Blogging … sounds hugely time consuming and maybe intimidating to those who don’t have one.
But blogging is one of the single most powerful things a job seeker can do to advance your job search. Blogging can help candidates across the board, whether you are active or passive, white collar or blue collar, experienced or noob, left brain or right brain. And anyone can do it … you don’t even have to write in order to blog (really!).
Why does every job seeker need to blog? Blogs provide so many ways for job seekers to stand out, especially because so few candidates use these tools.
What Can A Blog Do For You? Why Blog?
- Demonstrate Subject Matter Expertise: There is no quicker way than blogging to get exposure and demonstrate your subject matter expertise. OK, maybe American Idol is quicker.
- Google: Google loves blogs. There is no better method of Online Reputation Management than blogging, short of a $100K+ PR budget. Plus, blogging is often DIY, and can be free. Blogs can move your name to page one of Google and can bury unfavorable information especially if the unflattering stuff is old.
- Can market and have a stealth search at the same time: Blogs are ideal for passive candidates who promote their expertise but don’t promote their job search. Passive candidates might can post about industry, job function, or SME issues rather than their job search. For instance, passive candidates wouldn’t attach a resume to their blog, while active candidates would include a resume.
- Increases your value: Industry experts are perceived as being more valuable by their current companies and by companies who want their services.
- Builds your network: The more you blog, the more people in your industry will want to be connected with you, contact you, seek your advice and help. IF you are searching for a job, no matter if actively or passively, aren’t these the contacts/conversations you want more of?
- Can lead to contract, consulting , moonlighting, part time, or freelance gigs: This can be lucrative if moonlighting and give you a chance to check out a prospective employer. If you are unemployed, blogs can bring contract opportunities that helps to pay the bills.
- Career Change: Blogs can help you get noticed and entice hiring managers to take a risk on you for a new field or industry.
- Critical for certain fields: If you are in Writing, journalism, marketing, advertising, PR, communications, or related fields you are at a huge disadvantage if you don’t blog. You aren’t showing that you can use the new media tools that most companies seek to incorporate in their marketing and communications. If you aren’t participating in this conversation, you are out of the game.
You don’t even have to write in order to blog.
While you may be more effective if you do write, many people (especially our left-brained finance, scientific, and IT friends) just aren’t comfortable writing. If you don’t wish to write then curate, comment, and publish – it will still bring strong returns to your search.
Now, where should you start?
How Do I Start Blogging?
One of the most difficult parts of blogging is starting. Blogging can be intimidating, because it involves new software/technology, possibly new skills (writing), and the perception that you need to learn programming (Don’t worry … no programming required).
There are easy choices for blogging platforms and software that can have you up and running in under an hour, with no instruction book needed. Sure you can make it more complicated with fancy designs or features, but you don’t need that to start. If you want, you can add fancy design later, or pay for a template (they aren’t very expensive) that loads a design for you, like a frame around a picture.
The biggest hurdle is just to start. Here’s how:
- Choose your topic: It’s easy to think that with the millions of blogs out there, all the good subjects are already taken. While there are close to 100 million blogs, very few are current. Most were started and dropped, or only add new content every few months. Chances are you can still gain visibility in your subject matter expertise, and the more specific it is, the easier you’ll find an audience. Blogs are about finding a niche – so there may be many blogs about marketing, but very few about digital marketing for hospitals. There may be many blogs about finance, but very few about specific types of transactions. There may be many blogs about real estate, but few about condos in a specific suburb/neighborhood. The narrower your field, the easier it will be to be a relevant voice quickly.
- Look at related or competitive SME blogs: Learn who the major players are and contact them. You’ll find that many bloggers see value in collaboration, and welcome helping noobies – In addition to the good karma, in blogging you help yourself when you help others in your field. Google rewards collaboration. Look at topics, tone, frequency, as well as design – get an idea about what you like and what you don’t.
- Choose a platform: When you are starting out, I recommend keeping it simple and basic. There are many free options out there. I recommend Blogger – it’s easy, free, there are lots of options and support, and it ranks quickly on Google (because it’s a Google product). If you are a programmer, a professional developer, or have a budget to invest in slick design WordPress is another good option – it’s more complicated, but there are more bells & whistles so you can do more with it. I recommend choosing one of the 3 major platforms – you’re investing your time and you wouldn’t be happy if your blog platform went bust.
- Choose a title that has something to do with your SME: Calling it “Bob’s Blog” or “Fashizzle!” might strike you as brilliant, but it won’t help your audience find you. Make your title unique enough that it doesn’t sound like the other competitors, but yet still relevant to your SME.
- Plan: Create a simple spreadsheet with a production plan, to plot out some potential titles, how often and when you’ll post. Publish at least once a week. If you want to gain relevance quickly, publish daily. Very few blogs publish daily (I’ve heard numbers like only a few hundred thousand), so if you can publish that frequently you’ll climb the charts quickly.
- Republish others’ content with permission: You can republish other relevant content you find on the web. This helps those who aren’t comfortable writing themselves, and those who don’t have the time to write original content each day. Important – make sure to get permission and give links back to content you republish. It’s not only the right thing to do (you wouldn’t want people stealing your content, would you?), it also keeps you legal. Most authors are happy to have you republish their work as long as you give authorship credit and links back to their site – it helps their Google ranking … and it’s a compliment.
- Schedule time: If you’re searching for a job you’re busy. Starting a blog is easy to postpone, so put it in your calendar.
- Content is more important than design: Early mistakes many bloggers make is to wait until the design is perfect before adding content. When you start, only you and your close friends and family will be your audience. You’ll gain an understanding of what you want your blog to say and what you want it to look like as you go. Content is king, design is a pretty wrapper. Google doesn’t rank based on design, it ranks on links and content.
If you’ve gotten through all the prep, take a deep breath …
… and start.
How Much Time Will Blogging Take?
There are many misconceptions about the difficulty and time requirements of blogging. It all depends on what you want and how much time you want to commit to your blog. Blogging can take as little as an hour per week or hours each day. Some turn blogging into a full time career – this article isn’t for full time bloggers, it’s for noobies.
On Blogger you can set up a bare bones blog in about 10 minutes – literally. You’ll probably take a little longer, to explore some of the options. I recommend taking no more than an hour exploring options, maximum. Don’t put off creating content. Starting is the hardest part, and it can be so intimidating that you’ll put it off. I procrastinated and every blogger I know delayed starting for every reason under the sun, because it’s hard to start (unless you’re a trained writer or journalist).
Complete a simple publication schedule, with 4-8 topic ideas. I use a really simple spreadsheet with estimated date, topic, actual date. I expanded as I started republishing my work on other sites. I recommend starting out with one article per week – if you want to do more, expand your publishing slowly to avoid risk of burnout.
Then take a deep breath, and start writing (or republishing).
I find the easiest way to start writing is with an outline. If that’s all you do on your first day, consider it a victory because you got through the toughest part just by starting. Then fill in the outline sections with details. Come back and proofread (or better yet, have someone else proof for you). My Mom, a retired teacher gets an early Mother’s Day shout-out, and a big thanks for being a great editor and all-around eagle eye. Thanks Mom!
Your first audience will be your friends and family – so make sure you send a link of your blog to them. If you are lucky you’ll get feedback, and if you are really lucky you’ll get criticism. Criticism makes your blog better – because it’s impossible to put yourself in your audience’s seat when you spend so much time creating and writing a blog. You may not take 100% of the recommendations you get, but I’d advise carefully listening to negative feedback – even more than the positive feedback that makes you feel great, but won’t improve your blog.
There is much information about how to improve your blog, how to add bells and whistles, how to improve readership and increase Google ranking. Don’t worry about that yet – that may be helpful after your first 100 articles, but won’t matter much before then.
Don’t quit – blogging takes some time and effort to see results and they aren’t immediate. Almost universally, the people who will share that blogs didn’t work for them quit before six months or didn’t publish regularly. The more you publish the faster and stronger your relevancy will grow.
Good luck, happy writing or publishing. Go forth and claim your subject matter expertise …-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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