Sharon Hurley Hall is a writer and blogger who has been writing for over 20 years. I've worked with Sharon many times in the past. I first came to know her through my old blog Blogging Tips and she quickly proved herself as one of the most reliable bloggers available online.
Sharon was kind enough to answer some questions for you all today. I hope you enjoy the interview :)
When did you start writing online?
I started blogging in late 2005 but I've been writing for 20+ years.
You've wrote for dozens of top blogs. Did you find good writing jobs slowly or did things snowball after a few successful writing gigs?
What happened is that I started blogging for myself while I was writing web content for various sites. One day someone asked me to review web applications for his blog and I had a paid blogging gig. Soon after I got a job running a travel blog for a large US firm and I was officially a professional blogger! That certainly helped in getting writing gigs.
I find it embarrassing to look at some of my blog posts from years ago. Has your writing improved dramatically from blogging online?
It's hard to say, Kevin, because I've been writing for such a long time. I know I have the same feeling when I look back at some of my early newspaper articles. But since I have a background in journalism, writing isn't difficult – and I read a lot, which always helps.
You've released a few ebooks. Do you believe the success of Amazon and other ebook stores will encourage many aspiring writers to write books rather than blog online?
I think there's room for both. I haven't stopped blogging because of writing ebooks – the point is to make content available in a wide range of formats so people can get information in the way that suits them best.
How many hours do you normally work every week?
Basically, I work as long as it takes to get the job done though I try to make sure I plan my work so I can work about 8-3, five days a week. That gives me time to spend with my family. I've worked longer, though, much longer, especially when I was starting out.
Have you ever had any problems with clients (e.g. non payment, time wasters etc)?
A couple of times. One client confessed to a drug problem which was why he lost all his money and never paid me. Another fell foul of the recession and decided my money was actually hers. In both cases I was annoyed as I'd done the work in good faith, but it wasn't enough for me to want to start a huge legal battle. The antidote to this is to get money up front, which is what I do with all new clients. I should say, though, that across a period of nearly 8 years, having worked with dozens of people, having only two problems isn't bad going.
The other important thing to do to avoid being messed around is to ask a lot of questions up front so both you and the client are clear on what they want you to deliver. Get an email confirmation of the agreement, too – it saves a lot of hassle later. :)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their writing and progress as a blogger?
There are two things all writers need to do. The first is to write often – practice makes perfect. The second is to read a lot, both in the niche you want to cover and more widely. That improves your knowledge and vocabulary.
What's your number 1 tip for aspiring bloggers out there?
Write often so you develop your own unique voice and style – everyone has one. Also, you should blog as much as you can; you never know when someone will see one of your posts and approach you for a paid blogging gig. It's happened to me several times.
What are your plans for 2013?
To blog more on the topics that most interest me!
Many thanks to Sharon for taking part in this interview. You can find out more about Sharon through her personal blog or Get Paid To Write Online. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.