The majority of our posts this week focus on how to use blogging as a part of your freelance business. First of all, we talked about how a blog can be useful for marketing, networking, earning, and even evaluating your own business practices with “Does Your Freelance Business Need a Blog.” After that, we looked at how having a niche blog can be the ticket to promoting yourself in “Using a Blog to Grow Your Business.” Today we’re going to take a peek at some of the best (by which we mean “worst”) ways to use a blog to destroy your freelance business.
Revealing too much about your clients – This is a big no-no and can lose you a lot of business. If you just have to vent about a client, be sure not to mention them by name or give too many details. In some cases you may just tick them off. In others cases, you might land yourself in a lawsuit. Believe me, you don’t want to get Dooced. Now that I’ve said that, I have to admit that there are a few hilarious blogs out there that skewer clients. Notice how Writing Frump manages to keep not only her clients’ identity quiet, but also her(?) own.
Revealing too much about yourself – Blogging is tricky. We build these relationships with the people who read and comment on our blogs, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re not having a private conversation. Obviously this guideline depends on your area of focus. The original eMom, Wendy, is well-respected for being transparent about her life, for example. On the other hand, if you’re a self-employed criminal attorney using a blog to showcase your expertise, it’s probably not appropriate to talk about how you got wasted at the Poison reunion concert last weekend.
Demonstrating your lack of actual skills – If you’re a freelance web designer, then your blog should be beautiful. Potential clients should look at it and think, “If her site looks this good, imagine what she can do for me!” Likewise, if you’re a freelance writer, make sure that your posts aren’t full of errors. Photographers should utilize their own (best) photos. The lawyer mentioned above should avoid giving questionable advice just because he was still hung over from the show. Sure, you can fool some of the people, but the quality clients are going to see through your B.S. and find somewhere else to spend their money.
Being too controversial – There is something to be said for the occasional opinion piece. Heck, some blogs survive on the principle of stirring up as much controversy as possible because it gets people talking and visiting. On the other hand, a business blog might not be the appropriate place for this kind of post. While you certainly want to be true to your ideals, you don’t want to alienate half of your potential client base. Sometimes you’ll find that controversy happens in the comment section without you. These situations are always tricky, and you’ll have to determine how to best proceed if commenters start bashing each other (or even your original post). Conversations are great, name-calling is counterproductive. Getting sucked into these situations can hurt your status as a professional.
Not posting often enough (or even posting too much) – If you’re only going to post to your blog once a month, then you’re less likely to earn any sort of loyal following. Perhaps you just want a place to put up the occasional article. That’s o.k. Just realize that this type of blog is probably not going to be as popular as one that posts a few times a week. Most of the folks I’ve talked to say that they think a blogger should post a minimum of three times a week. If I visit a blog that hasn’t been updated in a couple of weeks, I wonder about the blogger’s dedication and follow-through.
Posting too frequently can be a problem, too. First of all, it’s easy to get burnt out if you’re constantly trying to come up with new, quality posts. Also, folks who receive your posts via a feed reader sometimes get annoyed if too many come through every day. It sort of feels like they’re being spammmed, even if the content is good.
Blogging can be an incredible asset to your freelance business, but remember that it can hurt you, too. Use yours to its best advantage by doing the opposite of those things listed above: Remain professional, avoid unnecessary controversy, keep your blog current, and always put your best foot forward.
Help us all avoid trouble by telling us about other blogging mistakes you’ve seen out there that made you think, “Ouch! I wouldn’t hire that person in a million years!”
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