Writers don’t like to write for free. I know this well. I received my degree in magazine journalism and continue to work as a journalist. One of the first lessons I learned in journalism school was, “Don’t ever write a word unless you know you will get paid.”
Yet, I’m a blogger. Bloggers blog for free not only on their own sites but on other bloggers’ sites as well. (I wrote and published this post and didn’t get paid a cent to do so.) I blog day in and day out, and I tell aspiring freelance writers and authors to follow my lead. Why? It’s a superb way to build author platform and expert status, both of which lead to increased writing income from a variety of sources.
It’s true you may not get paid for blogging—at first, but this activity makes you a more valuable writer in the eyes of those who hire you and buy or contract your work. This boosts your earning potential in a variety of ways. Let me explain the 6 reasons why.
1. You Achieve Expert Status
If you write on a specific topic—or two or three—and you choose to blog on these topics as well, you eventually become an expert in these areas—even without “credentials.” According to Technorati.com, 56 percent of all bloggers say their blog has helped them establish a position as a thought leader within an industry. Additionally, 58 percent say they are better-known in their industry because of their blog.
As a thought leader or an expert in an industry or niche, you possess the credentials to write articles and books on your topic. When you query a magazine, agent or publisher, they take note, especially if you write one of the leading blogs on your topic.
2. You Develop Platform
You need to prove your new-found expertise to agents, publishers, editors, and clients. You do so by quoting you blog analytics: page views and unique visitors (readers). If you have driven your blog to the first Google search engine results page (SERP), mention this. If you have landed media gigs because of your blogging endeavors, which you will over time, mention this, too. Tie your blog into your social networks, and your fan base on these networks will grow as you share posts with your followers. Quote these figures as well.
All of these elements—readers, page views, SERP ranking, media appearances, fan base—plus your bylined articles and any speaking engagements you do, add up to what is called an “author platform.” Author platform is a built-in pre-existing readership for your work. Platform helps you sell articles and books—and just about anything. In fact, successful nonfiction books—ones that sell to lots of readers—are typically created with large platforms.
3. You Land Higher-Paid Assignments
With expert status comes the ability to command more pay for your work. It’s true that some publications or companies have a set budget; sometimes, though, the budget can be “adjusted” for a writer with the credentials and platform that brings credibility and boosted sales to the publication or that offers the company superb experience and knowledge. A successful blog—one with thousands of readers per month—can be just the thing to push you over a pay plateau and into a whole new earning strata. You might find yourself with opportunities you never imagined before you began blogging.
4. You Gain Top-Tier Magazine Assignments
With increased expert status and platform, you also will find it easier to land assignments with high-quality national magazines. They may even court you! Some of them also have online columnists or bloggers, and some of these positions pay—and pay well; your blogging experience makes you more qualified for such positions.
5. You Garner Book Deals
Nonfiction writers must have platform and expertise to go with their ideas if they want to land a traditionally published book deal. They must be able to help sell books. A blog serves as one of the best promotional tools around, which is why so many publishers are publishing blogged material from successful bloggers—those with large numbers of readers. They also want aspiring authors with a blog strategy as part of their promotion plan. If your blog is up and running well, you’re more likely to get a contract. Plus, the bigger your platform, the larger an advance you can command.
You may even end up blogging your way to a book deal. You and your blog could get discovered by an agent or publisher or you could approach one with your blog-to-book idea. However, consider actually planning out content for a book and blogging it, a process called blogging a book, not just repurposing blog material into a “booked blog.”
6. You Discover New Sources of Revenue
As a blogger, you now have several additional ways to earn money.
- You can get paid blogging gigs—by the post, part-time or full-time.
- You can speak on the topic of your blog and get paid for these speaking gigs.
- You can develop a consulting or coaching business around the topic of your blog.
- You can place advertising on your blog, promote affiliate products, sell your own ebooks or pbooks, sell your own programs or courses, etc.
Yes, blogging may begin as free writing, but it can turn into quite a profitable venture for a nonfiction writer.