I started blogging in 2008. I was in the first year of my undergraduate degree and one of my assignments was to create a blog and write a post once a week. Soon, this blog that started as a tedious class assignment was teaching me how to write for online audiences while also allowing me to try different writing styles, explore and educate myself on different topics. In time, this blog became a personal diary of my journey through university, until I eventually wanted to move on to more professional things.
In June 2013, I launched a blog after returning from a trip to western Canada. It’s all about being a 20-something: living and learning from the perspective of us Millennials.
In the last eight years, I have learned much about what it is I enjoy writing (success stories – when “success” is defined by the person who has succeeded, inspirational people who beat to their own drums, breaking stereotypes, etc.) and most importantly, I have learned an abundance about me. I like looking at pictures of fashion trends, but don’t enjoy writing about them, and I love writing sassy event reviews. I’m passionate about giving people the chance to have their voice heard.
Here’s my take on the benefits of blogging:
Have you just read a really intense article or watched an something online that makes everything inside you cringe? Do you want to do something more than just send an email? Ask questions. Research. Write. Get both sides of the story and then present your opinion. Vent, but with class. To be or not to be the rant blogger, that is up to you, but when you put fingers to a keyboard, magic can happen when passion is involved.
Release frustrations, decrease anxiety
Did someone at work make a comment about you or a family member tell you to lose weight? Did a friend tackle an issue with insensitivity? Write about the fact that not every 20-something expects easy success. Discuss body positivity and how every shape is beautiful. Write about emotions and feelings. When we feel anxious, the anxiety will grow and grow until we turn it into something positive.
Improve writing skills while you’re blogging
If I read a blog post of mine from 2008, I cringe. Yet, when I read something from last week, I feel a sense of pride. I’m sure in eight years from now when I read a piece by me from 2015, I’ll have to close my eyes but the point is this: The more you write, the more your writing skills will improve. There’s no better way to learn than by doing!
Develop web skills for future jobs
Just searching for a job requires minimal online skills. When blogging, you will boost your web ability. When I started, I had absolutely no idea what ‘VPS hosting’ meant. Nowadays, I know you can get VPS hosting from Certa Hosting and loads of other web hosting companies. I’m still not the best with graphic design and I know I need to work on that, but I can operate a basic WordPress website with my eyes closed. It’s great to know what a dedicated server and a virtual server is thanks to using something like www.hostiserver.com.
It’s taken eight years of trial and error, and I’m sure the trying will only continue, but I’ve learned how to embed videos, group photos, add social media links to the main site and write for online. I’ve learned the importance of the time a post is published, as well as how to moderate comments. These are skills we can take with us to a job interview – and we don’t necessarily need a degree or diploma in web development (though, learning about creating online content in an academic setting is something that’s definitely on my to-do list).
Build your brand
Having yourself known in the creative industry is all about building your personal brand. Whether that means having your own creative project to sync everything with or simply creating an online portfolio with a theme similar to your resume layout, building your brand is how people recognise you. It’s how they’ll know to find you in a sea of other creative personalities and professionals. Having a blog can either be an extension of your brand or can actually BE your brand.
Build a following
When you build a brand for yourself – whether personally, professionally or both – the consistency in what you produce will attract and retain followers. If you’re trying to sell something – services or products – people will become familiar with what you produce and hopefully stick around to see what else you can provide. The same goes for those of us not hoping to sell anything, but rather develop professionally online. We become recognisable and that gets people talking.
Improve social media skills
Like “word of mouth,” which often spreads like wildfire, “word of social media,” shares what we produce on our blogs with friends, family and their friends and family. Not everything you write will go viral. Some posts might get one view but the point is you have created a convenient outlet where people can go to access your blog in one quick click, as opposed to scrolling through an ocean of posts. Perhaps you have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for your blog, or maybe you just have YouTube. Whatever social media strategy you choose, make it work for what you’re offering because it will allow you to improve your social media skills. A social media strategy will help you to learn how to schedule posts, learn that posts with photos are viewed more times than those without and learn that embedding videos is always a win.
We’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it twice, we’ve heard it probably more than 100 times but the most important part in being successful is building your bank of connections. How to do that? Networking. LinkedIn is a great tool but having a blog – or an online portfolio – is something you can offer your connections to see what it is you can produce and just how good you are at all those skills for which you’ve been endorsed.
Your online presence is an extension of you. How do you choose to reflect your brand on the Internet?