Starting a Niche Blog
So you want to start a blog. You’ve decided on WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, or whatever, which is a good first step. Before you start blogging you need to think about how you’re going to differentiate your blog from the thousands of blogs out there in the blogosphere.
Many writers spend their day writing copy for their clients that isn’t particularly interesting to them—sometimes it’s downright boring. A blog allows them creative freedom to write about whatever they want. But sometimes, it’s that overwhelming freedom that dooms their blog from the start.
What you need to do is find your niche and blog about it. Creating a niche blog allows you to hone into your expertise, your passion, and write about it. As a freelancer, your blog should be another way to market yourself to potential clients. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about what you love—be it knitting, parenting, or shopping local—it just means you need to have a plan.
Work Out Your Blog Schedule
One of the first things you need to decide is how often you are going to post. It’s hard to look professional if you don’t update your niche blog for a month. I do a lot of work with professional photographers, and the ones I go to again and again are constantly updating their blogs.
Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Maybe you post something on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. Create a worksheet where you keep ideas on upcoming posts—I call this my “bucket.” If I am ever at a loss for an idea, I go to my bucket and something always comes of it.
You could also tackle a certain topic once a week on a certain day to make it easier to plan ahead. I am a freelance blogger for a wedding website and each Wednesday they post a wedding etiquette blog I’ve written ahead of time. It helps me plan my assignments out each month and makes my editor’s job easier.
Make Niche Blog Friends
Find other niche blogs that tackle the same topic you do and network with their authors. A great way to build a brand for your blog is to guest blog for other niche blogs and have them do the same for you. Leave comments on other niche blogs and link back to your blog when appropriate. Why is this important? Networking is good for freelancers—you never know when you will impress someone and they pass your information along to a potential client. And aren’t you more likely to to get a lead from someone you have something in common with?
Think about it: Say you start and maintain a blog about your passion on breeding chihuahuas. Creating a network of other dog breeders via niche blogs will garner you more insight, story ideas, and links to other professionals in the industry. It also gives you a platform to write about what you love—and to use your blog posts as clips and examples when searching for freelance work.
Showcase Your Online Writing Skills
A blog is a great way to showcase your skills in writing for an online audience—especially if you typically write for print publications. Before you start your blog, take the time to read other blogs you like and find out why you like them. How many photos do they publish per post? Do they include a lot of links? Do they give advice? Do they write formally or in a casual style? Don’t outright copy someone else’s blog—that’s lame. Find out what works for you and make your content stand out using your own voice.
Whatever you do—make sure you do it well. Your niche blog can help build your brand and land you future freelance work.