As a freelance writer or someone considering it as a career move, one of the questions you may be pondering is: do I need a blog or website?
With content mills and LinkedIn, it’s easy to brush off having a website as unnecessary. However, having a website has many benefits. Having a blog on your website goes even further.
Benefits of blogging for your freelance business
- Marketing – share your posts and get people interested in what you have to say. This brings over traffic to your website.
- Demonstrate your expertise – show potential clients you’re an expert in your industry and know what you’re talking about.
- Establish trust – once clients see you as an expert and a professional, this makes them more likely to choose you over someone else.
- Boost your website rankings – the mythical world of SEO is hard to master but blogging is a simple way to boost your website’s visibility.
- Show off your skills – As a freelance writer, your blog is your portfolio. Use it to show your writing skills and give them a taster of what you could do for them.
Ready to get started? In the rest of this post, I’ll be taking you through some simple steps to get you started with a blog for your freelance business.
Step 1 – Decide on your audience
Who do you want to target?
Many freelance writers simply target their potential clients. Others have a slightly unrelated blog and link to that instead.
The first option I’d say is the most sensible to start off with at least. It clearly targets who you want it to, shows off your expertise and demonstrates your writing ability. It pretty much ticks all the boxes.
However, I’ve got to say that there is a booming mini-industry among freelance writers who target people like themselves with their blogs.
These freelance writers blog, not for their clients, but for other fellow writers. You can see this with websites like Elna Cain, Creative Revolt and Wanderful World – they are all freelance writers who have found a market for helping others. They have been incredibly helpful to me personally and I’d recommend taking a look at their work if you want some help.
Both options can work very well for freelance writers. However, if you go down the helping other writers route, you need to really have the time and commitment to make it work. It’s essentially a side business in itself.
Step 2 – Decide what to blog about
So, if you’ve already done some Googling, you’ll no doubt have come across the word “niche”. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, yeah you do need to decide on your niche if you want to blog.
This step and the step above are quite closely combined. You may want to decide on your audience and then your niche or your niche and then your audience. Either way works.
Many people who start blogging want to write about anything and everything. This can work for some, particularly lifestyle bloggers but generally, the unfocused approach is a difficult one to get going.
I’d even argue that for lifestyle bloggers, they do have a niche. The niche is themselves essentially.
But for those who aren’t interested in the lifestyle blog, deciding on a niche has the following benefits:
- Your audience knows what to expect
- Your blog’s purpose is more focused and therefore goals are clearer
- Limiting your post topics can actually help you decide what to write
- It’s easier to market a blog you can describe in one sentence
Your niche will depend on your industry, your work, your clients and the audience you want.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer specialising in writing for tech start-ups, you may have a blog about the tech world. This clearly targets the kind of clients you want to work with and shows them that you’re an expert in your field.
Another point worth considering is whether there’s actually an audience for the niche you’re thinking about. Is it profitable? Can you monetise it?
Figuring out what to blog about is not an easy task, but it’s definitely worth having a sit down and thinking carefully about it. However, if you’re worried about choosing the wrong niche, there’s no reason why you can’t change it further down the line.
Step 3 – Choose a domain name
This is one of the most fun parts of starting a website or business – deciding on your business name.
As freelancers, many people simply choose their name. However, all the popular names are already taken so you might have to come up with an alternative or use a middle name too.
Other people choose a business name. This is good if you want to get a keyword in there e.g. [Name] Writes or [Name] Copywriting.
It’s a good idea to come up with a list of different ideas for your domain name and check them via a website like Name Checkr.
This website is really handy because you can see whether the domain name is available and whether it’s available on various social media websites too. Ideally, if you want to get into social media marketing, you should set up platforms with the same name to keep consistent.
When choosing a domain, consider the following:
- Pick one that’s easy to spell
- Shorter is better and easier to remember
- Make sure the words in your domain don’t spell anything weird when joined up. Remember the hashtag #SusanAlbumParty?
Step 4 – Choose hosting
If you want a professional website and blog, getting your own domain is just one step in the process. Hosting your website yourself means you keep full control over all of the content.
If you have a free blog on WordPress or Blogger, you essentially don’t own the content. They do. When hosting your own website, it’s all yours.
Self-hosted websites also mean you can customise your website fully. You aren’t limited to the building blocks of a free site. You can install any theme you want or code it all yourself.
I personally use A2 Hosting for all my websites.
*Affiliate link – if you sign up through this link, I receive a cut at no extra cost to you
A2 Hosting offers low fees but they don’t skimp on quality like some of the cheaper hosts do. They’re really easy to use, and support is great. You can even choose where in the world your server is based.
One of the reasons I chose them was because, unlike many other hosts, they offer monthly fees rather than just annual ones. You’ll no doubt have seen ads saying something like £2 a month but really they want a big upfront fee and that £2 a month only applies if you sign up for 5 years or something.
If you’re just starting out or want to try blogging, monthly fees are handy because you can just cancel if it doesn’t work out.
I pay a grand total of £12 a month to host three websites. You can easily upgrade or downgrade your plan too.
Step 5 – Choose your blogging platform
There are plenty of Content Management Systems (CRMs) out there that allow you to build a website quite easily.
Two of the most popular ones at the moment are WordPress and Squarespace. Both are highly recommended but I chose WordPress because I was already familiar with it.
It’s really easy to use for beginners and also programmers who want to dig deep into the code and do whatever it is coders do. I’d definitely recommend it but always do your research.
Step 6 – Choose a theme
There are plenty of free and paid-for themes out there to choose from. The hardest choice you’ll have is trying to choose the best one. Even the free themes these days are great.
When I was first building websites, I wanted a lot of customisation that unfortunately, a lot of pre-built themes simply couldn’t offer me.
However, I am not a web designer. I don’t know my way around code and while I’m sure I could learn, I’m also impatient.
So I had a little look around and that’s what led me to go with Elegant Themes (affiliate link below).
Why did I choose them? They have a theme called Divi which is essentially a fully-customisable theme that acts as a page builder.
You can download one of their pre-built themes, but if you want total control over what goes where, then you can do this with Divi.
They’re really easy to use and a few years ago I bit the bullet and signed up to their lifetime membership. It’s a one-off fee and I’ve got them for life, for as many websites as I want.
To me, it felt like a lot of money to invest. But I’m really happy with my choice many years later. If I want to build a new website or redesign a current one, I don’t need to go hunting for a new theme and pay for a new one again. I can just use the Divi tool to create a unique website.
Step 7 – Get writing
Once you’ve got your website and blog up and ready, it’s time to start filing it with lots of high value content.
I’d definitely recommend creating a content plan for yourself to keep on track. This means you know exactly what you need to write about 3 months from now.
Giving yourself deadlines is important because it’s so easy to just say “I’ll do it later” with your blog. But consistency is key with blogging. No one’s going to revisit your website if you only post every now and then, a couple of times a year. If you want to build something that’s high value, you’ve got to provide high value with your content.
Be helpful and informative but not dry and boring. It’s a difficult thing to master and I still learn new things every day.
I really hope this introduction to starting a blog for your freelance business has helped. I’d absolutely recommend starting a blog to anyone because while it’s hard work, it can be very rewarding.
Good luck with your blog and if you have any questions feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below!