This is a guest post by Bamidele Onibalusi.
One of the best ways to make money from your blog is by offering your services.
Of course, the income won’t be directly from “blogging”, but if it wasn’t for blogging the money wouldn’t come either.
A major reason a lot of bloggers fail very soon after they start is because they started with the wrong intentions.
They’ve been sold the dream of passive income, and, while passive income is entirely possible, they expected it so soon that they give up when things don’t work according to plan. (Corbett talked about this blogging trap last week.)
Don’t get me wrong, passive income is real, and two great guys who are testament to its power are Corbett and Pat Flynn.
But you also have to realize that earning passive income takes time, and this time differs for everybody.
Monetizing from Day 1
Expecting to make money from your blog a day after starting it is next to impossible; and very few people have really been able to pull that off.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait for so long to be rewarded from your efforts.
Most people fail at blogging because they go through the same cycle everyone else does: building a blog > populating it with content > placing ads > expecting income to come.
And the reality is, except if you’re Techcrunch or The Huffington Post, this technique will probably not work for you.
A different way to go about it, however, is to offer your services.
No matter how small your blog is, and no matter how remote your subject is, there’s someone among your audience who desperately needs your service. They just need you to convince them that they do. By the end of this article you will have learned how to do so.
The key to blogging success is having something to offer, and in most cases this “something” will be a service.
In most cases you have to freelance.
Even Corbett offered his services as a designer when Think Traffic was relatively new, and the result is what we all see today.
Why You Need a Blog to Promote Your Freelancing Services
As a freelancer, two words you probably don’t want to see combined are blogging and freelance.
A lot of freelancers don’t have blogs, and the majority that do hardly make any move to ensure their blog is integral to the success of their freelancing business.
Don’t be surprised, because you’re not alone.
According to the 2011 Freelance Industry Report, the number one challenge that freelance professionals face is getting clients; with over 21.8% of the 1,200+ surveyed freelancers citing that as their number one problem.
If you move down further the report to the section on how to get clients, you’ll notice where the problem occurs; the number 1 way most freelancers get clients is by word of mouth, with 23.1% of freelancers citing that as their top choice. The second option is referrals at 23.0%, and the last option is article marketing at 0.8%.
There isn’t blogging in between.
In other words, none of the 1,200 freelancers interviewed cited blogging as a way of generating clients.
Taking a look at this report, and how most freelancers get their clients reveals some fundamental insights into why most freelancers struggle to get clients… especially if you study the top two techniques listed.
The top two techniques most freelancers vote as their favorite way of getting clients is subject to something that is usually out of their control, which isn’t a very good sign for any one in business.
Of course, word of mouth marketing is good and referrals are better, but what is even better is getting people to come to you. And not just people, but people who see you as an expert.
And blogging is one of the best ways to do that.
I was able to make 5 figures in freelance writing income the first year of my freelance writing career, all thanks to blogging.
To be more specific, I was able to make a little over $55,000 in freelance writing income in 2011, with more than 98% of that income being as a result of my blogging.
How to Turn Your Blog into Fuel for Your Freelancing Business
I’ve been relying only on blogging as the sole source of my freelancing income for over a year now, and the quality of clients I get keeps increasing.
While most freelance writers struggle to find writing jobs, clients come to meet me themselves, and most of the time, I charge them more than the market rate.
I’m not saying this to brag; I’m only trying to let you see how powerful blogging can be.
Without further ado, here are 5 ways to turn your blog into fuel for your freelancing business.
1. Be Seen as an Expert
This step is very important.
As a freelance writer, contrary to what most people believe, you’re not paid for words, but for expertise.
Perception is reality, no matter how wrong it is, and the difference between getting paid what you want or what others are being paid is often as a result of how you’re perceived.
This is why it is important first to work on establishing yourself as an expert at whatever you do.
You don’t necessarily need to have 10,000 people visit your blog monthly to be seen as an expert. You can easily be an expert to your small community of 100 people.
The Key to Expertise
Expertise takes time, though, and you can learn a lot about becoming at expert at anything from Corbett’s other blog, Expert Enough.
However, here are a few quick tips to help you quickly position yourself as an expert and to pave way for the other tips in this article to be effective.
Believe in Yourself: The first step towards becoming an expert is to believe in your ability, because, no matter how great you are, no one will believe in you unless you believe in yourself first.
Believing in yourself also ensures that your “expertise” reflects in whatever you do.
People wanting to hire you will probably come across your work before they hire you, and the first thing you want them to think is that you’re an expert.
Be Consistent: There’s a trend to expertise; consistency.
When you tune in to your favorite channel and see your favorite TV anchor, the main reason you’ll listen is because you think they’re an expert.
You don’t think they’re an expert because they’re commenting on TV, but because its the same thing you see them doing all the time.
If that person has been commenting on foreign markets for over a year, and she’s still able to retain her position, then she probably indeed knows a thing or two about foreign markets.
Same thing applies to blogging.
Focus on just one subject (or a group of interconnected subjects) you’d like to be known for, and start writing the most consistent, innovative, and newsworthy articles on that subject.
Leverage Others’ Expertise: Look for other experts you look up to, that are respected in your field, and leverage their expertise.
This is what I’m doing on Corbett’s blog right now.
I’m writing here to contribute value to Corbett’s audience, but not without benefit.
Contributing here instantly helps me with something; it makes me an expert to Corbett’s audience. Not just because I’m contributing, but because Corbett is respected by his audience as an expert, and because featuring my content here is like endorsing me.
2. Establish a Foundation for Being Hired
For most people, this foundation is a hire me page. For others, it is a portfolio.
No matter what you have to offer, and how well-known you are, the key to getting hired is to not only have a medium to get you hired, but to have a medium that makes it easy to hire you.
In other words, your hire me page should be as perfect and convincing as possible.
If you’re a freelance writer, this might mean adding a sample of your work or two to back up your expertise.
If you’re a freelance designer, this means showing samples of your work on your portfolio page.
Raising Your Status
One thing that isn’t uncommon is getting bombarded by people who want your services but aren’t willing to pay, especially if you have a popular blog.
For this very reason, you shouldn’t just leave your hire me page “as is” (like most hire me pages).
Instead, you should raise your status to scaring people away.
Of course, you’ll “scare” some people away, but you probably don’t need them in the first place.
Getting client requests from people with lowball offers doesn’t help you, but drains you for a few reasons.
- You won’t work with them, so your effort replying is a waste of time; especially if you could have prevented them from getting in touch.
- They influence your response to other people who can pay for your work; because of the 7 different crappy $5 an article offers you got yesterday, you might end up charging $50 an article when you should have charged $100 or more.
- They make you feel bad about yourself. Maybe you aren’t worth as much as you think? Maybe the “general” market is right? Or, maybe those people really don’t know what they’re doing?
In a situation like this you can easily raise your status by adding a little “PS” below your hire me/portfolio/contact page.
The idea behind the “PS” is to explain who you want to work with and who you don’t work with.
If you don’t want people with low budgets, state it clearly, and you’ll get results.
Like I said earlier, this might lead to a reduction in client requests, but you can be sure of an increase in value.
For example, adding a PS to my hire me page led to a reduction in potential client contact of around 5 a week to 3 a month, but I’ve ended working with almost every client that contacted me since making the change.
Two Types of Posts You Should Write to Actually Ensure You Get Hired
The first two tips I were focused on making the right people more inclined hire you, and the next two steps will be based on two types of articles you should write to increase your chances of getting hired.
3. Start Publishing “Case Studies” on Your Blog
This could be a case study based on how you used your skills to grow your business, or a case study based on the results your clients are getting from your service.
If you don’t have a client yet, you can offer your service to an interested small business for free, as long as they agree to let you write a case study about the results on your blog.
What matters most, though, is that the case study emphasize the importance of using your services.
Everybody can write an article on the top 10 tips to do something, but very few people have results to show for what they teach.
If you’re really an expert, then results shouldn’t be rare!
Show clients that you’re the expert they need to hire by publishing regular case studies of how your service works on your blog.
- How to Write a Case Study (one of the best and simplest guides to writing a case study that works)
- An Inside Look into the Results of 31 Guest Posts in One Week (an actual case study on my blog, which has resulted in a few clients)
4. Write an “Ultimate Guide” to Something
This is another powerful blog post formula that is proven to work.
There are a few reasons why “ultimate guides” work, and here are a few of those reasons below:
1. They get links, comments, traffic, and shares: That is the nature of ultimate guides.
No matter the size of your blog, an ultimate guide to something will usually be popular.
An “ultimate guide” I wrote on my blog about guest blogging (I’ll be linking to it in the resources section below) is still one of the most popular posts on my blog; with over 10,000 views, 120+ tweets, 40+ likes, over 60 links from other blogs, and over 150 comments, it is obvious why this post is one of the top sources of clients to my freelance writing business.
2. They teach comprehensively: An “ultimate guide” is usually very long, with links, infographics, multimedia, and actual samples that demonstrate a point explained. In other words, this makes someone writing an ultimate guide a “teacher” of the subject, and not just any teacher, but someone with adequate knowledge of that subject.
Before hiring you, clients need to be convinced that you know what you’re doing, and one of the best ways to convince them is by writing an ultimate guide; the guide not only shows them that you know your stuff, but it also attracts them.
3. They are evergreen: In other words, they don’t expire.
If you’re to build a solid foundation for your freelancing business via blogging, you need a few articles that won’t expire, and “ultimate guides” don’t expire.
While the above are good features of an ultimate guide, calling your post an ultimate guide doesn’t necessarily make it so.
You have to ensure you actually put in the effort to make it a useful resource.
Most ultimate guides are very long and detailed (as in 3,000+ words detailed), with links to other resources, with infographics and videos, and are also constantly updated.
Here are two examples of an ultimate guide in action:
- THE Backlinking Strategy that Works (This is the best example of an ultimate guide I’ve seen anywhere. With 3 videos, an infographic, and several examples where necessary, Pat sure knows more than a thing or two about backlinking. The popularity of this post is testament to that!)
- The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging (This is the guest blogging guide I talked about linking to earlier in this article)
How to Get Clients
This step is very important.
After successfully writing your case studies and ultimate guides, make sure you hint once or twice in the article that you’re available for hire, and also state that directly below the article.
No matter how much you know your stuff, no one will contact you if they don’t know you’re for hire.
Here’s the final tip:
5. Optimize Your Blog and Posts for the Search Engines
The idea Think Traffic is established on is the importance of building the foundation of your blog by writing epic shit.
I totally agree with that, which is why I specifically listed two types of important posts you can build the foundation of your blog on, as well as some great examples.
In other words, telling you to optimize your blog and posts for the search engines doesn’t necessarily mean you should substitute content for that. It just means you should put effort into it.
My reason for including this is because more than 60% of overall clients my freelance writing business has experienced has been as a result of search engine traffic; they mostly found me by searching for help on a particular subject, and by coming across one of the epic posts I’ve written on that subject.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare your blog for more search engine traffic:
Upgrade your design: Stop using the free themes, and get something better. Free themes usually don’t have any SEO advantage, but going for premium themes like Thesis (which Think Traffic uses) will go a long way to help your SEO.
Changing my blog theme to something more professional and SEO-focused last year actually doubled my traffic.
Interlink other posts: When necessary, and relevant, make sure to link your posts and pages to each other.
These posts will grow in authority over time, and this authority will be passed to other pages on your blog, leading to overall better rankings.
Write some guest posts: Like I’m doing now, look for authority blogs in your niche and contribute your best post to them. This will not only lead to traffic for your blog, but quality backlinks and more authority as your guest post grows in influence.
Also, if you can focus your SEO effort mostly on your case studies and ultimate guides, you’ll be increasing your chances of success.
What have been some ways that you have earned money online that you didn’t initially expect to? How could you use the advice above to start earning more than you do now?
Let us know in the comments below this post.