How To Become A Successful Staff Writer for Blogs

Hey everyone! Today I have a post from an awesome fellow blogger. So many of you are interested in staff writing, so I figured this post is PERFECT for you all. Enjoy! One of the most common questions that Michelle and I both get asked is, “How do you get hired as a staff writer…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

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How To Become A Successful Staff Writer for BlogsHey everyone! Today I have a post from an awesome fellow blogger. So many of you are interested in staff writing, so I figured this post is PERFECT for you all. Enjoy!

One of the most common questions that Michelle and I both get asked is, “How do you get hired as a staff writer for blogs?” So, today, I’m happy to share some of the techniques I use to not only find the job postings but to make sure I actually get hired too!

I know that there are many stories of people who have secured contracts for $100/post right out of the gate; however, my success story doesn’t sound like that!

Instead, my work as a staff writer began gradually and grew organically as I became more skilled and more respected in my niche.

The first staff writer job I got two years ago was for $10 a post! I was responsible for writing about saving money and beauty tips, and I literally wrote about anything and everything, including an in-depth article they assigned me about how to correctly pop a pimple! (Oh yes. It’s true!)

While I totally cringe at the thought of that topic now, I can’t deny that the job gave me extremely valuable experience. Eventually, I became the beauty editor for the site, and by the time I left to pursue a higher paying writing job, they had published over 115 posts that I wrote for them.

 

Build A Portfolio

I’m telling you that story to illustrate the importance of building a portfolio. A blog is a great way to do that. If you don’t have one, Michelle has a great tutorial of how to start a blog. Write excellent content on your site, and when you apply to staff writing jobs, send links to your published posts. The more websites you write for, the more links you can send to show how versatile you are as a writer.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I created an easy-to-use tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $3.49 per month (this low price is through my link only) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free blog domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, you want/need to be self-hosted if your website is used for freelancing purposes or if you want to make money blogging. 

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Search Far And Wide

I find most of my staff writing jobs on the ProBlogger jobs board. However, I’m also obsessed with people’s “Hire Me” tabs on their blogs. You see, not all websites advertise that they are looking for staff writers. Instead, they choose people based on frequent commenters or by seeing their posts on other sites. So, the most challenging part of finding jobs is realizing which websites actually hire writers and which just feature guest posters.

By looking at bloggers with “Hire Me” tabs, you can sometimes see the sites they write for, which then tells you which sites pay writers! While this is not a foolproof method, it has helped me find several websites that I didn’t even realize hired writers. Additionally, you can also look at larger sites that have a “Contributors” tab, and if it shows that they have several writers, you can often e-mail them and ask outright for a job. Just be warned that e-mailing blogs out of the blue like that does not always guarantee success. I wrote a post about The Truth About Side Hustling that discusses this method in more detail.

I should mention that you can use Odesk, Freelancer, and Craigslist for finding jobs, but just remember that thousands of other people are using those sites to find jobs too. Sometimes using ninja techniques like the ones I listed above give a greater return.

 

Treat it Like a Real Job Interview

When applying for staff writing jobs, one mistake a lot of people make is thinking about staff writing as an “extra” job and not a “real” job. So, they might be a little more casual in their approach, which can cost them the gig.

Instead, I encourage you to be extremely professional when applying. Pretend it’s a 6 figure, high-level job, and give it the same amount of respect. Once a website owner knows you take your writing seriously and that you are a professional, they’ll realize that you’re going to be on time and will send good content.

If you just send them an e-mail that says, “Hey I’m so-and-so. Check out my blog so-and-so.com to see my writing, and let me know if you want to hire me” you definitely won’t get the job! However, if you explain who you are, how long you’ve been writing, share links to your past posts, and indicate your availability, you’ve already saved them the time of going back-and-forth communicating with you (which is the exact reason they are hiring you – to save them time!)

Extra tip: Never write a free “sample post” for a site if they tell you that’s part of their interviewing process. That is a sneaky way for sites to take your content. Real, legitimate sites will always pay you a fee to produce work if they want to see a certain type of writing. Most of the time, sending links to past work will suffice.

As you can see from the tips above, starting your career as a writer in the online world takes some time and patience. It’s not a get rich quick scheme, and it takes a considerable amount of time, creativity, and professionalism to be successful.

Although I started out writing $10 posts about pimples (haha!), just a few weeks ago I had the biggest surprise of my career when I got published on the Huffington Post.

Honestly, when the Huff Post blog team sent me an e-mail with a link to my published article, I ran down the street and busted into the library where my husband was studying to tell him. I actually cried because I was so excited. I’ve devoted a lot of time and given up a lot of sleep to pursue my goal of becoming a full-time writer, and I’m happy to say that using the techniques above has helped me to make this come true. I hope the same happens for you.

If you have any questions about anything I mentioned above, please feel free to leave it in a comment, and I’ll be sure to answer it!

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who is currently based in the Caribbean. When Cat is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, BudgetBlonde.com.

Do you staff write? Have you thought about it? What side hustles do you have?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Thanks for the post Cat! You have come a long way from the $10 posts. Though I am not really interested in being a staff writer one thing people seem to ask a lot about is how much should they charge. Do you have any ranges for people to use as a guideline?

    1. Thanks so much! Great question. If you are a brand new staff writer trying to get started, I would ask for $20-$30 a post if you are applying to smaller personal blogs and just writing 300-500 words. If you have 1-2 years experience, you can start asking for the $40-$50 range. If you’re going to write big 750-1,000 word posts that take time and research, you can definitely fetch $100 a post or more from the start. If you are an expert or have an MBA in finance and someone wants your opinion specifically, you can go even higher. Other staff writers will differ in their opinions on this, but this is what’s been true for me personally. I usually offer a rate sheet with different levels, with the lowest level including a post in a word document e-mailed to the client and the highest level including logging into wordpress, formatting the posts, finding a picture, SEO, descriptions, social media promotion, etc.

      1. thepotatohead

        Oh wow, $100 for a 750-1000 word post, I didn’t realize that you could actually charge that much. That could give you a pretty nice income if your fairly prolific at writing quality pieces. I guess I was always thinking that since people are charging $5 on odesk and fiver that the pay wasn’t really that high. Looking back though, most of those people are probably non native English writers from places in Asia where those rates would be a lot of money.

      2. Thanks Cat for the information! I appreciate the breakdown and think others will find it helpful as well. 100$ for a post is def not bad!

        1. Thanks yall. For sure, if a company wants to pay you $5 for your post, they don’t value your work. There are many people out there who will pay what you’re worth so don’t settle!

  2. Great post Cat! I think having a portfolio is important because people who hire freelance writers want to know they are hiring someone who can write quality blog posts. What better way to show that than to have posts online that they can view?

    1. Thanks DC! I couldn’t agree more. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also thanks for hiring me to be your staff writer, haha!

  3. Thanks girl. Blood sweat and tears literally! Haha!

  4. When you do expand, e-mail me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love your posts.

  5. Hope your journey to FT blogging is going well!

    I was pretty lucky and landed a nearly $200/post gig very early on. It’s not super regular, but it’s actually quite fun and works out to a great hourly rate.

    1. A $200/post gig is awesome! You go girl!

  6. Great info here, thanks. I haven’t gotten into staff writing yet but it’s definitely something to consider. Congrats on getting published by the Huffington Post! That’s a pretty awesome accomplishment.

    1. Thanks Matt! I appreciate that!

  7. Great tips Cat! I think you hit the nail on the head about taking it seriously and treating it like a job interview. If a blog owner is taking their site seriously (which I hope they would) that’ll go a long way to communicate your seriousness and ability. Creating that portfolio is a big one as well, especially as you’re able to build it up and show diversity.

    1. Thanks so much, John. ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like the more I treat it like a legitimate job, the more it will become one!

  8. Great post. I will use these tips once I start looking for writer jobs.

  9. Jules@Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet

    These are wonderful tips. I was actually invited to be a staff writer without applying, but for the future these are really great and will help many!

    1. That’s the best kind of staff write job, Jules! Congrats!

  10. Thanks for the tips Catherine. I wrote my first post for a popular website and it will be posted in a couple of months. I hope to continue writing for them. They found me so I hope it will be a lasting relationship. I’ve learned lots about my own blog posts just by reading how they set up their own posts. Everything with blogging seems to be a learning experience. We all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. It’s always nice to get feedback from those that write on a consistent basis as I hope to do some more writing in the future.

    1. Congrats on your first gig! I’m sure it’s the first of many!

  11. Peter

    Great post! So many great writer out there, I’m not sure if I’ll qualify. As for the side gig, I sell stuff on Craigslist. I usually always sell about 2-3 items a week. It’s not much, but it helps.

    1. You’d be surprised! I think you should go for it!

  12. Great tips, Cat! And thanks so much for clarifying the difference between staff writer and guest blogger. I love seeing your freelance career thrive!

  13. Thanks so much, Jake. It was definitely a slow start for me, but with a good bit of hard work it becomes easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Thanks Tonya! I appreciate that!

  15. I’m not sure I necessarily understand the value of a low paying staff writer position. Wouldn’t it be more lucrative/fun to be working on your own blog? I get how guest posting can be valuable, but I don’t see the benefit in this situation.

    1. To each their own for sure! I just love to write, and I enjoy working with other bloggers and being published around the web. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Mr. Bonner

    Awe some post! I’m always interested in how people make money online.

  17. Good tips, Cat. I’ve thought a lot about writing content for other sites. I like to write and have a lot of knowledge on niche topics. Plus you and Michelle just make it look so easy!

    1. Aw you’re so sweet! Good luck finding a gig!

  18. This is such a great blogpost!
    Thank you for inspiring me to keep writing!!!

  19. Congratulations. You should be very proud of your achievements. Well done!

  20. Great article Cat, I’ve never looked at the Pro Blogger job boards; I’ll certainly be exploring these later!

  21. Carolyn

    Hey. I write on my wordpress.com site. If I apply for a writing post and say I write on WordPress and they look, couldn’t they take it and use it without me knowing and say can’t use me?
    Thanks.

    1. Do you mean if they just take an article that you’ve written for your personal site?

  22. Andrea

    Thanks for this post. Good tip about not being talked into writing a sample post. I’ve done that a few times and it’s a lot of work for little (if any payoff). I love the idea of looking at the “hire me” tab. I’ve always looked under contributors, but this is a new avenue for me to check out. Lately I’ve enjoyed finding gigs on Contena.

  23. Hey Emily! I found all of my staff writing gigs through my blog. People found my blog and then contacted me directly.

    I recommend looking into this staff writing course if you are interested – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/02/how-to-be-a-freelance-writer-becoming-a-virtual-assistant.html