There has been a lot of talk about how everyone in a job search (or who are otherwise currently obsessed with their personal brand) should be blogging.
I call “Bullsh*t”.
Not for the reasons cited by many opponents of the “everyone must blog” argument, however:
- “You must be a good writer” (wrong, you must be a good storyteller)
- “You must have subject matter expertise” (sorry, we all have to start somewhere)
- “You must have something to say” (nope, you just need something good to ask)
- “You must have commitment” (no again… you just need a cause)
So, as a veteran blogger myself (and a reader of 50 to 100 blog posts every day) why do I say that blogging is not for everyone? Because there are at least five ways that, despite all your effort, your version of personal blogging is hurting your personal brand:
You Write Lazy
Writing lazy is the best possible way to negatively impact your personal brand. The trouble is, especially when in a hurry far too many bloggers write like they talk. Some of my least-favorite indicators of lazy writing include the use of these words:
- “People” | Example: “Some people get it.”
Really? This post isn’t about mice or alligators? It’s about people??? Be specific – and in the process, engage your audience far better.
- “It” (specifically, ending a sentence with “it”) | Example: “Some people get it.”
What, exactly, is “it”? Do you really want to leave your point to the imagination of the reader – or do you want to accept responsibility for telling the story well?
- “Things” | Example: “Some people get things.”
Ugh. Worse than “it”. As @YouTernDave says: “The English language has 11 million words. Find a word!”
- “Never” (and any other absolute statement) | Example: “Some people never get it or things.
If you really want me to take your story seriously, don’t use absolutes… there is always an exception.
Think about what you’re writing. And finish your thoughts… with words that mean something.
You Fail to Establish Expertise (Or the Desire to Gain Expertise)
How many times have you read a blog by a Boomer blogger telling Gen Y everything Gen Y needs to know about Gen Y? Or a college student that has never worked outside retail going off about how to build the perfect long-term career?
If I am going to read a blog about rebuilding a 1965 Ford Mustang, I want to digest content from someone who has actually rebuilt a ’65 Mustang. If I’m going to invest my time in a parenting blog, it probably isn’t going to be written by a self-medicating helicopter parent with one kid permanently locked in her room and another serving 5 to 10.
Yes, we all have to start somewhere. Until you are established as an authority within your niche, however: either in your bio or the first paragraph, or both, show me why I should listen to you – and why I should care about what you are saying.
You Rant… Nearly All the Time
You’re angry. I understand. But I don’t empathize enough to want to read your rants every morning, or even every once per week. Pervasive negativity is not attractive. Most of us don’t feed the trolls. And we don’t hang out, albeit virtually, with someone who doesn’t often enough see the bright side.
Mix it up. Here’s the ticket:
- One-third rant, maximum
- One-third informative and analytical, with quantified statements and reliable sources
- One-third “actionable inspiration” – inspire me to take action based on what you just wrote
Otherwise, this is a BIG red flag to a potential employer, business partner, customer… and doesn’t help your love life, either.
You’re an Echo Chamber
Have an original thought. Get a little passionate. Tell me what YOU think.
Otherwise, you will never gain a reputation as a subject media expert, and you are wasting my time. When that happens, I will not only stop reading… I’ll never come close to sharing.
You Fail to Promote
Speaking of sharing…
If a blog publishes – and no one reads it – did you write anything?
Building a personal brand through blogging – with so many unique blogs to choose from – requires real effort. A blogger must spend a certain amount of time each day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest and so many others. Without crossing over into self-promotion, we must gently and respectfully promote our work as well as the work of others we respect.
To gain organic credibility and champion-level followers, you must be heard. Otherwise, it isn’t a blog… it’s a journal.
Blogging can be an amazing personal branding tool. True, almost no one is good at first; this art takes a while to even start to master. In fact, many bloggers – including this one – look back at their early stuff and, with heads hanging in knowing embarrassment, say “Oh my God. I sucked!”
And that is okay. That, as they say, is how we learn. And keep learning.
Be a blogger. No, first find an editing buddy – and then be a blogger. Build your personal brand. And every baby step along the way, work hard to show your readers that you care about your thoughts, your work, your brand… and them.
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!