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When you do a bit of reading about what freelance writers should do to be noticed and get the attention of editors and other potential clients, “start a blog” is usually near the top of the advice given. The idea is that you should write and write and write, using the blog as part of your personal content marketing strategy.
In an ideal world, you should stay on-topic on that blog. Stick to what you want to be known for. Pick a topic stick with it. Share the pieces you have published along with your native posts, which should be designed to help you gain credibility and establish your talents and expertise.
This...is not an ideal world.
It can be tempting to to let loose and share your unrestrained thoughts about the current administration on any number of topics, from the continued detention of immigrant children to the recent controversy around the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to the rejection of environmental science to the continued efforts to strip healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans.
On the one hand, you feel a responsibility to firmly put yourself on the site of #theresistance and make sure everyone know you are not cool with a political ideology that feels white men cannot be interrupted in their ascendency no matter how many women have to be left on the curb.
On the other hand, you’ve read the stories about how expressing your political opinions can be a career-limiting move. You know that companies are free to fire you for that expression without it being a free speech issue.
Mixing business with your beliefs
None of that is great news, of course. It’s disconcerting that your future or current employment is at least in part based on you either keeping your opinions to yourself or falling in line with the corporate point of view.
That’s reality, though, and it should serve as a reminder that your blog–whatever your reasons are for running it–is part of the marketing you’re undertaking to sell yourself. And marketing requires conveying the message you believe or know your potential customers want or need to hear.
There’s no easy answer here on what to do. As much as you might wish you would be judged based on your work and your talents, the potential exists for you to be judged by whether or not you RT that HuffPo article about all the demonstrable lies Trump told in a single 30-minute press conference.
So there are three options to consider:
Keep it to yourself
Yes, push all that rage back down. If you have to let it out, do it on a private WordPress blog that no one sees, or keep a Google Drive folder titled “OMGWTF” and put all the documents you write there.
Go for it, regardless of the potential consequences
You can decide that anyone who would fire you for standing up for the rights of legal immigrants isn’t someone you want to work for anyway, so cut loose. You’re taking a calculated risk here that a potential client is going to find your blog and decide your skills are so impressive they’ll overlook your political stances.
Channel that rage into finding different work
Instead of fretting that a Fortune 500 company will be put off by your blog post about the overly racist nature of Jeff Sessions’ drug policy, spend time finding organizations that are dedicated to overturning those policies and see how you can put your skills to work for them.
The good news is there are more and more companies who are making their corporate stance on political and social issues more clear in their marketing and other materials, a shift customers increasingly want. So you can do your research and see if X company shares similar views as your own to at least some extent.
Interestingly, that presents something of a conundrum for companies engaging in content marketing efforts of their own. How far is too far? At what point does publicly supporting universal healthcare damage their ability to sign contracts and make deals with other companies? What are they missing out on because they’ve taken a clear stance supporting strict environmental standards and opposition to selling public land to developers?
Know the risks
It comes down to this: Be careful.
Know what risks you’re engaging in when you speak out and weigh them against the potential benefits from doing so. It’s unfortunate that throttling your own speech is sometimes necessary to maintain an income since that situation only benefits the party seeking to repress that speech. If those in power can keep everyone quiet because they’re afraid of losing their jobs or not getting additional work, they’ve created a situation where they don’t need to infringe on anyone’s First Amendment rights because private companies have done it for them.
Adjust your own content marketing tactics accordingly.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist in the Chicago suburbs. He's written for Adweek, The Hollywood Reporter and more while also publishing his own blogs at ChrisThilk.com and CinematicSlant.com.