“I meant to start blogging,” a salesperson confided in me this week. She just couldn’t get around to starting. Like New Year’s Resolutions or losing weight, blogging for many people is just one of those things they can never start. I can’t help you with two of those, but let me help you with the benefits of keeping a blog.
Dan Schawbel may have put it best when speaking at the Harvard Business School, “If you don’t own your brand online, someone else will.” When someone, perhaps in a human resources office checks your name on Google, content generated by you MUST be on top. You can’t afford to have what other people have written about you to be on the top of that Google-pile.
A growing number of companies cannot even compete with the number of people who are talking about them, so they don’t. Rather than owning the content, (which is owned by people blogging and in social media anyway,) they are now looking to be part of a conversation with these influencers. When a company can help one person, they know it can be referenced on Google an infinite number of times. The company looks responsive because it is responsive.
In 2005, only 6% of Americans read blogs according to Forrester Research. Today, Forrester finds that over 90% of technology decision makers’ research blogs before purchasing. This means a frequently updated blog – even twice a week – gives you a level of influence that you didn’t have before.
As for myself, I’ve been asked to review products, give feedback on websites and strategies for all natures of businesses and services. More important to me, my network of people who I can trust is much wider and more diverse. It doesn’t make a difference if you are buying something for your company or leading a research team: It’s a good thing when you have a bigger and more diverse network available to you. And it’s even better when you have some level of influence within that network.
There are only two things you need to start a blog. First is a blog to write on, and second is something to write about. You can deal with something you love for topic matter, but as for where to start a free blog, look to WordPress.com, Blogger or Posterous. You can find tutorials on each on their respective sites and on YouTube.
Two blog posts a week of 25-100 words can help you to start controlling your name on the web. Mashable had a great article on personal branding if you need some more help on deciding your “rules of engagement.”
Start by reading other blogs on the topics for which you have a passion. Also keep in mind your blog will define what the world knows about you. That means unless you are going to make a career at being argumentative, be honest and be nice. Don’t overshare personal information, but rather focus on informing people who come to your blog – or whatever you choose to do.
The single most important element that is shared by just about every blogger is this: “Just do it.” Start a blog. Write it. Delete what you dislike. Change directions if you needed. Share your posts on your Facebook page – or better, give your blog it’s own page as well. Use Twitter to promote your articles and discussion. The important part is to claim your name in Google, and to have fun as well as influence people.
Your audience awaits.