Blogging is a great way to advance your career and business, even if your only willing to blog part-time. Starting a blog is a fun way to compliment your portfolio, share what you know, get into the community, and overall upgrade your freelancing career quite a bit. Here are a few of the benefits, and 20 tips to get you started.
1. It is a New Way to Explore
As freelancers, we have nobody telling us what to do — or what to learn. We must find a way to explore new things on our own, and sometimes new discoveries are a "backdrop" to our other daily tasks.
When you make exploring something new an actual task, it gets done, and you learn something new. I know that it has advanced my skill set in a number of different ways in the niche, and I'm very grateful for that. I often find myself using something in client work that I would have not known about unless I had researched and written a blog post about it.
Needless to say, when blogging, try to write about new things, find alternative sources of inspiration, and build upon what you currently know. After all, we all have a limit of knowledge, and if you only share what you already know, a blog can't grow and develop.
2. An Alternative Outlet to your Day
Although a blog can be a motivational way to add one more responsibility to your day, that's not to seem as though it's supposed to be stress-factor. The one thing I love most about blogging is that it isn't freelancing or client work.
No matter how much you love what you do, anything can get old. Blogging is a way to stay working in your niche while still building your freelancing career, but not having to deal with single projects. Deadlines, clients, and the actual work at hand are all out the door when you concentrate on writing a new post.
3. It Will Make you Famous! (Well, almost)
Ok, so it won't make you famous, but it can get you recognized in the community. I get most of my client work through followers of my blog — in fact, I don't remember the last time I had to go out and actually look for work.
If your blog is not well-established, though, it can still serve a purpose in this sense. You seem to have some sort of authority if you know enough to write on the subject. In a way, a blog can act as your "personality portfolio". Even if it doesn't display any of your works, people can really get to know you through your blog, especially your clients. In addition, your blog can always grow, and even a few comments a day shows that someone is interested in what you have to say, and that you know what your talking about.
Beyond this, blogs are obviously a lot more viral in marketing than a single portfolio. If you do things right, the seem to climb the search engines almost effortlessly. It's much easier to get a blog post featured on any number of the big social networking sites — Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter — than it is to get your portfolio or any of your works. Also, it's much easier to get people communicating within and about a blog, because it's serves as a much more interactive outlet.
4. It Can Make you Some Awesome Friends
Networking, networking, networking — that's what blogs do. How many times have you gone and left a comment on someone's portfolio to make that personal connection? Well probably never, unless they had a blog on it. Blogs build readers and subscribers, blogging buddies, and a way for anyone to easily make a connection with you.
Some of the people I once merely looked up to now comment regularly on my blog, or I've had contact with them in some way via my blog. For one, just check out the interviews category. Even if you don't do anything like interviews, every time you leave a comment on someone's blog, you leave a link to your own blog. People, whether it be the blog owner or other readers, are much more likely to search through your blog and make a connection, than your portfolio. (Not that your portfolio's uninteresting, it's just that people or more likely to stay on your portfolio in the first place if they feel as though they know you a bit better.)
So no matter how you earn them — through your readership, other blogs, or by using your blog to get in touch with those you admire — it's all networking, and it's all getting you and your portfolio into the community.
5. Gain a Bit More Spending Money
Because of the viral nature of blogs, ads on blogs are sold left and right. Many people even make a full-time living off of it. Even if you only are only able to sell a few ads, it is that much extra income in your pocket. It's great for spending money, to take a few clients per month off of your workload, or to go for a goal of living 100% on passive income.
For more about selling ads and how it can help you as a freelancer, check out our previous article Passive Income for Freelancers: Build Today for a Strong Tomorrow.
Blogging Resources and Articles
20 Blogging Tips to Get you Started
As promised, here are 20 blogging tips for anyone getting started in blogging, or are interesting in getting started.
1. Be honest.
2. Be helpful.
3. Don't be a link hoarder. (Share valuable links and resources with your readers, rather than keeping them as your "secret".)
4. For goodness sakes, use a spell checker.
5. Use some sort of blogging schedule, however strict or lenient it may be.
7. Understand different types of blog posts, but know when to use them responsibly:
"...take these two fake post titles: “15 Amazing WordPress Admin Hacks!” or “Customizing the WordPress Admin Area” which could be for the exact same article. Which would be more successful?
Vitaly: "Of course, the first one would attract more attention from a random user – no question about that. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be more successful, too. It depends on your ultimate goal – for instance, we have a major problem that many discussions on Smashing Magazine’s comments are quite disappointing, because we have many users from social media who aren’t really interested in our posts, but still check it out – either because the story made it to Digg’s front page or for any other reason.
"If you want to strengthen your community and provide a nice place to discuss ideas presented in the post, it’s better to use titles like “Customizing the WordPress Admin Area” which would attract people that are truly interested in the topic. Also from the SEO point of view, that title is better. So essentially it depends on the context and your goals." — Five Questions with Vitaly Friedman
8. Use social networking effectively to promote your blog and create a stronger readership.
10. Study your blog's analytics.
11. Test out different post lengths, types of posts, and types of content to see what works best.
12. Create an awesome "About" section.
13. Be a real person. Add your own style and personality to your blog through its design, the content, and the way it is promoted.
14. Choose an accurate and specific niche.
15. Do some guest posts, comment on other blogs, and find other ways of contributing to the community.
16. Be apart of the discussion in your own comments section.
17. Use ads and promotion of your portfolio responsibly and effectively.
18. Be formal and know what authority is — but don't be boring.
19. Have a variety of content in your blog.