Have you ever written a guest post for someone's blog? Have you considered turning that marketing strategy into paid freelance blogging opportunities? If so, you might find inspiration in Ruan Ooosthuizen -- a blogger who successfully made that transition.
You already know that we're big fans of sharing personal experiences here at All Freelance Writing. We share our successes and failures with you on a regular basis, because that's the best way to learn. I think you'll get the same from Ruan, his blog, and his new Kindle series where he'll document his journey and take you along for the ride.
In my interview with Ruan, which you can find below, he talks about pitching guest posts to established bloggers and the importance of building real relationships with your blog's readers. Give it a read and be sure to check out the first Kindle release which came out yesterday.
Interview With Ruan Oosthuizen
1. When narrowing down your freelance writing specialty, you chose paid blogging. What about blogging appealed to you the most? And what would you say is your blogging specialty (corporate blogging, small business blogging, niche blogging for certain topics, etc.)?
I started off with blogging on my first site after learning that dynamic content has more advantages and growing opportunity as opposed to static HTML websites. Engagement and relationship-building are elements that became important to me. Before I can expect anyone to believe a word I say, I need to build good trust and credibility with that person. Blogging helps me do that.
I have no sound experience writing in corporate niches just yet. I am learning a great deal in not only focusing on a high standard of grammar and spelling but writing in an engaging way is just as important. I don’t want to be seen as complicated but rather someone who is easily understood. I trust to find a balance between high quality and engagement.
Learning about freelance writing and the various elements it involves contributes to the reason why I am subscribed to sites such as All Freelance Writing. To improve myself as a blogger and adding “freelance” to blogging, I am quite happy to write about topics related to these niches. However, these are broad terms and being successful in any of them, one needs to learn quite a number of skillsets.
These can include WordPress customization, working with HTML and CSS elements, and the backend behind every written piece of content. Reader engagement within and the marketing of the content itself are something I am focusing on extensively at this stage. Of course research plays a huge role within my work as it is with freelance writing and any other profession.
2. Guest blogging played an important role in starting your freelance blogging career. How did you decide which blogs to pitch with guest posts? Do you intend to continue guest blogging as a form of marketing in addition to your freelance work? What was the biggest benefit guest blogging afforded you beyond simple exposure on established sites?
I believe that before I can ask to contribute to a site by pitching the blog’s host, I need to at least have a good relationship with them. I started interacting on their sites and I built relationships with these people. Asking other bloggers if you can contribute to their sites become easier when they know who you are and they are confident that you’ll deliver good value to their audiences.
I am sure as I get busier and as I try out other marketing strategies, guest blogging may slow down but I’ll always regard it as an excellent way to build good relationships with other people within a chosen niche. I’ll want to continue this avenue of engagement for as long as I can.
Most definitely the biggest benefit I got from guest blogging thus far was the opportunity to research a certain topic and then being able to engage with an audience on a certain level of expertise.
3. What would you say are the three most important things you've learned from your guest blogging experience?
The first thing that comes to mind – I choose to write for people and not machines. By this I mean to write with the goal in mind to help another instead of personal gain. I believe in giving more and experience showed that the returns are higher than expected.
Secondly, sound research within a certain topic is vital for a number of reasons. Blogging to an audience and finding out what they want, what they need and then how you can help them – success in this area takes extensive research.
Research does become easier when you have more experience within a niche and when you know your audience. I like to think of my audience to be one single person I have a good relationship with. It’s easier to speak to a single person as opposed to an audience of multiple personalities.
Lastly, building a relationship with the people in my niche is very important to me. I don’t like to see others within the niche to be my competitors but rather potential friends I can learn from and work with in future. If I can find a way to help them – that makes my day.
4. Was there anything that worked especially well (or didn't work at all) in pitching your guest posts to established bloggers? What advice would you give those new to guest posting as a form of marketing?
I used to find it very difficult keeping things short and punchy. My articles aren’t necessarily the shortest out there. I am not always comfortable writing articles of less than 600 words, which already is a stretch of my comfort.
Writing a pitch needs to be shorter, much shorter than any article. Pitching authority sites – these people have a lot on their plates. Reading long emails is not a priority from someone they don’t know as they simply are not able to respond to every single one of them.
Guest posting has many advantages if done correctly. I am a huge fan of engagement after adding value. When people feel you’ve added value to their lives, they will ask you for more. Whether it is on your own site, through social media, etc – it really doesn’t matter. They will tell you what they want, what they liked and didn’t like. This is typically what you do next. You give as much as you can of what they need.
5. What made you decide to launch your own site to share your journey from guest poster to professional blogger? What can readers expect to learn from your experiences thus far, and what do you hope your site will offer them along the way?
It is funny because I almost feel like I need to mention “building relationships” and “engagement” again. It really is what it’s all about for me, honestly. I don’t care which marketing “guru” out there tells me that I must hide my inexperience, I will never follow it. I feel that if I am expecting to build a genuine and solid relationship with another person, the least I can start off with and keep throughout are honesty and to avoid hiding anything at all costs. When I make a mistake, I will get helped more easily as opposed to having to figure out everything on my own at a later stage.
Personally when I follow someone and I don’t see the mistakes they have made – I feel far too many others start living under the illusion that it’s always going to be easy. For instance if I was a “guru” instead of a “doru”, many may have thought “Yes Ruan, all good and well, you’ve done this and that, but it will never work for a simple guy like me!” This will prevent anyone from getting started.
How have I helped this person? I feel like I haven’t. Instead by having this journey documented, with literally everything included, I believe that people will see what it takes to finally make it as a freelance blogger, even as a simple guy starting out.
Things are not always going to be easy. The sooner we all realize that, the better. If you don’t, you’ll only get disappointed and give up.
As soon as you are aware of what it involves and you are committed to take that action because you really are being honest to yourself and hence committed to the true meaning of the word, the chances are much higher of you persisting and succeeding as a result of your persistence.
FreelanceBloggingLife.com is more than a reflection of my commitment to this journey. It’s a true mirror image of what I do to attract paying clients and also what the results were. I am new to Freelance Blogging myself but I am committed and I am putting action into everything I learn.
I have massive confidence that I will help many others through my experiences and in future, I’ll give more support and help as my experience and skills grow. This may come in various other forms of digital media. I am sure I’ll expand in future by establishing my own team. We’ll see what the future brings as a result of the actions I take along the way.
6. You're also sharing your story through a series of Kindle releases. What inspired you to pursue that avenue of publishing, and how will those releases differ from what people find on your blog? How often do you expect to put out new Kindle installations, and is there an email list or some other way people can be notified of future releases?
I tried the Kindle Publishing platform in the past and I failed horribly. I did not do it according to a structured plan – not from the actual writing and publishing perspective nor did I have a clear marketing plan in place. I just wanted the content out there. Excitement to share your enthusiasm and knowledge with someone is one thing but the way in which you do it determines the outcome in which it is received.
I decided to take what I have learnt from my past experience with Kindle. I gained more knowledge from taking part in a Kindle publishing course and also the books I have read about Kindle Publishing and formatting. I trust that when I apply this knowledge I will have different results to work with. On this I can only improve.
The first part of the series will contain a more in-depth version of my transition process from guest blogger to freelance blogger. This book also includes a starting guide which I have put together from using the experience I gained through my personal transition process and also blogging with its many levels deep. This is also the same process I followed to get things set up recently in order to take the next step and working towards attracting my first paying clients.
As I am embarking on a journey and I am learning every step of the way, it is not for me to determine how much I will learn in any given timeframe. I am not going to tie myself down to a publishing schedule for as long as I will be publishing on Kindle. The process may last a very long time and who knows what the journey will look like?
My main focus is to deliver value and I will only do that as it becomes available through my learning process.
I’d love to invite you over for a good slice of blogging cake and delicious tea/coffee! For those who don’t know me well enough, I’d recommend that you have a look around the site and specifically start here before you invest in any of my products:
FreelanceBloggingLife.com – Start Here!
I believe starting on that page will help you to get to know me first before you feel like I am just going to be selling you on every chance I get.
If you have already decided that I have tremendous value to add and I am 100% committed to do so, I have an insider’s list I’d like to invite you to, which can be found here:
FreelanceBloggingLife.com – Stay Updated!
Do you have any additional questions for Ruan? If so, feel free to ask in the comments or by visiting his site linked above.