Why should I blog?
When it comes to building your brand online, one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools available to you is running your own blog. Why should I blog? Blog to advance your career.
A blog is a public platform for your thoughts, observations, lessons learned and anything else you wish to share. Blogworld.com estimates there are 31 million bloggers in the USA as of July 2012. While 8% of them make enough money to sustain their lifestyle, 81% never make even $100. So why bother?
It pays to think not of the money to be made from blogging, but instead to think about the increased income you can gain by leveraging your blog to build your reputation.
Publishing content with the intent of attracting people interested in the subject matter is known as content marketing. Companies publish content to help their target prospects and build their perception of expertise. Blogs, slide decks, white papers, videos and podcasts are just some of the types of content shared freely in order to educate and enlighten, without including an overt sales pitch. Despite the lack of pitch, this content influences the prospects and builds the reputation of the content provider (via credit for authorship, sponsorship, etc.) as an expert in that area.
Once seen as an expert, the odds of a purchase increase.
You can go after the job and promotion market in the same way. Are you in sales? Write a blog about sales techniques! Leading a team of tech support reps? Write a blog about leadership! In sales, but want to be in marketing? Write about marketing! It doesn’t matter whether there are already “enough” successful blogs on a topic–your goal is NOT to have a “successful” blog. Your goal is to build a platform to show your knowledge and communicate with peers.
Find a way to position yourself as knowledgeable about the area you want to advance in. Teach yourself more about your topic to flesh out your blog posts, and you’ll simultaneously be sharpening the saw. What a way to multi-task!
Care must be taken to avoid sharing confidential information. Anecdotes that can easily be tracked back to individuals can be used against you in one way or another. When you describe the pros and cons of a technique, blend arguments related to work situations with others that apply as well and see how your audience reacts. This can be a great way to get outside input on a current issue from an abstract point of view.
The Long Tail
Blogging for your personal brand requires clear targeting. Perhaps you’re not writing for the world, but you’re writing for people in your desired field within a geographic area. Targeting includes the subject matter: You’re not writing just about “accounting,” you’re writing about “corporate accounting” or “public accounting.” The more specific, the smaller the audience, but the more relevant your content will be to that audience. The keywords your blog targets might then be “public accountant Boston,” or “Boston CPA.”
Targeted keywords are known in marketing as the “long tail.” Web users are searching for longer and longer phrases, because they want more specific results. Use this to your advantage.
In future posts, we’ll get more into using other techniques like social media and video to build your job lure. Social media is certainly valuable, but a best practice is to funnel people from your social media presence or from Youtube to your own website. That website can be your blog.
There are a couple of key reasons for routing people to your website. First, it supports your technical competence without you having to say “I can operate WordPress.” Being able to do basic things on the web is the difference between being a consumer and being a maker. Your website is also your property. If Facebook’s privacy changes push you past your limit, you can close your Facebook account, but your content will still be on your website. If all your content lives on the website owned by others, you’ve lost control.
Over time, your hub can continue to grow. You can build libraries of content on various (related!) topics and refer people back to explanations you’ve already permanently posted. You can offer ebooks and video content, which contribute to establishing you as a thought leader.
Thought leaders attract opportunity.
Isn’t that why you’re here? Doesn’t that tell you “why should I blog?”
TL;DR: Blogging establishes you as a thought leader.
Image from Stock Xchng.