Have you ever heard this claim?
If you’ve been working online for any length of time, then this claim is probably not new to you. Nearly every small business advisor will tell you that blogging is a great way to build up your online presence.
However, many freelancers begin blogging with unrealistic expectations. They view blogging as a sort of magic bullet that can somehow instantly propel them to freelancer rockstardom.
This post takes a realist look at some of those expectations. It also discusses what a freelancer can realistically expect from blogging.
A Realistic Look at What Blogging Can Do for You
There’s no denying that having a blog is beneficial to most freelancers. We’ve already explained why having a blog is important to a freelancer. That’s all good information, and we won’t go over it again in this post.
However, with a very few exceptions, starting a blog for your freelance business won’t actually put you on the fast train to freelance success. It can take a long time for a community to develop around a blog. Also, your new little business blog may not even get much notice at first unless you work very hard at promoting it.
Yet, starting a blog (if you don’t have one already) is probably a good move for your freelance business.
Why? Let’s look at a few real-life benefits that blogging brings to your business:
- Clients can find your information. It’s your blog, so be sure to include everything a client might want to know about you (such as what type of work you do, how long you’ve been in business, and any philosophy or vision that you have about your work). Don’t forget to include a way for the client to contact you.
- It’s pretty much expected in some fields. Are you a freelance writer, web developer or graphic artist? If you are, your clients probably expect that you already have a blog (or at least a website) for your freelance business. If you don’t have a blog, they may believe that you’re not really serious about your work.
- Can serve as a sample of your work. We all know that it’s a good idea to link your portfolio to your blog. Did you know that for many freelancers your blog itself could also serve as a sample of your work? If you’re a writer, clients will look at the writing on your blog. If you are designer, they will examine your blog’s design.
- Connects you to colleagues. Probably the first comments that you will receive on your blog will be from peers in your field rather than from clients wanting to hire you. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You can learn a lot from your peers and it’s always good to have connections in your line of work.
We’ve looked at some of the real-life benefits to having a blog. Let’s examine some of the equally real drawbacks.
Some Real-life Drawbacks to Blogging
While blogging can provide many benefits to freelancers, you should also be aware that there are some drawbacks to blogging:
- Time. There’s no doubt about it. It takes some amount of time to create and maintain a blog. If you are very busy or overloaded, you may feel that you don’t have time to blog. The good news is that a business blogger doesn’t need to post something new every single day. You may be able to get away with posting once a week, or even less frequently.
- Embarrassment. While this is usually a drawback of the freelancer’s own making, it can be a very real problem. One mistake that many freelancers make is that of posting information on their blog that is too controversial or too personal. (Do your readers really want to see a blow-by-blow account of your gallbladder surgery? Do you want to see it?)
- Technical Snafus. If you already have a blog, you know that there technical problems that occasionally crop up when you blog. Even if you are an expert in web development these problems can sometimes be time-consuming to fix. I can recall spending an entire morning on the phone once with my webhost’s technical support team trying to figure out why my blog was down.
- Trolls and Other Undesirables. It’s a known fact that there are a few unsavory characters online. While most of the people who connect with you will be decent human beings who are well worth getting to know, there are a few trolls out there who only stop by your blog just to give you grief. The best thing to do is ignore these folks unless they become an actual threat, in which case you should contact your Internet provider (and possibly the authorities).
In fact, after looking at the list of problems associated with having a blog you may be wondering if you can possibly get by without one. We’ll look at that next.
Can You Succeed as a Freelancer Without a Blog?
I’m often asked this question and while I’m a big proponent of blogging for freelancers and small business owners, I have to be perfectly honest and answer “yes.”
I know this answer firsthand because I did it myself. I was able to find freelance work without a blog for the first few years of my freelancing business. Was it harder? Probably, but it was not impossible.
Blogging is out there as a tool to be used if you need it. You don’t have to use it. While I think having a blog related to your freelance business is an excellent addition to your arsenal of effective marketing tools, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to take advantage of it.
Share Your Thoughts
What are your thoughts on having a business blog? Do you have one?
Describe any benefits you feel that you have gotten from blogging.
Are you a freelancer without a blog?
Discuss the reasons why you have chosen not to blog.
Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image by anniemole