There’s more to it than Pinterest lets on

If when you hear the term “blogging” your brain conjures up images of Pinterest-worthy DIY projects and plandid photos of designer outfits, then I have news for you: It’s time to shift your perspective.

Though a good portion of the blogging market is made of of lifestyle and fashion blogs, blogging as a medium packs a ton of marketing benefits for any industry … especially for freelance writers.

Whether you’re just starting to look for your first freelance client or you’re a veteran full-timer, here are 5 reasons every freelance writer should have a blog.

1. It’s a good workout

Chances are you’ve heard that the writing part of your brain is like a muscle — you need to exercise it regularly to stay in shape. That concept has spawned thousands of articles and blog posts about why you should (or shouldn’t) write every day, and while I’m a firm believer in taking a day off now and then, the idea remains the same:

You can’t be great at something without practice.

You can have a natural talent for putting words together, but if you don’t practice and actively work toward improving that skill, you’re not going to get any better. And if you never get any better, you’ll never be able to attract better clients or charge better rates.

So if you’re serious about being a freelance writer, you need to make blogging a priority.

2. It keeps your creativity flowing

When you write for a living it can be easy to fall into a habit of writing a certain way … that that way isn’t always the most creative.

Most of my client blogs tend to fall into the pattern of a 3–4 sentence intro, 5–7 body sections of 3–4 paragraphs each, and then a 2–3 sentence conclusion.

And while this pattern has proven to be effective in marketing my clients’ services, it’s a formulaic approach that can leave me feeling as though I haven’t really created anything new.

Running your own blog gives you space to be creative with voice, tone, structure, topic, and more. It’s a necessary outlet that you’re unlikely to find while writing for a plumber or an oral surgeon (and yes, I’ve written for both).

3. It positions you as an expert

If you want to be taken seriously as a freelance writer, you need to practice what you preach.

You can know everything there is to know about SEO or content marketing, but if clients don’t see you putting that into practice on your own, they may doubt your ability to implement those strategies for them.

If you write to boost clients’ SEO, your own blogs should follow SEO best practices. If you want to sign more content marketing clients, your blog should market your services as a writer.

The more of these posts you rack up on your blog, the more authority you wield as an expert in your industry. That status not only helps with personal branding efforts, but also attracts better clients that are more willing to pay big bucks for what you do.

4. It serves as work samples

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten a job offer or freelance gig because someone saw my blog, liked my writing style, and wanted that for their business.

In fact, back in the day I landed my very first marketing job (writing SEO blogs for a marketing agency’s mom-and-pop clients) by submitting samples from the lifestyle blog I ran in college.

Write content that attracts the kind of people you want to work with. If you want to write marketing content for the healthcare industry, blog about how pediatricians can promote their practices better. If you want to write resumes for new college grads, blog about which job search sites are the best for each industry.

This gives your potential clients a taste of what they’re signing up for and usually eliminates that extra step of sending and reviewing writing samples if they do want to work with you.

5. It provides value to your niche

Chances are your take on things is slightly different from others within your niche. Sharing that unique perspective by blogging about it adds value to the conversation and helps you stand out from the competition — especially if you can find a new angle on a popular topic.

Here’s the thing about adding value: 74% of buyers choose the company (or freelancer) who was the first to do just that.

That value keeps readers coming back for more each time you publish something, which helps you start to grow a following as a freelance writer. And that following comes in clutch if you ever want to write for bigger publications like Inc or Forbes.