But what if you want to go a little further than that? Too many wannabes think if they have a blog they update once a month about whatever has irritated recently or something they have been up to its enough to win over an employer.
Sure it’ll be great for a couple samples when you first get going but if everyone has a blog, what can you do to make your blog worth reading?
The public unveiling of blogger Fleet Street Fox as former Sunday Mirror reporter, Susie Boniface, this week shows the effect can have a blog can on someone’s career. She said, in effect, that she started her blog to get a book deal.
Her book, out today, shows that this plan is possible. While most people won’t be looking for a book deal at this stage in their careers, there is no harm into starting a blog that will get you noticed. If you do it right, it could do more for your career than a postgrad or an internship ever could.
Keep it interesting
With all due respect, no one cares about the ins and outs of your daily life. When it comes to blogging its important to think about what your audience wants to read, not what you want to write (the same principle applies when freelancing). The danger of personal blogging is you tend to become too self involved and only relevant to their small circle of friends.
Maintain a coherent theme
If you decide to go down the polemical route, make sure there is a reason why each post is on your blog. Whatever you do, don’t write about something just because it’s trending on twitter. For example, if you tend to write music reviews for instance, why on earth would you write about the horsemeat scandal? My blog, for instance, is about Westminster and occasionally foreign politics. So I didn’t really write about the Savile/Newsnight scandal because it was far more to do with media, culture and law than it was about politics. The most successful blogs around tend to be the ones that have a pretty narrow brief. Guido Fawkes for example writes about parliamentary tittle tattle and attacks the left wing media, the Vagenda pokes fun at the inane sexism of women’s magazines. Neither stray particularly beyond that remit.
It’s not all about page views
This ties in with I mentioned above about not writing about every trending topic. Yes SEO is important yadda, yadda, yadda but if you have no intention of directly monetising your blog it doesn’t matter how many people find it on google. In order to create a successful blog you are trying to create a following. You need a small (at first) group of people who are willing to subscribe or follow your blog because they trust to content to be original, entertaining and on a regular topic. From there, they will pass it on and the following will grow. If someone comes across your blog once via google, chances are they are not going to visit again and the ‘chain of hits’, so to speak, ends with them.
Use social media properly
While, it is true the more you post on a link on Twitter the more likely people are to read it this ‘war of attrition’ style of promotion is not the most efficient use of your social media time. First off, Facebook is not that important at this stage, by all means post it once to get a few hits, but in the grand scheme of things your friends are not the people you want to impress. Secondly, Twitter is about building a rapport with people. DO NOT badger famous journalists with the ‘I wrote this, look at me, look at me’ line; it’s very annoying and not especially effective. You are trying to portray yourself as a real grown up journalist who just happens to be a full time student. Use twitter to be witty, warm and irreverent. Read other people’s blog, comment and engage. That way your follower count will go up and you’ll attract interest more organically. Twitter is designed to engage conservation (for better or for worse), not to ram links down people’s throats.
Don’t write for the sake of it
Don’t write about anything topic unless you have something particular to say. It’s tempting to post about something in the news but if you haven’t got anything interesting or original to say don’t bother. In my case, a good example would be the Francis Report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust failings. I think it’s awful and it shouldn’t happen again. But that’s it. I have nothing to add to that particularly conversation that hasn’t already been said so I won’t be writing about on my blog anytime soon. Always write about what you’re interested in. If you feel like you have to comment on something just because everyone else is but it bores you, it’ll be like pulling teeth. And it will show in your writing.
Image courtesy of bloggingehow.com
Do you have any other tips to add? What do you think makes a great blog? Tweet us @Wannabehacks with your thoughts.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look