THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Blogging: It's good for your career

Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.

"For your career, a blog is essential," says professor Phil van Allen. "It's the new public relations. Instead of a static home page, you have your blog."

Employers regularly "Google" prospective employees to learn more about them. Blogging gives you a way to control what employers see, because Google indexes and rates sites in a way that makes blogs come up highest in Google searches. Coming up high is good, but pick your topics carefully and have a purpose.

"The most interesting blogs are focused and have a certain attitude," says van Allen.

Ben Day realized the value of focus after a misguided mashup of his politics and his business. "I used to have liberal politics on my web site, but my mentor said, 'Dude, you gotta trim that off.'" Now his blog is all about software development. And it's given him the opportunity to stand out enough to support the life he envisioned for himself.

Here are eight ways blogging helps your career:

1. Blogging creates a network. A blogger puts himself out in the world as someone who's interesting and engaging­ just the type of person everyone wants to meet.

2. Blogging can get you a job. Dervala Hanley writes a quirky literary blog that got her a job at Stone Yamashita Partners, a consulting firm that "tries to bring humanity to business." Hanley says the firm was attracted to her ability to express her business experience in personal terms.

3. Blogging is great training. To really get attention, you have to have daily entries for a while. At least a few months to get rolling, and then three or four times a week after that. That also helps you know your topic.

4. Blogging helps you move up quickly. To escape the entry-level grind, you can either pay your dues, working up a ladder forever. Or you can establish yourself as an expert in the world. High-level jobs are for people who specialize, and hiring managers look for specialists online.

5. Blogging makes self-employment easier. You can't make it on your own unless you're good at selling yourself, and this is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways. When someone searches for your product or service, make sure your blog comes up first.

Curt Rosengren, a career coach, periodically Googles "career passion"­ words he thinks are most important to his business­ just to make sure his blog comes up high on the list. He estimates that his blog generates at least half of his coaching business.

6. Blogging provides more opportunities. Building brands, changing careers, launching a business­ these endeavors are much easier once you've established yourself online. "My blog is a foundation," says Rosengren. "I'm building an awareness that I can leverage to do other fun things with my future, such as product development, or public speaking."

A blog gives you a leg up when you meet someone new. Dylan Tweney, a freelance writer, says it gives him instant legitimacy with clients.

7. Blogging could be your big break. Visually creative types can blog beyond just text. Mark Fearing has (perhaps) the only cartoon blog.

"Cartooning and illustration are very crowded fields," he says. "My blog has gotten me more notice than any other publicity tool I've used. Plus, the blog gives me a way to have a new conversation with potential clients about other work."

8. Blogging makes the world a better place. "Blogging is about giving stuff away to a community," says Day. "For years, as a junior developer, I would go to the Internet for solutions and I would always take, take, take. Now I'm happy to be a contributor and give something back."