It’s that time in my life where school is suddenly in the picture, via a certain 4-year-old I know 🙂 One thing I’ve already noticed is how ready a child can be for a new challenge. A challenge that is big, worrying, exciting, almost too much to get your head around – yet, at the same time, exactly what you needed without realizing just how ready you were to take on something completely new.
The odd thing about blogging is it’s so easy. In a way. You just start typing along and words come out. They’re not always the best words, though, in the best order, so editing is a big part if you’re critical of your own writing.
So what’s it like editing other people’s texts? I’ve done so for a while now and it’s a nice way to make a living, if you don’t mind putting the dots onto other people’s i’s. But there’s a risk. There always is.
Are you out job hunting, or just wondering if you should be? Here are a few steps that can help you if you want either social media, writing, blogging, or content in any form to be part of your job:
First, start blogging
Nearly 11 months ago I started this blog with the main aim to start writing because all I’d done was keep a diary about our son for over two years. By that time, I was ready to look for a new challenge.
After writing a couple of posts I started sharing them on Twitter. Then I went a bit crazy and got accounts for nearly everything I could hook up to my blog so I could automate sharing in different places. Blogging and writing are popular with my fellow bloggers on WordPress.com, but the best results in terms of sharing and replies to my ‘business’ posts have been on Twitter and LinkedIn. Continue reading
Do you ever feel you’ve wasted years in all the wrong jobs? The bad news is you can’t get those years back. The good part is it was not all in vain.
Job experience is seldom wasted
If you feel you’ve mindlessly pulled someone else’s plough for years and think you’ve got nothing to show for it but sores, think again. Take writing, for example. Continue reading
Apart from if you’re actually a professional blogger, what’s the use of having a blog?
Why would you want to blog at all?
- Because you enjoy writing (or making videos, in case you’re into video blogging).
- Because you don’t mind (or love) the attention.
- Because you don’t mind the kind of work involved: writing, getting or creating pictures or videos, making sure your content is properly tagged so people who don’t know you will still find you by searching for the topics that are on your blog.
- Because you need a portfolio. You need to create content for whatever purpose.
Even if you don’t start blogging for that purpose, posting fresh content on your blog will eventually build a portfolio of your content. What would you like to do with it?
Why would you want an online portfolio, and of what?
What goes into your portfolio – that is, onto your blog – shows a couple of things about you as a blogger which may be of interest to a potential client or employer:
- That you can write – in a language of your choice. (In my case I might have written in Dutch, but I chose English instead).
- That you’re able to create content to a schedule. That may mean posting daily, but it doesn’t have to be that intense. Once a week can be enough. Keeping it up for any length of time and consistently producing good or at least acceptable (although you should aim higher) content costs time and energy. Can you keep it up and still enjoy blogging?
- That you’re able to build a community around your blog. You may do so on your blog, or off – I know people who have little interaction on their blog, but much more on Facebook. In my case, readers react on my blog, on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.
Your blogging portfolio as a (first?) step in your career
A potential employer or client may be interested in one aspect of your blogging efforts or all:
- content creation as a creative process
- regular content production
- community management on or off your blog
And of course depending on what you blog about, they’ll get some idea of you as an expert on one or more topics – and as a person.
What kind of portfolio is your blog turning into – and could it support your chosen career?
A while ago I wrote about your LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn summary and so on. But what about the old-fashioned resume? Is it gone forever?Somehow I doubt that. But LinkedIn is a great place to organize your resume if you’ve never bothered to do so – or if it’s been a long time so you feel as though you’re starting from scratch.
If you want to apply for a job using video, it’s worth reviewing your previous activities. In a way, your resume is just a way of keeping score – a means to an end.
It’s worth reviewing your past employments through the eyes of your potential employer. What are they about, and how do you fit into their picture?
Update your resume: mind your language
If you’ve been (un)employed for a long time, getting back into the old resume-making routine (was it ever a routine?) may cause you to create sentences with a vocabulary that was out of fashion well before the 21st century started.
Size up your future employer:
- What clues does the company website yield about the nature of the organization and its employees, language-wise?
- Check the LinkedIn profiles of a few employees to enhance the picture.
In very formal organizations, little may have changed over the years. Everywhere else is a different matter. Don’t use the language you would have used twenty years ago.
Resume add-on? Writing your motivational letter
The letter or video to go with your resume should contain as little as possible from your resume. This is where you show your potential employer:
- Who you are as a professional and what you’ll bring to the company.
- No less important is what you’ll get from the company.
#1: What can they expect in terms of skills, knowledge, and work attitude? Don’t put anything in there that’s not you. I don’t just mean inventing skills you don’t have, but also presenting yourself as more proactive, or more pliable, than you really are.
Tip: being turned down for who you are is bad enough. Don’t get turned down for trying to be like someone else. I’ll admit this sounds like dating advice 😉
Does #2 sound odd? How about getting the chance to do new projects, meeting new people, or making sense of the organizational mess they’ve made? What a company has to offer you is working experience. Lots of it. If it’s the right kind of experience, so much the better. If not, keep the valuable bits of your newly found knowledge and run.
After a friend of mine left a company he said: “That was a complete waste of my time”. It wasn’t. He’ll never, EVER, apply for a job in that branche again, or for that type of job, without being aware of the potential pitfalls. It’s that easy. Next time you’ll know better. Unless you fail to learn.
What have you learned from your previous job?
Suppose you want to turn blogging – or let’s call it content creation – into a career. The first thing it means is that you need a business attitude at least where it comes to how much content you’ll create about what topic(s). What you really need is some kind of plan for your content.
What are the characteristics of a (good) content strategy anyway? I ran into a nice, possibly helpful definition on Business2Community, to which I’ve decided to add my own perspective in this post.
A content strategy for your blogging career
Having a content strategy means you
- deliberately create content
- which you have optimized for search. This means that you base your content on keyword phrases that drive ‘organic search traffic’ (and conversions) – this is what the article I mentioned focuses on,
- that demonstrates an understanding of your potential customer’s knowledge acquisition at various stages in their buying cycle. Don’t worry, I’ll explain later 😉
This means you don’t write whatever you like – a different approach from what you’d do on a personal blog. Instead, you start by finding out what keyword phrases your potential customers are probably using to find the information they need.
What kind of content is your potential customer looking for?
Put yourself into your customers’ shoes for a moment. What information you need depends on several aspects:
- Whether you’re already familiar with a type of product or service. Do you need to know what different smartphones do, or do you own one and do you want to compare the latest smartphones with yours?
- Whether you’ve already decided which product or service you want, or from which company you’ll buy.
- You may want to compare prices to get the best deal regardless of the brand so long as the product meets your demands.
- Or you know what product you want. All you need to know is which site or company offers you the best deal.
- Or you’re fed up with the lousy service you’ve had from company X and you need to make sure you find a company that does know that “customer service” contains the word “service” for a reason.
Every different situation means you’ll be using different keywords while looking for information.
A content strategy that is optimized for search means you take your potential customers’ search behavior into account even before you start creating content for your blog (or website).
What do you know about your potential customers? Can you ask any of the customers you already have?
Delivering your content to your potential customers
Next: you deliver your “optimized” content to your potential customers in a relevant and compelling way.
What is relevant depends on what your readers and/or your potential customers are looking for, not what you feel is important for you to tell the world.
Compelling is a word I’ve seen too often since I started reading about content marketing, and relevance takes care of a lot. True, it doesn’t help if you analyze quite interesting stuff down to the level of atoms for potential customers who either want you to help them or to entertain them. On the other hand, maybe you’re doing exactly the right thing to attract the people you need for your business. Do you know?
What kinds of content can you deliver on your blog?
A couple of categories of content that could work in the context of your blog are:
- Case studies that show how you dealt with a particular kind of issue. This lets people know what to expect from you.
- The ‘how to’ posts are familiar and they can be quite popular. However a post doesn’t become popular just because the title starts with “How to…”. Again, relevance to your potential customers matters most.
- White papers that give in-depth information to those readers you’ve selected as possibly interested in more than the average blog post.
- News about events you attend or organize, so people know where/when to find you.
Final considerations for a blogging career
If you’re serious about a blogging career you also need to consider which format suits your potential customers, and where they hang out for preference.
- Are they the reading kind or do they prefer video?
- Do they write lengthy comments on your blog or do they drop a short line on Twitter?
If, like me, you’re writing for the fun of writing, or to help your thinking process along, these considerations are probably not for you. But if you’ve decided to try to make money blogging, you’ll need to cater for your potential customers’ preference rather than stay in your own cosy comfort zone wondering where they went.