I know, I’m just as surprised as you are. Michael Kwan is putting up an entry on John Chow dot Com and it’s not a ReviewMe. Nope, this time around, I’m going to draw on my expertise as a professional freelance writer and tell you how you can make money online through blogging… but not on your own blog.
Make a Name for Yourself
When you’re first starting out as a blogger, it can be ridiculously difficult to make a name for yourself. There are millions of blogs out there, all trying to gain exposure, so what makes you think you’re so special? It’s good to have an optimistic outlook, but chances are that no one is going to care what you have to say. In the beginning, you’re going to be seen as no more important or interesting than anyone else. You can have the greatest content and the best insights, but if no one reads it, it’s kind of a moot point.
By contrast, if you blog for big-time sites like Gizmodo and Joystiq, the things that you are writing will be read, and they’ll be read by lots and lots of people. If it weren’t for Gizmodo, I would have never known about Adam Frucci or Brian Lam. By the same accord, if I didn’t write technology news for Mobile Magazine and do ReviewMe reviews for John Chow dot Com, there’s a very slim chance that anyone would ever stumble across my personal blog, Beyond the Rhetoric. BTR is still far from being my main source of income, but it’s received considerably more traffic after people found it through JC.
Writing for other blogs might sound a little like selling out on the dream of becoming a dot com mogul, because you are still trading hours for dollars, but it’s a stepping stone (and a very important one at that). It gets your name out there. It gives you an opportunity to be recognized for your writing ability. People learn that you are actually interesting to read, so they’ll feel more inclined to visit your blog.
Very few of us will ever achieve the same status as Darren Rowse or John Chow, but by blogging for others, you can elevate yourself well above the emo kids on MySpace. After I started writing for John Chow, for example, I’ve seen my Technorati ranking rise from well north of 100k to 21,543. A similar effect was experienced with my Alexa reach.
Bear in mind, though, that freelance writing is not the same as blogging. When you write for others (freelance writing), you have to adhere to their standards, their “tone”, and their preferred word count. (sounds like PayPerPost, huh?)
Where to Find Blogging Jobs
When you first start out, you might have to put up “guest entries” on someone else’s blog for free. Thankfully, I never had to do that. Remember, when you blog for others, it’s a job like any other and you should compose yourself accordingly. It’s more casual than working downtown, clearly, but you should still present yourself in a professional manner. I have a website where I highlight my previous work, for example.
How much you can expect to get paid will vary widely, depending on a number of factors. These include things like your professional writing experience, your expertise in that particular field, and how big the site is. It’s rumored that the writers for Gizmodo make over $7,500 a month, but most other (smaller) sites won’t offer nearly that much. My freelance rate for Mobile Magazine is much better than peanuts, but it’s not quite Engadget money either.
So, where can you find these gigs? When I started out, I went and poked around Craigslist for writing jobs and stumbled across a couple of opportunities. Later on, as I surfed my way around the blogosphere, I came across postings on sites that I visit anyways. I don’t write for them, but I know that Leftlane News is hiring freelance reviewers. If you’re interested in cars, that’s probably worth a shot. My other advice would be simply to email the managing editors of blogs that you enjoy reading. There’s no harm in asking.
There are plenty of professional blogs out there with very specific niches. If you’re persistent, you’ll surely find one that suits your interests… so long as you’re a good writer.