Earlier this week, I answered some questions from freelance writer Lee Lefton about rates and how to find business-blogging clients. After I sent him links to some of my business blogs, he had some followup questions on how business blogging technically works:
I notice that most of the blogs have links. Do you do the research to find those related articles and then make sure they’re included? Do you write any of them?
Also, do you discuss with your clients what needs to go into each blog before writing? The company that wanted to pay $25 said that sometimes their clients had an idea what they wanted said, other times I could just “make it up.” These were attorneys!
And, are you responsible for the technical aspects of getting the blogs up, or do you just do the writing? I want to make sure I don’t get in over my head when I start doing this.
OK, taking these one at a time:
Most good business blogs contain links, in my opinion. They are what’s known as mashups — you take several recent pieces of news you’ve seen online and provide analysis of what they mean when viewed together. That’s your value-add that makes viewers want to come to the client site instead of those six other places — you’re gathering up their industry news and giving it to them in a comprehensive, insightful way.
I get these links by gathering links from my own Internet browsing and from Google alerts I set up to capture news on my business clients’ industry topics. I set up a Word doc I throw them in for future use, along with a key phrase to remind me what each link was about. Read 50 or so news stories on a topic daily and at the end of the week you will have more ideas than you can ever use!
Sometimes I do link to previous stories I’ve done, either for that blog or other outlets. Nothing wrong with that…kind of builds your credibility that you’ve been writing on the topic longer than five minutes.
I discuss at length with clients their goal, intended audience, voice, tone, and ideal topics for their blog. Some hand me an Excel spreadsheet of approved topics and ask me to prioritize and execute them. Others expect me to develop all the ideas on my own. Still others are somewhere inbetween. When those attorneys say “make it up,” Lee, I think they’re referring to the latter, that they would want you to develop some of the topics (not that you could fabricate the posts from your imagination!).
Physically creating blog posts and getting them up on a client’s site can happen a number of ways, and may require absolutely no special programming knowledge, or a good deal of technical expertise. I have clients I email my blogs to with the links in parentheses or included as hyperlinked words in Word, and they take it from there.
In other cases, I’ve been given access to a dashboard in their blog program via the Internet and can post my blogs directly within their system. In these cases, I compose the blog right in the program (copying over text from Word usually creates problems) and do the work of enlivening links so that they’ll be clickable to viewers on their site. I also have a few clients for whom I serve as photo editor for my blog, researching and selecting appropriate photos (like you see above) to embed in my posts.
In some cases an editor goes over my post, where in others, as I gain a client’s trust, they’ll give me free access to publish my posts directly to the site without review. If you get this…be responsible and proofread carefully!
Blogging programs I’ve used include WordPress (which you see in action here), Blogger and Movable Type. If you haven’t used any of these popular programs before, don’t freak out. It’s incredibly easy to learn the basics you’ll need for most blogging situations, and they’re highly similar to each other. Once you’ve used one, you’ll pretty much know how to use the others.
If you haven’t used any of the popular programs, it’s probably because you don’t have a personal blog. I highly recommend starting one to provide an audition piece for business blogging clients. The topic isn’t as important as having a blog that’s well-written and shows you understand the blog format. You’d be surprised how valuable a stepping-stone your own blog can be to get into business blogging.
If you’ve got more questions about business blogging, ask them below and maybe we’ll cover them in followup posts. Thanks for the thoughts Lee!