Blogging can have an array of fantastic benefits, particularly from the perspective of developing your personal brand and enhancing your employability. Although social networks are a great way to connect with people and share snapshots of your thoughts and views, a blog allows you to create a much more comprehensive reflection of you, your opinions and your interests.
1. You can use it as an online portfolio of your work
A blog is a great place to develop a collection of relevant work which demonstrates your passion and enthusiasm for a topic. Writing essays and projects throughout your education is great for building transferable skills, however, the work you have produced will rarely have direct relevance to a potential employer. In today’s competitive job market, standing out from the crowd is becoming more challenging than ever, so by creating a blog you are increasing your chances of getting noticed.
A common assumption is that a personal blog is just a collection of unstructured ramblings, but actually they can be used much more effectively; you can showcase your writing, knowledge, experience, interests and achievements. It is a great platform to display how the skills you developed during education are a transferable asset to a company. You can demonstrate your ongoing progression and the full scope of your expertise in a totally unrestricted way; why not make the most of this freedom to dispute prevalent opinions and challenge yourself? Remember to encourage potential employers to read it, you can even include your blog’s URL on your CV.
2. It can attract new and exciting opportunities
Successful bloggers are being increasingly regarded as knowledgeable and influential in their fields. Companies are more aware than ever of the online world and are on the lookout for new talent. As a result, bloggers have an increased chance of being approached by someone who has read their work. Just by putting your voice out there, you might get some exciting offers:
The best job in the world? (well, for a ten year old) Toy’s R Us sought out influential ‘Mummy Bloggers’ and invited their children to become official toy reviewers or ‘Toyologists’. In fact, the power of the of this particular group of bloggers is expanding rapidly and companies are recognising the influence they have over their audience. One poll reported that ‘one in four of moms have purchased a children’s product because of a recommendation from a social networking site or blog.’
Blog your way to Mexico. Travel blogging has a plethora of fantastic benefits. It is a brilliant way to create a memento of your travels whilst developing useful skills and if you demonstrate your passion, enthusiasm and talent effectively you might even be offered a way to fund your next trip.
3. You can develop new skills
Blogging allows you not only to develop your writing skills but to explore different ways to display your knowledge. You don’t need to be an artist or designer to make use of these alternative forms of expression, this is your chance to be inventive; how can you translate your interest into different formats? Would your content work visually? You could create a video, image or infographic (even a phone holder can be interesting with a bit of imagination!) You don’t even necessarily have to make new content. If you find something interesting, you can embed this on your site and comment on it, which is great if you are tentative about your writing skills.
There is always a way to twist an old idea and make it fresh. Even the most seemingly dull subjects can be made interesting. Ever heard of Fracking? Ever been interested in Fracking? Probably not, however, this infographic got 16,000 likes on Facebook!
3. It can be a great networking tool
Blog promotion is so crucial to a successful blog that it is a topic in itself, (coming soon!). This is because the rewards it can generate are huge. The main aims of promoting your writing should be to get it read, talked about and shared – creating an audience you can network with. Your readers will already be engaged in what you have to say and interested in the topics you are talking about, so this is an easy way to get know relevant and even influential people. Encourage discussions with them, read their work and connect with them on other platforms in order to form a set of useful contacts. There is also a lot of potential for creating a community, as you develop relationships with like-minded bloggers you can support one another by linking to each other’s posts and adding them to your blogroll.
4. You can use it to make money
If you are a budding entrepreneur or looking to make a bit of extra money whilst studying then a well developed blog can be a great way to do this. Firstly, you can use it as a platform to sell your things. Add an additional page to your blog and feature images, prices and comments about your goods, you can also encourage traffic to items you are selling on sites such as Ebay or Etsy. You can do the same to promote your services or events.
You can also monetise your blog by utilising ad networks, where advertisers will pay you (indirectly) if someone clicks on one of their ads. One of the most popular ad networks is Google Adsense, which allows you to show relevant ads alongside your content, that earn you money when people click on them. It works like the reverse of Google Adwords, which you will have seen on your search results page at the top and on the right.
Basically, Google sells this advertising space to companies, who pay them based on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. Every time someone clicks one of these Ads, Google gets paid.
Google allows you to embed a search box within your blog and activate Adsense through this. If visitors then use this search box they will receive search results with Adwords alongside – but this time if people click on the ads you get a share of the money! Adsense also offers display ads, which you can run alongside your content in your sidebars or header areas, so if someone is on your blog and clicks on one of these ads, you get paid.
Obviously, you aren’t going to make much money through your ads if you have low levels of traffic, and you have to reach a payment threshold before Google will pay out, so it is not usually worth considering until you have a fairly well established blog.
6. You can develop your creativity
Writing a blog should be fun and not a chore. We spend most of our formative years moving from one educational establishment to another in an endless pursuit of the next qualification. Writing a blog is an opportunity to draw on what you’ve learnt and explore new directions with your existing knowledge. It is likely that you are used to working a certain way, be it creating endless spreadsheets for an Accountancy qualification or writing essay after essay for English. With a blog you can think outside the box; how does your chosen field combine with other interests? This is your chance to be creative with your thoughts and ideas; there is no curriculum to follow, you have the freedom to explore your interests in a completely unrestricted way.
7. You can use it to centralise your online identity
Your blog is the perfect place to harness your social profiles and promote yourself. For example, you can install a box to stream your Twitter feed, encouraging people to connect with you. Ensure that you make the most of your ‘About Me’ page as this is ideal for explaining in greater detail your interests and goals. To further collate your identity online you should use this page to promote the other platforms you actively use; add links to all your social profiles and in turn share your blog URL on those.
The more effort you put into this, the better chance you have of stimulating engagement. This has the additional benefit of turning your blog into a form of social proof, the psychological theory that people are influenced by the acts of others. As engagement with your writing increases people are socially inclined to believe, trust and share your opinion because they see others doing it. This is particularly useful in terms of employability as it gives you ‘informational social influence‘. If employers see you as an influencer they are more likely to trust your opinion and knowledge and in turn believe in your authority.
8. Bonus! In case you are still not convinced…
Would you like something for free? Then you need to hear the story of Mike Essex. Whilst at university he set himself the challenge to see how much free stuff he could blag, this led to a four year project and 350 completely free products which he reviewed on his blog Blagman. He has gone on to become a bit of a guru in the ‘field of blagging’ and has been featured on numerous influential sites including BBC News and The Times. If you fancy giving it a go, he has written it all down in a fantastic book: ‘Free Stuff Everyday‘
He has also very kindly answered a few questions for us…
Q. Did your experiences help you get your first job?
A. My experiences really helped me get my first job. I started the blog in my final year of University, and it helped me to improve my writing style and get used to expressing my opinion openly. Most importantly of all, it gave me a place to test this “SEO” thing I’d been hearing about so I could self teach myself a lot about online marketing. One more benefit is that the people who came to my blog started speaking to me by email and over time on Twitter as that platform grew.
Q. How did you utilise your experiences to make you more desirable to potential employers?
A. When I came to apply for jobs I had a lot of experience online that I could write about on my CV. My blog had also been featured in the local news, so that looked really good on there too. It was almost like having another job on my CV list, which when you’re a student and are desperate for something to put in the “job roles” box, really helps give you something to shout about.
Q. How did it help you when you were starting out in your career?
The Twitter contacts I’d made were very handy when I had questions in my first job, and didn’t want to constantly ask the boss. Drawing on the experiences of friends online, is a great way to learn new things, and especially in my industry to discover what works well and what you shouldn’t do.
Q. How did your experiences shape your career path?
A. I can 100% say that without the blog I wouldn’t be doing the job I am now at my current level. It taught me a lot about what works online and gave me confidence that people were interested in what I had to say (I was pretty shy before I made my blog and the process of asking companies for freebies gave me a lot of self confidence). It gave me contacts I’ve relied on time and time again and gave my CV that extra bit needed to stand out.
Mike is currently doing “this SEO thing”, as the Online Marketing Manager at Koozai Ltd.
This post is part of the Personal Branding Series, helping you develop a successful online presence.
Top image supplied by Kristina B
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