As we start to get into the meat of the this series on personal branding in our ongoing Consulting Consultant series, we’re going to start with one of the quickest and easiest ways to build your personal brand, blogging.
You have probably at the very least have heard of blogs if not actively reading several on a daily basis. Microsoft has whole set of blogs at http://blogs.msdn.com. Other companies blog about what they are doing/working on. So blogging can be a really big part of your personal branding strategy.
Starting a Blog
There are two ways to go about starting a blog. You can use a free blog hosting service like WordPress or Blogger both of which come with some standard themes and can get you up and running without too much time or effort. Or if you want to really help your personal brand you can purchase a domain name (I recommend mydomain.com) and host your own blog.
If you choose to go the “purchase your own domain" route, you’ll want to tie the domain name to you in some way. The best option here is obviously your name so start there. This will give you a presence on the web with ease and also with some proper SEO you can ensure you’re name shows up at (or at least near) the top of the Google search results for your name. Talk about branding.
When you go the "host your own” route you have some decisions to make. There are several popular blog engines out there: WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are just a few options available for PHP/MySQL based systems. There are ASP.NET driven blog engines, but I’m not as familiar with those. The only one I am somewhat familiar with is dasBlog. Which system you use will largely depend on where you host your blog at and what kind of systems they use for hosting. If you’re on a Linux hosting provider (like Site5), then you’ll need to use something like WordPress. Also keep in mind that some hosting providers, Site5 included, have one click installs for some of the more popular blogging engines. This helps with ease of maintenance.
What About Content
Now that you have a blog and it’s up and running, you need to figure out some content to put there. If you are looking to really be known for something then that is what you need to blog about. You’re blog should show people what kind of work you want to do. My blog is a horrible example of this because I have a wide range of interests that are not all related to technology.
Since we are specifically focusing on the idea of personal branding, you want your blog to represent you and what it is you do. So you will need to ensure that the content of your blog reflects both of these. Try to keep the funny posts and the LolCats stuff to a minimum on this blog. This blog is the more professional representation of who you are and what you are about.
A good blog starts off with around 10-20 quality posts of content. You want your first set of posts to be your best foot out the door because this is the stuff that Google is going to index first. You want those first pages associated with you in Google to be some of your best content.
Also, quality content gets linked to by other bloggers and aggregator sites like Digg and DotNetKicks. This can lead to what’s referred to as “Google Juice” in that you’re page rank will go up and help get your name at the top of search results on the topic you write about.
It takes a solid year or so of writing quality content to really see an impact from your work. That might seem like a long time but you want keep at it even if you’re seeing very few links at first. It might feel like no one is reading what you say, but trust me people are.
It’s a good feeling to type your name into Google and be the first result. It is also a good feeling when someone searches for something and lands on your blog because of it. This is how good blogs grow organically. The more quality stuff you write that can help people, the more of them that will link to you, bookmark you, and subscribe to your RSS feed.
So take your time, be thoughtful in what you write about, and in time you’ll be known for what you do just simply by your blog. This is why blogs can really help build your personal brand both quickly and organically.