There’s only a one-word difference between the two, but it makes all the difference…
In my time as the Associate Editor and Community Manager over at Be A Freelance Blogger, I’ve noticed that a great many people don’t know the difference between “blogging” and “freelance blogging.” This has caused some issues behind-the-scenes seeing as bloggers who want to pitch to us at Be A Freelance Blogger need to send in topics related to how to be a freelance blogger. If you pitch to us, your post idea has to cover both freelancing and blogging. It can lean more in one direction than the other (heavy on blogging, light on freelancing; heavy on freelancing, light on blogging), but both elements need to be present in order for your submission to be considered a serious contender.
So what is the difference anyway?
My Thoughts: Freelance Bloggers VS. Hobbyists
Anyone can start up a blog. Starting a blog is easy. Even writing on a blog is fairly easy. Literally anyone can produce content on a blog and call themselves a blogger. However, these “bloggers” are not freelancers. They’re hobbyists.
And that’s fine! Having a hobby blog is fun. I have one myself. It’s filled with self-indulgent posts about my life.
Hobby bloggers may be very good at what they do — they may be brilliant writers who are well-aware of “proper” blog formatting — but being able to produce fantastic content doesn’t mean they’ve successfully turned their blogging into a career. They may not even want to! Which is where the “freelance” aspect of “freelance blogging” comes in…
- Are you earning money from your blog?Then you might be a freelance blogger. However, even bloggers who aren’t freelancers can still earn money from their blogs via affiliate links and other means.
- Are you attemptingto earn money from your blog? Then, again, you might be a freelance blogger. If you’re attempting to earn money as a blogger from your blog, but haven’t done so yet, then you’re probably just an unsuccessful freelance blogger (for now at least!). Or, you might be using your blog as a way to draw in clients to sell other services — writing-related or not — besides blogging. In which case, you’re a freelancer, but not a freelance blogger.
- Are you blogging for someone besides yourself? Then you mightbe a freelance blogger! Blog posts written for other people are always going to be taken more seriously — deemed more professional — than those you write for yourself. However, a lot of publications don’t pay their writers…so it would still “just” be a hobby, if that’s the case. (Side note: Have you picked up BAFB’S Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs yet? It’s a free e-book and I know it’s great because I helped edit it…)
- Are you blogging for someone else for pay?Then you’re a freelance blogger.
Yep. That’s my definition! Blogging + Clients + Money = Freelance Blogger.
Freelancing is all about earning money (on more-or-less your own terms) from other people. If you happen to be earning money from other people by writing blog posts for them then congratulations: You’re a freelance blogger!
But Don’t Take My Word for It…
Despite you adoring me unconditionally and taking everything I tell you extremely seriously, I thought I should get the opinions of some other professionals on this matter. Since most of the confusion between “blogging” and “freelance blogging” has come up while at my position at Be A Freelance Blogger, I decided to ask my fellow BAFBers who were “in the know” for their thoughts on this. Here’s what they said:
Bree Brouwer, BAFB Community Moderator
“The main difference between freelance blogging and blogging is that you can’t treat freelance blogging like a hobby. When you’re aiming to do freelance blogging for businesses, the work you do must be professional and high-quality.”
Alicia Rades, BAFB Community Moderator
“Blogging is the act of performing blog-related duties (usually writing blog posts, but also marketing and such), whether you’re doing it for a hobby, for money, for your business, or even for a client.
Freelance blogging is only when you’re offering those blogging services to a client and getting paid for it.
So you could be a freelance blogger and a blogger at the same time, but being a blogger doesn’t necessarily make you a freelance blogger. Just because you’re making money from your blog doesn’t make you a freelance blogger, either (in my mind). You really have to be building client relationships and working for others to be a freelance blogger.
That being said, a freelance blogger can take on a lot of different roles. I know some freelance bloggers who manage the entire blog while others only write the blog content.”
Ashley Gainer, BAFB Community Moderator
“To me, the distinction between a freelance blogger and a hobby blogger is where and why the blogging actually takes place. When I think of freelance blogging, it’s blogging for clients (i.e. not my own site) in exchange for some kind of compensation, usually money (because freelancers are out for money). It’s blogging for income, essentially.
Whereas hobby blogging, to me, is done at a personally owned/run blog, without compensation but maybe with the intent of monetizing at some point. Hobby bloggers might do guest posts (for money/exposure) but it’s usually for building their own blog or reputation as a blogger; and freelance bloggers probably maintain at least one blog of their own, but that’s not the focus of their blogging efforts — client work is.”
Sophie Lizard, BAFB Owner and Head Editor
“I’m often confused by people who ask me if their personal blog can ping them into a high-paid freelance writing career. Because, well, no. It really, really can’t. Your blog can’t turn you into a freelancer, because your blog is a collection of content online, but freelancing is a business. If you want to earn money, it’s a business you’ll need. That means marketing, clients, invoices, accounting and taxes as well as writing.
A lot of the skills hobby bloggers have will transfer nicely to a freelance blogging career… but you’ll still be missing a bunch of business skills unless you purposely go and learn them. Even if you could skip all the marketing and sales sides of it — like if, out of the blue, a willing client called you up and invited you to write $250 blog posts for them — hobby bloggers have no experience of working to a paying client’s schedule and requirements, or managing business relationships.
Not everyone enjoys freelancing, and not everyone is good at it. The biggest difference between hobby bloggers and freelance bloggers is that the freelancers want to turn their blogging skills into business revenue, they’ve worked to make that happen, and then they keep on working.”
All Clear Now?
So, what do you think? Did I answer all your questions about the differences between “bloggers” and “freelance bloggers?”
Which category are you in?
Leave me a comment to let me know!
Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of bylined posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers. Thousands if you count all the articles she’s ghostwritten (but she’s not allowed to talk about most of those).