Is a blog necessary?
This is probably a dilemma faced by those starting out as a freelance writer (Yours truly included when I was starting out …confusion, exasperation as you grope in the dark trying to rationalize starting one).
How do you even find time to juggle pitching for jobs, guest posting, write assigned articles, marketing your services, pursuing other interests (like learning a new language just because I’m into it right now), AND write articles for your own blog?
Just thinking about this list alone is exhausting!
There are conflicting opinions out there on whether freelance writers, particularly beginners, should or should not have a blog.
Generally, there are two sides of the camp – those who recommend that you start and maintain one and those who believe that a blog is not a must-have.
Well as I read more, I began to develop my own take.
To Blog Or Not to Blog?
Before we take on this discussion further, I strongly feel you need to first differentiate the difference between having a website and having a blog.
But a website is a blog and a blog is a website, right?
Well, not really.
A website could just comprise a simple landing page promoting your services, portfolio and incorporating your contact details.
On the other hand, if you decide to have a blog, that’s when more work comes in as you need to regularly populate your website with more updated content.
The good news is, it is NOT necessary for a new freelance writer to have a blog when you are starting out.
A website in the form of a landing page that highlights the writer’s contact details, portfolio and services would suffice.
If A Blog Is Not Necessary, Then Why Do Freelance Writers Have One?
So if a landing page is enough to function as a portfolio (so to speak), why have a blog at all?
There are several reasons why freelance writers, especially those established ones, have blogs.
1) Since these established writers already have a following, having a blog is a no-brainer as they can easily drive traffic to their blogs. Writers who have achieved considerable success in freelance writing usually maintain blogs that not only center on freelance writing itself but also specific topics on various niches, like health, parenting, digital marketing.
I feel that having a blog adds more clout for these writers as they have ready audience who would want to learn more from them.
Some of my favourite blogs include those from the following writers :
2) Most of the blogs by freelance writers that I came across have some form of monetization. These range from affiliate marketing, promotion of their professional services, products or training to marketing third party Saas systems.
Having a blog is therefore a means of supplementing your primary income (assuming in this case, freelance writing).
3) Generating more traffic is definitely a driving force in having a blog. Apart from social media, a blog could provide an increased traffic from an audience who might not have been familiar with the writer.
These people might not have been looking up the writers specifically, but happen to stumble upon their blogs as they were searching for some topics using specific keywords.
Of course, in order for this to happen, the blogs’ (websites) content must have employed good SEO (search engine optimization) practices.
To reiterate, having a blog as a freelance writer (particularly a beginner) is NOT absolutely essential.
Having said that however, you might want to start one as you progress in your business as a means to supplement income, gain more traffic or simply sharing more information and imparting knowledge on what you are passionate about.
As a freelance writer, what’s more pressing is gaining a continuous stream of clients. To do this, you need to continuously market your services.
A blog is just one platform you can do this. There are various other ways to ensure you don’t run dry on assignments.
For a steady stream of income, you would need to pitch for work in job boards, market your services in social media like Facebook or LinkedIn or bid for assignments in content mill sites like Upwork.com or Freelancer.com.
The idea is to put yourself out there. Let people know how you can help them, how you can take load off their content needs.
It doesn’t matter if you currently have a blog or not. Even if you already have one, no one is going to know how beautiful it is or what useful content you have unless you market it well.
Anthony Moore, author of What Extraordinary People Know said, “Don’t market yourself until you are great at what you do”.
I believe there’s some truth in that. You can’t justify clients’ budget to hire you if you don’t have great work to show for it.
So be great at freelance writing first. Make it your true passion. Get clients through the usual sources like content mills, job boards.
You can always start a blog once you have a substantial portfolio and established the direction you want to take for your blog.
It’ll then be easier to market yourself when you have built something concrete to show! And your blog will be an added tool for you to reach your potential clients.