As a solopreneur, you’re responsible for everything. You get to handle everything from building your website, to sending invoices, to marketing your services. There’s no boss to handle the hard stuff. There’s no accounting department, either. But all these tasks leave most solopreneurs super busy. When it comes to gaining new clients, most of us don’t have time to go door-to-door pitching every business in town. Instead, we focus on how we can get our name out to as many people as possible. One of the tried-and-true tactics? A business blog.
Many solopreneurs focus on building a thriving web presence because it’s the best way to generate interest and sales. By publishing blog posts as little as a few times per month, you can keep in touch with current clients, gain the attention of new ones, and elevate your legitimacy to anyone who comes across your business. Here are the 13 steps to building a thriving blog for your solopreneur business:
Step 1. Understand blogging 101
Unless you’re a freelance writer or marketer who’s worked extensively in the blogging space, you might have misconceptions about how blogging works. For example, many assume that if they simply publish blog posts, they’ll find their way to the right people. In fact, successful blogs have well-thought out promotional plans that go beyond sharing a link on Facebook or Twitter. Before you start blogging, understand that:
- Your content will need to be great. If you aren’t a strong writer, or aren’t willing to edit for grammar, it’s unlikely that you’ll pick up readership.
- You need to put readers first. You might want a blog to boost SEO rankings, and that’s perfectly legitimate, but you need to serve your readers first, no matter what. What do they want to hear about? How can you help them?
- Educational content wins. You’re in business for a reason, and it’s because you have a unique perspective and experience in a certain industry. You can use a blog to educate potential customers on the space.
- Design and formatting matters a lot. Your content needs to be easy to read, and readers trust content more if your blog looks polished and professional. Make sure to format your content in short paragraphs with headers-- this will make it easy to read.
- You’ll need to promote your content. Publishing a post isn’t enough. In order to be successful, you’ll need to find clever ways to promote your articles.
Step 2. Determine your goals
Why do you want a blog in the first place? Is it just because everyone else is doing it? No matter what you’re selling, it’s important to determine goals before you start publishing. That way, you’ll be able to measure results over time, and figure out if you’ve been successful. Here are some of the most popular reasons solopreneurs blog:
- Boost SEO efforts (companies with active blogs get an average of 97% more links to their websites)
- Show thought leadership in your industry
- Generate brand awareness among partners, friends, existing and prospective customers
- Create a sales pipeline that generates leads (B2B marketers blog get 67% more leads than marketers who don’t)
Step 3. Decide on an audience, then get to know it
The best blog content is laser-targeted, but one of the biggest mistakes solopreneurs make is neglecting to decide on an audience. When they blog, they give generic advice that could be for anyone. Often times, solopreneurs blog for their peers, rather than their audience. This results in an echo chamber effect. There are hundreds of freelance writers writing about freelancing writing. It’s compelling content, but it’s unlikely prospective clients are reading it. If a freelancer’s goal is to use a blog to find more clients, writing about freelancing is unlikely to help. However, if they write about how businesses can leverage freelance writers, they’re likely to attract their target audience. Ask yourself:
- Who am I writing to?
- Why have I chosen to write to this audience?
- Will writing to this audience help me achieve my goals?
- What do I know about this audience already?
- What are their biggest issues that I can help them solve?
- How can I learn more about my audience and their needs?
Step 4. Figure out a blogging platform
Unless you’re a web designer, it might be difficult to wrap your head around the technical aspects of starting a blog. Hosting? Design? Ugh, where to start? Most solopreneurs use WordPress, but they use Wordpress.org, rather than Wordpress.com. With WordPress.org, you’re responsible for hosting your site, which you can do through A Small Orange or another hosting company. WordPress was built with bloggers in mind, and designers have built tons of WordPress templates to make it easy to create a fabulous blog. Allison Fallon, a Tennessee-based author and writing coach, uses a custom WordPress theme powered by the Rainmaker Platform for her blog.
Step 5. Read successful blogs from solopreneurs
The most successful writers always advise aspiring writers to start by reading. When you read, you begin to internalize what flows. You’ll become better at writing your own sentences, and will soon develop your own style. When it comes to blogging, you should read successful blogs from solopreneurs. Some blogs, such as those from photographers and interior designers, are image-heavy. These blogs opt to showcase beautiful spaces rather than overwhelm with words. Others choose to use words to educate their audiences. The choice is up to you, and depends a lot on what business you’re in. Some favorites to check out:
- Creative Class - Content that matters to freelancers by Paul Jarvis
- Matthew Morgan Photography - Beautiful photos that serve as a portfolio
- SkinnyTaste - Healthy recipes from Gina Homolka’s kitchen
- Web Hosting Secrets Revealed - Website tips perfect for every freelancer and entrepreneur with a digital presence
Step 6. Hone in on voice and tone
The best solopreneur blogs have a living, breathing human behind them. This person has hopes, dreams, and a unique take on the world. This human is YOU. Many solopreneurs struggle to publish blog content because they feel as though everything’s been said. Thing is, you’re unique. If you can capitalize on what makes you different from other solopreneurs, you’re bound to be successful. Jay Acunzo runs Sorry for Marketing, his personal blog on all things content. Rather than writing standard listicles and tips on how to write content, Jay puts his personality on display. When you visit his blog, you’ll see that he’s outlines his beliefs and unique angle at the get-go. To hone in on voice and tone, think about what makes you special. Are you funny? Are you weird? Are you quiet and introspective? Whatever the case, don’t try to be like anyone else. Go for a voice that feels like you.
Step 7. Decide on frequency
When solopreneurs start blogs, they often set lofty goals about how often they’ll publish. They assume they’ll be able to churn out three blog posts per week without considering how much time and energy goes into great content. Our advice is to start slow. Consistency matters, but not as much as great content. You’re better off publishing a riveting, compelling, and well-researched blog post once per month than publishing a mediocre posts once per week.
Step 8. Draft up a bevy of blog post ideas
It’s hard to sit down every time you write a blog post and rack your brain for topics. That’s why it’s best to come up with a list of blog post ideas at one time. You can even use tools like HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator or Portent’s Content Idea Generator. These tools are a little silly, but they’re great for inspiration. If you feel like it’s still hard to come up with ideas, pay a freelance writer or content marketing consultant to come up with a long list for you.
Step 9. Come up with a promotional plan
Many solopreneurs believe that if they publish great content, people will find it. Thing is, thousands of articles are published each day, and it’s harder than ever to rise above the noise. If you want to be successful with your blog, then consider the following promotional channels:
- Social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Syndicating blog posts on LinkedIn and Medium
- Forums like Quora and Reddit
- Industry-specific channels (For example, marketers hang out on Inbound.org)
- Guest blogging on other more trafficked sites that cater to the same audience as you do
- Email marketing (explained in the next section)
Step 10. Build an email list
Don’t overlook the power of building an audience and communicating with this audience via email. Gone are the days when people visited a blog multiple times per day to check if there’s anything new. People want content delivered straight to their inboxes, and that’s why most solopreneurs rely heavily on their email list, whether they’re blogging or not. Email produces more ROI than social media. If you can build your email list, you can build your audience. You can sell this audience on products and services. For more advice on how to build our list, read 9 genius ways to build an email list.
Step 11. Check your analytics
As you get more and more invested in building a blog, you’ll want to understand how you’re doing. That’s why you need to check your analytics. Most marketers and bloggers rely on Google Analytics to assess how they’re doing. Pay attention to:
- Time on site, especially time on blog posts (this will show whether people are actually staying and reading your content)
- Where visitors come from (Facebook, Twitter, email, organic search, other websites)
- Most visited blog posts
Step 12. Don’t be afraid to change up your strategy
Ultimately, it takes a long time for a blog to grow. If you aren’t seeing results right away, don’t give up. It takes months of plugging away at it to see the results you desire. As time goes on and you learn more about blogging, as well as your audience, feel free to change up your strategy. Blogging isn’t a fixed science-- it’s more of an art. You’ll learn a lot as you go along.
Step 13. Give yourself a pat on the back
Being a solopreneur is tough-- blogging is just one thing in a long list of things you have to do. Make sure to go easy on yourself throughout the process and to take breaks as needed. Congratulate yourself for small successes, and remember that even if you’re reaching a small number of people, that can still count for a lot. After all, how many clients do you really need to be a successful solopreneur? Give yourself a pat on the back-- you can do this!