With the rise of social media and online journalism, and the subsequent demise of ‘traditional’ journalism, more and more people are turning to blogging (the reason why you are reading this blog right now!) to get writing experience. So what is blogging, how can you do it, and can it improve your career prospects? Keep reading to find out.
What exactly is Blogging?
Simply put, blogging is the process of writing a blog, which is defined as:
I will keep this brief, because this really is your job! Don’t think that people won’t be interested in what you have to say, or that you have to make profound, emotionally deep statements for people to connect with you. Write on whatever subject you are passionate and knowledgeable about. It may be hard work, but people will start to notice your writing if it is good. The majority of people give up on their blogs, and typically the ones that succeed do so after many months or years of low viewings. So keep it up, and most importantly, stay true to yourself over time. When your work does start to reach more people, it will be infinitely more satisfying than if you tried to bend your writing to meet an audience.
So you’ve read what blogging is, and are interested. But how do you blog – what platform do you use? Hopefully you don’t think the process of setting up a blog site is difficult, because while it can be, if you do it right it can be incredibly simple.
Now, you can blog for somebody else, just as i am doing now. This requires the least effort, as the blog will already be designed. All you have to focus on is writing. Typically, an established blog will also have a captive audience, meaning more people will read your work. This is a great way to just start writing, but also if you are not interested in the technical aspect of running a blog, allows you to focus on just producing content.
However, I bet some of you may be interested in starting your own blog and just writing for yourself. Or maybe you want to start a blog and have people submit work to you? Well here’s how.
Some people pay for their own blogging website to be set up, but frankly if you are just starting out and want to give blogging a try, this is way too much work! Your best bet will be to use a free-to-use blogging website, such as WordPress. WordPress is essentially a ‘freemium’ service – meaning it is free to use, but to get premium products and services there is a fee. Having used the free version of WordPress for several years, I can say that it is very versatile, easy to use, with lots of customisation options and plugins such as Paypal if you want to sell products!
WordPress is also very helpful, with lots of tutorials available. So rather than teach you how to use the service (which could take up a lengthy blog post on its own), I will let you figure out how to use it on your own, as even the not-so tech savvy of you should have no issues using it.
If you are looking to spend some money making your blog truly your own, WordPress’ paid service is also very good, along with a whole host of other options conveniently listed here.
Keeping your writing true to yourself is important, so finding and reaching your target audience is even more important. If you write about varied things, make this clear in the description of your blog, and realise that your target audience may change from one article to the next! Share your blog on social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin etc) using buzzwords and hashtags related to your articles, to get new people visiting your site!
Pick a frequency at which you are going to post articles. This will help to motivate you to write if you are struggling, but will stop you over-posting if you’ve had a sudden burst of energy and written 10 articles! Some people will argue that regular posts (same day, same time) will help you retain an audience, but i find there is limited truth in that.
Some people just use a blog to write what is on their mind, and aren’t even necessarily expecting people to read their work! But if you’re like me and you are writing to get experience, possibly with a view towards a future career in journalism, you’re going to want to look at metrics – the stats on how many people are reading your blog. Thankfully, WordPress and many other blogging platforms have metrics fully integrated into their websites, meaning you can not only check what articles were most popular and on what day, but also see if and how promoting your blog on social media is affecting how many people are seeing your work!
CV and Jobs
So you’ve steadily written a blog throughout your degree and got loads of experience. Now it’s time to graduate! Can blogging help you clinch that first grad job?
Absolutely! Not only do many employers check your CV to see if you blog (so make sure you have recent content for when they look at it!), but i have heard many instances of people getting jobs because they blog!
So why not give blogging a go?!