Friday, September 16, 2011

Personal Branding: Blog like Crazy

In your quest to become known—to build that oh-so-important harbinger of success called platform—blogging can be a quick way to reach an audience. Additionally, blogging is all kinds of fun.

When I traveled to India for business in 2008, I was with a colleague who planned to blog about her experiences for the folks back home. She invited me to do the same, but back then I didn’t know what a blog was. Sally helped me set up my India blog using a free website that provided templates. Designing my blog was easy. Writing it was a blast. Posting pictures was a snap, once Sally showed me the steps.

We arrived in Bangalore on a weekend and had plenty of time to unpack, relax, and blog. Our experiences were all so new that topics easily presented themselves. Soon we began seeing favorable comments from our colleagues and families in America, and I was hooked on blogging.

There are a couple rules for blogging, and these are coming directly from my experience. I don’t mean that I have all of it down. I don’t even do everything I say, but I’m speaking as someone who’s learning from putting my blog out there.

First, if you begin a blog, keep it going. That’s how to build a readership. Decide how often you’ll post something new and stick to it, so that readers know what to expect. That was as difficult in India as it is now.
As our work week began there, I was preoccupied with what I would write in my next blog post. I couldn’t wait to get back to my keyboard; but blogging wasn’t our purpose in Bangalore. Work took precedence, and many times our hosts also kept us company after the workday had ended, taking us to malls or restaurants. On weekends, we all toured. Thus, I was often too busy or too tired to write. Occasionally I would wake up in the middle of the night with a blog idea and be unable to sleep, so I would post in the wee hours.
I guess the second blogging rule is have something to say. Topics are infinite, as are opinions. Express yourself well. People are not going to have a lot of patience for junk; at least, I hope that’s true.
We’re in an age of online communities where anyone can write for public consumption. People who would never call themselves writers will blog, share their opinions with discussion groups, and regularly post status updates on social media. Reading those gems can be painful. I just read a blog on a publishing site in which the author incorrectly used lay, split an infinitive, ended a thought with a preposition, and incorrectly made molehill two words. I won’t even go into the comma faults, incorrect use of a pronoun, and poor sentence construction.
It’s like being in school when the teacher asks you to write an essay and not to worry—or should I say TO NOT WORRY--about spelling or grammar, but to focus solely on creativity. Sorry; I don’t agree with that one.
Blogs can be pretty. Many bloggers decorate with graphics or photos. Choosing a readable typeface is important. If you don’t use a designer, blog sites have templates for those sorts of things.
The other rule I would inject is write responsibly. Cuddle up to the English language and do your very best with it. Do your research. Be considerate of others. Make your blog worth their time. It's a thrill when others tell you how much they like something you wrote.
Read other people’s blogs. Decide which ones are good and which ones speak to you. Read your own from time to time. I just reread every one of my posts this morning, some of them long forgotten. Doing that helps me to see the big picture--where my blog is going, and how it might come across to readers.
So, blog like crazy. It’s a good way to work on your writing skills, and you might just set the world on fire. I bet you’ll at least make somebody think or smile.
Thanks to all of you who pause during your busy lives to read this blog.

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