Blogging can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, blogging provides a way to communicate with friends and family. For others, blogging provides a way to grow a business or advance a career. For freelance designers blogging can serve many different purposes depending on where you are in your business and what direction you want to go.
In this article we’ll take a look at 9 reasons for freelancers to blog. Not all of them will apply to you, but hopefully a few of them would serve you well. Depending on what you want to get out of your blogging efforts there could be a number of different approaches that you take.
For some designers a blog is simply a place to document their thoughts and to share what they are working on or what they are learning. Posts may be infrequent because there is no need to publish content just for the sake of posting something new.
Others who have specific goals for the blog may take a different approach. One of the great things about blogging is the flexibility that allows you to adjust your approach to your own situation and your needs.
If you’re not sure how your work as a designer can benefit from maintaining a blog, here is a look at 9 possibilities.
1. Improved Communication Skills
Communication skills are as critical to freelancing success as the ability to design. As a freelancer you’ll have to do all of the communication with your clients and potential clients. In order to be on the same page, to set the scope of your projects, to provide customer service, and to present proposals to potential clients you will have to be able to communicate effectively. Without good communication skills your work as a freelancer will likely wind up being very frustrating for both you and your clients.
Blogging helps to improve your written communication simply by being active with writing. Most of us are much more careful with our writing when it’s being published than we are with informal communication, so it comes naturally to work towards improving in this way when you are blogging. Any improvement in communication skills can prove to be highly beneficial when working with clients.
2. Increased Visibility
One of the main reasons that freelancers blog is to help with finding more work. A blog gives the freelancer a platform to potentially reach clients in ways aside from the typical advertising methods that may be used by other designers and agencies. Ideally, more people seeing your blog will result in more inqueries for work and more clients.
Visibility can be increased through a blog by way of social media, repeat visitors and subscribers, inbound links from other sites that point to your blog posts, and increased search engine traffic. For the average freelance designer with a small portfolio site, building search engine traffic can be extremely difficult since there are so many other sites out there competing for the same traffic. But with a blog you will build up a large archive (over a period of time) of posts, each of which can attract search engine traffic. And each post will have it’s own unique topic, so the blog is well suited to attract visitors from longtail search phrases.
3. Personal Connection
In any type of service-oriented business, being able to connect on a personal level with potential clients is a huge help in terms of securing the work. While portfolio sites are great for showing the work that you have done for other clients and what you are capable of, a blog can add a personal element to it that visitors will be able to connect with more than by simply seeing your work samples.
Some freelancers make a stronger effort to show their personality in their blog more than others, but even those that keep the blog focused on their professional work are able to connect with visitors simply through their content.
4. New Networking Opportunities
If you want to achieve success as a freelance designer one of your goals should be to build a strong professional network. Having connections in the industry can lead to referrals, friends to turn to for valued advice, inspiration, collaboration opportunities, and much more.
Having a blog will provide you with a lot of new opportunities to connect with others in the industry. You’ll get to meet people all around the world that blog, run community-oriented websites, provide services in the industry, or have a product to sell to people in the industry. All of these connections can be beneficial to you, even if you don’t currently know how they may prove to be valuable. Having strong connections throughout the industry is a major benefit of being an active blogger.
5. Creative Outlet
Most designers have chosen to work in the industry because of the desire to create something and a love of design. But as a freelancer, the client projects that you work on each day may not come with the type of flexibility that allows you to explore creatively in the way that you would like. If this is the case for you, finding an outlet that provides you with the opportunities to be creative may make your work more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Blogging can serve as a creative outlet in a few ways. First, unlike when you are designing a site for a client, the blog design is completely your own. You can design it any way you want, and there are no clients to answer to.
Aside from the design, the content of the blog also provides opportunity for creativity. Some designers like to experiment and then post case studies or tutorials on their blog. Others prefer to use their creativity by starting discussions related to issues in the industry. The way you use your creativity in the blog content is totally up to you, and there are countless possibilities.
6. Name Recognition
Name recognition can be valuable to freelancers, although it is not desired by all designers. A blog can help you to improve your name recognition throughout the industry much quicker than just about any other method. If you use your blog to display your talent and your knowledge, you may quickly find that others are taking notice.
The benefits of name recognition include more client work, the ability to charge higher rates, employment opportunities (if that’s something that you desire), speaking opportunities, collaboration possibilities, among others.
The traditional method of building name recognition in the industry through quality work and letting that work speak for itself is certainly still possible. But with a blog it’s much more feasible to reach a large audience and it’s possible to do it very quickly.
7. Diversity of Income
Blogging can help designers in a number of different ways, and it’s really up to you to determine what you want out of it. Maybe you don’t have a need for more client work, so blogging to gain exposure to potential clients isn’t what you want to do. Many designers are looking for other ways aside from client work to supplement their income, and blogging is one of the most common choices.
Earning an income through your blog can be possible by selling ad spots, affiliate marketing, or producing your own products to promote on your blog. Templates/themes, stock graphics, apps, and ebooks are types of products that a lot of designers are creating, and having a blog can make it easier to sell these products.
The income you earn through the blog may be a small amount that supplements your client work and provides a little bit of cushion for times when client work is slow, or it may become a full-time income that you use to break away from client work.
8. Productive Use of Down Time
If you find that you frequently have time between client projects when there is not a lot of productive work for you to do, blogging can be a good use of your time. Rather than wasting available time you can be working to build a blog that helps you to reach more potential clients and gives you all the other benefits of blogging.
Blogging doesn’t have to be something that you do all the time. Many designers choose to work on blog content when they have the time. As a result, the blog posts won’t be published very consistently and the frequency will depend on your workload, but there are still benefits to be gained by using this approach. If you’re hoping to make blogging a more significant part of your income you will need to set time aside for it, but if you’re just looking for a creative outlet and a chance to increase your exposure working on the blog when you have free time is usually sufficient.
9. Give Back to the Community
The design community includes a huge number of incredible websites and blogs that provide value in one way or another to the community. Whether it is the chance to network, free resources, tutorials, articles, inspiration, just about whatever you need is available through one or more sites in the design community. Having a blog can provide you with an opportunity to contribute something of your own that can prove to be beneficial to others.
What’s Your Experience?
Do you blog? If so, what do you get out of it?
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