I recently ran a series of workshops on ‘How to blog’ and was amazed at the number of young professionals that took part – all wanting to learn the what, how and why of blogging, not just for personal use but because they recognized this was a form of communication that would serve them well as they developed in their careers.
What makes blogging different to other forms of writing?
If you’ve been asleep in a dark cave for the last few years – here’s a quick run-down as to its origins: blogging began as a modern form of online journaling and derives its name from the term ‘weblog’ – a log of events posted on the web, which was jokingly split into we blog – and thereafter ‘blog’ was adopted as the noun and the verb.
Early use of this new medium was made by political blogs, and notably a difference in style between blogging and mainstream journalism evolved.
The power of the blog came from their use as a means of news dissemination, with bloggers sometimes leading the way in bringing key information to light.
The development of easy-to-use platforms for the blogger means now there are blogs everywhere, and the explosion of social media has meant that not only can people publish their own content, they can easily share it across a wide audience.
Personally, I love blogging as a medium. This is because when you write a blog, you are writing as YOU. So you can give your opinion, your thoughts, and your conclusions. No corporate speak – no struggles to ‘find the right tone’. The tone is your voice. This makes blogging incredibly freeing for the writer, and also more engaging for the reader, as you are reading personal stories and insights.
So now we know that this medium is here to stay – what does this mean for business professionals?
The blog has boomed in recent years in all genres – whether the personal lifestyle blog, the hobby blog, the political commentator blog – but none more so than the business blog – popular in workplace forums such as LinkedIn or on company websites, this simple tool has all-round benefits.
Blogging as a business professional is a great way to show-case your expertise and knowledge in a given area – and as the attendees in my workshops were quick to point out, could have currency and value when looking for the next opportunity. As blogs are quick to produce and publish (especially on tools such as LinkedIn), they can be current and up to date in terms of what’s happening and demonstrate that you are keeping up with an ever-changing world.
Now I’m not saying that everyone should be blogging all the time – especially if it’s not your preferred method of communicating, but it’s certainly a medium that has its place and its uses. So whether you’ve just attended a conference, or are wanting to share what you’ve learnt after completing an intense project – there may be opportunities right now that would work for you to share as a blog post.
What is it about a simple blog that can help a business?
The trend in recent times is the shift away from traditional corporate style communications to more personal styles of engagement – and the blog can do that – providing a face and a personal voice. This can work both within an organisation as well as outside – so whether a business is wanting to promote its products and services, or to build engagement and buy-in from its people, blogs from key people on hot topics can make a difference.
As a marketing tool, the business benefits of blogging are fairly obvious – driving traffic to your website, helping convert traffic into leads, helping establish authority and driving long term results. Within an organisation blogging can be just as powerful, and a great way for people to learn about the business, through other people’s voices and experiences.
How blogging helps the blogger
’I don’t know what I think until I write it down’
This quote by novelist and journalist Joan Didion is me to a ‘t’ and perfectly encapsulates why I began a personal blog over 4 years ago. Writing things down is a sure-fire way to start making sense out of things that may be complicated. Thinking about how it would look to an audience (the reader), and voicing it in a clear and conversational way, is a process that helps me to refine and clarify my thoughts. This was captured well by Steve Wheeler, academic and learning technology professional, in his recent blog post ‘Reasons to be blogging’. In short, his 5 reasons are:
- Blogging can keep you focused and engaged
- Blogging can help you think more clearly
- Blogging compels you to raise your game
- Blogging can give a creative outlet for thinking
- It gives feedback from, and promotes dialogue with a professional community.
People connect with people
This significant thing about writing a blog is that you have to be authentic. You have to be you. So in these days of authentic leadership – where leaders aspire to be aware of their strengths, limitations and emotions – and display relatability, honesty, self-awareness and compassion – the blog can be a powerful vehicle to convey these attributes.
People connect with people, and blogging can be a way to extend our reach beyond those we already know and are in contact with to a wider pool. I would say this extends beyond just our professional boundaries into all aspects of our lives. We can only be one true self, we can’t have different versions of ourselves in the different areas of our lives. This, I think is where blogging is really powerful. By providing a window into how you think, feel, and see the world, blogging is a way to display our own authentic brand.