Blogging has become a frequently recommended tactic to small businesses, including freelancers.
For good reasons, too. Blogging can work good for you as a marketing tactic. But don’t feel like you have to blog.
At its core, blogging has a few things going for it:
- it’s a written form of marketing, which makes it easy to create and edit
- it’s searchable by Google and other search engines so it can attract SEO traffic easily
- as opposed to essays and other forms of writing, blogging (usually) is more personal. It’s more of a chat at the bar than a speech at the podium, which lets you get away with a more informal style of writing
- it’s regular so it can build on itself in the long run
- you can build a community in the comments
But none of those make blogging really special. Other tactics are good or better at each point.
What blogging really has going for it is that you can get started easily and it can help you build a habit of creating.
When you decide to start blogging you really need to be clear about the goals of your blog. Since you’re here, I’m going to assume your goals revolve around growing your freelancing business and finding clients.
(If that’s not your goal, take a few minutes to really think about what you want to get out of blogging.)
Your goals with blogging are important because they will guide how you "do" blogging.
If your goal is to grow a community…
Then you’ll want to write about topics that will prompt comments. You might even want to take a side and polarize people into "your tribe" and "everyone else".
If your goal is to sell products you have…
Then you’ll want to write about the problems those products solve. And the people who need use them. You might include calls-to-action asking people to buy.
Thinking about your goal will force you to consider how to use your blog and will give you the confidence you need to make decisions that aren’t the current "correct" (read: popular) way of running a blog.
Along with your goals you need to think about who your audience will be. Are they your ideal clients? Staff in their organization? Peers that you want to subcontract with? Everyone?
Just like with all of the previous marketing lessons, the tighter you focus, and the smaller the niche, the easier it will be to stand out. If you only focus on application performance for iOS apps, you’ll build a name brand around that.
(Bonus points when you sync up your blog brand with your portfolio items and your authority piece. They all add to the trust your clients feel.)
Decisions become easier
By knowing why you’re writing and who you’re writing for, the two most frequently asked questions about blogging become really, really easy to answer:
- "How often should I post?"
- "How long should make my posts?"
This depends on what your audience wants and what you enjoy.
Posting more frequently than you enjoy and your audience wants is a waste of time. Similarly, writing short posts when your audience craves longer ones will be detrimental.
And your feelings and enjoyment matter. Remember above how I said that a blog’s killer feature is the habit it builds? Well if you hate the way you’re blogging, then you’re going to resent the activity or even burnout on it.
It’s much better to do something you enjoy.
To illustrate how this works, on my blog (theadmin.org) I’ve made a lot of decisions about how I run my blog.
My audience is freelancers, especially ones with questions about marketing. I don’t use my blog anymore for selling my client services. I found my ideal clients don’t care about the topics I’d want to write about so they aren’t my audience on that site anymore.
I’ve also made the conscious decision to do two things that go against the grain in popular blogging advice.
I don’t accept comments anymore. I enjoy communities but growing and managing one on a blog has always been hard for me. There are better systems for communities that I’d use if that was my goal. I still accept comments on social media or via email but those are more 1-on-1 comments than the free-form area on many blogs.
I cut out most of the design and focused on making it easy to read. That means I gave up a lot of prime screen real estate which I could have used to get more newsletter subscribers or product sales. The value of attracting and keeping people who want to read and learn is worth much more than the incremental business improvements a more busy layout would get me.
But this doesn’t mean your blog has to mirror mine. This is what works for me and my goals.
Consider blogging. But make sure you’re doing it because you see the value in it and you enjoy doing it. Don’t worry about what everyone else says or thinks.