Welcome!

Security Authors: Torben Andersen, Gilad Parann-Nissany, David H Deans, Bob Gourley, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Web 2.0, Java, Linux, Search, AJAX & REA

Web 2.0: Blog Feed Post

How to Get a Professional Corporate Blogging Job

I gave this as a presentation to the Jerusalem Technical Writers meetup group

The Secrets of Corporate Blogging
I would like to begin with defining what corporate blogging is. There are actually four types of blogs that can be considered corporate blogs; I will list these definitions later. For now, suffice to say that I am most interested in corporate blogging as “professional blogging on behalf of a company”.

So first I have to explain: what is professional blogging? And to do that, I first have to explain: what is blogging?

What is Blogging?
A casual definition of blogging is writing articles and then posting them online so that they can be accessed chronologically. Blogging can be writing personal anecdotes about your cat or life - online. Or posting periodic professional articles - online. Or informal posts about a topic that raise questions. Or links to funny videos or new articles. All of these are blogging. They require a free online platform and some time to create the posts and hit publish.

This doesn’t actually scratch the surface with regards to professional blogging. It considers only content, platform (online), and some sort of chronology. That’s fine for “blogging” that is like twittering or updating your status on Facebook.

What is Professional Blogging?
Here are some of the key missing elements from this, that must be present in professional blogging:

  • Frequent: A professional blog is “frequently” updated. That frequency depends on the topic and the length of posts. It could be several times a day or once a week. It must be enough that people who are interested in whatever you're writing about consider you "currently" active.
  • Periodic: The frequency of a professional blog must be steady and known. It is unprofessional to write a bunch of posts one week and none on the next week. This confuses the reader, who no longer knows what to expect or when to expect it. Regular posting encourages regular readership. Regular posting boosts your rank on search engines.
  • Sustained: A professional blog may make instant waves, in very rare cases, but most simply don't exist until they have been around for a year or more. It's a detriment to your professionalism - or a company - if you start a blog and then abandon it. A couple of posts is simply not a body of work, nor enough to capture a following or a search engine.
  • Informative: Any professional blog must be relevant and informative to a target readership. It must be useful to its readers. You have to give value. You're competing with ten million other media sources. If you’re not providing value to your readers, you're not doing a job. That value can be information that can’t be obtained elsewhere, or in a particular format, or it can be entertainment.
  • Interesting: Value is not enough. You must be interesting. A professional blog is not simply about its posts; it’s about a relationship with its readers You're building a relationship; the posts are your means to do this. If you can't interest your readers in subscribing to your feed or following you as a brand, you've given out useful posts and gained nothing in return. Building interest means promising that what is yet to come is worth sticking around for.
  • Authoritative: When providing information, you must be the subject matter expert in what you're writing about. You must inspire trust with your posts. You can gain authority (and knowledge) as you blog.
  • Exclusive: Your content must be unique and unavailable elsewhere, at least for the first few minutes after you post it. It may simply be the selection of material that is exclusive, but if so, it better be a damn good selection.
  • Controversial: You must take stances on things that not everyone already agrees on, or you're simply repeating what everyone already knows. Where is your added value, then? Not controversial means no conversation, which means not leading in your field. I'm not talking about breaking social boundaries or being rude or insulting.
  • Professional: It’s hard to be both controversial and professional, by which I mean well-mannered and calm in the face of attacks. You must learn to use the phrases: “Thank you for reading”, “Thank you for your comments”, and “There are many other valuable sites out there who would agree with you more”.
  • Networking: All of the above is 30% of the work. The remaining 70% is building your brand and network. With rare exception, you have to get the message out to people who want to hear about it. That means finding the right people, contacting them in the right way, and inspiring links back to your content so that it can be found by the interested. If you’re not networking, you’re not blogging professionally.
  • Exciting: All of the above will gain an audience, but to grow an audience and turn a good blog into a brand, you have to inspire passion, inflaming new desires in people who weren't already inspired, or re-igniting a fervor in those who are otherwise quietly going about their lives.
  • Community: The people you turn on must eventually get to know each other; most people only feel comfortable in a group. If they’re not talking amongst themselves, they’re not spreading the message. You have to build buzz. You must turn people into evangelists for your product, your brand, or your ideas. You need to reach a point where you have fans on Facebook, a tribe on Squidoo, and an entry on Wikipedia (and you can’t be the one to do it).

If you do all of these things, there is a possibility of earning a living from blogging, either directly or indirectly. Directly earning a living from blogging means: earning money from posting your own blogs: advertising, affiliate links, reviews, and so on. Indirectly means: selling your services or products, with your blog acting as a face to your business: getting a position as a result of your blog, or selling other products or services that you personally represent: such as blogging on behalf of a company.

What Professional Blogging is Not
Having said all that, here's what blogging is not:

  • Income: No one starts a successful blog by concentrating on the income (well, few, anyway). Successful blogs build brands and sell ideas; income comes as a result of popularity, well after the goals of the blog have already been achieved.
  • Advertisement: Despite what most marketers would have you believe, people don't like advertisements, unless the advertisements are the content (like a blog about funny advertisements). When you are concentrating on advertisements, your audience is not. In particular, a corporate blog does not run Google Ads or any other type of advertisement meant to yield direct income.
  • Announcements: There are plenty of places to make announcements. Your blog is appropriate only if it’s about a brand that is already well established and people are hungry for that news, and they can't get it elsewhere. No one reads an announcement blog, except employees and investors. A few announcements mixed into an otherwise general blog doesn’t stop it from being professional, however.
  • Self-interest: A blog must provide value to your readers. It focuses on nothing else. If you begin writing to get value from your readers, or about things that are of no interest to your readers, they won't be there.
  • By Committee: A blog can't just publish anything - libel, company secrets, etc - but if it's overly controlled, it's pabulum, and fails many of the above criteria. It won't be controversial, and it won't be interesting, and it won’t be trusted, and it won’t be read. It will be safe marketing messages to which no one will pay any attention, except your investors.

Required Professional Blogging Skills
To create an effective professional blog, you need:

  • To learn blogging tips and tricks from other professionals. It takes skill to create hooks and eyeball retention, good titles, first sentences, and everything else. See Problogger, Copyblogger, and Performancing, especially their archives.
  • Design and usability skills, so that people coming to your site can easily navigate without frustration.
  • Expert knowledge and passion about the topic about which you're writing.
  • Passion and skill in content creation, sharing, and community-building, in general.
  • A niche that has enough to write about in the long haul, but not too much so that your blog loses focus or is just one of many thousands on the same topic.
  • To be able to take and manipulate pictures and/or videos.
  • Time to invest in creating a community through marketing, emailing, evaluating statistics, visiting other sites, and getting involved.
  • Defined goals, either direct or indirect: Subscribers? Visits? Links? Pagerank? Comments? Influence? Emails? Income? Product sales? A job? An invitation to speak?

What is Corporate Blogging?
Now what is corporate blogging? There are four types of blogs that are sometimes called a corporate blog:

  • An external corporate blog is a blog written by someone hired by the company to represent the company to the outside world. It's marketing. But it's a slightly different type of marketing that is not meant to directly sell a product. Instead, it is used to establish credentials, create a conversation, control the conversation (SEO), and build visibility. In other words, build a brand. To do this, it must be a professional blog, with all of the above requirements: fearless, responsive, marketed.
  • An internal corporate blog is written by someone in the company and targeted to employees of the company. It is used for team-building and information dissemination. An outlet for ideas, sharing of tips, notices, and so on.
  • A corporate blog may also refer to a blog about your company or products by someone outside of your company. For instance, a blog about Disney Corp by someone who is not from Disney. In this case, someone else is controlling conversation about your brand.
  • And a corporate blog could be a blog by an employee that is not about your company or products. For instance, many people at Apple and Microsoft blog, readily identified as employees of Apple and Microsoft. As a company, you can exhort some control over this activity (by threatening to fire someone who posts libel or company secrets). But in most cases, this is a good thing, as you're getting publicity about your company without having to spend anything.

I'm only interested in the first case: an external blog written by those hired to do so.

Planning an External Corporate Blog
As a professional looking to become a corporate blogger, you have to understand what a company SHOULD be looking for in a corporate blog. The company should do this itself, but you’ll probably have to do it for them.

So, as a company, or as someone hired to create a corporate blog, here are the steps you need to cover:

  • Define your goals: Blogging is not an instant success platform. You don't stick a blog onto a site and get 10,000 visitors the next day, no matter how good or controversial your post. With one exception: you're already a famous brand (personality or company). Instead, you need to know why you're blogging: creating a conversation, controlling the conversation, establishing a contact point, establishing subject matter expertise, building a community, traffic in the long term, sales in the long term. And answers to FAQs.

    If your goals on non-professional goals - you just want another place to stick the press releases, you can do that without a professional blogger.
  • Choose the blog subject: There are several possibilities here. If your brand or company is already big, you could write informational or entertainingly about it, tossing in the occasional announcements. If your blogger is already famous, he could write about what he wants, tangentially related to your field, with occasional links to your site. You can send product announcements through your blog, but that's not really the job of a professional blogger, and the only people following will be your employees and investors, maybe some media (who you could just as easily reach directly).

    That leaves writing a blog about a field related to your company, with the idea of establishing expertise, a community, and discussion around that topic. if your company makes lasers, you write about laser technology and its effects in the world and so on. You will most likely be writing about other companies. If you don't, you won't be a trusted subject matter expert.
  • Since you are representing your company, however, you have to have clear guidelines as to what is and isn't acceptable on the blog: defamation, liability, trade secrets, and so on.

    Posts must be edited for correct spelling and grammar.

    A corporate blog should not sound like a corporation. It must be personal. Without violating policies, it should not be dry safe. That is outside the comfort zone of many marketers and executives, but so be it. It must never sound vetted by the corporation, or it loses trust and authority.

    Other than "you suck", negative comments are your second best friend in the world, right after positive comments on other sites by your fans. It's invaluable feedback, it creates a conversation, it establishes that you're listening, and it establishes credentials: people are tired of companies that don't listen to them. It encourages a conversation where you can see it and respond to it. Otherwise the conversation will still happen, but elsewhere, where you don’t know about it and can’t respond to it.

    Linking out, especially to competitors, is hard for marketers to swallow. But there is no way for someone to follow your link without first having come to your site (or post) to follow it. You've controlled the conversation, and you've established that you know what's out there and you think yours is better. If you don’t link out, no one will link to you, and your pagerank and authority (and readership) can't grow without outbound links. Furthermore, promiscuous linking is a winning game strategy: 100 links out to 100 sites, and only 10 links back in, is still 10 times as many links in to you as you gave out to any one other site.

    One other important question, if the blogger has a personal blog: keep the two identities separate? If not, then the personal blog must, at least temporarily, adhere to certain rules about liability and secrecy.
  • The technical aspects: Leave the blogging platform up to the professional blogger, or do some research. Create a design and useful links, About and Contact pages. If you post multimedia content, you must ensure that people using all platforms that you care about can see it. Use several browsers and operating systems, and use vanilla ones - no add-ons.
  • To control the conversation, you need to figure out the keywords you want to control: your brand names, important names in your field. Use SEO techniques to ensure that these are part of your headlines, first sentences, internally linked, and so on. After doing this for several months, you can measure its effectiveness on search engines. But don’t try to game Google.
  • Marketing: research every other blog (and site) in your field or tangentially related to your field. Leave helpful comments and questions on every one on a regular basis. Your signature is the link back to your blog and/or site - don't overdo it! Provide useful content and show subject matter expertise. After your name is known, you can sparingly contact the administrators or other experts directly with important news or to establish relationships. Go to relevant meet-ups and conferences and network.

Who Writes the External Corporate Blog?
I would naturally assume that the CEO or CTO of a company would make an excellent subject matter expert, but many people used to feel differently. Some felt it was beneath an executive to "blog". I suspect that this is no longer the case. But mostly, a CEO should not blog unless he or she can also function as a professional blogger. Most can’t.

You can rope in one or more employees in your company. You can hire one or more outside expert users who are already familiar with your brand, if they can write well, passionately, and you can keep up a steady stream of writing for the long haul. Or you can hire a professional blogger.

If you are looking to hire a professional blogger, you need to find one with an established track record of good blogging skills, good social and personal skills, and fiery and passionate (or willing to be) about the topic you want associated with your company.

Do not let marketing, sales, legal, anyone arrogant or unsociable, someone with poor English, or someone who can write nothing but press releases anywhere near your blog. (Let legal near the blogger once, and then make them go away.)

How to Get a Professional Corporate Blogging Position
I got my corporate blogging jobs before the current economic crisis, when companies had some spare cash to try something new and speculative. I suspect that less companies are willing to create a new position or spend money on a blogger from outside the company. But there are probably still many opportunities.

Most companies want a blogger. Most companies that want a blogger do not even know that they want one right now, because they don't know what professional blogging can do or does. Most companies in which the idea of having a corporate blogger crossed their mind are just as ignorant, and also have no idea what a professional blogger can do or does. Of the few that have an idea, they have no idea where to look. Of the few who know where to look, they are inundated with bloggers who will work for below minimum wages to produce non-professional material.

If you want to get a paid position as a corporate blogger, try the following:

  • Be a blogger for a minimum of 6 months to a year and exhibit blogging skills: build a following, achieve ranking, create a conversation, achieve respect by other bloggers or within your blogging field.
  • Find open-minded companies (your own company, local organizations and companies, via social networks) that don't already have a blog and ask them if they want one.
  • When considering companies, you must have at least some tangential experience with the company and its products via research) and must evaluate to yourself on what you could blog and if you have a passion to do so in the long haul. You must propose the ideas to them, both what professional and corporate blogging is all about and why it will be good for them, even though it will not make ANY money directly (for at least a year). And that blogging is about a topic, NOT about a company, unless the company is already a known brand.
  • Since the idea that a blog is not initially designed to make direct money and takes a long time to build traffic will be a new idea to a company, offer to do it together with other work such as technical communication or marketing. For instance, if the company has only part-time work available for technical writing, offer to part-time blog to make up the difference in hours.
  • Work closely with the engineers and marketers to identify all related topics and fields related to the company. Sit down with the lawyers and CEO of the company and work out the rules of what you must and must not say. Don't take the job if they can't understand the point of blogging; it will fail. Pre-write a few dozen articles, always keeping a queue of material to post. This provides for when you are not inspired, and allows others to ensure that you're not violating company policy (the latter in theory; in practice, if this happens for more than the first few posts, you're probably in trouble).
  • Set news alerts and subscribe to feeds on all interesting information related to your field. Write about it. Love to create content on the subject. Love your audience.
  • See my defunct blog on the subject of hiring yourself as a corporate blogger: http://withoutawire.blogspot.com. You should probably read it chronologically from the start (it's only 50 posts, and you can skip some).

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Yehuda Berlinger

Yehuda Berlinger has been programming since he was eight years old, and consulting about the Internet since he was twelve. He has worked professionally for more than fifteen years as a UNIX systems administrator, a web programmer, and a technical writer. His interests include social aspects of technology and board games. He is now 37 years old and lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and four children. He blogs at http://jergames.blogspot.com.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...