My friend Kyle (who also writes at StyleList and Tonic with me, along with several other places) recently wrote a post on how she started blogging for a living, and asked me to join in the discussion. And, to be honest, she was pretty much right on the money — there’s a lot of luck involved in getting started.
My story is pretty simple. My trainer, Fitz, wrote for AOL’s health and fitness blog, That’s Fit, and knowing I was a writer, kept bugging me to submit samples. I held off because, while I’m athletic and try to stay fit, I don’t have a degree in health or fitness, and at that point I didn’t have anything published, and I just didn’t see how they would want to hire me — what did I have to offer, you know?
Then, last fall, Fitz got an email about a new wedding blog at AOL, and it needed writers. She threatened to really beat me up at our next session if I didn’t submit samples, and since I have LOADS of experience with weddings (more on that another day), I was more than happy to oblige. I sent them in and was hired immediately. Like I said, luck.
From there, it was just a matter of letting those above me know that, should other writing opportunities come up, I was open to them, which is how I landed jobs at That’s Fit and StyleDash (which is now StyleList). My site lead at AisleDash, Susan, was involved in the startup of Chatterbox, so I got in there through her, and she also recruited me for BeautyHacks. And, my friend Cat, from StyleList, recommended me for Tonic.
I landed these jobs through contacts who are willing to help me out because they know I write well and consistantly meet deadlines. And, I’m always happy to step up when the occasion rises, often on a moment’s notice. Such is the glamorous life of a blogger.
Speaking of the glamor, let me break down a bit of what I do. I get up in the morning and start writing. Sometimes I start with ideas I formed in my own brain, but usually, I scour the Internet for hot ideas or products. Some days I work five or six hours, and sometimes it’s closer to 10. Some days I just can’t come up with much, so I walk away — I don’t want to burn myself out. But, that means the next day I have to kick it into gear, or else give up a day off.
The great thing is that I have immense flexibility in my schedule — I can have lunch with a friend or go on vacation when I want, no problem. However, I don’t get paid if I don’t work, and there’s no guarantee that the blogs I write for will be around forever (as I learned with Aisledash).
Some people expressed concern that I’d be alone, but I’m surprised at how not alone I feel. I’ve made some fantastic friends through work, and while they don’t live close enough to visit in person, we email and chat most days of the week. And, the beauty of that is, when I’m feeling antisocial, I can just wait to respond instead of closing my office door and starting a bunch of gossip. I like being alone a lot of the time (although I do find myself carrying on conversations with the dogs on occasion).
I love what I do. I don’t make a ton of money, but it’s better than what I’ve made at other jobs that caused me more stress and had far less flexibility (plus, they required the wearing of pants, to which I am somewhat morally opposed). I mean, I am a writer. Like, that’s my job, you know? It still blows my mind a little that I can say that. But I love my job because I love to write — if I didn’t, it would be incredibly difficult to get up and stare at my laptop every morning.
My best advice, if you want to start blogging for a living (or just as a side job) is to leave witty and well-written comments at the blogs you like. Find blogs you enjoy reading — they’ll be easier to write for — and submit samples with a short, smart cover letter to the editors, asking if they’re looking for contributers. Be friendly, remember names, and don’t be afraid to put something out there. Kyle has some other great suggestions in her post, but if you have any specific questions, leave a comment. I’ll do my best to help you out!