While researching for another OLC article, I stumbled upon a blog post that enumerates five reasons why every college student should start blogging. According to Ryan Healy, the author of the article, starting a blog may help you land that dream job someday. Drawing from his own experience as a blogger, Healy says blogging may help you differentiate yourself, may help you show your true personality to potential employers, and may help you make important connections.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Before you open a blog today, there are some things you need to consider. As a blogger myself, I can personally attest that while the technical aspect of blogging is easy, generating content isn't. Blogging, unfortunately, requires more planning that one might expect.
To start a blog that will represent you professionally, you might need to first identify your blog's niche and purpose. If you'd like your blog to be able to help you land that dream job, identify what your ideal job is so you make sure that it matches your blog's content. You may not be sure exactly what you want to do in the future, but having a general idea of what you're aiming for will help you mould the content of your blog.
A second important consideration is the time commitment. Successful bloggers usually have at least one new entry per week. That may not sound a lot, but if you're taking a few classes, working part-time or doing co-op, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, adding this to your schedule may prove challenging. If you open a blog and don't post new items regularly, readers may become disinterested. More importantly, though, it may also give potential employers the impression that you can't follow through with a commitment.
Finally, and perhaps your most important consideration, blogging requires that you open up a bit more about yourself. When readers visit your blog, they might expect some facts or some news, but they're mostly concerned about your opinions and thoughts. This might be scary. To accurately represent yourself professionally through your blog, you need to carefully plan what you'd like to say in each post and how you'd like to say it. To ensure that you're not giving potential employers the wrong message, make it a habit to preview your post before publishing it.
If you have a blog that professionally represents you, don't be afraid to use your real name on it. As Healy pointed out, it may give you that extra edge that you need. If blogging intimidates you but you'd like to try it in the future, your best bet is to start contributing to other established blogs. This gives you an opportunity to practice while getting valuable feedback from experienced bloggers. At SFU, for example, you can contact Online Learning Community to see if you can become a volunteer writer. Your byline in these articles should appear on a Google search, so becoming a volunteer writer is one of the easy ways to brand yourself online while also building your writing portfolio.
Just a final note - blogging isn't really for everyone. As I've noted in this article, blogging requires thoughtful planning and time commitment. If you feel intimidated about blogging, don't fret: there are other ways you can establish a positive online presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). Blogging is just one of the many ways you can use to depict a professional image if a potential employer searches your name online.
Beyond the Blog
- Check out Kevin's other blog posts from their Social Media Series.