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Using a Blog to Grow Your Business


Yesterday we took a look at how this particular blog has benefited our freelance business. Today we want to focus on how it’s not helping our business and what we plan to do about that.

When I say “how it’s not helping our business,” I’m not implying that it is hurting us. While it’s true that writing about potty training and housework might not seem like the most “professional” approach, it makes sense for us. First of all, this blog is about being freelancers and about being parents. Secondly, we decided early on that if it was a problem for a potential client to hire a WAHM, then we probably wouldn’t be a good match for them anyway.

Identify Your Audience
Quite honestly, this blog really isn’t for our clients. Sure, some of our readers have become clients; and the occasional web surfer has stumbled across the site and been thrilled to hire us. In general, though, this blog appeals mostly to other freelancers. In fact, it seems to be most popular with other freelance writers. If there is one group of people in the business world who are least likely to need our services, it’s other freelance writers, right? (Actually, that is somewhat debatable.) In the grand scheme of things freelance writers aren’t the people we most want to target as potential clients.

We have talked repeatedly about the importance of finding the right niche for your business. After working hard to identify our strengths and interests, we have chosen a niche for our freelance work. While we’ll still be working on a variety of projects for the time being, we’re setting ourselves up in the next few months to be able to offer writing services specifically geared toward nonprofit organizations. Both of us have quite a bit of on-the-job experience in this field, my Master’s Degree focuses here, and Tamara and I are both bleeding hearts—so it seemed like a great choice.

Cater to that Audience
In the past, each of us would have typed up our resumes to include all of our work in the Arts and Social Justice and maybe trotted out our college GPAs in order to try and attract clients. In today’s world, though, we have the option of really showcasing our knowledge by building a blog that speaks directly to those who do the hiring. A simple resume wouldn’t allow Tamara to truly share her feelings on the importance of cultural competence in the workplace, nor would it give me the chance to outline how a volunteer recognition program can increase the retention of volunteers and staff alike. Creating this new blog was not necessarily our idea, rather it was a suggestion made by the marketing team over at IttyBiz. And who are we to argue with the marketing professionals?

Blogging offers another opportunity for us, as well. In addition to demonstrating knowledge of the field, it also gives a first-hand view of our writing abilities. What a great way to share our expertise as both nonprofit professionals and as writers. It also provides an opportunity to write articles that are really interesting to us and that will be beneficial to nonprofit organizations, whether they are our clients or not.

Focus on What You Can Give, Not What You Can Get
Perhaps it sounds idealistic, but the priority of any blog should be to produce great content. Sure, there is something to be said for focusing on SEO and for monetizing a site; but when you boil it all down, if there’s no good information, there’s really no reason for folks to visit. While our new blog will certainly be a tool for finding new clients, it won’t be completely geared that way. The aim will be to provide high-quality information to nonprofit organizations—a truly useful site that nonprofit professionals will visit often.

So, we’re curious. Have any of you freelancing folks created blogs specifically to appeal to your clients? I know a lot of you have writing-related blogs, but have you branched out into other areas? If so, feel free to leave a link in the comments section. If not, is it something you’ve considered?

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    On December 18th, 2007 at 4:50 pm, Samuel Ryan said:

    I like the point about focusing on “giving.” Many blogs I visit feel like they’re mostly about “how I make money off you, the visitor” instead of giving me good content…

    On December 18th, 2007 at 5:30 pm, Rachel said:

    Hmm. Good question, Lorna. I don’t write a specific beat or fit into a niche, yet. Plus, some of my clients come to me for non-writing services (proofreading, copyediting, etc). I think of my blog then as a place that, if clients find it, they’ll at least know that I’m passionate about what I do, that I can stick to a regular schedule, and that I can string a sentence together.

    If anything I’ve been thinking about starting a food blog, but not because one of my regular gigs involves writing about restaurants–only because I really like food. Would that help me in the future? Maybe, if I want to expand my food coverage. Hmm.

    On December 18th, 2007 at 5:31 pm, Rachel said:

    I should add that the main focus of my current blog isn’t to impress clients–but if it works, it’s a great side effect. (Hence the bio and testimonials on the blog, in case any curious editors find themselves there.)

    On December 19th, 2007 at 8:37 pm, Lorna Doone Brewer said:

    Samuel - I definitely feel much better about a blog that has something to offer me instead of just wanting to take, take, take. In the long run, I’m likely to spend more time on their site or put more weight behind their opinions. Both can actually lead to more revenue for them!

    Rachel - I firmly believe that it’s A-OK to run a blog just because you want to, not because it is tied in with your business. My Something Good blog has been running for nearly a year and a half, and I don’t even have it monetized or anything! I just love the topic.

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