If you’re a freelance writer, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you have a website. One that you use to sell your services. And it’s probably also safe to assume that you’ve posted some writing samples. But does your freelance website have a blog? And if so, how often do you publish a new article?
A blog may seem like an obvious thing to have on a freelance writer’s website. But some of you out there don’t have blogs. Or you don’t keep the content updated (which may be worse than not having one at all).
So I’m here today, brothers and sisters, to encourage you to blog on the website that represents your services. You’re marketing yourself on a freelance website, not just your writing.
Blog posts about topics that interest you help present you as a person, not just a faceless writing machine.
You can also look at blog posts as additional writing samples, and you can’t have too many of those. Any way you look at it, if you’re a freelance writer, you should have a blog.
Let’s Back Up for a Minute – You Do Have a Website, Don’t You?
It’s certainly possible to get work as a writer without a website. But setting up your own freelancer site will give you a leg up. A website provides you with a platform to establish your brand and raise your profile.
And it isn’t as big of a commitment of time and resources as you might think.
All you need is a web host, a domain name, and WordPress. You can download and install WordPress for free. And if you use GreenGeeks as your web host, your domain name is free for the first year.
I know there are “free” websites available out there, but I wouldn’t recommend using them for a professional services site. Perception is reality, and a site on a free service gives the impression that you’re not serious about your business.
It’s a rookie mistake to send a potential employer to “yoursite.blogspot.com” or a similar address. Don’t make it!
The annual cost of your website can be offset by a few hours of work on a magnificent writing job. A job that you may not have come your way if not for the website. See, a site is symbiotic and usually pays for itself if the stage is properly set.
What You Should Include in Your Freelance Website
We’ll talk about blogging in a minute, but a few other things should be present on your freelance website.
- A list of the services you offer. For instance, can you do editing as well as article creation? Formatting? Uploading? SEO? Make sure everything you can do, as far as writing is concerned, is listed on your site.
- Writing samples. You usually won’t have permission to use the actual articles you’ve written for clients. So write a few sample articles on different topics that use the same requirements as a paid assignment.
- At least one picture of yourself. And not for nothing, but get dressed for the picture. I know you work in your pajamas, but prospective employers want to see something a bit less casual.
- Your prices. I know that can be difficult, but it helps weed out people who aren’t paying what you want to earn. Remember, perception is reality. If I’m shopping for a writer, I know I’m not going to get a professional article for $50. So sell potential clients by offering a quality service at a reasonable price.
- Testimonials or referrals. Those can be scarce if you’re just getting started. If you don’t have any professional reviews or testimonials yet, perhaps helpful friends or family can write something for you. If you go that route, be sure to replace them as you earn kudos or referrals from paying clients.
- An “about” page. Talk about your skills as an efficient, quality writer, but also add one or two personal points. Most people who will hire you are hiring a person, not a writing sample, or a rate.
- A “contact” page. Better still, contact information in the footer or sidebar of every page or post. Provide multiple forms of contact, email, phone, a form on the site, social media accounts – give the potential client choices.
That’s not everything that potentially belongs on a freelance website, but it covers the basics. Before you start your blog, pin down those essential sections. Once you’ve taken care of them, you can focus your attention on the blog.
Why Your Freelance Marketing Content Should Include a Blog
Aside from providing additional samples of what you can do, a blog also helps you in other ways.
Any of these benefits is reason enough to consider starting a blog. But the combination of all of them clearly shows the power of blogging for any freelancer.
Blogging Establishes Authority
If you’re trying to get work as a fashion writer, authoritative blog posts about fashion help make that connection. The same goes for any subject, topic, or niche. If you appear to be an expert in the field, you’re more likely to be hired (and justify your rate).
A valuable side-effect of such articles is that Google also likes to see authority. The more authoritative writing content you can produce, the higher your blog will rank in search results. Which, in turn, puts your content in front of more buyers.
Blogging Can Give Potential Employers Insight Into Your Personality
People who hire other people for jobs are supposed to be impartial and judge all applicants on their merits. But they’re still people, so their own preferences and biases will sneak into the process.
The truth is, you’re more likely to be hired if the person doing the hiring likes you. That’s a mistake on their part, but it still happens all the time.
As a freelancer with only a website to make a first impression, your personality is essential. If I’m looking for a writer, I have a lot of choices. If it comes down to a choice between someone who seems easygoing and someone who isn’t, guess who I’m hiring?
So, let the world see your personality. But if you’re generally disagreeable, dissatisfied, sarcastic, or otherwise curmudgeonly, try to put forth a personality without those traits.
Hey, you’re a writer, I understand. Sometimes a skewed world view comes with the territory.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But focus as much as possible on the cooperative and team-oriented aspects of what you do. The side of you that plays well with others.
A Blog Makes Your Website Dynamic
A list of your services, prices, samples, and contact information are crucial freelance website elements, but they’re also static. Once you put up an “about” page, it probably isn’t going to change very often.
But a blog changes your website every time you post a new article. When you add new articles regularly, you have a dynamic website. That looks good to potential employers and to Google.
What you want to avoid is a dead or inactive blog. When the latest post is two years old, it gives the impression that you have abandoned the site.
But even a few months since the last post doesn’t look good. You want anyone who comes across the site to feel like they’ve encountered an active, vibrant spot. That things are happening all the time, and the content is fresh.
I’m trying to convince you to start a blog, but ask yourself if it’s something you can maintain. Maybe you know that you can’t come up with a new article every couple of weeks (at least).
If that’s the case, the reality is a blog may not be for you. Or move forward with a blog, but don’t display the dates of the posts publicly.
Of course, if you go that route, you want to avoid topical or news-related posts. They’ll tend to date your content regardless of whether you attach a date.
A Blog Is Just Good Writing Practice
Writing is like playing a musical instrument. If you only pick it up when it’s time for a gig, you’re going to sound rusty. Writers need to practice the same way musicians or athletes do.
Regular practice keeps your skills at a professional level, so you’re ready when it’s time for your solo.
And what better practice for a writer than writing? John Steinbeck said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
In other words, the act of writing feeds on itself. Writing leads to more writing. And of course, the more you write, the better writer you become. That’s a fact.
Keep an Eye on Quality
It’s easy to slip into informality or sloppy writing when you’re blogging. It’s generally a relaxed and unpretentious format. You want your personality to shine through, but be careful not to be too casual in your posts.
Use a tool like Grammarly to keep you on the right side of the road.
Don’t post immediately after finishing an article. Sleep on it and read it the next day. I guarantee you’ll find something to fix or improve. This holds especially true if you put in a lot of hours on a piece.
You need some distance, even if it’s just a night, to see any piece of writing clearly.
Proofread three times. If you already proofread three times, proofread four times. The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to sell your writing is to publish articles that contain mistakes.
Potential employers will zero in on any error on the page like laser-guided attack dogs. Don’t give them a chance to get off-leash.
Still Not Convinced?
Maybe you didn’t believe me when I said it was easier than you think to set up a website. I understand as I’m a skeptic, too. But what if I could show you how to install WordPress in a couple of minutes?
And setting up the website hosting account doesn’t take much longer than that. From start to finish, you can have a site up and running in less time than it takes to read this article.
And those pages I said a good freelance website should have? They’re easy to create in WordPress. If you’ve never used WordPress, sure, there will be a few things you must learn to do. But it’s not much more difficult than learning to work a new TV remote control.
Once you’re used to it, you won’t even notice it’s there. Or more to the point, it won’t get in your way.
Give Yourself Every Advantage
It seems like there are millions of freelance writers working today. Maybe because there are millions of writers out there. So how do you make yourself stand out? How do you communicate that there’s an advantage to be gained by hiring you?
It starts with a good home for your business. A professional and competent face. Putting the proper care and feeding into your site and blog can get you hired—that, and of course, good, authoritative writing.
Hopefully, I’ve shown you that the benefits of adding a blog to your freelance website pay a number of dividends. The sum of everything you do will be greater than the parts. Create an attractive package, and you’ll be ahead of 90% of your competition.
There’s no other single thing you can do to gain that kind of advantage. What are you waiting for?