Editor’s Note: I have seen the name Ali Hale/Luke mentioned on so many different blogs, that I decided to look her up. Ali’s got it all just right – the quality of her content, her writing style, her website and her pitch. So I contacted her for a writing project. During some of our correspondence I found out that Ali holds an MA in creative writing and pretty much supported herself through college with income from her freelancing projects. So I requested Ali to share her story with our readers. And here it is. I can’t think of something more fitting to kick off our “inspiring stories” series! (If you have a story to share, feel free to contact us, so we can feature you in one of our future stories.)
Handing it over to Ali now…
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I imagined making my living writing novels – and I worked hard at my fiction writing for years. After I finished university, though, it became pretty clear that I needed a real job! I worked in tech support while trying to sell a bunch of short stories and my first novel.
Pretty quickly, I realized that (a) it’s tough to find the time and energy to write when you’re working full time, and (b) there’s not much money in fiction! So, I started blogging… with a rather delusional idea that I’d be able to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from my own blog.
My Very First Paid Post
Well, to make a long story short, I didn’t become a millionaire overnight. What did happen was that I accidentally started freelancing. Yep, accidentally. I sent off a guest post to a big blog, and they liked it so much that they offered to let me join their staff and get paid for each post I wrote for them.
I still remember the surprise – and pleasure – I felt when I read that email. Someone wanted to pay me to write! I didn’t even realise that freelance blogging existed – it felt like a job tailor-made for me, because it combined two of my longstanding passions: writing and the internet.
Landing More Gigs
I got my next gig in a similar way: I sent in a guest post to another blog, they liked it, they offered me a paid writing position. After that, I got a bit more strategic: I started looking for blogs which used paid writers, and I contacted the editors with guest posts – following up a couple of weeks later to offer another post, and to ask if they needed another writer on their team.
My first couple of gigs paid $20/post. I was happy with that when I started out (especially as I was still working full-time), but as I built up my writing credits, I started looking for better paid jobs. Within six months, I was able to cover my rent and bills from freelancing. Now, I’m getting $40-$60 for the posts which I write, and I’ve done one-off posts for as much as $120.
Differentiating Myself from Other Freelancers
From the beginning, I tried to put my own voice and energy into my writing. I looked for blogs which tied into my own interests, and I wrote posts which I really cared about. This helped in so many ways — it made the writing itself easier, it made my posts go down well with readers (and therefore editors!) and it meant I felt good about promoting the posts that I’d written.
I also made an effort to be friendly, responsive and professional in my communications with editors. I know that sounds obvious — but I get the impression from the editors emails that some writers aren’t too good about hitting deadlines, or kick up a fuss if they’re asked to do revisions. A “can do” attitude goes a long way!
Branching Out From Blogging
Although I love producing blog posts, it’s quite a tiring kind of writing: I have to keep coming up with new ideas! Plus, while $40/post is good money (each post typically takes me 45-60 minutes), I only get paid when I’m actually working – no sick pay or vacation time. So, over the past couple of years, I’ve branched out into selling ebooks (you can find my two most popular ones at bloggers-guides) and ecourses. I also offer writing coaching – which I really enjoy doing.
In the future, I’m planning to do even more ecourses – I’m keen to keep making them bigger and better! The ecourses mean that I can provide the sort of content which my coaching clients get, at a much lower price. I’ve just launched a new ecourse, focused on blogging – Blog On, which I’m really excited about: I’ve designed it to be very hands-on, and to help members stay motivated, I’m even including a prize draw at the end – the more assignments you complete, the more chances you have of getting a prize! If you’re interested, check it out today, because registration’s only open till Friday 3rd.
To me, Ali’s story offered two important lessons –
- When you start out, how you imagine things will go, may not be quite aligned with reality. Be open to new opportunities and be prepared to change your course as needed. One of the main reasons Ali is so successful, is that when freelancing opportunities came her way, she grabbed them by the horns, even though she had started out with blogging as her chosen money making idea.
- Anyone can make a few dollars using any of the different money making ideas. But if you want to make a LOT of money, you need to start thinking strategically and charting the course towards bigger and better things. I find Ali’s approach so inspiring – first she planned well to increase her acceptance rate on paying blogs, next she used the link back to her blog to increase her personal brand, which she then leveraged to launch eBooks and now eCourses. I read a LOT of Marketing articles, and to see someone actually implementing these ideas and having success is so motivating!
What about you? What are you takes? Share in the comments section below. And feel free to contact me with your own story.