Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
FREELANCE BLOGGING 101 (FOR BUSINESS OWNERS)
Before deciding whether to hire me or not, many potential clients ask me how I work, when I get paid, what’s the best frequency and length of blog posts, and how what I do will help them make more money. In an attempt to standardize my answer and avoid having to rewrite this in some form or another every time I get one of these requests, I am going to explain all I can about freelance blogging, my process, my services, and what it means to you as a business owner.
For the purpose of all examples in this primer, you are now the owner of a business that sells office equipment online via a wordpress website. You are looking for a freelance blogger to help you make some money.
Here we go.
PS: If you have any questions that remain unanswered, or if you think you require my services, head over to the Get In Touch page and hit me up with a quick note. I don’t bite.
1. WHY HAVE A BLOG?
In 2012, there were 42 million blogs on WordPress alone, with 329 million people reading them, and 25 billion (that’s billion, with a ‘b’) page views every single month. Even this blog that you’re reading, which is not targeted at anyone and is not much more than a chronicle of my own journey in the freelance blogging business gets a couple of hundred page views every day. Do you see where this is going?
Today, a blog is the gateway to your business. Sure, if you’re already a big name business then you can probably make do with just your online store and a couple of billboards advertising your website URL, but if you’re here you probably aren’t a big name business and in order to attract potential office equipment customers (that’s what you do, remember?) you need to sweeten the pot a little bit. You do that by providing great, informative blog posts that educate them. This hooks them in and then you direct your readers towards your online store to seal the deal. More on how that works in points 2, 4 and 6.
Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that you can’t survive without a blog. You definitely can and many do. But you’re not here to survive… you’re here to thrive. That’s what a blog can do for you.
2. HOW I SELECT MY TOPICS
Selecting a topic to write about is as much an artform as the actual writing of the post or article. There are many ways I go about this and on most days I will cycle through all options to find the best one.
First I check out Google Trends. These are lists and charts of what people are searching for on Google. It’s basically a live feed of the internet’s pulse. If you could keep Google Trends open all day and search for what people are searching for, you will never miss a piece of important news. This is where I head to first. If millions of people are searching for a specific office chair (because it’s been discovered that it prolongs life by 4+ years) that you happen to be selling, that’s what I’m writing about. “Office chair found to prolong life by 4+ years” will be on point with current events and will get your blog a sizable boost in views. I combine with a Google Keywords search to figure out which topics are most searched-for.
If that yields nothing, I head over to Topsy. This one provides a service similar to Google Trends but based around Twitter. I throw in “office equipment” and read what’s getting people excited. If something strikes me as relevant to your business, I’m going to write about it.
If I’ve still got nothing, I go hunting for topics old-school. Competitor websites are great here. So are questions on forums such as Quora. I sift through LinkedIn Office Equipment groups (I wonder if that’s an actual thing). YouTube videos discussing the best desk drawers. Whatever I need to do/read/watch to get a topic, I do/read/watch.
Once I have a topic that I know your target market is interested in, it’s time to get cracking.
3. WHAT GOES INTO WRITING A BLOG POST
After I figure out what topic I’m going to write about, it’s time to get some research going. In my experience, research tends to be the longest phase of any blog post. Here I scour the internet for information, gathering as much data as I can while learning enough about a topic to teach it to someone else in 500 words. This is where I begin to formulate my blog post. I open Notepad (I know, I know) and start throwing in notes. It looks like this:
“This guy said these words about the thing.”
“This one’s a link to a great 3000-word review on this office thing.”
“This is a top 10 list that lists the thing I’m writing about at number 1.”
“Here’s a video of the thing.”
Once I’ve got enough, I start writing. Hammering out the first draft is the easy part. I’ve got all the information and data I need. When that’s done, I go over the post a few times to polish it and clean it up. Being concise and getting to the point quick matters, so that’s what I aim for during every pass. Finally I gather any stock photos that I need to better deliver my point, link internally and externally where appropriate, go over the post one last time for good measure, and hit the “Publish” button.
4. HOW READERS WILL READ IT
SEO (standing for “Search Engine Optimization”) is a technique for making websites and writing blog posts that ensures (or at least promotes) good standing in search engine results (particularly Google’s). It’s a multifaceted process that I won’t go into here, but the aim is to help pages rise to the first page of a search engine’s results. Very few people read past the first half of Google’s first page of search results, let alone the second and third page.
The aim here is to make sure each and every blog post will rank as highly as possible in the results. That way we can grab anyone searching for “chair prolong life” and send them to your blog, then your online store.
5. FREQUENCY AND LENGTH
This one’s a matter of much debate online so I will speak from my own experience and from what I’ve seen works and doesn’t.
First of all: frequency. Check out this graph below from hubspot.
It’s pretty common sense that the higher the frequency, the higher the chances are that you’ll convert a reader into a customer. If 1 reader has a 5% chance of converting, have 20 readers a day and you’ll get one customer every day. Simple statistics. With that said, I generally start a new blog with 1 post a week. Why? Because it has three main advantages:
1. It’s easier to maintain, manage, and analyse.
2. It gives me and you time to understand our readers and customer acquisition cost vs profit.
3. Customer acquisition might not be high, but it’s high enough to make the blog still work.
Once we see the blog picking up and readership growing, we increase the frequency.
As for length, I typically write 500-1,000 word blog posts. The reason for this is simple: it only takes a few minutes to read and people are busy. I want to provide as much information as possible while keeping the post as short as possible. “Density of information vs word count” is the keyphrase here.
Of course, this depends on your target market. Financial blog posts tend to be longer (1,500 – 2,000 words) whereas more light-hearted topics (say, pet food) would be shorter.
6. HOW YOU MAKE MONEY
I’ve peppered it elsewhere in this blog post but the way you make money is reader conversion. Blog posts should generally be educational. This can mean many things but the number one goal for a blog post should always be to teach your reader something. Whether it’s news or a review, readers must leave with a sense of having learnt something new.
This builds a following. More importantly, this is the hook.
Once readers are hooked, you’ve got one foot in the door. Next, you convert them. The easiest way to do this is by linking blog posts to your online store.
For example, our “Office chair found to prolong life by 4+ years” article should include links to the place where readers can actually buy this life-prolonging office chair. It should also have a couple more links to less magical chairs for readers who are not ready to spend all that money on this particular chair.
The most important point to understand here is that more readers = higher chance of conversion. And there are three main ways to get more readers (all explained above): 1. Higher post frequency; 2. Better, more educational content; 3. Better SEO.
I take care of all these things for you… you just stand back and make more money.
7. HOW I GET PAID
In the vast majority of cases, I get paid by the word. This is fair for the both of us: you only pay for what you’re getting, and if a particular post requires longer content I get paid for the extra time.
Payment is done via PayPal. I will send you an invoice for a batch of articles once the articles are written. Of course, we agree on this before any work gets started so we can be on the same page from the very beginning. I do this in batches to avoid PayPal commissions eating into my income as much possible, and to keep accounting paperwork at a minimum.
(Paypal charges are 2.9% + $0.30 of the invoiced amount.)
That’s it! Hope this answered most of your questions. If you have any that remain unanswered, or if you think you require my services, head over to the Get In Touch page and hit me up with a quick note.