Editor’s Note: Several of our Women of HR contributors also host their own blogs. Today our writer Judy Lindenberger talks about her own quest to continue to improve her blog and blogging skills.
If you search the internet for the best HR blogs, two that make the top of every list are Evil HR Lady and HR Bartender.
In her blog, Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, answers questions, posts tips, and has garnered a large following.
Sharlyn Lauby, creator of HR Bartender, cleverly compares herself to a bartender – “that friendly face who’s there when you need them” – and blogs about human resources and social media, as well as food and drink.
Because I want to attract more readers to my blog, Open Door HR, I contacted Suzanne and Sharlyn to ask them a few questions about how to be a more successful blogger.
1. When did you start your blog?
Suzanne – I started my blog way back in August 2006. It was completely anonymous back then because I was employed at a very large pharmaceutical company and I didn’t think the people there would take kindly to my blogging.
Sharlyn – I began blogging in 2008 after my husband, who is a marketing professional, starting nagging me about writing an electronic newsletter. As a busy professional, I know what often happens with newsletters – we have every intention of reading it but time gets away from us and the newsletter is deleted. So over dinner one night, I suggested starting a blog.
That being said, I should clarify. We do have an electronic newsletter but now with the blog we’ve really defined what each accomplishes. Every communication medium does not have to do the same thing.
Me – I started my blog in 2010 when my website designer told me that it was one of the newest, best ways to market my business. I love writing so it was a fun task to take on.
In 2012, I was listed as one of the Top 25 Women HR Blogs and my blog was described “taking a “more professional, serious approach to Human Resources (where) visitors can scroll through … a broad range of topics.” That description is accurate and complimentary and I’d also like my readers to think, “Ahhhh …. I’m finally here and I can get my questions answered and she’s going to understand!”
2. What is your goal for the blog and how have your goals changed over the years?
Suzanne – My goal, at the beginning, was to have fun. I always wanted to be an advice columnist, and then suddenly, I was one! Cool. My goals have changed over the years. For a long time it’s been financial. You’ll notice I’ve done a shift from full articles on the blog to links to articles posted elsewhere. Why? Because other people pay me. To be honest, I’m kind of unhappy with that situation right now, so my goals are evolving. I still want to make money, but I may move back to my own platform and see what I can accomplish alone. But, my overall goal has always been to help other people. That’s why I went into HR in the first place–I like people. I want them to succeed. I want bad managers to go away. I want bad policies to go away. I want more brownies in meetings.
Sharlyn – Great question. I originally started HR Bartender to be a marketing tool for my consulting firm, ITM Group. And while I write about our business (being leadership and management training), it’s not exclusively focused in that area.
Over time, HR Bartender has become a place for me to talk about human resources and share information. I get a lot of reader questions and really enjoy answering them in the “Ask HR Bartender” series.
Me – My goals have always been to drive more readers to my company website, www.
3. What do you attribute to the success of your blog?
Suzanne – Consistency, humor, and the ability to explain things to non-experts. This is a problem in all fields–we all get so wrapped up in our own lingo and with our own knowledge that we forget that not everyone knows everything we know. Sometimes I think, “How on earth can you not know that FMLA is only 12 weeks!” but then I remember that this person has probably never dealt with FMLA before, so why on earth should they know?
Sharlyn – I try to include a takeaway in every post. I’m asking people to take a few moments of their day to read HR Bartender. The least I can do is provide a takeaway.
Me – I am not sure I would say that my blog is a success right now. I define success as having a large number of loyal readers, and lots of new readers, who “Like” and share my posts, relay their experiences, ask me questions, and laugh together.
4. As a relatively new blogger in the HR space, what do you recommend that I do to increase my readership?
Suzanne – Lots of links to evilhrlady.org, of course! But seriously, write things of interest, and keep your own voice. Don’t try to copy other bloggers, do what works for you. Post often and on a schedule, and make the most of social media.
Sharlyn – IMHO, here are 3 things every blogger should do:
-Market your blog. I wish I could say that writing is enough, but it’s not. If you’re serious about blogging, you have to put together a plan to market your blog.
-Write regularly. When I first started blogging, I wrote one day a week. Then when I knew I could handle two days, I added another post to the schedule. I believe part of success is publishing regularly. Readers want to feel like they are getting to know a blogger. You can’t do that if you publish once every four months.
-Read other blogs. Adding to my last point, if you’re having trouble finding topics to write about, start reading other blogs. There are tons of lists available about HR and business blogs to read. Find the ones you like and use them as creative inspiration.
Me – I’ve gotten some great advice from these two smart, funny women who are masters at blogging in the HR space. Thank you Suzanne and Sharlyn! My takeaways? I’ll keep working on posts that let my readers know more about me, The Lindenberger Group, and what’s new in HR. And I’ll try really hard to do it on a regular schedule!
About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.