As freelancers, we know it’s feast or famine when it comes to work. You’ve got to save as much as you can during those feast times, so that you’re not living off ramen noodles or expired cans of green beans during the famines. This way of life, while often unavoidable, shouldn’t be our ultimate goal (or an excuse) as freelancers. We want to cultivate enough of a following to enjoy a sustainable and stable lifestyle.
One way to generate a healthy following is by adding a blog to your freelance brand. We’ve written about how important and relatively easy it is to maintain one… but today, we’re going to roll up our sleeves, top off our favorite beverage, and talk about how to get your blog noticed.
If you’re doing it right, you’re blogging on a regular basis, and putting a decent amount of effort into it. I don’t want your efforts to go unnoticed, and I’m sure you don’t want that either, so let’s work together and learn how to get people to read your blog.
1. Publish or perish, kid.
Okay, so that’s a little extreme… but getting a blog post published in a high-profile publication is one of the best ways to get readers to become followers and followers to become clients. Do a little research on your industry, find some hot topics that you’re familiar with, and craft a solid piece about them. Reread your piece, fix any glaring errors, and submit that puppy to a respected publication in your field. How Magazine and Freelancer’s Union are two great places to start.
Don’t limit yourself to the Big Ones, though. The point is to get eyes on your work, show off your expertise, and lead those eyes back to your blog. Your ultimate goal with this exercise is a request for work. Even a submission in the local newspaper could be to your advantage… you never know who is going to be interested in your services.
2. Hang out where the cool kids hang out.
Getting your blog in front of people is important, but that’s not where this audience development ends. You want to be seen, yes, but you also want to be seen as an awesome person to work with. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with coworking spaces, frequent freelance meetups, or WordPress gatherings, you should definitely go to those places. Spruce up your portfolio, pack some business cards, and start shaking hands.
You’re going to see the biggest bites, however, in the virtual hot spots. Online forums are a big deal when it comes to inter-industry communication.
Starting conversations and frequently providing helpful answers will show off your expertise and approachability, and will easily lead curious questioners back to your blogging home base.
Some of the most popular spots for different genres are:
3. Get acquainted with Quora.
While Quora could probably be lumped in with the previous point, I think it’s a good idea to focus a bit more on it specifically. Quora is a social networking site presented in a “Question and Answer” format. For the most part, it really is as simple as that. Someone out there asks a question and people who are interested or knowledgeable in that topic can answer those questions. It’s a fantastic research and development tool as well as a marketing tool, and is a great way to build online relationships through helpful assistance.
In 2013, Quora introduced a blogging option to their site. While it’s great for people who don’t want to go through the rigmarole of actually starting a blog, it’s even better for those who already have one and want to promote their posts further.
4. Get like, totally social you guys.
There’s no getting around it: people like to read and share blog posts, and the easiest way to do that is via social media. Now, this doesn’t mean that, when figuring out how to get your blog noticed, you need to schedule 14 Facebook posts, 12 Instagrams, and 56 Tweets every day in order to be successful… it just means that you need to make yourself available on the platforms that will benefit your business most, and maintain a regular presence on at least one of them.
This will set you up as a go-to source in your field, and will put more eyes on your blog and your business.
5. Email’s still cool.
Seriously, it is. Go through your email contacts, see if any of them will find interest in your blog, and send them a quick message telling them about it. You could be just the thing they’re looking for. You can also include your latest blog post in your email signature, making it a simple for any curious email recipients to check it out.
Another way to bring your blog to your followers is through a bonus weekly or monthly newsletter. Platforms like MailChimp and Emma will help you create a visually pleasing newsletter, full of exclusive content for people who subscribe.
6. Let that personality shine on through, baby.
You can utilize all of the marketing tips in the world, but they’re not going to help if you’re bringing followers to a blog that’s visually bland or has run-of-the-mill content. The best way to avoid a boring blog? Show people your personality. Focus on your strengths and interests and you’re much more likely to produce content that is engaging, accurate, and enjoyable to read. If you’re a cat-loving graphic designer who caters to pet-related services, use your knowledge of this furry industry to create content that appeals to your target audience and is fun for you to write. If you’re an artisanal soap maker, figure out how to infuse your writing with the same precision and care for detail that you put into each bar of soap.
7. Stay current and stay strong.
Each industry has its own set of politics and controversial topics, and it’s highly likely that you’ve got your own opinion on them. Writing a blog post about one of these hot-button issues is a great way to get people talking about and on your blog. The likelihood that people will share your post goes up when you write about something that’s highly debated, and that can bring in a surprising amount of new readers. In these situations, it’s extremely important to research the topic from all angles so that you’re sure of your stance. You need to be fully prepared to discuss your beliefs with commenters… and in these situations, there will be commenters. Simply hopping on, ranting aimlessly about a hot topic, and getting defensive about adverse comments is not how to get your blog noticed in a positive way. Be calm, be educated, and be prepared to discuss.
Start writing, start sharing, and start interacting.
If I had the energy or the musical talent to write a School House Rock-style jingle about the power of interaction, I would.
A popular blog with a huge following doesn’t grow from one-sided promotion; it grows from a spirit of helpfulness and interaction.
Retweeting, sharing, and even answering what seems like the most basic of questions from a brand new freelancer, are all forms of generosity that will get you the kind of readers who follow you for longer than five minutes. And if they stick around long enough, there’s a good chance they’ll become the clients who keep you from having to live off packaged Ramen for months on end.
…unless, of course, you want to live off of packaged Ramen. In that case, these are the clients who’ll keep you stocked on your favorite noodly dinner for as long as your freelancing heart desires.
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