I am often asked how I was able to “break into” the writing business. I am fortunate that I now consider myself a freelance writer who makes money writing for clients, companies and myself.
But this was not always the case.
It’s been a process that took place over several years. But when people ask me how they can do the same, I always say the same thing: use your blog.
I’ve considered myself a writer since I was a child. I graduated college with a degree in journalism, and then joined the ranks of the “real world” and got a job. I was fortunate to work in jobs within the communications field, but never as a full-time writer.
In 2007, a funny thing happened to me – I had a baby and suddenly my writing floodgates opened. I had so much to say and writing was the only way I could share my thoughts. I suddenly wanted my voice heard by people across the country and on websites that could distribute my message. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and teach them the tough lessons I was learning as a working mother and in life.
But who would listen to me? I wasn’t a published author. The majority of my writing up to this point was mainly work-related and without a byline attached. I had not published a newspaper article since college, and none of my work was online. In December 2009 – knowing I had something to say and was ready to write it down – I started a simple blog called Leah’s Thoughts.
And for months and years, I wrote everything and anything on my blog. I shared my struggles with motherhood and balancing a full-time career. I talked about the issues I had with weight growing up. I talked candidly about my financial mistakes and how my husband and I were dealing with furloughs and pay-cuts. And I shared family traditions, holiday ideas, and other stories that came to mind.
In the summer of 2010, I published my first piece with an online website and I was stunned when I received a check in the mail for it. After that, I started pitching more pieces to other publications. And I started sharing my work and the social media skills I was acquiring with other freelancers and companies who needed writers.
In March 2012, I took a leap of faith and left my safe and secure, full-time job to become my own boss. For the last four years, nearly all of my work is professional writing published with my name, or for companies and businesses I choose to work for. And I credit my blog for much of my success.
If you’re like me and want to take the leap from working for someone else to working for yourself – or you want to dive into a freelance writing career – let me share a few solid reasons how your blog will help you achieve your goals.
A blog is your portfolio.
Worried you don’t have clips and pieces to share with potential editors or clients? Guess what? You have an entire website filled with written content that YOU created. You now have work samples that can be seen by other bloggers, publishers, and people searching the web for content.
Blogs build brand identity.
If you want to position yourself as an expert in your given niche – whether it’s parenting or financial planning – your blog helps you do this. Blog content allows you to showcase your knowledge and get people coming back to learn more from you. And since Google mines websites for trending words and topics, your blog will be included in that search engine optimization process. This brings your blog – and you – front and center in search results.
Blogging is like running your own business.
A blogger is not just someone who writes creative articles and posts them online. You know how to write! You are also skilled in SEO when you use keywords and tags. You know how to create and publish content online. You know how to use an editorial calendar. You know how to bring readers to your blog and engage in the community (Hello, you’re reading this because you’re in the Beyond Your Blog community!). You know how to source photos or take engaging photos. You may also know how to work with brands and companies. This sounds a lot like a description of a marketing job description!
Blogging makes you a social media wiz.
A crucial component of blogging is the ability to share content via social networks. Chances are, you know how to share your posts and gain followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. This helps you build your audience and brand. As someone who uses social media as a blogger, you not only know how to use social media to promote your posts, you can also use the scheduling platforms that companies hire people to run. So if you’re considering starting your own business or becoming a freelance writer, I encourage you to start thinking of your blog as the business tool it truly is and think of yourself as someone on an exciting career journey.