I regularly have people reach out to me on LinkedIn asking me how to become a blogger or to check out their blog and give them feedback. Because there are only so many hours in the day and I like to be efficient (optional translation: lazy), I’ve decided to write a blog post for future inquiries. So, hello person of the future who asked me about blogging, here are the some of the fundamental guidelines that I wish I had known in the beginning:
It’s not about you
You may be able to get away with self-involved introspection if you’re already famous or perhaps ridiculously witty. Unfortunately, most of us commoners won’t build a following if we make our column all about ourselves. Stream of consciousness articles about daily life won’t cut it. Or maybe I’ll just speak for myself here and say I know I can’t get away with it. People are, understandably and thankfully, more interested in their own day-to-day affairs than they are in mine.
Even when it is about you… it’s not about you
Ok, I can hear the pushback already. I definitely talk about my own life in my column, whether it’s my experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer, past lifestyle as a digital nomad, or even dating drama. But the key difference is that I always give key take-away lessons for my readership. Sure, it may start with me, but it ends with you.
Read… a lot
I am a voracious reader. Always have been; always will be. I love getting inspiration from other writers — the content they’re sharing, how they express themselves, and what I can learn from their expertise. I also follow several podcasts and vlogs. It’s important for me to keep up on recent trends and what’s happening in the greater world. I do this both because I always want to be learning and growing as an individual, and, in turn, my personal growth determines whether I am offering my readers intellectual junk food or something more sustaining.
I’ve got a high school friend who’s now a New York Times bestselling author. She informed me people approach her all. the. time. saying they want to be writers, too. I think a lot of people have the dream that they’ll write their first book and it’ll appear on a bestseller list. Heck, I did too! Or at least I did until my girlfriend shared some hard truths. Her first three books were unpublished. Yes, practice makes perfect, but three unpublished books is a whole lot of practice. Of course, I could relate to a certain degree since writing was initially an uncompensated hobby for me. My family and friends questioned why I worked so hard during my leisure time, but I believed that it is an investment in my potential … and because I stuck with it, in time, it paid off.
Build a community
I don’t just post a weekly blog. I also do daily LinkedIn updates. I’m constantly working to expand my network. I do virtual meetings with PR representatives. I interview executives and leaders of the business industry. What I’m saying here is that even if your writing is top-notch, you probably shouldn’t rest on your laurels. I want an engaged community, so I have meaningful interactions with my column’s viewership. This isn’t an archaic I-talk-you-listen setup. This is, “I put my thoughts out there. You let me know what you think of it — and we learn from each other.” I don’t ask people to follow me; I ask people to engage with me. This is a relationship — whether it’s virtual or in-person. I respect my community and I hope to continue to deserve their respect.
These are the things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. But sometimes we need to learn from the school of hard knocks (especially those of us who have a stubborn streak). For me, it has not always been easy, but it has been an incredibly meaningful journey, filled with knowledge and growth. And to every member of my community, thank you for joining me on this adventure. I truly couldn’t do it without you.
Jacquelyn Adams is a career development enthusiast and an award-winning CEO. She lives in a world of constant exploration, whether it’s summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, delving into more effective employee training strategies… or discovering how she’d do in a chocolate eating contest (answer: last place). Find more of her Lessons on Leadership articles here or connect with her on LinkedIn here.