A common complaint I hear from the self-employed professionals I work with is that they’ve tried blogging as a marketing approach, but it hasn’t paid off. No one is reading their blog, they tell me. Or they’ve got some readership, but their readers never seem to become paying clients. Is it time to give up blogging, they ask? Maybe they should focus on social media instead.

Yikes! Don’t make that choice. Social media marketing doesn’t work without good, original content to share. If you want to get business from social media, writing a blog is almost essential. Your blog should be bringing you clients. If it’s not, here’s what may be going wrong.

1. You’re not posting often enough. When a potential client visits your blog and sees you haven’t posted for months (or years), they wonder if you’re even still around. At the very least, they think you’re not on top of your business. Plus, when you have no recent posts to share, you’re lacking a valuable tool for staying in touch with your mailing list or social media network. Post to your blog at least once per month. Biweekly is a good choice; weekly is not too often if you can manage it.

Pro tip: If you need to take a break from blogging for an extended period, remove the publication dates from your posts while you’re on hiatus. That’s an easy fix to make in WordPress and most other blogging platforms.

2. You’re not asking readers to become subscribers. Only a tiny fraction of readers will visit your blog online without reminders, or will use feed readers like Feedly to set up their own subscriptions. Create a mailing list for your blog readers using a service like MailChimp or AWeber, and add a subscription form to your site. Then offer readers a bonus gift to entice them to sign up for your list.

Pro tip: Make your subscription form visible on every page of your site. Consider using a hello bar, sticky widget, or popup/lightbox to make sure readers see it.

3. You aren’t targeting the right audience. The primary readers you should write for are those you most want to hire you. If you’re a graphic designer targeting small business owners, write your blog posts for them, not for other design professionals. Or, if you provide team-building programs to managers and executives, aim your writing at the boss, not the team members.

Pro tip: Create a client avatar or buyer persona to represent your ideal customer. This process will give you a much clearer picture of who it is you’re writing for.

4. You aren’t writing about the best topics. You probably know a great deal about your professional specialty, but not all of your expertise matches up with why clients hire you. To choose blog topics that will attract clients, identify the most common reasons a client first decides to work with you. Your blog should address your ideal client’s highest priority problems and goals.

Pro tip: Choose three to eight specific themes that your blog will cover, and make sure every post you write fits into one of those themes.

5. Your writing is too self-promotional. If your blog posts constantly ask readers to hire you, attend your event, or buy your product, your audience won’t keep reading. Think of your blog like a magazine. It has editorial content — your blog posts — and promotional content — an ad or call to action in your footer, sidebar, or a callout box. Keep these two elements separate, so that readers can absorb your content without being buried in marketing messages.

Pro tip: Could a reader apply the advice you give in your post without hiring you or another professional like you? If so, you’ve written useful editorial material. If not, you’re probably being too promotional.

6. Your readers don’t understand what you do. The opposite of too much self-promotion is neglecting to reference your work at all. In my Business Building Writer program, one of my constant themes is reminding students to showcase their work in their writing. When you tell stories about client situations, share real-life examples, and mention elements of your work, you make your work tangible for your readers.

Pro tip: See what I did there? I referenced one of the ways I work with my clients, in the context of giving you advice you can use without ever hiring me.

7. Your writing isn’t that great. The quality of your writing has a substantial impact on the success of your blog. Readers are turned off by meandering paragraphs, sentences that never seem to end, and yes, sloppy grammar. Improve your writing skills by taking a class or working with a writing coach, or hire an editor to polish your pieces for you.

Pro tip: Use an automated writing assistant like Grammarly or Jetpack to go beyond spell-check and find errors in grammar, syntax, punctuation, and more.

8. You aren’t giving your blog posts enough promotion. Your blog won’t attract readers all on its own. You need to take some extra steps to get the right audience reading what you write. Post about each blog entry on all your social media channels — not just once, but multiple times. Email your blog posts to subscribers, and include links to relevant blog posts when you speak, teach, or make sales presentations.

Pro tip: Create a promotion checklist to follow after making each blog post that includes a standard set of steps to take. If possible, delegate this list to a virtual assistant.

Blogging is one of the best marketing approaches a self-employed professional can use — if you do it the right way. Follow the guidelines above and watch your payoff from blogging begin to climb.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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