Survivial Skills for Freelancers

6 devilishly good tips for brilliant blogs

According to a HubSpot survey, 60% of marketers say creating blog content is top of their marketing to-do list.

Whatever business you’re in, blogging should be a vital part of your marketing strategy. Perhaps you’ve vowed that this will be the year you start a blog, or begin to post more regularly. These tips and tactics will help you do it well.

1)   Tell, don’t sell

A well-written, thought-provoking blog is your chance to share your expertise, answer potential customers’ questions, and position yourself as an expert in your field.

Your blog should be thought-provoking, knowledgeable – even entertaining. It shouldn’t be a thinly veiled sales pitch. You don’t like being sold to, and neither does your reader – and they’ll quickly switch off and go elsewhere.

Sure, sign off with a line or two about how your product or service solves the problem you’re writing about, but don’t make your sales message the purpose of the article.

2)   Stay on topic

Your posts should always be relevant to your market. For example, a recruitment agency could share top interview techniques, ways to motivate staff, to improve retention, or share their take on the latest changes to employment law.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be posting the latest movie news if you’re a firm of accountants… however much of a Marvel nerd your marketing assistant is.

Brainstorm ideas for relevant posts with your team, and use the resulting list to create a content schedule. Commit to posting regularly, but don’t set unrealistic goals – one quality post a month is a great start.

3)   Keep it fresh

Quality blog posts boost SEO and can help drive traffic to your website.

Every blog you add to your site is another page of fresh content for the search engines to index – that’s another chance for you to show up in potential customers’ Google searches. Keep working those keywords in.

By using your company’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds to share links to your latest blog, you’re creating shareable content that’ll raise awareness of your business, and help to position you as a trusted authority in your field.

4)   Hello, new customer!

Chances are your target audience will stumble upon your blog because they want advice, information, or answers to a problem that’s bugging them. Blogging gives you the chance to educate readers and present your expert opinion on the issues that matter to them.

Once they’ve established that you know what you’re talking about – and that your business has the knowledge, skills and solutions to solve their problem – you’re on their radar when they’re ready to make a purchase.

To increase the chances of taking the next step and converting your readers to customers, make sure every post contains up-to-date contact details so they can get in touch if they need to.

5)   Create a conversation

Regular blogging gives your business a voice – creating a dialogue around current topics that are relevant to your industry, and your customers.

Thought-provoking, informative articles encourage comments and feedback from readers, many of whom will be potential customers. Welcome any interaction as a chance to find out more about the problems faced by your target audience, and always respond to comments. Remember – dialogue is the first step in converting prospects to customers.

6)   Finally – in the immortal words of Wham! – if you’re gonna do it, do it right

Your blog represents your business. Think of it as your shop window. Having a badly written, error-filled blog – or posting for the sake of posting – is worse than not posting at all. Make sure your thinking is eloquent, well-structured, and well written… and that it supports your brand.

Always read your blog carefully before posting – or get a colleague to do it for you – to catch spelling and grammar mistakes and iron out clumsy language. Mistakes in your posts show a lack of professionalism and care, and you risk driving your target customers into the open arms of your competitors.

If you don’t have the time – or the skills – to write great blog posts yourself, hire a professional copywriter to ghost-write them for you.

I originally wrote this post for digital marketing agency, Kandekore, and have adapted it for my own website with their permission.

Why the fear of failure never really goes away… even after 17 years of self employment

Everyone in business has at least one task they KNOW they should be doing but they just get stuck, right? For me, it was launching my own newsletter.

C’mon – a copywriter who can’t write a newsletter? You’re kidding, right?

Don’t get me wrong – of course I can write a newsletter. I’ve been writing them for over 25 years, yet somehow writing my own was too big, too scary a prospect, too much of a commitment… so many excuses, so little time.

I came up with the idea of the Clever Copy Club at the start of 2016. I knew I wanted to share helpful tips that anyone could use to improve their writing, rather than hammering home the benefits of working with a copywriter (that’s a whole other blog post).

Mail what now?!

Hell, I’d even designed and written the first issue as long ago as April. I didn’t have the first clue how MailChimp worked so I had to sweet talk my way to some training (thanks, www.hellopippin.co.uk) and start pulling together a database of contacts I’d built up over 17 years as a freelance copywriter. That in itself was a gargantuan task.

Yet even having got that far, there was never the right time… I’m just too busy – I can’t deal with all the work a newsletter is going to bring in. I’m away for a week… and then two. And what if… yadda yadda.

You get it, don’t you? I was frozen in perfectionist agony. Nothing more, nothing less than good old paralyzing fear. A copywriter with perfectionist tendencies: great from the point of view of my clients. From my perspective, not so much.

Issue one: done

Long story short – and an unfeasible amount of procrastination later – I finally hit the SEND button this week. Out went issue one, winging its electronic way to over 650 people. I can’t even begin to describe the fear… what if everyone HATES it? What if I become known as the copywriter with the rubbish newsletter? What if they all unsubscribe?! How will I live with myself?!?

Within an hour of hitting send, my heart was racing, my chest was tight… and I was on a mission to buy Rescue Remedy. I kid you not.

But you know what? I survived. In fact, I think I can even say I feel good. I wasn’t expecting miracles – the miracle was just getting it done.

Two days on, I have:

  • a 48.6 per cent open rate
  • a 8.2 per cent click rate
  • six meetings booked
  • two confirmed pieces of work
  • no less than 24 “well done – love it!” emails and tweets

After baring my soul – and my insecurities – to the world, I guess the moral of the story is this: just do it*. Whatever you’re stuck on, remember – it doesn’t have to be perfect, or life-changing, or revolutionary. Sometimes good enough really is good enough.

*thanks, Nike.

You knew I’d sign off with a plug, right?! How could I not. For monthly tips and language love direct to your inbox, sign up for the Clever Copy Club. “Once a month: no more, no less” the strapline says. God knows *someone* needs to hold me accountable to that 🙂