A few months ago, social media users the world over were in freak out mode: Instagram announced algorithm changes.
Panic ensued. Social media users came out of their digital caves to chatter (loudly) about the changes. Your Instagram feed likely blew up with accounts encouraging you to “click the three dots in the top right-hand corner to turn on post notifications!” with an air of desperation.
Fast forward a few months, and the ‘gram threw us all for a loop again when it introduced Instagram Stories.
Next month, it’ll be Facebook. This spring, it’ll be Twitter, or Pinterest, or Snapchat. Next summer, it’ll be something we’ve never even heard of just yet.
I’m speculating, of course, but it isn’t tough: social media platforms are in a constant state of evolution. They have to be. While we might absolutely love what we love, if they don’t change, something else will swoop in, steal its place, and we’ll all be shaking our heads at their resistance to change. (We can all learn from Kodak, after all.)
What does this have to do with your blog?
I don’t say this to pick on Instagram, or the people using it. Nor do I say it to pick on social media, in general.
I say this to point out a much larger issue for brands and businesses that have built their entire presence on one or more social media sites: You cannot control their next move.
So before you go building your content empire on Medium, or rely solely on Insta to spread your message, or limit your storytelling to Snapchat, I caution you to think twice.
Because while any of the above might suffice for now, you’re essentially relying on rented lot. Meanwhile, the beauty of the world we live in is that tech moves fast, and the brains behind the social media sites we love are big. While you might not love change, they sure do.
Your blog is the one thing you can control
Am I saying that you should shun these sites? Not a chance. But as I have more and more solopreneurs, freelancers, and business owners asking me about the merits of having their own blog to house their content, I can’t help but want to scream this from the rooftops:
There’s one thing your blog has that social media sites don’t — Your ownership.
While any or all of the social media sites we love could disappear tomorrow, your blog would still exist.
Even if WordPress disappeared, dozens of other (equally as good) platforms exist to provide your blog a home. Frequent backups mean you can move that blog anywhere you want, any time. The design is yours. The content is yours. The longevity is up to you. And you can change as often as you’d like, in ways that you see fit as your business grows — not how Facebook/Insta/Pinterest/[insert social network here] thinks you should.
Simply put, the beauty of owning and running a blog is that you have complete autonomy over what’s on it and what’s to come.
How to avoid “adding to the noise”
Of course, just because a blog is something you can take ownership of doesn’t necessarily mean that owning a blog is for everyone. In fact, one of the hesitations I hear most in my work as a content strategist is this: I don’t want to just be adding to the noise.
Valid concern, fellow freelancer. After all, there are millions of blogs in existence, on the very same interwebs that you inhabit.
But they can coexist, and you can blog without simply adding the noise. Here’s how:
1. Know Your Purpose. If blogging feels like a “should” that isn’t serving any bigger purpose than satisfying something on your to-do list, perhaps it’s time you turn your attention elsewhere. However, in most cases, it might be high time you defined your purpose.
First and foremost, your business blog is most effective when it serves your audience. Take a look at your clients and customers: What are the problems they’re experiencing, and what types of information can you share to help them alleviate those problems?
Having a mission — providing solutions for potential and current clients and customers, in particular — means your blog serves a purpose, giving it weight in the online world.
2. Insert Your Personality. What sets you apart from the copywriter/graphic designer/VA/developer/underwater basket weaver that’s providing the same solutions as you — and likely blogging about it? Your personality. Bringing that into your blog is important in distinguishing your information from the next person’s. Do this with branding, with word choice, and with your unique style.
3. Hit Publish. Umm…duh? Bear with me here. Because believe you me, I’ve seen far too many freelancers watch their blogs sit in perpetual draft mode. To be able to contribute both your knowledge and your personality, you need to get over the hump of perfectionism and hit that pesky publish button.
And now, time for a caveat: All three of the above need to be accomplished in some way, shape, or form, for you to truly add something unique to the crowded online marketplace. After all, if you’re serving a purpose but simply regurgitating information you’ve found elsewhere, you may as well share that existing info. If you’re all personality but serving no purpose, it’ll be hard to become a must-read amongst your followers.
And finally, if you don’t put your butt in the chair and do the work — and subsequently hit publish on that post — we will never get a glimpse at that inner genius that’s aching to solve our problems.
Own your blog; own your role
Your blog is yours to do what you want with — that’s the beauty of choosing to invest time and energy into your blog over social media. But the angst of adding to a noisy internet cluttered with information is real. Bringing your purpose, your personality, and your fearless love of the publish button to the table means making the most of the blog you own, and watching it help grow your freelance business.