Starting Out #8: From blog to job

startingout#8Today’s Starting Out post is by the one and only Maxabella, who began her blog Maxabella Loves around three years ago, and started as the editor of Kidspot’s Village Voices about 12 months ago. Here she shares her story about how her blog helped her leave the ‘Grey World’ of corporate life for a fulltime job as an editor and freelance blogger.

How I went from ‘blog’ to ‘job’
I’ve had one kind of job or another since I was 12 years old. Nearly 30 years of working for someone or another, over eight of those years as a ‘working mother’. (Incidentally (and entirely off the point), I always put quote marks around ‘working mother’ because I think all mothers are working. Working and working and working. It’s gotta be a joke when they add ‘working’ just because a mother gets paid, right?)

Sorry. Al wanted me to write about how I went from being a corporate marketer with a blog to a full time blogger and editor (still with a blog) and I can’t help but feel that I’m mucking up the brief by writing a really passionate, but not terribly well written, piece about motherhood – or is it about working life? You’ll be reading this thinking (as you should, but not for this reason) “man, if that lady can get a paid writing gig then anyone can get a paid writing gig”.

Which brings me to my point (finally): anyone can get a paid writing gig. It just depends on the kind of writing they want to do.

Two years after I started my blog, I left my corporate marketing job and set myself up as a ‘freelance blogger’. (Again with the quote marks, but this time it’s because even after a year I am still not confident enough as a writer to call myself one without them.)

I got some paid work with a few different clients and Kidspot was one of them. My writing on Kidspot led to more writing that led to me becoming the Editor on Kidspot’s Village Voices about three months after I left my marketing job.  Yes, it was that fast. There’s a lot of luck involved here, but there are a few things I think I did and do that I think let Lady Luck walk right on in.

1.     Know what’s out there
So, I might have made up the ‘freelance blogger’ job title – but freelance writer didn’t seem right. I’m basically a blogger who decided not to be a marketer, but rather be a writer. Let me explain. When you decide you want to make money from blogging, these days you have two options – either sell advertising space (either by banner ads or sponsored posts) on your blog; or start blogging elsewhere for someone who will pay you.

To me, going down the advertising route felt way too much like my old marketing job. Working with ad agencies, writing content for brands, worrying about the numbers. Blogging elsewhere meant I’d be working with editors, writing content for readers, worrying about the muse.

Both are good ways to make blogging your career, just different.

2.     Be self-aware
Like most of us, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve kept a journal, I’ve written essays, I’ve written short stories, I’ve written countless marketing spiels and reports. People always told me that I was a really good writer and I’d nod and smile and go back to work. The only reliably paid writing I knew about was writing magazine or newspaper articles and I’m no journalist. My writing style is not objective enough, I’m much better at imagining than researching and, besides, I have the attention span of a midge. When I discovered blogging, I knew I’d found the kind of writing that worked for me.

3.     Be the best you can be
The craft of writing and the study of people have been my whole life, really. Years ago I did my Arts degree with three majors:  English Literature, Anthropology and Psychology and it’s no surprise that I ended up being responsible for all the marketing copy in a huge organisation. What makes words and people tick have always been my thing. Blogging allows me to bring my two fascinations together in a most satisfying way. I really think that if you want to do something well, you’ve got to be ridiculously passionate about it and you’ve got to constantly work to feed your raving appetite for it.

4.     Stand out from the crowd
I could never be one of those people who writes incognito. My writing style is all my own – I write like I talk, but more than that, I write like I think. A strong, clear writing style lets editors know what kind of writing they’ll get when they work with you. Your writing style can be your whole marketing plan.

5.     Draw the crowd in
I’m a hopeless blogger, really. I don’t tweet, I don’t Instagram, stumble or even respond to the comments left on my blog. I started a Facebook page about a year ago, but I’m seriously bad at it. I Pin, but, let’s face it, pinning is probably the least social social media platform ever.

So I am at loss to explain why I’ve always had a very friendly and connected community on my blog. The only thing I can put it down to is that the things I write about are very engaging and I’m genuinely interested in what people have to say about what I have to say about it. I’m proof that you don’t necessarily need all the social media add-ons to have a lovely social media network- you can convey all the warmth and love you need in your writing style alone.

6.     Be reliable
If you want to write more than once for an editor, make sure you write what you said you’d write when you said you’d write it by. A good work ethic is important in any job.

7.     Believe and leap
There’s no other way to find out if you can do it. If you want to be paid for your blogging, you need to put your hand up and send off some of your work to the editors that are out there. Don’t send them ideas for posts you think they’ll like, send them posts you’ve already written and tell them what you can write about. Your blog is your online portfolio – make sure it showcases what you’re capable of and then go for it.

You’ll find Maxabella on her blog, at Village Voices, at Live4.com.au, and, sometimes, on Facebook.

If you like this Starting Out post, you might also enjoy: So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?, What kind of writer will you be? and Learning to embrace the editing process.

Would you like to turn your blog into a job? Or do you prefer to keep it as your ‘happy place’?