Get the FREE Freelancer’s ToolkitGet the free toolkit!

The #1 Mistake Freelancers Make With Blogging

You know you need to blog. Everyone is doing it and all the advice out there tells you it’s a great way to grow your online business.

It can be. If you’re doing it right.

You are probably blogging already, whether consistently or every now and then. But your business isn’t growing as much as you like. So you figure it’s another problem like your social media marketing, your prices, or your copy.

It could be, but it also might be that you’re making one of the most common mistakes I see freelancers make.

Blogging Mistakes Freelancers

Blogging for your colleagues not your potential clients.

What do I mean by that?

Well, you are blogging about things that interest you or your online friends, not to help solve problems your potential clients might have.

Blogs, after all, started as online diaries. Where we talk about ourselves, our lives and what we like/dislike in the world. You probably follow a lot of blogs like this still today.

A lot of creative freelancers follow lifestyle blogs of other creatives they look up to. These bloggers are not always talking about business.

They share recipes, design inspiration, fashion inspiration, how-to’s on designing, link round-ups, etc.

So you think, “If I want to have a popular blog, I need to do the same.”

But you’re not running a blog as a business. You don’t need a popular blog. You’re running a business that has a blog. You need a popular business.

The difference is important.

Sure, it’s always great to connect with your audience by showing them some behind-the-scenes of who you are, what you like, what you’re inspired by.

You can get away with that a lot more once you have a thriving business that continues to grow based on referrals.

But when you’re just starting out, or still struggling to bring in consistent income….you need to focus your blog on your potential clients.

You can’t forget what your PAYING audience wants from you: help solving their problems.

Show them you can solve their problems for free on your blog and they are much more likely to believe you can solve their bigger problems when they pay you.

Not only is this great for people coming to your site and interested in your services but not ready to buy, but also to build up the potential traffic you will get from Google once those specific topics your ideal clients are searching for show up in search results.

Start by understanding who your audience is and who you want them to be. Tall order I know. You don’t have to get it perfect, but it’s where you need to start.

  • What problems do they have that you have the solutions for?
  • What questions do they ask in groups or on social media?
  • What questions do they ask you before, during and after working with you?

That’s what you need to blog about.

Not what your life is like as a freelancer, the vacation you took last month, your favorite fall fashion trends or other pretty things that your blogger friends will love and comment on.

Unless of course your ideal clients are your blogger friends, then have at it….but try to always bring it back to solving a problem for them.

You can always have a personal blog where you share your vacation photos and fashion mood boards, but keep your business blog focused on business as much as possible.

That is how you grow your expert status in the eyes of your website visitors. That is how you show them that yes, you know how to help them and you are the right person for the job.

Imagine this scenario:

I need some copy written for my website. I find two freelancer’s websites:

Freelancer #1 has a blog full of posts like this:

  • Why you need to spend more time choosing your tagline than writing the entire rest of your website.
  • How to stand out from the crowd with a Welcome email that surprises and delights your new subscribers.
  • How much is too much personality in your website copy?

Freelancer #2 has a blog full of posts like this:

  • A day in the life as a freelancer
  • Link roundup: What I’ve read this week
  • How to get noticed on Twitter

All other things equal, if I’m looking at these two freelancers because I have a problem (need some copy written) and I’m looking for a solution, which one do you think I’d choose?

Sure, I might enjoy reading #2’s posts, and they might be extremely helpful in other areas of my life. But #1 seems like more of an expert on the problem I need solved right now.

If you have steady clients, referral business and other effective marketing channels, this isn’t as important to you. And like I said, a little behind-the-scenes and personal stuff now and then doesn’t do any harm and can be beneficial.

But if that’s not the case, and you want to grow your business with your blog, it might be time to get more strategic: by solving or addressing the problems your potential clients have and showing them you have the answers.

Take action:

Take a look at the last 10-20 blog posts you’ve written. How many of those solve a problem for your client? How many of them show your expertise in the service you are selling?

On the right track? Great.

If not, take some time this week to brainstorm a list of blog topics that solve problems or show your expertise related to what you are selling.

Let me know in the comments: Have you made this freelance blogging mistake?

-Leah

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.

SIGN UP
+ get the FREE Freelancer’s Toolkit including:
✓ From Last Corporate Day to a Month of 5k
✓ How to Get to Steady
✓ 4 Steps to your First (or next!) Passive Income Stream Workbook
✓ Daily advice, tips & inspiration

Yes, please!

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Guilty as charged – the majority of my posts is not written for my design clients.

    I am consciously adding some of it to the list of topics, but frankly I’m way more passionate about writing about topics that don’t necessarily relate to my business.

    They’re still aimed at my ideal clients – creative business owners, or those still stuck in a day job and doing their soulful work on the side, so I don’t think it’s totally off target… but slightly off, in a way my whole website is slightly off from driving to home that I am in fact a design professional with 10+ years of experience and a truckload of projects behind me.

    I am thinking about bringing balance to this and emphasizing the business side more.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Hey Nela- It’s definitely something to test! And I know what you mean about being way more passionate about other topics. As I mentioned, first thing to decide is if you need/want your blog to be bringing in clients. If you have a steady stream of clients without writing to your design clients, no need to change things up! And on another note, if you do need more clients, blogging isn’t the only way to get them. But if you are blogging because you want to grow your business, and you need more clients, then yes, maybe bringing in some more posts that speak them.

  • This is great timing for me Leah – thank you!

    I have struggled so much with what to write on my business blog, to the point that I rarely write anything at all. Now I feel a lot more clearer in terms of coming up with topics as I DO want it to attract clients and share my expertise.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Good Chichi! So glad it got you thinking.

  • Totally hear you, and that’s why I’m thinking about having a separate site/blog for my business. Later. When I decide to get serious. Except I hate being serious, so … ?

    • Beth, I LOVE your blog and your writing in itself makes me want to go to your first if I ever need a copywriter. I know you’re not writing specifically about copywriting, but you’re showing that you know how to be funny, informative and amusing with each post you write. Not saying you shouldn’t at some point separate if you want to, but I think what you’re doing now is working pretty well 🙂

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Haha, no need to get “serious” if you don’t want to. Like I said, you have to start with who your clients are. If your ideal clients are people like you who want to or have just quit their jobs to freelance, then telling your story as you do probably makes them love you AND think of you when they want to hire someone for your services. For example, the reason I decided to start FTF separate from my web design business is because I thought that new freelancers wouldn’t be ready to pay what I charge or are designers themselves and don’t need my services. So I knew blogging about freelancing on LK would not benefit my business and I needed to find another solution in order to satisfy both of my desires.

      No matter what you do (separate your blogging topics or combine or stay writing about what you do now), I hope you don’t stop sharing your story as you do now because I enjoy it sooooo much.

  • Amazing amazing amazing. I have NO idea how this perspective never crossed my mind. Since I do have a paper goods + design business, I do think there’s a bit of crossover in what my clients and customers are interested in reading about but with the new launch coming on Monday (!!!) this is exactly what I needed to be reminded! Thank you! Will definitely be sharing this post.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh my that came so fast!!!! Can’t wait to celebrate with you. Yes, there can definitely be lifestyle stuff your clients love to read about….like I said, it depends on who your clients are and as long as you have them top of mind when creating your content, you’re on the right track!

  • This was a great post!

    I’ve merged two topics – personal development and business – together to share both my experiences and professional advice. I feel that this gives the reader to understand who I am as a person and how I overcame any challenges. It’s strange because it seems that more people like my personal stories rather than my professional design advice.

    Because of this realization, I’m moving my professional advice to my mail subscribers who are serious about their brand – so I give a little more.

    S xo

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, I’ve noticed that Sara and I think it’s a great idea. To me that’s a little less what I’m talking about though because in my mind, your business clients are interested in personal development, so you do have them in mind. And then of course you’ve tried it consciously, seen the results, and are making adjustments because of it. Always test and see!

  • This is soooo hard sometimes to stick to! And in the beginning I made this mistake a lot. That, and writing to make sure that the people who had liked my FB page would be interested and read it (which was an even bigger mistake because they were mostly friends and family at the time). I took the summer off from blogging and am now coming back with my ideal client more defined and a determination to blog to what they would like to read and learn about.

    Once I decided to do that, it’s actually been easier to think of blog topics and I’ve even got some backlogged for future posts! I love your copy writing example and that gives me even more motivation to keep it up. I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s so true!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I think everyone makes this mistake when first blogging. Especially if you’ve blogged for more personal reasons before and are now building your business, it’s definitely hard to see the benefit in transitioning.

      Oh yes, I made the same mistake by inviting friends and family to like my FB page…so pointless (especially when it comes to paying for FB ads!).

      I agree, it becomes much easier to come up with topics and I’m glad you have some topics on the backburner!

  • Ah, excellent point! I’m going to save this blog to send to my clients when I see them falling into that trap.

  • Rebecca Gruenspan

    The lines get blurred a bit in my industry, but I try to channel this advice more and more since learning from the FTF community. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I love this post, Leah! It’s SOOO true that we need to focus on what our potential readers / viewers want to know, and not just what we want to share. Although when we do find that happy medium, it’s a great place because we’re being of service while sharing what we know 🙂 Thanks for this!! 😀

  • Oh yes, this is something I still struggle with! Now that my clients are both small business owners AND web designers I’m finding the balance even harder. But I think I’m getting a bit better at it!

  • Hi Leah

    Wonderful post. I always try to go through the post I’ve written and see if there’s something that’s more like my own reflections rather than something that’d help those who are reading my post. I always find a few things like that. It’s really an important thing to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

    Sriteja Reddy
    (Your FTFP Peer).

  • Oh, Leah! I am so glad you are talking about this – I used to write all of my blog posts for myself or my colleagues and when I switched and started writing to my customers everything changed. Not only was writing more exciting, I was expanding and really writing articles, not blog posts that felt like diary entries. Such an important shift for everyone to make in their business!

  • You’re so right Leah! I started out blogging about hiking adventures and trips I had taken. Gaah! So embarassing now :). I actually love that I have a filter or guide now and that is to help potential customers as much as possible. This is ongoing as we learn from our clients’ pain points when they come to us. Thanks for laying out so well!

  • Very interesting although I do think there are other ways of blogging that still help to facilitate work opportunities – my blog isn’t really geared towards other creatives or clients at all, more to other people/moms/bloggers like me, and I just like to share stuff that I think others will find interesting/useful (eg. crafty DIY’s, posts about places I’ve been, products I’ve discovered, work I’ve done recently etc). In doing so, and through the added help of social media platforms like twitter and FB, I’ve connected with other people/bloggers/tweeters and because of the relationships I’ve built with them (through interaction over time), I’ve actually received loads of work opportunities. All that said, I do think it would be very helpful/useful for me to share some useful info on my blog that IS geared towards clients/potential clients and it’s always handy to have those links to refer people to when they have questions 🙂 So thank you, something new that I have learned today 🙂

  • ohh! Great reminder! I am going to go and look at my last 20 posts right now. I think finding that balance is so important (and hard!) We want to create that connection with our clients, like they know us, but make sure we are delivering value to them too! Great reminder!

  • SUCH good points 🙂

  • Ha ha I love this Leah! I had a mini-breakdown a year ago and I was like, “Crap, am I just blogging to respond to another blog? Or am I blogging for my people!?”. It was the later…and I’ve been really trying to peel back the complex layers of what goes on in my community (and in my head) and how I can create for MY potential clients. What do THEY want to hear?

    you rock!

  • Very good advice! Thanks, Leah!

  • This has definitely got me thinking! I have a food blog so that is all personal and the blog is really the business (or at least I would eventually like it to be) But given the likelihood of making a living off a food blog is slim, I am working on a business to leverage my financial management skills. This has really got me thinking about what that the blog on that new site needs to do when it is up and running. Having said that, to get people reading the food blog it still has to answer their problems and questions….

  • Great points and great reminders. Thanks, Leah!

  • Mylene

    Great advice Leah !

    I’ve been wondering about that a lot lately, since I’ve started created websites for my clients. I see a lot of web designers who blog about wordpress tips, but it seems to me that my potential clients don’t know a thing about wordpress, so even though I suppose it would demanstrate my skills, I’m not sure it would interest them… or even if they would find me this way…

    The question I’m asking myself a lot is : which topics could lead them to me ? What would they google that could lead them to my blog and then to m services ? Problem is… I have no answer to these questions ahah. Leah, I would love your advice on this subject !

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Hey Mylene, just seeing this comment now, sorry for the delay! I definitely blog about WP tips and other DIY stuff on my web design blog. At first I didn’t want to because I thought I was giving them information to DIY and that meant they wouldn’t hire me. But then I realized that I wanted to be a resource, and show my expertise and value to DIYers because my ideal clients are those that have DIYed and are ready to stop spending time on what they’re not great at and are ready to go pro by hiring a professional. Attracting them to my site, and keeping them around for the DIY tips has led to them hiring me when they’re ready down the line. Sure, doing only that would be a long-term process, so I try to mix it up with other stuff that interests them as well.

      All of my blog post topics come from questions my current clients ask me. This both helps with what I described above (giving information my target client will use and thank me for) and also it works into my overall systems by being able to point all future clients to those blog posts whenever I get that question again. If one client asks it, it’s likely another one would too. Plus it makes it super easy to come up with topic ideas- just keeping a list of all the questions clients ask! Hope that helps a little and I’m happy to delve in deeper in the FB group if you want.

  • Pleading guilty! Looking back on my blog I have a lot of personal posts. Although they are certainly easier and more fun to write than advice, and although I try to include “lessons I’ve learned”, they’re not really establishing me as an expert in flexible productivity. Time to change that! Thanks for writing this, it was a real good kick in the butt 😉

  • Elizabeth

    I have been wanting to set up a blog. I keep putting it off though as I have been confused as to what to blog about as couldn’t find my direction that would make sense to clients and potential clients. This has really helped! Thank you.

  • This is such a great point. I see it all the time. Law firms (for example) with articles about the legal profession (for other lawyers) instead of articles about problems that lead people to look for legal information online (for potential clients.) I just searched local law firms here in Seattle and the first one I found that had a blog was described in this way:

    “Our thoughts on current events in environmental law, science, and policy from the Pacific Northwest. Topics will touch on issues such as climate change, policy decisions made by agencies, regulatory reform and changes, and how these items affect firms in the Northwest. And some interesting science-geeky stuff.” See that? “How it affects FIRMS in the Northwest.”

    This is for other lawyers, not legal clients. I can’t say enough about how true it is that this is the most common blogging mistake. It happens in every industry, too. Doctors writing about new medical devices and how they impact your job (as a doctor) instead of how they impact your recovery (as a patient.) The list of examples off of the top of my head could be a mile long.

    I wanted to note, too, that it’s not so much that businesses, or in this case freelancers, are blogging about the wrong things. Mostly the subject matter is right but the angle is wrong. How do these topics concern the people you’re hoping will read your blog and become customers? Because, these potential customers don’t necessarily care how the issue impacts you and your colleagues.

    Excellent, excellent, points! Thanks for sharing!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Wow, thanks for sharing that example Erica! Such a great one to drive the point home. And yes, I loved your note that it’s not necessarily the wrong topics that people write about, but the angle they take that is not directed to their potential clients. Thanks so much for your comment! P.S. You’re in Seattle? I’ll be back there soon (it’s my hometown). Would love to organize and FTF meetup there if there are enough of us 🙂

  • I’ve actually been writing to other developers lately, mostly because I want to build and audience I can serve and build products later.

    But I see myself creating a ‘businessy’ section on my blog, answering common questions clients ask me, or easy DIY tutorials for them to add a little bit more value 😛

Leave a Comment