Many people trying to freelance out for the first time often send emails in lines like this: “Hey, this is Kyle and I am a huge fan of your work. Do I need a blog to be a freelancer?” It is easy to jump to an answer and recommend what to do. However, I have decided to turn the question into a blog post so that anyone in Kyle’s shoe can benefit.
Who is a freelancer?
One sunny afternoon, after a training where I taught a group of young adults on how to have a great career in freelancing, a lady walked up to me and asked about the activities of a freelancer. It was then that I realized that the concept of freelancing must be well defined before further topics can be addressed on freelancing.
Freelancing is when a person works on a contract basis for a variety of companies as a designer, writer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working as an employee for a single company.
The concept of freelancing is broad as it covers all services that can be rendered. In this blog post, freelance writing will be considered. Therefore, a freelance writer is a person who writes for a client, group of clients, a company or a group of companies by selling his writing services by the hour, day or job.
What is a blog?
A simple search for the keyword “blog” on Google shows 7,170,000,000 results. Blogging has become mainstream since its advent several years ago. A blog is like a website. The key difference between a blog and a website is that a blog needs to be constantly updated, written in an informal or conversational style and is typically run by an individual or small group. The act of blogging requires new content to be updated regularly on a blog.
Do freelancers need a personal blog?
Having explained the concepts of blogging and freelancing, the question, “Does a freelancer need a blog?” needs to be addressed. In this post, arguments are going to be made for all angles. This is to ensure an objective answer that will fit into different situations a freelancer may be.
Five reasons why freelancers are advised to blog
You may have seen several freelancers’ blogs. In this section, five major reasons why freelancers have blogs are going to be discussed.
Many freelancers see blogging as a passive way of picking up prospective clients. Unlike active pitching, where cold emailing and cold calling are necessary, blogging makes you noticed and if done well, an authority in specific niches.
To be a good writer, you must write regularly. Blogging requires a regular update of content on the blog. Running a blog that is not even in your niche helps you build an adequate communication skill set such as proposal writing, time management, sales, email marketing and even social media planning.
Blogging communities offer excellent networking opportunities. There is the comment section, emails, etc., that offer feedback from the audience. This provides excellent support opportunity for a freelancer especially one just coming up.
By using one of the automated email service such as mail chimp, a blogger can build a great email list that is targeted and enjoys the blog content. There are several advantages to having an email list, and one is that, as a freelance writer, you can sell your eBook to this list.
Content mills and freelancing platforms such as odesk and fiverr, pit freelancers against each other to compete for a writing opportunity. However, real writing experts shouldn’t compete especially by lowballing. Blogging makes you an expert, strip away the competition and let you speak directly with your prospective clients. Not all clients will be able to pay your asking price, but it is better than accumulating stress in outbidding others.
These are excellent benefits for a freelancer owning a blog. However, there is one major mistake that freelancers make when blogging. This is when freelancers blog around their interests instead of blogging for potential clients. After all, blogs are started as online diaries. Many freelancers follow lifestyle blogs of other creative but these bloggers are not always discussing business. Instead, they share curated contents, fashion inspiration, design inspiration, etc.
After consuming tons of content of freelancers’ lifestyle blogs, it is easy to conclude that you need a popular blog. This, however, should not be the mindset of a freelancer when approaching blogging. You do not need a popular blog, you need a popular business.
Why shouldn’t a freelancer own a blog?
The importance of blogging has been highlighted above. However, if a freelancer wants to earn more money, he or she might want to avoid blogging. Here are five major reasons you should not consider blogging:
Very few clients are impressed at the prospect of hiring a blogger for their projects. Blogging is the entry point to writing. It is like journaling. You do not need an editor to blog. It has no barrier. Your prospective clients know this. Instead, they want someone with an excellent track record of writing not blogging. Therefore, owning a blog is not what you should be considering as a freelancer.
Time is the most valuable resource available to a freelancer. You waste it and you miss out on projects. Many freelancers start a blog because they have heard that they should start a blog. Soon, they enjoy putting their thoughts in the blogosphere and they stop making well-researched writings. It is very addictive to publish one’s opinion but blog posts rarely attract many readers. Blog posts take up the freelancer’s time and pitching potential clients fall to the bottom of her priority list.
Most of the blogging gigs go for $5 to $25 per post. This obviously will not put food on your table compared to a 9-to-5 employee in any developed country, even if you type at the speed of light.
Of course, business blogging clients pay up to $300 a blog post. However, compared to other writing types like grants and proposal writing, this is still low.
Blogging is fast becoming a dying niche, especially with the ongoing efforts of Google to remove cheap, SEO-keyword-driven mass-content sites from its search results. Blog posts that are not educative and engaging no longer appear in search results. When Google eventually completes its cleansing program, even businesses won’t pay $5 for them.
Blogging does not make you a complete freelancer.
When editing, research, and formatting are removed from published content, writing reduces to waste. As a freelancer, you need to be constantly improving your writing prowess if you are going to get high-paying gigs. You can only achieve this by writing quality content.
What should a freelancer do instead?
It has been emphasized above that blogging is not productive. Instead of owning a blog, you should focus on writing articles. Articles, unlike blog posts, are well-researched, impersonal, and properly edited. When you focus on writing articles, you cease being a blogger, and become a website owner. Here are the top five reasons you should consider writing articles instead of blog posts:
- Businesses need articles. The more the web gets clogged with ordinary, low-value blog posts, the more corporate clients look for article content for their websites to set them a step higher than others.
- Articles are respected. Marketing managers and editors are impressed when you show them a portfolio of your works instead of an archive of blog posts.
- Articles are more lucrative. Instead of earning $5 for a 500-word blog post, you can earn $1 a word from corporate clients and publications.
- Blog posts are becoming articles. Now, top blogs are requesting for longer blog posts. This is a call for well-researched, engaging, and original articles.
- Articles make you a professional. When you focus on building a writer’s website that publishes articles instead of blog posts, you are treated as a professional writer.
If you are wondering where you can publish your articles if you are not going to own a blog, you can publish your articles on Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, etc.
Another Strategy for Freelancers
Another strategy you can choose as a freelancer is to guest blog on popular websites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Fortune. Make sure they are popular websites that your audience read. You could guest blog occasionally and get a backlink to your freelancer website. Your freelancer website, unlike a blog, is static- it contains your portfolio and your contact email. This technique is effective as it will allow massive prospective clients to detect your blog without the pressure of blogging regularly.
Guest posting on popular websites in your niche impresses prospects more than blogging on your small freelancer’s blog. This gives you a better shot at getting client leads.
After considering all the angles, you may want to decide that owning a freelancer’s blog isn’t as beneficial to your freelancing business as you might have thought.