Hello! This blog post all about becoming a freelance blogger is an oldie, from back in 2010. You can find more up to date info at the following links. 

freelance blogger

Blogging has grown in leaps and bounds in the last ten years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the industry for the last 18 months. I’ve blogged for sites covering topics like fashion, beauty, slow life, opinions, gadgets and social media, and I’ve never loved a job more.

But it’s not for everyone. So, if you’re considering starting the new year off as a freelance blogger or writer, there’s a few things you should take into consideration. I’m not an expert by any means, so this is purely taken from my own experiences.

Normal hours go out the window…

Full time blogging is rarely a 9-5 job, at least not when you’re starting out. Be prepared to work evenings and weekends to hit your deadlines. The fantastic thing about blogging is that you can fit it in around your own schedule. If you’ve got kids or prefer to work lates and enjoy lie ins, you can arrange your blogging around that.

….But setting hours is good practice

It’s taken me quite a while to fully understand and implement this. Aim to stop working after a certain time, give yourself at least a weekend off a month and set time limits to get work done keeps you focussed, and stops you getting blogging overload.

Working in your PJs is not productive….

Personally, my most productive days are the ones where I get dressed and work at my desk. I don’t do it every day (Friday is my day working in my PJs on the sofa) but keeping some form of routine does help.

Plus the postie stops making sarkie remarks when you greet him in your oldest PJs.

….Nor is working in front of the TV

Again, it’s a personal thing, but working in front of the TV makes me less productive. I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, but my work output confirms it: I work better with silence or just the radio on.

Saying that, I like to think watching the Gilmore Girls provides me with the odd witty put down.

British moneyImage by sirqitous via FlickrYou’ll need to gain experience. Possible for free

I got my lucky break into blogging by writing my own blog, and doing unpaid (aside from travel costs) internship for a couple of lovely startups. That experience, the referrals I gained from it and the knowledge I built from them led to me starting a role with Miramus as a part-time editorial assistant, and starting several other blogging jobs.

It’s not ideal, but there are companies out there who let you do your internship from home, meaning you can take on other paid evening or weekend work to support yourself. Otherwise, work like mad for several months, save up several months living costs, then fit in as many internships as possible.

…But know when to charge

You might get a few people emailing you with “We can’t pay you, but it’s a great opportunity to get a byline and get promotion.” Some of these are genuine and a good opportunity. In fact I write for free for a couple of blogs, like Dork Adore, out of love for the content. But don’t do too much free work, or you’ll devalue your own product.

No one else in the creative industry would give away their services so freely, so try not to get into the habit of doing it.

Get a contract and prepare to chase up the odd outstanding invoice….
Hopefully it won’t happen too often to you, but there may be instances where a client can’t or won’t pay on time, or refuses to pay at all. Get a contract before you start to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

…Invoice systems will make your life, and your accountants, a whole lot easier.

Freeagent makes my life roughly 47% easier. Probably. Creating an invoice is really easily and it can then be printed or emailed to your client. Then at the end of the year, when it’s tax time, you just need to hit print all and you’ve got all your invoices, payments and total income for the year. It’ll also import your bank statements, and fill in most of your self-assessment return for you. You can sign up using my FreeAgent referral link.

Planning is key

If you’re writing for quite a few blogs, a spreadsheet with planned posts and previous posts will help you keep ahead. Using sites like Evernote or Trello let you save images, files, links and videos, which can come in handy when you’re juggling several different topics.

But blogging is fast moving, so be prepared to be flexible

Blogging gives you the edge over the printed press as you can respond to something newsworthy straight away. So although you might have a top 10 posts planned, you’ll need to be prepared to drop it for the more urgent post.


Social media and blogging go hand in hand

I picked up a lot of my blogging work through recommendations and Twitter. If you’re a blogger, you almost certainly need to be on Twitter. It allows you to share your work, chat with other bloggers and build up a network. Plus it’s a great place to bounce potential blog post ideas of people.

...But don’t spam your followers

Just don’t. Constantly spamming your followers with links to your blogs will only succeed in reducing your numbers and annoying people. A couple of links will do.

You don’t need a journalism degree…

Controversial perhaps, but I don’t believe all great bloggers have a journalism background. It’s a bit tougher, as I found with my business degree, but the other skills you’ve learned can be applied to this industry.

…but it definitely gives you a headstart.

When I started working at Miramus, I had a huge amount to learn regarding grammar and wording. And I’m still learning. I had some insecurities about my lack of journalism and writing knowledge. But I think if you’re determined enough, you can catch up with everyone else.

Finally: If you want to be a blogger, create a blog!

It’s the best experience you can get, and your blog is your portfolio. When you apply for blogging or editorial roles, you’ll often be asked to provide your blog URL. Get writing now and you’ll find your niche and discover whether it’s for you.

Bloggers! What advice would you give to someone looking to become a freelance blogger or writer?

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7 comments on “15 things you need to know before becoming a freelance blogger/writer”

  1. Great post Emma, I agree with pretty much all your points (still convincing myself that having Friends on in the background is better than silence).

    What kind of contract do you set up? I never know whether to just take it that an email accepting my rate is good enough or if I need to make it much clearer! I've never not been paid but I'm sure at some point I'll come across that problem.

  2. Thank you 🙂 I still have the TV on some days, like quieter afternoons, as we all need an injection of trashy TV ever so often!

    I've been really lucky that the majority of clients I've dealt with already have a standard contract, so I haven't had to create one myself. I'm sure an email would work if they've agreed to all the points and payment terms etc.

    @dianeshipley has some pretty amazing resources on her blog so I'd imagine there might be something on there too.

  3. I actually can't work to music – my head is all over the place if I try (as a result, I can't tell you any decent albums from the last two years). But I can't work in silence either so the background noise of TV helps me.

    Blogging is key to wanting to work in blogging though. The amount of Domestic Sluttery applications we get from people who don't blog amazes me. And they all get deleted. Not because of lack of experience, but because it's something you have to be actively passionate about.

    This is my longwinded way of saying I like this post, and I agree wholehearedly with your points.

  4. Thanks for the comment Siany!

    Maybe it's just my low concentration threshold then when it comes to the TV 🙂 Guess that's the wonderful thing about freelancing, everyone gets to choose their perfect background music and 'office' environment.

    Great point about being passionate. If an applicant isn't already blogging out of love, how are they going to cope when they have to write dozens of posts a week?

    I guess a lot of people think anyone can blog. That's a whole other blog post though!

  5. Hi Emma, great to see a blogging-focused post about becoming a writer, and thanks for the mention!

    I haven't covered this on my blog, but you're right — an email with the details of an ongoing job or one-off commission is sufficient legal protection if you don't have an official contract. Just make sure you get all the relevant details before you start (word count, pay rate, when you'll be paid etc). Sometimes this entails a flurry of emails, as harried editors can forget to let you in on how many words they want, when for, and what they're paying. But that's all part of the fun 😉

    I envy anyone who can work with music or the TV on. I've tried, but silence is the only thing that works for me.

  6. Fab article – perfect for beginners. I can't work if people are talking, singing, whistling or operating heavy machinery nearby. Getting quite good at ignoring the cat's miaows though 🙂
    Penny x

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