How to Convince Businesses That They Need a Blog

Some businesses don’t have blogs.

Not just business that run out of caves on Mars, either. [Though Sophie says she would totally read their blogs if they existed.]

Real businesses. With running water, and clients, and big juicy marketing budgets. But no blog.

As a professional blogger, you might be tempted to write these stone-age businesses off. After all, they don’t need your services, right?

Of course they do!

Some of the best blogging clients out there are the ones whose blog doesn’t exist yet. It’s true you have a little more work to do up front with this approach — you have to convince the client they want and need a blog. But that’s easy when you have the right tools (more about this in a moment). And the advantages are undeniable.

Advantages of the no-blog-yet market

When you pitch to a company without a blog, there’s no competition from other writers. You aren’t pitching to a marketing director who gets 100 pitches from freelancers every day. You know you won’t get the old “our freelance roster is full” line, or find out the business you just spent an hour pitching already has a full time staff writer.

A strong pitch makes even more of an impact when it’s the *only* pitch.

This approach lets you form a relationship with the client from the ground up. They’ll think of you as their “go-to” blogger, and that’s likely to lead to a long term relationship.

Plus, you get to have serious design input into their blogging approach. You’re in the perfect position to sell yourself as a content strategist or an inbound marketing expert, if you’re interested in taking that direction.

So how do you convince a business they need a blog? Fortunately for you, the reasons sell themselves. You just have to put them in front of your client’s face.

5 ways to show companies they need a blog

1. The “Blogging is lucrative as hell” approach

The most powerful strategy is also the easiest. Business blogging has proven that it gets results. Numbers speak louder than words. Or they would, if they could talk. Show your client the numbers, and you’re two-thirds of the way there.

2. The content marketing approach (A.K.A. free stuff is awesome)

“Content marketing” is one of the biggest buzzwords in the business world, but it isn’t really new. It’s just how you say “giving away free stuff so people will buy your product” in internet-speak.

Back in the Mad Men days, that meant pens and chocolate bars with the company logo on them. In the 21st century it means white papers and videos and, yes, blog posts. Not as tasty as chocolate bars, but a whole lot more useful to your client’s customers. Plus, it’s expensive to keep pens in stock.

Show your clients that a blog post is a one-time expense that they own and can give away forever. Show them online companies like Copyblogger that have built empires around regularly updated blogs.

3. The social media approach

Most businesses have a social media presence, but a surprising number of them are nothing more than a sad Facebook page that’s never updated and the occasional re-tweet of Steve Jobs quotes. Let your clients know that the best thing for their social media strategy is to have their own content to share.

This ties into the content marketing approach, but it lets you use sexy phrases like “social media strategy.” And here’s why you’d want to: There’s a good chance your client’s boss or some consultant told them to improve their social media strategy, and they aren’t quite sure how to do it.

That’s where you come in. Blog posts with great content will get them them Facebook and Twitter shares they crave.

4. The brand voice approach

Every company wants to have a unique identity. They try to do this with a flashy logo on their website, or a duck mascot that looks different from all the other duck mascots.

One of the best ways for a company to have a unique identity is to have a unique voice. Blogging is the single best way for a business to develop that voice. Show your client you can communicate their message in a way that is exciting and doesn’t sound like anyone else, and they’ll hire you in an instant.

5. The community-building approach

Companies know their customer base can be more than just people who come in the store to buy their vacuum cleaners, then never set foot in the building again. They’ve seen what Apple and others have done with fan culture and online communities, and they want to try that, too.

The obvious way to do this is on a social media platform like Facebook. This is also a terrible way to do it!

A company has very little control over their social media community. It’s on someone else’s space and with someone else’s platform. It’d be like holding shareholder meetings in the food court at the local mall.

A company forum is one way to create an online community, but a blog is an even better way. It has the one-two punch of providing content as well as a community discussion space, and a blog is easier to run and moderate than a forum.

Potential risks

Now that you plan to go ahead and pitch that blog to that business, you should be aware that there are a few potential pitfalls, and they are deep and have spikes at the bottom.

Here they are, and some tips on how to avoid them.

Risk 1: Bad client

Make sure you vet the company.

This is a given with any client, but it’s even more true when blogging for a company without an existing blog. Choose established companies, or startups with venture capital money and marketing budgets. Your tiny local businesses probably could use a blog, but most of them can’t afford to pay you a professional rate.

Risk 2: Unreasonable expectations

Be very, very clear about pricing and responsibilities.

Companies that are new to blogging are more likely to undervalue your services. $50 for a 1000-word post might be fine when you’re at the very beginning of your career, but you don’t want to get trapped in that price range forever.

Tell the client what you charge right in your query, or early on in the negotiation process.

Likewise, you might have to educate them a little about what you do. They might try to hire you to “be our blogger.” Don’t let them! Set a specific schedule and a specific number of posts. Let them know that’s how you work, and that you’re available for more work once the first batch is done.

If you also position yourself as a content strategist, clarify exactly what that means and what specific work you’re going to do in that role, too.

Explain everything thoroughly. More than you would for clients with established blogs. Pretend they know nothing at all about blogging, because there’s a good chance they don’t.

Don’t forget that just because you’re immersed in the blogging world, that doesn’t mean everyone else is. In fact, your immersion is one of the things that makes you valuable to these companies.

Risk 3. Starting the blog FOR them

You don’t want to start your client’s blog for them, and you don’t want to have to teach your client WordPress. Especially without charging for it. Make this clear, and make it a sticking point in your negotiations.

Beware: you might think you’re being clear, but maybe your message isn’t as crystal as you hoped. If you say “I’ll provide content for your blog,” a client with no blogging knowledge might interpret your words to mean “I’m going to create for you a fully working blog — using special zero-cost magic!”

The best way to avoid this is to ask about it. You don’t want to say, “You realize I am not going to start this blog for you, right?” That’s just… hello, awkward!

Instead, say this: “Who on your team will be building and maintaining the blog? I’d like to speak to that person so we can get on the same page.”

If they don’t have anyone who can set up and tend their blog for them, you can guide them without having to do the work yourself. A great way to take care of this is to keep a list of contact details for some website design and development companies. If you work this angle well, you may even get a few referrals from those designers and developers when their other clients need a blogger!

Convinced?

If I can convince you it sounds like a good idea, with many advantages and no uncontrollable risks — well, then you can convince a prospective client.

Most companies have customers who use the internet. Most companies already know they should be blogging. They just don’t have the time or the right skills to get it done.

So trade your time and skill for their money — and you’ll be their freelance blogging hero.

5 Essential Steps to Building Your Authority Online

“Nobody said it was easy… no one ever said it would be this hard.”

Timeless philosophy from Coldplay, that happens to also apply to your freelance blogging career.

Professional bloggers like Sophie Lizard and Tom Ewer do make it look easy.

Releasing monthly stats on how they built a business from scratch (à la Tom) is like providing a step-by-step plan to building a thriving blogging business.

But when it comes down to doing the work …why on earth is it so hard?

Sophie and Tom have an advantage: online authority. Google them and you’ll get pages of results showcasing just this.

Trust in them is undeniable.

So authority and trust? Are two of the most important factors in turning a random viewer of your blog, wondering whether they should hire you over oodles of competitors, into an excited client who can’t wait to work with you.

Now, you already know that building this trust in your authority isn’t an overnight process. But the good news is that it isn’t an impossible process either.

There are proven ways you can achieve this without having any qualifications in your chosen niche.

Take a look at these ideas and see how many you can apply to your blogging career:  [Read more…]

4 Ways to Survive When Freelance Blogging Becomes Sweatshop Blogging

It’s 2:45 AM.

tick tick tick. 

You’re tired. You’re sleepy.

Meanwhile, the cursor of your blank word document winks at you, mocking your struggle.

Let’s face it; we’ve all been there. Those late nights when you’re struggling to stay up, writing about something you don’t really care about.

You’re sick of the weekly grind of posts to submit. What used to be fun is turning into a total drag.

I know how that feels. I oversaw 300+ SEO articles at one point. Not fun.

It’s normal to feel out of it every now and then, but when your yucky-feeling days start to crop up, it’s time for a change.  [Read more…]

Here’s How One Writer Turned Down a Freelance Blogging Gig and Still Earned $1,650 in 6 Weeks From the Same Client

As a freelance blogger, you jump at the chance of any high-paying gig.

Clients who understand your value — and have the budget to pay your rates — don’t come along every day. Just the thought of saying no to one of these clients leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

I feel the same way about my own clients, so why would I turn down a client who seemingly had it all? We’ll get to that in a moment.

The really cool thing about this story is that even though I said no to the initial offer, I still managed to snag some ongoing work from the same client, under terms I felt comfortable accepting.

Want to know how you can turn your “No, thanks” into better gigs? Great! I’ll show you how I did it.  [Read more…]

How to Use Video to Attract More Freelance Blogging Clients

Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a video and put it online before.

Really? That’s it?

I expected more, especially since Be A Freelance Blogger just covered the basics of video creation in a recent post.

Look, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I get it — the prospect of making videos is daunting. I realize they take time, effort, and a whole lot of courage to start creating.

But what if I told you videos could help you attract more freelance blogging clients?

Are you more interested in trying out video now?

Yeah, I thought so.  [Read more…]

Bloggers, Beware of Productivity Porn!

Do you steal a few minutes to sneak some glances on your break from work?

Does the dim light of the screen dominate your sleepless nights?

Then you may be a victim of productivity porn. 

Productivity porn is an addiction to the self-help section of the internet.

Contrary to a healthy approach to self-improvement, productivity porn puts the addict in a perpetual state of seeking. For freelance bloggers, productivity porn translates to a pretext for procrastination that ultimately handicaps us from doing the thing that we do best: writing.

Instead, productivity porn paralyzes its addicts with the idea that they are not good enough and that they need a new fix before they can be a good writer. This habitual insecurity will easily kill the most beneficial habits.

Here’s why:  [Read more…]

52 Free Tools and Resources to Superfuel Your Freelance Blogging

You know most people think we’re idiots, right?

I mean, why would we go through all the trouble of starting our own business when we could just get a job?

We could do as we’re told, quit working at 5pm, and watch TV for the rest of the night. Why make it hard for ourselves?

To be honest, they’re right.

It is a stupid thing to do.

Starting your own business requires a ton of hard work. It takes time and dedication to learn all the skills you need to get off the ground.

You have to know how to write. You have to know how to market. You have to know how to sell.

And we don’t have the luxury to stop thinking about our work when the clock hits 5pm. Once you choose this lifestyle, it creeps into your mind and you find yourself thinking about it all the time.

But once it starts working, man does it feel good. Seeing that hard-earned cash roll in makes it all worth it.

But again, it takes time. Lots of time.

To help you speed up the process, I’ve put together a list of tools and resources for you to use to supercharge your freelance blogging. It ranges from tools to get ideas quicker to resources that will give you a kick in the butt.

All of them are free or have a free plan. Don’t worry if it seems overwhelming, I’ll give you a PDF with all the links so you can keep it close. [Read more…]

From Zero to $4,000 a Month: How 3 Simple Systems Catapult Your Blogging Business Forward

Are you a systems gal (or guy)?

Even if you’re not, but you’re trying to grow your freelance writing business, this post is for you!

Systems exist to make your work easier. By having the right systems in place, you’re less likely to drop the ball and more likely to stay focused and on task.

I set out with the goal of leaving work behind when I launched my freelance blogging business in May of 2014. As the sole income earner for our family of four, I knew I needed to be successful with my side hustle if I ever hoped to take it full-time.

I’m happy to say that’s been the case. I’ve now quit my day job and I’m free – free to bust my butt and hustle to earn a living in order to feed the one big and two small mouths I have at home.

Here are the 3 most effective systems I’ve created and implemented to help me go from a brand new freelancer to one who earns more than $4,000 per month inside of six months.  [Read more…]