A guest blog post by Arthur Breur.
The Professional Benefits of Blogging
I recently was interviewed by Garrett Hope on the Composer on Fire Podcast about what is important on websites for composers. After hearing the podcast, one listener asked me, “So, do you think one HAS to blog?”
Interestingly, the topic of blogging didn’t even enter into the podcast conversation about the important elements on a website. Garrett and I discussed clear calls to action, easy-to-find contact information, audio and video samples, memorable domain names, and other elements of a professional web site. His eBook on the topic, Website Essentials for Composers, does a great job of spelling out the real essentials on a composer’s website (and most of his recommendations apply to ALL professional websites, not just those for composers.)
So is blogging essential? I would say, “Not really.” However, there are distinct and measurable benefits—both personal and professional—to the process of blogging. While the personal (self development) benefits of blogging can be very powerful, this post will focus just on the professional benefits of blogging.
Blogging Provides Professional Benefits
People do business with those they “know, like, and trust”—and blogging gives you a platform to build all three of those connections, the only way they really can be deeply built: over time. The primary goal of blogging, as a professional in any industry, is building your fan base or your customer base, and building awareness of your “brand” (whether that’s a literal brand or you as a brand). You can do this in (at least) the following three ways, each of which can be thought of both as a both way to blog and as a benefit of blogging:
- Connecting via shared interests and personal stories.
- Promoting yourself as a subject expert
- Cross promotion
Connecting Over Shared Interests / Personal Stories
The first item—connecting with others, either literally or figuratively—is the best known face of blogging. Telling your story is a powerful way to build personal connections even over long distances, whether you are telling about your educational and professional background or writing about your kids or your cat. People connect with other people and with emotional content more than they connect with a concept or a construct. Even when promoting a company, telling a personal story connected to the company can have a very powerful result. Tell stories about the original motivations that led you to do what you do, about overcoming challenges, or even just the daily joys that inspire you and/or the people working with you. Yes, it can be a fine line deciding when things become too personal, but create a pre-planned set of approved personal topics to keep things from ever veering uncomfortably off track.
Promoting Yourself As A Subject Or Industry Expert
If you are an expert at something, and you want people to hire you for your expertise, at some point they have to A) know about that expertise, and B) trust that you are, in fact, an expert who can help them. Blogging about the subjects on which you are an expert achieves this without you having to feel like you’re bragging or “selling yourself”—you are just sharing advice, knowledge, or experience on the subject, not talking about how amazing your expertise is. You’re proving how great your expertise is by freely sharing with your readers. This provides value even before you’ve been hired, and people respond to that as much as they respond to someone repeatedly sharing advice or education on a subject.
Further, this self-promotion can be targeted beyond just your direct customers, aiming at other industry professionals (think “strategic partners”) who can refer and recommend you—as well as potentially hiring you directly for projects themselves. For instance, someone who composes wedding music might write about times when they shared their music expertise with wedding planners to create very personalized music programs, including new music written just for the occasion. This establishes that composer as a credible industry resource. Sharing specific examples of adding real value in such situations will plant the idea that this composer is both experienced and helpful, and is therefore the one to trust. Targeting blog posts—or indeed any marketing or promotion—at those who have multiple clients themselves can lead to ongoing business relationships that create recurring business. This means less having to run around finding a single client at a time!
Interestingly, a very powerful way of boosting how much other people know, like, and trust you is to promote someone or something else. What goes around really does come back around. Whether planned ahead in your schedule of topics, or just happening naturally (say, immediately after hearing an inspiring new composition), blogging about someone else’s expertise—and others blogging about yours—is more powerful than just blogging about your own. When cross promotion happens, both sides have the chance to reach their combined audiences, meaning there is a large increase in overall exposure. This also helps to keep us out of a “scarcity” mentality—that mindset that says there is not enough business out there for everyone, and we are all competing for every scrap of work we can get. Practicing generosity and having an “abundance” mentality make for far better business practices as they expand your reach and your community rather than reducing them.
This brings me to another benefit of cross promotion—one that is not directly related to the people reading the blog: search engines trust a website more when it contains links to other sites and when other sites link back to it.
Blogging Can Improve Your Online Visibility
Particularly in the case of sharing your knowledge and advice on a given subject, blogging adds tremendous weight to your online presence—your online visibility—about that subject. It does this by adding additional topic-specific pages to your website beyond the basic Home, About, Bio, Portfolio, and Contact.
Say, for example, that someone writes a series of blog posts about the process of scoring music to a scene—including tips, techniques, and “insider” tricks to make the process easier. This clearly provides value to someone interested in learning about the process. However, most importantly to a composer who wants to write film, video, commercial, or game music, blogging a number of times on the subject creates more pages of industry- or topic-specific information. In this example, the composer may create a bunch of web content with phrases like “scoring music to a scene”, “composing film music”, “being a soundtrack composer”, “writing music for commercials”, and so forth. Ideally, the blog posts will have descriptive titles and well-named categories—and therefore links to those titles and categories. These will provide more places that search engines find those well-phrased links connected with that composer’s blog. (Search engines love links that clearly describe the target page with nice, relevant words in them.)
Of course, this does need to be done correctly, if the intention is to improve search results, and Search Engine Optimization is a big topic all on its own. That said, when done in the right way, blogging can definitely have benefits in one’s online visibility.
So do I think anyone HAS to blog? No. Especially if they are completely not comfortable doing so. However, there can be great professional benefits from blogging that go beyond most people’s expectations.
If you’re considering starting, I can only say to relax about the idea and make it fun—for both you and for your readers. Some day you will look back and see all the many things you’ve shared and the great connections you’ve made, and you will wonder what all the fuss was about!
Arthur Breur is a composer & business owner in Portland, Oregon. He has been composing for more than three decades & received his degree in piano performance from Millikin University. He started his web design & development company, FireSpike LLC in 2001 in Tampa, Florida, & has helped hundreds of customers plan, build, & maintain their online presence. Prior to starting his company, his experience included working as a senior graphic designer in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Visual Communications Department.