Blogging is a multi-faceted tool for any freelance writer, even if you don’t find the energy to blog consistently. As a good example, I’ve made thousands of dollars over the years as the result of quickie blog posts I wrote on a whim!
If you want to be a freelance writer, I cannot overemphasize the importance of having your own blog. Whether it’s serious, creative, or a public journal, a personal blog can help you on your journey. This is because the best way to become a writer is to get out there and start writing!
In this post, I’ll show you four different ways running your own blog can help you in your career as a freelance writer and beyond. Let’s get cracking!
1. You Can Use a Blog to Stretch Your Creativity
Long before I was a freelance writer, I was an on-and-off hobby blogger. For years, I wrote about my personal experiences while learning web design, as well as stories about my personal life and time in school. At this point, I didn’t realize I could be selling my work, but I’m glad I took the time to write when I did! This laid the foundation for my foray into freelance writing, by giving me the chance to explore my ‘voice’ as a writer.
Having my own blog gave me hands-on experience writing creatively, and the opportunity to play with story narrative and structure. I got to write helpful pieces, but also purely insightful pieces. It was my own playground where I could run and leap with the words to my heart’s desire.
However, once you start working with a client, it all comes down to creating the content they want. If you haven’t yet learned what you’re capable of, this can be hard to find the confidence to do. It means you should start blogging now, while your income doesn’t depend on it. You can begin by writing about anything of interest to you –whether that’s creative, journalistic, tutorials, or anything else you can think of. You can also use an online writing prompt if you’re still struggling over subject matter.
In short, experiment with different formats and have fun!
2. You Will Gain Experience With WordPress
The first time I heard of WordPress was for an extra credit project in my coding class in college. The teacher challenged us to make a matching WordPress theme to go along with our templates, and I simply hacked away until it began to take shape. I was hooked on the flexibility of the platform, and I soon decided to use WordPress to publish my writing, too.
A decade later, and WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) around. Thanks to my early start, I was ahead of the game by having lots of experience in using it for personal projects.
Even though I wasn’t a flat-out expert when I started offering my services, I still had more experience with the platform than others. This put me ahead of the game because I could confidently manage WordPress sites.
In the same way, if you run your own blog, you’ll become much more familiar with WordPress. Having the skill set to work with the finer aspects of the platform will serve you well as a freelance writer. In some cases (and for some clients), it’s an essential requirement! For the rest, it’s simply another string to your bow that will likely make you look good.
While setting up a website used to take time and money, these days you could be up and running within the hour. However, if the thought of setting up your website at this point is overwhelming, you may want to seek out some assistance.
3. You Can Build a Portfolio Even With No Other Experience
Even now, much of my freelance work is ghostwriting. This means my name doesn’t get publicly attached to the end product. Due to this, I’m often limited in choices when it comes to pointing at work I can prove was mine!
However, thanks to the fact I run multiple blogs of my own, I have plenty of articles published with my name on them. This is unbelievably helpful, and they still act as a key method for landing new clients.
Having your own blog means you will always have linkable public work that’s available to view by any potential clients. While I’m a bit overzealous, you’ll likely want to begin with a single blog and go from there.
To get started, start putting out content similar to the content you’d like to be hired for in the future. If you want to write in-depth tutorials, write them for yourself first. If you want to write deeply informative articles about a topic you’re passionate about it, go pen a few. You don’t need permission to start writing – you have to get out there and simply do it!
4. You May Find Unexpected Business Opportunities
Halfway through 2011, I hacked together an online pug dictionary dedicated to my brother’s new dog. (I dubbed it the ‘Pugtionary’.) A few months later, I wrote a short tutorial explaining how I did it with WordPress, and shared it with the WordPress community. One year and more than thirty comments later asking me to build a plugin for it, I went ahead and did just that!
A few years later, and I’ve built a passive income stream from the Dictionary Pro plugin, all from a single tutorial. On average, I earn about $200 per month, with zero advertising. By selling the plugin, I’ve also landed a number of clients who’ve wanted custom implementation. This alone accounts for thousands of dollars in extra income over the years.
There are also indirect influences to consider. Thanks to the positive response on that particular post, the follow up posts I wrote eventually started to land me paid writing gigs. In short, while it may seem as though blogging had no impact on my working life, it in fact bolstered my career and income.
This reason ties in nicely with the previous one. In a nutshell, don’t write in a vacuum. Share your work on Twitter, Facebook, with friends and strangers – and on your own blog. If you want to take the next step, begin to reach out to notable influencers in your field. You never know where the next blog post might lead!
If you want to be a freelance writer, it’s crucial to start your own blog. While a targeted blog can perform amazingly, it’s more important to simply write first and ‘niche down’ later if you want.
This post offered four reasons to start your own blog as a freelance writer. Let’s recap them:
- It helps to stretch your creativity without client restrictions.
- You can gain hands-on WordPress experience.
- A blog can also end up serving as a portfolio when applying for gigs.
- It may lead to even bigger business opportunities.
Do you have any questions about starting your own blog? Let me know in the comments section below!
Image credits: Javier Quesada.