Blogging. It seems like everyone does it. But is it a good idea for a professional freelance writer?
You bet it is.
A blog is a web page – usually run by one person – that is written to convey a message or share information about a particular topic. For a freelance writer, this topic is often their specialty or niche.
In this regard, a blog can be a very helpful tool if you’re looking to earn a high-earning income with your writing, as it can establish you as an expert in your field and show off your talents and skills.
How a Blog Can Help Your Career
Writing a blog pertaining to your specialty is a great way to attract clients. And the best part? This can happen without much effort on your side. In fact, Google takes care of most of the work for you!
You see, as you continue to add content to your blog, Google will “crawl” that content and insert it into its search results. The more you post and use related keywords and terms, the higher your site will rank in Google results, and you’ll start to get real, qualified leads and clients.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you’ve started a blog about your specialty, health. You’ve written some blog posts, and they have all been crawled by Google. If a prospective client in the health industry types in “health writer” or “health news,” there’s a good chance they’ll find your blog. Once they read it and see your skills, they may even be interested in using your services. For this reason, it’s often a good idea to link to your blog from your main portfolio site, so clients can contact you easily and seamlessly.
If you already have a blog started on a domain and you want to build a writer’s website on a separate one, it is perfectly fine to have two separate websites, one for your blog and one for your main writing site.
What you can do is add a link to your blog somewhere in your main navigation so people can access it easily. So your website would look like the examples I just showed, except your blog link would take you to another website instead of the blog page located on the same website.
If you want your blog and writer’s site to be on the same domain like the examples I showed, you will want to use a platform called WordPress.
For instructions on how to do this, you can visit WordPress’ website directly at WordPress.org and also search in Google for “WordPress tutorials” and you will find a lot of helpful information and training videos. It’s not that hard to set up a site on WordPress, but if you are new to the platform, there may be a small learning curve.
Remember, the purpose of your blog is to position you as an expert in your field, which means you’ll be able to command higher rates. As a specialist, you can charge more per word for a piece of content, which of course will lead to more income for you overall.
Other Benefits of Blogging
At its heart, a blog is a social platform. It allows comments and encourages discussions. For this reason, it can quickly build your network of clients and future prospects. You’ll become acquainted with people that you otherwise might not have met, and potential clients can get to know you and feel more secure in hiring you.
If you’re a new freelance writer, a blog can act also as a type of portfolio. After all, it does showcase your writing. Just make sure to keep it professional and on-topic. You don’t want to add personal posts about your life, your kids or your trips. Remember you’re a specialist; position yourself as an expert and keep it warm and inviting, but always professional.
Overall, your professional blog should consist of article-style posts and/or interview transcripts, preferably about your specialty. Again, these posts should demonstrate to clients why you are a great fit for them and inspire them to hire you.
You can even include testimonials from clients who have worked with you. Add a case study to show how your skills got clients excellent results for their business. Explain the problem the client had, then, cover the approach you took to help fix the problem. If you’ve added to a client’s bottom line, make sure people know it. If you develop a reputation for helping a business make money, write about it in your blog. That’s sure to be a selling point for prospective customers.
The 2012 Freelance Industry Report cited the No. 1 challenge for freelance writers is finding direct clients who will hire them. What is interesting is that most of the 1,200 writers surveyed in this report didn’t have a professional blog.
In this survey, the top two vehicles freelance writers used to get clients was word of mouth and referrals. These two methods can be very effective, but a blog can allow for greater reach and an even more robust reputation.
In my eyes, it’s a must-have for any writer.
Posting to Your Blog
I’ve found that posting once a week or even bi-monthly is enough. Of course, if you have the time and you want to be more aggressive, then post as much as you are able. Just be careful it doesn’t take too much of your time. You want to make sure to allocate time to all strategies that will attract private clients, things like cold calling/emailing, answering job ads and networking on LinkedIn.
Become the Expert
Have you ever heard the saying, “perception is reality?” I like to say, “Reality doesn’t bite…rather our perception of reality bites.”
That’s why you must be perceived as an expert if you want to make six figures per year as a freelance writer. Blogging helps clients to perceive you as an expert because you are developing a reputation and taking the time to write intelligently on your topic.
Now don’t get discouraged if you’re not an expert yet. You can’t become an authority on a specific topic literally overnight – all it takes is research as well as a little bit of passion for the topic you want to specialize in.
Believe in yourself and your ability, and others will believe you as well. A confident writer is a successful writer, so work to hone your craft and specialty. As you focus on one subject, you’ll soon be known as an authority in that field and that, in turn, will build your clients and your pay scale.
Now go. Build a successful blog and let’s get on the path to freelance writing success!