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7 Lessons from a Freelance Blogger Just Starting Out

[asg-content-box boxcolor=”gray” boxtitle=”” boldtitle=”false” boxexpand=”false” showcontent=”false”]This is a guest post by Disha Sharma.[/asg-content-box]

Don’t you think it’s best to learn from other people’s (or in this case, freelance blogger’s) mistakes and experiences?
I, too, live by this principle.
But no matter how well read and informed you are, there will be slips.

When I plunged into becoming a freelance blogger, I thought that I knew all that I needed to know.

I honestly thought that I had read enough posts about freelance blogging mistakes to not make any myself. And here I am, writing a post on all the mistakes that I’ve made so far and all the lessons that I’ve learnt.

Yes…

This is yet another post about avoiding mistakes as a freelance blogger.

And the fun part is, it’ll still not error-proof you! Well, everyone is entitled his/her share of mistakes (and lessons).

So here are my top 7 lessons about freelance blogging that I’d love to share with you:

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1. Work on Your Author Bio

Craft your author bio carefully. A lot of your potential clients will learn about you through it. Using a professional author bio won’t just get you more clients but will also help you boost your social following (most blogs let you link to your social profiles in the bio).

Neil Patel has written an epic post about creating the perfect author bio. I’d like to rehash the tip he gives for being careful about using the term “freelance” in the bio. He says that some people might interpret your opinion as too generic and “coming from a freelancer”, even though you might be an expert on the topic.

Here are some ways he suggests to go about it:

If you’re a freelance writer, you can say so in your bio, but take out the “freelance” and put a point on it. Here are some examples:

Fred is a conversion optimization writer, specializing in split testing best practices and cognitive biases.

Angie, a Portland-based author, helps people unleash their inner interior designer.

As a marketing writer, Todd’s favorite place to publish uncensored marketing content is his own blog.

As I write on 2-3 topics, I’m now starting to tweak my author bio for each. Like when I’m covering tips about online marketing, I mention my experience from my last job (I was into digital marketing before pursuing freelancing). Also, I’m careful about not calling myself a freelancer directly.

2. Get on Twitter

Maybe this one goes without saying, but I’ll list it anyway.

I’ve just joined Twitter — for a really long time, I thought I could do just well without tweeting.

After all, an active Twitter presence doesn’t earn you gigs; a good portfolio does. This is how I felt about being on Twitter (or any other social media platform for that matter), but I had got it all wrong.

I realized my mistake while browsing through the ProBlogger job board. Once I came across an interesting gig, but it needed all the candidates to add a link to their Twitter profiles in the application email. I ignored the first time that this happened. Then there was another one. And yet another one. ( facepalm).

Finally, I did create a Twitter profile but never engaged. I used to maintain lots of Twitter accounts in my last job – so it wasn’t that I didn’t know any Twitter tricks. It was just that I didn’t take it seriously.

Further, I added it to my email signature (epic facepalm). And then, courtesy Sidekick, I realized that people were clicking on the Twitter profile link that I had added.

This information was enough and marked the end of my sad Twitter tale, I now tweet frequently, follow lots of friends, and retweet all the amazing content that I come across.

3. Add a blog section to your portfolio only if you plan to update it

Without any thinking, almost intuitively, I added a blog section to my portfolio website. And for 3 months, it had just one post.

Later, when I joined the Creative Bloq Contributor Network, that news became the second post on my blog (can you imagine – I made it a sticky post 😀 – it was so obviously on the top of my post stack). And this was all that I had to offer in that section of my website.

I didn’t care much about it until I found (through Google Analytics) that people were stopping by my blog section. And that didn’t have anything at all to offer.

I’m sure this cost me quite some work.

Now I’ve removed the blog section from my site, but I do plan to launch it some time later. This time that I do it, I’ll be sure to have a couple of drafts ready to schedule.

4. Get a nice email signature that sing Freelance Blogger for Hire

I’ll admit. I still don’t have a good email signature. But I’m working on it.

I’d strongly recommend you to not ignore your email signature; it’s an effective branding tool. You can use it to brand yourself and let people easily connect with you socially.

Check out Ariel’s gorgeous email signature:

freelance blogger for hire in your email signature

Now compare it with:

Best, Ariel

The first one says so much more. It’s so branded.

You too can get a similar signature using WiseStamp. It’s a cool and free service that lets you create awesome email signatures.

If you’d like a slightly toned down version, create one that clearly calls you a freelance content writer or blogger. Add some details about the domains that you specialize in and your key services. Ideally you’d want to include a couple of links to your social media profiles too.

Here is an interesting presentation about email signatures that I just stumbled across.

5. Niche yourself

During my last job, I managed a popular WordPress blog.

Whenever we needed new bloggers, we would only look for ones specializing in WordPress.

As an accomplished blogger in the WordPress niche, Ariel became one of our regular contributors.

Now that I’m a freelancer, I can understand why most blogs look for niche bloggers.

By pursuing a domain for long, you eventually gain expertise over it. Blog owners happily compensate you for this. Besides, writing within a particular niche gets you noticed faster.

For me, the biggest thing that niching myself has helped me with is by helping me say “no” to a lot of projects that might seem tempting but may not be so much fun to write.

I’m sure you too will benefit by niching yourself. Just pick something that you’re naturally good at, passionately involved with, or hold solid experience in. Trust me, it shows when you know what you’re talking about.

6. Don’t overthink about reaching out to popular blogs

I made lots of assumptions about guest posting.

For example, I thought that I could publish on Kissmetrics only after I had a few shiny online marketing posts in my portfolio. I assumed this for lots of other cool blogs as well. But this isn’t the case.

When I stopped overthinking and used that time to come up with  promising post ideas, I managed to get my work published on authority blogs like Kissmetrics and CreativeBloq.

As long as you come up with useful post ideas and deliver the quality that the blog offers, you’ll do just fine. So don’t wait to add epic items to your portfolio before reaching out to popular blogs.

Just write to them.

7. Don’t skip outlines (yeah I said outlines, not deadlines)

I learnt this a 1500-word hard way.

Last month, a very popular web design blog accepted my pitch. I wrote the full post and sent it over for review. Sadly, it got rejected. The blog’s editor came back saying that their blog’s audience needed information a level deeper than what I had written.

I didn’t feel bad:

I felt silly.

I could have avoided the rejection if I had only sent over the outline. I’m sure the editor would have given me feedback about that right away (it was not the only idea that was accepted – a couple of them were). I could have easily picked up some other accepted suggestion.

You need to know that even a brilliant post topic will fizzle out if it doesn’t match with the wavelength of a blog’s readership.

By sending over your guest post’s outline for review, you can make sure that your post will be a good fit for all the blog readers. Even if the outline review step isn’t listed in a blog’s guest post process, insist upon it.

So far, so good

While I could’ve done a little better, I’m happy about how things have been until now. I’m sure there’s a lot to learn, but the ones that I’ve listed above are some solid lessons that will stay with me. I hope you find them helpful too.

Did you learn any of these lessons the hard way? Do share in the comments!

[asg-content-box boxcolor=”blue” boxtitle=”Disha Sharma” boldtitle=”false” boxexpand=”false” showcontent=”false”]

picDisha is a fulltime blogger specializing in Online Marketing, Web Design, Small Businesses, and WordPress. You can follow her on Twitter.[/asg-content-box]

Ari Rule

I'm Ari — a freelance writer, digital marketer, and side-hustle guinea pig. HustlePineapple is where you'll find my best tactics for freelance success, blogging and social media tips, and ideas for profitable side-hustles. Connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @HustlePineapple

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa T.

    As a newbie writer, I really appreciated these tips, thank you!

    1. Ariel Rule

      I loved this one too. Tip number 6 was my favorite for sure!

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