Blogs can do amazing things for personalities, professionals and brands of all sizes… especially when you are already established in the world of PR. This is exactly what Sharlyn Lauby has done with her HR Bartender blog, which has become a place for her to connect with others in her industry while also sharing stories of how to deal with workplace issues and share her own stories. Sharlyn is also using her blog to build out her own personal brand, which makes her the perfect profile for this “Meet the Bloggers” interview.
Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging.
I started blogging because I didn’t want to regularly send out an electronic newsletter. Business professionals are busy and electronic newsletters are often unopened and deleted. I thought blogging would provide a better way to talk about workplace issues with current and prospective clients.
At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I had heard Debbie Weil, author of “The Corporate Blogging Book” speak at a conference and I read Andy Wibbels’ book “BlogWild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging”. I highly recommend both.
What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
HR Bartender focuses on business and the workplace. Since my background is in human resources, I write it from that point of view. I always felt that, as a HR pro, people wanted me to act like a bartender – a friendly face to listen and offer advice.
Readers started asking me questions and I’ve added a feature called “Ask HR Bartender” where I help readers get the answers to workplace questions. I’m very lucky to have a network of professionals who will help me answer reader questions.
How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I offer paid advertising and sponsored content opportunities on the site.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
It’s tougher than you think to develop your own unique voice. Sometimes it might be tempting to mimic what other successful bloggers are doing. Be yourself and stay true to your own ideas.
What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
I read over a hundred blogs on a variety of subjects. But since you only asked for three, here they are:
- I learn something regularly from ProBlogger. In fact, it was a post on ProBlogger that helped me monetize the blog.
- I love a blog called 3x3x365, 3 people in 3 different states share one photo every day. I like it because visuals are an important part of blogging.
- And I’m enjoying Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” blog.
Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
- Learn the basics of SEO. You can read blogs like Search Engine Land, use plugins like the All In One SEO Pack, or include it with your blog theme (I use Thesis).
- Have access to your blog and related sites on mobile devices. It gives you the peace of mind that you can fix something from anywhere.
- Go to meetings or events dedicated to blogging. I use WordPress and have found attending my local WordCamp event to be valuable. I’ve also been to BlogHer and learned a lot.
What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Remember that you need to market your blog.
What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Never say never. I didn’t start the blog to monetize. But I also didn’t tell people I wouldn’t accept ads. When opportunities presented themselves, I evaluated them. Be open to try new things. They can lead you in wonderful directions.
If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
First, make sure you own your domain. Sounds obvious but I can’t tell you how many people have told me about domain problems. Next, I’d recommend having a self-hosted site. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers use free sites only to later convert. It’s great from the standpoint that you can blog for free while you’re learning but I hear it’s a huge challenge when it’s time to make the change.
How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks for having me! Look forward to connecting.
- Blog: http://www.hrbartender.com
- Twitter: @hrbartender and @sharlyn_lauby
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharlynlauby
- Google+: https://plus.google.com/+SharlynLauby/posts
Thanks again Sharlyn for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.