When I graduated college, “blogger” was not a job title. Not really. People blogged, sure, but very few were making money from it. I couldn’t name a single blogger celebrity or someone who got a book deal by being a successful and well-known blogger. Now I can name dozens. I’ve read many of their books. It’s a whole new world.
Still, for most English majors or people who want to have a career in writing, blogger celebrity status and having bills paid by blog ads or paid product reviews might still not be an option. The internet is really, really big and finding dedicated readership is increasingly challenging with so many competing voices.
Having realistic expectations about readership and book deals, however, does not mean that blogging is pointless. In fact, there’s tons of ways that blogging can help you grow your skills and ultimately help you further your career.
1. First and foremost, writing as a job is different than writing papers for a class in college.
Blogging will help you exercise the same kind of writing skills you’d utilize at work. Plus, if you're serious about it, blogging puts you on a regular writing schedule with deadlines, which is something even very talented or paid professional writers struggle with but is important for just about any job.
2. Blogging teaches you how to write for an audience and create more polished, proofread pieces.
Social media has changed the face of publishing forever; we are encouraged to live in the moment and simultaneously document and broadcast news, events, and thoughts as they are happening. This is not a negative. In a lot of ways, it’s forced people to be more aware and more creative when publishing content. But there is still a time and a place to slow down, do some research (or just some soul searching), and have another pair of eyes on your writing before hitting publish. This practice is crucial to lots of writing-centric jobs, including everything from working on a corporate marketing blog to working on a lesson plan to drafting a grant proposal for a nonprofit.
3. Blogging is an instant portfolio.
If you have a dynamic, well-maintained, updated blog, you never have to worry about scrambling for clips if someone asks for a writing sample. When a company wants to know if you’re qualified to do something – stick to a timeline, complete a project, communicate effectively, craft a story – you can show them how you’ve already done it.
4. Starting a blog means learning to write concisely and narrowly.
You usually have to pick a theme and build posts around your blog’s "voice" or topic like marketing, cooking, fashion, or book reviews. Successful writing—whether it's articles or regular ol’ emails—often has to be succinct, direct, and on topic with minimal meandering.
5. As I said before, the internet is big. Which, yes, might make you think, “Who will even be reading this?”
But it also should be encouraging, because it means you DO have a huge pool of potential readers. Anyone could find you! Maybe not book publishers (but also, maybe!), but people who dig your subject or style or your voice. And you can easily reach out to other bloggers, which is helpful in growing your audience and your knowledge. Blogging can put you in touch with other writers, creatives, and readers who you can potentially network with for work and projects or simply learn from in life. Plus, having a personal blogging website means you’ll show up in recruiter and employee online searches and that professional step might just put you ahead of other candidates. If you attend writing conferences and conventions, you could even consider having a business card made up with your blog URL to pass out to new contacts!
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Really, it comes down to “the more you write, the better writer you’ll be.” If you want to be a successful communicator in your chosen career (especially if that career is “paid writer”), you’ll benefit immensely from committing to regular writing and having people read it. If college gave you an excellent start and the tools you need to write well, then don’t stop after graduation! It can be challenging to commit to a blog schedule with other obligations, like work, class, internships, or trying to find a job, but even finding the time to update once a week or every other week is definitely a worthwhile commitment that can grow your career and showcase your creativity.
Plus, it’s never been easier to start and setup a blog. Gone are the days of hand-coding HTML or having to shell out major money on design or a domain name. Investing as little as a weekend and $10 bucks a year, you can set up your own personal website that you’ll be proud to share professionally. If you’ve started a blog in the past but fell out of the habit, now is the perfect time to get started again!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marianne has an MA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and currently works as a Content Developer. After getting her master’s degree, she decided to dedicate her life to being a huge nerd and semi-professional animal rescuer. She spends most of her time reading and watching science fiction, eating Greek food, listening to music that was popular in 2003, and thinking fondly about the time that she hugged John Barrowman. If the writing gig hadn’t worked out, she probably would have taken up race car driving or roller derby.