If you frequent freelance writing blogs, you may have come across ChrisBlogging.com. The blog is run by Chris Bibey, and it's one of very few blogs I try to check in on regularly. While Chris shares good advice on everything from the day-to-day life of a freelance writer to specific types of writing work available, he's probably best known for being the blogger who shares his monthly freelance writing income to help inspire others.
Recently Chris blogged about reaching the $9k level during a month through his freelance writing work. Seeing the reaction on a particular forum, I thought I'd nag him for a chat, pick his brain a bit, and see what we could get him to tell you about his success and how you can do the same.
What Chris Does
To kick things off, I wanted to know exactly what kind of freelance writer Chris is. He covers a variety of types of projects, noting recently on his blog that the bulk of his work falls within three categories: feature articles, corporate blogging, and keyword articles.
Upon asking if he takes on any other types of freelance writing gigs, Chris said "I have written more sales letters than I can remember. Some of these are used for online “landing pages” and others in direct mail packages. To go along with this, I am asked for an occasional press release, but this is not an area that I concentrate a lot of my time."
Let's face it - "feature article" can mean a lot of things. Does Chris ghostwrite, or does he stick to bylined work? Does he generally write Web features or does he write for print publications. In fact, he likes to mix it up. Here's what he had to say:
"To answer your first question, I would say that it is about 50/50 as of late. Some publications only publish the articles online, others only in print, and some do both. Although I like to get a byline where possible, a lot of times this is not always the case. Check out [this link] for a feature that appeared both online and in print!"
Chris also mentioned that he writes keyword / SEO articles. These are the types of articles that tend to give Web writers a bad name. You know the ones I mean - the "I'll pay you $5 to write an incoherent 500 words on something you know nothing about, even if you can't speak English, just as long as you throw these keywords in there at this density level," types of gigs.
But not all keyword articles are poorly paid. Some are well written. Some clients even combine feature articles with SEO articles. Honestly, I love this type of work when it pays well. I usually get these clients through my freelance writing site or referrals, but I know a lot of writers pick up SEO writing gigs solely from answering ads. Let's see where Chris finds his keyword article gigs:
"Most of my new clients find me in one way, shape, or form. Some come from blog, others from referrals. I will respond to ads, but as I have become more established, I am definitely more selective when doing so."
I have to admit, I don't do as much blogging for others as I'd like to, but when I do, they're some of the best gigs out there (for private clients - not talking about blog networks here). They're also some of the least-advertised positions, so you often have to be more aggressive in finding and getting corporate blogging gigs (which can pay very well by the way). Chris shared his thoughts on corporate blogging and tells you how he gets the gigs:
"Corporate blogging has quickly become one of my favorite writing activities. I love working with these clients because the projects are fun, and I can learn quite a bit along the way. Most of these projects come from referrals. For instance, a past client of mine sent my name to several “partner” companies and several of them hired me within a couple of weeks. If you do good work, your clients are definitely going to pass your name along to others; you don’t even have to ask in most cases."
In the Money
OK. I know what you really want to know - what about that $9k?? How long did it take Chris to reach that income level? What's different between his writing career now and when he was still a newbie? Well, I asked him:
"I have been a full-time freelance writer for three years or so, but worked on “side projects” well before that. Within three months of going full-time I was earning a full-time income, and from there I continued to build my business to this current level of income.
The biggest difference between my career now and when I started was the clients that I work with. I am still the same person, but I have learned that there are high paying clients out there and it is important to seek them out."
I know Chris doesn't like to share too many details on specific clients, but I'm nosy. So I wanted to know, if he won't tell us who he's working for now, what his favorite gig was (to give you a more specific example of the kind of work he's doing).
"As a huge sports fan, anything that has to do with this topic is always exciting. Perhaps my favorite gig was my most recent book, Open your Hearth with Basketball. When writing this book I had the opportunity to interview many of the biggest names in the basketball world. The completed project was approximately 150 pages, and to tell you the truth, it was one of the most difficult tasks of my career. Writing a book can take up a lot of time; and this one wasn’t even that long. The nice thing about this book was that I earned a small advance, over $1k, and I also earn royalties every quarter."
How NOT to Earn Like Chris
Are you content not earning as much as you could be from your freelance writing? Probably not. Here's what Chris thinks your biggest mistake may be if you're not at an income level you're happy with yet:
"The biggest mistake in my mind is that freelance writers are content working for low wages and staying in this rut year in and year out. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with getting your feet wet; even if the rates are a bit low. But this is not something that freelancers should get used to. In order to reach a higher level of income you need to find clients that pay better; it is that simple!"
And you know I have to go all stereotypical on you and ask the classic question: what advice does Chris have to share with all of you newer writers (or established writers feeling that they're in a rut) out there?
"New freelance writers should concentrate on offering high quality content and pleasing every client. Money is good, but if you are only working for the pay it is going to show in the work that you complete.
Established freelance writers who are struggling to progress their career should do three things: network, network, network. While that is really only one thing, it is very important in my eyes. If you want to grow without having to market your services day in and day out, there is no better way of doing this than networking which will in turn lead to more work and referrals."
Now - it's time to go check out ChrisBlogging for yourself.