Should freelancers blog?
In my opinion, this shouldn’t even be a question. There are so many business benefits to blogging that it only makes sense for most web designers and other freelancers to take part. The benefits of blogging far outweigh the disadvantages.
Yet, it seems like every so often someone influential makes the statement that they think blogging is dead. They claim blogging is no longer a good idea for small business. It’s a waste of time, they say. Social media is all the exposure you need, they go on to say.
Never mind that such well-known blogging experts like Demian Farnworth explain clearly that social media will never replace blogging as he does in this post on Copyblogger, 8 Reasons You Should Never Quit Your Blog for Google+. There are still those who will proclaim blogging to be a waste of time for freelancers.
In this post, I’ll explore why blogging has fallen out of favor with some freelancing. I’ll also list over 24 ways that your design business can still benefit from blogging.
Why (Some) Freelancers Hate Blogging
For those freelancers who are griping about blogging, I have one thing to say–stop trying to be Pete Cashmore. You’re not (at least probably not) going to found the next Mashable. You don’t have to post every single day. Your posts don’t even have to be words–images and videos will work as well.
And that’s perfectly okay. You can still derive a lot of business benefits from blogging.
Comparing your blog to non-freelance blogs is one of the main reasons I think that many freelancers are tempted to give up blogging. (The other reason being that blogging takes time and work.) But such comparisons are unfair. Most big blogs and news sites were never created to help promote a business. Plus, they almost always have investors on board and a professional staff.
Just because you can’t be Mashable (or any big name blog) doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from having a freelance blog for your design business.
24+ Ways Your Freelance Design Business Can Benefit from Your Blog
Here are over 24 ways that your freelancing business can benefit from your freelancing blog:
- Relatively Low Cost. Yes, blogging costs a little money and takes a little time. However, it’s still a relatively low-cost way to promote your design business–especially when you compare it to paying for advertisements.
- Controlled by you. It’s true that social media is a free way to promote your business. But don’t rely too heavily on social media. You don’t own the social media sites. Plus, social media sites fail. Does anyone remember Yahoo! Buzz or MyBlogLog?
- Builds authority. You can use your freelance blog to show off your knowledge in your area. To do this, create and share high-quality content that is relevant to your specialty.
- Grows relationships. The best, most authoritative, blogs tend to have communities that grow up around them. These communities consist of regular commentators who interact frequently with the blog’s authors and readers.
- Provides fresh content for search engines. It’s well-known that the search engines tend to favor sites that frequently publish new content. What better way to add new content that with a well-written blog post?
- A source of work samples for writers and web designers. Your blog can serve as a sample of your work. What better way to show them what you can do than with your own blog?
- Shows off your skills. Your skills aren’t always evident in your portfolio, which only shows the end result. In your blog, you can connect the dots and tell prospects how you worked behind the scene to make that project a success.
- A place for your unique voice. No one approaches the design business quite like you. No matter who you are, you have a unique slant on the industry. With your blog, that uniqueness gets a voice.
- Gives you an online home. Your freelance business blog is a place where clients, prospects, and colleagues know that they can find you online.
- Something of your own to share on social media. If you don’t blog, you will have to share other people’s content on social media. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. You should do that. But it’s also a good idea to have something of your own to share.
- More interesting than a static site. If you’ve seen one freelancer website, you’ve seen them all. At least that’s how many of your prospects feel. Add thought-provoking blog posts, and you give your prospects a reason to come back to your site.
- Generates leads. Many studies show that business websites with blogs get more traffic. Here’s one of those studies. This one is from Lily Zhu writing on HubSpot, Active Business Blogging Draws in 6.9 Times More Organic Search Traffic.
- Competitive advantage. If you don’t have a freelancing design blog, I believe that you are at a competitive disadvantage. Your prospects learn more about you through your blog. If you don’t have a blog and your competitor does, guess who they’ll be learning more about?
- Sometimes a source of additional income. Some design blogs do become popular and do provide their owners with an additional income. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s nice when it does.
- Branding tool. A blog is a great way to convey your vision for your design business. Ultimately, your blog becomes part of your brand.
- Announce new products and services. Are you expanding your business? Did you learn a new skill? Maybe you have a new side gig. Use your blog to help promote these announcements.
- Shows you are comfortable with new media. Many clients are looking for someone who is knowledgeable about social media and blogging. Having a blog shows that you understand just how important new media is and also that you know how it works.
- Share more than just words. Use your blog to showcase your design work, record a video about web design, or even share some of your favorite photographs.
- Inspire people to action. Blogs can be a great source of inspiration. If a prospect is sitting on the fence, uncertain about whether to hire you, a blog can be the difference that gets you the business.
- Give clients an extra way to connect. The best business blogs also showcase client success. Interview a satisfied client and share how your services helped them.
- Improves your communication skills. Communication is an important skill for freelancers. We communicate through proposals, email, phone calls, and in many other ways. Blogging is a great way to hone your communication skills.
- Can provide the core for a book. Many bloggers have turned the topic of their blog into a book. Some freelancers have gotten book deals through a traditional publisher, others have published an eBook. Authoring a book only enhances your reputation.
- Prequalifies client inquiries. Prospects who contact you because they’ve read your blog tend to be more interested in your services than other clients. Often they already know what type of work you do and what your vision is.
- Opportunity to help others. By posting to your business blog, you are giving back to the web design community. If you’re doing it right, you are sharing valuable information that will be useful to your prospects, clients, and colleagues.
- Your post won’t be rejected. Guest posting is a popular way for some to promote their products and services. If you’ve ever tried it, though, you know that there’s no guarantee when or if your post will be published. With your own blog, you publish what you want when you want.
With all of these advantages, it makes me wonder why every freelancer isn’t taking advantage of blogging.
My own blog is small. It’s definitely not the next Mashable, nor was it meant to be. However, if I had never started it, I doubt I would be sharing this post with you today.
Sure, I had writing experience. I had years of experience writing technical manuals and creating help systems for software. But it’s my blog that opened the door to writing online content.
Many bloggers either own multiple blogs or they write for others as well as their own. Those who aren’t writing guest posts for other blogs are missing out on a great opportunity to gain exposure and network with influential bloggers. If you’re looking to increase the exposure of your blog and gain new readers, consider submitting articles to be posted on other blogs. This article will cover the reasons for writing for other blogs as well as the steps required for a beneficial experience.
Why Write for Multiple Blogs?
1. Multiple streams of income. If you own more than one blog you’ll have increased income opportunities. Another way to improve your income without owning multiple blogs is to be a paid writer for other blogs.
2. Networking. Some of the best contacts that I have made since I started blogging were initiated or strengthened through guest blogging. Emailing a blogger to offer a guest post is a great way to introduce yourself and offer something of value at the same time. It can be a real win-win situation. If you help another blogger, they are likely to remember you and they’ll be more likely to repay the favor or to link to you in the future. Even if they don’t, it’s still nice to know that you can make an impact for others.
3. Gain exposure. By writing a guest post you’ll be gaining instant exposure to the audience of the other blog. Not only will you get the exposure, but you’ll be able to demonstrate the quality of your knowledge and information. Obviously, the amount of exposure you get will depend on which blog publishes your article. The number of subscribers isn’t the only significant factor. Some blogs have smaller audiences, but their readers are very targeted and very loyal.
4. Cover other topics. One of the most common reasons for bloggers to start a second blog is that they want to be able to write about topics other than those that are covered on their primary blog. The same is true with guest posting if you want to write for blogs that cover different subjects than your blog.
5. Inbound links. Most guest posts will include a brief bio statement that contains a link back to the authors website or blog. These links can add up to increase click-through traffic and search engine rankings.
Some Tips for Writing for Multiple Blogs:
1. Write down all of your ideas regardless of which blog will end up publishing them. The more blogs you write for, the more ideas you’ll need. For some people, this isn’t a problem, but you’ll never be able to remember all of your ideas unless you have a method for keeping track of them.
2. Don’t try to assign ideas to a specific blog right away. Let your ideas develop as you write them. Try to refrain from classifying an idea as being relevant only to a particular blog before the direction of the post has been established. Sometimes you’ll be surprised that the post winds up being a good bit different from how you originally thought it would. Once you know for sure where you are going with an idea you may have a particular audience that you think would appreciate it more than others.
3. Subscribe to other blogs that publish your articles. By subscribing you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the blog and how it typically communicates with its readers. That knowledge can be helpful for you down the road. It’s helpful to know what subjects have been recently covered so you don’t submit a post to be published that is very similar to another recent article.
4. Promote your writing at other blogs whenever possible. If your posts on other blogs draw a lot of attention it is a good thing for you. If possible, link to your posts from your other blog(s) or vote for them on social media sites.
5. Keep track of what articles you’ve submitted to each blog. I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of my submissions to other blogs. That’s the only way I can effectively know which articles have been submitted and posted.
6. If an article doesn’t get accepted one place, use it somewhere else. One of the great things about guest posting is that even if your post doesn’t get published you can always use it on another blog. Don’t submit the same article to multiple blogs unless you’re sure it is not going to be published with the first blog it was submitted.
7. Keep track of published URLs for your portfolio. As you look for more writing opportunities you may be asked for some samples of your work. It’s helpful to have records of where your posts are so you can use more than just samples from your own blog.
8. Don’t keep all of your best posts for your main blog. If you own multiple blogs you’ll probably want to spread the wealth throughout them. If you’re writing guest posts you won’t get the best results unless your quality is the best you can produce.
9. Remember to respond to comments. If you’re writing guest posts it’s a good practice to return to answer questions and respond to comments from readers.
10. Pay attention to what works. If you’re writing guest posts you’ll most likely not have access to statistics to see how many visitors are arriving at your posts. If you’re looking for a way to measure a posts success and learn for the future, you can pay attention to how many comments, inbound links and social media votes a post receives. While these items don’t tell the whole story, they can help you to know what topics will draw a response from readers of a particular blog.
11. Develop relationships whenever possible. As I mentioned earlier, writing for other blogs has been one of the best network opportunities for me. Don’t look at guest posting opportunities as a one time chance to get some exposure and traffic. Always look for the chance the make strong, long-term contacts. Send a follow-up thank you to the blogger for posting your article.
12. Proofread everything. When you are not the one publishing a post it’s easy to rely on someone else to proofread your writing. Not only are other bloggers not that likely to spend much time proofreading, but they’ll also form an opinion on the quality of your work based on how complete and accurate it is when the receive it.
13. Write multiple posts in one sitting. I think all of us have certain times that are more productive than others. Take advantage of the times of the day and week that work best for you to write. Don’t stop after writing one post just because it is all you need for that day.
14. Don’t repeatedly link back to your own site. Don’t blatantly advertise your blog, services, or products in the article. Let the quality of the writing and your knowledge do the advertising.
By following these steps you’ll be able to quickly reach a lot of new potential readers, grow you name recognition, and get some quality inbound links.
The most important point I’m trying to make here is that your design business blog doesn’t have to have hundreds of thousands of page views to be a success. If your blog gets your message out and attracts the interest of potential clients, that is enough.