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The Not-So Secret To Getting Traffic & How It Can Actually Save You Time With Clients

I’m pretty sure everyone knows the value of a blog these days, but if you are like I was in the beginning, you may not know exactly what to do with it or if it is really helping your freelance business at all.

It’s been a little over 9 months since I started my blog on my web design website. And I’m here to tell you (with numbers!) how much it has impacted my business, with only a handful of blog posts under my belt.

It might not be the blog you bookmark and come back to daily, but it has certainly increased my traffic, saved me a lot of time with clients (How you ask? See below!), and helped my online presence.

So today I want to cover a few things:

1. Does blogging really increase your Google juice (SEO) and get more traffic to your site?

2. How can blogging on your freelance website save you time with clients?

3. What the F are you supposed to blog about?

So here we go!

Does blogging really increase your Google juice and get you more traffic?

The short answer: YES.

There is no reason to waste your time with a long explanation that I’m sure you’ve read already on the thousands of other “blogging” blogs out there.

Here is some proof instead: 

This is a screen shot of a recent period of Google Analytics of my biz site:

Leah GA Traffic

Although I don’t get a ton of traffic like a lot of other big sites out there (and frankly it’s not necessary for this kind of business), the numbers are quite telling.

Out of 2,805 visits, here is the breakdown of the top 3:

872 visits (32%): Direct traffic. This is mainly from my email newsletter, which I haven’t yet setup to integrate with Aweber. Yes, this is a big %. And what do I send out to my email newsletter? News about my recent blog post. Of course there are interesting things I could write to my subscribers without having a blog post- but it’s more difficult (and why miss out on the other opportunities below).

629 (22%): Facebook. A lot of people hang out on Facebook, and that’s why you should have a business presence there too. What do I post? Links to my blog posts of course! Sure, I post about my offerings- but people don’t want to see that all the time in their news feed. Most of this traffic… it’s not from me posting on Facebook but from people sharing my blog post on Facebook via my social sharing buttons. And that brings in a lot of traffic. But you have to be blogging to have something share worthy to benefit from it.

610 (21%): Google/Organic. This is the natural Google juice. People search for something on Google, and my blog post is what pops up with the answer.

The data of course is not 100% accurate when looking at just the top 3. I also get search traffic from yahoo & bing and sometimes newsletter subscribers show up under a different line then “direct”- but that gets filtered another way and doesn’t show up in my top 3. And of course there may be people that have bookmarked my site and come to it directly without any influence from my blog. (Liz Lockard- the Google Analytics Queen has some great resources about deciphering traffic, like this one here.)

But it definitely gives an overall picture.

And to simplify it a bit: almost 75% of my traffic I can attribute to blogging.

WOAH.

Imagine how my traffic would look if I didn’t!

How can blogging on your freelance site save YOU time with clients?

You can probably relate to this.

I delayed starting my business blog for a long time because:

  1. I didn’t think I was a good writer.
  2. I didn’t think I had enough topics to write about.
  3. I worried it wouldn’t be useful and I’d waste my time writing for my mom.

But seeing statistics from others like mine above, and getting tired of reading how important it is, I found my solutions to those worries. My blogging sweet spot if you will.

If you’re not confident in your writing:

Choose video instead. Or screencasts, or audio, or tutorials. If you host them on Youtube, you’ll get search traffic from that as well. Double bonus.

(I was about to say double whammy- but that sounded too dorky and 1998)

If you don’t think you have enough topics to write about:

Start collecting all the questions that come up from clients. This is a gold mine of topic ideas. Answer the questions people are actually asking. Don’t know the answer? Find out and share.

If you’re worried it won’t be useful:

Look at the numbers above, and remember all those articles you’ve already read about the power of blogging for traffic. Now just do it. Seriously. That’s all you can do to get past this fear. That’s all I did.

Track your growth with Google Analytics and see where you’re at in 3 months. Then re-evaluate whether or not it’s worth your time. (But I’m certain it will be)

Now you may be asking “How does this save time with clients?”…

Well, it turns out that the strategy I used for getting over my fear of writing (by doing screencast tutorials), and collecting all the questions that come up from clients (for topics)…is now resulting in a whole lot of time saved in answering client questions.

There are a million things that come up during an individual project. Even if it doesn’t relate 100% to the project, if I see a lot of my clients asking it, I’ll find the best answer and use it in a blog post or video tutorial.

Once you have the blog post published, the next time that question comes up, rather than write out the answer for the 100th time, I just send them the link to the blog post.

Trust me. It’s a little extra work in the beginning, but entirely worth it in the end. I learned a lot about business systems (you can see me chat about it in a video with my biz coach here) and have seen the impact on my business tremendously. Blogging is part of my system. Not something I leave on the back-burner for when the inspiration strikes.

Plus inspiration usually strikes in the most inconvenient times, while in the grocery store or watching a movie- and never results in me doing something about it.

Tools & Tips To Help You With Blogging:

  • Use Evernote (or Apple Notes, or a piece of paper). Always have something on hand to write down ideas as they strike.
  • Collect all the questions that arise from your current or potential clients. Even if you answer them directly, put it on the list to write a post about it in the future so you don’t have to answer it again.
  • Remember who your potential clients are, and write with them in mind. They may not need to see a picture of what you had for breakfast or your favorite fall clothes mood board. Is that something they would want to share or give them more confidence in you as someone that may be able to solve their problem? Probably not. You can do that from time to time, but they won’t be the posts that get you more traffic and Google juice. I think it’s great to get some behind the scenes personal info about someone to feel like I relate to them and get to know their personality, but I’m less likely to share it on social media.
  • Set up an editorial calendar. Once you have your big list of ideas and questions from clients, plug them into a calendar. Online, on paper, in WordPress… it doesn’t matter. But have the topic ready, so that when time comes to write, you already know what to write about. My friend Lacy Boggs over at ghostblogger.co has a great series about editorial calendars. Check out her post: “The 5 Ws of Creating Your Blog Editorial Calendar”  for some great tips.
  • Bonus Tip: I usually sit down and batch-write several posts. Then I slip them into WordPress and use the plugin “WordPress Editorial Calendar” to schedule them for future dates. This opens up a lot of time for me each week not having to stress about finding the words & inspiration on short notice.
  • Bonus Tip #2: You don’t have to blog daily, or even weekly. Start off small, but stick to a schedule, whatever that may be. This will ensure that you make it happen and don’t easily procrastinate. My results above come from blogging max twice per month.

So tell the Freelance To Freedom community in the comments:

Are you blogging? Has it increased your traffic? If not, what do you struggle with most when it comes to blogging?

-Leah

 

 

photo credit: martins.nunomiguel via photopin cc

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Thank you for this! Although, my blog isn’t about freelance – actually freelance is the final goal of why I blog – this post is really helpful. For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about posting some additional content onto the blog. Because all I’ve been doing is only sharing the work I’ve done. So, this post really gives some ideas.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Hi Yuni! Yes, these strategies are great for your business site blog. So when you are ready to start selling your services, you’ll want to gear your posts towards your potential clients rather than your life as a freelancer. But of course sharing your work is great as well. But like I said, from my experience it’s not the stuff people like to share on social media and therefore doesn’t help much in getting traffic. But it is a great way to show your talent for the people already on your site!

  • Hey Leah,
    Awesome post (as always!!) I have always wondered where that direct/none came from. I also use Bufferapp (buff.ly) and Hootsuite (ow.ly) for URL shorteners. Do you know if these show up on the analytics report as well? I know you can track clicks from inside the dashboard of each service. I’m not currently blogging (have in the past, but got really overwhelmed with doing too much too soon), but totally agree with your post suggestions. I did a screencast tutorial once on my old blog and that got the most clicks/traffic, so will be implementing that as a big part of my new blog’s strategy. I can’t wait to use the WP Editorial Calendar. I’ve brainstormed post ideas using Google Docs so far, and just need to pencil the topics in. All the best!!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Hi Kristy- The shortened URLs (no matter where they come from, buffer, hootsuite, bitly, etc) will 99% of the time show in analytics from the place they were posted. So if I tweet a hootsuite link, the traffic shows as coming from twitter or if I post a buffer link on fb, it will show in GA from FB. GA is a wild beast however, and without putting some extra time into setting up custom trackings for external links (which I need to get better at), things can show up in other places. Sometimes I’ll have a random line in my GA saying traffic from hootsuite…but that is rare, and really tells me nothing about where it really came from (my hootsuite link or someone else, and posted where?). But for me, setting up the advanced variables isn’t on the top of my to-do list (although many will argue that it should be). I can still get a great overview of my traffic and taking it with a grain of salt is still so helpful to me for things like convincing me to continue to blog 🙂 And yes- WP editorial is great! There are some other good ones out there too, so find the one that you like the best and make it work for you!

  • Nice post Leah! I am at the experimentation stage for posting right now… trying a longer post less often… just sorta worked out that way. Nice to see someone else` results. One thing I need to do better is write batch posts and then schedule so everything is not finished at crunch time! Even when experimenting what is best I should have a schedule.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Experimenting is great. I started with once a week and realized it wasn’t working for me so I switched it up. But it’s best to keep in on a schedule so people can expect when to hear from you and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate. Also with length- it really depends on the audience. I tend to keep it short on my freelance site because the video tutorials cover what my potential clients needs, whereas here on FTFP I like to go into more depth if I can and the posts when I do that tend to get better feedback. Thanks for the comment!

  • I’ve always been convinced that blogging is the best tool.. even better than newsletters, unless of course you spend a lot of time crafting a great promo, but the blog is king.
    Having said that, it’s not easy to blog with a purpose. It’s tough to find topics and then write about them well. My current blog has been a challenge since I come from the old school personal blog… sometimes I can’t find “my blogging voice” but I keep writing!
    Thanks for this post, it’s so useful as always!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I know what you mean Luisa- especially when it’s a personal blog. But for business, – your purpose is your clients and that’s why answering their questions fits right in! But I do know what you mean about “blogging voice” as well, I just go with the flow but I’m not sure I have one yet.

  • Thanks for the shout-out Leah!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Thanks for the awesome content! 🙂

  • Great post Leah. I don’t like writing at all, but I know I have to start doing it. Good to know those numbers came from blogging only twice a month? Have you done guest posts? Thanks again for the great and very informative content.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I feel ya- I was there too. Once you start you’ll get on a roll. And about the actual writing part- that’s where the client questions come in! Just think of it as answering their questions like in an email, rather than the pressure of writing. No- I haven’t guest posted but it’s on my to-do list!

  • Thanks so much for the shout-out, lady! GREAT post!

  • Great Post! I wonder if I post my work on Facebook – but I see it like you: Almost nobody is interested in this but it’s hard to find topics that are relevant. Keep up the good work.

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