How to Make Money Blogging With Problogger

If you want to know how to make money blogging, you need to know how to get a job on Problogger. It’s one of the few freelancing websites that fulfils both of my main criteria when looking for blogging work: good quality assignments at reasonable rates.

That’s not to say all the jobs on Problogger are great. But it’s free to apply for any of them, so you can take a chance on the ones that you’re not sure about.

Making money as a blogger is the Holy Grail for most freelancers. And most of us never really stop looking for work, since we need to keep your options open when contracts end. And as the owner of a content agency, I sometimes use freelancing websites to find writers to help me out. So I’ve got experience as both a client and a business on Problogger, and I have seen the kinds of responses that blogging ads get.

Using this insider info, you can increase your chances of a successful Problogger bid.

Dos and Don’ts of Problogger

My company recently put up an ad on ProBlogger. It’s a website where businesses can post ads for blogging work. The ad cost us $70, and 85% of the respondents didn’t follow the instructions. (Thankfully, we now work with a couple of really good writers that we hired through the ad, so it was money well spent anyway.)

Most of the tips I’m going to list here are about getting your pitch exactly right.

DO Tailor Your Application and Avoid Generic Pitches

A few ads on ProBlogger contain little information. But the majority have a pretty clear specification of what’s expected.

Here’s an example of a client that has a very clear idea of what they need:

Problogger ad example

This is actually an advert for dental website copy. So before you even apply, you have a really clear idea of:

  • The content they want
  • The blogging skills they’re looking for
  • The deadline
  • The type of applicant they want
  • The pay.

When we placed our Problogger ad, a high proportion of applicants did not read any of this information in our ad. (Or, if they did, did not seem to care.)

Applying for a freelance writing job is pointless if you can’t meet the criteria, or present a very good argument as to why you shouldn’t have to.
That’s why using the same application copy for everything doesn’t work. It doesn’t demonstrate your aptitude for the role — and it might just reveal that you didn’t bother to read the requirements.

Almost all of the applicants did not pay attention to the nationality of the blogger we were hoping to hire. A couple gave good reasons as to why they should get the job anyway, which is perfectly valid. But many just ignored what we wanted.

Insider Tip: It’s fine to have a copied and pasted section in your spec. But don’t copy and paste the whole thing. Copied and pasted applications stand out a mile off. They are engineered to be generic and vanilla, and it shows.

PS. Any email that starts “Hi Agency!” goes directly into the Trash.

DO Apply Using the Method on the Ad

The morning after we posted our ProBlogger ad, I got a call on my mobile at 6.50am from a freelancer.

This is not the best way to make a good impression.

Our phone number wasn’t mentioned on the Problogger ad. So while it’s great that the applicant found our website, he missed a crucial step: checking which country we are in.

Answer it fast

We asked for submissions to be emailed because we had a Zapier auto-responder set up to confirm receipt of all applications, send details into our team Slack, and file details in Google Sheets for review.

There’s a downside for the freelancer if they don’t use the suggested contact method: they may not be shortlisted. In our case, the only applications filed in our spreadsheet were the ones received through the official channel — email.

Insider Tip: Follow the application process in the advert. There is probably a good reason for it. And don’t ring people at 7am.

DO Check Spelling and Punctuation

If you want to know how to make money blogging, here’s a solid rule: your assessment starts as soon as you start typing your application.

Here are a few clangers from people that made a big deal about the accuracy of their grammar:

  • “I charge $150 per keword.”
  • “I write content that wow’s an audience.”
  • “I am an expert words-smith.”

These mistakes are not major. They’re careless. But this is your audition. You can’t afford to be careless in your very first email.

Insider Tip: Check your spelling or punctuation using Grammarly (or, at the very least, run it through Word’s checkers) before you send it off. You’re being assessed from the moment your email hits the client’s inbox.

DON’T Make Weird Promises You Can’t Keep

Here are some genuine claims from our Problogger applicants:

  • “I’m available 24/7/365.”
  • “My blogs will deliver traffic within an hour.”
  • “One article can make all your keywords number 1 on Google.”
  • “I can start yesterday.”

Clients are not stupid. It’s pointless making these kinds of claims.

Insider tip: Don’t try to tell the client how to make money blogging for themselves. They know that already. Focus on promoting yourself as the right writer for the task.

DON’T Push Religion or Politics

I’m cool with whatever religion you want to follow. I don’t much care about the political beliefs of good writers, either. But you can easily taint an application by being pushy with your personal opinions.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have opinions when blogging for yourself. I’m just saying that sending me 15 articles promoting a hate group is going to mark you out in completely the wrong way.

Inside Info: Don’t pitch content that is anti-religion or anti-race to a company that you’re approaching cold on an unrelated topic. Don’t go overboard on the political commentary in your application, unless the job is for a political website.

DO Send Blogging Examples the Client Wants to See

Work examples are the most important part of your pitch. Clients will review them to see what you can do, and get a feel for the tone of your writing.

There is no right or wrong set of examples, providing they reflect your writing style. However, you can give yourself a better chance of success by looking closely at the requirements the client sets for examples — particularly the number that they ask for.

Blogging portfolio

We wanted three examples, ideally with a tech slant, that were published and live. Some applications contained exactly what we wanted. Most did not. We obviously prioritised the applications that had read the brief and taken time to select the right portfolio pieces.

Inside Info: If the listing asks for three samples, don’t send 15. It makes it look like can’t identify your best work. If you struggle to select relevant blogs, you may not be suited to the job that you’re looking at.

DO Set Reasonable Rates for Blogging

Disclaimer. I can’t tell you how to make money blogging by just giving you a specific rate to ask for. You will get a feel for the rates that work — in the beginning, you will have to start low until you build a portfolio, and then you can build up over time.

But I can reveal that there was a massive variation in quoted prices when we advertised a job on Problogger. The prices per word ranged from less than 0.5 cents to well over $10.

And there was also no real correlation between the quality of the content offered and the price that was being quoted. But a few cents one way or the other can make or break your chances.

There is a gap in the market for everyone, and every rate is valid; the key is weighing up what the client wants, and what you can offer them to solve their problem.

Insider Tip: Pitch a rate that reflects your portfolio, experience, and the nature of the blogging job you’re applying for. A newspaper wants qualified journalists, and will pay appropriate rates. A company that is looking for bloggers is different.

(And make sure you state which currency you’re quoting in. You’d be surprised how many bloggers don’t do this!)

How to Make Money Blogging: a Summary

There are really three key principles when applying for any freelance writing job:

  • Apply for the blogging work you’re good at — not the stuff you think you might be able to do
  • Set your rates at an appropriate level
  • Follow the instructions in the ad to the letter.

It’s even more important to get these things right when you’re applying for work on Problogger, because the competition is intense, and most companies don’t have time to read applications that don’t meet their spec. Adhering to the requirements will help your blogging application cut through the noise.

Answer it Fast by Caitlin Doe licensed under a CC BY 2.0 licence. Screenshots of Problogger and licensed under Fair Use.

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