UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2017: Original article published on November 17, 2016.
Did you know that you can easily stand out to employers by sharing your thoughts and expertise online?
Blogging has developed far beyond journaling and is one of the primary sources of information online. While creating a blog or website may be out of your budget or technical prowess, you can start blogging for free using LinkedIn as your content management platform.
LinkedIn is so Google-friendly that it only makes sense to utilize their publishing platform during your job search. The most difficult aspect of blogging is consistency, but we're making it easy to get organized and stay motivated with our guide to blogging for job seekers.
1. Do A Little Research
Before you should start writing, you should have a good idea who you are writing for and what is important to your targeted readers (a.k.a. your followers). Do a little research to see what is important for your industry or field, what your ideal employer likes and is interested in, and what keywords they may be using to search for information that you could be providing.
So what exactly should you be searching for?
- Search for your ideal companies to work, see if they have an active blog, and identify their most popular topics.
- Search for websites and blogs dedicated to your industry or field and identify what topics are most read or shared. For example, Forbes publishes an array of articles focusing on business leadership.
- Use Google to search for your industry and look at the "Searches related to" section at the bottom of the page.
- Try a hashtag search on Twitter for trending topics that relate to your industry or field.
2. Create Themes and/or Content Topics
Now that you have a handful of ideas about what your followers (and readers) may be interested in reading, develop a handful of content themes and topic ideas to vary the content that you provide. For example, an accountant looking to start blogging on LinkedIn could write about the following themes:
- Small Business Accounting
- Tax Preparation
- Retirement Savings
- Personal Budgeting
Within these themes lie a variety of specific topics that you could write about. For example, an accountant writing about small business accounting could write about basic accounting, organization and record keeping, QuickBooks or other software, new business formation and financing options, succession planning, and more.
Another way to stay consistent in blogging is to vary your content types. The most popular types of content include:
- How-to articles
- List articles
- Frequently asked questions and answers
- Video tutorials
- Explainer articles and/or videos
- Book reviews
- Interview articles
- Updates and news articles
- Link roundups of other content
When you vary your content, you will keep your readers on their toes and interested in seeing what you come up with next. It also shows off your creativity if you can write informative articles, design great visuals, and identify useful resources that are worth sharing.
3. Plan Ahead Using A Content Calendar
Professionals in marketing already know about content calendars. In fact, most use online tools (usually paid tools) or intricate spreadsheets to organize and plan their content up to three months in advance. Job seekers don't need to be quite so strict about their LinkedIn publishing plan.
If you work best with spreadsheets, create one for each quarter or year. Create rows that align with each week or month depending on how frequently you plan on blogging. Your columns may vary, but at the very least you should have a column for:
- Content Type
For the sake of simplicity, I highly recommend using a mobile calendar instead. If you use Google Calendar, you can create a calendar just for your content plan. You will be able to assign a date for when you want to publish it as well as reminders before to help you plan and create the content you are wanting to publish.
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4. Write When You Feel Like It
Don't write because you feel like you have to. You won't create very engaging or high quality articles this way. Instead, make a tentative plan that you can adjust as needed. Break up your process over a few days as well.
You could plan out one month's content in your content calendar on the 1st of the month. Spend Mondays outlining your article. Spend Tuesday or Wednesday actually writing your article. Use Thursday to proofread and edit your article, and schedule it to post Friday or a date the following week.
When writing your content, your goal should be to write quality content rather than lots of content. Google loves articles that are 1000+ words long, but this can be a challenge for even the most experienced bloggers. Set a goal to start writing 500 words or more, but make sure they are fantastic!
As you write your content, ask yourself, "Why does this matter?" To ensure that you are writing high quality content that is informative and interesting, answer this question in the first paragraph of your blog post. Another trait of high quality blog posts is to break up the article with headings, subheadings, lists, and photos or interactive content like videos. By making your article easy to scan, you are making your article more likely to be read.
5. Create Attention-Grabbing Graphics
Use LinkedIn's publishing features to make your content capture the attention of your readers. You can embed photos, quotes, links, and videos directly into your article with minimal technical expertise. The first attention-catching feature you should add is a primary photo.
You can use free photo editing tools like Canva or PicMonkey to create a primary photo. Since this photo will be attached to the link others will see advertising your post both on LinkedIn and when cross-posted to Facebook, you should size the photo to be at least 1200x628px. This size is optimum for social sharing.
Your primary photo should be a high quality photo relating to what you will be talking about in the article or an infographic design that will interest a reader. Canva has great tools for adding icons, modern fonts, and free stock photos to your design.
You could also create an infographic or hire someone from Fiverr to create an infographic for you for $5-25 each (depending on much information you want to represent). Infographics turn your how-to's, lists, and data points into a visual presentation. Infographics are great to share to Pinterest as well. You can even link the infographic to your LinkedIn profile rather than a website to provide a means to contact you.
6. Include A Call-To-Action
Another important aspect of blogging for job seekers is your call-to-action. Tell your readers what you want them to do next.
- Do you want them to find more of your articles?
- Do you want them to send you a Connection Request?
- Do you want them to download and look at your resume/portfolio?
- Do you want them to contact you directly?
Your CTA should be listed at the bottom of your article. You can also change your CTA based on the theme or topic that you write about. For example, ask your reader to check out your other articles about QuickBooks if you wrote a product review of QuickBooks Online. You could also ask that the reader contact you directly if you are an accounting writing tips about how to prepare for tax season AND you want to work with a firm that is hiring for tax season.
This is your personal brand. Do you want to be perceived as sloppy or illiterate? I doubt it. Take the time to proofread your work before publishing it to LinkedIn. In addition to checking for typos, you should review the following:
- Is your title/headline optimized with the keywords you want to focus on?
- Are your links good and connect to the right websites?
- Is your content easy to scan? If not, should you shorten paragraphs or add more lists?
- Does your CTA make sense for the reader? If you're writing a guide on how to create a personal budget, should the reader contact you to hire you or connect with you to expand your professional network?
8. Cross-post To Facebook
When you publish your article to LinkedIn, you will be asked to write a status update to introduce your post. Since LinkedIn is a platform encouraging networking and discussion, use this space to ask a question related to your article.
You should also cross-post or share the article to your Facebook page or Twitter account. This will help expand your reach if your friends or followers share/retweet your article to their networks as well.