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Every year, legions of writers start a blog with the idea of turning it into a moneymaker through ads, ebooks, or other passive-income strategies.
But there's a faster way to use your blog to earn. It doesn't require that you build a huge audience, either.
You can use your freelance blog as a portfolio sample to get freelance blogging gigs. That's what UK-based freelancer Tom Ewer discovered -- quite by accident -- shortly after quitting his job and starting his blog Leaving Work Behind in mid-2011. He quit his full-time job in early 2012 to work full-time on his blog.
From Beginner to Earner
At first, being a freelance blogger was the farthest thing from his mind. Tom says,
When I first decided that I wanted to start my own business, I never had any intention of going into freelance writing of any kind. It wasn’t on my mind at all. I decided I wanted to quit my job and I think, like a lot of people, I immediately went into the whole idea of passive income, because it’s just such an attractive proposition. The problem is earning from passive income isn't that easy, as I found out very quickly.
After dabbling in passive income and discovering it's hard to earn well without building a large audience first, Ewer rethought his strategy for making a living from his blog. Instead of slapping up ads and hoping to earn commissions, he found he could more easily line up freelance blogging assignments.
He recently reported he's earning roughly $90 an hour as a freelance blogger, racking up $4,000 a month and more in freelance income. Not bad for less than two years of blogging.
He found his first freelance blogging clients by responding to ProBlogger job ads. With only about six months's experience using WordPress for his own blog, he got a gig writing posts for a WordPress authority site, WPMU.org.
Knowing a little about a topic, Ewer discovered, can be enough to get you in the door if you've got a strong freelance blog to use as a sample.
My pitch was something along the lines of, ‘Hi. I’m a good writer. Here’s a few examples from my blog.’ And I pointed them towards examples that really had nothing to do with WordPress because I didn’t have anything, and I said, ‘I’m available, so give me a shout.’
And the guy on the other end, the editor, he’s looking at these posts, and probably said, ‘Okay. It’s not about WordPress, but he can clearly write and he says he’s computer literate, and he says he uses WordPress, so I should give this guy a go.’ And that’s really all it took.
Freelancing Favors the Bold
Ewer landed more freelance blogging clients with paid blogging gigs on other subjects even farther afield, including government contracting.
It's amazing how far 'This guy seems like a good writer' will take you. Freelancing favors the bold. It's all about putting yourself out there and saying, 'You know what? If I'm rejected, I'm no worse off for it.'
Writing his own blog gave Ewer a chance to demonstrate he understood all the fundamentals of successful business blogging -- strong headlines with keywords, short paragraphs, and scannable posts with subheads or bulleted lists.
He points out that his blog isn't about paid blogging, either. A blog doesn't have to be on the same topic as a client's in order to get you a gig. "My blog is about experiments in building income," he says. "It's not really related to anything I write about for clients."
Guest posting was another prime strategy for Ewer in attracting freelance clients. He says some clients came to him after seeing his guest posts on bigger blogs, including ThinkTraffic and ProBlogger. On the latter site, Leaving Work Behind was featured in the blog's annual list of up-and-coming blogs to watch, giving Ewer huge exposure to potential clients.
At this point, Ewer continues to dabble in passive-income projects, and has released an ebook, Successful Freelance Writing Online. But he considers freelance blogging gigs his main income source.
"For me, I can earn a fairly high rate from it," he says. "And that affords me the spare time to concentrate on other projects and on my blog."
Does your blog get you freelance gigs? Leave a comment and tell us how you do it.