There is an old golf saying — you drive for show and putt for dough. Applying that logic to your career and you get — you talk for show and write for dough.
Written communication is a vital career skill. Not only does it demonstrates your ability to organize complex thoughts, it also amplifies your influence by carrying your message wider than you can yell.
To really JATO your career, it’s essential that your written communication skills are honed razor sharp. Like most skills, practice, practice and more practice are the keys to becoming a solid writer. The best way to practice — writing is to blog.
Why Blogging Is Good Practice
Blogging is a great way to practice writing. There is no other platform I know of where what you create can get instant feedback.
Writing is all about telling stories and getting your point across. When you blog, your ideas, stories and observations are out their to tickle the world. If they like your idea, then they pass it on. You get Tweeted or Stumbled or Dugg. If they hate it, it’s just wasted bits on your server — no big deal.
Feedback is an important part of the writing process. Without it, you just don’t know how good your writing or message is. That’s why the instant blog feedback (or lack of feedback) is a great barometer.
Cross Over Blogging Skills
Blogging is not just about writing — it’s also about getting your point of view across. The better your points and writing, the more people will read and follow you. This is something you want at work — people to respect your skills and follow your progress. Consider some of the cross over blogging skills that will directly help you in your career.
The web is full of noise. So much noise that most readers, on average, spend 56 seconds reading a webpage. That’s not long to make a good impression.
The key to extending that 56 seconds is to breakdown your writing into manageable chunks. Kind of like when you cut up your kids food. You really have to make it easy to digest so your reader will continue on.
Gaging Your Audience
Blogging hones your audience reading skills by giving you direct feedback on what works and what doesn’t. This is a powerful skill because no single approach works for everyone. For example, your boss may want a more summary type of report why your colleagues want all the gory details.
Gaging your audience is a matter of trial and error. Sometimes, it’s amazing what resonates with some and annoys others.
Knowing What Motivates Your Audience To Action
When we communicate, we want to either inform people or spur then to take action. By understanding what it takes for your readers to comment on your post, give you their email or even buy your book, you get accustom to looking for these triggers.
This is not to say you trick people into doing things by lying. That’s career limiting and unethical but you should know what motivates your intended audience to take action on the data you present to them.
Organizing Your Work In a Clear Manner
Crisp, clean prose is a joy to read. When you organize your communications in easily digestible, well throughout structures, readers will enjoy it more. When enjoyment is coupled with information, your audience will remember you. In fact, they will look forward to your analysis and take joy in your conclusions.
Responding Positivity to Criticism
We all have critics. Work critics are particularly bad since you just can’t delete their comment (like I would ever do that!).
Blogging teaches you that you can’t please everyone. You will get people who will bash you for your use of the wrong word, saying something lame or just plain being mean.
Critics are there to cast a light on things we can work on. If you take that attitude, then every critic will make you grow stronger. As you positively deal with critics, their voice starts to drown out and you can focus on the important things. Work critics work the same way.
Contributing to Other Peoples Success
Guest posts are a great way to get your blogging feet wet. All sorts of blogs accept guest posts (including mine).
When you help others succeed it not only feels great but you get a lot in return. You may not see the direct benefit right away but it does come. Bloggers (just like your co-workers) remember when you helped them and will be more apt to return the favor or even recommend you for projects.
Start Small And Work Your Way Up
You might be thinking that blogging takes a ton of time. It can if you dive in and don’t think about what you want to get out of it. The best way to start is to offer to guest post on other peoples blogs. This is a fantastic way to practice selling yourself and your skills.
The other way to start would be to add comments to posts or join a forum. There are several forums out there that have regular contributors. One such forum is Stack Exchange, where you can ask and answer questions about all sorts of topics.
However you start, consistently blogging will sharpen not only your writing skills but also your spoken skills. When you clearly write, you tend to clearly speak because the thoughts in your head are organized. You stop saying “um” or “like” or “ok”. Instead, your verbal skills mimic your writing skills and your interactions become more and more enjoyable and beneficial to everyone.
So, give it a try. Your career is just waiting for some Jet-fuel Assisted Take Off.