Rosetta Thurman, one of my favorite blogging professionals, posted an excellent post the other day--10 Reasons Why Every Young Professional Should Have a Blog. It was, as always, a thoughtful, compelling post with some great reasons for blogging that she she picked up from her Twitter network.
What surprised me were the responses in the comments section. Several commenters didn't buy into Rosetta's arguments, indicating that they were working in areas where blogging is seen as negative--at best self-indulgent and at worst professional suicide.
It got me thinking about strategies for blogging when your industry or occupation hasn't embraced blogging. What do you do when all the negative publicity about blogs as narcissistic navel-gazing or platforms for strident criticism have permeated your industry? How do you blog then? So below, some ideas:
- Be a "content curator"--Every professional I know complains that they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information and resources that are available online. They would love to have someone weed through what's out there and give them a digest of resources and articles to help them get their work done. Try serving this role for your industry or occupation. Set up a Delicious account to bookmark the best stuff you find online and write periodic posts summarizing and linking to what you've found. Stephen Downes does a great job of this (although his commentary can be controversial). So does Rebecca Leaman.
- Be a teacher--Use your blog to show people how to do different things. Try writing "how to's" and tutorials or sharing helpful tips. Beth Kanter does a lot of this and it's helped her build a huge following on and off-line.
- Be a cheerleader--Everyone likes to be recognized for the positive work they do. Sharing best practices and giving shout-outs to deserving individuals and organizations is another way to use your blog. Beth Kanter does this with case studies.
- Be a reflective practitioner--I've written before about reflective practice, the process of thinking through how you do your work and reflecting on how to improve and grow your skills. Blogging can be a key part of the process, as Rosetta points out in her post. Not only do we get the benefit of writing out our own thoughts and ideas, by blogging them we open them up to scrutiny and suggestions that can help us learn new ways of thinking and operating. Catherine Lombardozzi's blog is a great example of this approach.
- Be a connector--Use your blog to expand your network. Contact key people in your industry or profession and ask if you can do a blog interview. Contact people outside of your industry to get their ideas and perspectives. Ask questions on your blog and invite people to respond, serving as a hub for activity and ideas that can help people connect to one another. Rosetta is a good example of a connector with her podcasts and blogging interviews.
The thing about blogging is that you don't have to adopt a model that's "controversial." If you're worried about expressing ideas or opinions that may be unpopular in your industry, then don't do it. Although there are a lot of bloggers who like to challenge the status quo, that doesn't have to be YOUR model of operating. You can play another role in your niche that builds your brand in a different way.
It's been my experience that providing great resources to people, showing them ways to do their jobs better and faster, or connecting them to people and ideas they haven't encountered before are all things that most employers look for in an applicant. Even if they aren't "into" blogging, seeing that you use your blog to be a resource for people will generally be viewed as a positive. And if it's not, then maybe you don't want to work for that organization anyway.
One more thought before I close. One of the benefits of being someone who blogs in an industry where it isn't accepted yet is that you're out there first, becoming a thought leader before the field gets crowded. Although it's tempting to wait to blog until other people are doing it, the downside is that you will have a harder time standing out, which is one of the key things you want to do when you're building your brand. I agree with Rosetta--it's better to jump in. You'll be glad you did.
If you're looking for some ideas on types of blog posts to write, try this wiki. Lots of ideas to get your juices flowing.
If you're looking for a way to get started on blogging for branding, try joining Rosetta's 31 Day Challenge, coming up in August. It will be a great way to get your feet wet and see what we're talking about.