In today’s blog post, I thought it apropos to answer a question I received from a reader. Sometimes, I think those of us who are more experienced leave newbies out because well, “everyone should know that, right?”
So, here’s a question a lot of aspiring or new freelance writers might wonder about. The reader, Fred, wrote the following to me:
QUESTION: Hi Yuwanda, I realize you’re busy, so if you don’t have time to deal with my question, I completely understand. I can take it like a man, sort of. Do you have any thoughts on blogs? As I scour the ads, there are a lot of people looking for blog writers. The pay isn’t much, but might this be a good way to get start building a resume, since I ain’t got much right now? Thanks for any insight you can provide, and keep up the great work on your blog. There’s a lifetime of information on it.
MY ANSWER: Fred, I think any experience you can pick up to start building your freelance writing resume is a good thing. But, like most things in life, there are some guidelines that should be followed. Following are a few as they relate to blogging to build your resume.
Guidelines for Using Blogging to Build a Freelance Writing Resume
How You Begin is How You Will End: My mother used to say this a lot. What exactly does it mean here? If you start out taking low and no-paying blogging gigs to build your freelance writing resume, it will take you longer to start making any real money as a freelance writer.
While blogging/writing for free will definitely get you credentials, you can also get them by simply writing sample articles for your portfolio and/or donating your writing skills to a charity (an excellent outlet in my opinion) if you’re going to write for free.
The point I’m trying to make is – don’t start out with the mentality of “I have to write for free to build my portfolio.” You don’t!
Unless the blogging gig is with a major site that’s going to get you noticed, I wouldn’t consider doing it for free just to get samples.
Guest Posting: In an article I wrote for this blog a couple of weeks ago entitled 5 Rules to Adhere to When Approaching Others to Write for Your Blog, I outlined some things to think about if you want others to guest post on your blog.
If you’re considering guest posting on other blogs, read these tips from the other perspective – ie, what do YOU, the guest blogger, get out of it.
Start Your Own Blog: Instead of blogging/writing for others for free to get freelance writing samples, start your own blog. In your instance, I would figure out what niche I wanted to target, and start a blog talking to that niche. This will serve a double purpose:
(i) Position you as an expert: To make real use of this, watch the news and do short blog posts about what’s relevant to the industry you’re targeting. For example, I write a lot in the real estate/mortgage industry. If I were just starting out, I’d start a blog around that right now.
(ii) Provide ready writing samples for clients: Continuing with the example cited above, to get good writing samples out of your blog, as news about the real estate/mortgage market is in the news almost every day, you can post numerous times a day to your blog.
Your blog posts could be simple abstracts of industry articles, your thoughts on a particular industry happening and/or new articles you thought of because of something you read in the news. Or, it could be a combination of all three.
Whichever method you use adds up to samples, samples, samples. Don’t forget to include a link to your blog whenever you query clients.
If there’s one thing I wish new freelance writers would remember – you don’t have to write for free to build a freelance writing portfolio.
And please, please, please, I beg of you, stay away from the $2 article writing gigs and sites that offer such garbage work – especially if they promise “more work.” It practically never happens and if it does, oh joy, you get to write 100 more articles for the same $2. One of these assignments will do more to turn you off freelance writing as a career, than get you excited about it – which is what you should be.
As these guidelines illustrate, there are numerous ways to go about getting freelance writing samples without giving your talent away. Good luck!