This is an interview with Tom Ewer. Tom is a freelance blogger and internet marketer. He quit his job at the end of 2011 and shares all of his successes and failures at his blog, Leaving Work Behind.
He has just released a guide – Successful Freelance Writing Online: How to Generate a Full Time Income by Writing For Blogs. In this interview, he reveals why he is a freelance blogging evangelist.
Tell us about how you became a freelance blogger.
Well it rather took me by surprise if I’m honest with you!
If we rewind about thirteen months, I had no aspirations to be a freelance blogger — it was the last thing on my mind. I was however incredibly frustrated by my lack of success in establishing semi-passive income streams. I had decided months earlier that I wanted to quit my job, and had been working really hard since then to generate an income via websites. It just wasn’t working out for me at the time.
So out of sheer frustration and desperation, I submitted a few pitches in response to listings on the ProBlogger Job Board. I didn’t expect anything to come of it — it was more a way of blowing off steam than anything. So you can expect my surprise when I was offered a trial by and subsequently became a writer for the popular WordPress blog, WPMU!
I didn’t really look back from there. I landed another client through the same job board about a month later, and that was all the encouragement I needed. I handed my notice in, and in January 2012, I was on my own!
Why freelance blogging, rather than other forms of freelance writing?
First of all, I think it is extremely accessible — the barriers to entry are extremely low. I believe that just about any competent writer can get started as a freelance blogger. Of course, the more talented and committed a writer you are, the more you can make.
And although freelance blogging itself as a fantastic long term career choice, it also opens you up to a world of opportunity. For instance, you can branch out into copywriting or start your own content marketing consultancy. And once you are an accomplished freelance blogger, who’s to stop you from developing your own successful blog?
One could consider freelance blogging as paid training. You get the inside track on how big blogs operate — their content and marketing strategy. You soak up valuable experience and get paid a great rate for it!
Realistically speaking, how much can a freelance blogger expect to earn?
Once you’re established, you can make good money as a freelance blogger. An hourly rate of $50 or more is perfectly realistic — in fact, I have been paid an equivalent hourly rate of around $100 by some clients.
And if you play your cards right you won’t have to do much in terms of direct marketing. All of my client referrals either come from existing bylines or via my blog. This means that your equivalent hourly rate rises, because you spend less time finding work and more time doing it.
What would you say to those who feel that freelancing is just swapping one job for another?
In short, it’s not!
For instance, today I’m working from my local library. Tomorrow I’ll work from home. The day after I’m taking the morning off to do a photoshoot with my band. In a couple of weeks I am travelling to Houston to spend some time with my sister, and I’ll work from there.
My hours are completely flexible, I have no boss, i’m in control of my earnings, and I earn about three times as much per hour as I did in my (well-paying) job! I also I have loads more time to work on other projects, like my successful freelance writing guide.
If you can get all of that out of your job I applaud you. If not, freelancing might be worth consideration!
Finally, there are a lot of aspiring freelance writers out there who aren’t doing as well as they would like. What advice would you have for them?
There are just two things you need to do well as a freelance writer in order to be successful — write well, and put yourself in front of prospective clients. If you’re not achieving the kind of success you would like then there’s either something wrong with your writing or your marketing. Both are resolvable issues.
Without wanting to put too simplistic a slant on it, becoming a better writer is done by reading and writing. Read about how to write effectively for the web, then practice your craft. Blogging is a forgiving content medium — it isn’t difficult to get right once you understand the basic principles.
As for marketing, keep your efforts clear and practical. Where do the people you want to work with hang out online? How can you find and attract them? Put yourself in their shoes — how should you approach them in order to make clear the benefits you can offer to their blog and/or business?
Of course, if I could compress everything required for successful freelance writing into three paragraphs, there would be a lot more freelance writers out there! But the above covers the basics. If people want to learn more they should check out Successful Freelance Writing Online. It’s packed with literally everything I know (and have gleaned from others) about freelance writing for the web.
Perhaps most important of all, I implore all freelance writers to have more confidence in their abilities. You’re probably far better than you realize, and the sooner you start acting like you’re worth a good rate, the sooner people will begin to value you accordingly. Best of luck!
If you would like to learn how you can earn a full time income from freelance blogging, check out Tom’s new guide: Successful Freelance Writing Online.