To find blogging clients—those who really pay—you need to write for free.
No, don’t think this is counter-productive. It does help score you high-paying gigs as long as you do it right. If you’re just starting out, this advice may not sit well because you’re out to make some cash and writing for free is the last thing on your mind. Plus, you’ve probably read so many blogs that say otherwise.
Why in the world would you write for free?
Find blogging clients with social proof
Two words: social proof. James Chartrand has a very good explanation in this Freelance Switch article. Basically, it’s an indication of trust. It’s comparable to reputation. He writes:
“Social proof is our personal gauge of risk, and businesses everywhere, across all industries, use social proof strategies to let you know that risk is minimal. That someone has gone ahead. That it’s safe.”
You’re more likely to come across this term in copywriting and advertising topics. I’ve first heard of this when I was writing content for a dating site. But it’s something bloggers can also benefit from.
Eventually, social proof can strengthen your brand as well.
Positive social proof can be really good for your blogging career. It can bring clients to your door. You can have a really good income stream with positive social proof. You can have that by writing for free.
How I find blogging clients by writing for free
To illustrate, let me share with you how I was able to land a good-paying job writing for a real estate website by writing for free.
Last year, I was very happy to become a contributor for an awesome (and award-winning) lifestyle blog, WhenInManila.com. I met the publisher at an event I was covering for a magazine that I contribute to and that led to my inclusion in his amazing pool of writers.
Technically, I write for free because I don’t receive monetary compensation for each article I write. But I do get LOTS of perks like free entrance to workshops and events, free food, and complimentary items. So you see it’s like being paid only in different terms.
Anyway, I love writing for the site and I’d be happy to write for free even without the perks. Passion, for me, is more important than money and if you write out of love, the money will come later.
Going back, a couple of months ago I was invited to cover a screening for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and wrote a movie review. A couple of days after the review went live, I got an email—an invitation to write for a real estate site called MyManilaCondo.com.
Since I’ve written about houses, mortgage, and foreclosures before, I figured why not?
I was excited to be working with a new client and, out of curiosity, I asked how they knew about me. The HR personnel told me she saw my movie review and liked it.
I’m still writing for that site.
You can find blogging clients when you write for free
Let me tell you this: it’s hard to find blogging clients especially those that’ll give you continuous projects. In June 2012, my contract with a long-time client ended and I was mostly getting one-time projects from Elance. It was hard because I was used to a regular income and for more than a year, I was struggling to market and find blogging clients. I was adamant on getting paid gigs that I refused to write for free.
But then I realized that I shouldn’t be focusing only on getting paid. YOU SHOULDN’T FOCUS ON GETTING PAID ALL THE TIME. There are times when we have to rethink our goals and rekindle our passion. If you do it right, the money will come after.
Because I was willing to look past the invoice and write because I love doing it, someone took notice and wanted to pay me for it. Now, nothing feels better than that.
So the next time an opportunity to write for free comes along, don’t stick your nose up in the air and say “never!” Who knows what great stuff can come from that?
What about you? Are you willing to write for free? Share your comments and experiences below.