You may be a reader of blogs. You may even participate in blog conversations through commenting. But, starting your own blog and becoming a ‘blogger’ may be daunting. Such apprehension is often driven by a real fear of the unknown. While I can only speak for myself, there are a myriad of natural reactions / assumptions that may keep you from starting a blog:
- No one would care about what I have to say
- In some circles being a blogger has a stigma attached and the word is almost a pejorative
- People will think that I have too much time on my hands
- What would my employer think
- I am not technical and would never be able to set up a blog
- I don’t feel that I can safely write in a real and authentic way
When I hit ‘Publish’ on my first blog post in December of 2005 – my stomach dropped – I even felt a little nauseated. Naked is how it is often described in the blogosphere. And honestly, for me, blogging is a lot of work – work that I love, but work nonetheless. But, I never hesitate to emphasize, that I am so glad that I took the leap as the rewards have come in heaps. Having a blog has provided an outlet:
- to publish what I think about Interactive Recruitment Marketing and Employer branding. The public nature of blogging has forced me to think in ways that I may not have if I knew that no one could see it.
- to refine (and often rethink) my ideas.
- to engage with others from inside, and outside of, my industry. When people are gracious enough to share their point of view on a topic – negative or positive – I have the privilege of learning from their ideas.
- to connect with people that care about the topics I am writing about. These are not just virtual connections. I have been able to meet and talk with many of the people I have connected with online – at various industry events and via phone.
These connections are immediately deeper upon initial live contact because we already know to a certain degree what one another stands for. Further – the live interactions may have never taken place, we may never have met one another, had we not connected online in this type of forum first. We actively look for opportunities to meet live. I have learned more, and met MORE real people with which I share similar interests, than I did in all of those years of acquiring a top notch education.
Even though I still feel that I am relatively new to blogging professionally, I get asked often if I have any tips for a new blogger and wanted to put together a top-ten list of what I have learned. Creating this list was inspired by a recent post covering 21 tips – you can find that here.
Top Ten Tips for Launching a Recruiting blog
- Don’t be afraid to let readers know that you are a real person. Include information about you and about why you blog. This can take the form of a ‘Welcome message’ on a side rail; a full ‘About Us’ Page; Pictures; Contact Info or all of the above. One of things that makes blogging so compelling is that it is usually content written by real people – not just company PR; White papers; or brochureware. ‘No bullshit’ is core of true blogging. The more readers can connect with a real person – the more people can relate to you.
- Go ahead and turn comments on – for better or worse (just be sure that you have a good spam protector installed or activated. We use Akismet.). There are many blogs that have turned on comment moderation for various reasons or even require people to register before commenting. We have done neither of these as we just aren’t inundated with comments (that would be a great problem to have) and I believe that commenting is a bit of an impulse buy. I don’t want to introduce any kind of delay in gratification for the commentor.
- Make Sure that you have your RSS feed turned on and visible on your blog. If you have some control over your feed – I recommend changing it to a FeedBurner feed as it provides a friendly nontechnical interface for readers that are grabbing your feed and it provides feed metrics. Further – I encourage the use of the universal orange RSS icon and use easy to understand words like ‘grab my feed’ vs. ‘Syndicate my site’. The goal is to make your content updates as easy to consume as possible for anyone interested. To that end – services like FeedBurner even allow you to offer blog updates via email. For those that feel the geek factor is too high with RSS – offering an email option breaks down that barrier.
- Build some content before you proactively notify the blogosphere or search engines that you have a blog. 5 posts is a good rule of thumb. You may even want to do a little future content programming by making yourself a list of topics that you hope to cover on your blog. While there are posts that come during moments of pure inspiration – most bloggers get to a point where they ask themselves – “so now what do I write about”? It is bound to happen – that is why there are so many blogs that have “gone dark”. If you’re really going to be a ‘blogger’ – it gets into your blood and you will work through those moments. How you work through that is a moment of truth for bloggers.
- Add a “Submit to Recruiting.com” bookmarklet to your posts. Read the post that I just linked to to get the code and insert that code in the HTML for your post. In WordPress – you click on the HTML icon in your rich text editor bar to bring up the HTML code. In Typepad, you click the HTML tab when you are writing this post. This will make it very easy for readers to submit your post to the recruiting.com community site where your content exposure will increase dramatically.
- Once you are ready to launch – go claim your blog on here is a great link for tips on doing that and other SEO tips. Get the Google Sitemap plugin available for most blog platforms and turn it on.
- Begin connecting with other bloggers – start commenting on posts in the Recruitosphere. Most bloggers LOVE comments and thrive on the interaction. By adding to the conversations on recruiting blogs, the authors will often recognize you and seek out your blog (this should go without saying, but be sure to add your blog address to the URL field in the comment form).
- If you link to other bloggers via your posts or your blogroll – the blog that you linked to receives a notification. This is another action that will often prompt a blogger to notice you and check out your site. Often people will reciprocate with a post that mentions you along the lines of – “I just found this great new blog in our space”. Not everyone will do this – so don’t be offended. In addition to interacting and adding richness to the community – these inbound links directly affect your search engine rankings as well.
- Frequency. This is an issue where every blogger needs to figure out what works best for them. The more often you post – the better your traffic. For those of us that work during the day and/or blogging is not a sanctioned part of the job – keeping up that kind frequency can be hard. There are bloggers that have to be disciplined about it and set aside a specific time every day or every week to blog. My posts tend to happen on the weekends or after my kids are in bed – so between 10pm – 2am 😉
- Promote your blog in as many natural ways as possible. For example, put a link to your blog in your email signature; add it to comments on blogs and forums. Add it to your LinkedIn profile. Add a link to your RSS feed as well. Put links to both in your MySpace or Facebook profiles. Participate in Recruiting Blog Swaps when they are happening. Be a guest author on other blogs – most bloggers love good free content, and if they respect your ideas, offering up a guest post can be a match made in heaven.
There is my top ten gathered from what I have learned this last year. Of course, I forgot the most important one – have fun, connect to others, and make it a continuing learning experience that enriches your life and work. OK, that was more than one.
Next, we will follow up this post with a top ten list of “What Not To Do” when blogging.