Episode 34: Freelance Blogging with Sharon Hurley Hall

All Freelance Writing Podcast Episode 34 - Freelance Blogging with Sharon Hurley Hall

In this episode, I'm joined by Sharon Hurley Hall. Sharon and I discuss freelance blogging, how much you can really earn (if you think $100 per post is the high end, think again), ways to find clients, and more.

Show Notes

Sharon and I covered quite a bit in this episode. Here's a quick run-down of the highlights:

Niche Blogging vs Business Blogging

Sharon and I each take on a combination of niche blogging (or publication-style blogging) and business blogging. We kick off the show by discussing the difference and why you might want to pursue a combination of the two.

The simple version: Business blogging almost always pays more, but is more likely to be ghostwritten, while niche blogging more often gives you a public byline, but pays significantly less.

Blogging for Small Businesses vs Large Corporate Clients

We expand on the topic of business blogging to look at some differences between blogging for big corporate clients and small businesses. For example:

  • Larger clients are more likely to have "too many cooks in the kitchen" requiring more meetings and multiple levels of approval.
  • Larger clients are more likely to involve legal departments in their blogger contracts which can slow down the process in negotiating deals and contract terms.
  • Smaller clients often give you more freedom to come up with ideas and run with them.
  • Smaller clients are more likely to agree to your payment terms rather than having their own standard terms (treating you like any other type of contractor they work with).
  • There are exceptions to all of these "rules."

Freelance Blogging Contract Terms

We also go into more depth about negotiating freelance contracts.

  • We talk about the difference between non-compete agreements and NDAs (based on my recent post which is linked below).
  • Sharon mentions that she tries to get approval from ghostblogging clients to share the work in her portfolio, or at least mention the company as her client (and we talk about other options, like getting testimonials).
  • Sharon brings up the issue of confidence in negotiating contract terms and emphasizes that you should have your own writer-friendly contract.

Guest Posts

Sharon and I briefly touch on the topic of guest posting as a way to build a few bylined clips, why Sharon writes one regular quarterly guest post for a particular blog, and we mention problems with paid guest posting and guest posting on the wrong kinds of blogs (further reading on those topics is linked below).

Freelance Blogging Rates

We then chat about freelance blogging pay rates and how advertised rates have improved dramatically since the two of us started blogging -- when $5.00 per post was a norm.

We look at the bullshit argument that low-paying posts can lead to higher hourly freelance rates (something often touted by content mill and bidding site freelancers). Hint: No, pros don't spend several times as long writing every post.

Later in the show we talk about the higher end of freelance blogging pay rates. Sharon mentions that $350 is her typical floor (the least she'll take for a freelance blogging gig). You're welcome to see my own rate breakdown. I start at $250, but that only covers up to 400 words. Almost no one is ordering content that short anymore. My typical posts are in the $500-1000 range, and I share an example where a simple list post (list of links to hand-picked resources) paid $540.

We emphasize that what you see advertised does not represent the pro-level freelance blogging market. $100-200 per post is not a great rate. It's mediocre as far as pro rates go. If you've been at this five years or more, you can (and should) be making much more.

We mention $500 per post is not uncommon for business blogging. In some cases, you'll earn well into four figures per post. But understand business blogging involves you being the voice of a company; there is much more responsibility involved, and being a decent writer isn't enough to land you those gigs. PR, marketing, and other professional communications experience will make it much easier to land these kinds of gigs.

Publishing Your Freelance Blogging Rates

Add your freelance blogging rates to your professional website. Just do it. No excuses. You will weed out poor prospects. Sharon and I have been freelance bloggers for a long time -- nearly as long as clients have been hiring bloggers to begin with. So trust us on this. We've been there. We've heard the arguments. And we know what works.

We point out that both of us started out without publishing our rates, and we saw the same results when we started to -- much better leads.

I address the common argument that posting rates limits you too much (it doesn't).

I explain the problem of not publishing your rates from the client perspective (as someone who's hired dozens of freelancers, including quite a few writers). You don't publish your rates when your competitors do, and you don't get hired.

Other Freelance Blogging Topics

Sharon and I covered a lot in this episode, and I'm not going to break it all down here. So here's a quick summary instead of some of the other things we talked about:

  • We discuss working with middlemen clients, from content agencies to SEO firms.
  • Sharon recommends her favorite content agency (companies that connect freelancers with end clients -- not mills or bidding sites).
  • We remind you to be careful about what you write and where you post because if you publish shitty content now for a quick buck, it's going to exist for years and potentially ruin your reputation.
  • We briefly talk about finding clients and getting referrals.
  • We discuss the issue of freelance blogging clients asking you to promote their content on your personal social networks (and why you shouldn't do it).
  • We mention the issue of disclosure if you do decide to promote client work on your social networks.
  • I go over one time when you might not want to raise your rates (or even lower them if you raised them and it put you in a new market).
  • We talk about donating time to nonprofits you care about as a way to build initial clips and references.
  • We then go into the option of monetizing your own blogs versus freelance blogging, and we talk about some of our own monetization streams (I obviously run my own blogs now; Sharon used to also run a blog for writers -- archives are linked below).
  • Finally, we talk a bit about politics. Sorry. (Actually, I spared you and edited out most of that, so I'm not really sorry.)

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