To blog or not to blog?

To blog or not to blog?

From:  
As a freelance writer, I’m a natural advocate of blogging. It builds your brand, demonstrates your industrial expertise and is an SEO savvy marketing tool. But (and it’s killing me to write this) there are times when a blog may not be the best move for your business.
 
Writing a blog is a huge responsibility, and you may struggle to stand out from this saturated marketplace. There are also plenty of other ways to “be heard” in the online world without writing a blog - we’ll look at that in more detail later.
 
The truth is, there are many pros and cons of blogging as a freelancer. It depends on your business, commitment to blogging and skills as a writer. Let’s look at the highs and lows of blogging as a freelancer now:

The Good Bits

Blogs are often heralded as a cost effective and fun tool to promote your work. There are plenty of other advantages too, as a well written blog will:
 
Provide a dynamic website
A lot of freelancer sites are presented as blogs. It’s a good idea to build an audience and get more visitors to your site. One of my favourite blogs is the Freelance to Freedom Project, which was started by web designer Leah Kalamakis and quickly grew a great community of freelancers thanks to its helpful advice to the community.
 
Improve your SEO
A blog can improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) if you produce quality content and carefully pepper your posts with keywords and phrases to boost your rankings in the likes of Google or Bing.
 
Maximise your media reach
It’s not just about SEO. Media outlets often scour company blogs to look for news and article ideas. An up-to-date and newsworthy blog is a powerful marketing tool.
 
Give your customers a go-to information source
Is your sector, product or service fast moving or a little complicated to understand? You can give your audience in-depth explanations about your work and demonstrate your industry-specific knowledge through a blog.
 
Build your brand
A blog not only demonstrates your expertise to your audience, but it also gives your customers a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for. Personal branding is now a staple of any marketing campaign - and a blog will help you find your voice.
 
Give you another information source
The comments left on your posts are a great insight into your customers - and you can also conduct polls as part of a blog to get further feedback.

The Bad Bits

On the other hand, writing and maintaining a blog as a freelancer can be difficult because:blogging
 
It takes a lot of time
If you want to boost your brand and business using a blog, then you must write well. If you’re a solo freelancer, then this will take you away from your day-to-day work as you spend a surprising amount of time crafting a good blog post. You need to choose a topic, create an outline, conduct research and check facts – all before you’ve written a single line. Then you need to write, source images and edit your post. Because, if you don’t take the time to write well, you could end up damaging your reputation instead of improving it.
 
You must blog regularly
It is vital to post on a regular basis to keep your audience engaged. This can be quite a commitment and, all too often, business blogs fail to post for months after an initial flurry of posts. This sends out the wrong message to potential clients – they could even assume that you are no longer in business if your blog hasn’t been touched for years.
 
You need to drive engagement
Your blog will not automatically be seen by thousands of potential clients. You need to work hard to promote your blog and monetize it. This will require more of your time to research the best approach and keep you blog on-point with your marketing plan.
 
You need to maintain your blog
If your blog does reach the heady heights of tens of thousands of readers, you will need to keep on top of the comments and interest it generates in the wider online world. And, guess what, this will take a lot of your time up as well.

The Alternatives

Good blogging takes time to master and maintain – this will, most likely, be one of your biggest blogging bugbears. But, don’t give up on the written word. There are plenty of alternative ways to spread the word as a freelancer. You could:
 
Be a guest blogger
Scour the internet for blogs and publications that your target audience read and then pitch an article idea as a guest blogger. You’ll get your name out there without any of the marketing and blog maintenance legwork.
 
Hire a ghost blogger
No, this isn’t cheating! You could hire someone else to run and write your blog on your behalf. I work with a lot of companies where I turn a business owner’s ideas into a killer blog post. You could even find someone to manage the marketing side of your blog too.
 
Replace words with images
Instead of running a text-based blog, you could use images. Visuals are fantastic tools, and images are 40 times more likely to be shared around on social media. Good examples are image quote cards that you can share on various social media platforms, infographics, or you could use Instagram or Pinterest to push your products and services.
 
Use user-generated content
Ask your customers to share their experiences about your brand or product. Stain removal company Vanish is a great examplehere – their “tip exchange” is purely user-generated content.
 
Put yourself forward
You could even run an online Q&A session where you respond to queries from your customers and competitors. It’s a sure-fire way to demonstrate your expertise, without writing a single word.
 
So, just because you’re a freelancer that doesn’t mean you must blog to tell the world what you do. There are plenty of alternatives out there – and it’s OK to focus on growing your brand organically. Plus, you can always try blogging at a later date.
 
Words by Gemma Church