Monday, March 11, 2013

Starting Out #8: From blog to job


Today'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'?

46 comments:

  1. Great post! I have been reading all of the Starting Out posts and I am absolutely loving them.

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  2. Ah B this post is sooo you! Love love love it.

    ^^ Equates to "I have nothing cool to add to what you said but wanted to leave a comment". So lame. Sorry!

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    1. PMSL. That totally counts Kelly!

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    2. Sometimes I want to leave this comment on every post I read... x

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  3. Ah, two of my favourite writers in one place. And Maxabella, you most definitely can call yourself a writer. And a good one at that.

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    1. Thank you, Jodi. That means a lot coming from you. x

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  4. What they all said. Maxabella you rock. xxxx

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    1. Even better, Annie, you ARE a rock! x

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  5. Helpful post, thank you Allison and Maxabella. Although I have a marketing degree, I tend to agree with you. I want to write and therefore, I write. I don't really want to focus on advertising and numbers at this stage. I am building my profile by doing freelance work and will just have to see where it all leads. Thanks :-)

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    1. Yep, that distinction has always been there for me - marketing or writing? What do I really want to do? x

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  6. Great advice and great post. P.S. If you're a hopeless blogger, what does that make the rest of us?! x

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    1. I just think that blogging is more than just a blog - it IS all that social media circus stuff you've got to do if you want to be seen as any good. Sad, but true. x

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  7. #5 is something you have a real gift for (along with everything else LOL)
    Question about #7 - how do you know which sites pay money for posts and which ones want you to write simply in exchange for a bio and link? is there a directory anywhere ?

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    1. A directory - what a good idea! But no, not yet... not as far as I know. I confess I've so far never actually pitched for an online job - the work has come to me (I did mention above that I am an especially, annoyingly lucky person, didn't I?!!) x

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  8. I am loving these posts of yours. Knowing Maxabella, her blog and her writings... it is so lovely to read a little more. Thank you xox

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  9. I think you were both amongst the first blogs I started following nearly 2 years ago and I still read every post you both write - there's a reason for that and it's nothing to do with you being a hopeless blogger :)

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    1. Thanks Sarah and I still agree that the world needs more fudge (I do hope I have the right Sarah or I'm in trouble!). x

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  10. Love this series, and this is my new favourite! Thanks to two of my favourite bloggers.

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    1. Emily, you are so lovely. I'm glad you liked my ramblings!! x

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  11. Look at me replying to all the comments, Al. You would think I would enable this feature on my own blog, wouldn't you? (See point 5 above....

    Thanks for having me. It's an honour to be in the company you keep, especially given my parentheses issues. x

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  12. Only this weekend someone asked me what I did and despite being paid for some of my writing I still found it difficult to include that in my list of 'work'. (Other than the 'work of looking after 5 boys, or 6 if you count my husband) I loved reading these as they have given me a little more motivation and focus..love it, thanks!

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    1. Sometimes I think 'be proud to call yourself what you're aiming for', even if we're not quite there yet. x

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  13. I drink in all the information you girls give me, I print it out, store it, file it, when I think, I should be turning it into wall paper. So much easier for reading. I am serious. xxx Rae

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  14. Who'd have thunk that your blog would have opened so many doors? And you haven't had to sell your soul in the process. I need this reply feature too. How does one enable it Al? C xx

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    1. No idea! The lovely Katrina at The Media Maid set it up for me when she did my blog makeover... Um. Maybe someone else knows????

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    2. I have it on my mobile platform, but not on my computer form. Does that confuse you even more? Love the reply space! X

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  15. What an uplifting post! Thanks Maxabella and Allison x

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    1. It is very nice to think I could be uplifting for someone... wow! x

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  16. Very good point about find other people to write for if you don't want to try to generate income on your blog. Great post B x

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  17. I love this. Thank you for sharing. I have long 'looked up' to you and your blog, so it's very inspiring to hear your journey. Zanni x

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  18. After reading this post, all the comments AND replies, I've found it so interesting. I am neither a writer or a very good blogger, but am excited when I see someone with a love for people and writing who can work for somewhere as influential as Kidspot. You're changing the world with your brain that is as full as a ton of worms (I mean that in a good way, bron!) xx

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    1. My wormy brain thanks you, Kymmie. x

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  19. Oooh two of my faves together in one post - Alison and B {Maxabella}.
    Thanks for the insight into your writing career Maxabella. Very inspiring.
    x

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  20. Really loved this post, it made my own dreams seem attainable with my blog.
    One thing I struggle with is writing under my own name.....think it is because I put so much of myself out there with what I write (at 'Deliberately Me') that I feel more free when there is a degree of anonymity.
    Congratulations on living your dream:)

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    1. Well, Demdolldelme, I write under a pseudonym on all of the platforms that I write for. Sometimes that seems a little bizarre - like my blog ate my real name! But it's what I'm comfortable with these days. Loads of people in my real life know I'm Maxabella, though, so I'm not exactly 'anonymous', I guess. I try never to write anything down anywhere that I wouldn't be happy sharing with a room full of people that I know. x

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    2. I think if my blog has eaten my name, I need to change my pseudonym:) It made sense when I started my blog (as it had a different name) but it seems a bit odd now. I really like your pseudonym, it sounds a bit like a superhero name, or a tough roller derby chick name.
      What I am still getting used to is the constant evolution of what I am doing. On the upside I am guessing it is better to evolve that to be stagnant.

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    3. I am so far removed from a tough roller derby chick... but I'll take the superhero!

      Mind you, sometimes I think my Wonder Woman is just a woman wondering... x

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  21. I am so excited I feel like I am on the brink of a new life doing what I love. It's taken me a lifetime to come to a realisation that this what I want to do. Not sure how you submit blogs to editors. Any help from you guys would be appreciated. I had no idea there were online editors. Thank you everyone I now feel like there are people out there that understand this need of mine. xx

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  22. lovepainandothercatastrophes.blogspot.com in case any has time to give some feedback.

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