Getting Beyond Your Blog--and Getting Paid for It (Sometimes)
|Florinda of The 3 R's Blog|
I started blogging five years ago so that I'd have a record of the books I read, but I was quite certain even then that I had some ambitions to expand from that tiny platform. Not THAT much--I'm still not harboring book-to-blog ambitions, and I think very short-form writing like this is the kind that suits me best--but I had some hopes of being "dicovered," I suppose.
That does happen, believe it or not. It hasn't happened to me. My experience is probably the more common one; if you want to get exposure for your writing in places beyond your blog--which in turn can create more exposure for your blog--you're probably going to have to go looking for opportunities. The good news is that you may not have to look very far; the even better news is that some of those opportunities may pay you in real money.
But to get to the paid writing, you may have to be open to doing some unpaid writing for other sites...and you may have to be willing to write about topics other than books. That second point may be a tough one to feel OK about--I know I've struggled with it myself, because it's hard not to see it as "selling out." Having said that, as I've gotten to know more about the lives of real writers during the last four years, I've realized just how few of them are able to spend all of their writing time working only on their books (especially if those books are novels); being a working writer may include producing articles, corporate reports, and any other pieces someone is willing to pay for.
Both of those things are worth doing. Even if they don't pay you in dollars, you may get compensation in the form of experiences or products (or books!). You'll definitely get exposure and attention for your writing, and you'll have more credits and samples you can submit as part of your applications for writing and blogging jobs. You'll also make connections with people who may be in the position to send those jobs your way.
I have several freelance gigs now (none of which, I should note, allows me to quit my completely unrelated day job), and one of them is almost totally the result of connections. I know the features editor at the website for CBS Los Angeles as a co-contributor to an (unpaid) group blog, and she invited me to write for the site almost a year ago. She actually approached me because she wanted book-related content--I'm currently working on my second-annual summer-reading roundup--which was a stroke of luck for me, but I do write about other topics there too.
I've been a member of BlogHer.com for almost as long as I've been blogging, and was excited to see them launch the BlogHer Book Club last year. The Book Club requires participation in online discussion as well as a review, but they will pay you in money and in books, and it's open to all members of their blog network.
My primary freelance gig is one I got the traditional way--I answered an ad and provided writing samples, and was thrilled to be chosen as one of the charter reviewers for Shelf Awareness' Readers' Issue when it launched a year ago. I review for them once or twice a month, depending on the time I have and the galleys I'm offered. I work with an editor, and I have deadlines to meet and specific writing guidelines to follow; I'm still a blogger, but this job really makes me feel like a working writer. Granted, I'm a working writer who writes about the work of other working writers, but I'm counting it.
Your blog can definitely open doors for you and your writing, but be prepared for the likelihood that you'll have to be the one to knock on those doors first, and be open to writing about a range of topics (which, if you think creatively, you may even be able to connect to books).