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Jim Wang


One of the most effective ways of boosting your human capital is to publish your well-edited and relevant thoughts in your particular field. Blogging is a great way to communicate with an audience, establish your credibility, and enhance your public profile. Jim Wang is the founder of Bargaineering.com, one of the earliest blogs (along with Consumerism Commentary) to focus on personal finance. Jim’s new venture, MicroBlogger, aims to help readers learn how to earn an income through blogging.

In this article, Jim explains how cultivating your public image, a goal possible through blogging, can increase your chances of moving forward in your career.

Have you searched for yourself lately? ExecuNet, a job search and recruiting network, polled 100 executive recruiters in 2006 and found that 77 of them used online search tools to research candidates. CareerBuilder had a more recent poll and learned that 37% of hiring managers used social networking sites to research candidates, with more than 65% using Facebook as the primary resource. All of this points the the growing importance of having a good image online.

While some companies, mostly reputation management companies, are happy to sell you packages that would improve search results for your name, I’d argue that there’s something even better. Rather than relying on a company you pay to hide what’s bad about you, why not highlight what’s good?

Ink, pen, and paperThe simplest way for you to do this is to maintain a blog.

Why should you start a blog? I’ve long been a fan of Luke Landes on Consumerism Commentary and if he wanted to get a gig as a consultant for a financial services company, he probably would have little problem doing it. The site is a showcase of his expertise in personal finance and it’s clear that his influence in the blogging community is far-ranging.

Consumerism Commentary has an extensive archive that showcases his expertise, and if you start a blog, you’ll have the same. If you want to use a blog to enhance your image or standing in your community, you have a blueprint right in front of you.

Your blog is your public profile. If you thought Facebook or Twitter gave you insight into someone’s soul, a blog goes far deeper depending on how much you share. Instead of short snippets, blog posts are longer form articles that allow you to go into much greater detail about a subject. Anyone can look intelligent, thoughtful, and funny in 140 characters; it takes a lot more work to look intelligent, thoughtful, and funny in 600 words or more.

This also gives you a bigger stage to show people that you know your stuff. If writing isn’t your strength, or you feel as though you don’t have the time to do it right, become a curator and share interesting, educational, and entertaining content that others in your field might be interested in. You want to be seen as an authority in the space and that can be achieved as a curator or a orator.

Use your blog as a marketing tool. I’ve known Neal Frankle of Wealth Pilgrim for years and he’s a Certified Financial Planner with more than 25 years of experience. He’s actually one of the few personal finance bloggers who is wholly qualified to write a personal finance blog, and thousands of readers visit his site daily. It’s free advertising for his expertise, not counting his time and energy, and it’s better than a commercial because he’s giving a ton of value and knowledge.

More importantly, his blog keeps him in front of prospective clients. He told me that he met one of his largest clients through the blog. That client read it for two years and while they touched based from time to time, it wasn’t a constant relationship. The blog kept Neal in front of the potential client until he was ready to sign up as a financial planning customer.

Blogging forces you to stay on the cutting edge. One of the biggest challenges for any writer, whether it’s for a blog or not, is coming up with ideas and topics to write about. When you maintain a blog and have a constant need to write, it forces you to keep up to date on the events and developments in your industry.

It also gives you opportunity to digest those events because you need to share your opinion or thoughts on your blog. You’ll learn where to find the latest news, which will in turn keep you better informed. Depending on your field, this can also improve your professional capacity.

Use it as a networking tool. Business cards are nice, but a blog is far richer for many of the reasons I shared earlier. What if you’re a researcher and you are sharing your work on a daily basis through a blog? The next time you meet someone in your field, you can show them your blog when you explain your area of study. If they’re interested, they can now get a pretty deep dive into your work without your intervention. If they aren’t, well there’s no love lost!

As you write more and the articles get noticed by search engines, you may discover that other professionals who are interested in that subject will discover your blog and reach out to you. These are great networking opportunities.

Blogging can improve your writing skills. The ability to communicate is extremely important and blogging can improve your argument and writing skills. When I started writing, I was terrible at it. While I wouldn’t say I’m good, I think I’ve settled on a conversational style that works well and that’s the result of a lot of practice. I’ve literally written over five thousand blog posts over nearly ten years and it has, without a doubt, improved my writing skills.

Blogging is not, however, without its drawbacks. It can be a significant on-going time investment and a minor technical challenge. Blogs need to be updated constantly, though the frequency is up to you, and it’s almost better to not have a blog than to have one you haven’t updated in months. If you have the willingness to learn and the dedication to commit time to a blog, I wholly recommend blogging because it’s a very powerful tool for any professional looking to qualify for jobs, sign up more clients, or increase earning potential.

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This is a guest article by Jim. Jim writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com. You can also find him on Twitter (@bargainr) causing a ruckus.

Consider two individuals trying to save for the future. John saves a hundred dollars a month into a magical investment that gives him 6% a year. After forty years, he ends up with a nice chunk of change: $199,149. Joe starts one year later, saves a hundred dollars into the same magical investment that gives him 6% a year. Do you know how much he gets after 39 years? $186,417.

$1,200 and an extra year gives John an additional $12,732 in savings. That’s over a ten times what he original contributed.

Let’s wait another year, what then? Let’s say we let Joe contribute the extra $1,200 and John stops his contribution. What then?

Joe ends up with $199,149, because forty years is still forty years, but John, with an extra year of savings, finishes 6% ahead – $211,098. For those keeping track at home that’s nearly $12,000 for almost nothing except waiting.

It’s Year 40, Not Year 1

Compound interest helps the person who saves early not because they started earlier, but because they have more time at the end for their money to grow. After year one, when Joe has saved nothing and John has saved $1,233, the difference looks so minor. Joe is only a little bit behind. The problem is when you look at year 40… after Joe has come to his senses. By then, the small little head start that John had in year 1 has magnified itself over forty years.

If you want a good sports analogy, golf is the perfect one. Small minute changes in your golf swing can dramatically change where the golf ball goes. If you don’t hit it square or have the club face tilted, the ball will hook or slice. Over even a hundred yards, the difference is great. The same is true for saving money and compound interest. Save early and you will reap the benefits later on.

Save Anywhere, Just Save!

One thing that hamstrings people is deciding how much to save and where to save it. Start small, just $1 a day means $30 a month. If you can manage $3, that’s $90 a month. Any amount greater than zero is better than nothing; action is better than inaction.

Where you save is up to you. If you want to put it in the stock market, invest it in index funds. If you are afraid of the stock market, put it in an online savings account or a high yield certificate of deposit where it’s 100% FDIC protected (up to $250,000). It doesn’t matter where as long as you start saving.

Don’t be like Joe, be like John and you’ll thank me in forty years. :)

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