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Boost Your Human Capital: Publish Your Thoughts

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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

Blogging and writing in a journalIf 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. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Aaron

These are great tips Flexo. I need to implement some of them too. The idea of moving beyond the blog is really crucial (I would think) to building that “human capital”.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

If you don’t want a personal blog, you can write for Yahoo Contributor Network (formerly known as Associated Content). This is a fun community of writers who support each other and it puts your writing out there.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

I think that’s great for getting your writing online and for someone interested in getting some experience writing, I just don’t know how well that particular resource would work for long-term development of your identity as an expert in your field. I do believe that hinges on having your own web properties. It’s great to see when a YCN article gets front-page billing and thousands of comments, as what happens to a very tiny percentage of YCN articles. You have to keep in mind that for the most (almost all) part these are Yahoo readers/fans, not your readers/fans, and building that audience for yourself is what helps establish yourself as an expert.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

Yes, I agree, Flexo. Yahoo is an easy way to get your feet wet. There are a few writers who have a niche. It may be a good way to test yourself as to whether you have the discipline to write on a regular basis. :)

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

Yahoo comments can be brutal.

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avatar novel investor

Some great ideas here and a lot that are sitting on my to-do list. I’ve been pushing myself on the writing side of things more and more lately. It certainly helps with additional content, but the extra writing can only help improve what little skills I have. Concentrating on topics for my true audience is the goal.

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avatar Kyle

I generally agree with everything in this article. Regarding “blogging under your own name,” I think that’s a very powerful way to get your name out there if for no other reason than the fact that your own site will probably come up as the first result when somebody Googles you (followed by linkedin, facebook, etc). The downside of this, of course, is that it constrains what you can muse about. If you are a software developer, for instance, a blog bearing your own name would probably mostly contain articles about your thoughts on developing software. A political rant may be a turn-off to potential employers. If you blog under a pseudonym, you won’t have this issue. I do think most blogs that end up being successful have to be focused. You can’t just write about anything and everything that comes to mind and expect to attract any kind of following. Maybe a few gifted writers can manage it, but you and I probably can’t.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that you really don’t even need to blog regularly if your goal is just to establish yourself online. Just write whenever you have something to say. Waaaay too many bloggers, myself included, fall into the trap of thinking you have to post daily or weekly, but if what you DO write is good enough, people will find you even if you just post twice per year. Look at how popular Dosh Dosh used to be.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Great point, Kyle. While the top bloggers often put pressure on themselves to produce frequent content, it’s not quantity that counts when establishing yourself as an expert.

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avatar Glen Craig

I love how you say the goal is to grow your human capital. These days, blogs are so popular and mainstream that many think it’s an easy way to somehow make money or make yourself a celebrity.

It’s not the case.

But if you approach a blog as a long-term project that will grow and develop with you then you have a great chance at succeeding.

One thing many lack is the ability to wrote well and get their thoughts across. These days that’s such an important skill as so much work is done over email.

Writing on a blog helps you build that skill, among others.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Craig,

My writing skills have improved significantly over the last few years thanks to the amount of time I’ve spent practicing. I certainly could stand to be better, though.

It would also help if my laptop keyboard would cooperate rather than dropping keystrokes all the time.

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avatar MD

The one thing that everyone reading this that wants to start a new blog needs to understand is that you need to stick it out. I won’t attach any motivational or inspirational quotes here because the reality is that in the first few months you need to research, write, and get into the habit of posting regularly without ANY recognition. This is the toughest part by far.

For example, I’m helping my friend launch a fitness site where I’m a co-author. I publish once a week or so. The plan was for me to post once in a while with my friend writing frequently as this would be his baby. Here we are a few months later and he’s posting once a month. He has no excuse but he makes up every excuse in the damn book.

Last week he had to help his dad’s friend move, then he had to drive his sister to school, and then finally he got emotional and said he has no motivation.

Before you get into blogging you must understand that you’re going to be writing 3 times a week for a few months without anyone caring. You need to stick it out.

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avatar Mike Piper

Indeed. Patience and persistence is the only way to make a blog work.

You need to care deeply about the blog’s mission, and the topic needs to be something you can have fun chatting about for hours on end — otherwise the patience and persistence will be too difficult.

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avatar Ron

I couldn’t agree more with MD and Mike. Persistence is a key element in a blog’s success. It’s a key element in ANY success.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

This is a great article. And can be helpful to those who can write and have a passion for the blog. Passion is the motivator. Doing it because it’s a good idea, well that could be a recipe for failure.

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avatar Peter

I agree completely when you talk about a blog opening up all sorts of opportunities.. Those opportunities can come in ways to promote yourself and your brand online, via income opportunities, job opportunities and a whole wide range of other things. Blogging really is a great way to improve your writing, and to build a nice small business that you can grow on the side while still being employed at a full time day job. It’s a great way to build your “human capital”.

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avatar Neal

I wish I’d read this 3 years ago — or maybe 10. I started blogging in order to promote a book (I never ended up publishing). The blog has morphed a few times as a function of my goals. I never wasted much time thinking about my real goals so I wasted lots of time going in the wrong direction.

Now I am rather clear on my direction and it’s helped tremendously. Thanks for helping us all stay on track sir.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I love this article. I have a little blog that I share with friends and family and regard it as a place to put my thoughts on things that happen and various ramblings. It is a jumble of thoughts from how to get organized to my growth in my Christian walk. I have never thought of it as place to grown my expertise. Maybe I need to concentrate on one area. Love this article and it has given me lots of things to think on.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

When we were raising the family one of the jobs I had was writing for a local newspaper. It was a laborous task for me. The outcome was good with little editing, but I had to labor to produce an article. i swore I would only write the way I thought after that experience. Unfortunately, if you get me on a bad day, I am know to ramble. I have extreme respect for anyone who pursues this line of work.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

One key point that could be added it Don’t try to force it. I’ve started a few blogs and none have done anything. Most (some may say all) are now defunct. Maintaining a quality blog is hard work and not for everyone. It is not for me. So focus on the areas you are good at to improve or those that interest you more. This should probably be said on all the Boost Your Human Capital posts. If this is not for you try another one. Just try them all at least once. You never know when you find a new love that helps you grow.

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avatar Ian Monteros

Hi Flexo, I like your point on focusing ourselves first on establishing ourselves first before income. This is very true, I always want to establish myself in my field of expertise and after reading your pointers I will definitely push through with my blogging endeavor. I write as mu hobby but I never thought it would help boost my human capital and help me financially along the way. Thank you for the tips.

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