Okay, I’m the older generation. I went through high school when computers took up space on entire floors of a building. Today, accumulating my entire 30 years of business knowledge could be simulated in mere months of technological progress.
At the beginning of this year, I was bored and looking for something new to learn. Knowing that business marketing is being turned on its’ ear by social media influences, and considering that I want to build a business network to support an eventual consulting gig in my retirement, I thought, why not combine these two concepts and try to learn social media myself?
My New Year’s resolution was easy! Just start a blog (I do have reasonable advice and stories to offer after 30 years in business), experiment with various elements of social media (Blogging, Facebook, Twitter) for a year or two and see how much of a network or business following I can build. Not rocket science; however I was surprised at some of my early learnings. Here’s my process:
Step 1) Find a blog theme
What is the focus of my personal blog going to be? Marketing 101 asks “What is my passion and what purpose will my blog serve?” My blog topics and themes should link to the same role, themes and expertise I will use in an eventual consulting practice.
After soul-searching, I realized that my theme is great leadership. I find all things leadership-related fascinating, and I could write volumes about the good, the bad and the ugly of Leadership that I have learned over the years.
Step 2) Establish a domain name, set up related email
“Leadership” is my theme, now I have to register a domain name that is meaningful – it should work for my blog today and also for my consulting business down the road.
I log onto several domain registration sites but “leaders” and “leadership” words are already taken. Maybe my theme is too broad.
What is my passion, more specifically?
More soul-searching and I come up with online mentorship and coaching, which link better to my retirement consulting plans and the mentoring I have already been doing quietly in recent years.
The best new names I can find are “bizbytes” and “bizcoachonline”. I reserve www.bizcoachonline.ca for a website, with firstname.lastname@example.org for email, and bizbytes.blogspot.com for my blogwriting, using the intuitive Blogger application available on Google.
Step 3) Set up a Website
My website domain purchase comes with an easy template of four webpages that provide a home page, biography page, information page and contact page with subscription forms. These pages are set up within a few hours, after playing around with available theme templates provided by the website provider.
The website remains in this raw, simple format today. When I’m closer to retirement and starting the consulting “ask” in my business, I will expand the website to a more professional look (that will be another future blog story!). Meantime, I use the email feature daily and provide occasional consulting services generated from queries and emails to the website.
Step 4) Set up a Blog template
The blog setup was easier than I expected. I used Blogger, a Google product. The cost? Free. Blogger is very intuitive to create templates and widgets using WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) visuals typing on a page just like a Word document. The html code remains hidden in the background (not necessary to have this knowledge unless one is a fancy programmer with highly customized blog pages). I spent about two days playing around with available Blogger themes and widgets on the visual tab, essentially building my preferred blog format through trial and error of adding, changing and deleting themes and widgets.
Note: Within a couple of months, I learned that there are several other reputable blog server sites that have better long-term flexibility, search engine tools and functionality for bloggers. Professional bloggers also migrate their blog pathname to their registered domain name – which meant eventually I would need to move away from Blogger to a different blog server (more about that in another blog story!).
Step 5) Set up and maintain a Twitter account
My blog template/server is now set up and I am starting to write articles on leadership. How do I attract readers and potential customers? It’s time for Twitter, to draw readers to my blog.
I set up my own name @merylecorbett and start searching topics related to leadership on the twitter site. The people with tweets that I like (ie. quotes or links to interesting other blogs) I click on “follow”, so I can read their tweet history in my own twitter stream.
My longer term goal is to get followers that will follow me, so I build up a presence on the internet. I do this by tweeting short comments whenever I can, with links to my blog articles. Within a few weeks, I have a dozen blogs written, I am tweeting evenings and weekends, I have searched key words on twitter related to leadership, I have followed about 200 select people, and I start to gain a group of followers myself. Some of those followers are people who “followed me back” (after I searched out and followed them) while others came to follow me after reading my tweets and blog articles.
Step 6) Focus on blog content – add value!
At the end of one month, I am writing one or two blogs per week, and tweeting evenings and weekends. I notice there is volatility in the number of hits to my website. The secret to success, from what I am reading and learning, is to keep a quality blog with great value-added content, to add blog content regularly and consistently.
I read on the internet about how to write effective blogs. I start to add “guest blogs” (giving credit to other writers) when I find a particularly interesting article. I find humorous videos on youtube and add some as blogs where they have a business theme.
Step 7) The next challenge: take my social media presence to the next level
When I’m out of town for a weekend and miss tweeting for a couple of days in a row, my volume of blog traffic drops, and my twitter followers also decrease. What are the strategies I need to further build my social media presence?
Stay tuned for the next blog.
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