A Late Adopter's Guide to Blogging
By Marty Nemko
When I hear about computings’ latest and greatest, my reflex is to turn away. I recall my first experiences with computers: arcane commands, lost files, and, later, the blue screen of death, offering such cheery news as: fatal error at 0000D24767694Q.
So, when colleagues told me I should have a blog, my first reaction was, “That’s all I need: more work, more headaches.” But this week, I decided to restrain--for the moment at least--my reflexive aversion to cybernovelties and learn enough about blogging to address the questions a fellow techno-aversive might ask:
What is a blog? It’s an online diary/journal on a narrow topic of your choosing. As the spirit moves you, you post your musings, often augmented by references to web pages or other blogs. You can invite readers to post their reactions.
Here’s a blog written by a career counselor: www.jobpundit.blogspot.com.
Why should you have a blog?
If you’re employed, it’s an easy, slightly cool way to make your opinions known to colleagues, within and outside your place of employment. Not only does that feel fulfilling, it enhances your reputation.
If you’re not employed, a blog will give prospective employers a look at the real you. (Be careful, which side of the real you you reveal.)
If you own your own business, a blog is a credible vehicle for promoting yourself. It’s especially likely to bear fruit if your target audience is young, male, and technosavvy. That’s the group that tends to search the blogosphere for on-target stuff to read.
Of course, you can also create a blog for a recreational purpose. For example, I have a passion for getting publicity for community theaters. That’s a good topic for a blog—narrow, and of compelling interest to a niche of people.
How do you set up a blog?
Even a technoplebe like me can get a blog up and running in 10 minutes. Just go to blogger.com. By the way, it’s free.
How do you get people to visit your blog?
As long as your topic is narrow, your blog probably will automatically attract at least a few visitors because blogger.com sends your blog’s keywords to the search engines. More important, if you regularly write quality content, it will attract search engines because of the content itself and because others will link to you.
To drive more traffic to your blog:
· Mention other blogs in your posts and—for reasons I don’t fully understand— you’ll drive more traffic to your blog.
· Most obvious but perhaps most valuable, invite your co-workers, customers, colleagues at other employers, or potential employers to visit your blog. Add your blog to your business card, resume, etc.
What are some dos and don’ts?
· Confine your blog to a very specific topic. Unless you’re a celebrity, people are unlikely to want to visit a blog that’s diffuse. Also, an unfocused blog is unlikely to appear on the critical first page of search engine results.
· Keep your posts brief but clear. Write in the first person and let your personality come out.
· Yes, a blog is the place to offer your opinions, but a career-related blog is not a tell-all. Before posting something, ask yourself, “Would I mind if all my colleagues and strangers read it?” If you want to say riskier things, do it on a separate anonymous blog.
· Post to your blog at least a few times a week. If the content isn’t fresh, people won’t keep visiting, nor will your blog be as likely to appear in search engine results.
· Because a blog is informal doesn’t mean you needn’t worry about making libelous statements or those revealing your employer’s trade secrets. Stay with statements that are very unlikely to get you sued. Similarly, your non-anonymous blog is not the place to badmouth your employer unless you’re willing to risk being fired for it.
As part of the research for this column, I went to blogger.com and set up a blog. I was up and running in ten minutes, but I am going to let my blog stay dormant. I already have a website, www.martynemko.com, which contains 400+ of my published writings and I write a column a week that appears here on bankrate.com. I don’t feel the need to have an additional vehicle for my informal musings and the feedback it would generate. If, however, at some point, I find myself with extra time, I would likely create a blog on a topic I care about that isn’t well covered elsewhere: an honest discussion of race and gender, or a blog on America’s most overrated product: higher education.
For people daunted by the idea of creating a website and who like the idea of getting online feedback on their musings or who could use a credible self-marketing tool, a blog may be well worth the effort.
For a more thorough explanation of how to use blogging to enhance your career, see the chapter on blogging in David Teten and Scott Allen’s book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online.” Also see their website: www.thevirtualhandshake.com.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2013. Usage Rights