Now here’s a movie moment. Several generations of people are familiar with the 80s movie The Breakfast Club and the story that goes along with it. An unassuming group of high school misfits has the good fortune to attend detention together on a Saturday morning for various reasons, only to discover that they have more in common than they thought. The entire premise of the movie wouldn’t have been possible minus one key action – Mr. Vernon, the detention teacher, leaves the group alone in the library during detention. The rest is history. Had he stayed in the library, the group’s journey of self discovery might never have happened. One change in the way something is ordinarily done made the difference between a so-so 80s movie and a movie that now represents an entire generation.
One change. That’s all it took.
It reminds me of the old adage that goes something like this… “If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you’re going to get more of what you’ve already got.”
That same line of thought applies to your online image as well. Assuming you’re interested in developing or improving your online image, you might consider one of the most affordable and valuable ways to do just that – blogging.
So what’s the big deal about blogging anyway?
Sure, you’ve probably seen or heard a lot about blogging, but still, many don’t understand the value that blogging brings to individuals and businesses or how they can use blogging as a public relations tool. Blogs (of all kinds) are one of the most valuable and affordable forms of public communication ever invented, so it only makes sense to take advantage of all that they offer.
What is a blog?
Blogs come in many different shapes and sizes, but essentially, they exist as a series of journal entries called “posts.” They started much like diaries, used to record information on a periodic basis, but now they’re used as a communication outlet in a much more publicized format. Unlike a simple personal or professional journal, they can be very public as a website or they can be password restricted so that no one can access blog posts unless given a password. They’re most often used as a public venue for communication, so you don’t find them restricted all too often. They’re a great way for you to express yourself to your intended audience through a variety of formats – photos, video, podcasts or the written word.
Types of Blogs
Today, blogs can be very powerful standalone websites and they often are. Although they exist in varying formats, I highly recommend retaining complete control and ownership over your own material and that, friends, means owning your own blog. How do you do this? By starting your own blog with your own domain name hosting. This way, you own the material you publish, the service that publishes your information on the web and the domain name for your blog (i.e. TreyJacksonsBlog.com).
Self-hosted blogs are the way to go. I can’t stress this enough. WordPress is the most popular blogging framework/software on the market today and I can’t say enough good things about it. Yes, I did say “on the market,” but WordPress is actually open source software, meaning IT’S FREE. WordPress, or whichever blogging framework you choose, is the software behind your blog, giving it a different look and feel from others out there. WP offers a fantastic array of capabilities you’ll find useful during your blogging career like subscription management, media (photo/video/audio) management, search engine optimization tools, etc. There are literally thousands of plugins available for the WordPress framework, each offering you a different capability. Most of the plugins are free too.
Blogs Hosted by a Third Party Service
Hosted blogs are blogs hosted by third party services like Blogger and TypePad. These companies let you host your blog on their site, usually for free, in exchange for the site traffic you’ll bring them. They’re getting fresh content that their readers may enjoy reading and you’re getting a free blog. People love to read the stories of others. Services like “Blogger” (owned by Google) thrive on this activity.
Free is nice, but there are some serious drawbacks to these free blog providers . I’ll get more into that in a future post, but for now, just know that the only way to ensure you own the material you publish is to host your own blog. By the way, I can certainly help you with establishing your own blog, be it personal or professional, and save you the heartache of eventually attempting to migrate (move) your site to your own service later on down the road.
Using your Blog to Develop Business
Why have a blog? That’s simple – to develop your influence in whatever circles you travel in. Personally, they’re used to express your opinions or provide information from your unique point of view. Professionally, they serve as the portal to the world for your business. In either case, they can be used toward the same end, although the information you publish may certainly be different. Getting your information out there is part of the equation, but don’t forget that there’s definitely a science behind site design, deployment, content production (written articles) and search engine promotion. Much like traditional forms of marketing, you need to make sure your blog is publicized and promoted properly to make your intended audience aware of your existence.
Some Advantages of Blogging
- Near-instant communication with your intended audience
- Site structure (standalone site or a blog within a site)
- Routinely updated content
- Themes (the look of your blog); easily modified
- Responsive design (site displays well on computers, phones, tablets)
- Ability to post articles via email
- Easier media sharing (photo/audio/video)
- Easier site management
- Easier search engine optimization (higher search engine rankings)
How to start your own blog…
If you’re considering starting your own blog, you should really take the time to find out what it’s all about before you decide the best course of action. While it’s easy to just go out and start a free blog hosted by a third party service provider, doing so doesn’t afford you very many benefits. For personal blogs, you may be able to get away with doing that, but eventually you’re going to want more control over your site aside from not wanting to be part of someone else’s bigger picture. Blogs are somewhat transferrable, but they’re never quite the same after the move to a dedicated domain and you’d be essentially starting over when you decide to make the move.
Professionally, blogs hosted elsewhere are a distinct no-no. It’s always more professional to have your own name on the blog (i.e. janesmithsblog.com) rather than something more obscure like janesmith.blogprovider.com. It looks better. Feels better. Is better. This is akin to having your own domain name on your email address. Would you rather buy cupcakes from Jane@JanesCupcakes.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? Having your own domain name and blog isn’t only more professional, it also gives you more control over your content, and it enables YOU to own your content.
Change your story
We may well never know why Mr. Vernon didn’t just stay in the library, but what we do know is this – if he hadn’t done something out of the ordinary, something different, The Breakfast Club might never have achieved greatness. It’s never really too late to make a positive change in your life. My recommendation? Don’t be the one who closes the door on your own future. Be your own Mr. Vernon and make the decision that will change your life for the better.
Change your story today.
If you’d like to learn more about getting your own blog, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I’m always happy to talk with you about your goals and I’ll do whatever I can to help you get there.