Throughout my 2 and a half years of blogging, I’ve been doing other freelance work in the online sphere including journalism, content creation and social media management, partly to enhance my CV, partly to help pay the bills, and mainly because I love it! I thought I would share my experience and some basic advice for those looking to expand their roster beyond just their own domain because I believe that freelance is the future, and if you’ve got the skills to run a successful blog, you have the skills to work for other companies too!
How to start a blog?
I covered how to start your own blog in a previous post HOW TO START A FASHION BLOG (AND KEEP IT GOING) but here’s a basic overview for beginners:
- Decide what you are going to be blogging about (aka your niche). Examples could be fashion, beauty, travel, food, tech, lifestyle or any combination of the above! So for me, that was fashion, but I also went further to define that as local, independent and ethical fashion. Remember, there are A LOT of blogs out there, so you need to define what makes you stand out from the crowd!
- Come up with a name for your blog that suits the brand you are trying to create. I settled on Urbanity for this blog because it’s definition is urban/city life, and elegance, chic and refinement! It could be your name, your niche, a song lyric you love, the possibilities are endless!
- Buy yourself a domain name, I recommend using either 123reg or GoDaddy ideally aiming for a .com or .co.uk address that is short, snappy and easy to remember. A lot of great names are not available because of the saturated market, but don’t despair- you can always add a hyphen or ‘blog’ like me!
- Finally, set up a free account on either WordPress or Blogger, this will be your website host where you create all your content and design your online space. The next step of course, is just to get writing!
How to promote your blog?
The obvious channels to promote your blog are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but there are countless other ways too. I use Pinterest, as well as Stumbleupon, private Facebook groups, twitter chats, blog comments, forums, press releases, and even offline tools like handing out business cards, attending networking events, and participating in or leading blogger events. Don’t forget to keep promoting your old content too if it’s still relevant! I’ve just started using an app/plugin called Revive Old Post which automates this process brilliantly!
How to make money and get free stuff from blogging?
The million dollar question! Making money from blogging is difficult, but not at all impossible! The main channels for generating income are advertising (for example the banner you see at the top of my blog), affiliate marketing (for example the Amazon links on the Books page of my ethical fashion resource) and sponsored content (for example this blog post and associated social media in collaboration with BoConcept). It can take a little while doing lots of work for free before you start getting paid, but once you’ve built up a decent following, a great body of online content and regularly engage with brands and PRs, the world is your oyster! In terms of getting free ‘stuff’ (clothes, makeup, meals, hotel stays, drinks, experiences, skincare, jewellery etc), it is very much the same process, but perhaps a little easier, especially when, like me, you want to work with smaller, independent brands that rarely have the budget for sponsored posts. I would also always recommend to approach brands and PRs yourself, not always waiting for them to come to you. Remember, its all about showing the collaborator what YOU can offer THEM, as well as vice versa- projects should always be mutually beneficial.
How to find freelance journalism jobs?
For fashion, I use job directories on sites like Fashion Workie, BOF careers, and Drapers. But in general, I would read articles, on- and off- line CONSTANTLY, so you can get a feel for other writers out there, and gauge the voice of a publication before pitching. Approach publications with your CV, examples of your writing, pitch some article ideas, and again, tell them what you have to offer that’s different to the rest. Places that regularly take submissions are Huffington Post, Counterpoint, She is Fierce, Fashion Fix Daily, the list goes on! But if you have a great story, set your heights high; every publication- big or small- wants the very best from their writers.
How to come up with briefs?
Facing writer’s block can be really difficult, but there are some ways around it! I like to try and consume as much ‘culture’ as possible, so that could mean attending events, visiting museums and galleries, watching endless films and shows, meeting with interesting people, listening to podcasts and reading articles anywhere and everywhere. This is sure to give you ideas, whether its a new twist on an existing story or a new story to the same format of something else. If you’re really stuck, Pinterest is full of really helpful articles with hundreds of article or blog post ideas! Alternatively, if you are writing for the kind of publication that prioritizes breaking news, you want to be on the ball 24/7 sniffing out the next big breakthrough story. Of course, as a small-time journo, it’s near impossible to publish the news as it happens without a worldwide team, so as always, you need to be adding something different; your own spin, a flair of personality, an alternative viewpoint! To keep on your toes, I tend to subscribe to as many mailing lists from news and media sites within my niche as possible. For fashion, I recommend Business of Fashion, Vogue and Vogue Runway, New York Times Style, Fashion and Mash and Refinery 29.
How to stick to deadlines?
I like to use Google Calendar, on the desktop as well as the helpful little app, and a paper diary too because I love stationery! As soon as I know my deadlines, they will be written down across both in big capital letters, and also an alarm will be set on my phone the day or two before in case I’ve been super forgetful or busy! My top tips for sticking to deadlines include completing a task on the day it is handed out (where possible), turning off/avoiding all forms of procrastination (for me that’s Tumblr, Instagram, and endless snacking!), prioritizing tasks so that the most pressing get done first, and breaking down a big task, like a 2000 word article, into little tasks or time slots that are much less intimidating!
I hope you’ve found this little guide helpful! Do let me know if you have any questions!
And if you’re interested in hiring my blogging, writing or social media services, head over to my new Work With Me page now!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx