Blogging for Dollars By Julia Hayden

Blogging has become standard operational management for local real estate agents. A recent Internet search engine request for “real estate+blogs” turned up more than a million listings. Firms now routinely maintain a blog as part of their website, attempting to attract the attention of people using search engines for information. The more often the blog is updated with fresh material, and the more frequently specific key words and phrases are used, the more readily that website and blog will turn up in results. A blog associated with a business serves as a kind of net to draw in viewers. As a side-effect, it also offers an opportunity for a freelance writer.

There has always been a niche market for producing website content, through specialized tech-blogging, for companies that wish to outsource. Many blogs are born and die but what might have gone unnoticed is that small, local, commercial firms needing less technical material may also have a reason to consider paying for blog content on an ongoing basis. To people who write as effortlessly as they breathe, blogging regularly on a known topic is a no-brainer. But writing consistently interesting, short essays on a regular basis eventually becomes a job, and a job that many owners of a business just don’t have the time or the energy to do.

I answered a Craigslist ad by a local San Antonio realtor who had fairly definite ideas of what he wanted his blog to do, and what he required by way of subject matter. He was favorably impressed by links to various blog-posts that I’d written – essays, many illustrated with photos – about neighborhoods, upcoming events, historical sites and communities in or around San Antonio. Many of these could be re-worked for his blog, and credited to my name.

These essays incorporate a couple of elements; the most immediately obvious is that I write about interesting local activities and places of interest, even something as simple as going out to eat. There is always something interesting going on in a city. A local events calendar provides plenty of ideas for a post. Even personal activities will work: I’ve done a post about taking my dogs to a dog park, and next week, I’ll do one about my favorite Asian grocery. The second element is that I incorporate relevant links to other sites, embedded in the finished post.

The last element is pictures. I usually try for at least three or four. Having a small digital camera is invaluable in terms of being simple to use and easily portable. A blog-post can be relatively intimate so close-ups work best, especially if the photo shows detail and lots of color.

I usually spend about 15 to 20 minutes writing and editing each post and another 15 or 20 with the camera. I get paid $0.03 per word – not a fortune in royalties, but being paid for a blog-post I would probably have done anyway for myself makes the time spent well worth it.

Julia Hayden, who writes professionally as “Celia Hayes,” spent twenty years as a military broadcaster in the Air Force before retiring in San Antonio, Texas. She contributes to a variety of on-line magazines and websites, and is also on the board of the Independent Authors Guild, a non-profit association of writers published by small or regional boutique publishers. She is the author of four novels set on the 19th century American frontier. She currently lives with her daughter and an assortment of dogs and cats. Her literary website is at http://www.celiahayes.com.