Blogging used to be a way for writers to promote themselves and that was about it. Now, the blogosphere has opened up and more people are using blogs than ever before – for reasons other than to promote their writing.

One of the best ways to use a blog is for personal branding. It’s is a great way for anyone to show off their career skills, including:

  • intelligence
  • writing skills
  • personal motivation
  • opinions
  • leadership

Since these skills are the hot commodities HR reps are hunting for, every serious job hunter should have a well-maintained blog.

So, how do you get started?

1. Create a Site

There are a number of free or paid sites that offer blogging platforms for even the most inexperienced website user.

WordPress is easily the most popular blogging platform available. The free version offers limited customization, but for a basic site, the setup is swift and simple.

Blogger is Google’s blogging platform and a close second to WordPress. If you want FTP access, you won’t like Blogger. If you don’t know what FTP access is, you probably won’t need it. Click-and-drag templates will be your best friend.

2. Set Up the Essential Pages

Once you set up your blog, be sure to include the essentials:

  • A resume or CV. Obviously, you’ll need to give the potential employers what they’re really looking for.
  • An About Page. Create the perfect one with these awesome tips.
  • Contact Information. Remember, this is posted online where anyone can find and use it. It may be best to remove your address and phone number from your resume and replace it with a contact form or email address.
  • A Portfolio. The best way to show off your talent. If you have any experience, be sure to share it. Even if you’re in a boring industry, you can come up with some creative techniques to show your skills.
  • An active blog with regular posts. More on that later.

3. Define Your Audience

Before you do any writing, you’ll need to define your audience. The easiest mistake to make when establishing a blog is thinking people will read anything you post. Sure, your mom is always going to be supportive, but she’s probably not going to be the one signing your prospective paycheck.

If you want to use your blog to further your career, you need to write about the industry you want to work in. This means you need to write for those already in the industry.

If you’re an aspiring dentist, for example, you can showcase your understanding of the trade by writing a blog on dental hygiene. A great example is a post: Do Toothache Home Remedies Really Work? While the entire blog focuses on dental hygiene, this article has a clear sense of its audience and shows the writer’s ability to:

  • relate to prospective clients who would rather save time and money by staying home
  • understand home remedies and analyze possible benefits and risks
  • discuss proper dental practices

A dentist is all about teeth, and we can see from this post how much the writer cares about their work. This applies to all career paths. Even an administrative assistant could start a blog on organizational skills, new technology, and apps to help stay on top of the office to-do list.

4. Start Posting Articles

Now that you’ve got your blog set up and know your audience, it’s time to start posting. When creating posts, be sure to mix up your content. A blog isn’t supposed to be a one-stop-shop for monologue-style articles. There are multiple types of article styles; the following are some of the basics:

  • How-to and DIY
  • Lists
  • Reviews
  • Infographics
  • Video blog
  • Interviews

Don’t discount the power of a well-written how-to or DIY post’s ability to show your knowledge. These posts are the foundation of a strong blog and can show employers that you’re ready to hit the ground running in the field. A great blog doesn’t stop there, though. Show your versatility and understanding with lists and reviews, and show your networking ability by interviewing other experts in the field.

Infographics and videos have been popular for years, and they’re an excellent way to provide bursts of facts in manageable segments. Try your hand at creating some videos to enhance your personal brand, or put together an infographic to visually show your knowledge without boring readers with a long article. If you’re not a design pro, you can outsource the work for cheap on sites like Fiverr or simply use photos to make the post easier to read.

Best Practices and Tips

  • Write Like You Talk: Blogging isn’t like writing a college essay or even writing a novel. You’re providing bite-sized articles.
  • Stay Focused: If your blog is about farming, don’t write articles on the car you’re fixing up. You’ll lose your existing audience. Keep your articles on the topic by using an outline.
  • Revise and Edit: You’ll catch all sorts of silly mistakes by rereading your work before you post it. The best thing to do is to give yourself at least a day between writing your post and publishing it. That way you can read it with fresh eyes.
  • Engage With Your Audience: If your audience begins to comment on your blog, make sure you thank them and respond to any questions or feedback. Also, never respond negatively. If someone is clearly an evildoer, just delete them from your comments.
  • Track Your Stats: Don’t you want to know how many people are visiting your site and what content makes them come back? There are multiple tools to help you track mentions of your blog and its contents.
  • Be Consistent: You took the time to set up your site; now you just need to produce X number of posts a week. Set up an editorial calendar and make sure you stick to it. If you post once a month on an inconsistent schedule, you’ll lose – or possibly never even gain – followers.

Maintaining a blog will give you an extra edge over other applicants. It’s an easy and inexpensive – even free – way to showcase your talent, experience, and knowledge of your industry. You’ll even generate industry contacts by interacting with your audience.

So what are you waiting for? Start blogging today and launch your career.