What Should I Blog About as a Freelance Writer? With Emily Cretella

The “What Should I Blog About?” Series gives you examples of what real business owners are blogging about to promote their work in their industry. These interviews will spark new ideas for your own blog and give you encouragement in overcoming your blogging struggles. Check out other posts in the series here. Today we’re talking with content marketer Emily Cretella. Emily helps school marketers create and share content their audiences love. As owner of Cursive Content Marketing, Emily provides consulting, copywriting services and workshops to independent schools and higher education. Read her stories at cursivecontent.com.

Most bloggers are afraid to narrow down their blogging audience, but not Emily! She's sharing how niching down her target readers has helped grow her business---and how you can do it too!

What should you blog about as a freelance writer? Find out in this interview with Emily Cretella of Cursive Content! She's sharing how niching down can be key to building your freelance writing business through blogging.

Tell us about your business and yourself.

I’m Emily Cretella, and I’m a content marketing strategist, copywriter, and owner of Cursive Content Marketing. I work with marketers of independent schools and higher education to help them create and share stories their audiences love. This includes consulting, speaking, and actual strategy and content development.

When did you first start blogging for your business? What did you write about as a new blogger?

I started blogging BEFORE I began working at my business full time, and I’ve posted 2-3 new blog posts per week consistently since then. It has been my main source of new business, right from the beginning.

When I first started out, I was offering consulting and copywriting services to all types of business---small business, nonprofits, education, large enterprises---basically anyone who needed help with content. So I blogged a lot about content marketing as a practice: many business owners and marketers first needed to be educated on what it was and why it was important before they wanted to hire someone to help them with it.

What does your blog look like these days?

Right now my blog focuses solely on helping school marketers craft stronger stories. We post two times per week (I post once, and my writing partner posts once). We were posting three times per week, but we’ve adjusted our schedule in order to write a weekly subscriber email that has content only available via email. We wanted to make it really valuable for our subscribers.

What are some of your most popular posts? Why do you think they resonate with your readers so much?

Ok, there are two tiers here for me. My most popular posts with my core audience---school marketers---are posts like “4 Independent Schools with A+ Content Marketing” and “How Storytelling & Digital Marketing Helped This University Increase Enrollment by 41%.” People want to see results, and want to see what other schools are doing.

Outside of my core audience, we’ve had a few posts that have gotten a lot of attention. “10 Do’s and Dont’s For The Personal Blogger” is our most popular post for pageviews and visits, and Howard Stern read my post “4 Surprising Storytelling Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Howard Stern” on air, which brought in a lot of attention.

HOWEVER, attention and visits on those posts are not from my core audience so it doesn’t bring in actual business---while my audience-specific posts are referenced often when potential clients reach out to me.

Many business owners are afraid to “niche down” and blog to a narrow audience, but you’ve had success with this model. Do you have any advice for business owners who are worried about being too narrow?

DO IT. DO IT NOW. :)

It is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but once you niche down, you can really claim your expertise. You know what to focus on with your own ongoing learning and discovery. You know exactly to whom you’re speaking and writing. And your audience sees you as the expert. It is a complete win.

It took me a long time (2.5 years!) before I realized it was something that needed to happen in order to grow my business and my visibility long term, so it’s ok if you’re just starting out and you’re scared to niche down. I wouldn’t have necessarily focused where I am now if I had tried to narrow my audience when I started my business. Over time, I learned what type of work I preferred, what type of client I worked best with, and where I could make the biggest impact.

How do you balance creating content for your own blog with supporting your clients’ content marketing? Does it ever get to be too much writing?

I’m not going to lie, it takes commitment and it’s a struggle. In order to do it, you have to view your own work as if it’s just as important as client work. So schedule time in your calendar to get it done. Make it mandatory. Set your schedule and always keep to it. Because once you start to slide . . . it’s all over. It’s hard to get back at it.

It’s trendy for freelance writers to start blogs that cater to other freelance writers. Why did you decide to write to your prospective clients instead of your peers?

You need to blog to the clients you want. If you’re a freelancer and you want to sell to other freelancers, writing to freelancers is smart. But if you’re trying to get other client work, focus in your clients’ industries.

Any other tips to share with other online entrepreneurs who want to blog for their business?

Focus on providing value with every post, and you’ll do great. Don’t just blog to blog. Your blog should teach, and subtly reinforce your authority and your expertise. If you learn something new, how can you teach that to your audience? If a client asks you a question, how can you turn your answer into a lesson that would help all your readers? If you constantly ask yourself “What does my AUDIENCE need to know about this topic?” your content will resonate.

Thanks for sharing such great blogging tips, Emily! Check out Emily's blog in action at Cursive Content for more examples of using niche, audience-driven content to bring in clients. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, G+, and LinkedIn.

What's stopping you from niching down your blog content?