By Erika-Marie Geiss
When it comes to freelance writing and blogging, there are many ways to skin a cat. It’s been questioned time and time again whether a writer should have a blog, and like many, I believe that having a blog as a writer can be useful. For some, it’s a less formal type of writing, and a more personal exercise. For others, blogging is another component of a blogger’s professional role as a writer or editor—showcasing work, offering tips or discussing issues that pertain to writing and so forth. Both types of blogs can lead to paying gigs, as editors and others who may stumble upon and read your blog can get an idea of how you write, your voice and style. And there are also professional bloggers—those who get paid to blog by a media group or other business. Here are some tips for good blogging practices for each.
While your personal blog might be more fun and extemporaneous than the way you write for paying gigs, keep in mind that people who might hire you may be reading your blog. In other words, don’t get too personal. Sure, you can share stories about your family, kids and spouse, but consider the ramifications if they (or others who know them) read your posts as well as what it might tell potential employers about you, your character and your personal life. There are probably some things that an employer just doesn’t need to know.
Having a blog that’s linked to your career as a freelance writer can be an apt marketing tool. Again, shy away from deeply personal topics (unless they directly relate to your profession) and make the posts relevant to your profession. You can use the posts to create a conversation with your readers, share useful tips and information (like at FWJ) or comment on media issues and current events (for example the AP’s new guidelines or their recent “attacks” on bloggers).
Getting paid to blog can be quite lucrative, but it also takes a lot more work than the personal or unpaid-professional blogs. It requires fresh and interesting content, and should (in my opinion) still conform to proper writing conventions and style for the company you work for. The quality of professional blogging gigs varies widely … for some it’s more about SEO and keyword content rather than about presenting well-written and informative posts. Ideally, it should be about both.
Regardless of whether your blog is personal, semi-professional or professional it’s important to remember that as a freelance writer, you’re always “on” when it comes to the written word. Ask yourself: what is the point of my blog(s) overall? What is the point of my post(s)? Am I creating a conversation? And finally, Am I presenting myself in the best light possible as a writer?
I think for some people starting a blog is extremely freeing and motivating- untethered to the sometimes strict needs of other outlets it is a way to expose your writing and refine your style without needing to justify the process.
Thanks for your comment 365. You do make a good point, but I still think it’s wise to consider who might be reading and how one’s posts could affect potential future gigs.
I’m in the “to each their own” category. Kathy with her “Screw You” blog seems to have steady work coming in, and has even had comments from prospects about her blog – and still got the work.
While some employers feel they have the right to set standards for or control the personal life of their independent contractors, others don’t care what is done on ‘off time’ as long as their projects are completed on time, in full, and to a high standard.
Everyone has to pick what feels right for them. I blog about whatever I feel like blogging about, and I share the opinions, thoughts, and experiences I have that are relevant. No one has ever told me directly it has cost me work, nor has anyone ever told me directly it got me work. The point is, I get work.
If someone were to have a blog that was anti[insert religion, race, or ethnic group here], or supporting illegal drug use or porn or something, I would agree that maybe they need to think twice. Otherwise, my feelings are that everyone needs to decide their own tolerance and risk levels and go with what feels right for them.