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Blogging Your Way to the Top: A Beginner’s Compendium

Most executives that are not in technology or media companies cringe when blogging is suggested to them. The stereotype of bloggers is that of people ranting and raging on ridiculous topics, or writing a daily diary of their mundane lives. Well, it may have started that way but it has evolved into a strategic marketing tool for both companies and professionals wanting to advance their careers.

Rationale for Blogging

Is there a compelling rationale for executive blogging? Yes. In fact there are statistics that demonstrate that as well.

executive_blogging_tipsBlogs will become the new must-have executive accessory, just as email is today. They amplify any senior executive's communications from one-to-one to one-to-many. It's a no-brainer if you think about it.” Debbie Weil, author, The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right

The rationale for blogging was best demonstrated by Richard Jalichandra, the CEO of Technorati.com at BlogWorld New Media Expo in October, 2009. He made clear that the growth of blogging was now overwhelmingly in the corporate and professional world, “The rise of the ‘Professional class of bloggers’ was cited as a major reason for the health of the blogosphere.” In fact, 73% of the blogosphere is now made of professionals from corporates and small businesses.

Organizations are factoring blogging into their entire online marketing strategy - it is ranked among the top four social media tools to manage you and your company’s reputation, visibility and brand online via Google search, and blogs rank higher in Google search algorithms than regular websites.

So who are the big four who capture and hold top rankings for you on Google and other search engines?

  • Linkedin.com creates a big professional profile, a place to network and share your blog posts and thought leadership (as well as long-form posts)
     
  • Facebook.com is the monster, an informal networking platform for both companies and professionals who use fan pages and groups to gain visibility and a following
     
  • Twitter.com is the quixotic microblog that acts as the megaphone of one-line marketing and the ultimate connector of multiple social media sites
     
  • Blogs (print, audio, video) are the great differentiators for professionals, and can be used to stand out from the multitudes on social networking sites, and provide a soap box for thought leadership and business development

Hubspot.com, a top consulting firm for social marketing, built a case for using blogs as an inbound marketing tool. If that case can be made for business, then it certain applies to executive career management strategy. Hubspot.com commented “Inbound marketing complements the way hiring managers and recruiters make candidate decisions today. They use the Internet and related media to learn about the potential employees that best meet their needs. Inbound Marketing focuses on pulling the right companies and organizations towards you. Blogging is an integral component to an overall inbound marketing strategy”.

Career Goals Drive Blogging

There are different motivations for professionals to adopt blogging as an external or internal communications vehicle, ranging from career transition to entrepreneurship. The business effects of blogging can reach a widespread and diverse audience from internal executive management, to vendors, partners, customers, analysts and the media. Blogging strategy depends on your professional reasons for doing it:

  • Career Change blogging requires the longest timeframe, the most consistency, and maintenance of momentum. The blog must continually present material and information directed to the new targeted field or sector to create an impression of knowledge and competency.
     
  • Internal Promotion involves much more highly selective blogging that builds and enhances a known reputation while being a meaning making tool. This type of blogging always links back to and supports the company’s value proposition and business solutions.
     
  • Job Search blogging is the most succinct and tactical since time is of the essence. This type of blog acts as an embellishment of your achievements, abilities and expertise, and provides an expanded profile of who you are. Above all, blogging for a job search should not be a time sink.
     
  • Business Development blogging, whether for an established organization, a consultancy or a startup, is driven by high frequency postings with a relentless focus on product/service promotion. It requires being very current and on top of trends in any sector.

How to Blog

How does one actually go about blogging? Well there are several well-known and respected blogging platforms on the Internet including Google’s Blogger.com, Typepad.com by Six Apart, and Wordpress.org, a free open source blogging tool and platform. Blogger is the easiest to get started with. Typepad is more sophisticated and allows customization if you know HTML or CSS scripting languages (or hire it out). WordPress is the most complicated to setup initially and, unless you are technical, it is best farmed out. However, WordPress has the most flexibility with the capability to add chat rooms, e-commerce, multiple pages, etc. My own website, www.pattiwilson.com is built in WordPress.

Let’s be clear on blogging terminology before moving forward. According to Wikipedia the definitions for blogging are:

  • A blog is actually a pre-designed, one page webpage
     
  • The activity of updating a blog is "blogging"
     
  • Someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger"

The beauty of a blog site is that it enables you to write posts, add photos, video, audio, all without need for technical know-how. If you can use email, you can blog. Key rules for how to setup a blog and start blogging are actually basic common sense. Blogger.com and Typepad.com will help you with tutorials and guides, but here is a key list of things to do when setting up a blog:

  • Build a site that is unique to you in look, colors, layout, design and tone. Differentiate by the style you project. Make it visually interesting with photos, graphics, embedded videos and illustrations as people stay on a site longer when there is visual variety. Newspapers now have color photos and shorter articles for this same reason.
     
  • Offer “rich” content by providing links to articles, to other bloggers (called blogrolls), professional groups, conferences and events, lists of books etc.
     
  • Speak in your own voice, as writing in a stilted or unnatural manner will hamper your communication flow. The interface to your audience will increase in a web 2.0 environment by writing in a tempo close to how you speak.
     
  • Create value with content by making it engaging to read, and focus on your niche while commenting on current trends and reporting on your business eco-system.
     
  • Respond to reader comments on your blog posts. Your readers may be potential customers, search consultants, or hiring managers. In the least they will refer more people to your site through their positive experience.
     
  • Categorize your posts to make it easy to search and find topics on your Blogsite. This assumes that you will, over the course of several years, accumulate multiple posts that are archived by month and year on your blog.
     
  • Share your blog to the public by setting up an RSS feed (really simple syndication). This allows your blog post to be pushed to a reader’s website or email inbox.
     
  • Link your blog to Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, and cross promote your blog postings by providing links in the other site's update boxes.
     
  • Add an 'about page' to promote your career brand and provide a way to contact you by email, or other social sites.

What to Blog About

The challenge of blogging is what to say? I have seen well-known authors have blogger’s writing block. The best advice is to make a list in your mobile device or notepad on blogging topics and when inspiration hits, write them up. You can then upload your blogposts at timed intervals of hours, days, weeks or months to keep the flow going using automated blog posting tools while your attention is elsewhere.

Finding topics to blog about is easiest when you comment on information you obtain elsewhere. No one is expecting you to generate original content and that is a mistake most people make. It is far easier to pull information from company websites, newspaper and journal publications, other bloggers, and wikipedia to comment on. The kind of comments that you offer depends on your business and career goals for blogging in the first place for example you can:

  • Offer your opinion on any trend, event, product, or business
     
  • Exhort readers to action or participation
     
  • Interview experts and thought leaders in the field
     
  • Question authority and challenge others’ opinions
     
  • Mix in personal or light-heartedness that doesn’t distract too much from the blog focus. An example would be posting a photo locale in some kind of extraordinary weather
     
  • Exhibit your knowledge and expertise beyond mere opinion by posting white papers, articles you have written, and other examples of work experience
     
  • Promote your company’s products and services

Blogrolls

A blogroll is a collection of links to other weblogs, and when present, are often found on the front page sidebar of most weblogs. Blogrolls, second only to comments, are very useful blog tools. By listing other blogs and providing links to them from your site you have an opportunity to recognize, acknowledge and compliment targeted vendors, customers, partners, the media, and industry leaders.

  • It's an unwritten rule in the blogosphere that if a blogger puts a link to your blog in his or her blogroll, you should reciprocate
     
  • Blogrolls are great traffic driving tools. With each blogroll that your blog is listed on comes the possibility that readers of that blog will click on your link and visit your blog

Video and Audio Blogging

Video blogging, or vlogging, is a form of blogging using video. Think YouTube.com, Vimeo.com and Justintv.com where individuals now have their own channels. In video blogging, blog entries are made by embedding video or a video link into your blog. In other words, you can do the video yourself and put it in your blog, or insert another’s video and comment on it. Youtube provides the best platform to upload your videos from your computer and then embed them in your blog. A podcast, according to Wikipedia, is a term that is a portmanteau of the words "iPod" and "broadcast”, which came into use when the Apple iPod was the main brand of portable media players and podcasts were developed. Of course, it has never been necessary to use an iPod, or any other form of portable media player to use podcasts. Blog platform providers offer tools to enable podcasts and vlogs on you blog.

Using Twitter with Your Blog

Twitter has grown into an instant messaging service to multitudes of people, and can distribute you message posts over multiple networks and devices. There is now a specific link between Twitter and Linkedin that cross pollinates updates between the two social media sites, as well as between Twitter and Facebook. When you write a blog post and announce it with a link and short post on Twitter, your contacts on multiple social sites will see it and follow the link. From the BlogWorld New Media 2009 Expo:

  • Interestingly, bloggers report they are for the most part blogging more in conjunction with a vast increase in use of Twitter, microblogging, and other social media applications
     
  • 73% of bloggers report using Twitter, as compared to 14% for the general population. Use of Twitter amongst bloggers was reported to be more than twice as much as at the time of the 2008 report
     
  • Bloggers report using Twitter for things such as blog promotion and increased interaction with readers

To Sum it All Up

You are your Google results. You must proactively manage your online identity. Find the right ways to become Digitally Distinct over time. Stay ahead of the competition and visible to your target audience. “William Arruda, well-known branding expert. Believing that your resume or CV will suffice to promote your expertise, reputation and credibility is insufficient self-marketing today, much like relying solely on radio ads to promote a product would be. In today’s digitized and highly connected global economy, multiple tactics, platforms, venues and tools are required to promote your brand visibility on the Internet. Blogging is one tool of many to make that happen.

For more blogging and social media tips, download a recording of this BlueSteps webinar: Advanced Networking: LinkedIn, Twitter, and More.

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About the author

Patti Wilson is a career coach and advisor for the BlueSteps Executive Career Services team. She is a well known Silicon Valley-based executive career coach who, in 20 years, has advised literally thousands of executives on growing their careers, building their personal brands, leveraging and optimizing their networks, effectively making transitions and succeeding in their goals.  She is considered an expert in online career branding and networking, and providing insightful career management strategies across borders and sectors.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.
 

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