Head over to any business's website and you'll probably see a link to its blog somewhere on their homepage.
Blogs are everywhere nowadays, and they've come a long way from where they originated as personal online journals for spilling thoughts and ideas to whoever would listen.
A blog is now one of the best marketing tools that businesses in all industries—even solo freelancers—use to get more leads and customers. In fact, several content marketing studies over the past few years have mentioned that companies with a blog tend to generate more leads than businesses without a blog.
Are you ready to take a leap into the blogging world to better promote your freelance business? Whether you're a one-person show who freelances for clients or a large-scale corporation, you can benefit from having a business blog. Here's how to pull it off.
Create a Plan
People who begin blogging with a plan are bound to have more success with their blog than those who randomly write posts hoping that someone will read them. Blogging is most definitely a strategy; although not every business' blogging strategy will be the same, it's undeniably necessary to have a cohesive plan that shapes the work you're putting into the blog.
A blog plan should have details about:
- What you want to share: Sample ideas for blog post topics, interviews with thought leaders in your industry, press releases, case studies, etc. Remember: Your blog can be for more than just sharing blog posts!
- How often you want to share something new: Posting a valuable piece of content at least once a week is necessary for most blogs to take off, but it's even better if you can commit to blogging even more frequently.
- A social media strategy: You'll use social media to promote your blog, so be sure to have accounts set up for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, at the very least, and create a posting schedule to share each blog post.
- Lead generation: What free stuff can you give to potential clients who visit your blog in exchange for their email addresses, like an eBook or a discount? Plan out how to feature your special opt-ins in your blog posts to gain new email subscribers for you to send relevant information about your business.
Learn Exactly What Your Customers Want
Doing research on your potential audience is a crucial part of building a blog that caters to that group. One of the best ways to learn more about the people who will be buying from you is to research your competitors who are already doing well in the industry.
What type of content do they share on their blogs? How often do they promote that content through social media or ads? What social media channel do they use most? The answers to these questions can assist you in your blogging strategy.
You can also reach out directly to your current clients or customers with a brief survey. You can create one for free using Google Forms. Use your survey to gauge opinions about your pricing, services, and important industry topics they'd like to learn more about.
Create Valuable Content About Those Topics
People don't go to your blog to learn more about you. They likely go straight to a blog post or article that was linked somewhere else, like Google, Facebook, or another blog, because they saw something that looked interesting. Maybe the title stood out to them because it's about a topic they want to know more about.
Your blog posts should deliver what they're looking for every single time. If that person wanted to learn how to create their own WordPress themes, but all they see is promotional material about your freelance design company, they're just going to go elsewhere to find what they need.
The point of a business blog is to offer incredibly valuable content for your target audience. The better you do at giving potential customers what they need and want through your content, the likelier it is that they'll trust you enough to purchase your products or services.
Offer Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are anything that trigger potential customers to fill out a form for more information or add their email address to your list. Browse some of your favorite blogs in your industry. How many do you see with a lead magnet, like a swipe file, planner, a quiz, or an audiobook download?
We tend to think of blogs as a one-and-done solution to marketing, but that's far from the truth. Instead, it's somewhat of a lead magnet in itself, drawing an audience in to learn more about what you do and, hopefully, sign up for your services.
Valuable giveaways can increase the number of people who subscribe to your email address, making it easier for you to target already-interested people when you have something awesome you want to share in an email.
You can offer lead magnets within your blog posts, on your sidebar, or even as a pop-up as soon as someone enters your site.
Make Your Calls-to-Action Relevant and Enticing
You could have the some of the industry's best content on your blog, but if there's no guidance for readers to know what they should do with the information they just digested, then you're missing out on a valuable opportunity.
A call-to-action is what will point your visitors in the direction they should take based on each page of content. A blog post outlining the reasons you might hire a virtual assistant might link to your contact page for visitors to learn more about your assistant services. A post with tips about shooting amazing travel photography might include a call-to-action for visitors to enter their email addresses to get a free eBook with more in-depth tips.
Whatever your expertise, make a relevant call-to-action for it to encourage your visitors to make a move that benefits you and your business.
Build a Community
Think of your blog as a stepping stone to all the various parts of your business. One piece should be your network. A blog can be an excellent way to build a network of other industry professionals who are interested in your business.
Turn on comments for your site so visitors can share their thoughts on your content. Respond to those comments, making sure you take the opportunity to provide value by answering their questions, offering more help, or linking to your resources.
Building up your social media profiles with a mix of your content and other industry content is also an excellent way to build a community around your blog and promote your best ideas.
Think Outside Your Blog
It sounds counterintuitive to post content on other blogs to build your own, but the process has the potential to lead people back to your blog, and therefore, your business website. Guest posting has become one of the trendiest marketing tools for anyone who writes content. You'll not only share your knowledge with people interested in your industry, but you can also get links back to your site from sites who have more authority and a larger audience than yours.
As part of your business blogging strategy, weave in a guest post on industry-leading blogs for every three or four blog posts you create for your site. You can easily find leading blogs in your niche by doing a Google search for "[your niche] blog write for us" or a similar search.
What's your biggest struggle in terms of blogging for your freelance business?