Dear Evaluator, I think you should blog.
Partially for selfish reasons.
The social world is undergoing fundamental changes that will shape our collective future.
As an evaluator you are positioned to observe those changes first hand. And I want to hear what you have to say. We all have unique perspectives and backgrounds, but it’s harder to hear you when you don’t speak.
But beyond that, blogging has been fundamental in guiding the path of my own career. As it has for some of my friends and colleagues. And I want that for you too.
In today’s post.
- A little blogging advice…again?
- Showcasing expertise in the digital era.
- Blog the job you want, not the job you have.
- Blogging as a resume booster.
- Blogging as a network builder.
- Blogging away the Google gaps.
- Where are we now? Blogging tech in 2021.
- Get an audience jumpstart by adding your evaluation blog to Eval Central.
- This weeks’ awkward evaluation networking session with Isaac Castillo.
A Little Blogging Advice…Again?
This is certainly something I’ve talked about before. Over the last decade I’ve delivered conference presentations and written articles about the subject.
In 2013 I wrote a post pulling together blogging advice for researchers and evaluators from a group of 22 bloggers. Some are still blogging today on the same domains, some are blogging on new sites, and a few have stopped completely.
That post was this site’s most popular post for years. And I think the advice still rings true. It’s not 2013 anymore, there are more people sharing their views on the web. But don’t think for a second that your voice is not needed or that a blog can’t help you move your career forward.
Showcasing Expertise in the Digital Era
All the world’s a stage,Opening lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It
And all the men and women merely players;
Fair or not, our professional first impressions these days are guided by what comes up on the other side of a Google search.
Your name could be on a series of important journal articles or listed as presenter alongside other big names at prestigious conferences. But if that stuff isn’t shared well on the web (associations and the academic publishing industry are not known for their web savvy) your reach will have its limits.
In the digital era, a blog is an amplifier. It can project your voice beyond the limits of the ivory tower. It’s the quickest way I know to change what people find when they search for you.
Blog the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have
On Wednesday of this week I’ll be chatting with Isaac Castillo about getting real world experience as an evaluator. It was that upcoming conversation that inspired me to write this post.
I hear from a lot of evaluators who want to know how to practice something like data visualization when you don’t have the opportunities at work. And my response is almost always to start a blog.
When I started blogging I was writing about new techniques, software, and visualization before ever having the chance to really apply the lessons through my position. Through much of the beginning parts of my career I would spend most of my time coordinating data collections, programming digital surveys, or following up with non-respondents.
It was only after I had shown what I could do through my blogging, that the creative opportunities started to present themselves.
Starting a blog gives you an opportunity to have something that you control. You get to call the shots on what you work on and what you don’t. Want to get practice creating infographics? Create a series of blog posts. Want to dive into R programming? Create a series of blog posts.
Let the professional you want to be guide your blogging. Don’t lie about your credentials, but don’t limit yourself to sharing only about your current paid work/past experiences.
Blogging as a Resume Booster
Want to show off a skill in your resume that’s not part of your current role?
Blog about it.
There is no reason that the publications section of your resume can’t include blog posts. Use that to your advantage.
When applying for a job, create a series of blog posts that align your experiences with the needs listed in a job posting. Not only will it improve your chances of being interviewed (since the posts will better align your background with the job posting) but it will also help you prep for a possible interview in the future.
Blogging as a Network Builder
The act of blogging can also help you build your network.
Want to reach out to someone you don’t know? Say a company you admire or an expert you would love to meet. Why not ask them if you can do a little interview for a series of Q&A blog posts.
You can bundle multiple interviews together into the same post or just take it one at a time. This also works well for independent consultants. Collaborating on a blog post with a potential client is a good, “non-salesy” way to get your foot in the door.
Blogging Away the Google Gaps
Do you have a specialty or area of expertise in the field?
What happens when you ask Google questions about your subfield? Do you like what you see or do you cringe at the search results?
Honestly, I believe we have an academic responsibility for the search results and
Wikipedia pages in areas for which we claim expertise. I have heard complaints that you shouldn’t trust a Google search to do your research. But complaints alone won’t increase the accessibility of good information.
Experts have agency. Don’t assume someone else will take the time to spread your work if you won’t take the time to spread your work.
Where we are now, blogging tech in 2021
Blogging is easier than ever to get into.
The biggest tech platform for blogging is still WordPress. There are other platforms that let you blog, but WordPress is still definitely the leader.
If you hope to start regularly blogging, I suggest starting with WordPress.com. It’s free, and if you decide in the future you want more control over your site’s design, it’s easy enough to hire a developer and transition to a self-hosted WordPress.org site.
If you just want to write a blog post but don’t want to design a blog. You can do that right now for free using Medium.
You could also write an article using LinkedIn, but I recommend Medium because LinkedIn has a way of locking your post inside its social network. For example, I can integrate an author’s blog posts written in Medium into the EvalCentral feed. I cannot do the same with LinkedIn.
Get an Audience Jumpstart by adding your evaluation blog to Eval Central
I created Eval Central about a decade ago as a tool to help evaluation bloggers reach evaluation audiences.
The site is basically a robot. Here is how it works.
- A blog gets added to the Eval Central “Feed”
- The blogger publishes a new post on their blog.
- Eval Central sees the new post (<1 hour of the original post) and creates a copy, with a link back to the original.
- The Eval Central version of the post gets automatically shared via social (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook). The @evalcentral Twitter account has the largest following among the different networks with over 4,500 followers as of June 2021.
Want your blog added (or want to suggest someone else’s blog) you can do that through my community site.
This weeks’ awkward evaluation networking session with Isaac Castillo
For this week’s awkward evaluation networking (Wednesday at 2 Eastern)I’ll be joined by Isaac Castillo. The starter topic is about getting real world experience as an evaluator. It’s free, and should be a good conversation, hope you can join us.