There are many benefits and reasons to blog. Yet, the strategies for blogging are quite different when blogging for personal branding, job search, or career. This blog post explains the process and tools needed.
Blogging is tough.
Getting others to read your blog is even more so.
However, someone has got to do it.
When it comes to personal branding and job search, blogging can be your point of difference (POD).
Here is the fourth installment in my Digital Do’s & Don’ts for PB&J series. In my first post, I focused on social media. The second post was on using LinkedIn. The third was on using Twitter. Now here goes with my:
Top Ten Digital Do’s & Don’ts: Blogging for PB&J.
Don’t make things tech complicated.
While WordPress is the gold standard for blogging, begin with a simpler blogging platform. If blogging for personal branding, then I recommend you begin with LinkedIn.
One, with LinkedIn blogging you can focus on your writing and the proper format for your blog posts. You do not have to worry about the blog platform design and required technical skills. LinkedIn standardizes this for you.
Two, with LinkedIn there is a built in audience, your connections. When you “make a post,” all your connections will get a notification. And, assuming you are connecting with career stakeholders, potential employers, potential referrals, and professionals that you have met, they represent a built-in audience most interested in your career related experiences.
Three, an extra benefit of blogging with LinkedIn is that your blog post may be chosen for distribution through LinkedIn Pulse. If this happens, the potential reach of your blog post to those with like-minded interests can be huge. And, this may bring new profile views and new connections or followers for future blog posts.
When you are ready for a more serious blogging footprint, there is WordPress.com (free) and WordPress.org (self-hosted) to consider.
Do showcase your knowledge and skills.
Writing a blog provides evidence of knowledge and skills not easily showcased through other social media.
This knowledge includes: your understanding and application of what you are learning from your career focused education or work experiences.
These transferrable skills include: creativity, critical thinking and organization of thoughts, written communication, research, technology, graphic design, and others.
Your writer’s voice and storytelling may also show career stakeholders and potential employers a bit about your personal experiences, humor, or personality.
Do write about what you know and/or are learning.
Blogging for personal branding can be useful for anyone, even near to recent grads.
If you don’t have the specific work experience to write about, then write about what you are learning.
Blogging is all about the authority or what you are qualified to write about.
An expert has plenty to write about; just write about what you know.
An amateur also has plenty to write about: just write about what you are learning, your favorites, and your perspectives in your chosen career field or focus.
For example, an experienced veteran of social media marketing may write: 5 Ways to Use Social Media to Increase Small Business Online Sales. In comparison, a near or recent grad may write: 5 Companies Killing It with Social Media Marketing to Millennials. The first reflects experience as authority. The second reflects opinion and knowledge as authority.
“Write what you know.” ~ Mark Twain
Do write for an audience of one, maybe two.
While social proof or popularity is nice, when writing a blog to build your personal brand you should not obsessively focus on the numbers. A large readership is more important for a business, monetization, or ego fulfillment.
If your content is good and your promotion of that content is good, then the audience for your blog will build over time.
Instead, keep your eye on the one reader that is of most importance: the potential employer, hiring decision maker, or networking contact that found your blog from the link on your resume, business cards, email signatures, or your social profiles. Each blog post provides an opportunity to showcase and confirm your career focus and demonstrate a number of skills not evident with other social media profiles and activity (see #9 above).
The second audience: yourself.
The accomplishment of writing and publishing a blog post can provide you a lot of feelings of pride, confidence, accomplishment, self-learning, and clarification of thought. As a University professor, I find these benefits immeasurable.
Don’t sit down for writer’s block.
Blogging begins with a well-defined focus of the career-related topics you most want to write about. These 4 to 6 topics are the categories of your blog. Think of a category as a chapter in a career focused book you could be writing.
Read daily from blogs in your career focus categories for idea inspiration. Use AllTop to find blogs and Feedly to subscribe to the best blogs on the primary subjects of your career focus.
Use an app such MS OneNote or Evernote to capture ideas whenever and wherever they flow. Capture your potential blog titles, post outlines, and key points while on the go.
Only sit down to write and edit when you have numerous ideas, blog titles, and outlines to choose from.
Do spend time with proper blog post format.
Regardless of chosen blogging platform (WordPress or LinkedIn), blogging skills concerning the blog post format is critical.
Potential blog readers need the ability to glance at each blog post and quickly see that it is easily scannable and with numerous entry points to skip to the part of most interest. These entry points include the use of: short introduction, headings, subheadings, bullet points, shorter paragraphs, block quotes, and a short conclusion (all evidenced in this blog post).
And, of course, a title graphic is critical. Use Canva or the Adobe Post app to make this effort painless.
Another consideration includes a variation on the type of blog posts. For example, a list post or listical (such as this blog post), an interview, a review, a story, or a variety of type of blog posts will make it more interesting for your creativity and the reader’s enjoyment.
Don’t blog in haste.
A professional blogger needs regular and consistent content.
For personal branding, consistency continues in importance but only in that you want your targets (potential employers and career stakeholders) to find your original content that is relatively recent.
One blog post a month of insightful evergreen content (long lasting content) is likely enough to make such a professional impression. For consistency and currency, it is better to have one good blog post a month, than 3 weekly posts followed by a multi-month gap. Add your planned blog postings and topics to your favored calendar (your editorial calendar).
A once-a-month blog posting schedule provides plenty of time for casual on-the-go brainstorming, idea recording and outlining, and writing with consistency (see #6 above). This assumes that you don’t suck at time management and falsely convince yourself that you do your best work under the time pressure of a procrastinator.
Do promote your blog posts widely.
When you hit the publish button, your blogging work has just begun.
Each blog post needs promotion.
Undoubtedly, you should share your new creation across all your social networks, multiple times.
With Twitter you can reach the like-minded in career focus. With Facebook you can reach friends and family (for referrals and feedback). And, with LinkedIn, you can reach your professional connections, especially those that know you: your career stakeholders.
Also, make sure your choice of blogging platform has all the most relevant social sharing buttons (this is already baked into LinkedIn).
However, don’t forget your most important audience of one: potential employers, etc. So, be sure your blog home page is promoted on your resume, business cards, and email signatures.
Don’t ignore WordPress forever.
When the time is right, you should graduate to WordPress.
As said earlier, get the hang and reality of blogging by focusing on your writing and the blog post design with a less technical blogging platform such as LinkedIn. Nonetheless, at some point your blogging skills may need to advance. This is accomplished with use of WordPress.com (free) or WordPress.org (self-hosted) and an addition to your blogging skill-set: blog platform set-up and design.
With this advancement you step into the world of widgets/plug-ins, social signals/proof, republishing, repurposing, comment management systems, blogger outreach/promotion, influencer strategies, and more.
You also develop the opportunity to advance your skills in graphic design, branding, technology, SEO, SMO, blog security, and maintenance. Advance blogging can make an even greater impression on your targets for personal branding, job search, and career.
This advanced blogging is a must needed skill if seeking a career in digital, social media, writing, publishing, or marketing.
Do continue to learn from the masters of blogging, content marketing, and writing.
As with use of any social media, blogging is a skill. You get better with practice, study, and observing others.
Thus, fill your Feedly folders with RSS subscriptions to the best: Problogger, Copyblogger, and others at AllTop (topics: blogging, content Marketing, and writing.
Then, go one step further and find these favorite bloggers on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Blab. There they will share links to their own original content and the other’s content that they are reading and sharing.
Also, the big advances in blogging skill are most likely learned with books. Just search Amazon for the bestselling and best reviewed books on blogging, content marketing, and writing. My recommendations include: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi, ProBlogger by Darren Rowse, and Born to Blog by Mark W. Schaefer.
“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.” ~ Woodrow Wilson
Blogging is challenging, yet provides numerous intrinsic benefits to the blogger not found with use of other social media.
Blogging is complicated, yet provides numerous extrinsic benefits and skills for personal branding, job search, and career.
Give blogging a try.
These are my thoughts. Now they are yours.
What are your suggestions for using Blogging for personal branding, job search, and career? Please comment.
Image credit: Denny McCorkle
This article originally appeared on Digital Self Marketing Advantage and has been republished with permission.