Should an independent professional blog? Every day, solopreneurs around the world ask themselves that question.
While my answer tends to be yes, I would like to touch on some of the caveats about blogging to help make this important strategic decision:
A Blog Is Not a Place to Pitch Product
The main goal of a blog is not to pitch your product or promote your company (although indirectly a blog can help you do that). A blog is a place to sell your ideas, express yourself and help people, with the goal of building an audience that may some day become customers.
A blog is a tool that lets you communicate with your target audience, give tips, and build your reputation and your brand in the process.
Writing Well Is Important
Some “gurus” will tell you to just get out and do it. However, proper blogging requires that you know how to write well. While embedding video and audio to a blog is easier each day, blogs are primarily a written medium, so the importance of good writing techniques should not be underestimated.
Writing well doesn’t mean using jargon or convoluted language. On the contrary, you must be able to convey your ideas using every day language. Since blogs are a web-based medium, it is also important to learn how to write for the web, and use writing techniques that facilitate scannability.
Develop a Distinct Voice and Stick to It
Since we can’t all be gurus nor come up with blinding insights every day, it is important to develop a unique voice or blogging style so that even the most mundane subjects are explored from an angle or perspective that is original, useful and refreshing.
To develop your own voice you have to nurture your biases. Unfortunately, we live in a society where political correctness runs amok, and where much of what we read, hear or see in traditional media and the corporate world has been sanitized to the point of being bland and useless. The goal seems to be not to offend anybody, even if in the process the message becomes irrelevant.
As independent bloggers we have the luxury of expressing our opinions more freely, to stand up for something and stick to it. Some readers will love us and others will hate us. Those who love us will become our audience. The others don’t matter.
Like real estate developer Frank McKinney once said after being told that some people consider his mansions gargantuan and tacky: “Those people are not my buyers”.
Bias is good. If you don’t have strong opinions about how problems in your market need to be solved you will have a hard time building an audience and spreading your message.
Start Blogging Before You Need It
Blogging is a long term proposition, not something you do on a rush because “sales are down this quarter” or because “regular advertising is not working”. Since the benefits from blogging won’t become evident immediately, it is better to start early, even before you need it.
For example, if you’re a corporate soldier who plans to branch out on your own in three years, start blogging now. Your blog will be a nice asset at your service once you’re ready to pull the plug.
Similarly if you are a college student and will be looking for your first job in a couple of years, you can also benefit from starting a blog now (your blog will certainly beat a one page standard résumé and will put you ahead of other job seekers).
Make Sure Blogging Makes You Happy as You Go
Since the tangible benefits of blogging won’t be apparent overnight, make sure that blogging is something that you enjoy. This will become very important at the beginning, when you will spend lots of time writing articles while your traffic will still be small and few people leave you comments.
You have to be able to give to your blog without the expectation of getting something back from it immediately. Millions of blogs are started every day, only to be abandoned weeks later by bloggers who can’t keep up or become discouraged. Don’t let this happen to you.
Some Final Words
Now, if you have read this and decide to go ahead and start a blog, congratulations. Your efforts will reap you great benefits over time: you will meet interesting people, make friends and develop your contact list, you will grow as a professional, your search engine rankings will improve as you add more content and more people link to you, and your brand will become stronger and more valuable.
Good luck and happy blogging.
If you have comments of suggestions I would love to read them in the comments section.
Brian Jackson is the former owner of Shoestring Branding, a marketing and branding blog for entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on internet-based tools and strategies. It was recently acquired by BrandBlast.com