Last week, I started a list of action steps for jump starting your personal branding when you suddenly need it. At this point, you should have registered your domain name, set-up a basic blog and most of your time figuring out exactly what you want.
Now that you have the blog set-up, what do you do? And more importantly, how did you move forward and start actually putting your brand online?
Recently I was part of a panel at a career event and when we started talking about this, many people in the audience got “deer in the headlights” looks. And that’s really understandable. If you’ve never blogged before, it’s hard to know where to start!
Especially when your future is on the line! Then it’s especially intimidating because you think that each article has to be absolutely, mind-bogglingly good enough to convince your future boss that they must hire you. Then – just like when you design your blog – you spend ages worrying over each article. And in the end, either nothing gets done or you burn out very quickly. And then your brand is no further along than when you started – and now you’re stressed!
Your start to blogging
So, when I’m talking to someone who has never blogged before and now needs to, I tell them to start off by doing the following:
Engage with your target market
Spend a couple hours searching on the internet for blogs that deal with the type of job you want to do. Find the best writers out there and find who they read and recommend. Find LinkedIn groups in your subject area and join. Spend some time thinking about what the people who can hire you will be reading – and subscribe to those blogs and groups as well.Then, start engaging. Read the blogs and forums on LinkedIn and whenever you see a place where you can contribute, write a comment or answer a question. This is great to do for a couple reasons. First, because recruiters especially spend time looking through Groups on LinkedIn. If you have a great answer to a question, they might get in contact with you about a position they’re recruiting for! (Several of the recruiters at the career event I spoke at recently said this was how they operated!)
But even if answering questions and writing comments doesn’t immediately land you a job, it also engages your brain and challenges you to show off your professional expertise. And it shouldn’t require too much of a time commitment. Once you’ve found an interesting place to write a comment, it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to write one. Stick to that.
Bring your knowledge home to roost
The one thing I don’t like about commenting on LinkedIn and on blogs written by other people is that you’re spending the time writing good material on someone else’s online presence. When you write a great comment, you’ve invested a significant amount of time in sharing your experience and knowledge. But when it’s on someone else’s blog, the only people who see it will be the ones who are reading that other person’s blog – not the people who are looking for you online! LinkedIn Groups are a little better, because they’re more directly linked to your online presence, but (especially if a group is members-only) it might not be easy for someone looking at your online profile to see your comments. Luckily, there’s a solution for this that dovetails perfectly with your desire to create a blog that displays your strengths! When you write a comment on someone else’s web space, don’t just abandon it. Copy that comment, go back to your blog and create a post around it.
- It’s very easy to do:
- Start off your post by writing about how you were reading a blog in your field or participating in a forum and ran across a challenge a lot of people face. (Make sure you link to the blog or forum.)
- Then share how you responded to the situation or question.
- Then, if you have the time, expand upon the comment you wrote and gave further detail.
- Finally write a sentence or two to wrap it up and give the post a relevant title.
And you’ve written a blog post that advances your personal brand by displaying your knowledge in your subject area. Plus, you’re demonstrating that you’re paying attention to what is going on in the field and engaged in learning.
Rinse and repeat
Now that you’ve written one blog post based on another that you’ve read, it’s time to do it again. And because you’re basing your blog posts on questions/issues posed by others (and not wracking your brain trying to come up with original subjects), it’s something that you can do on a consistent basis without burning out. The key is to keep doing it. At least several times a week, engage on other blogs and LinkedIn and bring your best comments back to your blog. That will get you started. Try to do that at least 5 times before you start publicizing your blog. You want people to see that you’re committed, not that you’re dabbling. Plus, the only way to really display your knowledge is to get a bunch of it out there. So force yourself to commit to writing on a regular basis to share how your knowledge relates to the things you come across.
The key to consistently putting up new content, by the way, is to not let yourself get too sucked into obsessing over your article. You’re simply embellishing on comments you wrote elsewhere. If it takes you more than 45 minutes to write about a comment for your blog, you’re taking too long.
Finally, tell people about it!
Once you’ve put up a couple articles, start telling people about your blog. Put it up on LinkedIn. Add it to your email signature and your business card. And when you’re talking with someone in your field about something you’ve written about recently on your blog, send them a link to that article.Or, if you really want to help your brand, go home after conversation with someone in your field and write a post about what you talked about that demonstrates your knowledge. Then, send a follow-up email to that person the next day saying, “After I went home last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about [what we talked about]. So I wrote a post on my blog based off our conversation.” (Networking hint: people can’t resist checking out what you’ve written if it’s inspired by them!)
As you can see, getting started with blogging for your Personal Brand isn’t as overwhelming as many people think it is. No, you’re not going to win a prize for original content with this method. But if you’re right in the middle of a stressful transition and you need to back-up your personal brand by demonstrating your knowledge, this is how you get started.
In fact, this is how one of the most successful business authors I know got her start. She started off the “easy way” by commenting on what she read about on other blogs because she had absolutely no idea what she was doing but knew she needed a blog to promote her business. Doing that led to her finding her own voice as a blogger, and today she’s extraordinarily successful. So this method works!
Katie Konrath blogs about creativity, innovation and “ideas so fresh… they should be slapped” at www.getfreshminds.com. She works for leading innovation company, Ideas To Go.