Equipping Writers for Success
The Writing Life
The Writing Life
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by Jennifer Brown Banks
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In 2010, when I landed a blog gig that boasted 100 bucks monthly for 300-word posts, I was tickled pink. Easy money, I thought to myself. Not only did this project seem exciting and effortless, scoring it, along with my other "regular" blogging clients, meant I could save time, effort, and angst from scouring weekly job boards and networking feverishly for potential leads.
But my joy was short-lived. Not long after accepting this job, I realized that not all blogging gigs are created equally. Knowing what to look for and what to expect will enhance your experience and your bottom line.
Blog listings are increasingly abundant on Craigslist, Freelance Writing Jobs, Blogging Pro, and Pro Blogger.net, to name a few. But what should you look for in "reading the fine print?" What makes for a profitable pursuit?
Before we explore how to evaluate these offerings, let's examine just what constitutes a "good blog gig." Gleaned from my vast blogging career, and some trial and error, here are a few conditions and features that apply.
1. A good blog gig provides clear terms, consistent and prompt payment, and most of all, realistic expectations by the blog owner. For example, a blog gig where a writer is expected to pen 1000 words for 10 dollars in pay is not a good gig, no matter how frequent or reliable the pay, or how "popular" the site.
2. A good blog gig is one that allows the writer at least some degree of creative input and freedom -- whether it's the topic, the title, or the way the piece is approached.
3. A good blog gig is one that is not research-laden (whereby more time is spent in fact-finding and statistics hunting than in actually writing the post).
4. A good blog gig pays in real money. Not Monopoly dollars, or "exposure," or links, or future opportunities.
5. A good blog gig provides for pay that is "commensurate with experience" or at least fair compensation in exchange for one's time.
6. A good blog gig allows for choice in payment options. Let's face it: not everyone wants to deal with the slowness of snail mail. Conversely, some writers don't like dealing with online transactions and financial vulnerability, in the age of identity theft and "hacking." Ideally, writers should be able to decide (and request) the payment option that works better for their circumstances and lifestyle.
7. A good blog gig is one wherein the owner values the blogger's time. In other words, he responds to questions, comments or concerns in a timely manner to enhance communications and overall efficiency.
Now that we've increased your awareness, here's what you need to consider in assessing (and accepting) today's blog job offer or ad:
The scope of your responsibility
This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me, it isn't. In other words, will you be required to do research? Will you have to make your posts Search Engine Optimized? Provide your own topics? These are things to consider. $50 per post may seem like a lot initially, but if the subject matter requires extensive research, tech troubles, and red tape, you'll end up with very little pay for your say.
The amount of expertise required
Some blog jobs call for you to know different content management systems to post your own work (i.e. WordPress, Scrives, Blogger). With others, the blog owner does the actual posting upon approval. Additionally, some projects require you to provide your own photos, and to be versed in things like anchor texting and social media. Make sure to be compensated equitably for your skill sets and your time, just like you would in corporate America.
The method of payment
Will it be based upon performance metrics, like per clicks? Readership levels? Readers' votes? Per post? Per word? Be clear on the terms and how you'll collect your pay. If it's vague, steer clear. Quickly.
What's the standing of the blog and its owner?
Is it a highly ranked site? Popular within its niche? Many ad placements? These tell-tale signs will determine how successful it is and the likelihood of future pay.
For instance, I blogged for one client for a couple of weeks who decided to "close shop" because things were not materializing the way he had expected. If I had done my homework, I might have known of his sporadic site updates and struggles to stay afloat, and devoted my energies elsewhere.
In another employment episode, I contracted to do "ghost posts" for a seemingly reputable business site, where the pay was better than average. Unfortunately, many times I had to actually hound the owners for weeks to be paid for my services. Plus, I was forced to check online each week to make sure that my work was not being used without compensation (a few times I discovered that it had been). In any relationship, trust is a must! I eventually quit this gig, with them owing me money. I simply chalked it up as a loss, learned my lesson, and moved on. If it happens to you, you should too. As they say, "time is money."
If you want to increase your odds for continued pay, save time, and be protected from online scams, don't underestimate the importance of due diligence. Check with noted "watchdog forums" and writers' bulletin boards. A few of the most popular are Whispers and Warnings, by Writers Weekly, Preditors and Editors, and RipOffReport.com. Often, you'll find dead-beat publishers and editors exposed here.
What's the expected interaction level with the blog's audience?
Creating blog posts can also carry with it the pleasant but time-consuming task of responding to readers and answering related questions. Will you be allowed to make a general statement of "thanks," or are you expected to address each one individually? Depending upon your time constraints and personal blogging style, this may or may not be a concern.
Additionally, Wendy Burt-Thomas, editor and noted author of The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters, shares:
Where to Find Work
Of course, no discussion on good blog gigs would be complete without giving you the "4-1-1" on where to land lucrative assignments. Knowing where to find work is an important factor in the overall blogging for bucks equation.
With this in mind, here are a few sites where I've found success over the years. Please note: even with "reputable" sites, good judgment and proper research are required for the best experience.
Keep in mind, as well, that sometimes you can create your own jobs by "pitching" places or editors with whom you'd like to work.
As with any job, the proper "fit" (and culture) is important for longevity, success, and career satisfaction. So keep these tips in mind to make the most of your blogging experience, and to make the most money for your efforts.
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran blogger, freelance writer, popular relationship columnist, ghost writer and Pro Blogger with over 600 published clips. She is the former Senior Editor of Mahogany Magazine and is on the board of the CWA. Visit her website at: http://penandprosper.blogspot.co.uk/