So you’ve been laid off or can’t find a job in journalism. Think you can survive on blogging alone? Not so fast, says Scott Joseph.
After taking a buyout from the Orlando Sentinel, where he’d spent 20 years as a restaurant critic, Joseph figured he could still make a living as a writer by freelancing and starting his own food blog.
It hasn’t been easy, but he’s learned a few things along the way. Writing at OJR, Joseph says the most important step is to plan ahead if you intend to keep covering the same beat once you leave your job:
Who are your contacts? Where do you get your press releases? Start making a list of these people. Are those names only in your workplace e-mail server? Find out how to make an electronic copy of that list and save it to a flash drive or e-mail it to a personal account. If your employer shows up at your desk tomorrow with a buyout package and an escort to the front door, I guarantee your laptop isn’t going with you.
Other good advice: save emails from readers so you can let them know where you’ve gone. Share a personal email address so people can stay in touch once you’ve left the newsroom. And don’t forget those business cards you’ve been collecting for years, says a commenter on Joseph’s post. You can add those emails to your promotional list to draw in new blog readers.
How many readers does it take for a blog to be commercially viable? That depends. There’s a rule of thumb floating around online that you need 10,000 visits a day, but OJR’s Robert Niles diagrees. The number depends on your niche and your visitors. If they’re affluent, you won’t need as many to break even.
And this may be obvious, but you really can’t make a dime with a free blog host like WordPress.com that doesn’t allow advertising. Which is why Advancing the Story just might be moving. Advice welcome!