by Dorie Clark
It’s no secret that blogging is more difficult than shooting out a tweet or snapping a photo to share on Instagram. It takes five seconds—maybe thirty if you’re particularly fastidious—to create a tweet. It takes far longer to put together a smart, well-crafted blog post, marshaling your points into a cogent 500-to-800-word article. But for savvy professionals, it remains one of the best ways to stand out.
Much has been made about the decline of blogging among teens and young adults. That doesn’t mean blogging as a platform is dying or irrelevant. It means that it’s hard – and that’s a competitive advantage for you. If you’re willing to expend the effort to create well-crafted content, you’ll distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace where many people are serving up easy morsels, and you’re taking the time to create something of substance. Far more people share content, rather than produce it. If your posts add to the conversation, it’s your material that will be passed along.
Another drawback of blogging—for the lazy and impatient—is that its results aren’t instantaneous. I blogged for years and wrote hundreds of articles before I began to receive a steady stream of corporate speaking invitations, for instance. Celebrated marketer Seth Godin agrees that it takes time to build a blog audience and for it to “pay off” in a traditional sense. “If you say, ‘I’m not going to do anything if it doesn’t pay off in four days,’ now I know why you’re not using a blog, and you’ve just told me a whole bunch about yourself, right?” he told me when I interviewed him for my new book Stand Out. “You told me you want to be picked, meaning having Oprah call or HBO call or someone call, and you want it to pay off right away or you’re not going to do it.”
But taking the time to share yourself in a substantive fashion is an investment in your long-term reputation and professional success. Here’s how to get started, in only 10 minutes a day. Set a timer and work on advancing one step each day.
Day 1: Choose Your Platform. To test the waters of blogging, you don’t have to immediately launch your own blog (though you can do this for free with WordPress). Instead, you can start by writing a few posts on LinkedIn, a functionality that the company rolled out to all members in 2014. It’s a low commitment option so you can get comfortable with the process, and experiment with topics and voice. Spend 10 minutes today playing with the blog functionality in order to familiarize yourself with how it works.
Day 2: Create a list of topics. What are the questions people always ask you about your industry? What myths are circulating that you’d like to debunk? What stories aren’t being told? What trends are overblown? Spend 10 minutes today creating a list of potential topics you could address.
Day 3: Start outlining. It’s easy to overthink your posts; some people spend days tweaking them to perfection. But it all starts with a good outline. Spend 10 minutes today outlining your first post. An easy way to begin is by thinking in terms of numbered lists, a popular format online. If you’ve previously decided to write about the travel industry and want to cover emerging trends, you could create an outline for a post like “5 Trends on the Horizon for the Travel Industry in 2015.” Quickly brainstorm possible trends. In a completely made-up example, it could be:
A greater interest in driving vs. flying
More customers seeking out adventure travel
Declining interest in [insert region] due to political instability
The rise of [insert app] and how that will affect travelers
The upshot of exchange rate fluctuations
I’m far from an expert in the travel industry and came up with that list in approximately three minutes, but you get the idea. You can develop phrases and possibilities, and later, these will serve as the starting point for full paragraphs of information.
Day 4-10: If you’re able to block out a full hour, you can almost certainly pound out the post above. But even if you can’t, you can spend 10 minutes per day and still write it in a week, allowing 10 minutes per paragraph (intro, five key points, and a conclusion).Blogging is a powerful way to establish your bona fides in your field. But it’s also a way to give back and share your knowledge with others. Blogging, says Seth Godin, “is a privilege. My goal with the blog is to put ideas into the world that change conversations among people that I care about.” What are you going to do to get started blogging today?