While a blog may not be a cure-all for marketing, it offers quite a few opportunities to build a connection with prospective clients. Just about every freelance writer needs to have a blog on her website — not on a free blog site like WordPress or Blogger — for several reasons.
Your blog does not have to be a huge burden: you certainly do not need to write a lengthy blog post every day of the week or devote hours to promoting your blog. Those approaches may be necessary if you’re hoping to make a full-time living from your blog, but if it’s a marketing tool, you can take a much more realistic approach to it. Think about the ways a blog can help you with marketing your writing:
- Writing samples: A blog provides consistently fresh writing samples, eliminating any worries from clients that your clips are examples of what you could do years ago, rather than what you can do now.
- SEO: Search engines like seeing constant updates on a website, and give those sites a better ranking in search results.
- Expertise: If you work in a specific niche, writing regularly about that niche can help you show clients that you really do know the topic inside and out.
- Inexpensive Networking: Advertising and other marketing methods can be extremely expensive. Setting up and maintaining a blog is more a matter of time than money.
If you already have a website in places, adding a blog can be a fairly simple matter. You (or the technical expert of your choice) can add a WordPress installation at yourname.com/blog and you can customize it to match the rest of your site. Once you’ve got the infrastructure in place, you’ll need to concentrate on content.
Deciding what you should blog about can be a surprisingly difficult matter. It’s exceedingly rare that a writer should blog about what she does all day — the number of blogs about writing is one of the fastest-growing categories (and one of the quickest topics to be abandoned). Instead, writing about your niche, or one of the niches you write about, is more practical. That’s actually one of the approaches I’ve taken with this blog myself — I write regularly about small business topics and focus my blog on the business of freelance writing, a subset of small business. A personal finance writer might blog about personal finance news, or a copy writer may blog about the marketing techniques that work for the niche her preferred clients come from.
Your content needs to be as solid as an article or project you would complete for one of your clients. But it doesn’t have to be a time sink. In order to get value out of your blog, you basically need to post at least once a week, with a post that is a minimum of 400 words. Considering that you’re writing about a topic you probably know very well, that sort of commitment is likely to be doable.
Promoting Your Blog
Every blog post that you promote, even a little bit, is an opportunity to promote your freelance writing. As long as your blog makes it very clear that your services are for hire, it’s worth spending at least a little time on promoting your posts.
- Share the links for your posts through social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter
- Share links through forums and other blogs about similar topics (for instance, if you write about design, you could submit a link to Creattica)
- Comment on other blogs covering similar topics
- Submit posts to Blog Carnival
You can automate some of these tasks, while others only need a little attention — I tend to submit posts to blog carnivals while watching television.
I’ve picked up more than a few clients through my blog. Have you found clients through your online writing? Have any tracked you down?
Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!