Whether you’re an established freelancer or looking to become one, starting a blog can be a great way to boost your business. Blogging can help you get your name out there, show the world what you can do, attract new clients and lead to all kinds of new opportunities and connections. It does require an investment of time, which is often a scarce resource when you’re working for yourself, but setting aside a few hours each week to maintain a blog can be really worthwhile. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Getting started is pretty simple
There are some great platforms out there that allow you to create a beautifully designed website or blog using pre-designed templates, even if you don’t know how to code. There are a number of options to choose from, including some free blogging platforms, and I’d recommend doing some research. But in my opinion, as someone who’s used a fair few, if you’re serious about using a blog to build your business the best options are WordPress.org (ie self-hosted WordPress) or Squarespace.
Neither are free (when you factor in hosting for WordPress), but both offer the flexibility, scalability and scope to customise and monetise needed to create a successful blog as a non-coder.
Squarespace is a simple-to-use, hosted, all-in-one platform. It has gorgeous templates and monthly plans starting at $12 (around £9) a month. Great for anyone who’s serious about using their blog to build their business and new to the world of online publishing and website platforms.
WordPress.org is free to use but you will need to find your own web host; hosting usually starts from around £5-10 a month. If you’re new to online publishing technology there’s a steeper learning curve, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it and there are plenty of free training videos online. And of course, with greater complexity comes greater scope for customisation and functionality.
Both are great platforms, each with its own pros and cons; do some research and see which route would be best for you.
2. Showcase your work
Blogging has evolved over the years and there are lots of different types of blogs these days. Just look at the popularity of Tumblr, which is often used for shorter, image-based posts.
As a creative, you can use your blog as an up-to-date portfolio which you can point potential clients to if they want to see what you can do (always looks more professional than emailing them lots of links). As well as posting examples of your creative work, you can also give some context to your projects and use tags to help people find the content that’s most relevant to them.
3. Develop your technique and style
Let’s say you’re a gifted but undiscovered illustrator; you’re working 9-5 in an unrelated job but would love to make a living from your artistic talent. You could use your blog as a way to hone your skills – for example, you could create a new illustration each week and make this the subject of your post.
The most successful blogs are regularly updated with new content, and the discipline of doing this can help you improve your technique and develop your own unique style.
4. Get feedback and ideas
Most blogs allow other people to comment on your posts. This feedback can be invaluable for a freelancer. It can help you get creative inspiration to develop your own style, and can also help to boost your confidence as people start to share and interact with your posts.
5. Establish your expertise
You can use your blog to demonstrate your knowledge and ultimately, attract new clients. Not only can this help you to build and engage an audience, becoming recognised as a key figure in your field can lead to lots of other exciting opportunities too, such as speaking engagements and other creative collaborations.
6. Attract clients/opportunities
If you keep your blog regularly updated with interesting content and drive people to your blog using tools such as social media (for example, by sharing links to your new posts on Twitter or your Facebook business page), you should slowly build a following of people who look forward to your posts each week and may even share them with their own networks. This all helps to bring you to the attention of prospective clients – and can even help to make working for yourself full-time a viable option.
7. Increase your visibility online
Regularly updating your blog (or any website) with fresh content increases your chances of appearing in relevant Google searches. It’s worth learning the basics of search engine optimisation too, so you can keep this in mind when putting your posts together. However, the most important thing is to put yourself in your readers’ shoes and only post things that you think they will genuinely find helpful or inspiring.
8. Become part of a community
There are loads of advantages to going freelance, not least greater flexibility over when, where and how you work. But there are disadvantages too; it’s not like being in an office where there are always people to turn to for a second opinion. The blogging community is active and supportive – there are loads of networks, online forums and meet-ups you can get involved with – all of which can help tackle isolation when you freelance.
For example, I often share posts from other bloggers that I find useful on Twitter, and other bloggers have, in turn, shared my posts too. While I’m still relatively new to the blogging world, it already feels like a friendly and supportive space where people help each other and have each other’s backs.
9. Help others
As well as demonstrating your credentials and hopefully, winning you clients, you can also use your blog to share useful tips and insights that could help others. For example, you could create a post offering tips for people who are looking to make it in your chosen field – whether a list of the top books you’ve read or lessons you’ve learned from working for yourself.
10. It’s fun!
A blog is a great outlet for your creative energy. Not only is it a space where you can express your thoughts and ideas, you can also put your own stamp on the design and layout; even if you’re using a free platform with templates to begin with, you can still play around with different looks, fonts and features and put your creative talents to good use!