As a freelance writer, one question I hear a lot is how to start blogging when you’re new to writing online.
And it’s a question I wish I’d asked myself when I first started freelancing years ago.
Because despite what you might have heard, blogging isn’t dead.
Is it changing and evolving? Sure. I can see it with my own clients.
Whereas I used to write just blog posts or articles, I sometimes find myself writing video scripts and infographic copy to give blog posts visual appeal. If you believe the numbers, 80% of web traffic will be video by 2021.
It’s a little scary if you’re a writer. But starting a blog is still worthwhile in 2019 and I’ve no doubt that people will still be reading (and watching) blogs for years to come.
And there are some great reasons to start a blog as a freelancer, whether you’re just getting started with writing or you’ve been at it for a while.
Why You Should Start a Blog as a Freelance Writer
I wish I had started a blog the same time I started freelance writing and here’s why. Starting your own blog can help you:
- Create an online portfolio that shows off your writing skills.
- Establish an online presence to help attract clients to you, instead of you chasing them.
- Become an expert if you’re researching and writing about topics in your freelance niche.
A blog can also be a money-maker for you if you have a “Hire Me” page set up that advertises your freelance writing services.
Ideally, clients find your blog through your social media profiles, check out your writing, then click over to your “Hire Me” page to offer you a gig.
You could also monetize the blog in a different way by offering a course or digital product, running ads, writing sponsored posts or including affiliate links.
From my own experience with monetizing the first blog I started, writing for clients can put money in your pocket faster. But then again, there are plenty of freelance writers who are also making great money from their blogs.
But wait, you might be thinking. Why worry about how to start blogging? Don’t I really need to have a freelance writer website instead?
The answer is, it depends. Mostly, it depends on what you need a blog or a freelance writer website to do with you.
There are plenty of established writers out there that have killer websites. But mostly, these are static pages designed to showcase the writer’s portfolio or services so they can attract clients.
A blog is more like a living document. You can publish new content regularly, engage with the people who comment on or share your posts and grow an audience.
Blogging is more active, whereas a writer website feels more passive. At least I think so.
And if you want to learn how to start blogging for clients, then having a blog of your own can be a great place to hone your craft.
So, are you sold on the idea of starting your own blog yet?
Good! Now, let’s dig into how to actually get your blog up and running.
How to Start Blogging as a Freelance Writer
A lot of what goes into starting a blog has to do with the tech stuff. And I’ll walk you through all of that in just a minute.
But there are a few other things to cover first. On my other blog, I wrote a “start a blog” tutorial. And in it, I mention something I like to call the “5 W’s.”
This is a concept most people learn in their writing classes in elementary school. The 5 W’s are: who, what, when, where and why.
Here’s how I apply it to how to start blogging as a freelance writer:
Who are you writing for?
Before you start a blog, think about who you want to read it.
If you want to use your blog to establish yourself as an expert in your niche, then you’d want to attract people who are interested in that niche. That includes not just casual readers but also prospective clients that you hope will hire you.
The content you write should be a showcase for your freelance writing expertise and skill, as it relates to your ideal reader.
Bottom line, figuring who you’re writing for can help ensure that you’re speaking to your target audience every time.
What do you want to blog about?
Technically, you could blog about anything. But you really want to have one clear focus for your writing.
And here’s what I tell freelance writers who ask me about how to start blogging: write posts that are relevant to your niche.
Why? Because the more you write about a topic, the more you learn about it.
Once you write about something often enough, you start to learn that topic inside and out. And that, I can tell you from experience, is one of the secrets to earning six figures as a freelance writer.
When you know your niche and your niche’s sub-niches thoroughly, you’ll find that there are plenty of clients willing to pay $300, $400, $500+ per post or article for that knowledge.
So get clear on what your freelance writing niche is first, then start building your blog content around that.
When will you make time to work on your blog?
There’s this myth that blogging just means writing posts and publishing them and that’s it, you’re done.
But let me tell you, blogging is so much more than that.
You have to promote your blog and interact with the people who take time to comment and then there’s all the tech stuff that happens on the back-end.
If you’re brand-new to blogging, here’s my best advice: create a blogging schedule.
Having a schedule of tasks you do on the blog daily and weekly can help you get things done and make progress consistently.
Where will you promote your blog?
A blogging rule of thumb you’ll hear a lot is that you should spend 20% of your time writing content and 80% of your time promoting it.
And that’s really important if you’re starting a blog so you can get some exposure and put yourself in front of clients.
The simplest way to figure out where to promote yourself is to go to where those ideal clients you want to work with hang out.
Once you figure out where you want to promote, add that into your blogging schedule. If you can use an automation tool like CoSchedule to do this, then that can free you up to have more time to write.
Why do you want to start a blog?
Blogging is a lot of hard work, especially if you’re trying to do it as a way to grow your freelance writing business. So everything you do needs to have a clear intent behind it.
Ask yourself what you hope to get out of blogging.
Maybe you just want a way to showcase your writing or work on your writing skills before you start pitching clients.
Or maybe you want to eventually establish yourself as an influencer. And of course, you might want to make money from your blog through products, ads or affiliates.
Pinpointing your “why” matters can give you a direction to follow with starting and growing your blog. Otherwise, you could just end up spinning your wheels and not making much progress.
Okay, now that you’ve laid the foundation let’s look at how to actually start your blog.
1. Decide Which Blogging Platform You Want to Use
There are two basic ways to blog: a free blogging platform (like Wix or WordPress.com) or a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org.
(And if you don’t know the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, here’s a nifty little explainer from WPBeginner.)
When you’re not making a lot of money from freelance writing yet, “free” might sound pretty good. But I strongly recommend you spring for a self-hosted site instead. Here’s why.
First, self-hosted just looks more professional. It sends the signal to clients or anyone else who visits your site that you take your blog (and your freelance writing business) seriously.
Second, you have more options for customizing your site, including using premium themes, which you don’t always get with free blogging platforms. And once you start playing around with blog customization, you’ll find that it’s fun and oddly satisfying to make it look exactly how you want.
Third, having a self-hosted blog means you can work with a professional web host. And the right host can make your life so much easier as a blogger.
2. Choose Your Web Host
My preferred host for blogging is Siteground but there are other hosts you can try. Bluehost is a popular one; GoDaddy is another.
Here’s why I like Siteground in a nutshell:
Their customer service is the best. I struggled to get my first blog set up, so much so that I ended up ugly crying into my laptop. I emailed Siteground’s customer service and they helped me out right away.
Hosting is fast and secure. When you sign up for Siteground, you get access to a tool called SG Optimizer, which can help make your site super fast. And you can encrypt your site to keep hackers out.
Their hosting plans are reasonably priced. You can get started with hosting for as little as $3.95/month, which is a steal if you don’t have a lot of money to invest in your blog up front.
3. Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is the URL where people can find your blog. I don’t want to tell you that your domain name choice is make-it-or-break-it but it should be something that reflects who you are and what your blog is about.
I chose WritetoSixFigures.com for this blog because my target audience is freelance writers who want to make a six-figure income. It tells people who come here that this blog can help them learn how to become six-figure freelancers. (I hope, anyway).
But you’re perfectly fine using your first and last name if it’s available, or the name of your freelancing business if you have one.
A few tips for choosing a domain name:
- Try to keep it short and simple if you can.
- Skip using hyphens, numbers or symbols.
- Resist the temptation to pick something cutesy unless that’s your personality. You want your freelance writing blog to read as professional, not as a hobby blog.
- Check to see if your preferred domain name is available as a handle on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or any other social media sites you plan to use. Ideally, you’re able to register your exact domain name on social or as close a match as possible.
If you’re starting your blog with Siteground, you’ll have the option to register a domain you already own or buy one from Siteground.
Namecheap is great for buying inexpensive domain names if you don’t have one. But buying it through Siteground is just as easy.
If you have a domain name, you can just plug it into the box like you see here:
If you want to register a new domain, you click the top button instead, then type in the domain you want to use. Siteground will tell you if it’s available or not.
If it is, you can go on to the next step, which is paying for your hosting plan.
4. Purchase Hosting
The great thing about Siteground is they give you choices for hosting plans.
If you know for sure that you want to have just one blog, then go with the StartUp plan. But if you think you’d like to branch out to multiple blogs at some point, I recommend GrowBig. That’s the plan I have.
Here’s what your checkout screen might look like on a GrowBig plan:
Once you’ve done that, Siteground will prompt you to choose a username and password so you can log in to your account. Now you can start building out your blog.
5. Install WordPress and Choose a Theme
When you set up your Siteground account, you’ll have an assigned user area. And in that user area, you’ll have a control panel for your blog.
To install WordPress, you’ll want to go into the control panel. You’ll see a screen that looks like this:
You want to click on the WordPress icon. That will take you to this screen:
All you do now is click install. Once WordPress is installed, you’ll have to choose the username and password you want to use to log in to the admin panel of your blog.
Pick something unique for both that you can remember but hackers would have a hard time guess. Once you do that, go ahead and log in.
Now you’re in the backend of WordPress and you can start customizing your blog. The first thing you’ll want to do is choose a theme.
Technically, you don’t have to spend money on a theme. WordPress gives you plenty of free options.
But if you want to have more customization options, investing in a paid theme is the way to go.
Once you have a theme, you can start adding plugins, adjusting your blog settings and fine-tuning its overall look.
Now You’re Ready to Start Blogging!
If you’ve done the steps I just listed in order, then your first big challenge with how to start blogging as a freelance writer is over.
Now comes the real work–deciding what to write, how often to post and how to promote your blog content to get clients’ attention.
If you’ve started a blog to help grow your freelance writing side hustle or business, drop a link to it in the comments so I can check it out!
And of course, I’d love for you to pin and share this post if you found it helpful!