The thought of putting pen to paper and publishing their thoughts in public is very scary for most people. I often hear SharePoint business users lament the fact that while they would like a blog, they really don’t know what to say or think they don’t have anything to offer. Here are 10 ways to look that challenge in the face and try again:
1. You have an audience
99% of the user base in SharePoint globally is business users like you. There are not nearly enough business users documenting their challenges, wins, experiences, tips and tricks. A vast majority of the 99% of users are all beginner to intermediate users and there are new people getting on board every day. You are not alone.
2. You are not an expert
So what. No-one knows it all in SharePoint, no-one. We really need to hear from you. SharePoint is such a big platform with so many nuances that each unique style and thought process makes a difference when it comes to sharing knowledge. It is prudent to do the obvious and do some research before just putting up a blog depending on what you’re writing about, but it doesn’t have to be hardcore technical and complicated. If you’ve found an easier way to do something, tell people, someone else can learn from you. Personally I love hearing from rank amateurs because it keeps me on my toes to make sure I am in touch with our key audience.
3. You don’t know what to write about
If you are an ordinary user, write about the frustrations or challenges you face in learning and using a product like SharePoint. If you are a more seasoned user, write about your favourite features and why you like them so much. If you are already teaching other people to use SharePoint, take the top 3 questions of the week and write about those. Attend user groups and conferences to see what the topics of the day were and write about those. Read LinkedIn forums and follow #SharePoint on Twitter to see what sort of questions people are asking, write about those if you’ve had some experience in them.
4. Use social media and be patient
If you have a brand new blog, chances are remote that it’s going to end up on page one of Google. You could write 50 blogs and not make page one. Building up an audience and following takes time. In the first month I wrote a blog, I had all of 239 hits for the month; fast forward 5 years and I average around 10 000 hits a month. Link your blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and make social media work for you. There’s no point in writing if no-one knows about it. Connect with other business bloggers and ask them to add you to their blogroll, and do the same for them.
5. Be consistent
To build up a decent following, you want to be writing once a week. Consistency is key to build an audience. Some months will be better than others, because we all know that life gets in the way, but just keep at it.
6. Why bother
It really depends on what you want to do with your career. Of course you don’t have to write blogs if you don’t want to. But if you want to specialise in SharePoint and become more marketable over time, you need to start building up a reputation and an online presence. Having a blog gives you extra credibility and tells a lot about you as a SharePoint consultant.
7. Apply this to an internal or public facing blog
Maybe you aren’t quite ready to get a world wide web facing blog yet, so try it internally instead first. Either use your My Site if you don’t have access anywhere else, or drop it onto a discussion board somewhere on your intranet. It’s a much less scary way to get your feet wet.
8. It’s okay to make mistakes or change your mind
Just be clear in your ‘about me’ section who your blog is aimed at so people know what they are reading about. If you have less than 2 years experience, people won’t be looking to you for server related solutions. If get your story wrong, don’t panic; just do an addendum to your blog and come clean. If you change your mind about something you wrote, it’s quite okay too. As your experience grows, so will your perspective. My early governance posts and documents from 9 years ago where really really long, they are far more streamlined now that I know better.
9. Never, ever, ever, ever plagiarise
The number one golden rule – do not copy someone else’s work and try pass it off as your own. You will get caught, you will ruin your reputation. This is a very small industry. If you need to refer to great content, acknowledge the author and put links to the original content.
8. Be brave
Take a deep breath and just jump in. And if you need someone to QA your blogs for you till you can fly solo and don’t have anyone to ask, ask me. I’ve written over 450 blogs, I know what you are going through.