It’s kind of funny that I’m posting on this topic as my first post since Saturday after my intention to blog each weekday. Truth be told, I’m not a great personal blogger, but off-and-on over the years I’ve made a decent chunk of change writing for various blogs–mostly my two-year gig at Lifehacker–but there have been plenty of others that you can see in my portfolio.
I was talking a day or two ago with my first boss at my company, who hired me six years ago after reading my content on Lifehacker. He’s still a regular reader there (I only visit occasionally these days) and told me there’s a current opening for a writer and that his twenty-something nephew wanted to apply. He asked me for advice for how his nephew could gain the skills and experience to land a decent pro-blogging gig. You’ll find that advice below the jump.
The steps I took:
- Figure out your niche
- Create a blog within your niche and publish at least 10 posts
- Go back and polish those 10 posts
- Get a couple of paid posts on minor or up-and-coming blogs
- Now go after the blogs where you really want to write
Let’s delve into each of these steps a bit.
1. Figure out your niche
When I wanted to get serious about blogging, I put together a list of topics I wanted to read and write about: technology, geeky things, personal finances, and books. I decided to put two of those together and go with a blog that had personal finance advice for geeks.
2. Create a blog within your niche and publish at least 10 posts
Once I narrowed down my focus, I registered a URL (GeekyFrugal.com archive), signed up for a hosting package, and installed WordPress. I tried to put together enough posts so that potential employers could get a sense of my style.
3. Go back and polish those 10 posts
Now that you’ve written your posts, go back and fix your typos, add links and images (make sure you attribute your image sources!), and try to make sure the titles and ledes are catchy (don’t bury the lede!). Make these as close to professional as you can get.
4. Get a couple of paid posts on minor or up-and-coming blogs
I spent some time on various web searches for “freelance blogger – personal finance” “guest posts” and other various terms and eventually landed a gig with WiseBread. It was just a Top 10 list, but it got my foot in the door and I made $35 for my efforts. The important thing was that I got a byline on a pro blog.
5. Now go after the blogs where you really want to write
Around this time, I saw a post on Lifehacker (one of my favorite tech bogs) looking for a weekend writer. I applied and received this email:
All went according to plan and I was the Weekend Editor at Lifehacker for a little over two years. Each weekend, I’d write 15 posts on lots of tech and tech lifestyle topics. I wrote over 750 posts in my tenure there. Here are two posts I enjoyed writing: (you’ll find more in my portfolio)
If you want to get paid to blog, there are worse ways to get started. Good luck!