When it comes to marketing your freelance-writing business, blogging works.
In surveys, a broad cross section of businesses report getting good results from blogging regularly. Results like more traffic, more leads, and more sales. For you, as a writer, more sales means more clients, more projects, and a bigger income.
Your blog can help prospective clients find you. It can also demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in your niche or specialty, and it also showcases your ability to write.
People who follow your blog regularly will get to know you better. Those who like you will keep reading. And over time, if you continue to offer a good experience and good information through your blog, they’ll come to trust you. When they need your services, you’ll be the person they turn to.
Your blog can also work as a persuasive tool, showing people how what you do can benefit their business. That means, when a regular follower of your blog contacts you about hiring you, they’ve already made their buying decision. You convinced them through your blog. No need to do it over the phone.
Now, you can’t just slap up anything on your blog and expect it to deliver a great result. You need to create high-quality posts that are relevant to your target audience. You need to make sure your work is clean and polished. And you need to publish consistently.
Some bloggers post once a day. Some company blogs post multiple times a day. For your writing business, aim to post at least twice a month. Once a week would be better. And three times a week would be amazing.
You also need to distribute your work. You can send alerts out to your email list, share it through social media, cultivate relationships with influencers in your industry who may then share your stuff with a highly engaged audience, or use paid search. But, if you just post and then do nothing, you may get some organic traffic, but you won’t get nearly the traffic you could.
At this point, I imagine you’re thinking… Wow, this sounds like it’s going to take a lot of time.
Which brings us to why you’re here…
Yes, blogging is a time commitment. But, if it brings in clients without your having to cold call or send out direct-mail packages or attend a slew of networking events, then it’s time well spent. (Not that I have anything against these other marketing methods. Okay, maybe cold calling, but I actually like networking events.)
The point is, if you do well with your blog, it can keep you in front of interested prospects 24/7 and keep your client pipeline full. Those are good things.
It can also open the door to new opportunities, like speaking engagements, partnerships and publishing deals.
So, how do you get it all done? How do you keep on top of your blog, while still managing your client work?
It’s definitely possible. Writers manage it all the time, and you can, too. It just takes a little planning… and quite a bit of discipline.
The Hard Truth
The number one reason I hear from writers for not blogging consistently is that they just don’t have time.
But, here’s a fact: You have as much time as anyone else.
Time is the great equalizer. We all get the same 24 hours in a day.
You have to choose how to spend it. And, if content marketing is how you want to land your clients, you’re going to have to make time for it.
The first step to doing that is to get realistic about how much time you need.
How long does it take you to write a blog post? How much time do you spend editing it? How much time do you spend finding images? How long does it take you to physically publish a blog post? Once you publish it, how much time do you spend on sharing and distribution?
Come up with a figure to answer each of those questions — be honest with yourself — and you’ll know about how long it will take you to write, publish, and distribute a single post.
Next, determine how many hours a week you can dedicate to blogging. Compare the two numbers and you’ll have an idea of how frequently you should plan to post to your blog.
If you have 10 hours a week to dedicate to blogging, and creating a single blog takes you six hours, then you should probably plan for only one post a week. At least to start out.
The next step in your “make time for blogging” strategy is to block out the first part of your day for blogging. You’re using this to build your business, and your business pays the bills. So, make sure you do what’s necessary to keep your business thriving. Spend your first hour or two each day on your blogging strategy. Every. Single. Day.
If you have something urgent to do in your morning, get up earlier that day. Just get the blogging time in first.
It Pays to Work Faster
Once you’ve made the commitment to put in the time you need to blog consistently, the next thing to do is to get faster at it.
Systems help to speed things up.
Come up with a system for capturing ideas. You might dictate them into your smart phone. Or send yourself emails. Or use Evernote. Or jot them down on paper. Whatever you do, get in the habit of writing down ideas whenever they come to you.
Come up with a system for scheduling your content. Start using an editorial calendar and plan your content well in advance. Spend some time with your calendar each week. Review what’s coming up. Make adjustments based on the news cycle in your industry. Look over the ideas you’ve collected and add them to your calendar. This way, you’ll always know exactly what topic to write about when you sit down to start drafting your next post.
Come up with a system for writing. Mine looks something like this:
- Read up on the topic. At least five articles from authoritative sources. Take notes.
- Go for a walk and think about what I’ve learned, as well as the angle I want to take, my own experiences, and the end result I want to provide.
- Outline the key points.
- Start drafting section by section. I usually type my first draft with my eyes closed, so I won’t edit as I go. You can also turn off your screen. I know this sounds crazy, but you’ll write so much faster, and you’ll get out of your own way, which means you’ll write better, too.
- Use a system to review and revise your draft. You can check out my system here.
- Send it to someone for proofing, if you can. Read it backwards, if you can’t.
Come up with a system for distribution. It’s so much more efficient if you go through the same steps each time. Ed Gandia has a great distribution system you can use for inspiration. You can find that here.
Ruthlessly Cut Time Wasters
Once you have systems in place, you’ll notice yourself getting faster and faster at producing high-quality blog content. Enough so you might be able to increase your publishing frequency. Fantastic!
But don’t stop there.
Identify time wasters and cut them out.
One of the biggest time wasters is slow typing. If you aren’t up to 50+ words a minute, start working on your typing speed. If you can go from 50 words a minute to 75 words a minute, you’ll cut your writing time by as much as a third. That’s huge.
Another option is to start getting proficient with dictation software. Personally, I hate dictating. When it comes to writing, my hands need to be involved. But, I know people who use dictation, and man, does it speed things up. I’m a little jealous, if I’m honest.
A second time waster to be on the watch for is editing as you write. Don’t do it. It will slow you way down, and it will interfere with the flow of your ideas. That means you’ll have to spend more time bringing your work up to the quality you want to present. (Typing with your eyes closed, like I mentioned above, helps prevent this.)
Just write. You can edit later. Trust me. If you can make this one shift, it will change your life… at least when it comes to writing.
A third time waster is doing things you’d be better off paying someone else to do. For example, publishing your posts. It might make more sense to hire a virtual assistant to do that. If you’re spending an hour or more of your blogging time fussing with WordPress, imagine how much more you could write if you just paid someone $25 to do the publishing for you.
Distribution is another area where you might be able to hire someone to help. You should be the one posting to your social media accounts, but a virtual assistant could help with image production and keeping track of social analytics.
Blogging is something that just makes sense for writers. In fact, I was interviewing Pam Foster the other day, and she mentioned she tested a lot of marketing methods to attract clients to her pet copywriting business. Blogging was the winner by a big margin.
It can be a winner for you, too. If the time commitment has been scaring you off, use the approach I shared here to carve out the time and make the best use of it. Be practical in your approach, consistent in your execution, diligent in your distribution, and patient… the results will come.