A few months ago, I was interviewing this guy, Ben Casnocha.

The first thing you need to know about Ben is that he started a company when he was fourteen. And it’s still around today, four years later. Ben doesn’t run it, but my point is that it’s a real company.

But no, wait, that’s not my point. This next paragraph isn’t my point either, but I’m going to tell you anyway: Ben’s company, Comcate, helps governments do stuff online. Nothing particularly notable about that except that it’s exactly what my second startup did. So while my own governments-go-online startup was going bankrupt in the dot-com crash. Ben was in his sixth grade classroom making a success of that very business.

Ben does not know this. I nearly fell on the floor when I was on the phone with him, and it was all I could do to keep the interview going. But now, whenever you see me grandstanding about my three companies that I started, you can recall that I’m also the one who was outmaneuvered in my business by a kid in junior high school.

But anyway, I digress. Ben is a very humble and interesting guy, and he’s hard to not like. So during the interview, I asked him how he meets people to mentor him. This is what he said, “Mostly face to face. Not through the more traditional ways like blogging.”

TRADITIONAL? I had to pick myself up off the floor again.

But you know what? That was eight months ago. And I’ve been blogging for a while now, and Ben has a point. It is very, very easy to meet people through blogging. And it’s very efficient — you never have to leave your computer.

Some of you are thinking you have no idea where to start. So look, here are the easiest instructions for starting a blog. Some are you are thinking it’s too time intensive. But you can grow a useful network efficiently from a blog that you post to only once or twice a week.

I think the networking benefits should be enough reason for you to be posting twice a week. After all, if you can’t afford two hours a week for networking, your career is in trouble. But here are three more benefits to blogging — these are goals you should have for your career anyway, and they’re goals you can reach by blogging only a handful of times a month:

1. You will force yourself to specialize.
You can’t really write a blog about everything. Well, you can, but it will suck. So you’ll need to pick a topic and stick with it. And just the act of doing that is good for you because specializing is good for your career. After all, you can’t be known for something if you are not specializing in something. And once you are known for something you have a lot more leverage to get the kind of work you want to be doing.

People who want flexible work schedule often think that being a generalist will give them a lot of wiggle room. In fact, it’s the opposite. A generalist is easy to find, so no one needs to bother giving you a flexible work schedule to keep you. But if you specialize you are not so easily replaced, so you can ask for more flexibility at work.

2. You will let people know you have good ideas.
One of the biggest complaints people have about their work is that no one listens to their ideas. Everyone wants to be a creative thinker, but not everyone feels like that sort of work is open to them.

With a blog, though, you show people your creativity. Got a lot of ideas? Good, because there are a lot of days in the week for you to fill on that blog. And instead of you running around the office complaining to people about your stifled potential, you can show people your potential by broadcasting your ideas. The best way to get hired to spew ideas is to spew them and get people interested.

3. You will show passion and commitment.
There is a lot of evidence to show that, all things being mostly equal, we have a proclivity toward hiring people we want to have sex with. But we also have a proclivity toward hiring people we like. And after all the Ford Models are out of the interview cue, the most appealing people are those who have passion and commitment.

Of course, if you have read any how-to-interview advice, you know you should always say you have passion and commitment. But people who have it exude it. And if you are a blogger, and post at regular intervals, you don’t need to tell people about your passion and commitment – it’s right there on the page.

14 replies
  1. Dave
    Dave says:

    I agree blogging can be a great help, even if it simply allows you to express yourself and awaken your creativity. But I have found it hard to sustain; after I found a new job, I feel like I don’t have time to blog anymore. I have the time, but there is always something that takes higher priority…barely time to comment like this.

  2. Tom Morgan
    Tom Morgan says:

    Wow! If a 14 year old can successfully launch a business then I can dedicate two days a week to publish a blog.

    You have inspired me to invest the time required to create an effective online presence.

  3. Alison
    Alison says:

    Question. I’m uncomfortable writing a public blog while working with a company. But I want to start blogging to make the contacts I need and to have some sort external exposure. My company is very conservative. Do I start this conversation with my boss? How?

    * * * * * * *

    Great question, Alison. You need to blog with publicity for your company in mind. You can function as good publicity for your company while still being genuine to yourself. You can sell the idea of a blog to your boss by telling picking a topic that matters to the company. It would probably make the company look good to have an expert about that topic on staff, so your blog would be good publicity. You can wander a bit from that topic, but with a defined topic you are less likely to offend the company. Just be sure to pick a topic that will help you make your next great move in your career.

    Companies like Sun and Microsoft are full of people who are blogging in a way that is authentic and still good for the company. You can use these as your model. One of my favorite examples of this type is Melanie Gao’s.

    Good luck, Alison. I hope you end up starting a blog. Just getting practice at blogging from inside a company and not offending anyone seems like a worthwhile skill.

    -Penelope

  4. Ben Casnocha
    Ben Casnocha says:

    Penelope,

    Thanks for the link! I can’t believe you did an e-gov kinda company awhile back — tell tell!

    Just one comment on the specialization point. I think you need to be like a T – broadly engaged yet deep in one thing.

    My blog is actually about a variety of things. If I specialized about one thing (say, entrepreneurship) it would just be another blog on entrepreneurship. If my blog is more “me” than one topic, it feels more natural and (I hope) more interesting. You stick to topic on your blog (career advice), but sometimes I wish I learned who “you” were more.

    So my advice for new bloggers is to do what feels natural, and recognize that there are benefits to both the general and specific blog.

  5. stever
    stever says:

    also it’s important to not be discouraged by a lack of comments.

    I currently run the best blog in the entire universe* and only have a readership consisting of my wife and a few friends… who never comment

    This is another post that is a perfect read. I’ve been thinking of starting a serious blog. I like what Ben said about the ‘T’.

    * this is a lie

  6. aSa (DJ FunkyGrrL)
    aSa (DJ FunkyGrrL) says:

    I think a blog of general interests could succeed. If one looks at it as more ‘creative writing’ the expresison of free flowing ideas.
    Though, I will agree it’s easier to keep track of blogs whereby one’s the content before hand.

  7. michael gibbons
    michael gibbons says:

    Penelope, I picked up on something — you said , “Everyone wants to be a creative thinker true enough — thing is the kid was obviously a creative doer, executer too. Seth has another great post today(I have no more room to print and hang another Godin post in my office) OK maybe one more! I’m paraphrasing Seth…”hard part is not coming up with something no one has thought of, rather actually executing the thing you’ve thought of” food forethought!

  8. Josh Tolle
    Josh Tolle says:

    I actually have been toying with the idea of starting a blog, but I keep on oscillating back and forth on whether to be specialized or general. This is not a first for me; I was unable to commit to college because of my broad range of interests and penchant for becoming bored easily. This is not to say that I don’t “go deep” on subjects I’m digging at the moment (I’m an autodidact by nature, so I’ll learn everything I can about a subject while it has my attention), but I have serious difficulty focusing on a particular subject for extended periods of time (as an example, I can’t seem to focus on just one programming language), so I’ve felt rather inadequately prepared to blog successfully which has kept me from doing it.

    However, after reading this post, I going to get the wheels turning on that front. I’ll blog as deep as I can on the subjects that I feel like writing about. Thank you very much for inspiring me.

  9. Alison
    Alison says:

    Penelope, thank you for your response to my question. What a great twist! I need to start sharpening my internal blogging skills to make a case to go external.

  10. cindy@staged4more
    cindy@staged4more says:

    hello, i think this is a great post and very good points on “forcing myself to specialize.” i have been thinking about where i want to head with my business now that we have reached a 1-year mark. i have been blogging sporadically but much less now recently (just about once a week), i feel that i have lost interests to write. (!) i just simply feel that i don’t have anything to say anymore. i also feel that there are many blogs that say pretty similar things. what would i say that make a significant difference? have you encountered situations like so?

    cheers,

    cindy@staged4more

  11. richard
    richard says:

    i love your ideas, what makes them good (i did not say correct ) is that you dare to be different.it is a great first step. but you are still going down the old path trying to achieve your success.you wont find it where you are looking.real success is not having to ever work again with a growing income, and the time and money to live just how you please.(wheather it is at the island house, or working if that is the best way you can fill your time. (pathetic)
    your still thinking like the middle class think. and that is why you arent living like the rich live.
    have a good day

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