Although I’ve written about earning money as a travel writer, I haven’t taken the time to differentiate between blogging vs freelance writing. In some cases, there’s no difference. In other cases, the way you structure your business will put you in one camp or the other.
Earning Money Blogging
As a blogger, you probably have your own blog, and monetize it in a variety of ways. In so doing, as a blogger you’re not only a writer, but also an editor, publisher, designer, marketer, and entrepreneur.
If you want to learn the ropes of blogging from the ground up (and beyond), check out this post.
You might also be paid to write for other blogs.
Earning Money Freelance Writing
If you’re a freelance writer, you write for a variety of publications, and often different mediums (ie: print and online; this can include blogging).
Blogging is Writing
Let’s get something right, before a hierarchical debate begins: blogging is writing. Blogging is simply a medium for writing, and one that commands its own style and voice. Writers who say there’s a difference between blogging and writing tend to harp on the quality of online writing (blogging) – which admittedly is often substandard to print publications. But not all of it is. Different mediums use different styles of writing, and the budding freelance writer needs to compensate for this.
Where to Find Freelance Gigs
I was recently asked about this; I believe the reader was hoping for a website that lists places to get published. Although such lists exist, it’s not quite that simple.
You need to develop a portfolio of writing samples and bylines (articles that you’ve written for other publications). It’s relatively easy to get published online (in comparison to print); the money may not initially be grand, but at least you’ll get something under your belt to pitch bigger publishers with.
This is how I started – but it was also at a time when getting paid (well) for online writing was almost unheard of.
In order to find freelance writing gigs themselves, I’ll assume you know what you want to write about (ie: genre and topic ranges that you can write with expertise on). From there, find the publication(s) you want to write for, look for their writers guidelines, and present a well-composed pitch that reflects your writing style, the fact that you’ve read the guidelines and the publication, and are pitching something complementary. You’ve only got a few sentences to wow an editor; a well-written pitch should take about as long to compose as the article you’re hoping to get hired for.
I found most of my initial freelance gigs by surfing around and hand-picking publications I wanted to pitch to. Remember: hand-picking doesn’t mean being ultra-choosy – it’s a numbers game. Ernest Hemmingway plastered his bedroom with rejection slips before he ever got published. Chances of being published are higher since Hemmingway’s days, but the principle still applies; cast the net wide and expect rejections.
For the ins and outs of travel writing, pitching, and getting gigs, check out How to Become a Travel Writer.
Regular Columns vs One-Off Articles
Regular writing gigs are always the way to go if you can get them. You spend less time researching and pitching to editors, and more time getting published (and paid).
Don’t be afraid to try and convert one-off articles into regular gigs; as your first article is being published, pitch another idea to the editor. If you work together well, the editor would rather hire writers they know and can set expectations for.
Three factors influence what you can charge: industry trends, medium, and experience.
Industry Trends: Going-rates are always changing; especially online rates, which have risen dramatically over the last few years. Concurrently, the print industry hasn’t done as well, and in some cases has reduced pay and slashed staff.
Medium: Despite recent trends, print as a medium generally pays more than internet; however this gap appears to be narrowing.
Experience: As you establish credibility in your niche, you can charge rates accordingly. (Note: editors will pay extra for articles from experienced writers).
In approximate terms, a lucrative gig in print pays $1/word, and a lucrative blogging gig pays about half that. (These are very general ranges, based on my experience and research; compensation schemes and structures vary dramatically. If anybody has something different to contribute, please respond in the comments).
The above are rates to shoot for, rather than to expect. When you’re getting started, go for gigs that you feel will give you value – if not monetary, then a valuable credit to your portfolio and exposure to new readers.
Developing a freelance writing/blogging career takes time; don’t get into it for the fame and fortune!
Blogging vs Freelance Writing
Once you remove the “is blogging considered writing” debate, it’s no longer a matter of blogging vs freelance writing; it’s a matter of making them work together. You can be a freelance blogger or a freelance writer or a blogger (for your own blog) or a writer (of your own book). Chances are, you’re a bit of everything.
Your freelance writing is great cross-promotion for your blog/website, and vice versa.
If your site is well-trafficked and you have a strong social media presence, editors will favour you for your ability to promote the article to your followings and feature a link to the article on your site. (These are actual points of negotiation with online publishers and sponsors).
Likewise, articles you write for online publications often feature valuable links to your site, allowing you to tap into new and wide audiences.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting into freelance writing, I recommend the e-guide Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing to give you ideas, inspiration, and get you started.