Okay, so you’re probably wondering how you, the blogger, working for a sexy, modern company actually makes money for their client. If you haven’t read this article, I suggest you familiarize yourself with those concepts because they’re directly applicable to business. Instead of making money for yourself, just replace every instance of “you” with “the business” and you’ll get an idea.
What matters to you as the freelancer is that within the parameters set forth by the client, you want to the blog to rank highly and produce a desired effect. That’s your job. How you arrive at that is based on your knowledge of best practices and your skills as a writer.
Okay, I’ll admit: The following topics are fairly scattershot, but I believe they hold relevance to whatever type of blogging you’ve been assigned. Nevertheless, let’s get into some more of the nitty-gritty.
You may be working as part of an affiliate marketing campaign, where your article is designed to:
- educate the reader on some topic they wish to learn (known as “service writing”),
- help sell a product that solve a particular problem.
This is usually done by associating the problem with a product via links, but sometimes you will have to blog what is known as a “call to action.” A call to action is a way for a reader to go beyond just reading a blog, and instead take action by purchasing a product or a service. These are usually indicated by a “Click Here to Find Out More” or the infinite permutations of the same idea.
A lot of businesses capitalize on affiliate marketing as part of their model; others base their entire model on it, often owning a myriad of websites based on “low competition, high traffic” keywords related to the niche found on websites like Google Analytics.
It’s sad to say, but in my experience with a number of clients, affiliate marketing-based blogs that I’ve written are usually bottom-of-the-barrel. They read more like an infomercial rather than providing concrete, reliable information. Often, a client will assign directions that include nothing more than a keyword, a word length, links related products/services to sell, and similar articles to rewrite.
Sometimes these keywords don’t fit smoothly into English or are purposeful misspellings; other times, the products are barely related to the topic. Content mills, or websites that broker between businesses and writers, have plenty of work like this and if you can crank out a large majority of them, then you may have found a dependable source of consistent income. It’s mindless work and if you enjoy creating works like this, more power to you.
When Blogging Goes Bad
As a personal story, I actually had to give up a client that hired me to ghostwrite blogs that promoted hate-speech. Even though the money was good and the assignments were a piece of cake, crafting the blogs didn’t set well with me.
You do have to assume the role that the client wants—IMHO, the further from your own opinions/beliefs, the harder it may be to write on a regular basis. This is why, as a blogger, it’s helpful to be on the same page with your employer and their company’s outlook.
Bye Bye, Byline
It’s helpful as a writer to receive a byline where you can receive credit for your effort, but this isn’t always a given. Think about it; most of these businesses don’t want to make it seem like they’re outsourcing their business to freelancers, where it may be construed that the opinions of the company aren’t the views they hold, but the work of employees run amok. No, they’re looking for a malleable cast of writers to produce CONSISTENT content on a regular basis. You might not be the only one blogging for them, but someone’s going to take credit for your work. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes in the minor leagues…
If you feel that this is the equivalent to a dead-end job, you might be right. However, I’ve made sure to preserve my anonymity on my client’s work with the agreement that, should I need to “prove” my work, the client would work as a reference on my behalf. So far, most clients tend to believe my track record and I’ve only had to confirm my authorship once. Having the original documents you’ve used to compose the blogs is usually proof enough, especially if your blogs include the correct links, layout suggestions, and other indicators that show your involvement.
(As a side note, I assume you could just copy-and-paste data from pages without a byline, pass it off as part of your own portfolio, and voila!, you have a career. Huffington Post, here I come!)
From Yours to Theirs
Don’t forget that when you’ve successful blogged for yourself, you can increase traffic to your website in a verifiable way. This information is critical to convincing business owners of your proven track record and the traction (quantitative evidence of marketability) that your writing creates.
Why is this important? Essentially, it increases your negotiation ability when it comes down to pay rates or how much content you can reasonably produce in a timeframe. Remember, being able to back up your claims speaks volumes for business. In other words, put up or shut up.
The most prevalent and desired tone that I’ve encountered from clients for their blogs is “laidback but informative,” “personable but educational,” or one that sticks in my mind—“…written like a friendly bartender giving advice.” They all mean the same thing and you should use this article as a paragon of the example.
Using devices like colloquial phrasing, everyday speech, and humor draws readers in. As does writing with what I define as “breaking the 4th wall.” Like movies where this concept is most prevalent (think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), you pull the reader from a narrative and nudge them with a friendly elbow, saying “hey, you know what I mean?” It creates a bond between the reader and the webpage, even though it is the reader who is doing all the inner dialogue and stylizing the narrative. What you are normally cautioned against is sound dry, academic, or overly self-involved.
This is where having dictation/transcription programs can really aid your quest in achieving this friendly tone. As you may know, writers often struggle to create believable dialogue—including their own. Having a program/app that takes your dialogue verbatim can boost not only your WPM, but also create a more natural tone that resonates with your intended audience. Give it a try, or your money back (actually, no—scratch that… just give it a try).
As a final note on this subject, readers can smell a cheap tone like a crappy cologne. Businesses that outsource their work to freelancers that don’t necessarily grasp the finer aspects of the English language (or whatever language you’re writing in) create the impression that their company can’t afford good work. Think of a yacht company with poor grammar—would you purchase from them, let alone trust them?
Alternatively, some websites purposely dumb-down their content and writing to hope to appeal to a lower-educated audience. My experience with these companies is that they pay very poorly. Avoid them and seek the finer clients.
The Purpose of This Blog Is…?
In order to make money blogging, it helps to know just what the end goal of your client is. I’ve had clients are highly-organized and want their content sourced to a “T”. Others have been clueless to the process and only decided to take a stab at blogging as a part of their business by throwing money at the problem.
As a freelancer, who am I to argue unless asked? However, you may be motivated to become further entrenched in a company’s business by suggesting you take on more responsibility for these blogs. In my experience, I find that you may only be scratching the surface when it comes to what’s wrong with a business. It may also be indicative that the client is a cheapskate that is undercutting their employees, which therefore leads to a consistently bad content, layout, distribution—you name it.
My advice? Use these blogs as stepping stones to better work, but be aware that you may not be able to use active links to the content as part of your portfolio if they’re misrepresented. Instead, just submit your finished files and offer an explanation if needed.
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At this point, hopefully your knowledge of how to make money blogging for business has been awakened. Following these best practices and suggestions will help steer your freelance career to greener pastures. See you out there!