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Why Every Employee Should Start a Blog

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).

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Comments

  1. Great article, Hassan. A blog is easy to maintain and most people, if not all, should strive to have one.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that most companies can’t stop you from having a personal blog, as long as the contents are strictly personal. But if the blog is earning revenue or has information related to the company, then the company may need to enforce some policy on it. Would love your opinion on that.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Dylan! Depending on what country you live in and the employment contract you have with your employer, earning side income from your blog could be an issue. However, most companies in the US are usually ok with that as long as you don’t break any policies.

  2. Everyone should definitely have a blog, great for expressing your personal style and views on different topics.

    Good call on employees needing to their company’s policy regarding employee blogging. One my friends wanted to partner with me to start a blog on reviewing apps for iOS, Android, Windows etc.

    Since he works at Apple, when he checked with HR they said that’s a no go.

    • Ryan says:

      Ya, trying to manage an entire company of bloggers would be a PR nightmare. For a big company like Apple they work very hard to maintain a very specific branding and having all 10,000+ employees blogging would completely tear that down.

      Also on a side note if my employer told me I had to start a personal blog relating to my career I would probably hand them my 2 weeks notice. I can see posting on a company blog but I don’t want my personal and individual brand as well as my reputation and credibility tied to my employer.

  3. Ryan says:

    One small caviot though is that the majority of blogs are not very lucrative. Not by a long shot. This would become ESPECIALLY true if everyone started a blog. Thus I would say #2 is probably inaccurate except for the more devoted minority who have the time to run that blog like a business.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Ryan – that’s true. The majority of blogs are not very profitable. As I mentioned in the post above: “making money from a blog takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort.” However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money as a part-time blogger.

  4. Justin Mazza says:

    I totally agree Hasan. I think once kids are old enough they too should start their own blog or website. What a great way to learn entrepreneurism.

  5. Blogs are great platforms for personal branding, which is something that can benefit employees who want to do freelance work. It can increase their market value as employees when they get it right.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Exactly! Developing your personal brand is definitely a great benefit for employees (even if they want to stay as employees).

  6. Hi Hassan,

    Expand your presence while working the 9-5 gig. Express yourself. Build passive income. Smart tips here.

    No excuses. I know a woman with 3 kids who just received her PhD. You make time to do something, or you don’t.

    Starting a blog while working a job can establish a seamless transition into a full time home business gig. Develop your writing skills. Connect with like-minded bloggers.

    Stand out from the crowd. Because few run a well-read, insightful blog while working a job. So you will have established a neat little niche if or when you decide to make blogging a full time gig.

    Help people. Write about a general topic which resonates with you. Perhaps you are tiring of the 9-5; devote more time to blogging each day.

    Expand your presence. Monetize your blog effectively. Who know? With patience and persistence you can jump from the cubicle to the home office, if you are ready to make a change.

    I learned blogging from scratch after being let go from my last job. Starting a blog while on the job would have created a smoother transition for me. I strongly suggest any prospective online entrepreneurs to start blogging TODAY…independent of how hectic your schedule is.

    Thanks!

    RB

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Ryan,

      Great comment. I just want to highlight something you said because I think it’s important for folks to read it – especially coming from someone who was let go from his job:

      “Starting a blog while on the job would have created a smoother transition for me. I strongly suggest any prospective online entrepreneurs to start blogging TODAY…independent of how hectic your schedule is.”

      Excellent advice, and thanks for sharing :)

  7. Read the 4 hr work week about a year ago, and had forget that chaps name. Tim Ferriss certainly knows what he’s doing with self promo.

    I blog a bunch and work a full time job. I find the business makes me more productive on both ends, and I get double the rewards from doing good work, and growing the blog.

    That’s a darn cool, simple new blog you got there. Is the opt in form actually working?

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Greg! Glad you’re a fellow blogger and full-time employee as well.

      Appreciate the comments on the new blog – yes, the opt in form is definitely working (been getting quite a few subscribers). If you don’t receive a confirmation message, check your spam folder, or try again at http://www.parttimewebpreneur.com/

      Thanks!

  8. We try to get our employees to create a blog in the relevant field here too. We find it helps new staff learn about the product we are selling, gives them some homework. We provide a domain, WordPress Installation, basic lesson and Analytics. Its good fun. Some of them even start getting competitive, learn about SEO and the ones in the similar keywords try to outrank each other.

    Finally, its great for SEO. We get them to occasionally give links to our main site as well. It is almost like a genuine and active Link Wheel.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      That’s a great idea, and I’m sure this will help both your business as well as your employees.

      You probably already thought of this, but make sure you have the employees state that they work for the company on their blogs. You want to be 100% transparent and honest with an initiative like this. Otherwise, it’ll end up hurting your business rather than helping it.

  9. Ayaz says:

    Hi Hassan! Great article and interesting story you are telling and I am amazed to hear about the blogging by employees and I think that’s how the employee enable himself to promote him and his company as well.

    Thanks for giving great information :-)

  10. Absolutely fantastic advice in this article. Thank you.

  11. Jeff says:

    Wow I am just getting into the blogging world and I have never thought about things like that before. It seems to have a lot of “unforeseen” benefits.

    Its weird how I always thought it would be easy to just write stuff on the internet, but the truth is that it forces you to be a better writer and learn more about the topic at hand. Like your example of being in permanent beta…lol…awesome

  12. codeholda says:

    A good article. The best advice I heard regarding blogs is to stay consistent and keep up a steady blogging schedule. You will be surprised at how fast you start to rank in the search engines.

  13. Alan Reeves says:

    Great ideas Hassan. It is amazing how much you can benefit from writing, sharing your ideas, and running a blog. The skills you gain are very marketable and setting yourself up as an expert in something can have huge benefits.

    I have been trying to get a few friends interested in starting a site but the responses are as you mentioned: no time, don’t know what to write about, don’t know how to run a site, etc. You learn as you go and the process (and failures) will make you a better person. There is no better way to find out what you are passionate about than writing about it and telling the world on a consistent basis.

  14. Thanks for the sharing your piece.

    Additionally, self-employed people — which seems to be a growing niche — should also start a blog.

    Today I published a blog post that actually talked about this topic. If you’re nervous about starting a blog, or just want to get better. Start by freelancing and guest posting for various sites. You’ll get better at it, eventually get the hang of blogging and hopefully be successful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hey Hassan,

    You’ve come up with interesting point.

    There are a lot more excuses among newbies who wants to start a blog, they don’t read other blogs to learn that is why they fail in blogging.

    I’ve done a complete series on starting a blog for newbies to help them start a successful and take it to the next level in less time.

  16. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Hey Hassan,

    You’ve come up with interesting point.

    There are a lot more excuses among newbies who wants to start a blog, they don’t read other blogs to learn that is why they fail in blogging.

    I’ve done a complete series on starting a blog for newbies to help them start a successful and take it to the next level.

  17. Dan says:

    I came here from Pats e-mails.
    I’m starting college in a week and was going to make a blog covering my college experience, that other new students or current students may find helpful about campus and school. It is a huge population school, but I don’t think I would get enough traffic just from it, so I was thinking about making a personal blog. On my person blog I would write about everything I do and try and make articles to help people too. Things I would include would be like school, photography, getting started on the web, cars, electronics, news, camping, reviews, travel, ect. Basically anything I can think of, and things that help people. I’m pretty diverse in knowledge.

    Can you honestly tell me what you think? Is this bad? Should I focus on another topic?

    I also have a recipe blog (including eating healthy, gardening your own food, product reviews) that I’m working on right now too, my parents are fine food chefs. I know there is a ton of competition, but I see so many simple small food blogs with nothing special that get so many views and comments.

    Any tips on that?

    Sorry for all the questions, I have the problem of wanting something to be perfect before I do it.

    THANKS!

    BTW I just signed up for your new website!

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Dan,

      First, thanks for signing up to my new blog!

      Second, it’s great that you’re starting to think about blogging as you’re entering college. By the time you graduate (or before), you’ll have a much better advantage over your peers.

      Third, to answer your questions, a blog should not be about you, it should be about other people. People are always asking “What’s in it for me?” when they read anything online. Always keep that in perspective whenever you publish something. Also, if you start a blog about “everything” you do, people are going to get confused, and you’ll have a hard time attracting new readers. My suggestion is to focus on either the college experience (where you’ll be helping other students with similar problems) or a recipe/food blog (where you share some interesting recipes). Those sound more appealing than a personal blog.

      Here’s another idea for you: try to combine the recipe/ food idea with the college idea in one blog. Something like food recipes for students – where you help students save money through healthy food recipes :)

      Hope that helps!

      • Ehsan Ullah says:

        Great suggestion Hassan,

        You’re right on this that a blog should be on a particular topic because If you blog about everything than the readers will be confuse and they’ll leave visiting your blog, but If you blog about one topic than it will be easy for your readers to understand what they can get from your blog.

        BTW, I’ve also subscribed to your new blog yesterday when we had conversation on Twitter :P

  18. Andla says:

    Great post Hassan Osman,

    Blogging is an own property, which provides money to fulfill daily needs and social networking.
    Company gives salary on end of the month, blogs gives money daily even when we are sleeping, bathing, traveling. Blogging build confidence to live life in own style.
    A jobless employee can earn money with blog in the critical days when he has fired from company. Own blog establishes “With Life and After Life” money insurance for you and family also.

  19. Sachin Kundu says:

    I am agree with you. Blog plays vital role in very employ life. Bloggers would be a PR nightmare. “For a big company like Apple they work very hard to maintain a very specific branding and having all 10,000+ employees blogging would completely tear that down” but i am not agree they also live their life.

  20. Hey Hassan,
    Nice writing skills. Actually I also like blogging but I do not get enough time out of my regular job. Do you have any suggestions regarding how a individual can make balance between his regular life and his blogging ?

  21. Hassan Azam says:

    Hey!
    Ofcourse you are right , Every one should have blog describe and explain his own ideas about their topics of interest!

    My name is also Hassan ;)

  22. Anton says:

    Great article Hassan

    After reading it, it gave me an idea for a brand new blog with a topic I never thought of before.
    Thank you for that!

    Anton

  23. Thank you for this blog Hassan.
    I have found it fun to clarify some views that I have. It is allows me to write out things I say or think often.
    It allows me to point readers towards books and thoughts that have impacted me.
    Thank you for this motivation to keep on blogging and to increase it.

    K, bye

  24. Hassaan Khan says:

    Hassan, This is Hassaan Khan. I have been observing Entrepreneurship since I started my small company of Web Solution Zuha Innovation at the age of 18. Later on I turned to a blogger. Guest what! I do the same, I try to convince people about blogging. I use to say them, Blogging will be a huge industry after 10 years. May be nobody will ask you how many factories or hotels you have after 15 years, they may ask you how many blogs/websites you have!
    I don’t really care now about people who don’t read the importance of blogging, I do … and I am working on it.