A lot of people I know end a full and oft times brilliant career and are not ready to stop working. They are ready to do the work they want to do on their own terms— which means starting out on their own. Their story is changing and often they need a way to tell that to the people who need to hear it and be part of their story.
If this sounds like you, does this mean you need to start a blog? Not always.
Although you might think I tell everyone to start a blog, that is not true. I do promote this as the right strategy for many people. Here are some guidelines that can help you tell if you are one of the people who could benefit from regular blogging.
- Do you have a lot to gain by getting yourself out there with your own website? For a college student getting into the job market, or a corporate executive who wants to be noticed for their thought leadership, having your own website is a great step. Another way to frame this question: Do you have something to say and want to build up your reputation?
- Are you thinking long term about your career path? I believe it is important not to wait until you need to get yourself out on the web. You never know when there will be a layoff at your company, or when a fantastic but competitive opportunity will present itself. Think about whether your career path would benefit from having your own website with posts that show who you are, what you care about and what you have accomplished. Compared to a typical resume, the stories your write are so much more effective because they show how wonderful you are instead of telling.
- Would you benefit by branding yourself? When you have your own site you can craft the image someone gets about you by the content you include. I don’t mean being dishonest. I mean you can show the really great things that you have done rather than someone reading one sentence on a resume that looks like everyone else’s pumped up blah blah blah. You can show that you are a well-respected speaker by writing a post about the keynote you did for a major company or even your speaking gig at the local chamber of commerce. You can include images of you speaking and even embed the slidedeck that you have uploaded to Slideshare.
- Are you willing to start even before you are sure of your next step? A friend who was considering his next career, and who isn’t entirely sure exactly what he wants to do quite yet, asked me when should he start a site. My answer: I think you have a brilliant mind and having a vehicle and a practice of writing regularly would be great for you no matter what you do with it. Because you are wanting to leave corporate life, now is the perfect time to start rather than waiting.
- Can you bite off the first chunk? You don’t have to have a full-blown website. Start with a blog and grow into yourself. My first website was a blog where I wrote about whatever I wanted to. It was before I ever thought about starting New Tricks. I used this site to get my feet wet and begin to find my voice. Later, when I realized I had a gift and could use my psychology, technology and design skills to help people with their businesses, I then knew what I wanted to do for work. I knew who my people were and what they needed to know. That is when I started a second site for my business. In your case, your blog could easily grow into your consultant/speaker website. But since you don’t know exactly what you want to do next, then going simple is the best, easiest and cheapest way to start. Too many people get hung up making their site pixel perfect and fret over content for way too long only to find their business changing as they really get into it.
- Are you willing to invest in the basics? To get started with us, you will need to have some great photos taken (not the ordinary headshot) and we can set up a blog format website with a text logo of your name that would really feature your writing. I will ask you to write five posts with images. We start with a front page for the blog posts with a sidebar, an about page and a contact page. We will teach you to add additional pages for your services and speaking once you understand your offers and audience more clearly. Since WordPress is built on a database, all of your content stays with you if you want to change your homepage or have a complete redo of the site at some later date.
- Are you willing to learn and to commit? Once you get your site we will train you. You then decide on a writing schedule and keep to it. Put your posts on an automatic feed so when someone subscribes, they get each post as you publish them sent to their inbox. Wash, rinse and repeat.
If you have been noodling with what to do next, it is time for you to create a body of work that is your legacy. You may not yet know where you are going, but getting started cannot do anything but help define your true and best purpose going forward. Many times I have seen people write their way to their highest calling.
And if you are at the other end of the career continuum and ready for your first job out of college, just the fact that you have a website and share your ideas and expertise will set you apart. Having a personal blog/website shows a lot more of you than any resume. So if you can write and have something to say, a prospective employer will see you are the one for the job. And if you aren’t the right match, your website has helped filter that too. You probably wouldn’t have been happy about working there anyway.
So maybe I do think having a blog is good for anyone. What are you waiting for?