The Case for Blogging for Clients (and not Only Yourself)

Many freelance writers have their own blogs. I'm always surprised by how many blogging writers I know don't blog for clients! Why not? More importantly, why should they consider it? Today let's talk about blogging for others and why it might be one of the best things to happen to a Web writer (or someone wanting to become one).

Why Might Writers Prefer to Blog for Themselves?

I understand the lure of running your own blog. Hell, I run a lot of them. I get it. I really do. You figure it's a better way to build exposure and branding to attract other clients. Or maybe you think you'll "get rich" blogging for yourself but that clients will only pay you crap rates, making it unworthy of your time. Some writers I know avoid blogging for clients because they consider blogging to be a very personal thing. They're afraid clients won't let them be themselves.

What other things might cause you to avoid blogging for clients but choose to solely run your own blog? Give us some personal insight.

Why you Should Consider Blogging for Others

None of the reasons I gave above for blogging only for yourself are really good ones. They don't reflect reality. The truth is that many writers can get more exposure and more money blogging for clients than they'll ever see on their own blog. There are also many different types of blogging clients, and plenty who do want your personality to shine though. Let's look at some of the benefits of client blogging in more depth:

  • More Exposure -- Let's face it. Most bloggers who blog for themselves are never going to get "famous" doing it. Most blogs never amount to much. However, writing for a well-funded blog with a good reach in your target audience can bring you a great deal of visibility -- more than you'd get going solo.Popular niche blogs are one of the best options for visibility (why do you think even relatively well-known bloggers are out there guest posting on them?). But don't neglect blogs that you don't think of as huge. You'd be surprised at the traffic levels of some blogs out there. They might seem a bit understated on the surface, but they could have an outstanding reach within the industry.

    It's all in who you're targeting. Those targeting professionals inside an industry are going to look very different than those blatantly trying to attract a huge, more general, audience. They might connect you to more relevant client prospects too.

  • More Money -- Blogging is a big money game these days, and it has a large amount of room for growth. Many companies still aren't blogging -- even big ones. Some never will. Others are just looking for the right person to guide them.Even small businesses are often better funded than freelancers think. The highest paying clients I work with are almost always small businesses. Pitch a blog to one of them. Maybe it's a local business needing an online presence to be found in local search. Perhaps it's a company in China or India that wants to expand or improve their visibility among English-speaking audiences (and yes, clients in those countries also pay very well to reach those goals).

    There is a lot of money to be made in blogging right now. No, you won't get those gigs by only responding to job ads or turning to networks. You will get them if you go out there and pitch your blog ideas and network so you'll hear when companies are looking for someone.

    Keep your own blog going too -- it makes you visible and serves as a dynamic portfolio piece!  Here's another tip for you: contact SEO and Internet marketing firms. They often need bloggers to help with multiple blogs. They essentially bring several clients to your doorstep at once.

  • More Flexibility -- If you only blog for yourself, you might think it's the more flexible option, but you'd be wrong. Whether you realize it or not, you get into certain habits or a certain style of writing on your own blog. That's not a bad thing. It's about branding your blog and being something readers are comfortable with. Blogging for clients allows you much more freedom because you can diversify your gigs (like anything else I'd strongly recommend against relying too heavily on a single blogging client).You can write for multiple clients, meaning multiple styles. Some will be personality-driven and others might be more instructional posts for beginners in a niche. Some will be by-lined and some will be ghostwritten (giving you greater style freedom because you don't have to worry about the writing conflicting with the style you're already known for). It's a very flexible job to have.

A Blogging Break-Down

Let's look at an example to help break it down. Let's say you're a finance writer. You write about a broad spectrum of topics in that niche, but you prefer writing about business finance. For your own blog, you want to reach potential clients, showing them that you not only understand basic financial premises but also financial writing as the specialty area it is. So you launch a blog on finance writing.

Your Own Blog

Your blog is a great business tool. You post to it daily, Monday through Friday. It not only attracts clients wanting to learn more about what financial writers do (not to mention ranking well for related terms clients are searching for), but it also connects you to a network of other finance writers. These are people who might refer gigs to you because you're fresh in their minds due to your blog when they get a gig offer they can't take on. That's great.

You also monetize your own blog directly with affiliate ads, a product of your own, and contextual ads. I've seen what it takes to take a blog in a similar niche to $2000 monthly in a pretty short period of time, and I know it's doable. I also know it's more than most bloggers make. But if we want to give blogging for yourself a fair shake in the comparison, we need to assume you're capable of being one of the exceptions to the rule (yes, yes, I know I always say never assume you're the exception to the rule -- but we're being hypothetical today to debunk the "blogging for yourself is the best way to get rich and famous myth"). Using that data from ProBlogger as a guide, let's say you're one of the 19% of bloggers earning at least $1500 per month.

In reality you might have to run several blogs to earn that much per month, but you're a super star. You do it with one. Not too bad, right? If you truly are one of the few bloggers who's going to earn a full-time income at it alongside great visibility, is there any benefit at all in still blogging for clients? You betcha!

Client Blogging

Now let's say you also do some finance blogging for clients. For clients you charge around $75 per post (this is very achievable and actually on the very low end of the massive amount of private gigs out there right now). That assumes you'll receive a by-line. You charge a premium if the client wants something ghostwritten because you won't get the exposure. For those you charge $100 (also a very achievable rate for professional blogging for other companies).

Your own blog does its job and attracts new clients. You decide to blog for them too. You pick up four regular blogging gigs (and if you can't get at least four regular gigs at your current rates, you're not marketing yourself effectively -- you really can do it). Here are those gigs:

  • You write a weekly by-lined column for client A on business credit issues. (At four weeks per month that's $300 per month for four posts.)
  • You write 10 posts per month (by-lined) for a financial firm's blog, connecting them to their own customers or clients. (That's $750 per month.)
  • You ghostwrite three posts per week for a personal finance blog managed by a debt consolidation company. Normally you focus on business finance, but since it's ghostwritten you don't mind being more flexible. (At four weeks per month that's $1200.)
  • Another client likes the tone and style on your own blog, so they hire you to write by-lined opinion pieces twice per week (they want to get a piece of your authority status in the niche credited to their site). This is a large small business blog. They have you post twice per week by taking news stories and posting your opinions / feedback on them. (At four weeks per month that's $600 per month.)

Much of this kind of blogging work you can do in an hour per post or less. They don't involve conducting interviews. They don't involve getting extensive background from the company itself (like if you were managing a PR-driven blog for image maintenance and more in-depth audience interaction).

Let's see what it all works out to. Over the course of the month you earn $1500 from your own blog, posting 20 posts per month (one per day, M-F, figuring a flat four weeks per month).  During that same time frame you earn $2850 from your four blogging clients, writing a total of 34 posts per month.

That means you basically earn $75 per post on average when you blog for yourself. You earn $83.82 per post on average when you blog for other people.

Delving Deeper Into Blogging Income

I know what you're probably thinking -- "That's not a big difference, so why wouldn't I only blog for myself and ignore all of the deadlines that come with client work?"  Because those numbers don't tell the entire truth.

Yes, your own blog might pay you $75 per post if you're one of those rare bloggers who can monetize their own blog fairly effectively (and consistently). However, you need to break it down into hourly rates. When you blog for yourself, you have to factor in all of the administrative work (design changes and development, upgrades, problem-solving, managing and responding to comments, etc.) and all of the marketing time that goes into the blog (commenting elsewhere to get links, evaluating stats so you can improve your position, guest posting elsewhere, taking part in social media to get the word out about the blog, etc.).

Your hourly rate for managing your blog would likely go way down. Yes, you can outsource some of these tasks. In that case you have to decrease earnings by the corresponding expenses to see what you're really earning from your blog. It still would go way down.

But don't you have to do some of these things for client blogs too? Perhaps. Here's the big difference though. You should be getting paid for all of the "extras" you do for client blogs. It's one thing to be paid to write. If they want you managing all comments, promoting the blog via social media, etc., then you can negotiate a fixed monthly rate for those services on top of your writing rates.

Many clients don't require that of their writers at all -- they prefer to handle it themselves or they have other contractors dealing with some elements of it, like social media promotion. Yes, there's also some administrative time involved. But I've found that private blogging clients ask for edits almost never -- definitely less than things like content networks -- and the time you'll take getting post topics approved or dealing with a few clients via email or calls probably won't come close to the time you'll put into administering and marketing your own blog. You come out ahead.

Here's another consideration. While you might be able to get to the $1500 per month point, that does not mean you'll be able to double that income on a single blog within a reasonable amount of time (depending on how big your niche is, and what types of monetization streams are available to you, it might be nearly impossible to turn that business blog of yours into a $3k+ per month money-maker). So don't assume that single blog could make up the difference between a lack of client work.

Some people might think "well, that's okay, I'll just start other blogs!" You can. In fact I find diversifying (within reasonable limits so you don't spread yourself too thin) can lead to more blogging income than a single blog ever could. Once you've learned how to successfully manage a high-earning blog, you have the ability to take those skills and experiences and apply them to other niches you know will monetize well. However, with every new blog comes more administrative and marketing time, and during the first few months you'll probably sink in a lot of time and / or money with little return while it gets off the ground.

I gave blogging for yourself every chance here to compete with a modest client schedule. I used low rates for the client projects (based on professional blogging rates in related niches) and if anything I overestimated the earning potential of someone's individual blog since most won't ever hit that $1500 per month level. In the end, client blogging has the potential to pay significantly more for the time invested. If you target medium to high profile clients about launching or maintaining their blogs, you also have more exposure potential than most bloggers will hit with their own blogs. It's a good deal all around.

By all means I'm not suggesting that anyone quit their own blogs, and I'm not saying you shouldn't launch blogs of your own. I'm a huge fan of running your own blogs. I know how lucrative they can be from experience. And I know how fun they can be to manage and write for. I also know they can do a great job of attracting new freelance writing clients. All I'm saying is this -- if some of those clients it attracts want you to blog for them, don't dismiss the idea just because you think you'll get "rich and famous" blogging for yourself and just be another worker bee for someone else. That's short-sighted, and it's downright wrong.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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14 thoughts on “The Case for Blogging for Clients (and not Only Yourself)”

  1. I think there’s one other reason why writers may want to consider blogging for themselves, even if they don’t end up having tremendous initial monetary success.

    It’s a hands-on lesson in Internet marketing that they can then apply to other niches. The nice part about using one’s own “writer’s blog” for that purpose is that it does help build the writer’s business even if it doesn’t generate ad clicks, sales, etc.

    One of the reasons client blogging tends to pay more is because it’s making money in excess of the per post cost for the blog owner. Writers who have an interest in becoming marketers, as well, can benefit from learning all of the ins and outs of building and promoting a good for-profit blog, I think.

    Obviously, that’s not a path for everyone. Some writers want to be writers–not writers/marketers, writers/consultants, or writers/anything else. It probably doesn’t make sense for those folks to go whole hog on the blogging for bucks thing. It does, however, provide a great deal of insight and experience that can be helpful on future projects (even client projects, for that matter).

    Overall, you’re right in terms of the numbers and the money… But I think there’s some wiggle room when we attach value to the experience.

    Reply
  2. Valid points. But we’d have to equally point out then that blogging for clients who are already that ahead in the IM game that they can pay your rates and make it more profitable can be just as important of an experience. Learning by doing is not a bad thing. But learning from people who already do something very well before you jump in too deep with your own blogs could be an even better thing.

    Reply
  3. Obviously, I run my own blog… and I’ve blogged for others and I’ve blogged for clients.

    Can’t fault your reasoning here Jenn and it’s getting me to consider if there aren’t some potential clients I hadn’t thought of. (There are always clients we don’t think of it seems to me.)

    Thanks!

    Reply
  4. @Anne – There are definitely a lot of clients writers don’t think about. Right now, the blogging side of this is so wide open that it’s crazy. Pitch a blog to a company that doesn’t realize they need one yet. If you can demonstrate value and make your case, you can land a very lucrative gig. See if a company already blogging could use some ghostblogging work done to get company news out so staff can save time and put it to use elsewhere. Contact popular niche bloggers and see if they could use a hand — maybe covering a topic they aren’t already, but that their audience would enjoy.

    Reply
  5. Great post, Jenn. 🙂

    Very few freelancers realize how much money there is in blogging for others. It’s very, very lucrative, and it has been for years.

    Will the market every become saturated?

    Nope. No chance. As you said, most businesses don’t as yet have blogs. Many aren’t even online.

    If I were starting out today, I’d turn my blog into a profit center, using it as a writing sample to get blog jobs. Your best clients are those you already have. Just ask them: “Have you considered what a blog and a Twitter account could do for your business?” And go on from there.

    Entrepreneur published a good piece on ghostblogging in February:

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/starting-a-business/the-business-of-ghostblogging/204592

    The jobs are out there. Ask your current clients about blogging. Couldn’t hurt, right? 🙂

    Reply
    • Exactly. And it’s such a natural move for many Web writers that, really, the only thing holding them back in a lot of cases is a lack of trying. The gigs are there. If you don’t work to get them, someone else certainly will.

      Reply
  6. Of all the web writing services I offer clients, blogging is one of my favorites. It’s such a great way for clients to connect with their market and build relationships, but it takes lots of work to post consistently. That’s where we come in.:)Also, as Angela pointed out, many companies are still not utilizing social media. This is presents another golden opportunity for web writers.

    Reply
    • @Kimberly — On the flipside of taking on social media work ourselves, here’s another idea:

      Writers should consider partnering with Internet marketing firms and social media consultants who already have client lists on that side of things. They bring you in to subcontract the new writing and they handle the promotional side. It’s just another example us middleman client relationships (which rock).

      Reply
  7. Jennifer,
    Great article, and some very welcome advice for wannabe-blog writers! Thanks for putting a price on the work, too, since all other articles and posts have hedged that subject!
    Thank you and the others (who commented) for great information!
    Deb

    Reply
    • Deb,

      First, you’re welcome. I’m glad the post was useful to you.

      Second, to get notifications of followup comments, just check the box below the comments to subscribe (unless that’s why you commented the second time, to be able to check that). Then it’ll happen automatically. 🙂

      Reply

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