This guest post is by John Saddington of TentBlogger.
We all know that having a blog can enhance your freelancing business and serve as an effective marketing tool for your products and services—that’s given. And although it’s easy to get a blog started (and to start a freelancing business) it’s much harder to make a dent in search engine rankings so you can win those viewers (and new customers and clients).
And sure, we all know that every blogger starts on day number one, but it seems that some bloggers have a lot more going for them than others, right? There are some bloggers (and freelancers) who seem to hit it out of the park, achieving some phenomenal traffic and financial return very early on.
I didn’t think it was possible for me to grow as fast and as effective as “those” bloggers until I tried it myself—and boy, did it work.
Within a few months, between Google’s PR update in January and the most recent on in June of this year, I was able to achieve a PageRank 5 (from a PR 0) blog that sees 20-35% organic traffic on any given month, and is just inches from clearing 100,000 pageviews per month. It’s not a boring blog, either, with an average of 45 comments per post!
You think I’d killed someone or bought a “sleeping giant” blog with mega keywords, but that’s not the case at all—in fact, I’ve been able to boil down the last few months’ successes into a number of systems and strategies that I’d love to share with you.
I honestly don’t think it’s too hard to achieve a highly trafficked, highly profitable, and attractive freelance blog for marketing. Sure, it’ll take some hard work and serious dedication, but with the right strategies in place, it can be done. Here’s what I did.
1. Have a serious content focus
I took it to the extreme and used my categories to guide me. In fact, I realized that anything more than eight categories would seriously cramp my efforts to create a compelling array of content around specific and targeted keywords.
A number of my previous blogs had many more categories than this, and never achieved the amount of success that I’ve seen already. I’ll never dilute my efforts again.
Key takeaway: If you’re going to make a serious dent in the blogging universe (and the freelancing world) then you have to create compelling and unique content around a focused set of keywords, instead of expanding your blog into areas that you don’t have unique expertise or even sustainable passion.
Let your categories be your guide and if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate your efforts, you can believe that users (and search engines) are having the same challenge.
2. Become a linking master
One of the things that I’ve never done or really paid much attention to previously was becoming a link architect and a master of my own content architecture.
You see PageRank, one factor of about 200+ that Google considers when they rank and place you in search engine results pages (SERPs), requires that your blog becomes a paradise of links, both inside and outside.
The part that you can control is the internal content areas, and making sure that every blog post that you write has links to other resources and other pieces of content in your blog. Linking to historical resources that haven’t seen much “sun” is always a great strategy—I call this the art of curation.
The part that you can’t necessarily control is the number of links that are coming to your blog from the outside—that is, from other websites and blogs that have decided to link to your site. But what you can do is create content that is so in-demand, and so amazing, that the community at large can’t help but link back to you. Focused content is certainly something you can control.
Key takeaway: Every blog post that you create has the potential to be a link magnet, yet most bloggers simply don’t take the time to curate them and add the necessary link-love that they need.
And it’s okay if you didn’t start with that in mind! You can always go back and re-engineer and edit previous blog posts to add more links. You might as well update them with fresh content, too!
Your users and the search engines will love you for it.
3. Consolidate the Brand
Your blog’s brand (and freelancing business) is whatever you make of it and I never thought much of it until I seriously made a run as a full-time blogger. When I took stock of what I had created previously, I realized how random and unfocused my efforts had been in terms of creating a compelling and memorable brand!
What I had was a Facebook page, multiple Twitter accounts, and more than a few social networking accounts as well as media distribution properties like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and more.
What I needed was to consolidate so that a singular and powerful presence emerged, and it was tough! I had to create a lot of new accounts, letting go of years of historical content so that I could truly consolidate. I even changed my Twitter handle, which had over 10,000 followers!
Was it worth it? Absolutely. I’ve never had a more focused online blogging brand, and it’s really paid off. People recognize my handle and avatar on multiple different properties and it’s still a treat to see people who didn’t know I had an account on one website say, in effect, “Hey, I know you! You’re TentBlogger! I love your blog!”
Key takeaway: If you’re going to be serious about growing your blog’s presence and your freelance efforts online, then you have to also seriously consider your brand presence on secondary websites and corollary social networking properties.
It might be a difficult choice (or near-impossible for some of you) but if you’re going to make a run at becoming a professional blogger, or simply taking your blogging efforts to the next level, then I’d seriously suggest taking it into consideration.
Do you use these approaches on your blog? I’d be interested to hear what’s worked for you in the comments.
This is a guest post by John Saddington. He is a Professional Blogger who loves sharing his blogging tips, tricks, tools, and practical teaching covering SEO, WordPress and making money through your blog!