There are numerous ways to expand your client base and increase the size of your portfolio. Common tactics used to do this include utilizing your contacts, taking part in relevant discussion forums, being active in freelance marketplaces and even watching industry specific job boards.
One idea that is implemented by some people but certainly not by everyone, is blogging. Sharing your abilities with the world in the hope that the right person finds what you have to offer. Through my experience though, quite a few people fail to have any success when trying to use this strategy.
Today I want to share my own story, and how I made over $20,000 in 4 months when my only source of clients were through blogging. To some, $20,000 might not seem like much, I really don’t know what your own income looks like. Yet, when I tell you I did this at 17 whilst working in my bedroom, it might make blogging look a little more promising.
Whether you run a blog or are considering starting one, I hope this post gives you a fresh look on some ideas you may have missed.
I Picked a Specific Field
Like most freelancers, you probably have skills in multiple disciplines. If you’re a writer, you might be able to write great blog posts but also have the skills necessary for a compelling sales page. If you’re a programmer, you might have a great knowledge of PHP but also code applications using Ruby on Rails.
Similarly, if you’re a designer you might offer excellent logos and one of a kind website designs. I could go on, but you get my point. My specialty was on the subject of Internet Marketing. I knew lots about SEO, Social Media Marketing and was even quite an expert in Online Reputation Management, but not everybody knew.
I didn’t set myself up to seem good in each of these areas; I took the time to establish myself as an expert in one of them. Because of this, I stood out in that specific field. A good example of someone doing this is David Airey. David is an excellent all-around designer, but focuses specifically on logos and receives a lot of logo work for doing so.
I Knew What I Was Talking About
My first focus, an area where I wanted to really share my talents, was Search Engine Optimization. Was I the best SEO out there? Probably not. Did it matter? No. You don’t have to be the best but you do have to be great. After all, there’s only one ‘best’ person out there in every field but there are tons of people with mediocre abilities.
And, while you have to be great, it’s not enough to just know that is the case. You obviously have to show it though your blog. In terms of SEO that could be performing an experiment that nobody else in the industry has done, as a designer that could be picking apart some famous logos and saying why they work, and so on.
Your blog is your way to showcase your abilities and you should use it to do exactly that. The blog posts that have earned me the largest following are the ones where I went the extra mile. The one’s where I did something different or something that took a little more time than anyone else was willing to spend.
I Discussed My Other Clients
There’s a fine line between being personal on your blog and offering value. Giving the visitor value should always be your first focus, but they still need to feel like they can connect with you. One thing that I found to work for me was to discuss my clients and what I have been able to help them achieve.
The idea behind discussing your client work serves multiple purposes:
- It shows you have them (social proof)
- It shows you want them (you’re not just a blogger)
- It shows you know what you’re doing (results)
Of course, you don’t want to highlight an ugly logo or a script that doesn’t work. Show off your best work because your best work is probably your future clients preferred end result. Finally, don’t forget to get your clients’ permission before doing this.
I Narrowed My Traffic Sources (But Dominated Them)
Dominated sounds a bit devious (I wasn’t) but it is the best way to describe my actions. You can do all of the things above, but they are all pointless if nobody is visiting your site, right? What does it matter if you know what you talking about if there is nobody there to witness it.
You can’t forget about getting traffic to your site, but on that same note, you shouldn’t waste your time just getting any traffic. A Digg homepage might get you thousands of visitors or a burst on StumbleUpon might do the same, but is it really going to bring the buyers in?
Find relevant blogs in your industry, see if there are Digg-like sites in your niche, browse around for service specific communities where people hang out. I know some accountants that work from home who get all of their clients from only one business forum. If that works for them, they have no need to go elsewhere and try to make their analytics stats look impressive.
Focus on a few sources of traffic that you can really dominate, sources that can really help show your authority before people even find your site. Despite my internet marketing blog being on Digg multiple times and receiving over 100,000 visitors from StumbleUpon in one month, it was these niche sites that sent me clients.
Key Points to Remember
While any of the above items can really help increase the size of your bank balance, there are a few things you need to remember when it comes to “blogging for clients.”
- It’s Not About the Size of Your Audience – There are literally millions of people who might land on your site and have no interest in what you offer. If you’re just blogging for feed subscribers then realize that you might not be making the most of your time. 10 of the ‘right’ visitors are far better than 100 of the ‘wrong’ ones.
- Keep it Personal — I see a lot of people starting blogs for their business and then they act as if they have to be all professional and corporate. The style of writing I’m putting out here on this site is exactly the same as I was putting out on my own. If corporate and professional is not your thing then don’t even try to act like it is as it will just be putting a wall between you and your potential clients.
- Make It Easy to Contact You — Obvious? Yep. Implemented by the majority? No way. If someone is impressed by your blog and wants to get in touch, the least you can do is make it easy for them. Whether that means being available on Skype, Twitter, MSN or even just having a functioning contact form, have something in place.
- Realize There Are Exceptions — The points in this post are all based on my experiences and what worked well for me. There will be people who managed to get clients from blogging by doing something completely different. In the online game, there are exceptions to every rule so try out other ideas and see what works for you.
I don’t really take on much client work these days as I’m ‘doing my own thing’ but I know my life situation and my bank balance would have been a lot different without blogging. If you haven’t tried blogging before, give it a shot. If you already run a blog, see if you can implement some of these ideas.
If you run a successful blog relating to your own business, I would love to read some of your own stories in the comments!
Photo by cavilha