Blogging for work

Do you enjoy reading this blog? Has it ever helped you out with your work? Do you consider it a dependable source of information?

I’ve been writing this blog for over three years and while many of the benefits are personal, the number of visitors indicates that there’s something of interest for others as well. This site is advertisement-free but I still have to pay the bills, and as you probably know, I’m self-employed.

Times are a bit slow in the consulting business so I’m asking my readership for some help. If you’re so inclined, take a look at my consulting services and see if you know of anyone who could benefit from them. I have a fairly wide array of clients and projects. Pass on my name if you like. I’d also appreciate any advice on how I present my services. Maybe I’m missing something here.

What about sponsorship? Would it bother anyone if I sought a sponsor for this blog? Do you know of any company that would like to sponsor this blog? I can share my stats data if someone is interested.

I’ve had some suggestions about other ways to offer services and I’ll float them here in the next while. This blog, my business and life in general is all a work in progress. I intend to keep on learning through more and better conversations and I’ll keep on blogging for as long as I can.

11 Responses to “Blogging for work”

  1. Tony Karrer

    Harold – sponsorship or advertising seems reasonable to me and I don’t think it’s a problem at all. As long as you don’t spam us with ads.

    Likely, there are sponsors out there and even more likely they would like to get in front of the various bloggers who cover topics related to training and eLearning. That’s part of the reason that was kind enough to sponsor a blogger bash at the eLearningGuild Annual Gathering.

    If a sponsor has an interesting opinion or something to say that bloggers would want to talk about, then this avenue is even better.

    Best of luck with this pursuit.

  2. B.J. Schone

    Harold, I am a regular reader of your blog and I enjoy it very much. I don’t know that I can contribute much in terms of advertising, but I would certainly help by visiting the sponsors and/or advertisers you do obtain.

    I’ll be sure to keep your consulting services in mind, too.

    Good luck!

  3. ismael

    Hi Harold,

    First of all, thanks for not saying “sorry, pals, this is going to be a paid subscription blog”. Ads are perfect if this keeps you writing ๐Ÿ™‚

    Concerning the way you present your services, I’m no marketing expert so this is just my personal, humble, non-legitimate opinion: I see you explain what you’ve done, but not what you do.

    Besides presenting your past collaborations, I’d add an array of services and a short description of what they mean, including some samples of presentations, papers… an e-portfolio people can digg into (yes, the blog already is a good sample, but not for new visitors to the site with just the time to browse a couple of pages ๐Ÿ˜‰

    One has to scroll down and read all bold letters to draw an approximate map of what you provide. Maybe a category tree with its corresponding services would increase love at first sight probability ๐Ÿ˜‰



  4. Harold

    Thanks for the advice, guys. It’s appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ve made some changes to the Consulting section, based on Ismael’s feedback. I’ll continue to tweak it.

  5. Daniel Lemire

    It seems to me that when you are an independent consultant, times *are* going to be slow. There is no “if” about it. Fluctuations are unavoidable.

    I’d probably use the extra time you have to start a book project or something similar.

  6. Harold

    I’m used to slow times, as it’s par for course, Daniel. I’m also doing several non-paying things at this time. What I wanted was some advice on pitching my services, which Ismael has helped me with, as well as reminding readers that I’m a consultant, not just a blogger.

    Book projects don’t pay the bills, and this post was written in an attempt to see if I was missing some opportunities for paid work. I know the “financial rollercoaster” of self-employment only too well.

  7. Jennifer Nicol

    Hi Harold,

    I took a quick glance at the website from the viewpoint of a potential client. (With the same caveat as Ismael about not being a marketer..) … Here are some things I noticed:

    1) Regarding the yellow blurb at the top of each page. What I like about it: the yellow is eye-catching and attractive, it appears on all of your website pages, the summary makes you sound like the intelligent and thoughtful guy you are, and the ‘intersection point’ of your work just sounds really interesting!

    What I’m not sure about….
    I know you’re passionate about informal learning and open-source business models, but I don’t know if they should get top billing in the list of what you do, IF the purpose of the statement is to attract business. (And perhaps that is not the purpose; perhaps the purpose is to frame the blog. In this case, the sentence serves well).

    But if it is part of your marketing, I would suggest giving top billing to the types of contracts you seek AND that are likely to be available.

    Now I have no idea about the consulting business… perhaps there are lots of potential contracts in informal learning and open-source business models. But I imagine that most clients’ budget dollars are earmarked for ‘performance improvement’. This isn’t a big make-over suggestion, just switch around the order of words.

    Now of course, performance improvement does not preclude informal learning or open-source business models: it can all be part of the same package. But perhaps the potential client doesn’t know that yet.

    Perhaps they haven’t thought of informal learning or open-source, so when they see those phrases they just think “sounds interesting, but not for us”. You want them to think, “hmmmm, maybe he is the guy we need”. This thought then leads to the next point…

    …At the end of the yellow paragraph, how about adding another sentence that says “Click here to find out about my consulting projects”.
    (Only, you might want to find a more dignified way to say it!)

    I know, I know, the “Consulting” tab is directly above the yellow box, but you want to lead your horses to water! Make it easy.

    The good thing about websites is that you can easily track and find out if adding that sentence led to more consulting page visits.

    Then, once your horse is at the water (um, the consulting page), I agree with an earlier comment that it takes too long to get what we’re looking for (just the facts, ma’am!). What about opening with 3-5 bullet points listing your absolute favourite projects which are also most likely to relate to potential clients’ needs. The rest of your project list could stay where it is.

    As soon as your potential client sees your list of projects, that client will think… “hey, Harold does the kind of stuff we need… I think he IS our guy “. Then they can read on to confirm their hunch.

    Also, I think your first paragraph is quite philosophical and abstract. The first two sentences could apply to many disciplines. They don’t tell us what exactly it is you do.

    Now THIS paragraph, on the other hand, which appears down the page…
    “I realise that many companies cannot afford a full-time Chief Learning Officer, web & learning trends analyst or a human performance technologist. However, you may need these kinds of expertise from time to time.”

    That paragraph… THAT is what you do! Move that up to the top, after your list of projects.

    So to summarize…
    Open the consulting page with examples of your work (which is really an advertisement for the work you want). Select practical projects that also sound cool.
    Follow with the sentences about chief learning officer (rewritten to reflect its new position on the page.)
    Then follow with the “as an independant consultant” para, plus the list of services.

    It’s a long page. Perhaps you want to link off to separate pages for the rest of the material. Perhaps you don’t need to list all your projects. I think at this point, they’ve decided whether or not to call.

    Okay… now I’m going to go the work I was supposed to do when I sat down at the computer..

    Good luck with your ongoing search, I think it’s always a good idea to reach out!
    I’m curious about the consulting world. Networks are obviously critical. Do cold calls/cold letters ever work?

  8. Harold

    Gee, Jennifer, thanks for the free consultation, you make some excellent points. I should have asked for this advice a long time ago.

    As for cold-calling; it may work, but I sure couldn’t do it – not my style at all.

    My challenge here will be offering a balance between objective blogging aligned with offering my services, but not being too blatant about the latter.

  9. Jennifer Nicol

    Yes, that’s a tricky balance, those are two different things.

    The thought of cold-calling terrifies me. I think it just comes down to temperament. I remember meeting this fellow recently whose job was to be the ‘cold-caller’ and ‘relationship-maintainer’ for a construction firm. His job was purely to schmooze with architects — some cold calls, some ‘checking in’ with regular clients. I quizzed him… aren’t you scared? Don’t you feel awkward? What do you say when you call? etc.

    He told me that for him, cold calls are no big deal. In fact, it was fun, he really enjoyed meeting and talking and finding out what the potential clients were up to.

    Gifts differing, eh? I concluded that if I ever ran a business that required cold-calling… I would hire someone else to do the calls! Not feasible for a one-person shop, though.

  10. charlene

    Wow! It’s going to be hard to top Jennifer’s comment, I am favoriting this one, great ideas!

    I’m lucky, because this is not the main way I make money right now (though I hope it to be someday). Luckily I have a job at a university that has allowed me to introduce the topic among academics. It’s a very specialized market, and it’s a VERY tough sell to some, especially in the Critical Social Sciences, where there is still a great deal of cynicism and distrust of technology.

    I say… keep pluggin’ away. For the most part, people just don’t know what it is yet on that mass scale, but it’s not long now before there is a demand for such a knowledge-base of social media. And most of the experts of it are the users of it have more virtual capital than graduating MBAs right now.


  11. Harold

    Thanks for the advice and pointers from so many of you, including the personal e-mails. I’m grateful that I can belong to such a sharing community.


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