From Hobby Blogger to Professional Writer

At last night’s SF Blog Club meetup we got to hear from Scott James, a blogger that went from “part-time” hobby blogger to “full-time” writer in just three years. While it’s hard to provide a roadmap that applies universally to anyone looking to make the transition from part-timer to serious blogger, James provided 4 tips that proved the most valuable during his transition.

He got his start by launching a blog he updated each morning from a new coffeeshop: he sat down with a copy of The New York Times and would weave the headlines into a review of the coffee shop to share on his blog.  Today he blogs at scottandjames and for numerous clients about technology and green issues.

1. “Follow the Magic”

There are going to be a million factors outside of your control when you start blogging. Don’t spend days obsessing about what isn’t working or what you can’t control, focus on what is working and keep doing it. James shared the story of when he initially started blogging and was trying to buy a particular domain name from a marketing firm. They weren’t willing to sell but they were looking for writers. They scoped his blog and offered him a freelance position (and he continues to work with them today).

2. Stay in Touch

When you’re working with a new client consider how often you might stay in touch with an existing client and then double it.  James stresses that a client has never complained that “he emails too much.” Keep them in the loop about how things are going.  When the project is over, reach out occasionally to see how things are going.

3.  Be Realistic

A client asks you on Wednesday if you can write a press release and three blog entries by Friday.  “Sure,” you think.  Ninety-percent of the time you end up delivering something you aren’t entirely pleased with to meet the deadline or you push back the deadline and disappoint the client.  Multiply by two what you think a project will take. That way, you can…

4. Over Deliver

If you end up delivering a little bit extra than what a client initially expected, you will leave that client delighted.  “Do what it takes to leave your client feeling delighted,” stressed James.  Setting realistic expectations that you can not only meet but exceed is essential to leaving a client feeling thrilled to have worked with you.

And finally, while it wasn’t one of the four tips James discussed, there were a few questions from the audience about how much time he spent upfront planning his blogging strategy.  The answer was very little. He had a goal to publish a new article to his blog every day.  He did that, and the rest came together on it’s own.  So if you’re out there pondering domain names, wordpress themes, topics, writing styles and pen names: stop.  Just start writing. (And follow the magic).

Can’t wait for next time!

Anna Cunningham | Social Media Manager | VigLink

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