This is the second in a series of posts about Web 2.0 services that can be used for sales people. The first post on Instant Messaging is here.
Let me just say upfront, keeping a blog is a very time consuming. Also, unless you are lucky or already famous, blogging is a commitment that pays very little dividends. You probably won’t get Techcrunch hits and you probably won’t get Calacanis rich. Certainly not right away. So why do it and why does it help a sales person? Simple, blogging will make you a better writer.
In an era in which more and more communication is written, it is becoming ever more important to be able to string a few sentences together. As a sales professional, it is vital that, not only can you form a paragraph, but that the thoughts that you are trying to convey are precise and persuasive. While blogging isn’t a miracle cure to get you a Pulitzer, like anything, practice makes perfect.
Of course there are other reasons to blog. If you write about what you sell, it can encourage a dialogue between you and potential prospects. You can be recognized by industry leaders. You can use your blog as an extension of your resume allowing potential employers to get a better idea of who your are and where your areas of expertise lie. All excellent reasons to start or maintain your blog. But, even if it never gets a hit, the regular writing will make you a better writer. That will make you a better sales person.
How to Get Started
Getting started with a blog is about the easiest thing in the whole world to do these days. The services fall in to two categories hosted or you host it. Most of them are free or charge a nominal fee for using the service. I don’t have enough experience with all of the services to offer an educated standpoint on them. Rather than wasting space and your time, I’d encourage you to try a few of them out and see what you like and what you don’t like.
Most of the free services offer a nice WYSIWYG editor and an HTML editor. Many of them offer the ability to do at least some level of customization to the look and feel of your site. Most of the free sites now allow you to map to your own domain name. The biggest benefit to a freely hosted blog service is that you simply log in and type. There is no server to manage, no database to tweak, it doesn’t get much simpler. The downside to free services is that many of them only offer limited customizations and add-ons and services such as WordPress.com, don’t allow ads.
If you choose to own a domain name and buy the hosting plan, your provider will generally allow for a single click install. I use GoDaddy and have WordPress hosted on my server. Installing WordPress is easier than banging my head on the keyboard. Going this route allows for the maximum amount of flexibility to the site. I personally enjoy futzing with the site, so this was a better route for me. Your mileage will vary.
What to Do
Write. Write a lot. Everyone loves a beautiful site, but content is king. I’m guilty of spending too much time trying out new plug-ins, messing with my look, adding widgets and not enough time writing. Try to find 15 – 30 minutes a day and just write. I wish I were this disciplined.
People always ask me where I find the time. The truth is, I don’t watch a lot of television and I usually post late at night. The important thing is that you write.
Pick a topic related to your work. If you sell real estate, write about the market in your area, the changes in interest rates, tricks to make your home more valuable. If you sell enterprise software, write about the market, your competitors, public stuff about your company, changes you see in the industry. Just write.
Be careful what you write. Don’t write about proprietary stuff and don’t bash your company too much. Jeremy Zawodny does an excellent job of delineating his personal opinions and that of his employer. When Yahoo does something that he doesn’t agree with, he writes about it in no uncertain terms. Don’t be stupid. Like Jeremy, be more valuable to your company than your blog posts.
How to Get Noticed
This isn’t where I’m the expert. There are a zillion sites that will hep you and your site get on the radar of people. Link to other blogs. Comment on other sites. Ping Technorati. Join MyBlogLog and other communities.
Mostly it is about content. Write good content, about timely things and people will notice you. Eventually, people will come to your site. The writing exercise will be the most important. As you become a better writer, you will also become a better sales person. That should be the ultimate goal.