Job loss is (unfortunately) a way of life for most of us nowadays. In many cases, it’s due to factors that we can’t even control – such as a bad economy devastating our employer. In the last four years, I lost my job because the economy impacted my employer more than expected. In the last couple days, this happened to some good friends of mine – and an ueber-hardworking relative of mine is on the verge of losing his job for that same reason. So it happens a lot these days!
And when a job loss comes, it can be really hard to know what to do and where to start. It’s especially hard when you keep hearing “You need to have a blog”. I saw this recently when I was part of a panel discussion on job-hunting. When we started talking about branding yourself online, some people in the audience did their best impression of deer faced with the headlights of an oncoming car!
Your own personal branding blog
I don’t blame them! For those of you who are just starting your personal branding journey, it’s intimidating to hear that you *must* start branding yourself online – and that you should have a blog.
So, since I keep seeing this as an intimidating subject, here is exactly what I would tell my friends about how to get started.
Note: This is not a primer on how to create a top blog. This is about how to make it simple for yourself so you can hit the ground running. The focus is on moving forward.
Here is exactly what I’m telling my friends to do in order to show their expertise online:
1. Buy your domain. (Time commitment: 10 minutes)
Seeing if yourname.com is available is the absolute first thing you should do. If it is available, buy it right away. Yourname.com is the easiest way to immediately make it easy for people to find you online – and is the most professional url you can have. Sure, YourName.com is kinda bland, but it’s the base for your online presence. CrazyCreativeGalMN.com may be a fun dating handle, but it’s not going to impress the people that you want to hire you.
How to do it:
I suggest using GoDaddy.com to register your domain name (to go with Action Step #2), but you can go with any domain registrar that floats your boat. Just avoid the cheap sites – you need to be able to connect your blog to your website and some registrars can make you jump through hoops.
2. Set-up a Blog. (Time commitment: 1 day max – shoot for 4 hours)
Next step is to set-up your blog. This is a source of angst for many people because most people know nothing about web design. Don’t worry about that – and certainly don’t obsess about having to make your blog perfect. Pick a blog service (Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, etc) and put up a basic, clean white-based blog. Skip the frills, go for a simple design and get it up. Bottom line, your blog is a base to show your knowledge. Yes, having an amazing design and snazzy effects will be cool – but the focus of your website needs to be on you. You’d never send a resume on pink, scented paper with gold stars all over it – and your blog is your online resume. Plus, getting all wrapped up in blog design is a fun way to procrastinate. You’re unsure about how to go forward and not feeling great about yourself – so you spend hours trying to get the blog exactly right and delaying the next step. Trust me, unless you’re a designer or someone who specializes in building websites, a plain website will be completely fine.
How to do it:
Limit yourself to having 1 day to do this. That will prevent you from getting lost in fancy design and color schemes. It’s most important to get the blog up. (If business guru Seth Godin can be so successful with his ueber simple design, you can too.)Spend 30 minutes checking out Blogger, Typepad and WordPress.org/com to see which one seems the best fit for you. No more, or else you’re just procrastinating again. Here’s a quick rundown of Blogger & WordPress. Here’s a review of Typepad. The key is that you want something easy for you to set-up – so pick whatever one is easiest for you.
Then set-up that blog. Chose a simple, clean design.Then set-up domain-mapping so that your blog connects to the yourname.com web address that you bought in Action Step 1. And you’re done.
3. Decide what you really want to do (1 week)
This might sound like a crazy step – but it’s not. You need to figure out exactly what you want to do as you move forward. Personal Branding is about showing that you’re really, really good at one area and are the person to hire in that one area. You cannot be the jack-of-all trades in Personal Branding. There is no possible way to convince someone that you are both an excellent Product Manager, an amazing copy writer, AND a crack financial analyst. Why not? Each of those would require dramatically-different content for your personal branding – and trying to focus on branding yourself for multiple areas will split your attention between those areas. If you try to do everything, you’ll end up with a bunch of superficial articles that impress no one. When you choose, you can really dive into a subject, find your target market and gear your personal branding efforts exactly towards them.
When I started my personal branding efforts, I knew I wanted to work at a company that helped other companies come up with ideas. To be more specific, I wanted one with 20 employees that got the ideas by facilitating groups from the client and the target consumer. Pretty specific, huh? But because I was so focused on that particular target market, I was able to focus my blog on exactly the type of material that would interest the people hiring at those companies – and thus convinced them to hire me. At 2 separate companies, no less! Focusing works – and you’ll never be able to brand without it. You need to know exactly what you want out of branding before you get started.
How to do it:
So spend a week really diving into what you want moving forward – and figure it out. What do you want to do? What kind of company do you want to work at? What do you want your responsibilities to be? Where do you want this next job to take you? (Is it a stepping stone to the next career goal? If so, what is that? If it’s not a stepping stone, what do you want out of it? Really figure it out, because this will guide everything you do with your blog moving forward.
Whew! Feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry – this is the hard part. Getting the base set-up for your blog and then figuring out what your goal is for the future is difficult – and it’s the part where most of us get stuck. But in order to brand effectively, you need to get through those steps quickly and efficiently.
Moving on to the next step
Next week, I’ll write about my advice for what to do after you have that basic blog set-up and know what you want out of it. Be ready to move to the next step!