Ok. You’re inspired to blog. You’ve set up an account, formatted your homepage. Now what? The blank screen with a blinking cursor stares back at you. What should you write about?
We’ve all experienced writer’s block. The challenge of blogging is to create consistently. Here are the two most important topics you can write about.
We’re living in a moment of time, the first moment of time, when a billion people are connected, when your work is judged (more than ever before) based on what you do rather than who you are, and when credentials, access to capital, and raw power have been dwarfed by the simple question “Do I care about what you do?” We built this world for you. Not so you would watch more online videos, keep up on your feeds, and LOL with your high school friends. We built it so you could do what you’re capable of. Without apology and without excuse. Go.
(1) Write about topics in your field that you’re passionate about
Writing about relevant topics that interest you gives you a chance to (1) demonstrate your commitment to those interests, and (2) form the language you need to speak about them.
Commitment + Language = Sales
Any time you’re trying to close a deal, you need to establish yourself as qualified, engaged, and aware. Whether you’re trying to make an impression at a career fair, land an internship, or sell a product – your “customer” is wondering why they should do business with you. Ultimately, you’re asking this person to make a gamble: when they choose you over another option, they are placing their bet on the idea that you’ll deliver.
You can reduce their perceived risk by speaking well about your industry and pointing to evidence of a history of involvement. Place yourself in the recruiter’s shoes in this all-too-familiar career fair scene:
Recruiter: What are some of your interests as an engineer?
Job Seeker: Wow, I love engineering. There are so many things that I love I couldn’t pick just one.
Welcome to the land of the forgotten. Now imagine this very different scene:
Recruiter: What are some of your interests as an engineer?
Job Seeker: Wow, I love engineering. Especially the ability to see a need in the world and then develop a technology that actually improves peoples’ lives. Lately I have been thinking about driverless cars. The number of drivers in America is increasing much faster than the roads can handle. Two root causes of accidents are distraction and failure to follow driving laws. Driverless cars address both of these issues. I won’t talk your ear off about it now, but if you’d like to see more of my thoughts on this issue you could take a look at my blog…
View your blog as a place to practice this speech. A place to figure out how to talk about these ideas. A side benefit arises that you wouldn’t get from simply keeping a journal or diary: because the blog is public, you automatically demonstrate your sustained commitment to what you’re talking about.
Customers and potential employers THRIVE on your commitment. Your commitment is what lets them spend their money and time on you with confidence that they’ve made a wise investment.
(2) Blog about your journey to master your craft
When an archer misses the mark he turns and looks for the fault within himself. Failure to hit the bull’s-eye is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim, improve yourself.
– Gilbert Arland
Here’s a secret: No one is born awesome at their chosen profession. Here’s a second secret: no one wakes up one day having suddenly arrived at awesome, with no more room for improvement.
Your story is far more important than you think
Your customer (anyone you’re trying to convince to do anything) cares deeply about your story. They might not realize that they care, but they do. Why? Because your journey to improve your abilities is a great way for people to find out what your abilities are.
Consider the example above, the person who writes about driverless cars. The recruiter she was speaking with is enticed by the technical content of her blog and decides to take a look upon returning to the office. The first post the recruiter sees has the headline:
Four Ways Technical Innovation and Legislative Policy Intersect to Drive the Fate of Driverless Cars
Intrigued: The recruiter wants to know what the four “bullets” are. Last week he was in a meeting talking about the legal challenges of driverless cars. And the cute play on words: “Intersection” and “Drive” in a headline about cars.
After skimming the post (which is the most you can hope for, so make it scannable) he clicks the “next” button and finds this quote staring at him:
It is priceless to find a person who will take responsibility, who will finish and follow through to the final detail – to know when someone has accepted an assignment that will be effectively, conscientiously completed.
– Richard Evans
Imagine the confidence this gives. The customer sees a person with technical skill, but also a commitment to self-improvement. A post with this quote puts the word “responsibility” next to your name in the recruiter’s mind.
A Few Months Later
If you write a post each week in one of these two broad categories, you will create a backlog of content for your customer. Each of the posts has two goals:
- Add value to the reader’s life – inspiration, a new idea, a way for him to grow professionally, an explanation of a complex topic
- Add to the list of “keywords” that someone would associate with your name – driverless cars, responsibility, artificial intelligence, leadership, proximity sensors, time management, navigation algorithms, social justice
PS I chose engineering as an example here because I wanted to make clear that EVERYONE can benefit from blogging. This medium is not limited to those interested in the liberal arts.
What are some topics that you could write about that simultaneously add value while positioning you in the market? Leave a comment below!