That’s why the post Should a Freelance Writer Have a Blog? from my colleague John Soares caught my eye.
John addresses the question that many freelance writers and other freelancers are asking. “Should I blog?”
In this post, I’ll share my own thoughts on why I think blogging is still important. I’ll also provide a few tips on how to start blogging.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links.
I get it. I really do.
Blogging costs money and it takes time. Why bother with it?
If you’re a freelance writer, there are some excellent reasons why you should blog. Here are six benefits of blogging for writers and other freelancers. I’ve also included a quick guide on how to get started blogging.
Benefit 1: Raises Your Visibility
There are literally thousands of freelance writers out there. Attracting the attention of potential clients can be difficult.
You may think that your portfolio, social media profiles, and bios on published work are enough. Those platforms do raise your visibility. But with your own blog you have a platform you can count on. Let’s take a quick look at the other platforms:
- Your portfolio. Some potential clients will browse through portfolio sites like Contently. Many others aren’t aware of them so they don’t look for writers there. In my experience, most potential clients find me through my blog first and then ask for more examples of my work. I usually send them to my Contently profile.
- Social media. You can make useful contacts through social media. Remember, though, that social media sites are full of other writers. You will have lots of competition to catch your prospect’s eye. Plus, staying active on a social site can be almost as much work as blogging. The biggest drawback with social media is that you don’t own the site. The rules can change at any time.
- Author bios on published work. These are great, but many readers ignore them. If you do ghostwriting and many types of business writing, you won’t get an author bio. Even if you do get a byline and bio, the publication can remove your article at any time for any reason. The publication might even cease to exist. I know about this because it has happened to me.
Benefit 2: Showcases Your Work
You might be tempted to publish something on your blog quickly and be done with it. Don’t do it. Instead, publish some of your best work on your own blog.
Your blog should show prospective clients how well you write. You can also choose to write a variety of pieces, such as interviews, reviews, and even tutorials.
Benefit 3: Allows You to Network
One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to know the readers. I have a small, but active group of writers who I communicate with regularly. I’ve even worked with some of them. Without my blog, I wouldn’t have met most of them.
Benefit 4: Can Earn You Money
Most freelancers won’t become rich from their blog. You probably won’t either. However, you can earn a small income from selling digital products like eBooks, and by running ads and including affiliate links with your posts.
The real money you earn through your blog comes from the clients who find you. Yes, I’ve gotten clients who have found me through my blog. I have other clients for whom having a blog was the deciding factor in their decision to hire me.
After all, how do you convince clients to hire you to manage their blog if you can’t show that you’ve managed your own?
Benefit 5: Blogging Knowledge
If I were a company about to hire a paid blogger, I would want someone with experience at running a blog. I would look at each applicant’s blog to see whether they had some longevity and consistency.
Many people start blogging and quit after a few weeks or months. I definitely wouldn’t want someone like that in charge of my corporate blog.
Benefit 6: Learning Opportunity
You learn a lot from blogging. Blogging allow you to explore a topic in depth. It also gives you a chance to learn about WordPress, software tools, and about marketing.
Personally, I enjoy is trying out new tools and plugins for my blog. I wouldn’t get that chance if only wrote for clients.
Also, marketing content is a learned skill. The more you do it, the better you get. What better way to gain that experience than by marketing the content on your own blog?
How to Start Your Own Blog
It’s not as hard to start a blog as you might think. Here are some simple steps to get you started:
- Pick a topic to blog about. Your blog doesn’t have to be about writing or about freelancing for it to serve as an example of your writing work. Choose a topic to blog about that you are passionate about. I know writers who blog about topics ranging from cooking to hiking and more.
- Choose a hosting service. Bluehost (affiliate link, I receive a small fee for purchases), the site I use to host this blog, offers WordPress hosting packages starting at under $15 a month. General hosting packages are available for less than that. The Bluehost price includes 24/7 support and their money-back guarantee. I’ve used Bluehost (affiliate link, I receive a small fee for purchases.) since 2007, and have found their service reps to be helpful, professional, and courteous.
- Download WordPress from WordPress.org. You can use another CMS, but I’ve found that WordPress is the most popular. Also If you want to work as a paid blogger, knowing how to use WordPress gives you a definite advantage. What better way to learn the tool than with your own blog?
- Choose a theme. There are many WordPress themes out there. Some are even free. I’ve found that you get what you pay for when it comes to themes. The better themes will give your blog a nice, professional look. Some even offer SEO benefits. Two good places to look for themes are StudioPress and ThemeForest. (Disclosure: I’ve done work for Envato, of which ThemeForest is a part.)
If you decide to use Bluehost (affiliate link, I receive a small fee for purchases) as your hosting service, the process of starting your own blog may be even simpler. They have plenty of tools and shortcuts to help you out. Brittany Warnock has written an excellent guide that explains how to start blogging with Bluehost on the official Bluehost Blog.
Deciding to have a blog is a personal decision. Do you think blogging is still worthwhile for freelance writers? Why, or why not?