You know that cringe-worthy moment when someone asks you what you do for a living, and then they say…
“You’re a freelance blogger? That must be fun, but it’s not exactly a job, is it?”
Take heart — next time that happens you’ll have all the evidence you need to show them blogging isn’t only a hobby. In fact, you can prove it’s a bona fide, lucrative career choice.
If you’re a freelance blogger ready to join the big time, you need to treat blogging like a business and get your knowledge and tactics ready. Studying the business case for freelance blogging won’t only build your confidence in dinner party conversations; it’ll make you better at understanding and negotiating with clients, too.
Blogging is BIG business
According to Hubspot, businesses spend a lot of money on creating blogs and reaching their customers through this medium.
So, position yourself to take advantage of this growth.
Blogs need bloggers, and savvy customer-oriented writers can charge a high fee for their expertise. Most businesses are aware they need a blog, but need guidance from you — the expert — about how to use it as a marketing tool.
To see more of these marketing statistics, check out the PDF from Hubspot here.
To establish yourself as a successful freelance blogger, you need to know your market and be able to show potential clients the value of employing you. All businesses want to know what the ROI (return on investment) is on using blogging as a marketing tool.
These statistics show the effect blogs have on purchasing decisions.
The more value clients perceive in hiring you, the more they are likely to pay you well!
Use statistics to support the powerful argument that customers use blogs as part of their decision-making process. If your client isn’t blogging, he or she is probably leaving money on the table.
You also need to understand market segmentation and who your client is targeting.
Let’s look at female shoppers. This 2014 infographic from Blog Her illustrates their perception of blogs perfectly: most of the BlogHer audience check out relevant blogs before buying stuff [original here].
Your client may not be aiming their product at women (even though women make the most buying decisions in the average household), and the percentages will be different in different market segments — but people have learned to trust blogs for shopping advice.
As a professional freelance blogger it can be part of your job to educate your clients in the mysteries of SEO and traffic. If there are no eyes on their product, there are no buyers.
So another key element in the value of blogging is the power to create interest, eyes on the site, and trust.
So, having established that blogging is no amateur sport, how does it compare with other forms of marketing?
Blogging blows outbound marketing out of the water
Traditional marketing is outbound marketing, or marketing that “interrupts” your potential customers’ day. TV adverts that stop you watching your favourite program, or radio ads that cut off the end of your favourite song. To make an effective ad that entertains rather than irritates can be expensive, beyond the reach of most small to medium enterprises.
Businesses that don’t want to spend all their hard-earned revenue on traditional advertising need your help to get a return on their marketing budget.
This diagram shows the inbound marketing process, and blogging is one of the entry points. [To see the full report on inbound marketing go here].
Inbound marketing means focusing on targeting potential consumers to drive them to our content, and is a lot less costly than television or magazine advertising.
To convince your client of the value of inbound marketing, show them that diagram and quote the VP of digital strategy at Café Press:
Inbound marketing is no longer a convenient add-on or experimental area for companies. It is a required method of doing business in today’s more consumer-focused world… Inbound is often more cost efficient than old-school, outbound marketing. Inbound is often better at building long-term customers rather than short-term sales… Understanding how and why companies are using inbound vs outbound marketing is critical to building these more effective approaches for your own business.”
—Jason Falls, Vice President of Digital Strategy, CafePress Inc.
Be a business savvy blogger
Shift your mindset: Yes, you write blog posts, but really you’re a marketer.
Think strategically about your potential clients and their needs, and make sure your own return on investment is worthwhile too. Approach freelance blogging as a business and understand the evidence for its value.
According to Ignitespot, who based their findings on information from freelance writing sites, this is the typical cost of hiring a freelance writer:
- E-Books: $15-$25 per page
- In-Depth Articles: $600-$2000
- Articles For Web Content: $10-$50 per hour (based on word count)
But according to BlogConomy [original here], only 14% of bloggers make a salary from blogging.
Blogging as a pastime is not lucrative for most bloggers. Blogging as a BUSINESS is a different matter altogether!
Do you have a unique selling point? What else endorses you as the freelance blogger a client should employ?
You’re a writer, so show off your writing knowledge. Many business owners shudder at the thought of blogging; they can’t think what to say! The first thing they get stuck with is the headline; they can’t even get started.
As professional bloggers we know the value of compelling language, and we’ve had a lot of practice — make killer headlines, engaging introductions or high-converting calls to action your selling point!
Did you know…
Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline
Upworthy co-founder Peter Koechley and his team do in-depth split testing of their headlines:
“The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive. It’s not a rounding error. When we test headlines we see 20% difference, 50% difference, 500% difference. A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
So, what do readers want in the headline? Check out Conductor’s analysis of headlines that work:
Other results from this survey showed that you need to avoid wishy-washy headlines and be clear as to what your post is about. (By the way, yes, I did read this survey before crafting my headline and sub-headers for this post!)
10 mind-boggling blog stats you need to know
Knowledge is power! Check out these stats and think: how could you use this knowledge to convince a client to hire you?
- 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better (useful means engagement and ROI).
- Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes (because they work).
- There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago (it’s a growing industry).
- Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.
- B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that don’t, and B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
- More is better: companies that have more than 51 articles on their site get a median of 77% more monthly leads.
- 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads (inbound rather than outbound).
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those that don’t have a blog.
- 61% of US customers have made a purchase based on a blog post.
- Companies with fewer than 10 employees typically allocate 42% of their marketing budget to content.
[To see the original sources of these stats, follow the links elsewhere in this post.]
Blog billionaires to learn from
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we should always learn from those around us. So, check out these top 5 blogs and what they can teach you.
- The Huffington Post: Started by Ariana Huffington — perhaps the originator of the social blog. Brilliant use of categories, experts and guest bloggers. The magazine-style layout means there’s always likely to be a topic a visitor wants to click on.
- Mashable: Pete Cashmore started blogging from his bedroom and astonished his parents by creating a million dollar business. This is an outstanding tech blog that perfectly illustrates the type of blog people consult before making a purchase. Plus, it has a useful article on blogging mistakes you might want to check out!
- Gary Vaynerchuck: A vlogging pioneer; check out how Gary uses video to get his message across .
- Seth Godin: Not just any old blog, but podcasts and wit and the art of saying a lot in as few words as possible! Plus, an interesting article on writing in a meaningful way (which sets you apart from other freelance bloggers).
- Problogger is well-known, but did you know Darren Rowse also owns a lucrative digital photography blog? Here you can see him put into action all the blogging tips and tricks you read about on Problogger.
Your next steps to blogging brilliance
- Check out the latest news and statistics about blogging for business. Repeat every week.
- Talk to potential clients about what you’ve learned and share the statistics with them.
- Use those stats when you’re negotiating rates and rights!
That’s all there is to it. Go!
P.S. Of course, if you’re one of the many Be a Freelance Blogger readers who hasn’t started their freelance business yet, you probably can’t just step out and sign up clients today.
But we can get your freelance blogging business up and running in just one month. So if you’re ready to get started, check this out.