Today, we’re featuring an interview with Danielle McGaw – a highly diversified writer who earns an income online by writing for a variety of different sources and formats.
She’s such a good example of how persistence and simply “getting yourself out there” is a excellent way to find success online. It may not come easy, but it WILL come if you stick to your plan (and maybe tweak it along the way).
Let’s get to the interview!
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
When I became interested in freelance writing, you’re one of the first people I came across, and I know you’re a true expert in the field (even if you’d humbly disagree with that!).
Between freelance writing, blogging across multiple blogs, and book-writing, what are you spending most of your time on these days? Tell us about the current state of your online business, and whatever projects you’re willing/able to share that you’re working on.
Thanks so much Eric. 🙂 I guess I still spend most of my time on freelance writing for clients because I need to keep that income flowing. But after that, I spend the majority of the time either creating new eBooks or promoting the ones that I’ve already written.
I think that when people think about making a business online – whether it is writing articles on sites like InfoBarrel and Writedge or writing eBooks or writing on a blog – they don’t realize that the writing is a small part of their business. Marketing will take up much more of your time than anything else.
When I was focused on freelance writing, I spent a great deal of time marketing myself. The majority of my marketing efforts are put into social media. I spend about 75% of my marketing time creating relationships with others via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. I always mean to do more with LinkedIn, which I know can get great results, but just haven’t had as much interest in it. The other 25% of my marketing time is doing things like commenting on blogs and guest posting.
With my ebooks, I have two names I write under. One is my real name and that is the name I publish non-fiction under. I have several eBooks planned for the next couple of months and on my social media platforms you’ll see me hinting about them – two of them are related to freelance writing!
I also write fiction under a pen name. I have a blog and completely separate social media accounts for that name. Yes, this does all take a lot of time, but without the marketing people simply won’t find you.
What has been your greatest success (or successes) so far?
I think the best success story I have so far is my Bubblews eBook. I will preface this by saying that I know there are people out there that have had issues with the site. I know that a lot of it has no rhyme or reason behind it.
But I also know that many people who have problems with the site simply don’t understand how the site works. After being on the site for a year, I finally decided to write a short eBook to help out newcomers that want to make some money from the site.
I got inspired and wrote the eBook and published it in 24 hours. The eBook is 40 pages (just a little over 10,000 words) and covers things like the rules (both written and unwritten), promoting your posts, and stuff like this. I currently have 14 5-star reviews and none of them were solicited or bought. A couple are from people I know but the majority are from people who just really enjoyed the book and thought it had value.
Since releasing The Lost (& Unofficial) FAQ for Bubblews Writers at the end of October, I’ve sold 15 copies and given away (on free promo days) 375 copies. These are not massive numbers but it is a very narrow market and my prime objective wasn’t to make a load of money – it was to get information into the hands of the average Bubblews user that would increase their chances of being successful on the site.
And I believe that is happening. I’ve had loads of people thank me for the book and a good couple handfuls of bloggers that have written reviews.
I hope to replicate that success in the future with ebooks that have a bit of a wider market.
Oh, and then there was that time that I got hired by Pat Flynn and got to write content for one of his blogs and he thanked me and linked to me on HIS blog! That was pretty cool, too!
All successful people stumble at least a few times along the way. Which failure was most significant for you, and what did you learn from it?
Wow – I’ve had so many failures over the years that it is hard to pick just one. Really. If you can think of a mistake, I’ve likely made it.
But there’s one mistake that I have made over and over again, and I believe that others make this same mistake.
And that’s not sticking with it.
I think that in order to be successful online you have to find something you love doing (and I really do think that is important because if you don’t love doing it you’re not going to stick with it right) and do the hell out of it. Do it again and again and again until you’re so damn good at it that you dream about it while you sleep and it makes you more money.
If you don’t like to write about the same topic all the time – don’t. There are options for people like you (and that’s me, too). You can write on Squidoo (I know lots of people think that site has gone down the tubes but just watch – it’s going to work its way back up to the top) and write about things that fascinate you at the moment. You can do the same thing on other writing sites.
You can write short eBooks and write a lot of them on different topics. Mike Cimicata is a great example of that. He’s got short eBooks on a variety of titles and he’s been doing pretty well with it – check out his Amazon author page and you’ll see what I mean!
Writing eBooks is the one thing that I’ve been consistent with and the results are just starting to show. Well, that and freelance writing. 🙂
“Not sticking to something” is definitely a mistake that I’ve made over and over again, so I’m right there with you on that one. That’s great that you’re starting to see results with eBook publishing, however, and that’s something (specifically with Amazon Kindle books) that I haven’t ever experimented with.
It obviously helps to have an existing audience when you launch a new eBook, but what do you do when you don’t have an audience? Would you recommend building one first (through blogging) before even writing a book, or are there some other effective promotion methods?
If you don’t have an audience but you want to get into eBook publishing here are some things you can do to have the most successful first eBook launch possible:
- Start a web site and get an email list on there right away and start building that list.
- Blog on your site – give a few teasers to your work if it is fiction and if it is non-fiction, then blog about related topics.
- Make friends with other people in your niche (That’s where Twitter and Facebook come in).
- Get yourself some beta testers or what is also called a “street team” that will preview your work and talk about it.
- For non-fiction eBooks, guest blog in your niche
- Talk about your upcoming eBook everywhere you go!
- Get your first eBook out there asap! Make it shorter if you need to but get it out there. Price it cheap or make it free on other platforms (like SmashWords) so that people can easily read it. In that first eBook, make sure you link them to your site and your email list.
Should you do this first? No, do it as you write. The most important step is to get that first eBook out there. Second is to build up a following.
Another thing with eBooks – volume is everything. The more eBooks you have out there the more you will be found. A lot of authors choose to start with shorter eBooks at the beginning for that very reason.
I know freelance writing is an art, and everyone approaches it differently. What intrigues me so much about freelance writing is that the business has SO many different segments.
There are people who essentially write garbage for $3 an article, and then there are others who are amazing writers and can command $200 or more for a blog post. The great thing is, there is demand for each of these segments, so each has its place in this world.
Putting aside “natural writing ability,” what is it that you think make the $200+ per article writers so successful? What’s the #1 thing holding everyone else back?
I’ve touched on this already but – marketing. Marketing and branding. If no one knows who you are they won’t think you are important.
You want to make the big money? Get out there and make a name for yourself. Be seen on social media. Guest post on the best blogs. Just ask Bamidele Onibalusi – he was but a boy when he started this whole freelance writing thing at only 16 and he built himself up with a brand that you couldn’t ignore within a year. His major focus was guest posting and without even having a web site to call his own yet he was making crazy money from freelance writing.
The biggest difference between a $3 per article writer and a $200 per article writer is that the $200 per article writer believes that they are worth that much and they are not willing to accept less. Does that mean sacrifice? Of course it does.
I used to read this blog called One Fat Man (and it was eventually retitled One Phat Man) written by a guy name Fred. He weighed in in the upper 300s and had serious diabetes. One day he decided he’d had enough of that business. He figured that the only way to get to be a healthy and in-shape man was to live like a healthy and in-shape man. He vowed not to let his weight stop him from doing the things that he wanted to do.
So, he started walking and cycling and eating like he was already healthy. Soon, he was skiing and kayaking, too. And when it went out, people stopped looking at him like a fat man because he wasn’t acting like a fat man. And before he even realized what was happening those pounds started disappearing.
It’s the same thing with freelance writing. If you act and think like a $3 per article writer – that’s how others will treat you, too. Start thinking like a $200 an article writer and you’ll be amazed at what happens!
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at blogging or working online. I know you have a lot of great advice to share, but if you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Love what you do and do what you love – and then tell everyone about it! [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources?
Since I’m so involved in social media I can’t NOT mention my two favorites – Hootsuite and BufferApp. I know that the two of them are similar but I find that using them together makes for even more efficient social media marketing.
I use BufferApp to schedule tweets and Facebook statuses. This is where a good part of my marketing takes place. Since I have several Twitter accounts (get targeted people!) I can use BufferApp to make sure the right Tweets go out to the right account and I can make sure that when I have several things to share they don’t get sent out one right after the other.
Things move so fast on Twitter that you really have a very short time period of when you tweet is going to be seen. So it’s ok to tweet a lot. BufferApp helps spread your updates out so that you aren’t annoying people with 10 tweets in a short time period. There’s a free version and a paid version.
But there’s more to social media than just sharing things. You gotta get on there and interact with people. That’s where Hootsuite comes in. I have my own social media accounts, plus I manage the social media accounts for some major companies so I really don’t like to log in to each account every time I want to see what is going on.
Instead, I go to Hootsuite and I can see all of my accounts at once. I go there at least once a day – usually more – to respond to people who @ message me or send DMs and to retweet people. Sometimes I ask questions or comment on tweets. But I’m there and I’m not just sending more links out into the social media world. That’s important.
For someone who is just starting out creating a blog or attempting to get into freelance writing, what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Treat your business seriously. If you think that freelance writing is an easy way to make some money…well, there are a lot easier ways to make money! Be serious about it.
Have a work space and a work time (as much as possible). Get your spouse on board if you have one and make them realize that they can contribute to your success and help increase your earnings. Train your family members to understand that in order for you to make money they need to give you the time to do it. Plan time to market yourself and your business and apply for jobs. You can’t get jobs if you don’t apply for them.
And don’t use the old excuse of “well there are hundreds of people applying for those jobs…” when you look at the job boards because guess what? Someone is going to get hired and it surely will NOT be you if you don’t apply!
Treat your business with the same respect as a business man setting up a bricks and mortar business. And start calling yourself a writer when people ask what you do. Don’t say, “I’m a student but I do some writing on the side,” or “I stay at home with my kids but I try to make some money by writing.” Say it with me… “I am a writer!”
Any other final thoughts or advice?
I think that you can read about people’s success stories and you can see other people be successful but there is nothing more empowering than believing that YOU can do it.
You have to be able to see yourself doing it, feel your success, and imagine the money coming in. Visualization is a powerful tool and not enough people use it. If something fails or you make a mistake – just move on and continue living your life like you are a rock star. Don’t just hope that you will be a _______ . Live your life like you already are.
Post on your Facebook Page and your Twitter and your blog like there are already a million people just waiting for you to stop by and share something with them. Don’t TRY – just DO!
Finally, where can people find you online?
Thanks so much for the great interview, Danielle!
What did you think of the interview? Do you have any questions about earning an income online by writing? Please leave us a comment below! Thanks!