For more great content like this see Original article
As someone coming off 12 years as a staff-writing journalist, I was fascinated by the breezy, casual, short blog-post format. So I dove in.
Soon I was earning quite a lot blogging for clients. I documented what I was doing, and the post How I Make $5,000 a Month as a Paid Blogger became one of the all-time most popular posts here at Make a Living Writing.
Recently, I got to wondering what I’d do if I wanted that level of monthly income from blog writing clients now.
My approach would be completely different, because the world of blogging has changed so much. Also, the way I did it a decade ago was a recipe for burnout. I had to churn out nearly 60 blog posts per month to make that money! That’s not sustainable.
Looking for ways to increase your freelance writing income? Become part of the Freelance Writer’s Den online community!
How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Tips to Up Your Freelance Game
1. Document your blog writing wins
Better-paying blogging clients are actively seeking writers with a proven track record of getting a ton of comments, social shares, traffic, and clicks to opt-in pages.
If you have any blog posts online that fit this bill, start a link archive. These are what you’re going to send prospects, to impress them that you deserve top rates. For instance, if I’m going after a blogging gig now, I send them the stats on how much traffic I drove with my Forbes blog channel, with a relatively small number of posts:
Don’t have big wins yet? Start thinking about where you could guest, even for free, and get some. Increasingly, great blogging clients are actively approaching (and poaching) the writers they want, from wherever they’ve seen them driving tons of shares or massive traffic.
Even one post you wrote that got 1,000 or more shares or 100 comments is a good starting point for impressing prospects.
2. Seek better clients
There are blogging clients, and then there are good blogging clients. That first category of client wants you to write ‘a blog post’ for $50. The second wants you to write 4-8 a month or more, at $150-$300 per, and up.
If you’re getting low-paid blogging work, you’re probably looking for clients in all the wrong places — Craigslist, UpWork, and content mills.
Applying to mass online ‘opportunities’ in a race to the bottom on price is not the route to great pay. Instead, identify your own clients. Lists of successful public and private companies abound — check out the annual lists from Inc., your local business journal’s Book of Lists, or from trade publications in your chosen industries.
The ideal prospect has an abandoned blog — it’s up and running, but not getting updated — and is big enough to have a real marketing budget. Or they have a busy blog with multiple topics, authors, and channels, and may need additional assistance. Think companies with $10 million to $100 million in annual sales.
3. Write sponsored posts
Stop trying to talk small businesses into giving you professional rates for writing posts on their tiny little blog. Instead, tap into the booming market in writing advertorial-type sponsored posts on popular sites for major companies.
To begin, sleuth out the popular platforms that accept sponsored posts (which are also known as native advertising). Then, connect with the agencies or departments overseeing sponsored content development for that site.
For instance, Forbes BrandVoice oversees content creation for many big companies placing sponsored posts on Forbes.com — and writers report to me they’re booking tens of thousands in income per year, writing for top brands there.
Rates for sponsored posts should range from $200-$600 and up. Sponsored-post rates are better because it’s essentially advertising, though the post should still be focused on delivering useful content. Companies understand the connection between ads and revenue, so they pay appropriately.
4. Work a niche
I’ve never shared this little secret before…but for a while, I had several small-business finance blogging clients. And I wrote the exact same post topics for all of them, every month!
I would take the topics I’d blogged about for Entrepreneur, and write those topics again for my small-biz clients.
Completely different headline, post, and quotes. A total rewrite, usually with a slightly fresh slant on the topic, designed to appeal to their audience. But in essence, the same post idea.
If you gather blogging clients in a single niche that aren’t directly competitive with each other, you can retool the same ideas and save yourself a ton of time. Your clients will never be the wiser, while you can reuse links, experts, and tips.
My hourly rate on writing the second and third iterations of those topics was upwards of $150 an hour — sticking to my niche made earning well from blogging super-easy.
5. Think longform
The days of 300-word posts are over. Google now favors 1000-2000 word posts, and there’s a ton of demand for freelance writers to create these more sophisticated, high-value posts. You know the CEO doesn’t have time for this level of content development, and probably can’t write well enough to pull it off, anyway!
Look for good clients in this niche by studying popular platforms on topics that interest you. Look for site ranking charts for blogs in your niche — or hit your favorite analytics tool such as SEMRush to find the big players.
Subscribe, read, and see who’s featuring longform posts. You should be earning $300-$600 and up per post for these — or more, if the subject is particularly arcane or complex.
6. Connect with digital agencies
A number of digital agencies have sprung up in the past few years that specialize in better online content development — a recent guest post here profiled 4 emerging agencies. They’re serving as intermediaries between writers with a track record of driving engagement with blog posts and companies that need that help.
These agencies are a step beyond content mills, and don’t make you bid competitively against hundreds of others — prices are set, and they hand-cull who they invite to do each gig. I’ve gotten $300-$400 per post from one of these scenarios, and am hearing about $500 gigs, too.
Yes, these agencies don’t take all comers. If you don’t have the resume to get in with these yet, be working on building your track record so you can impress them soon.
7. Get a retainer — or three
Good blog clients are looking for an ongoing commitment from you. They understand building engagement on a blog takes time. I like to see a 90-day initial contract for 12 posts, or I’m not interested. Then, it’s renewable on an ongoing basis.
The other advantage of signing a retainer contract is that it should come with a 30-day notice clause if they want to drop you. This helps you avoid sudden drops in income and keeps your income more stable.
Most importantly, retainers help you avoid stress and start each month with a big chunk of your income already booked.
8. Grow the relationship
These days, many content creation companies oversee multiple platforms. Once you’re in at a site, start looking around.
Does this company run other blogs, too, for different target clients? Does this agency have other blog clients? Start asking for referrals and see if you can leverage that one blog writing gig into more.
9. Don’t forget to upsell
Once you’re writing blog posts for a client, it’s time to look at their marketing and see where else you could contribute. For instance, creating a free special report, white paper, or case study for their subscribers is a natural segue, once they already know and love your work.
Pitching additional projects that complement their content marketing strategy and take it beyond “just blog posts” can easily add $1,000 or more to your monthly income.
10. Anatomy of a $5,000 blog writing month
If you’re getting $300 a post, doing 4 posts a month, that’s $1,200 a month from one client. You can see that it’s not hard to build to $5K a month at this rate — and at this point, $300 a post is on the low end of what better blog writers are getting. It would only take 4 clients, maybe even less if you’re proactive at upselling.
At rates from $300 and up, it also means you’d only need to write 15-17 posts a month, to earn the pay that took me 60 posts to achieve a decade ago.
I feel thrilled to write that! I’ve been advocating for better writer pay rates and encouraging blog writers to ask for more for years. And remember — if you do an upsell and have a special report or short e-book in the mix, then you get there with even fewer posts.
Finally, professional pay for blogging is becoming a reality. Interested? The question of how to make money blogging is no longer as mysterious as it once was. Go out and get your share of it.
What’s the most you’ve been paid for blogging in a month? Share in the comments and tell us how you’re doing it.