I didn’t start life as a best-selling author and motivational speaker. In fact I was born into a disadvantaged family. Both my parents were alcoholics, but today I am the author of nine best-selling books that have sold more than two million copies internationally. My columns have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world and I’ve been a guest on many top TV programs. How did this happen? Why did it happen? It happened because I had something to say – something worthwhile to contribute – and I knew how to market my knowledge.
The international information marketing industry is now worth $50 billion. So if you have skills as a leader, coach, consultant, author, speaker, expert or online marketer it is time to start thinking about how to have your knowledge recognised. These days, to establish yourself as an expert in any area, you need to have an online profile. This is one of the first step towards monetizing your knowledge, but perhaps you aren’t interested in making money and just keen to share your passion. Maybe you are an expert in an usual field and want to share your knowledge with the broader community – again you do need an online profile.
A blog versus Facebook
Many of you will already have a Facebook page, but have you considered getting your own blog? A blog is a great way of promoting yourself and your business (if you have one). A blog is simply a webpage where you can post up content. In a blog, you can say as much or as little as you want and control the presentation. With Facebook, you’re stuck with their template. But be warned, a blog requires much more work than a Facebook page. You might want to write long blogs, include multiple photos, some videos and links. With a blog, you have a better chance of standing out online. Just think, Facebook might have more than a billion users, but you are also competing with one billion other Facebook pages. Ideally you should use a Facebook and a blog together, to create an effective profile.
Identify your passion
Naturally, you need to identify your area of expertise or your passion before launching your online presence. For example are you interested in fashion? Would you like to work as a fashion consultant? Perhaps you are convinced that Australian men have poor fashion sense – I know I’ve made some questionable fashion choices in the past, hasn’t every man? Then you might want to set up a blog that helps men avoid basic fashion mistakes, and instead dress for success.
Once you’ve pin-pointed your area of expertise, the next step is to look at physically setting up a blog.
The process of blogging
If you are a little intimidated by the idea of blogging you can pay an IT specialist to set up your blog. Alternatively, you could enrol in a course that teaches you about blogging software. A number of community colleges run these courses.
There are also sites that host blogs for free such as Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com. These websites also have tutorial videos online that will teach you how to upload content to your blog. YouTube also has some great online tutorials about these sites. Alternatively there are host sites you can pay for, that offer more personalised support.
But let’s step away from the mechanics of blogging and look at what you should be posting to your site.
Content for your blog
Clever content, such as articles you’ve written, videos and photos will serve to enhance your reputation as an expert. Alternatively lack lustre content can do you and your enterprise a great deal of damage. Content is like a good speech or performance. It needs to be entertaining and informative and always accurate. You want to stand out from the crowd, but you don’t want to offend your audience. What can you do that is different from your competitors? Does anyone in your area of expertise post up videos they’ve shot? What about a slideshow with a musical background? Again, these are all blogging skills you could learn at a community college.
Another essential is posting regularly. Journalists work to deadlines, because newspapers and television appear on a daily basis. It is no good setting up a blog and then just ignoring it for weeks at a time. Your online community will lose interest. If you begin a blog, commit to posting on it regularly and let your audience know when you will be posting – whether that be on a daily or weekly basis.
Build up your audience
Tell everyone you know that you are starting a blog and make sure you email them the blog’s web address. That includes all your friends and family, and the members of any community organisation you belong to. Next, you must have the right ‘plugins’ on your blog so that your audience can easily share your blog content on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Again, you can learn about ‘plugins’ at a course on blogging. Alternatively, pay an IT specialist to include these essential sharing plugins on your blog.
Write headlines for your blog that grabs attention. Also include words relevant to your area of expertise so that your blog shows up on google searches, for example if your interest is men’s fashion refer to “the latest trends in men’s fashion” and “Australian fashion for men”, “best dressed Australian men”, etc…
You also need to be active on social media in your area. You need to constantly share your content on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Reach out to people in the field either through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or by posting intelligent comments on other sites in the field.
Will you allow people to post comments on your blog? This is a good way to connect with people and increase engagement with your readers. Again, this is a case of adjusting the settings on the site – something you could learn in a blogging course or get an IT expert to help.
Praise others on your blog. If your interest is improving the dress sense of men and establishing a career as a fashion consultant, consider a feature on the country’s 50 best dressed men. Name them, find an email for their agent, and send them your blog. You may find some of these individuals share your content with some of their well-connected friends!
You might also want to ask a guest to write a column for your blog. For example, do you know a fashion designer who might provide a few tips on how men can dress well? Again, send the fashion designer a link to your content so they can share it with their friends.
Use the media to promote your site
Write a media release on your blog. Model the language and sentence structure on a newspaper article. Include some quotes from you, then send the release off to the media, perhaps the local newspaper or a trade magazine that reports on your area of expertise. Let them know what is unique about you and the service your website offers. Make sure you include a phone number to be contacted on. If you are lucky, an article on your business might appear in the local newspaper. If there is a discussion about your area of interest on the radio, try to ring in as a talkback caller and mention your blog.
Opportunities for public speaking
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to tell people about your blog. Sometimes community organisations, like Rotary or Probus, need guest speakers. Think of who in the community is interested in your specialist area, what associations these people likely belong to and if they host guest speakers.
Generating an income through blogs
The aim of a blog is not to immediately generate an income, but rather it enhances your reputation as an expert and thus lifts your profile and the profile of your business. A great blog could set you on the path to getting work in a desired field, such as music or fashion. Of course, there is always the possibility that your blog will be a big hit and in time, your audience will be prepared to pay for the content.
Remember that establishing a successful blog does not happen overnight. Some of the world’s most popular blogs took a year or two to build up an audience.
Blogs are a big undertaking and take work, but they serve to build up your reputation, credibility and career.