A Guest Post by Ali Hale
“Can you be a successful blogger without a blog?” It sounds like a trick question, doesn’t it? The sort of thing you might ask on Twitter when you’re bored and wanting some funny responses.
But I’m here to tell you that it is possible. I’ll explain how, but first, you might want to think about what being a “successful blogger” means to you. Here are a few possibilities:
- Making a living from blogging (many bloggers have this goal)
- Having thousands, or tens of thousands, of readers
- Getting your name known around the blogosphere
- Enjoying writing about topics that really interest you
- Receiving emails from readers who say you’ve brightened their day
We all have different definitions of success, but chances are, one of the above will resonate with you. They’re all ways in which I’d judge my own success as a blogger – and I achieved them all without my own blog.
Most bloggers – even most people who read blogs but don’t write them – know that it’s possible to get a guest post onto another blog. Some bloggers have never attempted this, but for me, it was the first step in achieving blogging success.
(If you want proof that you don’t need a blog to be a guest blogger, check out Scott McIntyre’s excellent guest series from a non-blogger’s perspective.)
Having just one post published on a big blog can win you dozens of appreciative comments and emails from readers. If you can get a regular guest-posting slot, you can take this even further: you’ll have a chance to write about topics that interest you, and you’ll have a ready-made audience of thousands.
The one drawback to guest blogging is that it’s unlikely to give you the financial success that you might be after. So…
The next step up from regular guest blogging is to get a regular and paid slot on a blog: what I call “staff blogging”, as you become a “staff writer” for the blog.
Many bloggers aren’t even aware that this is possible – or if they are, they dismiss it as not being for them. This might be because their concept of what “blogging success” constitutes is a little limited. Maybe they’re fixated on getting our own blog into the Technorati Top 100, or winning a certain number of RSS subscribers.
If your goals are financial, though – if you want to earn a living from blogging – the easiest and quickest way to do it is to write for other blogs. This is exactly how I’ve been paying my rent and bills for the last eleven months, so I’m proof that it works! Unlike the more traditional model of blogging, where you start from scratch on your own blog and slowly build up an audience and various revenue streams, staff blogging will earn you good money from day one.
Plus, as well as the financial side, I enjoy all the other successes I listed above: big audiences, appreciative feedback, and the chance to write on numerous topics for several different blogs.
So how do you go about finding yourself a staff position on a blog? You could trawl through online jobs boards, or places like elance and Craigslist – but you might well find that it’s a frustrating and time-consuming process. I outline four methods of finding paid jobs in my Staff Blogging Course, but the one that’s worked best for me is to contact editors directly.
Don’t just start writing to all the blogs which you read, asking for a job, though. You need an action plan – and here it is:
Step 1: Check the blog uses paid writers
Many blogs, even quite large ones, are one-man bands: Darren Rowse at ProBlogger doesn’t use paid bloggers, for instance, so you’d be wasting your time by trying to butter him up for a job!
How can you find out if a blog does have regular paid writers? A couple of big clues are:
- Multiple authors appearing each week on the blog, without the words “guest post” or similar
- A page about contributions that mentions payment (like this page on Dumb Little Man)
Step 2: Send the editor a guest post
How can you convince a blog editor who’s never heard of you that you’d be a great addition to his/her team? Simple: send a guest post. Check the blog for any guest posting guidelines, and if you can’t find these, carefully read a few posts and make yours a similar length and style.
Write a short, polite email to go along with your guest post, and send it off to the editor.
When your guest post is published (and if you did your research and took the time to write it well, it will be!) make sure you email the editor to say “thanks”. Keep an eye on comments and respond to any that come up.
Step 3: Ask for a job
This is the scary step! Assuming your guest post went down well, write to the editor again. Say how much you enjoyed guest posting, mention that you’re a freelance blogger, and ask if there are any vacancies on the blog.
In some cases, you’ll be told that the blog has a full contingent of writers – but that there might be a slot coming up in a month or two. I’ve found that patience, and the occasional polite follow-up email, works well in these situations.
This three-step method is how I landed several of my blogging gigs (and twice, I just sent a guest post and was offered a job without even asking). The last two blogs I’ve started working for headhunted me, having seen my work on other blogs.
So there you have it: proof that you can be a successful blogger without a blog. Even better, if you do decide to launch your own blog (I launched mine just a few weeks ago), you’ll be able to bypass the frustrating first few months of having almost no readers – you’ve already got name-recognition in the blogosphere, and there’ll be plenty of readers keen to come and see what you have to say when you’re on your own ground.
Could you branch out by guest posting or writing for pay on blogs other than your own? Why not shake up your definition of being a “successful blogger”?
Ali Hale is a freelance blogger and part-time post-grad student of creative writing. She’s the author of the Staff Blogging Course, a complete guide to becoming a well-paid, successful blogger. She’s recently launched her own blog, Aliventures, where she writes about getting more from life.
Great connecting with you. You’re a blogger to me. 🙂
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!