How to Start Earning From Your Blog — Right Away

A guest post by Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing

Sure, you want your blog to attract a huge audience and earn bazillions while you sleep. Lots of people are blogging their hearts out trying to achieve this dream.

But while you’re waiting to hit it big, you don’t have to starve. There’s another way to earn from blogging. It doesn’t have the same strike-it-rich potential, but it’ll pay your bills right now.

You can use your blogging skills and blog for pay, for publications and corporations.

No, not for $5 a post. Ignore those ads.

There are blogging gigs out there that pay a very good hourly wage. Taking freelance paid-blogging jobs can let you earn while still leaving time to work on your own site. As a bonus, you get more practice writing blogs, which may improve your own blog’s chances of success.

Here’s how to find good-paying blogging clients and get them to hire you:

1. Make your blog posts awesome and engaging. Even if there are only a few posts on there, make them great — concise and focused on your niche. Think of your blog as a rolling audition for paying gigs. In my experience, paying blog clients want to see three things: that you know how to get comments, stick to a niche topic, and use common blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger.

2. Select your targets. Consider where you might likely blog for pay, based on your own interests and work experience. For instance, I was once a legal secretary, so I’ve done some paid blogs for lawyers. Develop a list of publications, companies, or Web portals that might hire you and pay well. Don’t ignore trade publications, as they are often good payers. Once you’ve got some possible prospects, take a look at their websites to see if they lack a blog, or perhaps have a blog that’s short on visitors and infrequently updated.

3. Research your targets. Next, do some sleuthing to discover who might pay well. In general, I find more sophisticated topics and target audiences command better pay and have less writer competition. So blogging about parenting or your dog will not pay well, but writing about acupuncture or business finance likely will. Next, find out if the publication is growing or the company is well-funded. Writers’ groups on LinkedIn are a great place to ask around about a prospective employer. In general, bigger companies will offer better pay.

4. Promote your blog posts in social media. Start spreading your content around. Connect with popular users of social media in the niche where you want to blog for pay.

5. Target prospects with your posts. When you have a post that makes a good audition piece, send it to your prospects (or top social-media influencers) with a note: “I thought you’d enjoy this post.” You can use Twitter, LinkedIn, or just plain email — whatever you think that prospect would respond to best. Even better: Write a post for your blog specifically tailored to appeal to your prospects, then send it to them.

6. Leave comments on key blogs. Another way to connect with well-paying blogs is to leave articulate comments on that blog. Become a regular participant and link to your own blog posts. You may get read, discovered and offered a paying gig.

7. Call on prospects and ask for the job. If the steps above haven’t gotten you asked to blog for pay, it’s time to get proactive. You might call editors and marketing managers on the phone and ask if they need a blogger, send postcards, or perhaps use InMail on LinkedIn (that last boasts an impressive 30% response rate). Experiment and see what works for you. In your pitch, be sure to mention specifics you observed about their Web site, and offer suggestions for how you could improve it with well-written, regular blog posts.

8. Gain visibility. Once you land a paid blogging gig, be sure to get your byline as a live link to your blog, so prospects can easily find you. As your paid blog gets rolling, begin the above steps over again. Make the paid blog great and immediately begin promoting it to better-paying prospects in that niche. Always be aware of how much traffic your paid-blog sites receive, and look to move up to busier — and better-paying — sites.

9. Your paying blog finds you clients. Once you are blogging on a popular site, you often will be approached by other companies in that niche with job offers. At this point, paid blogging markets itself, and you have your pick of additional gigs. I’ve found that one of my paid blogs brings a steady stream of paid-blogging offers. As a bonus, readers of your paid blog may click your byline link and discover your blog as well, giving you possible new readers.

10. Keep raising your rates. As you move up, your rates should increase. Gradually drop lower-paying blog clients in favor of better-paying ones. Think in terms of how long it takes you to create a post, and aim for a rate of $50-$100 an hour. Don’t forget to charge by the hour if the client also wants you to do social-media promotion of your posts, or needs advice on blog-marketing strategy. I’ve seen rates as high as $300 a blog post, and $100 a post is fairly common. Don’t settle for peanuts — keep looking until you find clients who understand how a powerful blog will help build their business.

Have questions about blogging for pay? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them here on the post.

Carol Tice helps writers earn more at the Making a Living Writing blog, which she used to get paid blogging gigs that earn her more than $5,000 a month. Grab her free report, 40 Ways to Market Your Writing.

Note: Carol’s blog, Make a Living Writing is a winner of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers 2011 Contest


Joining the A-List Blogger Club is like pouring accelerant on your blogging career. I know I’ve cut YEARS off my journey to monetizing my blog by belonging here.
~ Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing

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45 thoughts on “How to Start Earning From Your Blog — Right Away”

  • Leo Soderman says:

    Great insight on how to make this first step. My personal struggle has been defining my niche more clearly. As I write more about personal experience and opinion topics, I haven’t quite figured out how to give a compelling ‘elevator’ pitch about what I write.

    This article provides me the incentive to narrow my focus, or at least get me on the path.

  • Carol Tice says:

    Hi Leo —

    You give a great example of the ways paid blogging can help you on the journey to monetizing your own blog. Looking at your blog through a prospective client’s eyes will help you focus your niche. Then that helps you get paying gigs, which supports your continuing to work on your blog…and so on. Kind of a virtuous circle.

    Getting paid clients also gets you some feedback on your writing, which is an aspect many personal bloggers lack. Best of luck with it!

    • heather moscardini says:

      I dont know anything about blogging or tweeting but i am hounded constantly by friends to share my writing talent. I am a mother of three with cancer , chemo and little resources, can i learn without spending a lot of money?

      • Carol Tice says:

        Well, since you ask…you can! Feel free to take a browse through this site, and my site that teaches writers how to earn, Make a Living Writing.

        Beyond that, you can join A-List Blogger Club and really learn EVERYTHING you need to know about how to create a great blog. It’s only $20 a month and you can quit anytime, for all the training courses you can read. Amazing deal.

        I learned SO much from A-List this fall, that I took my blog from pretty much nothing to being named one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers last week, right here on Write to Done. If you want details, I’ve done posts where you can read more about what I learned in A-List technically, and about how A-List’s mentoring and group support helped me as well.

        Best of luck and complete healing to you! Hope you’re able to blog if you want to.

  • Contrarian says:

    Carol –

    I’m an experienced and knowledgeable business guy that has accomplished much and retired young, but I’m a painfully inexperienced neophyte when it comes to the business of blogging.

    I recently started my blog and thus far it has been a real labor of love. I didn’t launch it with a goal of turning it from a avocation to vocation, rather I feel I have a very unique take on success and happiness, and am enthused about sharing the strategies and ideas that where instrumental in turning my life around.

    In an attempt to spool up and get educated on blogging I’ve weeded and sifted through dozens of websites and hundreds of pages on how to navigate in this new world, and while some have been helpful most have been noise. However, I must say your article was the most succinct, concise, and constructive piece I’ve had the pleasure to read so far. I look forward to learning more from you.

    Thank you for teaching this newbie something worthwhile.

  • Some great tips here, Carol! Very practical and solid–I especially like how you suggest ignoring the $5 per post ads. I see those pretty often and have to wonder what the expectations are or what they get for that $5!

    I’m mostly doing copyediting and proofreading right now, but I’m thinking of ways to branch out, and maybe this is one direction to go. Whether I do or not, I need to work on # 7 more–thanks for the reminder :)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Leah —

      I have yet to talk to anyone who did cold calling, even just 20 calls, and did not get at least one client. It’s also really empowering vs replying to online job ads, since it’s you picking who to contact. I think it’s just a more positive dynamic to be in as a freelance writer than answering ads — and the pay tends to be much better, too.

  • Some more pointers I’ll be posting in my bookmarks, Carol–thank you!

  • Thanks for the tips Carol. I’m curious to hear how taking time to build relationships and trust with your followers can be a more effective approach for long-term business relationships, rather than the “making money fast approach.”

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Gutsy —

      My immediate-earning strategy isn’t so much about building relationships with your personal blog’s followers — though that’s always a great idea! But about using your blog as an audition piece, going out and targeting companies that need a blogger and are willing to pay. They may well not be readers of your blog.

      Not totally sure I understand the question, so feel free to clarify if I missed the point here.

      • Carol Tice says:

        If you’re saying that you shouldn’t start selling your blog followers stuff right off the bat, I certainly agree! You need to build a community first. But that’s still on the strategy of monetizing your own blog.

        This post is about a way to earn while you’re waiting for your own blog to become a moneymaker. Since we never know how long that’s going to take, getting a few paid-blogging gigs can help tide you over.

        • Carol–Your tips are invaluable and unique (I, too, like the “Nay” on the $5.00 a piece travesty.) But these days even that’s beginning to look pricey when one thinks of the Huffington Post debacle (yes, in our writers’ zeal to become recognized, we do crazy things.) I’ve been up and running since last July 2010 and I’m under 300,000 in Alexa rank (I think that’s good), but I am at crossroads…I have my stuff out there on Bloggers, all of the social network sites, and a highly-regarded medical site, so I get attention, but it’s all free and I’m not sure that attention sticks. Don’t know what I should be about in order to raise the ante…If I go after the jobs you suggest, I don’t know when I’ll do other things since I am at this blogging thing constantly as it is…but maybe that’s my obsessive self. Always working to improve writing when some of it may be “good enough.”

          Please, Carol, when should one see the product of her works? 6 months…a year? More than that? You say “Don’t try to sell at first” (and I definitely agree) but when does the wooing cease (as primal action) and you begin to get actual pay for your efforts?

          Thanks so much….

          Colleen Kelly Mellor (BiddyBytes)

      • Thanks. That makes sense Carol. As a writer, with the goal of building an author platform, I realize my approach is different. I was thinking more about writing articles for magazines related to my Gutsy theme as a means to build my potential audience, and not so much about the money “right away” factor. Thanks for clarifying this again Sonia.

  • Thanks for the ideas. I’ve been doing okay on the first ones, but stop short when reaching out to start a paying gig.

    Did you go to a company like Elance, or Demand Studios?

    • Carol Tice says:

      Never. All my success has been in pitching my services directly to publications and corporations, and then blogging for pay in high-profile enough places that those paid blogs become a referral source for additional paying gigs.

      If you go to an intermediary such as Demand or Elance, then they take a cut. That’s never the best way to maximize your earnings. And you want to earn well at paid blogging, so you still have time to do your own blog! While there are exceptions, for the most part pay on these type of marketplace sites turns out to be quite low.

  • Carol,
    Thank you for sharing this excellent list of tips with us.

    I have a question: What is a web portal?

    You mention in #2 that we should develop a list of web portals.

    Can you explain further?

    Thanks so much!
    Happy New Year to you.
    Angela

  • Carol Tice says:

    Hi Angela —

    I’m thinking of big sites such as AOL or Yahoo (I’ve written for the finance sites of both) as well as specialty hubs such as Bankrate for investing. Obviously, these are also companies, but they’re primarily known for their Web presence. So think of the biggest sites online for whatever niche you might be best suited.

    Also look for families of Web sites, where once you’re in the door, you might write for multiple sites — Bankrate, for instance, owns Creditcards.com and InsuranceQuotes. The key to earning more is finding a site that writes about complex topics, where every writer in the universe probably couldn’t do the work.

    Another tip — look for companies that are placing content on big portals. Often there are contract arrangements where a small company provides content to a big portal. Working through one of those companies can pay better than trying a place such as AOL direct. Read bylines on the portal to pick up on content providers you might pitch.

    Best of luck with it!

  • Hi Carol,
    Thanks for the excellent tips. I’m getting close to the time when I actually do this. Right now I’m so busy teaching and mothering that my blog is the only one I have time to write for now. I’m printing this out and saving it for summer. Thanks so much!
    Betsy Henry

  • Very interesting. I had heard you need to have a blog up for about two years before being able to make decent money with it. This is a great “shortcut’ to earlier rewards with more effort. I may leave my day job sooner than I thought. Thanks.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi David —

      I wasn’t even blogging on a popular platform — it was custom junk my teenage developer wrote — when I used it to land a paid gig. So many companies are desperate for blogging help. If you can show them a half-dozen entries that are terrific, with images and links, and stick to a niche, you’ve got a great sample and can start getting hired.

      Hope it works for you! Everyone deserves to quit that day job…

  • Well you certainly are full of good information! I keep coming back to No.1. When I have wonderful and engaging content I have the confidence to go after what I want. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • I have two major issues that I need to keep working on for 2011, and that’s monetizing my blog and to do more research (and target my audience). Usually, I just write about things I find interesting when it comes to marketing without thinking about why I am doing it, and the end result.

    I need to start thinking about my blog as a business if I’ll ever going to make some money :)

    Thanks.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you’ve pinpointed the big difference between really successful blogs and everybody else. You’re doing exactly what 90% of bloggers are doing — writing about whatever they feel like on their topic.

      Killer blogs are writing about whatever they feel THEIR AUDIENCE is dying to know about. That’s the difference. If you make that switch, your blog will start to do business for you.

  • I love it when you wrote..” Don’t settle for peanuts ” – and I think that one must be in bold face. The reality is that with freelance writing has opened its doors to anyone who thinks he/she can be called a writer just because he/she has some basic understanding of the language, of how to string words together and so on. It’s a shame that you’ll see someone make job postings for a writer to create a unique 500-word article that’s well researched, that will pass Copyscape – for a dollar. ( Here’s the part where my jaw drops..)

    • Carol Tice says:

      You bring up a great point, Issa. In my view, there are two kinds of writing assignments online these days — the ones that are being written for robots to read (purely for SEO — your Copyscape-warning $1 types), and the ones that are being written for people to read — to drive sales for a company.

      All of the paid blogging I do is for the latter group. Best payers, I’ve found, almost always have a real-world product or service they sell. It’s not just a Web site where they’re trying to monetize with ads and such. Also, business-to-business providers are often better targets than business-to-consumer.

  • Debra says:

    Carol, you are a gem! Thanks for the specific suggestions and advice, and the generosity with which you share your experience.
    What if you don’t have a real portfolio to share with your prospects? Should you still try, or is that when it’s worth making an effort on Elance or Design Studios?

    • Carol Tice says:

      If you don’t have a real portfolio…create one. Find a small business in your town that needs a brochure or a case study written, and do it gratis, just for the sample.

      Create a white paper or a special report about why hiring a writer will make your business more money…basically a marketing piece for your business. Write it in the style of work you would like to get — as an ebook, a brochure, whatever you’d like to get commissioned to do.

      And presto…you have a portfolio. Get a $99 site from NAIWE and you’ve got a place to put it on a busy site with credibility where you can get found, and you’re up and rolling.

  • Absolutely love the tips and covering both the personal and professional side to money-making blogging.

    It’s all about human interaction and building relationships. Businesses are now starting to take note that “Web 2.0″ is not just a fad but social networking – through social media networks and blogging – are truly growing. They need to jump on board and what better way than to outsource their writing to passionate writers!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Shannon —

      You are SO right. As I talk with small business owners a lot because that’s my writing beat, I have the strong sense that about 75% of them have just discovered they need a blog, and that somehow social media helps it find them clients…and that they don’t have time to blog! And that’s about all they know.

      The opportunity to blog for business is HUGE. Really an overlooked paying market that many bloggers could be taking advantage of.

  • Lois says:

    What a great post! This is certainly useful for when we finally travel and blog full time. Thanks for writing this/.

  • hi

    well I have just started blogging again. I am full time business owner with a plethora of content sites and an online magazine. So I am constantly online, however; I have just started blogging once again with my new blog and I remember from my previous success that it was all about human interaction and engaging with your readers. I think people do buy into your personality as well. If your personality comes out in your writing and people can sense that you are genuine it does a lot. You have to see your readers almost like they are your customers and engage with them on a regular basis so that people will actually remember you. If people don’t remember you and your blog they won’t come back. As I have a copywriting company as part of Intrigue Media Group I see that good customer service goes a long way. Therefore; if you apply the same principles to your blog it can really help.

    thanks for this.

    Tomorrow our seeds will grow, all we need is dedication.

    xxx

  • Carol-
    Thanks for this. As I increase my web presence my goals are to improve my blog and to write more to my niche–healthcare and aging. Your tips on fees are very helpful. And of course the bottom line for bloggers is always excellent content and engaging other writers and bloggers. Thanks again.

  • well I have just started blogging again. I am full time business owner with a plethora of content sites and an online magazine. So I am constantly online, however; I have just started blogging once again with my new blog and I remember from my previous success that it was all about human interaction and engaging with your readers. I think people do buy into your personality as well. If your personality comes out in your writing and people can sense that you are genuine it does a lot. You have to see your readers almost like they are your customers and engage with them on a regular basis so that people will actually remember you. If people don’t remember you and your blog they won’t come back. As I have a copywriting company as part of Intrigue Media Group I see that good customer service goes a long way. Therefore; if you apply the same principles to your blog it can really help.

  • Wow! What an inspirational article. As a freelancer, I’m starting to look for blogging gigs, and have just begun setting the wheels in motion by setting up a blog for my local authority (parish council), for free, with a view to getting loads of experience and more gigs! And it’s paying off – I’ve got another gig for a giftware company starting this week!

    Thanks so much for the tips – I will definately use them!

    Tereasa.

  • Nice .!
    I have been a content writer for sometime now but I suppose you have pt it all in one place. We generally miss out on certain basic points. The way blogosphere is shaping, I think it is very competitive and bloggers have keep up with it. Also with search engines, specially Google making algorithm changes in order to axe the duplicate content, it is very important the you maintain certain uniqueness in each of your blogs.I think, If you stick with what Carol says you can develop a powerful blog

  • Thanks for all the tips it gives such a wonderful information you given to us, Another way you get traffic is when website owners publish your article onto their website. They keep your blog information intact and as a result of it you get traffic to your blog.

  • good work….my blog is not show in google search …?any one know….?….my blog is earnupakistan.blogspot ,and adsense ads are also shown on my blog….THANKS.

  • Wow, tanx for this info but pls how long does it take for a beginner to start earning?

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