I’ve done freelance work as a paid blogger, design and usability consultant, static and sales page writer, copywriter, WordPress theme customizer and logo designer without ever advertising my freelancing services outside my blog. It has been the engine and wheels behind my freelancing business.
I want to show you that it’s entirely possible to build a lucrative freelance profile on the back of a blog.
This post will cover three key reasons why you should either a) start a blog or b) optimize your blog to generate a stream of clients. First, I’ll describe the ways in which a blog can be used to control and grow your personal brand. Secondly, I’ll explain how blogging can add value to your freelancing business. Third, I’ll describe how you can set up a system which will see you receive a steady flow of high-quality prospects through your blog.
Manage and build your personal brand
The following two paragraphs are for the doubters: those who believe maintaining a blog will be more trouble than it’s worth. While the tips hold very true even for the blog optimist, I’d suggest that even the biggest cynic read the following two paragraphs.
Even if you have little time to write content and promote your blog, it’s still worth having one. Here’s why: you can control what a prospect sees when they search for your name on Google. Register your full name as a domain, or your business name, and you have a pretty good chance of ranking #1 when anyone searches for that term. This will prevent the first result being anything you wouldn’t want a prospect to see. Even if you only update your blog or website once a month, it’s worth it to preserve your personal brand.
This first point is why I would suggest even the most cynical freelancer should have some kind of blogging presence. I’d broaden this point to any freelancer hoping to trade in blog design. Even if the idea of creating content and promoting your blog doesn’t excite you, publish a blog just to show off the best blog theme you’ve designed. If it’s the first thing a prospect sees when they search your name, that’s invaluable.
Add value to your freelancing business
If your blog is topically related to the type of freelancing you do, it will help establish you as an expert in that field. A portfolio allows clients to see your finished work, but a blog shows them the skills and knowledge behind the work you do. It shows that you have depth.
If your blogging isn’t related to the type of freelancing you do, it would be worth trying to work the topic into your blog’s editorial calendar. If you freelance as a web designer, for example, but keep a blog about personal finance, you could write a post about ‘The 10 Best Designed Money Blogs’. It presents the perfect opportunity to introduce your freelance skills to your blog’s audience.
If your blog topic is unrelated to the area you freelance in, the very act of maintaining a successful blog gives you an element of notoriety which will help you charge premium rates for your work.
Running a quality blog also shows that you understand the needs of bloggers and webmasters. If you’re a web designer, web developer or want to be a staff blogger, that’s a vital asset.
If you’re a photographer, using your own photography on your blog (or even creating a blog solely dedicated to your photography) is the perfect item to add to your portfolio, particularly if you can develop a following around your photography.
If you’re interested in working as a paid blogger it’s almost essential that you run your own blog, but it should be noted that your blog will act as your portfolio. If it’s thriving, your freelance blogging career will probably thrive too. If it’s languishing, you can’t expect prospects to be very excited about your work!
Create an automatic flow of prospects
If your blog gets a few hundred visitors each day and you successfully let each of them know that you’re available for hire, you can bet that every so often a blog reader will become a prospective client. Your chances will be maximized when these factors align:
1. Your blog’s target audience might need someone like you. If you’re wanting to work as a freelance blogger, make sure that your blog is on the same topics that you’d like to write on. Bloggers tend to follow other blogs in their niche, so it greatly increases your chances of being discovered by a potential employer.
If you’re blogging in the area you freelance in, you’ll meet more prospects if you position yourself as an individual imparting advice to beginners. There’s a simple explanation for this. If you blog about web development, for example, and your posts operate at a fairly high level, your readers are likely to be web developers themselves who’re already capable of doing the kind of work you do (who therefore wouldn’t need to hire you). If you’re aiming your content at beginners, however, you’ll gather a readership who may actually have need of your services. It also gives you the opportunity to position yourself as an expert rather than a peer.
2. You make it clear that you’re looking for work. One of your readers may be looking for a freelancer just like you, but if they don’t happen to see the tiny ‘hire me’ link on your About page, you will have missed your chance. If you’re looking for work, advertise it unapologetically. If you have a top navigation bar, put a ‘Hire Me’ link next to your ‘About’ page. Otherwise, put a ‘Hire Me’ link or graphic towards the top of your sidebar, which is another high visibility location. Some bloggers will take up prime screen-space with an ad block that makes a few dollars a day, so you can certainly be forgiven for unabashedly chasing something that could see you live in luxury… for a few days, at least ;-).
3. Your ‘Hire Me’ page doesn’t suck. Excuse the strong wording, but it illustrates my point: your ‘Hire Me’ page certainly doesn’t have to be the best one ever written, it just needs to tick a few set boxes.
- It explains the kind of work you’re available to do
- It showcases or describes the kind of work you’re capable of (or links to a portfolio).
- It gives prospects a reason to choose you over other freelancers. What makes you special?
- If you have a standard fee or a firm price model you use, include it to cut out the number of unrealistic applicants. If your prices are flexible and subject to negotiation, however, don’t mention them.
- It lists a means of contact.
4. Your readers like you. The process of hiring someone through the web is generally made more difficult by a lack of trust and accountability. Readers who follow and enjoy your writing are a lot more likely to trust and have faith in you than visitor #455 at a freelancing jobs site. Your readers would rather hire someone they know and like over a stranger. If you’re useful and treat your readers with respect, generating this kind of good-will shouldn’t be too hard at all.
With the aforementioned system in place you should receive at least a few quality job offers each month (though this could become as frequent as a few offers per week).
If you’re a freelancer who blogs, feel free to share a link in the comments section on one condition: that you answer this question. How are you using your blog to boost your freelancing business?