So you want to start a blog?

by Stephanie A. Lloyd on August 13, 2009 · 8 comments

in Branding

Today on Punk Rock HR Laurie Ruettimann asks, “What’s the most successful way to start blogging about HR?

I started to comment then realized that I had much more to say than would be polite write in Laurie’s comments section so I’m responding here instead.

When setting up your blog host it yourself. This means that you’ll need to reserve a domain name through a registrar or hosting company. I could take all day long to explain how and why you should do this but I don’t have all day so for now I will refer you to this excellent guide. If after reading it you have questions please post them in the comments below.

Don’t write a welcome or introductory post.

DO NOT.

I cringe when I see these. Why? Because nobody cares what you’re growing in your garden, how many cats you have, or that you are lactose intolerant. We don’t care because we don’t even know you yet. Write your first blog post as if it’s your one-hundredth and put your bio on your “About” page where it belongs. People will click on this page to learn about you if they like what you’ve written and if they don’t well then you might want to consult with your therapist but don’t ask me because I’m not qualified.

Cartoon by Hugh

Cartoon by Hugh

Provide your perspective on your topic du jour. We want to know why you chose to write about that particular subject or issue. If you aren’t passionate enough about the subject at hand to have an opinion then don’t bother writing about it because what is the point.

Write a comments policy and post it on your blog. Be sure to state that you reserve the right to change it at any time because if you are even slightly good at blogging you are going to need to.

Trust me.

And, if after six months you find that you have never once needed to invoke your comments policy you may want ask yourself why you are blogging in the first place.

Be prepared to make a commitment. Blogging requires time and effort to draw readers in and keep them interested and engaged. Once you get started you’ll need to post at least several times a week. With that said, it doesn’t have to be as difficult or time-consuming as it sounds if you’re smart about it. There are many ways that you can structure a blog post without spending too much time.

  • Answer people’s questions in a blog post. Sometimes when someone comes to me with a question I ask them if I can write my response in the form of a blog post. They always say yes.
  • Write a response to something you’ve read. It could be something you read in a book, article, or blog post. I don’t comment on other people’s blogs very often but I do write blog posts in response to what I read and link back to it just like I’ve done in this very post.
  • Conduct an interview by email. They’re easy to do and popular with readers and unless you are a complete idiot this leaves little room for getting sued misquoting someone.
  • It goes without saying (I HOPE) that you need to write about original ideas that you have related to your field. But, not every single post needs to be one of these.

Ready to get started? Read this in order to learn how to set up a professional blog. It’s an excellent article that walks you through the process step-by-step with links to and explanations about the things you’ll need.

And then check out and bookmark @Animal’s guide to basic HTML for bloggers because you are going to need that too.

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{ 8 comments }

Chris Ferdinandi - Renegade HR August 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

Stephanie, generally a great article. A big point of contention for me, though, is the often parroted advice that people need to post at least several times a week when blogging. This volume obsession is just an SEO tactic. If the content is fantastic and you set clear expectations about frequency, as little as once every week or two is sufficient. I have blogs on my reader that post once every two months that I will not remove because the content is that good.

I’m also curious to see your comment policy. The link you include above just takes you back to the top of the article.

Cheers!

Chris

Stephanie A. Lloyd August 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I’m pressed for time right now but did want to let you know that I’ve corrected the link to my comment policy. I’ll respond in more detail later.

Thanks again!

Stephanie

laurie ruettimann August 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I don’t have a comments policy. Do I need one?

Here’s my overarching policy: it’s my blog. Shut up, haters.

Stephanie A. Lloyd August 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

I LOVE your comment policy, Laurie. In fact I think I will add it to mine. :-)

Cheers!

Stephanie

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers August 14, 2009 at 1:16 am

Stephanie – excellent points for people thinking about a blog to consider. Blogging isn’t for everyone, but I have found it to be an amazing tool to share information and build a community. I advise my job seeking clients who have the time and are strong writers to seriously consider it as part of a branding strategy.

Chris – A point of contention to your point of contention! For a new blog, just starting out, I think it is crucial to plan to post relatively frequently in order to attract an audience and to establish two-way communication. Once the blog is up and running and has a community, it makes sense to establish an expectation for post frequency. However, I think a brand new blogger, unless he or she already has a built-in following from some other medium, would have a difficult time demonstrating his or her expertise in a niche if posting only infrequently.

Marguerite Granat August 14, 2009 at 2:22 am

Stephanie, you inspired me to start my blog and I know I’m not the only person who has benefited from your advise. I agree with you that its important to be passionate about what you write about. Again, thanks for sharing your insight.
Marguerite

Stephanie A. Lloyd August 14, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Marguerite,

Thanks so much! I’m so glad to know that and I think your blog is coming along really well. It’s apparent that I’m not the only one who enjoys your insight. :-)

And, yes; passion is key!

Stephanie

Stephanie A. Lloyd August 14, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Chris and Miriam – thanks for sharing your thoughts on posting frequency. Yesterday, Chris, I would have completely disagreed with you. However, this morning I found this article and it’s enlightened me on a few things:

http://mpdailyfix.com/2006/06/w_why_blog_post_frequency_does.html

I agree with Miriam that early on it’s important to post somewhat frequently – I still think at least 2 – 3x week – and once the community starts to build perhaps the blogger can ease up a bit. I think the article I linked to above contains some excellent points.

Stephanie

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