This week’s post is about sharing some of the soft and hard skills that work for me in blogging. These tips are for students, graduates and professionals. Do you want to blog for job, career and business reasons?
People sometimes ask me for advice and direction about blogging. I’ve mentored a few who lacked the confidence or know-how to start. I’ve also supported hundreds of people by sharing their well-crafted words with my networks. You can view blogs from inexperienced students and graduates on my Employability Hub website. They get the chance to experiment with style and content with feedback.
It’s rewarding when someone’s potential flourishes and you know you have played a part. Two examples stand out, in particular. Caroline was a final-year student about to complete her dissertation. She lacked confidence and struggled to find work experience. With a little encouragement from me, she took the leap to write her first post. A heartfelt piece about her personal struggles of being in professional limbo. The act of writing and getting published on my site had a motivating effect on her. Caroline landed a graduate-level job soon after graduating. She has developed into a confident young professional.
Monira is a careers adviser at a university. She helps international students and especially those from underprivileged and diverse ethnic groups. We struck up a relationship of mutual interests via social media. It took her a year to take her first steps in sharing her wisdom and experience through blogging. I was humbled when Monira thanked me in public for helping her get started. Read about her journey from newbie blogger to Careers Champion national award winner.
Blogging: the why, what, how
Why write a blog?
I started blogging about five years ago. I wanted to make sense of my thinking on work issues that interested me. I have a driving energy and commitment to help young people learn to leap in their jobs and careers. I discovered a hidden talent. A year and 52 blogs later, I had the basis of a non-fiction book and the rest is history as they say. My blogs now get four figure views each month, I’ve guest blogged for many other sites and been named in several top bloggers lists like YouTern, HashtagCV and CoburgBanks.
Consider your purpose in blogging. Reasons might include to:
- stimulate debate
- raise issues through challenge and support
- articulate a view (your own or other people’s)
- enhance your professional profile
- build your reputation around a particular subject or business
- promote yourself as an expert/specialist/thought leader
- be influential
What is your purpose in writing a blog?
Who are you writing for? Make it clear in each post. Show continuity over time so that your intended audience comes back time and again. Build your reputation by being consistent with your content and the timing of your blogs. For my own website, I post on the same day every week. For other sites, I post monthly such as on LinkedIn and for Careers In Government.
What to write about
There is hardly a day goes by when I don’t get an idea for a blog. Words don’t fail me. I put this down to observing and noticing things, having conversations and being curious. My Master’s degree tutor once gave me some wise advice – see everything as data. This post was prompted by a dinner party!
Filter your daily experiences through a blogging mindset. Ask questions. Show interest. Listen – what do people in your chosen field want to know (that you know well), learn, improve or resolve? What is most important to them? I’ve learned that tapping into emotions with genuine intent works best. My most popular post on LinkedIn moved people.
Types of blog
I write ‘how to’ posts on my website with a Call to Action at the end. I write ‘opinion’ pieces on LinkedIn with a question at the end. Many of my website posts are shorter than the long form of LinkedIn. Facts blogs or Opinion blogs, or a mix of the two? What type of blogs do you want to write?
The thought of thrusting your first post on an unsuspecting world can feel a little scary. The self-limiting beliefs kick in – Who is interested in what I’ve got to say? What am I going to write about? Other people’s blogs are so much better than mine, I’m going to sound stupid.
You may be right and few people read your early posts. So what? It gives you a chance to practise and hone your skills. There is never a right or wrong time to start. Nothing will change if you don’t start. Get it out to get going!
Test and learn
Hone your craft over time. Pick up different ways of doing things. Experiment. Learn from other bloggers, and your successes and failures. Accept that you will make mistakes and see that as part of the iterative process of learning. Ask for feedback from people you trust and who you know will give you an honest opinion.
You may start out with a direction in mind. It’s OK to shift to a different path in the light of experience. Remain flexible and let go if necessary.
Let your voice find you
My background is in organisational research, leadership and management development and coaching. They inform my blogging voice. An analytical bent combined with a love of social media and learning. I raise questions on people development issues using real world experiences and open-source research. I support and challenge my reader through a coaching and mentoring approach. A stylistic cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Malcolm Gladwell (but not in their league)!
Think about how your strengths can inform your writing style. There is a danger of writing to an inauthentic formula based on too much digital marketing advice. Maintain your independence and authority on your chosen blogging area. Don’t be a pale imitation of someone else. Be your own blogger.
Visual is king and queen. Text is dull on its own. Add images or insert videos into your blog. Vlog, if you have the confidence and it suits your style. Copyright issues can be a minefield. Using Google Images or Pinterest can by a risk. For Google, click on Settings, Advanced, Usage Rights and Free to Share to identify images that won’t infringe copyright. As an alternative, use sites like Pixabay and Pexels for free stock photos (like this one).
I prefer to use my own photos to avoid the problem. As with content, I look for blog image opportunities as I go about my daily activities at work and play. I took the featured image of this post on a building site in Portugal and added the text. Sometimes a photo prompts a blog idea. Look around you and see what metaphors you can use to illustrate a point.
Technology is your friend
Technology has been empowering and provided platforms to amplify my voice. I’m a reflective introvert. Blogging allows me to think through my ideas and what I want to say. I’ve integrated my blog posts into my website using Wordpress. There are plenty of other free blogging platforms like Tumblr. You can blog away without a website on LinkedIn and Medium, with Facebook following soon. Here are some great tips from @CareerSherpa on blogging on LinkedIn.
Other online tools I use include a blog headline analyser and a copy editor. CoSchedule scores your headline quality. It rates its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic and SEO value. Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. It highlights long, complex sentences and common errors.
Share and share alike
What are the secrets to getting your posts read? The quality of your content. Timeliness. Posting on many platforms. Targeting your chosen audience. Reciprocity – the power of other people sharing your posts and returning the compliment. Join Triberr – a wonderful community of bloggers who love sharing each other’s posts. In the spirit of generosity, here are some more resources for new bloggers.
What tips would you add?
Do you want to be a guest blog partner for Learning to Leap and The Employability Hub? Would you like me to guest blog for you? Get in touch today!