It’s a common misconception but not all successful freelance writers are accomplished bloggers.
Of course there’s a natural correlation—blogging is a way to turn your writing into revenue; something self-employed writers excel at.
Which is why I’m writing this guide: not to teach you to monetize a blog, but to show you the ways a blog can enhance and strengthen your writing career.
Yes, and earn you money.
What Can A Blog Do For My Writing Career?
The first thing is to understand what a blog can do. Defining your blogging goals will help you make critical decisions during the design and planning process—and keep your project on task—but you can’t do that without first looking at what your blog can do.
Whether you’re an experienced or newbie blogger/writer, a blog can:
Provide Clips to Show Prospective Editors and Clients
If you’re a new freelance writer and trying to get your first few assignments, a blog can give you the opportunity to add a few links to your marketing emails. Of course, this means your blog posts should be publication quality but you were going to do that anyway. 🙂
Widen your Reach
Your reach is the number of people you’re capable of contacting through your own channels. Authors refer to this as their platform, which is reach specific to a particular project. The power of reach has become undeniable as terms like influencer are coined to describe an entirely new career in an industry created by social media and public outreach.
Allow You to Help and Share
Depending on your blogging and writing goals, you might choose to use your reach to make the world a better place. You don’t have to end world hunger. Maybe you want to share your expertise or story with others in the hopes of helping. Or maybe you want to point out societal problems by using your blog to build awareness and solutions. Put yourself out there in the spirit of helping others and you’ll inadvertently make the world a better place. Promise.
Build your Credibility
If you’re constructing a subject-specific niche—one where you’re positioning yourself as an expert—a blog can help you build credibility. To be seen as an expert you’ll have to position yourself in the conversation of your niche and blogging gives you a voice in this discussion.
Promote your eBooks
Speaking of being seen as an expert, if you’re considering a blog to promote your eBooks you can choose to create a full-blown blog or to keep your blog as a page or enhancement to a site dedicated to promoting the books. Obviously the second option would require less of your time, so it’s something to consider when designing your site.
You could even choose to forego the blog and simply use your site as a sales and marketing tool for your work. Whether you choose to build a site for each book or create one site to showcase them all might depend on the type of writing it is and whether your books are related in subject.
For example, a fiction writer might create a site to build interest in their novel or a series, but have separate sites for their other books. That same author may also have a professional site that showcases all of their work. The same could be true for a non-fiction author who writes eBooks on a handful of subjects. It all depends on how you set up your websites.
Show Editors You’re Passionate and Consistent
Having a blog on your resume doesn’t just give you clips; it also shows editors that you’re consistent, reliable, and capable. Granted, this only works when you actually are consistent and capable.
It doesn’t matter if your product is digital or tangible—if designed correctly, a blog can be both your marketing hub and your publicity team. It can also serve as a shopping cart without paying fees or accepting royalties from a third party. A blog with a mailing list also allows you to keep in contact with your customers.
Allow for Practice
If in your freelancing work you find yourself writing digital content—or even guest posts—you’ll find editors that expect you know the ins and outs of WordPress and blog-post formatting. If you plan to offer services or specialize in these markets and you don’t know WordPress, I suggest you get online and start blogging. Even if you never publish your posts, there’s no better way to learn. If you do decide to build a full blog, it will also give you the chance to practice graphic design, SEO, content marketing, sales writing, newsletter creation, HTML, and various content formats.
Earn you Assignments
Your professional website (which is essential) will do this as well, but a blog can not only help you be seen as a professional writer with clips in your chosen niche but it can also allow you to raise your rates as your blog gains readers. Make sure both sites have a contact page and if you accept freelance work, say so. An editor may see your work and contact you directly about writing for them.
What’s the Catch to Blogging?
If all these benefits and abilities have you giddy, you’re right to be excited. You’re a writer and blogs can become castles built of words. If you’re worried about the tech side of it, don’t be. There’s nothing you can’t learn as you go and there are more resources online now than ever to help you succeed. I myself have never written a line of code. I can insert it like a mo-fo though! 🙂
Before you get too deep in your dream of Huffington-Post-like influence, you should also know that blogging involves:
Posting 2 or More Times a Week
Depending on your availability, you might have to do some creative scheduling to make time for not only building your blog but for weekly posting and marketing efforts. I suggest posting at least twice a week, consistently. You’ll also need to mix up the lengths of your posts. Google likes long, detailed, well-researched posts and your traffic stats will benefit from the occasional long-post, especially if you intend to write lots of short and sweet content. Do you have time to write and promote two additional articles every week? If your answer is no, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up your dream of a blog; only that your blog could take longer to gain traction or that maybe you could outsource some of the writing with guest posts. Or you could choose a less time-consuming blog type altogether—like a professional site with a dedicated blog page.
Content Marketing—Lots and Lots of Content Marketing
To be successful, you’ll spend more time marketing your blog and its content than you do writing. There are hundreds of marketing strategies (so I won’t go into them here) but know that you’ll have to dedicate a decent chunk of time to getting your blog out there.
Search Engine Optimization
Getting your posts included in search results is an art in itself with different services (yes, Google too) constantly changing their preferences—also known as algorithms. Social media platforms do the same thing and if you’re marketing through these channels, their decisions will effect your efforts. SEO is simply staying alert to these changes and tweaking your content and site itself to please these entities.
Building a Website
Love it or hate it, if you’re going to build a blog, you (or someone you coerce) will have to actually put it together. It’s not a difficult task but first-timers I’m sure would disagree. Still, if you’re a self-employed writer in the digital age, there’s no reason to not know how to set up a WordPress website. If you’re strapped for cash, you can always contact a local college for reasonably-priced design help. I suggest you consider building your blog an act of professional development.
Finding and Editing Images
Finding copyright-free images and editing them to create marketing tools can become a big part of your blog. Images aren’t just the featured image you publish with your post. If you’re creating your own blog this will also include headers and banners, sidebar images, logos, memes, Pins, covers, and infographics. If you’re worried that you’re not technically inclined enough to create graphics for your site, head over to Canva and practice creating memes. You’ll probably be a design pro in no time.
If you choose to collect subscribers (you should) there’s a chance you’ll also want to send a periodic newsletter. (If you give a writer a blog…that could make a cute parody.) You’ll need to schedule this task into your work-week or routine as well. While not time-consuming, it is yet another thing on your to-do list.
As much as a monthly fee sucks, I suggest building your blog on a self-hosted WordPress dot org site with your own domain address. Setting this up isn’t complicated and many hosts are willing to do it for you. The difference is that with your own site you’ll get [your blog name].com instead of dot wordpress.com, the ability to set up a [your name]@[your blog] dot com email, and the use of plug-ins, which are tools that will make your site amazing-looking and functional. If you need help choosing a host, I wrote an article titled, Finding the Best Blog Host: 10 Things You Need to Know, over on Scribblrs.
Obviously, building and running a blog takes a lot of effort and time. You’ll want to consider your current schedule and obligations before making a decision. Another thing to consider is what your blog will be and what you’ll write about. Narrow this down by deciding what you want out of your blog and how you’ll use it.
Your blog can serve as a(n):
- Sales Tool
- Platform Foundation
- Revenue Stream
- Personal Experience Journal
Do you also want to extend your reach, sell something, build authority, or help others? A well-rounded blog can do all of these things so consider the scope and facets of your blog before you design, but be aware of the work commitment in making it a reality.
Questions to ask yourself when considering a blog addition to your writing career include:
- How often will you post?
- Do you have enough time?
- Will you use paid or free services? Hosting?
- Will you use video or podcasts?
- Could you get the same result using Instagram? (Useful for lifestyle/visual blogs)
- What types of content will you post?
- How will you monetize?
- How will you market your blog?
- Will you incorporate a subject-based niche?
- Do you want a personal passion project?
- Are you undergoing a change (divorce, illness, fitness, professional) and want to document it?
- How much social media marketing do you have time for?
- Which social media platforms would work best for your content?
- Would you benefit from a scheduling service?
- Will you include a social media group in your marketing plan?
- Will you outsource tasks to a personal assistant (PA) or fellow freelancer as you grow?
- Do you have enough interest in/passion for your topic to sustain the rough times?
- Is your blog niche either too narrow or too wide?
- Can you easily brainstorm ideas for content, interactive elements, and resource features?
- How will your blog help you meet your long-term professional goals?
- What would you write about for free? What do you love that much? What do you want to say?
- How can you help others?
- Does your niche inspire series of posts within sub-topics of your subject?
Words of Warning
I’m not trying to discourage you, but you should be aware that 95% of blogs are abandoned within the first 100 days.
I’m also not going to sugar-coat it.
Building a blog is a big time-consuming commitment. You’ll likely have to keep swimming past the feeling that you’re getting nowhere at first.
Blogging is hard work and it’s a lot of learning.
It’s hours at the computer while the dirty dishes stack up—okay, maybe that’s just me—but it’s also dedication and self-imposed responsibility.
Blogging is long-term.
It’s also worth it if you stick to it and keep building.
Even if you abandon an idea or two. Or re-direct your entire plan. Or take a break.
After that first 100 days, do you want to be in the ninety-five—or the five percent?
Keep swimming and keep building your career.
You got this. 🙂
If you’re planning a new blog and have niche questions, pop them in the comments below. If I don’t know, we’ll find out!