While coaching a client the other day I asked her if she had considered blogging as a way to bolster her career brand. She acknowledged that she had and was very interested in doing so, yet had no idea how to get started.
While getting started with your own blog isn’t all that difficult, it is a multi-step process that can be a bit intimidating to newbies. A great interim solution, I suggested, would be to break into guest blogging as a steppingstone to eventually launching her own blog.
Guest blogging is exactly what it sounds like – a blog post you write as a guest for someone else’s blog. In the case of a job seeker, you will want to identify blogs in your industry and in the key terms that align with your career brand and expertise. So if you’re in sales, for example, you can start with sales blogs, but you might better served by investigating blogs that write about B2B or consultative sales, sales coaching and training, or channel management.
How can guest blogging benefit you? Beyond the exposure you may gain in your industry and the opportunities that can eventually emerge, consider that as a guest blogger you may be given a byline which you can use to link directly to your personal website or LinkedIn profile. Even more importantly, if you use relevant key words in your guest post titles and link to the posts from your LinkedIn profile, you will have automagically added more key words to the latter – always a smart thing to do.
How do you find blogs or websites to write for? You can conduct a Google or Bing search, of course, but you might also want to check blog directories like AllTop.com or Technorati, or lists of industry magazines such as Wikipedia’s. You can also use social media sites such Digg to, well, StumbleUpon blogs you aren’t already familiar with.
Once you find a relevant blog or magazine you think you’d like to write for, review past posts and issues to see what kinds of topics have already been covered to what depth. Notice if the publication uses guest bloggers or writers and if they only publish certain kinds of articles or seem to publish only in a certain voice.
Next, rummage through the site to look for their Writer’s Guidelines. If they are a well-established publication that uses a lot of guest writers, they may have a page or document that outlines what they’re looking for from contributors. These guidelines may detail the length of posts/articles, the types of content sought, their editorial calendar (if they have one), or what kinds of content they will not publish.
Most blogs and online magazines prefer to review completed manuscripts, but some will consider your proposal if you have one. I would suggest writing a post or article based on your research and the publication’s writer’s guidelines and submit this for consideration as outlined in the guidelines.
The most important thing to remember is that any post or article has to contribute valuable original content and ideas. It has to be genuinely helpful to the publication’s target readership. At the same time, it must align with your expertise and brand.
Once your post is accepted for publication, make sure you include a live link to it from your LinkedIn profile. You might also want to reference the piece in your LinkedIn summary. Better yet, once it goes live, do both of those, post a status update about it on LinkedIn that you also push to Twitter, AND publish a note about your post to each of your LinkedIn Groups.
Do all of this once of week if you’re in active search and you’ll see your job search gain traction fast. Do this once every couple of weeks or even once a month if you’re not in active search and you’ll see your career attract tons of opportunities in the months and years ahead.