Sometime last week I published the 500th post of this blog.
It might not be apparent to you, but those 500 blog posts changed my life.
Three years ago I was a stay at home mom.
I’d put a career as a staff reporter then freelance journalist on hold seven years before to have a baby. That made three kids, a husband, dog, assorted lizards and goldfish, a big house and an even bigger yard. It was too much to handle all that and work without constantly being stressed out.
Over the years that followed, I dabbled with part-time work: a semester teaching at journalism school here, writing a couple stories for a daily newspaper there, filing a couple features for a friend who’d taken over as the editor of a trade magazine in between.
I finally came back to writing full time in fall 2007 when our oldest went to college and our youngest went to first grade.
Writing was the easiest part of my freelance business to slip back into.
It was everything else that had changed since I’d been away that was hard to figure out. I’d quit during the dot-com bust and had no clue what Web 2.0 was about. One day a friend casually mentioned LinkedIn and I needed her to explain it to me – me, who’d spent years as a tech industry writer and columnist.
At first I had no specific subject in mind, and barely managed to figure out the software. Most of my initial posts were marginal, though a few have held up surprisingly well.
I got the hang of it soon enough. Over the two and a half years that followed, blogging literally transformed my writing business. How?
- By teaching myself about the mechanics of blogging, I was able to nab assignments to write about blogging and social media for publications like Inc.com.
- By teaching myself to blog, I made myself more marketable by showing perspective clients that in addition to writing straight news, features and columns, I was proficient in another writing format, no small thing as more publications maintain contributor-written blogs.
- By using the blog to showcase my resume, bio and clips, I landed the biggest freelance gig of my career to date, a long-term contract from Federated Media to edit GetTheInsideEdge.com, a custom publication on corporate finance for mid-size companies that American Express launched in April. Afterward, I learned that even before they called me, the people who hired me had thoroughly vetted my blog and LinkedIn profile.
- By showing I understood the medium and could post week in and week out, I was invited to be a paid contributing blogger at SecondAct.com, an online magazine for people over 40 published from Entrepreneur Media, publisher of Entrepreneur. In addition to blogging here, you can read my posts on workplace issues, careers and retirement on SecondAct’s Prime Time blog twice a week.
- By using my blog to track what’s happening in the digital media industry I’ve been invited to speak at journalism conferences and industry groups.
- By inviting other writers with blogs to join me in a personal challenge to blog every day for a month, I started the WordCount Blogathon, an annual event that’s created a writers’ community and become one of highlights of my year.
- By holding myself to a twice-weekly or more blogging schedule and strict editorial standards, I qualified to join a blog advertising network, BlogHer, and this year for the first time am earning advertising income solely from this blog.
I don’t point this out to brag, though I am proud of what I’ve accomplished, especially at a time in our industry when many freelancers question their ability to continue doing business in the manner to which they’re accustomed.
The main reason I’m sharing is this – if I can do it, you can too.
All it takes is commitment, confidence – and a blog.