This guest post is by Hassan Osman of PartTimeWebpreneur.com.
I’ve been running a blog for a year and a half now, all while working a demanding full-time job (at Cisco Systems), pursuing a graduate degree, conducting some research on the side, and doing what I enjoy the most: spending quality time with my family.
Although balancing those different areas of my life is no easy task, I can honestly say that blogging has been an extremely rewarding experience for me on so many levels—professionally, personally, and financially.
In fact, blogging has been so gratifying that I’m actually launching a second blog soon.
I truly believe that if you’re an employee—whether you’re just starting out after college, or you’re a 30+ year workforce veteran—you should undoubtedly start a blog. I’ll explain why in a second.
First, there’s one important thing that you should look into before starting a blog: carefully read through your employer’s social media policy regarding employee blogging. This is imperative, as you could get fired if you violate it. If your company does not have a published policy, you should still check with your HR department or boss about what’s considered acceptable to them.
Some companies, like Cisco, are quite open to having their employees run their own personal blogs (as long as the employees state that views are their own). Other companies place restrictions on what you can blog about, and a few other companies outright deny you from blogging.
So make sure you do your homework to avoid getting into trouble.
Why start a blog if you’re an employee?
1. You’ll establish yourself as an expert
By running a blog in a specific field, you’ll solidify your expertise in that area and establish yourself as an authority figure, which can differentiate you from your peers.
In addition, you’ll be building a strong personal brand for yourself. Everyone, including prospective employers, already Googles your name anyway. A blog helps you take advantage of that by controlling your online presence and reputation.
2. You’ll make some money on the side
You probably already know you can make a significant income from blogging (you’re reading this on problogger.net after all!), but making money from a blog takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort. So why not start early when you don’t really need the cash?
Moreover, in this shaky economy, you never know when you might need to fall back on a financial cushion for support. Pat Flynn started a blog as a tool for taking notes while he was an employee studying for an architecture exam. After he got laid off unexpectedly from his job in 2008, he had to rely on his blog for income, and made around $8,000 from it after a few months. Smart lad!
3. You’ll learn important new skills
This is perhaps the most important benefit you’ll gain from blogging. Running a blog is a lot like running a small business. You’ll pick up skills related to technology, marketing, social media, analytics, and much more. You’ll also improve your writing, research, and public relations skills.
Those are all transferable skills that you can leverage in any position or company you work for. In The Start-Up of You co-authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha talk about always staying in “permanent beta” so that you adapt and evolve. So think of those additional skills as job security insurance.
4. You’ll get a lot of new and interesting opportunities
The list of potential opportunities that you’ll have opened up for you from blogging is endless. Some examples include writing a book, getting hired for consulting gigs, or being asked to speak at conferences.
I’ve had all three happen to me—all because of my blog. You’ll also make a lot of new friends and build a crucial network of like-minded professionals all over the world.
Common excuses for not blogging—and their answers
“I don’t know what to blog about”
This is understandable, as it can be quite hard to choose a blog topic. However, the good news is that there are a lot of helpful articles and books that will make it easier for you to make that decision.
A great ebook that’ll help you get started is ProBlogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging.
“I don’t have time to blog”
It’s true that blogging can be very time consuming, but who said you can’t blog at your own pace?
As an employee, you have an advantage over full-time bloggers because you don’t need to worry about publishing posts every few days. In fact, I have blogged an average of only once or twice a month, and still gained all the benefits I mentioned above.
“I don’t know how to blog”
Of course you do! If you’re reading this, you already have the skills needed to set up a blog in less than 60 seconds. Just fill out this signup form on WordPress and you’ll have a blog in no time (it’s also free).
“I don’t think anyone will read my blog”
You’re probably right; no one will initially read your blog except maybe your spouse and a couple of your friends. But guess what? Unless you’re already popular, everyone starts off that way. Tim Ferriss’s first post got one comment. He now gets over 1,000,000 monthly unique visitors to his blog (and a lot more comments). Stay persistent, create good content, get social, and your blog will eventually acquire more readers.
To sum it up, the benefits of starting a blog while you’re an employee definitely outweigh the costs. You’ll be perceived as an authority figure, make some money, and learn some great skills in the process. So stop making excuses and start one today!
Hassan Osman is a Senior Program Manager at Cisco Systems, a graduate student at Harvard, and a blogger at The Couch Manager. His latest blog, the Part-Time Webpreneur, is about how full-time employees can start and run a side business (views are his own).