If you are a regular blog reader, but don’t actually blog, then I think you should start. It’s not really that hard and you can start small.
How do I put this?
There are really only 2 ways to look at a task:
– as something worth doing because you think it matters
– as something not worth doing because you think it doesn’t matter
Simplistic? Well, yes. First principles usually are.
Are there other ways of wording the above? Yes, but who cares? It all boils down to the same thing: in life we do things because we think they are worth doing or we don’t think they are worth doing. That is a very personal decision that sometimes gets us more than we could have ever hoped for or sometimes nothing or, most of the time, just enough to get us through another day.
Let’s talk about something that I think matters. Or at least will help something that does.
But first…time for some questions about our professional lives.
- Are you knowledgeable about something you care deeply about?
- Do you have something to say?
- Do you have a career and not just a job?
- Want to get a better job?
- Want to turn your job into a career?
- Want to keep your options open?
- Do you like learning, but need a reason to learn new things?
- Do you share well?
If you answered Yes to any of the above (yes, the bar is very low for this one) then here is the answer you have been waiting for (well, might have been waiting for).
Blogging? Does that matter?
Yep. Blogging matters (refer to the above principles). On your resume. In your head. In the way you think, In the way that others see you (so does your appearance, but that will be a post for another day). Kind of like LISP only without the annoying parenthesis.
If you have something to say, and/or want to learn more about a particular subject, you should write it down for the world (and the NSA) to read.
Are you a college student? Write about your major. It will allow you see aspects of your future career in new ways. You might like it even more; you might like it less. Knowledge like that would be good to know in any case. Spend your tuition money wisely.
Are you a 5-to-9er? Write about an aspect of your work you find interesting. Solved a problem today? Write the solution down and tell the world. Did you feel less than intelligent when you solved it? Maybe you shouldn’t mention that part unless you can do it in a humorous (read: self-deprecating) way. At worst, you can always look up the solution in your blog when you run into it again.
Want to write a blog, but feeling anxious? Don’t over-think blogging. If you write more than one email at work a day then you can write enough to post a blog.
Here is a favorite template of mine (I stole it, of course):
- Tell the reader what you are going to blog about (1 sentence, maybe 2 or more if you feel up to it)
- Blog about it (half a page can be plenty. Write as much detail as you think it needs to be clear and no more. The goal is clarity. The only person in your head is you and even you don’t understand you). It should be just one thing. More than one thing is hard to keep in focus.
- (optional) Tell the reader what you just told them
On the flip side, there are things you should worry about when you blog:
- Everyone can read your blog therefore anyone can read your blog…including your manager and co-workers. Always be professional.
- Don’t blog during business hours unless you are blogging for work (meaning your manager wants you to). Take note of ideas as they happen wherever you may be, but no writing on someone else’s dime.
Question: Isn’t a blog a public personal journal? I don’t want anyone to know about my life!
Answer: First, if you don’t want anyone to know about your personal life then disable your Facebook account after deleting your pictures and messages. No, a blog is not only for public personal journals. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to write a public personal journal (not recommended) start a separate blog. If you feel like emoting to the world about how much you love your goldfish or the reasons why the color yellow makes you sad you should keep that to yourself, but if you insist on making it public remember I warned you.
Remember the movie Julie and Julia? As personal as Julie’s journey was her blog wasn’t a personal journal; it was a professional one. Julie always enjoyed writing, felt that her job was less than satisfying and decided to use blogging as an avenue for growth. Not all blogs will have the same outcome as hers (a book, a movie, recognition, money), but if all it does is give you that slight edge over someone else how can it be bad? And you never know: Hollywood is always looking for new ideas (just mention my name when you go up to pick up your Academy Award).
Question: If everyone is blogging then what advantage does it give me?
Answer: The answer you are looking for is None. That is not my answer. The advantage blogging gives you is the same advantage a college degree gives you: those that don’t have it will have a harder time competing against you in the job market. Will blogging always get you the job/life/relationship/love/revenge you always wanted? No. But remember that in the Winter Olympics athletes win or lose by hundredths of a second. Every advantage counts. List your professional blog on your resume, your business card, your email signature (if your current employer allows it), and other blogs in the same field if the other bloggers are okay with it.
Question: But I am a terrible writer! (okay, that’s technically not a question)
Answer: Get other people to read/edit your blog before you post. Write as much as you can. Come back and tell me how bad a writer you are after your 50th post. If you are not happy with your writing then write more; the more you blog the more you blog. It should be a positive feedback loop, but don’t beat yourself up for not writing that often. Shoot for once a month; try for once a week. Buy yourself a nice present if you blog every business day for a month.
There is a non-trivial percentage of people who are dissatisfied with where they are, what they are doing, or both. They need to make a change and the very thought of it is makes them anxious. I know it makes me anxious just thinking about it.
They are at the window looking out wondering if they can survive the fall.
You are not at a window. If you are, step away from the ledge and come back into the room.
You are looking out a metaphorical window…on the first floor. The view is not even that nice.
The problem is not the distance to the ground; you are so low you could climb down.
The problem is getting out of the room.
Disagree? That’s what comments are for.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, recruiter, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or anyone with any kind of professional credentials who might actually speak authoritatively on life, the universe or anything. I’ve just been around a while. The above is for informational purposes only. Make up your own damned mind.