love this article – seriously. I know I always say this, but I have been on the “other side” and no one wants to deal with the PITA. There is always another blogging YOU out there (and that includes me). I’ve learned if you don’t act mature and graceful and not entitled, you quickly get the boot. It’s worthless to tell people that you are valuable. SHOW them.

  4. malia says:

    Oh my gosh I love that flake in the storm line… thanks for making this informative and funny!

  5. Thanks for the great advice and motivational pep talk, Heather! (And I loved your story about looking for a pen, too. LOL)

  6. I truly love this article, Heather. I’ve been blogging for a long while, but only fairly recently decided to try to make it my profession. In that time I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers go through many of the scenarios you mention – getting a big head, getting bashed by others, or succumbing to sadness when they try to compare themselves to others. This is SUCH a great reminder to stay true to yourself, stay honest and work hard to get what you want. Thanks for sharing!

  7. LOVE this! Especially the whole tangent on how the world doesn’t ‘owe’ you things! I was brought up to work for what I want! One of my biggest pet peeves is bloggers and people in general who think good things just happen and they can stake their claim wherever they want! Ok, end of my own tangent…. 😉

  8. kasey says:

    Heather I loved this! Great info as always. The part about providing solutions reminds me of a time my baby sent a email on accident to a company I was working for. My first paid job… and they got a nonsense email from me! I did not know it was sent until they replied with confusion. I was SO incredibly embarrassed. I apologized and told them and they were understanding but that is something that should have NEVER EVER happened.

    I learned a big lesson about when it is ok for me to have my email open! I guess we all make mistakes but that one could have been avoided if I would have closed my email before walking away with a baby on the loose.

    I am still embarrassed!

  9. StephC says:

    Excellent advice, all of it. Bravo.

  10. Great post! I love how you always just say it like it is. NO BSing here. 🙂 You are dead on with all your points as well. It’s easier to attract bees with honey than vinegar. If you want to attract the good people you have to be sweet like honey. Of course, that doesn’t mean being a door mat either. Have a backbone, but be gracious and NICE. I get into it occasionally with this person or that person, but I really do try to just be a genuine and nice as I can to everyone I meet through my blog (and IRL too). And side tangent here, but if you want something from a sales person, chances are if you are nice to them they will be more willing to give you what you want.

    • Oh, and one more thing, if you have noticed (probably not, but just saying anyway! lol) I have very few sponsors and no promotions going on at all. This is my choice. I have chosen to give up all the promotional stuff and sponsors for now. I hope it doesn’t come across that no one wants to work with me. I have just been turing everyone away. Crazy talk, I know. But I’m just slowly trying to steer this big blogging ship into a new direction.

  11. Wow, Heather — Thank you for sharing so much great advice and experience with candor, wit, and poignant examples. This is definitely a must-read for any blogger — from beginners to pros.

    Jenn

  12. Great, great advice, and I love the snowflake in the storm analogy. FYI, this is my philosophy as a parent too.

  13. Great article! I agree with everything you wrote and try to follow those guidelines as well.

  14. Wonderful article….thank you so much.

  15. Amanda says:

    I agree with everyone else, great article! I’m particularly happy that you pointed out the section of not making yourself a nuisance and looking things up yourself. I have always been self taught and actually enjoy investigating and finding the answer on my own. Really enjoyed this 🙂

  16. Lynda says:

    Heather, Great information. Years ago I started my own writing/graphic design business and much of what you said applied to my success in that endeavor. It’s all about the client and what I can do for him/her. How can I make the client look better, sell more, reach their target population, etc? Not, what can they do for me. If we are getting paid for blogging, it’s a serious business and it needs to be treated like that. If not, we won’t get many paid gigs – just like any business. As bloggers we also have to look at our readers and decide if the jobs we are accepting “fit” our blog “mission.” It’s easy to get sucked into free stuff that doesn’t really have anything to do with the mission. Just like in my biz, I had to decide what I wanted to do. Did I want to work with printers and end up doing all kinds of projects or did I want to work with the companies themselves and focus on higher end pieces? Since I started blogging I did accept one freebie that had nothing to do with my blog – a food item. I was excited to get something free but then I had to blog about it. Not what I wanted to do. Anyway, didn’t mean to go on and on but a great blog post!

  17. Marie says:

    Heather, this is so awesome! Fabulous article. Thanks for taking the time to write it!! 🙂

  18. Great article, these are so true.

    I am new to the blogging world, but I have so many stories from working minimum wage jobs.
    #5 especially rang true to me, as I’ve seen people many people nag the boss, and then when he/she was gone complain that they didn’t get what they wanted. It was very unprofessional, and counterproductive. More often than not, the person that nagged would not have a job much longer after that.

    I also appreciate you updating this onto your twitter so newcomers to your site could read this. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  19. Thank you so much for this awesome article! I especially loved, “You are not the ONLY beautiful and unique snowflake,” and “Having a blog is meaningless. You have to start at the bottom rung and work your way up. By doing a good job on the bottom rung.”

  20. jenny says:

    Oh I love when more experienced bloggers share their knowledge! We all appreciate it so much. This article was so well written and it gave me things to think about. Thank you!

  21. Renee says:

    Thanks for this wonderful information. I will being putting it to use.

  22. Lydia says:

    You’ve incorporated biblical principles into real life. Well said!

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