Many people get started in blogging with the hopes and dreams to eventually make money. This is usually done by creating a successful blog that leads to the selling of advertising or through revenue generating methods like affiliate marketing. If you aren’t using those methods then you are probably going for freelance writing, which has recently been exploding with the massive demand for new and original content. Carol Tice has become a master at all of these mentioned methods and a well respected authority in the world of freelance writing. Take the time to read through the meet the bloggers interview below with Carol, as she has gone into some great detail and provided some nice tips!
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
I’ve been earning my living from writing since the early ‘90s, as a reporter and freelancer. After 12 years of staff writing jobs, I went back to freelancing in 2005. I was going along, earning more each year like I want to…when it slowly became clear to me that wasn’t happening to other writers. The economy crashed and writers were starving, and turning to appallingly low-paid content mills in desperation.
It made me mad. I’d built my freelance business — and rebuilt it in 2009-10, after all my editors were fired or publications folded — and knew there was still good pay out there. I was really hoping to organize writers to refuse to write for mills! I’ve given up that quest, but for those who’d like to move up and earn more, I’m still giving out the tips.
I’d done a little ghost blogging for one freelance client, and that exposed me to blogging. The idea that I could write my own blog and just get the help out there was incredibly exhilarating to me.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
It’s more like it chose me. I felt compelled to share tips that might help writers get off content mills. I could hardly sleep at night thinking about posts I wanted to write that I thought might help people earn more. Writers I knew were losing their homes…things seemed dire. I wanted to help. I didn’t know at the time that writing in service of a reader was the key to blogging success – luckily I happened to want to do the type of blog that tends to monetize well.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
My primary earner is my paid community, Freelance Writers Den, which is $25 a month. (https://freelancewritersden.com). As I write this it has about 750 members. It launched in July 2011. At this point affiliates and word of mouth sell it mostly — I do very little marketing. It has more than 100 hours of trainings inside, a job board, forums, and weekly live trainings with a ton of great experts. We’ve got about every aspect of freelancing covered, and you can ask questions in the forums all day long and get answers from not just me but our whole staff of pro freelancers.
Beyond that, I affiliate sell a handful of products, with the big sellers being a few courses by other people I really trust, such as Jon Morrow from Copyblogger, Ed Gandia of International Freelancers Academy, and Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.
Then I teach a couple of premium courses with Linda Formichelli of the Renegade Writer blog, The Freelance Writers Blast Off Class, and 4-Week Journalism School, and also sell audit-level self-study versions of those courses. I do mentor writers 1-on-1 as well.
I have sold an ebook, though it’s withdrawn for a revamp right now. And I’ve just started doing Kindle ebooks.
Finally, I have a couple ‘useful products’ subpages — Products I Love and Useful Books — that affiliate sell books and services such as Freshbooks, that freelance writers need in their business. It’s not a ton of revenue there — at this point it’s still up because writers find these resources useful to learn about.
I am also still a freelance writer! And I definitely do get some clients after they’ve seen my blog, or my client blogs. At this point it’s a smaller proportion of my income than the revenue that comes directly from the blog and community sites, but it’s still maybe 1/4 of my income.
I don’t allow outside ads and probably never will.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
To listen to readers and ask them what they need to know from you. If I’d started doing that a bit earlier, my blog could have developed faster. Once I started asking questions and doing surveys and polls, I learned so much and it really shaped my blog content. I started in 2008 and it wasn’t until end of 2010 that it really became a viable business.
Also, to have a free product for subscribers, and to encourage people to sign up by email. I still meet a lot of bloggers who have no mailing list…which is the point of the blog, to build a marketing list!
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
Only three? I read very widely!
I’ll go with Copyblogger, Derek Halpern’s site Social Triggers, and Jon Morrow’s Boost Blog Traffic.
I read so many more though! And the latter two there don’t post every day, so I can’t visit them daily. I read Liz Strauss, Write to Done, Brian Clark’s Entrepreducer, Chris Garrett, Corbett Barr, Ed Gandia’s newsletter, Remarkablogger, and many more.
Also, I recently won Top 10 Blogs for Writers for the second time, so then I tend to read the other winners…especially my partner Linda Formichelli, whose Renegade Writer blog is great.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
WordPress editorial calendar is probably my most indispensable tool. I have weeks and weeks of posts planned out. I was just keeping jotted lists all over before getting it.
Akismet for spam — could everybody please get it? I’m so tired of seeing “Your comment is waiting moderation” when I leave a comment on other blogs.
Mailchimp — I love it. It’s free to the first 2000 subscribers — it’s a no-lose situation. Sign up so you can get good-looking forms!
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Ask yourself why you want to blog. Be clear about your goal. Otherwise, your blog probably won’t go anywhere. I meet a lot of people who are starting blogs because they’ve heard they just HAVE to blog, as writers today. No, you don’t. Don’t start this if you don’t have the drive to do it, because blogging takes a lot of time and dedication. You should be on fire to blog about your topic. Otherwise, skip it. I worked 8 pm to midnight for about 18 months, AFTER my full day as a freelancer, to build my blog. It takes a lot of drive and then tenacity to stick with it until it starts to find an audience.
If you just want to blog about this and that, realize you’re keeping an online journal, and it’s probably not something you can base a business on. If you want to earn from your blog, choose a niche and stick with it. It can’t be a funny YouTube video one day and a screed about your annoying mother-in-law the next, and your knitting hobby the next. That’s not going to build an audience.
Beyond that…think about what your uniqueness will be. Bring your voice and point of view. It’s what you have that sets you apart from the millions of blogs out there.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Write in service of a reader. I think Onibalusi said that!
Also, design matters. It really does, even on a blog for writers. I had to learn that the hard way — another reason my blog was slow to ramp.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d probably hire a little design help — I’m not gifted that way at all!
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again Carol for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.