Around 2009 and 2010 my career was a mess. In late 2009 I applied for a job that would have revived my career and defined me in Product Marketing. I didn’t get the job because of my weak resume. After that I was at a loss of what to do with my spattered past, with stints in five industries in 10 years, a less-than-stellar entrepreneurial effort, and multiple job titles.
And now I love my career and life. What I did between then and now is the secret sauce I am attempting to bottle up and help others as a Career Advisor.
Back then, I was in a place of not letting myself understand my true skills. I had to put my big girl boots on and face some truths about myself, some of which were about things holding me back and some of which were talents I was keeping hidden. When I accepted myself as human, gave myself permission to make mistakes, and found ways to open up to my true skills, I found the right job for me.
Here’s my shortened story: at one point, I found a few exercises to tap into things that weren’t prevalent on my mind about myself, and made them prevalent. Through these exercises, I found a way to make my disparate career history into a cohesive story. I got hired on a small project which I leveraged in my LinkedIn profile. I interviewed some people in my network, and researched to see how my skills might apply to an actual job. I took all that and rewrote my profile to be about IT Communications. Then I sent out an email through LinkedIn and socialized the new direction. One person, who I had worked with several years before, told me his wife was in the field I was targeting and she had an opening. And that is how, in October 2014, I got a fabulous position with a title in IT Communications I’ve never had before, in an industry I’ve never worked before, in an IT department that’s about two to three times the size of any company I’ve worked for.
It's a Wonderful (Career) Life
One of these exercises I call “It’ a Wonderful Life,” named after the movie. The main character of the movie, George Bailey, gets to see his life as if he’d never been born. In my mind’s eye, I imagined what each project or job situation would have been like if I hadn’t been there. I asked, “How would it have gone differently? What did I bring to the project or situation?” I wrote those things down, and took an observer’s look at the kind of person that emerges.
This exercise might be helpful to you if you are struggling to make your career history make sense, or if you feel you don’t know what you bring to the table at work.
I've been writing about what's needed to set oneself up for success in blogging. Most of these decisions made at the front end apply to most online content. Now, we're almost there, nearly blogging! If you've been following, there was the foundation of your purpose and ongoing inspiration, setting the direction of your blog, and creating the time for your blog.
A final element is setting up your tools and technology to make sure your blog makes sense, is easy to find and read by your visitors, runs smoothly, handles comments, and contributes to SEO. A blogging ecology of success!
First, if you haven't yet, set up a platform for blogging. I hesitate to make product recommendations, but I can tell you this blog was started on a simple to use, drag and drop platform which I chose because it was really easy. The goal is to move the blog to my own domain and download the Wordpress.org platform. The benefits are that it's a common platform, it's easy to maintain, and it has a lot of available plugins, or small software components that add functionality to the platform, like accepting payments, or integrating with social media. There's a lot more to selecting a platform, hosting, SEO considerations, etc.; do a Google search or email me if you have questions. (By the way, I have no connections to WordPress, or any products mentioned here.)
Part of getting found by visitors is your blog name and your domain name. In most cases these days it's best to incorporate your blog with your business, but that's not always the case. If you are just starting or you're re-energizing your blog, then it may be good to consider a new or integrated name and domain name. Do a name search, a domain name search, a trademark search, and don't forget to check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or any other relevant social media sites for availability of a profile with that name.
Here are some other tool ideas to consider for your blog:
The final thing you want to do is set up a way to measure your goals. In step one, you identified where you wanted this blog to go and that will indicate what to measure. Google Analytics is free and popular, and there are others that will help you measure more. I will address this more in a future post. In the meantime, consider one of your measurements to be the stories you receive...like this example which exemplifies the Storycology perspective.
To learn more, read my e-book "5 Decisions: Creating a Blog;" email me to request a copy or with your questions. I hope I inspired you to keep blogging!
Almost anyone can figure out the how of blogging, right? Go to one of the blogging sites, write a post or two, and you are blogging. Do you know what it takes to sustain the now of blogging over time? Do you wonder how to find the time to write or pull together audio, video or image content? That's what I was wondering when I began my research project and ended up writing a e-book on the decisions to make before even starting a blog. Email me and I'll send it to you.
If you haven't read the previous posts, here's the one on a Blogging Foundation, and here's one on setting its Direction. Now, we address the time issue. Time is valuable. Your blog is valuable. If you want to sustain a blog and keep it going, arrange time to include your blog.
First, I noticed that authors, whether of a blog or a book, are all saying the same thing: set aside time to write. I'd say that holds true whether you are writing a marketing brochure, an article, a blog post, a book, a resume, or anything else, you need to set aside time to write. Some of you may have full schedules already so then it becomes a matter of how important it is to write. If it's part of something bigger that you're aiming for and is important to you, you'll find the time, whether it's at 4am before everyone wakes up or after the kids go to bed or once a week on Saturdays or even everyday at 3pm.
What I did is I used my Google Calendar to section off blocks of time to write and attend to my blog. I have a day job, and there are blocks of time for client work, for following up with clients and/or prospects, and for writing. And of course, blogging! When my calendar says it's time, the time to blog is now!
If you can commit to a writing schedule that helps you produce enough material to post 2- 3 times a week or any regular pace that works for you, then give yourself a huge pat on the back as that is great progress toward achieving blog sustainability.
The second helpful time tip I learned is to create a blogging publishing schedule, aka an Editorial Calendar. If we're blogging, we are now in the publishing business, so it's a good idea to do as the professionals do and create of schedule of what to publish when. That way we don't repeat ourselves and we can keep our readers interested with variation. Plus, it may help writer's block to have a pre-assigned topic to write about at a given time in your writing time.
The TLKMA Key and the Editorial Calendar
Here's how I put together my Editorial Calendar. I googled something along the lines of "Excel calendar template" and found a month template. I then printed it out and decided I would post twice a week. On the days I wanted to post, I placed vertically, the letters "TLKMA." This is a key for:
Then, I assigned various attributes to make sure I was mixing up content. Here's what I suggest:
First, assign blog categories (or topics from the last post) to different days, rotating them or grouping them as you see fit. Place the topic by the "T" in each instance.
Then, assign a length. It may be helpful to switch up long posts with short posts or medium posts. Assign the length of each post on the calendar by the letter "L."
It would also be great to vary the kind of posts you are creating. It may be a how-to, a how-not-to, an article of thought leadership, a Q&A, an interview, a definition, a story, etc. Get the idea? Place the kind of post next to the "K" in each instance in your calendar.
The "M" assignment is to vary your media, whether written, image, audio, video, or a combination. If you choose to have more of one kind, or none of one kind, that's okay. Do what's appropriate for your blog.
The last assignment is "A" for author. If you are including other authors, then you will want to assign in a way so that their responsibility of submitting a post is spaced out evenly.
That's the Editorial Calendar. Schedule out a month, and repeat. I'm playing around with one month at a time, which gives me a little freedom to post about relevant topics that are happening now.
I hope that's helpful to you! Let me know if you have any feedback about this process.
Thanks to Alan Cleaver for the image, Creative Commons license via Flikr.
I've had some takers on the challenge to blog with me, and I'm very excited. The idea of the accountability we have toward each other is keeping me motivated to write. It helps that I enjoy it!
I've been writing on the results of my research about starting a blog, and I'll continue with the next step, "Cultivating a Direction."
The goal of this step is to begin defining your theme, which defines the direction your blog will go. Select seven categories and five headlines for each category (thanks to Denise Wakeman for this tip).
1. WordPress and other blogging platforms allow you to create categories so readers can search by topic. Think of topics by breaking down the overarching theme 7 sub-categories. Open up a document on your computer and write the theme and the categories. As you blog, you may have more categories and you can add to them at any time.
2. Now develop five headlines for each category and write those down.
3. Write 300 – 500 words for each topic (or at least 10 of them). You can show these to people and get their feedback. Or, just have them ready to help you launch. I think it's kind of cool that you could schedule a coffee meeting, and then you can offer to buy the coffee while your associate reads through a post your wrote. When you arrive at the table with the coffee, they'll be ready with feedback!
If you're blog is to be comprised of audio or video only, then this is the step where you want to make sure you have the tools and equipment to create audio and video. Create your list of 7 topics and 5 subtopics for each, and then script or storyboard 10 of them and make them into recordings.
If you have trouble writing, then you may want to take classes, hire a freelancer, hire a writing coach, or just write and then hire an editor and/or proofreader (read here about the difference between an editor and proofreader).
After my research on business blogging I discovered there is a certain order of things to think about, identify, and have in place before even writing one bit of a blog or online content.
First, take an inventory of your business purpose for the blog - is it for awareness, thought leadership in your industry, to simplify complex ideas about your industry, or something else? Your purpose will help you create topics and posts that fit within a theme.
Know your audience. It helps to profile your readers, so you can present them with ideas they'll appreciate. If you don't have a specific reader in mind, your posts might lose the interest of the people who do read it.
Now that you know the purpose and audience, then it's time to identify your uniqueness in the market. Need help? Email me.
Next, you want to identify where your audience is, so you know how you'll promote the blog. This exercise is not so much about all the places you could promote as deciding which ones you can realistically commit to.
You also want to commit to a publishing rhythm. How many authors will there be and how many times a week? In the beginning especially, you want to build up content. Experts say 2 to 3 times per week is optimal.
Rounding out the foundation of any ongoing content is setting up a system of constant inspiration. Follow blogs you like, receive email newsletters, Google alerts, and RSS feeds that will inspire you to post with your unique perspective.
In my e-book, which started out as a plan and checklist for myself, I detail the resources and actions needed to develop this solid foundation of your blog. Join me, and we'll blog together! I'll announce here when my free e-book is ready.
Blogging is a common and relatively simple action these days. In fact there are over 150 million blogs on the Internet, and I heard somewhere half of those are about cats. In all that blog “fluff”, how do you get your business blog noticed? Where do you begin? And how do you keep it going?
Maybe you began by going to a blog platform website and started writing. I did that once or twice. Or maybe it was hard to keep up because your message was unclear or unfocused. That’s what happened to me . Let me know if you recognize this… you start a blog, then wrote five posts, then forgot to post for several months? Well, me too. This is why I studied the topic, attended workshops from some masters, and then set out to reinvigorate my own blog. While I was assembling my notes, I thought, why not take others with me?
I decided to create a template with simple instructions and tips and specific action items. Then, I would follow all the steps myself. Along the way, I felt the need for accountability and heard that authors have critique groups, so I thought that these actions would be a natural framework of accountability.
And that’s how my new ebook, “5 Decisions: Creating a Blog” being released later this month, was conceived. If you are new to blogging or restarting an old blog, would you like to blog with me?
Dori "Story" Gilbert is Chief Storycologist; passionate about professionals, their journey, and their ability to direct a career story they love.