Richard Westney and Amanda Sterling, both experienced HR bloggers, shared some advice for HR practitioners who are considering blogging about their careers and expertise.
What should you write about?
“If you ever have to sit and force yourself to write something you can guarantee no one will want to read it,” Westney said. “Only start a blog if you have opinions you want to share and things you know you want to say. I am often 2 or 3 posts ahead of what I am publishing so I have a pipeline of posts either written or being thought about. Always keep a notebook or tablet handy so you can make notes whenever inspiration strikes. Get into the habit of seeing anything you read or situations you encounter as potential topics to write about. Make time to be alone with your thoughts. I often write something in my head while I am out on a long walk. There is no magic formula. Some posts take 10 minutes to write, others germinate for weeks until you find the right angle to approach the subject from. And don't publish everything you write! Look for quality.”
“You can blog about anything,” Sterling said. “What resonates with you? What do you want to share with the world? If you’re stuck, look at what other HR bloggers are talking about. Some of my favorites are a mixture of professional knowledge sharing, humour and inspiration.”
She added that blogging shouldn’t be forced – bloggers shouldn’t fret over post topics.
“Don’t get too hung up on spitting something out,” she said. “The best ideas come when you’re not trying, go for a walk and let it percolate. You will blog when something you see, hear or experience hits a heart string or a brain cell.”
How can you market a blog?
“If you are writing a blog you can't be shy about it. You want people to read it – otherwise what's the point?” Westney said. “I see a lot of good bloggers write brilliant stuff, but they get disheartened because people don't flock to their posts. Where they fall down is lack of promotion. I promote via social media. Every post gets tweeted ten to 20 times. Think about the audience you want – where they are, their time zones and day plans and schedule accordingly. Use tools like tweetdeck that allow you to schedule tweets at specific times. I also post links on LinkedIn and Google+. I try to ensure that people who generally read my posts will see a link somewhere. Use hashtags that people follow, such as #nzlead and #hrblogs, and don't be afraid to post links into online groups if the topic is relevant. You have to spend as much time marketing as writing if you want to be read. Encourage discussion and debate – monitor your comments and reply promptly.”
Sterling also had some advice on the best ways to market a blog.
“Marketing a blog is a bit of a misnomer,” she said. “Yes, you can whack that thing on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter multiple times but it doesn’t mean that people will actually read it. You want conversation and, if you don’t want conversation then you shouldn’t care about how many people are reading it. The best way to start that conversation is to share, comment and like other people’s blogs. The more generous you are spreading the words of others, the greater the chance they will reciprocate and share your words.”