Blogging can be overwhelming territory to say the least, especially if writing isn’t your forte. What started out mostly as a platform dedicated to online personal journaling has, over the past 12 years, erupted into a widely-used method of opinion-sharing and effective marketing. I mean, after all, you’re here, gearing up to read some blogging tips… on a blog.
Like I said; this blogging thing has definitely progressed.
Today we’re going to tackle blogging tips that go well past the “which platform should I use?” and “how do I get started?” levels. The internet is rife with “how to start a blog” posts, and we’ll send a few of the really good ones your way at the end of this… but right now we want to focus on the “after you’re all set up” stage. Let’s think of this stage as… “college level.”
My goal with this small “Blogging 101” post is to help you create a blog that specifically helps you as a freelancer.
By maintaining a blog that is dependable, original, and genuinely helpful to both clients and industry peers, you’ll have developed a marketing tool that will be useful to you for years to come.
Content is King!
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read the phrase “content is king…” well, I probably wouldn’t quit my job (I kind of like it, you know), but I would definitely be investing in some higher-quality shoes or something.
The thing is, though, that the phrase carries with it a lot of truth–that’s why it’s so popular. Consumers and internet users are often more aware than we realize, and can see through blog posts that aren’t genuine… but there’s so much more to it than simply “creating quality content.” What does that even mean, anyway?
It means that you’ve got to do some research.
You’ve got to research your industry. Search sites like Quora and explore the most-used industry-related hashtags on Twitter in order to find the questions that people are asking. One of the most effective ways to produce “quality content” is to answer the most burning questions being asked in your industry. Quora may also provide blogging tips that are specific to your industry.
In order to do that, you’ve also got to research your own business. What are your specialties and talents? How can you use them in your blog posts to make your solutions more effective than someone else’s?
Let’s say logo design is your bread and butter. How many logo designers are out there, and how many of them are blogging about it? Probably a gazillion, give or take a few, right? Well, let’s also say you spent a few years living and honing your craft in Tokyo. While there are surely others with similar experiences, it whittles the field down significantly, and provides you with unique and interesting insights that will set your blog apart from the enormous logo design crowd.
Now, you don’t need to have lived overseas to be able to create an exciting and original blog,. You simply need to look at your own experiences and unique skills, and discover how they can create an exciting spin on your industry.
It all DEPENDS on you.
In addition to bulking you up in the SEO department, your blog can set you up as a dependable source of reliable information… as long as you’re holding up your end of the work. A consistent blogging schedule will give your clients and colleagues something regular to look forward to, and will display qualities like consistency, dependability, and organization to those who follow you. These are all ideal personality traits you’d like to see in someone you hire or work with, right?
The thing with blogging consistently is that it’s not chocolate cake and unicorns all the time.
Sometimes you can’t think of anything worthwhile to write about… and that’s more than normal.
This is where a routine comes in. Set up a few times a week to free-write in addition to full-on blog creation. Sometimes you’ll crank out pure gold, and sometimes you’ll crank out crap… but it’s rarely ever purely crap. Even 15 minutes of free writing can conjure up ideas that refuse to come out when you’re trying to produce an official blog post. Save your free-writes for the future when well has run dry.
This practice will also help you build up a reserve of blog posts, which can come in handy when your whole house gets struck by the flu, or when your best friend from college invites you out to the cabin for a last-minute fishing extravaganza. (Those things happen, right? Fishing extravaganzas?)
Embrace the technology… be one with the technology.
I mean, you don’t have to get too spiritually connected to helpful technology… but you should definitely use it.
There are a few tools out there that can help you stay consistent with your writing schedule and make sure you don’t look utterly inept.
I find that countdown timers are a useful tool for free-writing. You can use the stopwatch on your phone, a timer app like E.gg Timer, or even (gasp) an actual real-live stopwatch, to carve out small chunks of your day for writing. Set your timer for 15 minutes, write until the alarm goes off, and file it away for future use.
On the flipside of the timer topic, you can use a time-tracker like Toggl to keep track of how much time it actually takes you to complete an entire blog post. Giving yourself an accurate idea of how much time and effort you put into each post will help you organize your schedule in a way that makes comfortable room for writing.
While we’re all familiar with spell check, it’s important to go a bit deeper than simple spelling errors in terms of editing your work. Apps like Grammarly and Hemingway will analyze your writing, help you carve out unnecessary words, and will let you know when a sentence doesn’t make sense.
Templates and Formulas
If you’re feeling stumped on getting started, or have encountered a painful creativity rut, there are some fun and useful tools out there for you to try. Between content generators like Portent’s and Hubspot’s, and this list of tried-and-true blogging formulas from Buffer, you’ll score the ideas you need to get your blog off the ground and onto the screens of your potential clients.
The best blog tip I can give you is to start writing right now. Kick that blinking cursor to the curb and get your thoughts out into your word processor of choice. It may not look pretty, and it may not even sound coherent, but the first steps are always the most intimidating ones, right? Once you get that out of the way you can get use those ideas, try them out in a content generator, and see where it takes you.
Who knows? Perhaps, with a little effort and research, you will create a blog post so inspiring, so original and electric that you snag 10 new clients overnight. You could totally buy some high-quality footwear with your blogging gains… and if you do get interviewed by some journalistic big wig, you’ll let them know where you got your blogging tips, right?