Whether blogging is valuable for a freelancer who is considering adding a blog to their site or continuing to post will depend a lot on what they plan/will post on their blog.
Who Is The Content Speaking To?
It’s a case that many freelancers think that they’re talking to other freelancers. As they enter into many discussions on message boards about “clients from hell” who drive them insane, posts on individual freelancer blogs tend to be focused around advice for other professionals.
This may seem obvious and necessary. Gain the respect of other professional in your industry. But here’s the question that few of these blog writers ever stop to ask:
Are your fellow professionals buying your services or ever likely to do so?
If you’ve been penning your blog, aiming at freelance writers (if you’re a writer yourself) or graphic designers (if you’re a graphic designer) etc., then you’ve been doing it all wrong.
It could be fair to say that you could own a popular design blog that “speaks” to other designers, has ads from web design related suppliers and so forth. That’s all fine and good, but then your site is a web design blog, not a freelancer’s work site. The goals are mutually exclusive in many cases.
Who Should The Content Be Speaking To?
As a freelance writer, if you’re writing posts like “How to deal with nightmare clients” or “How to raise your rates higher” then you’re speaking directly to other freelance writers. Are they buying articles from you today?
A prospective writing client might be put off by reading such headlines. The article titles would be in support of freelancers’ concerns and don’t speak to their concerns at all.
People use psychology and emotion when buying. Even when doing business deals where you’d think that things are black and white, in reality we color our decisions with irrational emotional decisions at times. Don’t believe that? How often do you make a decision to do something but you talk yourself out of it? You can think that doing something is rationally correct, but emotionally you can persuade yourself otherwise.
This applies directly to business clients too. If they take the time to visit your freelance site, they want to read content that applies to their situation. Content which speaks to them personally or is relevant for their business. They’re not coming to your site for freelancing advice. They’re trying to find a business provider that they can believe in. When done right, a blog can help to create some of that belief.
Focus On The Clients
Think about what sorts of issues a client can have before they even became a client. If you’re not sure, why not ask your current clients what concerns they had and how they tried to address them. You may be very surprised by the answers that you receive back.
If you don’t feel that you can ask that, don’t worry because it is not too difficult to make some considered judgement about their concerns.
A posted guideline on pricing in your industry would most certainly be useful. If there is a process that clients go through, like a planned workflow for a new web site design, then a post that runs through what a designer or programmer needs, and why, can be very illuminating for someone who has never ordered a web site development before. They really don’t know what to expect and would benefit from some guidance in that area.
Get creative about what could be helpful to visitors who might like to use your services, expand on that and keep things interesting. It often never goes a miss to inject some humor into the proceedings too.
These posts can also be linked from other parts of the freelance site. This highlights that you have a blog, but also uses a post appropriately so you don’t have to keep repeating yourself on the site.
Video, Photo and Slide Posts
In these days of YouTube and Vimeo, Instagram and Flickr, and SlideShare, a blog post no longer has to be restricted to only words.
Often it can be just as powerful to mix things up with a video you’ve shot of the progression a web site development makes, sped up over a 2 minutes span. This visual path can really help to show prospective clients what’s involved and remove the blinkers from their eyes!
If you’re hot on English grammar and you write for a living, you could feature a video with shots of different English signs with incorrect grammar, with scribbled over correction, along with some wacky music to make it fun. Anything to get your point across in an interesting and useful way.
Young freelancers have embraced social media channels more than most to market themselves. Often they can feel that a written blog (or any blog at all) is almost a waste of time. With this though, they’re missing the point.
Not everyone is a fan of social media. There is a strong movement away from Facebook because people are realising that it’s taking up a disproportionate amount of time in their day but not delivering anything truly productive in return.
For the older generation, social media can be something new and confusing. They often don’t know which social network they should be using and aren’t clear how to get started. As such, they may seldom use social media and spend very little time there. They won’t always follow a link to a Facebook post because they don’t know what to expect.
This may be anathema to how the younger generation think, who grew up with an Internet-linked online life, but the older generation did not grow up in an always connected world and so using social media is an add on to their life, not an integral part of it.
Effective marketing means marketing in as many channels as possible to reach as many prospective clients as possible. A blog, which can encompass written, video and slideshow content, is still an effective way to market your services. One of many channels now, but it’s still a valid one nonetheless.
Elements of Control
People forget but social media sites are not something a freelancer actually controls. We forget that as we upload out photos and videos and share personal stories. The sites then consider that content theirs, not yours.
The Amazon online cloud service has terms and conditions that state that uploaded files are their possessions, not yours, which came as a shock to many when they found out. When you add content to a site owned by someone else or some corporation, you instantly lose control of that content.
With your own site and your own blog, no one controls that but you. That’s assuming that you don’t use a WordPress or other hosted solution, but instead buy your own shared hosting account and run the domain and site through that service. The domain needs to be owned by you. You have administrative access. You control what gets posted, what comments are added and what are rejected before they even show up under a post.
In these days of shifting privacy statements that make yours actually theirs, your own blog on your own domain name, on a rented paid hosting account provides a unique place to have a voice which cannot be turned off or deleted at the whim of the social media site.