The basic difference between a professional and an amateur or hobbyist is that a professional makes money at what they do.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a professional has a higher level of technical skill than an amateur, although it is generally fair to say that a professional will perform any given task more quickly and efficiently than an amateur purely and simply because the fact that it is their day job means that they get more practice at it.
It does, however, mean that a professional has worked out how to get people to pay them to do what they do. This is an essential skill for guest bloggers so here are four tips on it.
Make sure you’ve prepared as well as you can before you look for paid work
Blogging and managing customers are two completely different sets of skills, so make sure you’re totally comfortable about your writing skills before you start looking for customers. In particular, you will do yourself a huge favour if you have a decent writing portfolio to show people and this portfolio should be focused on blog-writing (as opposed to other forms of writing such as ebooks and product descriptions). Ideally, you want your own blog and a selection of guests posts (it’s relatively easy to get guest posts if you’re prepared to write for free), but as a minimum, you want one or the other.
Register on freelancing portals
Not to put too fine a point on it, freelancing portals are usually a very expensive way of going about doing business, but they are an obvious place for newcomers to start. Here are? key points to remember when it comes to dealing with them.
Make full use of your profile and include a professional-standard photo
This may sound like stating the obvious, but freelancing portals are still chock full of profiles which are incomplete, out-of-date and/or poorly presented. Photos seem to be a regular sticking point, perhaps because some people don’t like having pictures of themselves on the net. If you really don’t want to include a standard “head-and-shoulders shot”, then at least choose an avatar which is both professional and appropriate.
Be selective about your pitches and tailor your submission to each advert
Forget out applying for every job you see, only apply to the ones which interest you and put in a meaningful (meaning custom-written) proposal. People who advertise on these sites often find themselves swamped with low-quality applications, which will be deleted at first glance. Make sure yours stands out for the right reasons.The basic difference between a professional and an amateur or hobbyist is that a professional makes money at what they do. Click To Tweet
Vet your clients before you commit to them
To be blunt, anyone can advertise on these portals and while, in theory, they do provide some degree of protection for both clients and freelancers, in reality, it probably won’t take much searching on the net to see complaints on both sides with various degrees of justification, along with complaints about the portals and how they dealt with the situation (or not). Avoid (or at least minimize) problems by vetting clients yourself before you start.
Actively look for customers outside the freelancing portals
The internet is full of blogs, there are sure to be millions if not billions and while some of them will be “closed shops” in the sense that they are run by one person as a hobby (or maybe a fixed team of people), many of them, especially business blogs, depend on freelancers to produce their content. If you see a company which is only producing a blog every so often or which did run a blog for a while but has clearly let it drop, then, assuming you’re interested in the niche, you should see this as a perfect opportunity to reach out to them because they obviously have some understanding of the importance of blogging, but don’t necessarily have the resources to do it in-house.
Even if you see a company which is clearly on top of its blog, there’s nothing to stop you approaching them, they may still have openings or keep your name for the future. For example, I approached Vidalux expecting to be told that they had enough writers for the time being but hoping that my interest might land me a job in the future. Actually, by sheer luck, I had timed it perfectly. They were expanding and needing more content so they were on the point of looking to hire a new writer. Now, obviously, it’s not always going to happen like that, but the key point is that fortune favours the bold, so approach people, the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no (or ignore you).
Getting your first paying client is probably the hardest part of being a professional guest blogger. It slowly gets easier after that, especially as you begin to build up a track record and a network of contacts. For example, shortly after I started working for Vidalux, I approached a company called Poshh, who stock Vidalux products (amongst others). Since they knew Vidalux, they figured that if Vidalux thought I was a good person to employ, I would be fine for them and we’ve been working together ever since.