Building Your Personal Brand Through Blogging
Last week, I talked about the importance of building your personal brand. One of the best ways to do this is through a blog. Here are some reasons why you should set up a blog, plus the knowledge to set up and manage one for yourself.
Helps Organize Your Thoughts
Part of professional success is in knowing your thoughts on issues in your industry. I write about digital marketing because that’s what interests me. If you find that you have absolutely no viewpoints or anything to say about your industry, you might be in the wrong business.
Your job should inspire some creativity and thinking in you, both about what you are doing right and what could be done better. If you don’t derive any inspiration from your work, it’s going to be a LONG slog to retirement.
“Everyone’s creative. At least until they have it beaten out of them by education, rules, a pressure to succeed and the risk averse nature of most businesses,” says Edward Boches in his recent article, Creativity is the New Currency. “What’s equally discouraging is that too many people conclude that the labels are right. They come to believe that they reside among the non-creative. I can’t tell you how many account executives, media planners, product managers and clients have told me as a matter of fact that they are “not creative.”
Whether you are an insurance underwriter or a firefighter, there is plenty to discuss and debate in every business. People have to move beyond the mindset that people are either creative or they aren’t. If you create something, you are creative. Creativity only requires inspiration, and it’s should be your mission to find that inspiration.
“If you think of yourself as not creative you’re far less likely to take chances,” Boches notes. “You become reluctant to put forth crazy ideas. You make too many decisions based on what others will think. You fall into the trap of striving to replicate past successes, which are no guarantee of future performance, or simply playing it safe.”
If you are inspired by your work, a blog can help you sort out your own thoughts on your industry and to become comfortable putting forth your own ideas without fear.
Distinguish Yourself for Employers
No matter what job you are applying for now, you are likely competing against dozens, if not hundreds of other resumes. A blog says that you are someone who has opinions, someone who is actively involved in their business and looking for what is next on the horizon, rather than someone who is looking for a place to collect a check.
A blog is an easy place to direct a potential employer to learn more about you. If you are writing and distributing your blog posts, employers will take notice. I can attest to the fact that regular blogging and distribution of that content will lead to multiple calls from recruiters every week. Even if you are not in the job market, it is good to know that your visibility has made you desirable.
Blogging also helps you clarify your positions and thoughts in your own mind. When you are unclear and have difficulty talking about yourself, it’s uncomfortable for both you and the person you are interviewing with. You are less likely to share the things about yourself that they need to know in order to hire you. Being familiar with brand called you is one of the most important parts of the whole job search process.
Where Do I Get Content?
That doesn’t mean you have to come up with every blog topic. A lot of your blog will be created based on content you curate from other thought leaders. However, to get inspired, you need to receive a steady flow of new information.
“Oversubscribe to information sources and then filter from there,” advised Marshall Kirkpatrick, CEO of Little Bird, at his SXSW Digital Marketing Workshop. Get news in your inbox, look for stories that interest you in the news and on Facebook and Twitter, and use that content as the building blocks of your blog posts.
Curation does not mean taking someone else’s content and copying it whole hog (which would damage your website’s Google rankings). It means using the original piece as fuel for a new composition of your own.
Marshall offers these rules for effective curation:
– Be first. Be the first place someone learns about something. When inspiration strikes you, jump on it and write a post immediately.
– Say it better. Find a useful piece of information that could be restated more dynamically. Some people with great ideas are terrible writers; turn a good idea into your own great content (giving credit to the idea source, of course).
– Aggregate. Your post might say “I found three perspectives on this subject, and here is a summary of them.”
– Bring a unique perspective. What new wrinkle can you add to a subject?
– Be funny. Satire and snark can make for fine reads. Humorous images and captions can boost your posts as well.
How Do I Set Up a Blog?
This is the stage that really trips people up. Little do most people know how easy it is to set up their own blog.
You can sign up for a free blog through WordPress, and there are tons of free themes to pick from to make your blog look nice. The URL for this will still be through WordPress (so the address would be something like: http://yoursite.wordpress.com).
If you buy your own URL, however, you can create your own independently branded website that still uses the WordPress management system. The blog you are reading right now is built-in WordPress using a theme that I purchased from Themeforest. Themeforest has a ton of awesome, affordable and responsive themes, just read the user reviews of themes before you buy. Also note: if you have zero knowledge of how websites work, you may need some help setting up your theme.
Keep Your Blog Updated!
Marshall advises, “Whatever you do, make it a habit.” That means that you have to make updating your blog a habit. An abandoned or unkempt blog is a mark of shame.
Make it small. Don’t set out to update your blog every day at first. Try to do it at least once a week and move from there.
Tie it to an action. Set rules for yourself. Examples might be, “Every time I tweet, I will read five tweets” or “Every Thursday morning, the first thing I will do is write a blog.
Take notes when you get inspired. But, what if you don’t have anything to write about on Thursday morning? That’s why I take notes as things inspire me. If I see an article that I want to comment on, or if someone asks me a question that inspires me, I take notes. Then, when I’m ready to blog, I look at the notes and decide what my topic will be.
If some thing inspires you and can’t wait until Thursday, write and post immediately. You are making the rules – just be sure that you regularly post. Also, be sure to use images and video in your blogs when possible.
Distribute Your Content
It’s not just enough to write your content. You have to distribute it. After you write a post, be sure to post it to all of your social networks. Put your post up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. When you put it up on Twitter, be sure to add an @ shoutout to anyone who you quoted in your article. Hopefully they will like and retweet your post to their followers.
Have you started your own blog? Send me the URL and I promise to read it!