Can a Blog Launch Your Career or Business?

I just read a post by Darren Rouse of that may be the best article I've read in months.

It is called, "Temporary Blogs: Blogs as Stepping Stones," and Darren discusses how several bloggers he really enjoyed in the past, have discontinued their blogs.

At first, he regarded these examples as failures, but then learned these bloggers achieved exactly the goals they set out for themselves.

One blogger dropped her blog after getting a job, which was her purpose for blogging in the first place. She used her blog to showcase her expertise, raise her profile within her field and create lots of content that could demonstrate her knowledge.

Her blog also provided her with a platform to network within her field and meet people she might not have met otherwise.

Once she landed the job she wanted, the need (she felt) for her blog was over. As she explained to Darren:
I wanted to land a job, I was out of work, and the blog was never really going to be anything beyond an online résumé, a place for me to build my profile and build some credibility, and potentially meet some employers.

Another blogger Darren enjoyed reading stopped after he got his fledgling software company off the ground. He told Darren:
He reflected back to me that again, his blog was a means to another end—he was never going to be a professional blogger, that wasn’t his model; his model was to launch a software company, and he used his blog to do that.

This confirms what I've been thinking for some time. I firmly believe that for some fields, resumes will become obsolete and be replaced by blogs, video channels, podcasts or other forms of online portfolios.

Few job applicants fit neatly into a "job description." Few entrepreneurs begin with the credibility they need to attract clients and investors.

But a blog (or podcast, video channel, etc.) is much more than a portfolio of your work. It is also an excellent vehicle to enable you to network with others (especially people you may not be able to contact directly in the offline world). When people comment on your posts, subscribe to your RSS or tweet about your content, you are gathering a following.

And this kind of following is based on your knowledge and insights, not just on the cut of your suit or whether you golf at an influential country club. In fact, just the fact that you have a blog makes YOU influential within your field.

This is the kind of credibility no resume can give you.

But there is one point on which I would disagree with Darren's two friends. Even after you land your dream job or get your company launched, it is misguided to kill your blog.

Two reasons:
  1. Your dream job may not last forever. The company may fail or downsize employees. Or your goals may change. At that point, you will need not only the platform your blog once gave you, but also the contacts and readers (and fans) you gathered as a result of your blogging efforts.

    What should you do then? Start blogging again? Possibly, but you will most likely have lost a lot of your network that came to you through your blog.

  2. Your blog will most likely make you more valuable to your employer or help you attract more new clients for your company. The same knowledge and expertise that made you valuable to an employer or investor, will make you valuable to potential clients.

    Your blog can easily be refocused so that you will be a rainmaker within your field. It will position you (and by extension, your company) as a solver of problems within your niche.

Therefore my advice is to dance with the one that brung you, so to speak. If your blog was what opened the door of opportunity for you in the first place, you will probably want more opportunities to come through that same door.

Your blog is the ultimate personal branding vehicle. It is personal branding not based on flash and style, but on substance, knowledge and solutions to the problems clients need to have solved.

What are your thoughts? Have you achieved success or accomplished a goal as a result of blogging or creating content? Have you landed a job or attracted clients as a result? Let me know.
COPYRIGHT © 2010, Charles Brown

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Listen to My Interview on KSKY Talk Radio

Last night I was interviewed on KSKY Radio regarding the upcoming Business Social DFW Expo on October 30, 2010. I will be one of the speakers talking about social media marketing.

You can listen to the interview below:

MP3 File

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  1. Just click the title of the article you want and then go down to the bottom of the article.
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COPYRIGHT © 2010, Charles Brown

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Put Some Meat on Your Content Marketing

I talk a lot about content marketing on this blog.

As a result, when I meet people who think Twitter and other social media platforms are "magic bullets" that can start making money without time or effort, I tend to dash cold water on them by bringing up the importance of creating content.

Tweeting and posting something on your Facebook wall is practically effortless. But creating or finding valuable content to tweet about takes work. More importantly, it requires us to really understand the wants and needs of the people we want to sell to.

About a year ago, I "borrowed" (ok, blatantly stole) Hubsopot's cool title Is Your Online Marketing Strategy All Tweet and No Meat? to write my own take on their ideas in my article: Social Media Marketing: Avoid the "All Tweet and No Meat Trap.

The Hubspot article spoke to the fact that:
Many of the marketers and small business owners leaping into social media are forgetting the importance of other online marketing channels. This is a problem because social media works best in conjunction with a site that's full of fresh content like blog posts, white papers and videos.

If your marketing strategy is just Twitter and Facebook -- no longer-form content of your own -- your company will end up a big-talking cowboy without cattle. You'll be making comments about everything, but substantive contributions to nothing.
And there's the rub. Social media without content is everything critical outsiders suppose it is, just a lot of folks tweeting about brushing their teeth or having a ham sandwich for lunch.

But content for content's sake still won't do it. As Joe Pulizzi points out in his brilliant article, Your Customers Don't Care About You - Take the Content Marketing Test, content must focus on the needs/wants/interests/problems of your audience.

In this article, Pulizzi has a screen shot of a page from "MyFord" magazine, that repeatedly mentions the Ford name or names of its car models. (YAWN.)

That kind of stuff isn't content, it's just narcissism on paper.

One of the points Joe makes to test whether your material is really worth reading from a customer's perspective is, "Ask yourself, "Is our content more about our customers' pain points or more about us and how great our products or services are?"

Here's a better example:

Southwest Airlines has a a section on called Taking The Kids, which is for parents and grandparents who are planning to travel with children.

Talk about a wealth of interesting content written FOR an audience. This stuff can't help but engage readers.

It offers information on things like:
  • How to get a sitter when you are away from home,
  • How to keep kids safe and healthy while traveling,
  • How to make museum excursions fun,
  • When they're flying solo,
  • Touring college campuses with your teens,
  • Water safety,
  • Hitting the national parks, and many other topics.
This is content that can't help but pull the right reader into it and create a little more loyalty to Southwest. It was written to solve their problems, not to tout a brand ... and yet actually it is. Branding is becoming more about connecting with an audience than it is repeatedly drumming in a product or company name into the public's subconscious.

Brands are fast becoming more about educating the public, solving problems for them or making some aspect of their lives easier. This is where the person who thinks Twitter and social media is just another mass marketing tool is missing the boat.

There are some marketers who get this concept and are off and running with it. There are others who just want to beat a slogan or jingle into our brains, and think social media gives them another way to do it.

What do you think? Can you share some examples of good or bad content marketing?

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown

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Social Media: It's All About Influence

As usual, Jeff Bullas has written a blog post that I wish I had written.

The article, 8 Reasons Why Twitter Power Users Are Influential, is his own rift on a study conducted by Exact Target.

Years ago, I remember reading Harvey MacKay explain why he always flew first class when he traveled. He learned that he met a different type of person in the first class cabin. He had met, and subsequently networked with, a number of VIPs from all walks of life that later benefited him in his business and charitable endeavors.

Twitter is does the same thing without the hassle of taking off your shoes.

The fact is that VIPs get preferential treatment. If you are a top executive with Corporation A, and you do business in your personal life with Corporation B, the top people in B will treat you differently. If your Corporation B builts car has problems, just call your friends over there and you will get service unheard of by the average consumer. If your stay at Corporation B's exclusive resort is less than four star, your friends in the executive suite will make it right for you.

It's a fact of life, high profile people with a lot of influence get better service, better seats, and more attractive wait staff.

The rest of us have to talk to someone with a foreign accent named "Suzy."

Social Media, however, has derailed this whole cozy arrangement by making a lot more people influential. Just ask United Airlines after the "United Breaks Guitars" video went viral on YouTube, telling the world about how they treated one customer. Or ask FTD after Lena West wrote about their terrible service in her blog.

Today, anyone who is active on any social network is influential. Anyone who has a Twitter account, a blog, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account or a YouTube account can rock a company who gives them bad service.

On the other hand, any of these people can also bring a lot of business to companies who deliver good service. (Read the Lena West article again and note how 1-800-FLOWERS benefited from their good deeds).

But when it comes to influencers, not all social networks are the same. Although Facebook dwarfs them all when it comes to sheer numbers, Twitter stands out for the caliber of people you can meet on its network.

As the Exact Target study points out, power Twitter users are very different from the average social media customer:
  • 72 percent publish blog posts at least monthly
  • 70 percent comment on blogs
  • 61 percent write at least one product review monthly
  • 61 percent comment on news sites
  • Daily Twitter users are 6 times more likely to publish articles
  • Five times more likely to post blogs
  • Seven times more likely to post to Wikis
  • Three times more likely to post product reviews at least monthly compared to non-Twitter users

In other words, the people you meet on Twitter are much like the people you meet in the first class cabin. They are very likely to be the VIPs that can influence the impact your brand can have in the marketplace and drive customers to (or from) your business.

These are astounding statistics. How can any business neglect such a pool of influential VIPs?

Let's look at just one of these items: Think of how powerful it is to have good product reviews posted online. I know of several local businesses that have succeeded beyond all expectation just because they have five or more raving reviews written about them.

The simple truth is that organizations that neglect Twitter or use it poorly, do so at their own peril. Because you know at least one of their competitors are meeting important influencers there.

I have personally met a large number of people on Twitter who in the "real world" would have been insulated by an NFL defensive line of gatekeepers. Not only have I made contact, they know my name and have had friendly chats with me. Even more, when I attend events they are also attending, we make a point to meet there as well.

The fact is that Twitter (and to a lesser extent other social networks) provide access to people you would give your first born to meet in the offline world. Don't neglect this valuable tool to further your goals and growth.

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