When self-employed professionals come to me with questions about how to attract their ideal clients, one of the first places I look is whether they have a blog. In my experience, most self-employed professionals have the potential to be excellent bloggers, even when they haven’t written anything longer than an email since leaving college.
Authoring a blog can solve several of the stickiest marketing problems for professionals. Here are five reasons that blogging is one of the marketing methods I recommend most often to my clients and students:
1. You need original content for social media marketing to work. Social media is one of the best avenues available for a self-employed professional to reach a wider online audience. But for social media to result in paying clients, you must have a stream of valuable, non-promotional content to share. And, that content must be focused on the same issues that your desired clients want you to help with.
Yes, you can “curate” some of the content you post online, which means seeking out content created by others that would be helpful to your target audience. But this is nowhere near as effective as creating your own content, because…
2. Writing about your area of specialty makes you credible and trustworthy. One of the biggest problems a self-employed professional has in landing clients is that you are marketing an intangible service. Your prospective clients can’t experience your work until it is demonstrated. Without some type of evidence, prospects have no idea whether your expertise will help with their situation.
In a blog, you can describe typical situations where a client might hire you, and show how you might approach them. You can share tips and tricks you’ve learned that prospective clients can make use of, or offer suggestions for accomplishing goals that your target clients have. Blog posts like these make your work tangible, and showcase what you’re capable of without you ever having to brag.
3. Your website needs traffic you don’t have to advertise for. The best way possible to increase traffic to your site from search engines is to add more content that answers questions your ideal clients frequently ask. Every blog post you add to your site creates a new page of non-promotional, keyword-rich content. This is exactly the type of page to which Google will give a higher rank.
4. Blog posts give you a non-promotional reason to follow up with prospects. Do you find yourself resisting the very idea of reaching out to prospective clients to ask, “Are you ready to work with me yet?” Publishing a blog can solve this problem. Instead of sending an email asking for a sale, you can send one that includes helpful advice your prospect will welcome receiving.
You know how sales and marketing experts say you should follow up with prospects multiple times, and you always worry you’re bugging them? With a blog, your repeated contacts with a prospect can be transformed from a potential source of annoyance into a powerful benefit. Every time prospects see a new blog post from you in their inbox, they’ll be reminded of how valuable your work is.
5. You probably don’t like marketing very much. The typical self-employed professional thinks of marketing as a necessary evil. The type of work you enjoy is in your professional specialty: graphic design or coaching or accounting or management consulting. Most marketing activities require an entirely different skillset, one which you might not choose to employ if you didn’t have to get clients.
Blogging, on the other hand, allows you to tap directly into your own professional expertise. When you blog, you are sharing what you know with an audience identical to your preferred clients. The same knowledge and tactics you provide to your clients every day are exactly what a blog should be based on.
Are there any self-employed professionals who shouldn’t have a blog? Yes. If you truly dislike the process of writing, I’ll give you a pass. It’s my philosophy that the best ways to market yourself are those activities you are naturally drawn to. But if the only things holding you back from blogging are how-to issues like finding good topics or attracting readers to your blog, you can fix that.
If you’re still not sure you want to engage in blogging as a marketing strategy, consider this. If you wanted to hire someone in your specialty, you visited the websites of three professionals, and only one of them had a blog: Which site would you spend the most time visiting? Which professional’s work would you learn the most about? And which professional would seem the most like an expert?