This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 12 to 14 September. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Marga Burke reviewed Blogging: Making it work for you and your business, presented by Liz Dalby, Claire Bacon and Kia Thomas.
When I became a freelancer 12 years ago, I was interested in starting a blog, but the advice I read soon put me off, giving me the impression I would need advanced content marketing skills and the willpower to stick to a rigid schedule. So I was fascinated to hear three established bloggers give their perspectives during a relaxed panel session at this year’s CIEP conference.
Far from prescribed lists of uninspiring topics, Claire, Liz and Kia all emphasised the value of writing about what interests you, connecting with your readers, and showing what kind of person you are – whether you’re writing for potential clients or fellow freelancers.
Blogging for clients
Claire’s blog is aimed at her clients, who are scientists, and offers tips to help them improve their writing. While her choice of audience aligns with conventional blogging advice, Claire was clear that she targets this readership because it suits what she enjoys writing about.
Claire bases her posts on advice and explanations that she finds herself giving clients frequently. This is not only a source of ideas and material, but it also saves her time down the line; when future clients struggle with the same issue, she can refer them to her blog post.
Although there are other factors involved, Claire has had four times as many referrals since she started blogging. Her blog has also led to online teaching work for universities and given her the confidence to write a CIEP guide.
Blogging about freelancing
Liz writes her blog for other freelance editors, with the aim of building community. Similarly, while some of Kia’s posts are aimed at clients, at the moment she prefers to write about freelance life. Both see their blogs as a way to connect with others and to show who they are.
As the three panellists explained, in a crowded field where many editors have the same technical skills, a blog can reflect your personal ‘brand’ and help you stand out. Posts that show you are fun and approachable (Kia), passionate about helping people (Claire), or thoughtful and sensitive to others’ needs (Liz) can reassure readers about what it would be like to work with you.
Both Liz and Kia confirmed that their blogs have gained them clients and opened up other opportunities, such as speaking at conferences.
Tips for new bloggers
If you’ve been inspired to start a blog, here are some tips from the speakers:
- Find your own voice and write about what you want to, not what you think you ‘should’ write
- A list of planned topics can be helpful to get you started but shouldn’t be a straitjacket
- Topics don’t need to be original if you give your own personal take
- Read and share others’ blogs; they’re likely to reciprocate
- Guest posts are an option if you don’t want the commitment of your own blog.
For me, it was refreshing to hear that a business blog doesn’t have to follow a set formula, but can be enjoyable, creative and personal. I came away from the session feeling motivated to banish impostor syndrome and market my business in a new way. As Kia put it, ‘There’s only one you, and you can’t be an impostor in your own life.’
Marga Burke helps researchers get published by editing health-related journal articles, particularly for authors who have English as a second language. She is also a medical translator from French and Italian to English and an aspiring authenticity reader. Outside work, she loves writing poems, sings in two choirs and has run a marathon.
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.
Find out more about:
Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.