For many web workers, the central hub from which they manage their online identity and portfolio is, or features, a blog. Using a blog to represent yourself has many purposes, including acting as a C.V., establishing your identity as an authority in your field, and providing a launchpad for your various social network profiles.
Those are all very good uses, and benefit you as a web worker immensely. The only question I have as a visitor is, how do they benefit me? Yes, they help if I’m considering you as a prospective contractor for a job, but if I’m not, then the site quickly loses relevance. A blog should be doing work all the time, even when it isn’t speaking directly to your professional history and identity. Here’s how to make sure it is.
Keep ‘Em Coming
The best way to make sure a blog is doing work for you is to make sure that it will attract repeat visitors, even if those visitors aren’t currently interested in you professionally, since they may be at some later date. How do you get people to come back? Make sure they see your site as a growing, live resource.
Be a Research Assistant
The only way to do this is to make sure that you show them you can provide the information your visitors are looking for easier, quicker, and better than they can find it themselves. That doesn’t mean replicating Google search results. That means pre-searching, collecting, and annotating useful links and resources, and keeping them up to date. Case in point, if I’m looking for Twitter resources, I don’t go to Google, I go to TwiTip.com first.
Make link collections easy to find and clearly titled, possibly placing permalinks to relevant posts in your blog’s sidebar or header. Context and a human touch is especially important with these, since otherwise visitors will mistrust them as the products of automated web spiders and bots.
Humanize, Humanize, Humanize
That brings me to my next point, which is that you should make your blog as human as possible without being overly personal. I would avoid ads unless your blog is your primary source of income, or limit them to a very few which redirect to relevant sites to which you personally contribute or with which you’re involved.
The tone and content of your writing shouldn’t be too formal. The potential clients you want reading your blog probably spend a good chunk of their day reading formal business writing, press releases, etc., and your blog will fall off their radar if it comes across as too similar to those things. In the end, people are looking to connect with other people, not with dry instructional manuals.
Don’t Become a One-Trick Pony
Specialization is important. People respect specialists and look to them for solutions to pressing problems. That said, while there is nothing wrong with showing off your specialization on your blog, don’t make it the exclusive focus. You risk alienating everyone in your audience, and it will be especially hard to encourage repeat visits from casual readers.
It’s also important to show readers that you are not living inside a bubble. Web workers are prized for their ability to come up with non-linear solutions and adapt. That flexibility of mind will come across if you show a willingness to step outside your comfort zone once in a while and address different topics.
Get Beyond the “You” in Your Blog
Of course, since it represents you, it should primarily feature your content. That’s primarily, not exclusively. Having guest bloggers contribute content to your blog not only encourages an influx of readers who wouldn’t ordinarily find your site, but also provides a different take on who you are.
In soliciting guest posts, you present prospective clients with an example of your resourcefulness, and your ability to successfully network and make important connections in your chosen space. You also tell clients who you are by telling them who you associate with, something to keep in mind when selecting potential guest bloggers.
Some of these tips may be obvious, and others might not quite fit with what you have in mind, but at the very least, they should help you think more critically about how you represent yourself on the web, and that’s always a good thing.