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The Low-Budget Guide to Marketing Your Blog as a Freelance Writer

Due to recent problems with my former host, WritersinCharge moved to Hostgator last week. Unfortunately, to avoid losing blog posts and files during the transfer we decided not to publish any post. That explains why there was no post on WritersinCharge throughout last week and Yesterday.

We’re now back on track and this week will be loaded!


Today is a Tuesday and I’ll be answering a question from Ioana:

Lets say somebody took your advice on the importance of having their own blog and decided to start it up. How would they get people to reach their blog at first? They don’t know anybody, no referrals, just some articles written but nobody to provide feedback. Are there certain communities for bloggers where they could publicize their work? I know that a good way to promote yourself is to guest post, by when you are so new, you don’t have the credibility to offer your articles to other bloggers.

Recent data from Hubspot has shown that blogging can be more effective than a $54,000 Superbowl ad.

You’re gradually killing your career if you’re a freelance writer without a blog.

You might have gotten clients by sending pitches and you might have a stable freelance writing career, but the importance of a blog should never be underestimated.

As I’ve explicitly stated on this blog before, having a blog is the best way to take control of your freelance writing career.

Of course, while having a blog is a must, having one doesn’t automatically mean clients will start flocking after you.

In fact, starting a blog is the easiest part of being a blogger. You have to invest your time, money and effort into other important and often complicated tasks, such as marketing yourself.

Interestingly, contrary to what most people think, marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.

This article will be a low-budget guide to marketing your blog. This will help you drive more traffic and as a result – clients to your freelance writing business.

Why You Should Get Traffic to Your Blog

I recently published a Slideshare presentation on how blogging can be used to fuel a business. One thing I was very clear about (in that slide) is how powerful blogging has been for mine.

In a nutshell, the idea is that my blog is the sole source of clients for my freelance writing business. And here are some highlights:

  • I made a mid five-figure salary from freelance writing in 2011; which was my first full year as a freelance writer.
  • I’m on track to make more this year. In fact, I’m already having five-figure months as a freelance writer
  • I’ve been featured on Forbes, been published on Problogger, been interviewed on MakeaLivingWriting.com and also been featured on various magazines and newspapers
  • I’ve even received an offer to work full-time as a freelance writer in the U.S.

If I’m being honest, I doubt any of the above would have happened without this blog.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to say that all the above happened because my design is unique and my content is epic, I’d be lying if I said that.

That’s far from the truth.

While those factors influence the success I’m experiencing to some extent, ultimately, the results I’m getting is directly proportional to the traffic this blog is getting.

In other words, the more traffic I get:

  • The more clients I get – it leads to more income for my freelance writing business
  • The more interview and feature opportunities I receive – the more it translates to exposure and social proof for me
  • The more confirmation I’m given – the more I’m convinced I’m actually making a difference.

Unfortunately, while you’d probably be happy to hear that blog traffic stems from writing great content (after all, writing is something you enjoy) it simply isn’t

According to data from Nielsen, there are currently almost 200 million blogs online, and at least a million new blogs are added every day. Now, imagine how difficult it’ll be for these blogs to gain attention.

The bad news: a large percentage of these bloggers are vying for the attention of the same audience you want.

The good news: literally 99.9% of these bloggers are unwilling to put in the effort it takes to make their blog a success.

Writer’s have a reputation for being broke, and it’s up to you to determine whether you want to change this or remain a broke writer.

If you’re ready to make a change, this is your guide.

You don’t have to worry about:

  • Learning nonexistent marketing jargon marketers want you to believe exist
  • Spending a gazillion dollars on any form of marketing
  • Waiting for years without getting results, only to keep hearing the same advice; “Keep at it. It takes months to get results. Keep at it!

This is the practical guide to getting traffic for writers, and you’ll start seeing results almost as soon as you start implementing these tips.

The 6-Step, Freelance Writer’s Guide to Getting Traffic on A Low Budget

Without further ado, here are 6 steps you should follow to market your blog and get traffic as a freelance writer.

Step #1 – Prepare Your Blog

It’s easy to get distracted by the idea of wanting to get traffic to your blog.

Getting traffic alone isn’t enough. You also have to look for ways to retain visitors to your blog.

1. Get Good Hosting: If you’re hosting your website for free, or on a cheap website to save costs, then you’re making a dangerous mistake. Your website could collapse one day when there’s an influx of traffic.

If you’re using blogger.com or wordpress.com, these are digital sharecroppers that could pull the plug on your blog at will and there’s nothing you can do.

Using a reputable hosting company like Hostgator could be what you need.

2. Get a Professional Design: It’s easy to use free, unprofessional designs but why create a blog in the first place if it won’t be professional?

Remember, your blog represents your business and you won’t want your business to look like every other website online.

You want it to be unique.

Getting a custom developer to build something special for your blog can be quite expensive but for $47 – $100, you can get cheap, quality blog themes from reliable sources.

Two options I recommend are:

  • Genesis Theme
  • Elegant Themes

3. Focus on Capturing Readers’ Emails: You won’t suddenly start getting thousands of daily visits.

It’s about getting one user to tell another, and then repeating the cycle over again until your traffic is established.

The best way to do this is by capturing readers’ email to enable you repeatedly get in touch with them. They’ll often happily give it you if you have something to offer.

You can do this by creating a free eBook or eCourse on the subject of your expertise, and then give it to them in exchange for their emails

Step #2 – Write Epic Content

Getting traffic to your blog can get very complicated to an extent that you forget what really matters and start chasing traffic dreams; trying the latest SEO tactic, doing link exchanges or purchasing irrelevant traffic.

The problem with this is that you’ll get just traffic.

This isn’t about getting traffic. It’s about getting quality traffic.

Traffic and quality traffic are two different things: ‘traffic’ is merely numbers. Quality traffic signifies those visitors are actually interested in what you have to say.

You want the latter, and the only way to get it is by writing epic content.

The amount of time and effort you invest in your content will determine how much traffic you get.

Step #3 – Set a Goal

You don’t just want traffic.

Unless you have a clear idea of what you want and exactly how much of it you want, you’ll hardly get results.

When setting goals, it’s important to start small.

If your blog is relatively new, you can start with a goal of 10 daily visitors (besides your mom and your cat).

You need to get 10 visitors before getting 50, and you need to get 100 visitors to get 1,000 visitors.

Set realistic and actionable goals that you can meet and follow the tips in this article to achieve these goals.

Step #4 – Study as Many Traffic Techniques as You Can

magic bullet to getting blog traffic simply doesn’t exist.

You’ll probably try and fail at one or two techniques before you find what will work for you.

While everyone might be raving about guest blogging today, it isn’t necessarily the best way to get traffic. Limiting yourself to guest blogging alone means limiting the amount of traffic you can get.

Study at least 5 – 10 traffic techniques to know how they work, so you can develop the right traffic strategy to grow your blog.

Step #5 – Develop a Traffic Strategy

While it’s recommended to study as many traffic techniques as you can, rushing in to implement all of them will only leave you burned out.

Do your research and determine which technique will be most effective for you.

Once you’ve determined that, develop a strategy to help you get the best from this technique.

strategy is a system designed to help you get the best from one or more traffic techniques.

Here’s an example of a traffic strategy I developed for guest blogging last year:

Knowing how important search engine traffic is and how much impact quality, relevant backlinks can have on it; also knowing how effective guest blogging is when it comes to getting quality backlinks, I decided to write 31 guest posts in one week.

I submitted these guest posts to several quality blogs, which resulted in an increase of over 60,000 search engine visitors in 6 months.

When you look at my strategy, you’ll notice it was developed with the knowledge and understanding of the following traffic techniques:

  • SEO
  • Link building
  • Guest blogging

What I didn’t reveal is the fact that I’ve written hundreds of guest posts before. They didn’t work well because there was no strategy behind them.

However, with a solid strategy, 30 guest posts did what over hundred could not do.

Developing an effective traffic strategy will save you hundreds of hours in marketing.

Step #6 – Master the Tactic that Works Best for You

Seeing how effective guest blogging has been for me over the years, I decided to focus on it as my sole traffic generation strategy.

The result:

  • I’ve written guest posts that have sent me hundreds of subscribers and thousands of visitors
  • I’ve mastered the art of using guest blogging for SEO and have grown my blog as a result

This doesn’t mean I don’t have other strategies or I have no plans to use any other strategy in the future.

I have an email list that sends me thousands of visitors monthly and I’ve experimented with Slideshare to create a slide that got over 10,000 views.

I’ll probably try more traffic tactics in the future, but guest blogging alone has established my blog because I mastered it.

What this reveals is that getting traffic isn’t about trying hundreds of tactics but about mastering one or two tactics that can work for you.

7 Traffic Techniques You Can Study Today, and Resources that Can Help You Master them

Step 4 in this article says you should study as many traffic techniques as you can. Here are 7 traffic techniques you can study today, as well as links to help you master them:

1. Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is the process of publishing an article – free or paid – on another website as a guest author, with the aim of establishing your authority or brand, gaining exposure, and building links that can help improve your search engine traffic.

Guest Blogging Resources:

 2. SEO: Also known as search engine optimization, SEO is the process of optimizing your blog to rank better for keywords in the search engines and get more traffic as a result.

When you want to find something online, the first place you go to is Google, Bing or Yahoo. Now, imagine if you get ranked for a keyword most people are searching for?  You get more traffic!

That’s what SEO helps you achieve.

SEO Resources:

3. Document Sharing: Write quality eBooks and submit them to document sharing sites.

You’ll benefit by embedding various links to your blog in the eBooks you publish on these sites.

Document Sharing Resources:

4. Email Marketing: This is the process of building a quality email list using various techniques, and then channeling traffic to your blog from your email list by sending subscribers links to new blog posts.

Email Marketing Resources:

5. Social Media Marketing: This is the process of leveraging social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to build a following that can be directed to your blog.

Social Media Resources:

6. Online Community Sites: Leverage forums and online communities such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora to get traffic to your blog.

Online Community Resources:

7. Comment on other Blogs: While this shouldn’t be seen solely as a traffic technique, it can be very effective if used wisely.

Some blogs will send you dozens of visitors if you contribute the right comment. It’s all about doing it right.

Blog Commenting Resources:

There You Have it!

The above is a practical, low-budget guide to marketing your blog.

Most of the techniques listed above will cost you nothing, aside from a great deal of your time mastering and implementing them. The good news is, the rewards can be great.

Do you have any other traffic generation tips for writers? Kindly share them in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links.

22 Comments on "The Low-Budget Guide to Marketing Your Blog as a Freelance Writer"

  1. Kenny Fabre says:


    Step #2 – Write Epic Content and Step #5 – Develop a Traffic Strategy are key factors bro.

    I’m talking from personal experience when first starting my blog, I had to write great valueable content and be consistent with it. I would write one blog post everyday when I first started.

    and I had a black composition notebook where I wrote 12 effective traffic strategies that I applied on each article.

    and my blog has grown and still climbing the latters so these two points are super important

    • Thanks, Kenny!

      I’m glad you can testify to the effectiveness of the above tips.

      #2 and #5 are also my favorites, because they work 🙂

  2. Marketing can be very important for getting regular visitors. One can use guest posting, commenting, social media sites and various other ways for doing marketing..A very interesting post I must say as it covers important things related to the marketing aspect of a blog…

  3. Mousumi says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Oni!
    I took a look into my webmaster account as well as Google analytics account and finally created a ‘to-do list.’

    My blog is doing fairly well but what went missing are “Link Building” and preparing strategies to “retain the visitors.”

    As of now, I’ve been heavily dependent on organic traffic whereas there are several other ways to draw attention to “who you are and what you blog”

    Going to work it out.
    Thanks very much once again.

  4. Ioana says:

    Hi Oni,

    Fantastic post! I think you covered all the crucial information for new freelancers and blog owners. It’s refreshing to see such a neat and helpful plan. I have already turned it in my to-do list.

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions.

    • Hi Ioana,

      I’m glad to have published the post. Thanks a ton for sending over the ideas for the post 🙂

      Best Regards,

  5. Awesome guide Oni!

    I think you covered up everything about marketing your blog within a small budget, something that is practical and all of us can use.

    But yes, there are various pros and cons about #2 – writing epic content, which I also do a lot on my blog. I feel if people are really interested to learn and acquire knowledge, the number of words on a post will not matter- and of course, it depends a lot on what you share with your readers too. However, some people suggest that posts shouldn’t cross over 800-1000 words or should be smaller in length because people have short attention spans. It makes me wonder though as to how can we really write all that we want within such a limit.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks, Harleena!

      Aha, I can feel you on the short attention span thing too.

      I think it’s all about understanding your audience and writing what works; my most popular posts are long 3 – 4k words articles. Do people read them? I’m not sure, but I’m sure they get 10x more views than my “short” articles. If just 20 percent of those who visit the articles read them, that’s at least two times more actual reads than the shorter posts.

      I think it’s about letting the ideas flow and writing the best article for your audience.

  6. My host is blogger.com and I never knew that getting a good host was a good idea.
    I have been practicing what you teach here on your blog. It is very helpful.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks, Samuel!

      Let me know if you need any help finding a good host 🙂

  7. Really detailed guide – love it! The one thing where my opinion may differ though is when it comes to design. I don’t think when you’re first starting that you need a custom theme to succeed. My site right now doesn’t have a custom theme – it’s using a free theme that I barely tweaked a little. It’s not the prettiest blog ever, but it gets the job done until I build up enough of an audience that would justify having a custom theme made for it.


    • Thanks, Thomas!

      Actually, I think your site is simple and appealing.

      Most free themes online aren’t worth it, so it’s better to make some effort and get something professional – especially if your blog is a huge part of your business.

      Best Regards,

  8. dan says:

    Hey Bro Bami,

    Thanks for the tips.

    But i really agree with your point that we should set realistic goals. The fact is, goals are spiritual seeds waiting to be filtered with water before they can begin to grow ( you may not know what i mean, but I’m really inspired with this post)… Thanks

    P.S. within the past two weeks, I’ve written over a 100 guest posts to top A-list blogs. And amazingly, I’m getting over 50 visitors to my site everyday. But the issue is the design and layout of my blog.

    I’m just at what I’ll do…. I believe the lord is my strength and the money will come.

    I think i need to work on that…

    Thanks again bro…

    God bless and more grease to your elbow

    • Hi Dan,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and you’re so right about the importance of setting realistic goals.

      I’m excited to hear that you’ve written 100 guest posts in the past 2 weeks, and you remind me of when I was just starting blogging. Keep it up and you’d be surprised at what you can do 🙂

  9. Hi Bamidele,

    Bami you talked about digital share croppers by name(blogger.com and WordPress.com)are you saying that they are making more profits than those using their service?if that is the case then Hostigator which you migrated last week is also making more money from the services they give you,because you are not the owner and any company can crash no matter the quality of service they render to their customers.

    • Actually, Hostgator is making my business easy – not restricting it. You probably wouldn’t have known I use Hostgator if I didn’t mention it, and not only is my site faster now but Hostgator can’t bring down my website at will. I currently have a dedicated server with them and unless I break their terms of service (which for a dedicated server is basically hosting illegal content) they can’t bring down my website.

      Google’s blogger.com can delete your blog at will, and you can’t do a thing about it. WordPress.com won’t allow you to monetize your blog or you risk losing it – it’s a part of their terms of service.

  10. Alex @ How To Start A Blog 101 says:

    Awesome guide, very detailed with some great resources as well! I think design is really important if you trying to sell yourself as a freelancer, you need to have a certain image which I think you’ve nailed with this blog! Great read Bamidele.

  11. Ana Hoffman says:

    Very comprehensive guide, Oni.

    If I might add one thing: when you are first starting, the best way to get your content around is by forming or joining a tribe.

    That’s what gave my blog the initial push.

    More on the tactic: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/drive-traffic-commenting-tribe/

    And thanks for the mention!

  12. I’ve got to say that you never cease to amaze me with these great posts.

    The only one I’m going to quibble with you a little bit on is the one about a paid theme. I tend to believe that people need to test the waters of blogging first to see if they have the capacity to write often enough for it to make a difference. If not, then they’ve just thrown money away. If so, then they can either buy a paid theme or, if they have the skills, take a free theme and modify it to suit them.

    I’ve gone the second route. I found a free theme years ago that I’ve learned how to modify in any way I want. The blog I’m connected to here isn’t using that theme, but most of my other blogs use the same theme and none of them look the same. Works for me. 🙂

  13. Lisha says:

    Yet another awesome ultimate guide from you Dele!

    I have actually not heard of the document sharing method. Thanks! 🙂


  14. Wow, this is a very comprehensive list of things every blogger should keep in mind.

    I liked how you emphasize to keep set on realistic goals. It’s like we want success right from the start, but seeing small improvements along the way is important.

    Thanks for the list, I’ll definitely be bookmarking this.


Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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