To blog, or not to blog, that is the Born Freelancer’s question

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer will share personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments.

I’m told that blogging is dead in this era of tweets and retweets. I must respectfully disagree. It may be long dead among a certain advertising-obsessed younger demographic, but the blog has long since gone mainstream. Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts all either read or have some kind of a blog presence—and you should too. It can help keep your professional freelance reputation/image alive online well beyond the expiry dates of any offline projects.

Why blog? In part, because you can! Blogging is free, and you have total control. Now I’m not talking about blogs that are a contracted part of your professional engagement, but rather personal blogs that you write independently in your spare time with complete control over content and ownership. Blogs are the easiest way I can think of to keep your name and freelance work alive online. I’m amazed how often they are overlooked these days; perhaps it’s because of their very ubiquity.

I’ve always blogged whenever I’ve had offline gigs. I’ve used the blog to expand and supplement the subjects I’ve done in print or on radio or TV. Often there is not enough time to present all the research I’ve found on TV or radio or in print. A blog is the place to put it. On the air or in print I would reference the blog and listeners could go to it if the subject interested them. Current employers know that I am redirecting blog readers back to my professional gigs while they are ongoing. And I can always direct future potential employers to relevant archived blogs to see what I’ve done in the past. It’s a win-win-win proposition for any freelancer.

I should add that all my blogs are under a number of different aliases. They’ve always tended to be subject- or theme-driven rather than “all about me” blogs. This approach might not address everyone’s needs, but I found it easier to keep my various distinct career threads separate and neater that way. So unless you know my blog name or the name under which I blogged, you cannot easily find them. Although with the miracle of Google I often get hits on old defunct blogs that are still online that have been rediscovered because of their subjects or keywords. It’s nice that my work can live on that way and find new readers on its own.

Having said that, I do link to several of my various blogs from my main website. So if you go to it, you can find some of my blogs but not the other way around. It’s a system that works for me, but as I said it’s not necessarily for everyone.

I also provide a unique (albeit anonymous) email address on each blog so anyone who discovers it can contact me. This is in addition to the comments section, of course. In this way a prospective client or other noteworthy correspondent can always reach me directly if their only contact with me otherwise is the blog.

Many of you will prefer to create a strong brand under your own name and combine all your thoughts on one blog. Yes, it can be all about you if you want! This certainly creates a centralized depository for your thoughts and bon mots and is recommended for anyone wanting to create an effective and authentic identity/reputation online.

Most but not all bloggers create new and original content. This is recommended for reaching a maximum readership. And it should be obvious that a good blog must give its readers something of value. Information. Entertainment. Advice. A laugh or two. Recollections. Lessons. Opinion. Or a unique mixture of all of the above that’s united by a theme. Whatever it is you give, you must try to give consistently keeping to an advertised schedule. In return you will be rewarded with readers.

A recent online article argues that in order to gain and maintain a regular and recurring readership a blogger must write a thousand words a day, every day. I definitely appreciate the ability of the blog to contain content much “meatier” than tweets.

Although I’m not so sure about the “1,000 words a day” rule nor the daily rule you certainly must let your readership know what to expect. In effect, you create a contract with them, a contract that you break at your own peril (losing your readership). If you plan to post daily, say so and live up to it. Once a week? Say so. Once in a blue moon? Be honest up front. I’ve deleted many a blog that just lost energy from its original promise but have kept many bookmarked that were honest with me about their anticipated infrequency.

It’s also important for freelancers to be constantly exercising our craft. Use it or lose it, as they used to say! In the freelance world there are often gaps between paying gigs. The blog can give you a structured outlet during those times as well as during busier, more gainfully employed times. This can sometimes be a lifesaver—literally. They can stop paying you but nobody can ever stop you from writing or drawing or whatever creative act you pursue.

Blogs are also useful to reference in direct mass emails to past, present, and possible future clients. It gives you something to talk about other than “Hey, how about some work?” and helps foster the perception that you always have something on the go.

The freelancer can often also find their own professional-support community online through blogging—fellow freelancers will naturally gravitate towards blogs by other freelancers with similar outlooks. The blog’s writer and readers can help keep each other’s abilities sharp and alive.

I do not consider my blogs as added work for no gain. No, these are not blogs I have been instructed to write. I write these blogs on my own time and under my own direction. I see them as an extension of me and my work and as publicity for me and my work. They usually contain re-purposed material from my relevant paying professional gigs in slightly altered form. It’s yet another advantage of freelancers keeping our own copyrights.

Blogging is another useful potential sales tool to enable and enrich the value of any freelancer’s name/reputation/brand. It can launch discussions with readers that can be republished and gain attention throughout the world. And just as importantly, it can be a forum for freelancers to say what they really want to say about whatever truly moves them without fear of editorial interference from some corporate head office. Just remember, though, that someone at head office may occasionally read your words too.

If you used to blog but got lazy—how about starting afresh? Don’t know what to say? Start with what you feel most passionate about, what you feel most strongly about—if you post it, surely your brand will come!

I’ve just looked at my bookmarks at random, and I’d place the blog by Canadian (but long-since transplanted to the States) retired sitcom writer Earl Pomerantz at the top of my list of most enjoyable freelancer blogs.

His pithy, funny, and frequently insightful posts give me great cheer/hope on bad days and added perspective/determination on good ones. He is often helpful on thematic craft issues that are eternal, even though he speaks from his unique perspective in the entertainment industry’s history. More importantly his obvious talent for writing, and for living, is a daily inspiration to me.

What is your favourite freelancer blog?

Posted on October 24, 2011 at 10:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

One Response

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  1. Written by Doreen Pendgracs
    on October 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I absolutely love blogging! I maintain 2 blogs: a writer’s lifestyle blog and a chocolate travel blog. I post to each every other week. And I always let the readers know at the end of each post when to look for the next post.

    My writer’s lifestyle blog has really become a community. We call it the “tribe!” Join us. I’m pleased that the current post has warranted nearly 50 comments and is on the topic of writers helping writers.

    Everyone is invited to join the discussion at:

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