I Can’t Write and So Can You

Posted: February 18th, 2010

Photo by Adam Rice (Flickr)

Photo by Adam Rice (Flickr)

Not too long ago, I had a look around too see exactly who has been linking back to this blog and its posts. After visiting these sites, I began to notice that many of them were referring to this as a “writer’s” blog. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind the label but it left me with a big “Whoa! What just happened?”

Now, I know what you’re thinking…  “Duh, you have a blog and write in it, stupid.”

Of course but, besides the obvious, this goes way back in what I like to call my own little internal joke.

For starters, I’m not a writer. Want proof? I’ll give you a rundown of my writing resume:

– Average grade in writing classes, 6th to 12th grade: C

– Average grade in writing classes, 1st – 7th years of college: F/withdrew

– College proficiency writing exam (needed to graduate): Failed

– Average grade in writing classes, community college: C

– Class grade for failers of college proficiency exam: Pass (out of pass/fail)

– Estimated number of writing assignments/papers prior to starting this blog: 150

– Last time I really wrote anything before starting this blog: 2001

With these kind of credentials, you might get the impression I haven’t outgrown the crayons (actually I use my two index fingers while typing). The truth was I never liked writing on topics I was made to to write about. To this day, I still have nightmares about “The Fundamental Flaws of Solipsism” piece of shit I wrote in college and turned in a week late.

OK, I see what you’re thinking… “How come you can write now if you suck so bad at it?”

It’s pretty simple. I had a goal to write a blog, unearth a little knowledge, rant a bit (hence the blog name) and hopefully one day be good at it. Well, that and make lots and lots of money as those blogging “gurus” promise in whatever ebooks.

Let’s just say that the money thing hasn’t working out as I hoped. I could care less either. I’ve come to enjoy writing and the fact that there are people reading what I have to say instead of handing me back a paper full of mistakes in red ink.

It’s a fact that, if you have something to say that you’re dying to get out, you can write about it AND on your own terms.

So, if you are thinking about writing your own blog (or dusting off your old one) or, hell, even starting up a career in writing, then take it from me. It is definitely possible. Know matter how “bad” you think you are as a writer, surely you can beat my resume in writing futility.

If you’re looking for advice on how to write, though, I won’t be giving it out here… ever. That I’ll leave for the real writers. Come to think of it, now that the cat is out of the bag, I think I just screwed my chances for that GQ gig I was hoping to graduate to.

Oh well, I’ll be content with the “writer’s” blog label for the time being.

7 Blogging Lessons I Learned The Hard Way

Posted: December 16th, 2009

Photo by Cyndie@smilebig! (Flickr)

Photo by Cyndie@smilebig! (Flickr)

It’s been a little over a year and around 170 blog posts later, but it seems like an eternity since I started The Freelance Rant. I have to admit, I went into it not knowing a thing about blogging much less promoting a blog.

Even worse, I wasn’t even a great writer.

I’ll admit, too, that I went into blogging with dollar signs in my eyes.

Now I’m left standing with a whole new prospective: I stopped being an internet introvert and have a soap box to step on.

The dollar signs turned into burned out retinas.

Anyway, here are some real lessons I learned about the whole experience.

You Don’t Need To Be a Writer To Blog

Sure you need to know how to write but we all have our own lingo that, with a little direction, becomes our own unique writing style. And that writing style, in turn, reflects our personality and becomes the true identity of our blog.

Then it’s off to the races. The blog grows and so do you as a writer.

For myself, the hard part was developing that writing style. The only way to do that was to write and write and write. Then write some more. Those first few posts sometimes took a few agonizing hours to write.

I don’t want to say an old dog was teaching himself a new trick but such was the case.

You’ll Probably Suck At First, But So What

A reality I had to face when I started blogging was that, worst case, my posts would suck hard and no one would want to read my blog. Then I quickly found out this was also the best case scenario, especially since I was pretty new to the scene.

I’ve read stories where other more popular blogs have similarly started from nowhere and worked hard for years before becoming frequently visited. So I kept that in mind, put my eyes to the screen and wrote. The plan: keep writing and if the masses come, great. If not, I won’t give up.

Then, after fifty or so posts later (and fifty or so total visitors up to that point), I found a sudden spike in traffic for a particular post.

Eureka! I had found something that worked.  Then the process repeated and other posts were written here or there that drew visitors.

And throughout the whole time, I noticed my writing improved. Coincidence?

It’s Not About The Benjamins

I’ve seen countless ebooks and “help” out there that promise you’ll make five or six figures a year (in some cases, a month) from blogging. This is enough to make you think that, hey,  it’s a breeze. Why didn’t I start this a long time ago?

Bullshit.

Well, not really for those who are making their blogging fortunes. Those that are new to blogging with cashing in on it as the sole intent, however, face a harsh reality.

No, readers don’t exactly come knocking on your blog door and buy whatever crap you’re selling much less click on your ads at will. So therein lied the real issue which is attracting people to my blog.

In other words, I had to think about churning out posts that people read and find useful. And find a lot of them.

Not an easy task.

It’s Not About Me Either

I, being the genius I am, had assumed that whatever I wrote (crap or not) will just get indexed in Google and, in time, people will eventually discover it on the search engines and come flocking over to read it. Slowly but surely.

Uhmmm, not quite.

Then I learned of one word that made all the difference: networking.

For starters, I never caught on the social media train until this year. Nonetheless, discovering Twitter, Stumbleupon and their siblings was a wake up call that these were great tools for getting traffic to my blog.

Then I learned sharing information and meeting other similar freelancers and bloggers was fun. Even better, it’s a great way to learn from other which, believe me, I have. Other bloggers included.

Getting traffic to my blog from social media is just the gravy now.

A Passion Has To Shine Through

I can’t count the number of days where I wrote posts when I was dead tired from working my freelancing gigs. Nor can I count the number of days where just didn’t want to write… or where I had writer’s block… or seeing that I had three visits last week and thinking, “fuck this.”

You catch the drift. But those posts got written anyway.

While discipline was a major player here, I had to know and enjoy what I was writing about in order to crank out those posts a few times a week. Otherwise, I was basically in my old writing class having to write garbage about a subject that I could care the least about.

Passion keeps the words flowing when you aren’t.

Now I Know Why Other Bloggers Die Off

I’m a bit lazy right now to look up stats on all the blogs in the world. I’m willing to bet, however, that the majority of them are in the junkyard of abandoned blogs. Their owners had lost all hope and went back to something that “doesn’t waste their time.”

Like I said above, discipline is a major factor in getting those posts written on a regular basis. There are also other factors, though, which almost made me quit forever:

  • Low visitor count
  • No money to be had
  • Time and effort invested with no results (i.e. low visitors, no money)
  • Getting out of the habit of regular posting

While I’m nowhere near the upper caste of the blogging kingdom, I know that continuing to write on a regular basis and finding little nuggets to improve will pan out someday.

Of course, I may be extremely naive too. If ignorance is bliss…

I Oddly have To Follow My Own Advice Now

I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach. After writing all the advice that I have up until now, however, I made a stark discovery that I wasn’t always practicing what I know.

Yes, you heard that right.

Even funnier is that I go back to some of my older posts to see what I’ve written for a little guidance.

Well, a positive result was that, to keep in line with my preaching, I made quite a bit of changes in how I work as a freelancer. While I won’t go into great detail, it’s pretty obvious the lazy bug hit me a couple times in the past.

Thank God I had myself to give me good advice.

Let Me Know What You Think

Are you a new blogger, too? Maybe a blogger guru laughing his pants off right now? Leave a comment and let me know if you had similar experiences.

Can Having Your Own Blog Really Earn You Money?

Posted: August 11th, 2009

Over the course of the seven plus months writing away in my own blog, I couldn’t help but notice how the popularity of blogging has skyrocketed. The motive to start out usually boils down to one of three things: 1) To have an outlet for venting whatever subject. 2) To promote a business. 3) To make the loot.

Recently, the trend has moved towards #2 and #3. Unfortunately, the overall quality of blogs has diminished due to this this very fact. Even enough so that the primary function of a blog has become lost in an ocean of personal diaries and Google Adsense ads. Does anyone really believe that with a focus of “Hey, buy my product” or “Please click on one of my 50 ads” their goal will be achieved?

It seems too many believe exactly that to be the case. The end result is a blog abandoned to the world of cyber garbage waiting to be picked up when the domain name expires… or just sits there forever on Blogger like an empty coke can in a canal.

So what do you have to do to make money from a blog?

In a nutshell…

Have something to say that people want to hear.

This may seem like a no brainer, but people visit a blog because it entertains, engages or solves a problem. Focus on one of the three (instead of Adsense revenue) and you have a start to creating an ideal blog. Knowing how to write can only help you more.

Get involved within the community of your expertise.

Getting to know others with the same expertise as yours helps keeps you in touch and up to date on your subject. You can also drive traffic to your blog by visiting and commenting on other similar blogs. Not to mention, interacting on social media such as Twitter and Stumbleupon are also great ways to drive in traffic. It involves a lot of work outside of your own blog, but is worth the effort in the end.

Be patient.

A blog doesn’t grow popular overnight. In fact, you’d be very lucky to have a lot of traffic coming to it within a year. This is normal, however, and a part of being a new blogger. There’s no shortcut either. Keep pluggin’ away on those posts, improving your writing as you go and eventually the traffic will come.

Wait until you have traffic and have a reputation as an expert.

Once traffic starts to flow to your blog, it is then the time to consider monetizing it with paid ads or by promoting and selling products. It is always wise to first demonstrate your expertise and gain the trust of your visitors before this step though. Any earlier and you come off as some pushy salesman and drive visitors away rather than keep them coming back.

Of course, I can’t explain to you everything about blogging and earning from it in just this one post. However, the following sites below are highly recommended to fill you in on everything blog related:

31 Days To Build a Better Blog

Blogsessive

Copyblogger