growyourblog

10 tips for going from blogging to freelance writing

Today is a much-requested post here on The Bloglancer. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that as well as running two blogs, I am a freelance writer. I mainly write for magazines and online sites but have also done some blogging for brands and copywriting. This topic is something I get asked about a lot, but for me at least, getting ahead in freelance writing is the same as any form of media: working hard; not being afraid to put yourself out there every day; making contacts and constantly coming up with new ideas!  Here are my ten tips for going from blogger to freelance writer….

 

1. Read, read and read some more. (more…)

Everything you need to grow your blog: themes, software, hosting and e-courses!

Yesterday, I made another purchase for my blog and thought I’d dedicate a blog post to it! Last year I signed up for The Genis Blogger’s Toolkit. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made (and in fact, other than Emma Drew’s course on making money from your blog, was the only real blog investment I’ve made).

For those of you who aren’t aware, the blogger toolkit is basically a huge list of resources for growing your blog. Last year I mainly focused on the e-book involved, but this year I decided to purchase it again and get involved properly! Why? Well, as I’m now working on 2 blogs, the products were more relevant than ever. I only purchased it yesterday but I have already delved in! Because the product is only on sale for a few days, I thought I’d blog about it now and share my experiences with it.

Here’s what I have already used…

  • FREE Isabelle Theme ($79.00). I needed a new blog theme anyway and since my last one cost over £50, I knew I’d be pretty much getting my money back even if I just used this one product. As you can see, I uploaded the theme this morning and I LOVE IT! I still have some tweaks to make, but it took less than an hour to get it all up and running!
  • FREE 10 Stock Photos Bundle ($69.00). I am obsessed with stock photos so I’ve already downloaded this bundle (and used one in the header of today’s post)
  • FREE Pinteresting Strategies: How I Went from 0-200K Page Views with Manual Pinning ($32.00) I read this last night and thought it was a really good read! I am already doing pretty well with my Pinterest but this went over the value of pinning manually, how to use rich pins (still need to get working on this) and how to maximise your efforts with group boards. There is also a separate resource in the bundle that provides a huge list of Pinterest group boards and how to join them! Group boards make a huge difference to my traffic so this excites me!

 

  • FREE Turn Your Dreams Into Money: How to Build a Six-Figure Blog and Live the Life You Want ($250.00) A bit of a cheat this one as I did this course months ago (you can read my review here) But seriously the current value of this course alone is £197, so the fact you can get the whole bundle for £75 is just madness! I would definitely recommend purchasing if you were interested in Emma’s course.

I also have many more resources downloaded and ready to read for my trip to London today! Including a guide to SEO, a guide to freelance writing and another on time management! There is also a 2-month free plan of social pilot- which promises to grow and schedule your social media, so I’ll be giving that a go too! You can see the rest of the tools here.

Isn’t It all just American resources?

One of my concerns when I first signed up was that it is an American led bundle. I don’t know why but us Brits are much less vocal about all things blogging. However, there are very few resources that can’t be used by the UK bloggers too! The only ones that aren’t relevant is an ebook an American taxes and a snack subscription box for US customers (dammit!). Other than that, the rest of the resources can be used by a UK audience and are just as relevant and useful And of course, our lovely Emma Drew is representing the UK by offering her course!

How much is it and is it worth the money?

The total cost of the course is $97 (I never understand why Americans price things weirdly!) which comes out at £75 approximately. Given that just a few things I have personally tried come to over £500 then I would say absolutely! It’s only avaliable for 8 days (well 7 now, because I am a day late with this post) and after that, won’t be available until next year. You can purchase the bundle here  and although you only have 7 days to do so, you have a whole year to use a lot of the resources (some of the add ons- like the theme- have a shorter download date)

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of the Ultimate Bundles after purchasing it myself last year. This means if you purchase through my referral link, I’ll simply be credited for referring you. I purchased both bundles out of my own money however, because I’m such a big fan!

10 ways to grow your mailing list quickly

There seems to be a real trend towards bloggers and small businesses developing a mailing list lately and there are many reasons why. It is the perfect way of making sure your content is delivered directly to your reader’s inbox. And, with all the algorithm changes going at the moment, the only thing you can really rely on is your email list.

So what makes me the expert? Well, on my first blog I’ve been slowly growing my mailing list for the last year or so and have now reached 1400. Why did I decide on my mailing list in particular? Well being an information-based site, many readers come to you for information and promptly departed.

Health and food blogs have much higher bounce rates this reason, as readers are less likely to follow and connect with the person behind the blog. While I had a group of loyal readers, I could see that a chunk of my readership was brand new readers each month who didn’t find me through my social media. So, to me, it made sense to try and find something to keep them around.

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WIN a blog to job audit and 121 mentoring with me!

Today I am back on The Bloglancer for the third day running (after sharing my favourite blogging course Thursday and my interview with Fetch PR on Friday) and this time it’s a giveaway.

I’ve wanted to do a giveaway for ages and wracked my brain over the competition, until I thought of the perfect prize:me!! So many of you have got in touch that I’ve been thinking about the possibility of launching some kind of blog mentoring in a while-so I’m offering two bloggers the chance to win this for completely free!

The winners of the competition will need to send over their blog links, goals and media kits. They’ll firstly receive a document outlining my suggested changes to their media kit, ways to gain traffic, suggested pricing and pitching suggestions. They’ll then have a 30 minute 121 with me to discuss all of their questions, thoughts and ideas of growing their blog and ways they could turn it into a job. Whether you’ve just started blogging or are looking to turn it into a bit more of a career, this should be the perfect prize for you.

So what do you need to do win? It’s simple, just enter via Rafflecopter below! You’ve got until Friday  29th to enter! Please note, the two winners will be expected to provide me with  a very short testimonial of their experiences, which I can then use on my own blog at a later date. There’s no obligation to write about this on their own blog or social channels.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The only blogging course I’ve Ever Taken (and an exclusive discount)

Sometimes, it can feel really overwhelming with the sheer amount of blogging courses out there. There’s ones that specialise in Pinterest, others that promise to make you an Instagram queen or grow your affiliate income from 0 to thousands in 30 days. As I am only just beginning my journey into full-time blogging, I just couldn’t justify the hundreds upon hundreds of pounds these courses often cost, just to focus on one area of my blog. So it was only a few months ago when I decided to take the plunge and invest in my very first e-course.

 

Somebody once told me that ‘people invest in people’. It’s something I’ve always tried to apply to my own blog- making connections and always helping others. It’s one of the reasons behind changing my social channels to @jennafarmeruk (well, that and my desperation to get a twitter verified tick!). Well, Emma Drew is somebody who I have followed for absolutely ages and when she announced her first course ‘Turn Your Dreams Into Money‘, I knew I had to buy it. I was completely sold before I’d even looked at the course outline! Emma has always taken the time to help and support me (even when she definitely should have billed me for her time)- so I just knew it was going to filled with amazing guidance.

I was lucky enough to be part of the ‘beta’ tester group- which meant I was one of the first people to take the course. So I have taken the whole course and feel I am in a strong position to give an in-depth review.

What Does the Course Cover?

One of the best thing about the course is the huge amount of topics it covers. It begins right at the beginning with a few modules for brand new bloggers (I originally skipped these but then actually returned to them when I launched The Bloglancer) and covers everything from gaining traffic, social media, Pinterest traffic, how to find sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, creating a product, repurposing old posts. The list is endless. Unlike most courses, it’s text and worksheet based rather than videos.

This was a huge bonus for me as there was literally no faffing! I’ve tried free courses in the past and I’ve been put off by the lengthy introductions and waffle- you are often 10 minutes in before anything of value is given. Emma’s course doesn’t set out to be the most visually appealing- instead, it’s almost as if she’s piled up everything she knows and divided it into chunks. They read like short and snappy blog posts on every single topic on blogging you could ever think of.

Did It Help Me?

Yes! I consider myself a fairly established blogger: although I still have a lot to learn, I don’t need to be taught the basics. I was worried at first as the first few modules are for ‘new’ bloggers- but actually Emma still taught me things in this section! From writing a disclaimer to backing up your blog.

My favourite part is that each member of the course gets a free in-depth blog critique. To do this, you simply send your key concern over (mine was traffic and SEO) and Emma will do an in-depth critique via video and send it back to you. Straight away Emma was able to show me my Alt Image descriptions were wrong, my site speed was really really slow and my site layout needed improving! She also suggested a few affiliate ideas for me. I am still working through the advice- but I’ve managed to increase my site speed, apply and earn through a few more affiliate ideas and am now on mission SEO!

I am so glad I purchased the course and I know it’s going to be something I go back to time and time again. Emma has a big supporter of my ‘Bloglancer’ adventure, so I was really pleased when she offered to give my readers an exclusive discount! If you enter the code BLOGLANCER into the checkout-you’ll receive a huge £50 discount off at the checkout! The course is usually priced at £197 but by using my code you’ll get it for £147 instead. Given that many bloggers charge this just for a critique, it’s a really reasonable price. If by some miracle, you don’t know Emma’s blog, do go have a read to as there’s tons of advice on blogging and making money on there!

Disclaimer: As a referrer of the course, I do receive an affiliate payment. However, this discount is significantly more than you can find on other sites and this is the only course I am currently promoting because it really is brill!

 

How I Get 400 Views a Day from Pinterest (with only 700 followers)

Of all my social channels, Pinterest has the lowest number of followers; yet is easily one of my biggest referrers. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Despite a paltry 700 Pinterest followers, I average 400 hits from the network each day- and that’s why I am so certain of its power to boost your numbers. Let’s learn more about how I use Pinterest to drive traffic.

 

 

1.Focus on evergreen content. This is the biggest one for me. For Pinterest to do well, your pins need to e evergreen-meaning the information is relevant all year round (with the exception of seasonal content which does well at specific times of year). I believe every blog should ensure it’s content strategy is focused on evergreen content as that’s where the views are long-term.

The type of evergreen content that does well on Pinterest tends to recipes, tutorials, how to guides, information articles and listicles. While it’s certainly easier to do well on Pinterest as a food and health blogger, everyone has the potential to create evergreen pinnable content. Fashion blogger? Try a DIY customisation tutorial. Beauty blogger? A list of thrifty beauty hacks. Try to focus on doing this at least once a month.

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How I Turned My Blog Into My Job

 

Hi guys, today I am going to be sitting down with you and telling you all about my blogging journey. I started to think about this when I inadvertently stumbled across my first ever blog from a whole 7 years ago! So I wanted to hop on here to let you know about how I turned my blog into a job and that not everyone is a success straight away. In fact, my blog had 7, yes 7, reincarnations- everything from fashion to music to travel until I finally found my match at A Balanced Belly (and hopefully The Bloglancer will stick around too!)

Find a Blog That Fits

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Image source: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com

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Yes, Bloggers. Sometimes you SHOULD work for free.

Ooh, I do love a click bait title. Don’t worry, today’s blog post is not designed to preach to you the benefits of exposure. In fact, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I am pretty vocal on the subject of not working for free and knowing your worth. However, somewhere down the line, the message has got lost and what I’m seeing is bloggers still not talking sensibly about money, trying to charge for everything, missing out on the opportunity to develop their blog and still undercutting each other left, right and centre. So, today rather than repeating motivation phrases, I am going to give you the dos and don’ts and look at answering the old age question (well since 2010): when should bloggers work for free? As always, this is just my take on it all but I’d love to hear your opinions too.

 

Yes, consider working for free when….

  • Looking to boost your Domain Authority. I do not personally think DA is the be all and end all (and I’m not asked for it all that often) but given that the Bloglancer is brand new, I am devoting 3o mins a day to creating a guest post for other sites. Now, this is one example, where doing your research is absolutely key. Make sure you check potential sites using the MOZ toolbar as I get emails every day for sites with a DA of 1 offering me an amazing opportunity to write for them!

 

  • The opportunity adds at least equal value to you as it does the other party. Writing for free is something most of us get asked to do every day.  Although I don’t generally recommend writing for free, it needs to be thought of as a transaction and it’s only worth considering if what you get back is of equal value to what the other site gets. This is why I have rarely written for brand blogs for free because let me ask you this: have you ever read a brand blog and followed the writer that very instant? Therefore a brand is getting a valuable resource of content (which helps their search engine rankings too) and you are probably receiving little back in return. Instead, especially if you have a product or ebook to promote, I’d recommend channelling your energy towards pitching for freelance writing in online and print media as a longer term strategy If you’re going to do it, make sure it has maximum benefit. Getting featured on online sites (e.g. Get the Gloss, The Mighty, Female First and to a lesser extent, Huff Post) or even print publications, will not only provide a big traffic boost if the content is thought provoking (I once got 1000 extra visitors a day after a thumbnail size feature in the Mail on Sunday) but it’ll be something to pop on your media kit (‘as featured in…) and writing portfolio (should you want to develop a freelance career). Therefore, while the publication is getting free content, you are getting something equally beneficial in return. I appreciate this might cause an angry rant of writers saying you should never write for free and yes, ideally there is nothing wrong at all at being paid from the onset (that is the goal). If your idea is unique and can’t be done by another writer, you should absolutely be compensated.  However, you can also be strategic about it and use it as a starting point- not an end point. As I say, you can also ensure your best post, product or ebook is linked to the bottom of an article to attract readers. A compromise can be contributing to articles as an expert. Use the #journorequest hashtag to search for current opportunities. Doing this lead to me being featured in The Guardian!

 

  • It will actually benefit your readers.  Sometimes, you can put aside the concept of a ‘transaction’ if it’s something really valuable to your readers.  We forget that there are real people reading our blog and the information we provide helps them. Linking to sites is too often seen as ‘currency’. If you follow me over at A Balanced Belly you’ll notice that most of my blog posts have about 20 links in them! Not because I am being paid to promote but because I know my readers are actually looking for the information and/or products. And sometimes bloggers lose sight of that. I have in the past pitched to a supplement company and an accountancy software company that I think have really valuable stuff for my readers but they haven’t had a budget. The difference being is I include them on my own terms (not an infographic) because I know they’re useful for my readers.  This is the similarly the case for giveaways. Although many bloggers do charge for giveaways, if it is a once in a lifetime prize that you know your readers will love you for, then it might be worth it. I remember my site almost crashed when I gave away a Nutribullet.

 

  • You just love something. Which leads on to my last point. Recently on my blog, I did a round up of 14 things I had loved that month. Here, on the Bloglancer, I wrote about how much I loved Response Source.   Both of those times, it was me writing about something I was passionate about with no brand or PR agenda- which is largely what blogging should be all about. The same goes for supporting a charity your passionate about.

 

No, don’t even think about working for free when…

  • Someone is getting more value out of something than you are.  Whether it be monetary compensation or value for your readers, if the person on the other end of the email is getting more value out of it than you, then be cautious. This is why you won’t find any dodgy infographics on my site. If they have emailed you, they already recognise your value so therefore you shouldn’t have to prove yourself by working for free first.  And warning, those who build links will often promise ‘quality content’. If the only thing you are getting out of a transaction is content, then consider supporting your fellow bloggers instead and popping a guest post request on a facebook group instead.

 

  • To undercut others. One of the weirdest exchanges I saw on a Facebook recently was a brand asking about a general costing for a post and a whole host of bloggers comment underneath to the point where people were offering to do it for completely free. Why would you do this? The brand clearly asked about costing and therefore was prepared to pay. Let me tell you this if you are new to blogging: there will always be someone who comes along and tries to undercut you. If your thing is being the cheapest blogger, you won’t get very far with that strategy.You have to stand firm and believe what you can offer is truly valuable and unique because the minute you try to drop your prices to compete, you find yourself just going lower and lower.So, while it is frustrating, it is all about the long game and if you set a value on your work, then believe in it!

 

  • The onus is on you to ‘prove yourself’. If you are pitching an article to an online website or a brand you absolutely love, it makes sense they might want to see what you are made of and it’s clear its something of value to you too. However, far too often, I receive emails offering me the chance to work for free to ‘prove’ myself or with paid work further down the line. Never work for free simply because there’s a possibility of paid work if you meet someone’s approval. You can always redirect them to your blog which has a whole host of articles that show exactly what you can do. 

 

I hope this blog post made sense! As you can see, working for free is a complicated (and wordy!) issue but hopefully these tips will be useful! If you enjoyed this post, please do take a second to share and find out below how you can follow me and The Bloglancer!

 

 

Before you go...
Facebook group: Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers………………………………….
Join my mailing list:to get weekly blogging tips and brand ops

My instagram: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
My twitter: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
Info on my ebook all about working with brands: Pitching Toolkit

 

The one tool every blogger NEEDS to know about: Response Source

Hi guys!

Just to start off by saying a massive thank you for all the support this blog has got over the past few days since launch day. It’s had such lovely feedback from brands and PRs alike and I am so excited about where this blog is heading. Just a heads up, I’ll be sticking to a routine with this blog, so I’ll be aiming to get 1-2 pieces of really useful content on freelancing and blogging  (like my 8 tips for emailing PRs) up a week (usually Mondays and Wednesdays) and then a PR and brand interview on a Friday (like last week’s with Charlotte from Smoothie PR)Then it’ll all be delivered to your inbox along with other exciting opportunities on a Sunday- which we all know is prime blogger day!

In this post, I am going to have a chat with you about http://www.responsesource.com– a tool that is so useful to brands, journos and bloggers. It’s been around for a while but isn’t widely mentioned in the blogosphere, so I am going to use this post to give you an overview of what response source is and a guide for using it for bloggers.

 

What is Response Source?

Response Source is a website that connects bloggers, journos and PRs/small businesses. It’s free for those in the media to send out requests, while PRs and brands pay a fee to receive all the requests in their inbox. I have used this in both capacities. Both as a freelance writer and blogger putting out requests but also as a small business when trying to promote my book and nutrition services in the media.

How Should I use Response Source as a blogger?

  1. Head over to http://www.responsesource.com
  2. Click ‘send a Journalist inquiry’
  3. Fill in the details of what you are looking for, any deadlines and information about your blog. Then hit preview and you’ll be taken to a page to preview your inquiry.
  4. Once you hit submit, your inquiry will ping its way to literally thousands of PRs and brands. It’ll be sent by a special platform so the brand won’t be given your email initially- they’ll respond via Response Source and then it will forward it on.

What kind of things should I use Response Source for?

Response source is a fantastic way to make connections, seek information about brands and find collaboration opportunities. In the last week, I’ve made connections with half a dozen brands and we’ve figured out a plan to collaborate -all from me sending out a Response Source message. In turn, when I trialed the brand/PR service, I replied to a request which led to a feature about my Instagram in the Guardian.

The key, I believe, to using response source is to use it for requests when you already have specific blog posts in mind. For example, my last two response source requests have been ‘looking for healthy frozen food items for a freezer hacks post‘ and ‘looking for easy to grow herbs for an introductory guide to gardening.’ Why are my requests so specific? Well, two reasons. Firstly, when you sign up to response source as a brand, you pay for each separate category you subscribe to. Therefore, food brands will only receive specific requests in the food category, so generic requests ‘looking for giveaway prizes’ may be less successful. Secondly, having been on the other side of using the system, I easily received 100 emails a day from Response Source when using the trial. Brands do not have time to filter through these so a specific request (which forms the header of the email) is always best.

What should I not use Response Source for?

From what I have heard, Response Source doesn’t allow you to use the service to seek advertisement or sponsorship and I am inclined to agree with them. I talk about this in my pitching toolkit but I strongly believe that the best way to sponsored posts is not just about emailing or tweeting (yes I see you in the hashtags!) that you are looking for paid work. Instead, advertising or review products should fit into existing content you are already planning. Therefore, these services work by helping you build a relationship and finding the right fit for posts you are already planning. Therefore, don’t use response source just to get freebies or paid work. Instead, it needs to be used as a journalist would, with a specific focus and aim.

Any more tips for using it?

  • Plan requests around key dates. Remember PRs are used to receiving requests months ahead of dates so be proactive and send requests out early.A request for christmas content in July will be the norm for some brands.
  • I’ll say it again but use the space you have to be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for.
  • Also add in the description what you’re not looking for- this saves time and also shows brands you aren’t just on a freebie hunt. For example ‘looking for frozen food items, must be gluten free. No smoothie mixes please as I’ve already covered those.’
  • Make a list of key blog posts you are planning and send a response request
  • If you have another business on the side or are looking to get your name out there in the media, consider signing up for a trial of their service for brands.  It will give you a really good insight on how the service should be used and there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there as a blogger for case studies.
  • Create a separate email folder for Response Source emails- that way you can keep them in a file for later should you want to get back in touch with brands.

 

Before you go...
Facebook group: Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers………………………………….
Join my mailing list:to get weekly blogging tips and brand ops

My instagram: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
My twitter: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
Info on my ebook all about working with brands: Pitching Toolkit

 

30 Ways to Improve Your Blog (In Less Than 10 Minutes)

Do you ever feel like blogging takes up so much of your time, despite only posting once or twice a week? Long are the days when bloggers just poured out their feelings to a laptop (AKA Carrie in Sex and the City) and the readers flocked to them- now we have to work for our readership. This includes everything from promotion, to blog maintenance to replying to comments. It can often seem the admin that comes with blogging is far more time consuming than the blog writing itself.

Today I’m sharing 30 ways to improve your blog- each of these tasks only ten minutes or less, perfect for tackling your blog to-do list in bite size chunks. You can also print off this as a PDF worksheet at the end of the post.

1.Check for broken links.  Use a broken link checker to suss out whether you have any broken links- lots of these could bring your DA score right down and create a very messy blog. Make a note of any links that are broken and come back to them another day.

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