Launching a Career with your Blog


This Fast Company article should have been titled “How to Launch a Career with your Blog if you are a Writer”. And also, there really was no “how” in there; just examples of the fact that you could. If you were already a famous blogger.


 It would be interesting to see more writing about how to “launch a career”, “expand a career”, whatever using a blog when the career is actually in industry. So how does a marketing professional use a blog to take a next step in their career? I’m not sure if I am trying to convince myself to write something. I think I did write something in the past with the focus on being “findable” and “credible”.


Anyway, this Fast Company article kind of left me feeling “that’s great for them but what about me?”

Comments (19)

  1. You mean like a corporate recruiter expanding her career by becoming a highly visible representative of her company and profession through her blog?

    How many people do you think had heard of you before your blog? How about now?

    Within your field, I think you’re a fairly obvious example.

  2. In my experience, though it wasn’t my original goal, I would say my blog has expanded my career based on:

    a) connecting me with a great network of peers and experts that I am not so sure I would have had the pleasure of meeting otherwise

    b) allowing myself to express my thoughts and experiences related to the technology that I use that has somewhat enabled me to gain some level of credibility *i hope* 😉

    c) helped me fine tune and expand my writing skills that has since evolved into more ambitious projects such as articles and books – things I probably would not be doing if I hadn’t started a blog several years ago.

    I don’t think it is a "just add water" type thing where if you build it…opportunities will come.  But I do believe that by putting yourself out there, engaging with people and writing good content, you can create opportunties both from a credibility and relationship point of view.  I guess what you do with them from that point is up to you.

    I have in the past visited blogs that were being positioned very agressively to launch or advance one’s career or market themself and it left me feeling a little uncool about it.  I think while the opportunities for advancement are strong, you still have a requirement for good content and a genuine approach.  When those come together with the right person who knows their audience and what they are looking for…I think the possibilities could be endless.

  3. Jerry says:

    I think the writer missed a giant point in his article and that is how to get people in your industry to read your blog. I have seen a ton of security people get web credibility by using social networking sites like Digg.com  and Slashdot.org to expend their reach into places they normally wouldn’t  be seen.

    I think blogging is just another logical step in social networking that some people have started to take advantage of.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Nathan- I’m not arguing the point. I’m just saying that the article didn’t talk about people like me. It was about the high profile folks that make money by blogging….direct correlation. I know you’ll find this hard to believe but I’m not a writer by trade (haha).

    Amanda – well said. I’d say the same for my experience(except replace "technology" with "staffing"). I have seen those "trying too hard to be important" blogs. We have a couple of those people in the staffing industry and I personally find the ones that are trying to take a shortcut to credibility and authority really annoying. Overzealous pursuit of personal career gratification…ugh.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jerry- I agree to a point. Though I think of it as more than social networking in that there’s a 1:many proposition where social networking is mostly 1:1. But yeah. I get your point and you are right. I thikn the person that wrote the story and the person that titled it may not be one and the same (one in the same? Christine?).

  6. Jason Alba says:

    great thoughts and comments… I love the idea of blogging to advance in a career – actually, I consider it part of your career management strategy.  Blogging allows you to substantiate your breadth and depth (which can’t come across in a resume or elevator pitch)… one of my favorite examples, hands down, of someone that does that is here:  http://www.jibberjobber.com/blog/archives/156

    For related fascinating dialogue on using a website for personal branding check out this one (note the comments are from leading experts in the personal branding and/or recruiting industry (or at least, very active bloggers themselves)): http://www.jibberjobber.com/blog/archives/240

  7. vicki says:

    Good article – and I wonder if theory will evolve into practical application in my own little world of petty blogging…

    You’ve got a great thing here, HH. You are the epitome of that article…

    Me, not so much.

    I’m going to be a featured Yahoo! 360 blogger sometime this coming week… but I don’t think much will come of that other than would-be stalkers trying to contact me. I won’t see book deals and the only job offers I see in my future have to do with a bank transfer from Uganda and a commission of 8% from Prince Mubuto. This was their promise to me… As are the slew of work-at-home potential start-ups that I have overloading my inbox….

    Some people have all the luck…. HH, you’ve got it good! 🙂 Trust me…

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    vicki- it builds over time. Plus, having a company like Microsoft attached to my name has been a BIG part of it. The "proessional" blogs (you can decide how professional mine is) definitely have some more visibility because the bloggers are talking about something that others want to know about. The novelty of using the blog as part of one’s job has definitely brought a lot of visibility.

    I don’t believe in luck, but that is just me. As casual and effortless as it may appear, this blog has been a lot of work; especially on the days where I have nothing to write or have to deal with trolls. I’d like to believe that there’s some talent involved…you all can humor me on that one : ) Plus, not everyone is willing to share part of their lives with a broad audience. I’m not sure what has led me to be able to do that (and it’s something that I’ve gotten used to), but it ain’t luck : )

    I’ve gotten into a discussion about this on another blog. "Luck" will not bring people to your blog. It doesn’t lead to traffic. Writing well about things that people care about, using opportunities for visibility, being down-to-earth and credible, responding to people…those are the things that lead people to your blog. First thing you need to decide is why you are blogging, to whom and what actions you would like to have come about by your blogging. There was actually a lot of thought that went into my blogging  shortly after I first started (I’d like to say before I started but that’s not the case); I identified my intended audience and outcomes I’d like to see and I figured out how to increase the likelihood of those things happening.  It’s not even "luck" that I work at Microsoft. Those interviews were tough! : )

    I guess my point is (besides that fact that I hate the word "luck"…hee) that you can’t attribute it to luck. All those people in that article made it happen. You can’t sit back and expect traffic; you have to *drive* it to your blog using the right keywords your audience might be searching, engaging in comments, being part of the conversation on other blogs (with similar topics). You kind of have to make a successful blog happen versus wait for it to happen. It actually can be a little exhausting sometimes.

    Trust me, I feel fortunate to work for a company that allows employee blogging. But I still don’t think that is luck. Microsoft’s corporate culture was a big factor in me deciding that I wanted to work here in the first place.

    Anyway…

  9. vicki says:

    OMG – my apologies for using the word "luck" – I have made a note to self on that!!

    Quite simply, I meant that things are going well for you and other people may not have that same opportunity. Although, I believe that people should TAKE opportunities and not WAIT for them to be handed to them.

    And, you’re absolutely correct — whether it is talent or seizing the moment – there is a certain amount of drive that can be attributed to one’s success (or lack thereof).

    Personally, I strongly believe in Einstein’s theory of relativity… and the belief that some people have innate abilities that others wish they had. But it is STILL a matter of using one’s strengths and differences that put you ahead of the pack. How you use your abilities will be important only to you. "Use it or lose it" so to speak.

    Let me re-word my last sentence from my previous post: instead of being lucky, you’re fortunate. 😉 Why? Because you’ve learned how to use it!

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Haha…don’t worry about it vicki. I’ve started using the word “fortunate” myself  instead of “lucky” : ) By fortunate, I mean that I appreciate it. Some days I feel like I deserve it, some days I don’t. Some days I would give it all back…who doesn’t have those days, right?

    Re: opportunities…people need to feel more empowered to make them too. It was a long path to Microsoft for me, but I had some rough years where I wondered if I was going to end up a disappointment to all who knew me and whether I was ever going to have a “real career”. I had several years early in my career of just getting by, barely making rent, that kind of stuff (hence the source of my need to “stock up” on stuff).  I think many people generally look for the silver bullet. I had to make a number of smaller career decisions to get to where I am…not that it’s something that I necessarily suggest that others aspire to (where I am). : )

    Re: using ones strengths, that is a really good point. I would point out that even people perceived to be successful still have significant weaknesses to overcome (I guess I can only point out my own, if we want to consider me successful). I have stuff I really have to work on professionally and personally. In my experience, at least professionally, the key is working hard to be trusted and then trying to move your work more toward your strengths. At the beginning, you often have to do the job you have, not the job you want. I’ve been able to build out a position here that really plays to my strengths (though I will say that there are some aspects of my job that are tougher for me). But I was here for 6 years proving myself first. I think I am just sensitive to this because I get mail from people wanting to “get into Microsoft” and I have to coach them on all the little steps they need to take to be attractive to a company like Microsoft. I had to do that stuff myself and it took years….literally. It’s all about building, I guess. I have really struggled in my career to get to Microsoft in the first place…I will tell you that…I don’t want you guys to think I wake up in the morning with robins singing on my windowsill. : )

    Maybe some day I will blog about some of those lean years. Let’s just say that having a position that is intellectually challenging (sometimes) is something that I appreciate. Trying to collect strip mall rent (I swear, it was my job for a couple of years) and printing out bills was mind numbing.

    Anyway, I don’t take offense.

  11. Jim S says:

    This blogging thing (I’ve kept one myself, but it’s fallen to the wayside) is great and all. But it’s silly to attempt to conquer the print world if your only drive is to get published. It has worked for very few people. Take Seth Godin for example. This assclown is like the Tony Robbins of marketing. Hell, he even has a gimicky shaved head. I say that in a fight, Heather would win. Write an outline and get to it.

    And yes, I know that you’re a recruiter, not a marketer.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    No, not at all. I think Seth is awesome. I’ve heard him speak. I actually think that blogging is a natural extention of the craft for authors that are technically savvy. I suppose that for a print author, publication is an exercise in delayed gratification and who could blame them for wanting a little here-and-now kind of gratification? Also, I would assume that blogging feeds their imaginations. A couple of people have mentioned to me that I should write a book (we won’t talk about what they were thinking when they said that) and I simply could not imagine coming up with enough to say to justify killing the trees. As much as I like to write, my style of typing things as they pop into my head is much a lesser skill than a real author. So I do admire the good ones. I guess my point is authors that blog makes sense to me. But the flip side of that is not necessarily true. What it comes down to is that someone like me is great at being interesting for 2 minutes, but ask me to fill up two hours and we have a problem. I’m more of an extemperaneous kind of person. If I think about it too long, I tend to over-analyze.

    Seriously, Jim…what the heck would you want me to write about? I can’t fill a whole book up with stupid observations and my opinion on why some stuff works and other stuff doesn’t. I may lack insight as to why people read me in the first place. "Mildly humourous" doesn’t sell books, does it? I don’t know…maybe it does. The job search stuff? Is there something missing in job search literature out there? If I write a book about how to get the job at Microsoft, I suspect I’d have to quit and I’m so not doing that.

    And right about now my friend tod is about to tell you that I should write a book about all the bad blind dates I have been on (he thinks my stories are funny-ish). It would be a short book (I’m a cut-and-run kind of a gal) and definitely filed in the humorous tragedy section (if the bookstore doesn’t have one, they need to get one).

    I think I do a good job of skimming the surface and while I might have the depth for something more, it’s a lot of work to dig. So go ahead…tell me what I should write a book about…I’m listening. I’ll consider it. Would you buy it?

    Oh, and I’d rather see Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin arm wrestle. I saw each of them speak this year. Malcolm fascinates the heck out of me. They both make you think about things differently. That style appeals to me.

  13. Jim S says:

    You should dust off your funny bone and write a book of bad resumes, bad hires, bad interviews, etc.

    I still have no idea how women can find Malcom Gladwell sexy. He looks like Sideshow Bob but with the charms of Bill Gates.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jim S – ew…I didn’t say anything about sexy. I find him briliant. Not really the same thing.

  15. As you guys mentioned earlier I am having a heck of a time getting visibility. I have sent it to my candidates, but I have to continue to forward the link everytime I post in order for them to read it and even then no one responds. Heather do you have any insight other than the age old cliche of time will tell?

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, I guess I have a little insight. Couple things you could try:

    -put your blog url in your autosig

    -submit it manually to major search engines (some of them take a while to index….all should have some sort of "submit a site" option).

    -posting regularly is important. Doesn’t need to be everyday but needs to be somewhat consistent

    -use keywords your intended users may be searching on

    -respond in comments

    -post comments on other peoples’ blogs

    I hate to be one of those "if you build it, they will come", but I’ve definitely always been more of a proponent of great content versus using the system to get eyeballs. But I will say that on the flip side of that, god content doesn’t matter if nobody sees it. You’ll get there!

  17. Matt Grant says:

    I just stumbled across this post and these comments this morning, though, ironically, I had posted on just this topic last week, inspired by this <a href="http://servantofchaos.typepad.com/soc/2006/10/blogs_are_the_n.html">post</a&gt; on "Blogs as the new CV."

    One can certainly use blogs to gain an audience, but, as you point out, this takes a lot of ongoing, hard work. That aside, growing an audience and landing consulting gigs, or pulling in ad revenue, are not the only or even the best reasons to create a blog. It may be more realistic and practical for people in almost any industry to use blogs as a sort of annotated or supplemental resume. That is, if you blog regularly on topics pertinent to your area of specialization or expertise, even if you don’t get a lot of traffic, you will have effectively created a portfolio of thoughts, case studies, etc. with a broader scope and greater detail than a traditional resume.  Having done that, you don’t necessarily have to attract the masses to your blog and hope to get discovered. Instead you can use your blog in a more targeted way, bringing it to the attention of those specific employers you want to reach. Who knows, there may come a time when hiring managers don’t want to see your resume, they just want the URL of your blog.

  18. Hi Heather,  I decided to come back to your blog for another visit.  I posted to your blog back in mid-February 2007 in regard to “Informational Interviews”.  As you may remember, I am a visually impaired job seeker participating in an on-line 10 week, course called, “Using Your On-Line Voice As A Job Search Tool” which is facilitated by a very fine non-profit organization called eSights Career Network, (parent organization, The Associated Blind), based in NY.  Personally, I have found eSights to be, by far, the single most important resource for assisting the blind/visually impaired job seeker and employee.

    Here is a list of some of the key elements covered in the eSights E Learning Course —

    * How an ePortfolio can compliment a personal blog

    * Defining our specific career development goals

    * Addressing our disabilities & developing a ‘good answer’, during an interview, for our own personal adaptive means for successfully performing a particular job function(s)

    * Establishing a personal brand, (how we wish to be distinguished in the on-line environment)

    * Utilizing “offering statements” & “jist cards”

    For quite some time, I’ve been seeking an on-site or telecommute position in telephone customer service or general clerical which may include one or a combination of such job functions as:  product or service ordering, information verification, data entry,  survey taking/interviewing, writing or editing.

    When I first began searching for employment in the mainstream job market, my plan was to combine my customer service experience with my newly acquired computer/adaptive technology skills and apply them to an area of great interest.  For instance, I love the outdoors, animals, fishing, wildlife, art and music.  So, I envisioned myself conducting telephone customer service for Bass Pro Shops, or related sporting goods outfits.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that not only is it difficult to find a position within an area of interest, but equally as difficult to break into any entry-level CSR/clerical situation within the mainstream at large!  Naturally, I broadened my scope by applying and inquiring to the entire spectrum of CSR/clerical jobs, outside of areas in which I absolutely knew I would not enjoy, such as accounting, banking, telemarketing or collection agencies.  Of course, this brings me to my current status in being an eSights e learner.  Traditional job hunting techniques and resources have not been working for me, therefore, I am hoping that my new approach to job hunting, utilizing the web via blogging and an ePortfolio will provide that 1-2 punch to eventually landing a gratifying job situation.

    So, maybe you’re wondering why I am telling you all of this?

    Well, besides having a blog site that’s very “blind user friendly”, I think you initiate great discussion topics with wonderful feedback!  And, of course, you obviously have lots of experience as a blogger.  

    I am not concerned as much about “how I will portray myself in a blog”, as I am about “where to begin blogging”, as a means of getting closer to my employment goals.

    As you can tell from what I’ve outlined above, my targeted employment goal is fairly common and straight forward.  However, I am at a total loss when it comes to locating blog sites for someone with my background and career goals.  I am usually a very patient person, but nothing drains and frazzles me more than Googling and wading through tons of web sites.  Keep in mind, I am doing this from the non-visual perspective via a screen reader which can be quite a tedious affair.  So, if I could find a few short cuts from the experts, such as yourself, my nervous system would be sooooo happy!

    Questions —

    * Heather, can you tell me how I may go about easily locating web sites containing blog discussion topics relevant to my targeted field, for companies/organizations in my local area of Harrisburg PA?

    * On a broader scale, can you recommend blog sites, allowing job seekers to get in on discussions about “CSR/clerical jobs” whereby job location isn’t an issue, such as telecommute?

    If you would like me to send you more specific information about myself, such as resume, personal branding or offering statement, I would be happy to submit to you off list.  If there are any resources you or (someone else reading this blog), can provide, it would be deeply appreciated.

    John

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi John,

    I’m glad you came back. I’m happy to hear that my blog is blind user friendly. That’s cool!

    To answer some of your questions:

    1) locating blogs by topic….try technorati.com. It is basically a blog search engine. So you can enter keywords and find relevant blog posts.

    2) regarding discussions online regarding clerical jobs, unfortunately, I am not sure as I don’t recruit in that space.

    I’d be interseted in finding out from you, if you do start a blog, which are the most friendly to adapative technologies. In fact, I think I’ll ask my blog readers if they know…we may generate some ideas for you!

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