Focusing solely on your net worth is an approach too narrow if you want to become financially independent over time. To increase your chances of being secure, think about your personal human capital, a set of skills and experiences that will improve your finances in the future.
Establish yourself as an authority in your field and create a public image for yourself. When done well, this will help ensure that you and your skills will always be in demand as long as your field is relevant. With technology, establishing yourself is easier today than it has ever been. The internet allows people with similar interests to connect easier, establishing communities and subcommunities offering enough room for many experts and leaders.
It starts with a blog. If you develop or write for a popular blog in your field, you could spread your authority far beyond your circle of colleagues. Blogging can open even greater opportunities to enhance your renown, including writing published books, appearing on television, and being cited as an expert when news organizations seek sources. The best news is that it’s incredibly easy to start a blog. Like a college degree is, for the most part, an entry point for a good career, a blog is the entry point for establishing yourself as a sought-after expert in your field.
Before you start a blog
If you’re anxious to get started, there’s nothing wrong with starting a blog right away, particularly if your motivation comes in spurts. Not long after you begin, and before your blog can help you reach a level of authority, you’ll most likely need to think about these questions. Take some time and get it right from the start by planning your blog.
What is your blog’s mission? The mission of Consumerism Commentary is “to develop financially literate, capable, and successful human beings by sharing educational, entertaining, and engaging writing.” Today, that mission guides almost everything I do related to this website. Consumerism Commentary has been around for eight and a half years, but I only created this mission recently. I formed the website for different reasons, but if I had focused on this mission from the beginning, the website may be more popular today.
As the context of this article is increasing your human capital, your blog will also have a “secret mission:” to establish you as an expert in your field.
What is your voice? The growth of a blog and its owner’s reputation within a broad community is related to the content on the website. If you’re focusing on writing articles, read often, write often, and learn how to infuse your personality into your published thoughts. Even if you’re already an established expert in your field, your skills may not immediately translate to engaging prose, so practice writing for the public.
If you plan to focus your website on video, again, practice being coherent and engaging in front of the camera. Find the approach you want to take with your voice, mannerisms, and attitude. You might change your approach later when you have a chance to test what works best in front of the audience, but the more you can prepare even by testing among your friends the better you’ll be able to quickly establish yourself once you start releasing your thoughts on the public.
- What can visitors expect? Do you want to produce content on a daily basis? Do you feel you’d be better served by less frequent but more in-depth articles? Much of your decision might come after practice. Only then might you be able to determine what works best for you. At the outset, choose an approach and stick with it, only to provide some consistency.
- What is your blog’s name? Sometimes this step comes first — a name inspires how you approach your blog. Your blog’s name is your identity, and the choice might be affected by your ultimate plans for the website. If your goal truly is to establish yourself as an expert, tie the blog’s name to your real name. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in building your blog as a “business” and selling it some day, tying your identity to your blog can limit your options. There are many approaches, but to increase your human capital, keep branding simple and make your real name prominent — the opposite of my initial approach to Consumerism Commentary.
- Do you have a hook? Again from a marketing and branding perspective, you may want to consider a concept to identify with. Erica was a web developer who started her own web hosting company, sold her business for $1.1 million, and is now a successful web-based entrepreneur, thanks in part to how she markets herself. She focuses on the business-selling aspect of her experience. This is the hook that draws people in, turning visitors to readers and readers to fans (not without a healthy dose of critics, as well). The hook works. What’s yours?
How to start a blog
At the risk of sounding like an ad, I suggest visiting WordPress.com and starting a blog; it will take less than five minutes. There are other services out there, but WordPress is very popular and easy to learn. You will have an option to add extras to your blog, such as your own domain name. You may be reluctant to pay for some of the extra features like a domain name at first, but the fee is small and the benefit to your perceived expertise is worthwhile.
That mostly takes care of the technical aspect of getting started. Once you’ve established your framework, you can get started preparing your website for the initial launch. In a perfect world, you’d probably like to have these tasks completed before releasing your blog to the public and letting the world know about it. If you are anxious to get your name out there, you might not feel like waiting. My suggestion is to get your website to a point where it has engaging and deep content before you launch, because this will show even your first visitor that you are serious about what you are doing.
- Begin writing or posting regularly on your website, building an archive of content. Have enough to keep a visitor engaged. Consider having enough to keep someone engaged for an hour, reading, watching videos, or otherwise consuming your product, before promoting your new blog.
- Select and customize a pleasing and navigable design. WordPress offers many options for your website’s design and layout, and with a little practice, you should determine how you can customize both.
- Determine how to categorize your content and build out these sections of your site. Typical layout calls for a small number of high-level sections listed near the top of your website. You should also have an area of your website dedicated to your personal information. Include who you are, why you’re an expert, and a method of contacting you. Be sure to include any relevant information that could enhance your reputation.
Once your blog is established, you need to let people know of its existence. Find similar websites, participate in discussions, join communities, and determine how to use social media like Facebook and Twitter effectively. Use press release services like PRWeb to your advantage when there’s an opportunity to do so legitimately.
Move beyond your own blog
Publishing your thoughts to increase your human capital isn’t limited to blogs. A blog will help you promote your other writing and open doors for you, however. With an archive of great content, you will be able to point to your history of excellent writing when looking to advance your reputation beyond the confines of your own website.
- Offer to write articles for other respected bloggers within your community.
- Seek opportunities to contribute to major publications like newspapers or industry journals.
- Take a specific idea and publish your own book or e-book.
- Approach publishers with a concept for a book, pointing to your history — and importantly, the community of fans you’ve built — as a rationalization for a book deal.
- If you prefer developing video content over writing, look for opportunities to be on television, and perhaps, produce your own show.
The goal is to boost your human capital through establishing an expert identity for yourself. If you’re well-respected online and are able to establish yourself beyond others in your field, potential employers and clients will seek you out. You will have more opportunities to grow your wealth and use that wealth to achieve the real goals you have for your life.
There is much more that could be said about developing a blog to promote yourself as an expert. Each aspect of creating a successful online identity, including creating content, mastering the most effective layout, and marketing yourself, has generated enough interest among the public to warrant blogs and books devoted to these topics. This overview doesn’t even touch on directly generating revenue from your blog, but that is a separate goal from what is discussed here, establishing yourself as an expert. Focus on creating something that establishes you before worrying about income. The expense is minimal except for your time.
If you’re concerned about return on investment, keep in mind the goal is to increase your human capital, the benefit of which only reveals itself over a long period of time.
Keep in mind that the bar has been raised. It is easy to start a blog, so it takes much more than just starting and producing consistent content to establish yourself as an expert through your blog. Hold yourself to the highest standards and settle for nothing but the best you can do.
Published or updated November 8, 2011.