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8 Reasons Why Students Should Blog

This is a guest blog post by Michael White of Musings of a PR Student.

Students should be worried about their job prospects. I am. Competition is rife and the top advertised jobs receive hundreds of applications. Our work experiences are not just being challenged by a surge of candidates, but our very degrees are being questioned. Surely only post-graduate degrees now hold credibility?

I began blogging in 2005 (my promoted blog was founded in 2009) and have never looked back. As I reached maturity it became clear that blogging was no longer for the weird recluse yearning for a better life; instead, it’s a practical application for furthering a career.

Yet, despite my personal successes, I am still finding it difficult to convince fellow students to blog.

Here are eight reasons why students should join the blogosphere.

1.Your blog is your portfolio

When I submit my resume to potential employers, I always keep my blog’s address at the top of the first page as a contact detail. It is my online portfolio, which I can give as an example to organizations before I’m even at the interview stages. It is not only a way for me to stand out from the crowd, but it speaks a thousand words more than my two-page resume will allow.

University courses vary but you will certainly find a blogging format to suit you well. A blog can be used to do all of the following:

  • Post images of your latest photography, graphic designs, animations, architecture plans, 3D models, etc.
  • Post videos to present the brilliance of your last feature film project. Friends of mine have posted client work showing advertisements and band music videos.
  • Post written content which delves into industry matters and theoretical musings, or demonstrates practical experiences.

Your blog doesn’t just have to act as a portfolio of content; it can also present links to your social networking profiles. Control your online presence and stand out from the crowd.

2. Blog to control your SEO

What will the first thing your potential employer does when they receive your resume? Either bin it or type your name into Google. When I worked for Microsoft last year as an intern, members of the team took great pleasure in finding information on candidates outside of their resume. Fortunately for you, your blog will be the top result because, through you blog, you can control your SEO.

WordPress is arguably the best blogging software available, especially for those of us who enjoy self-hosting. A variety of plugins are available for WordPress blogs to enhance your SEO:

  • All in One SEO: This plugin is ideal for amateurs and professionals alike. Simply activate it on your WordPress setup to optimize your site for search engines.
  • Google XML Sitemaps: Create an XML-compliant sitemap for your blog to help search engines. I highly recommend that once you have activated this plugin that you post your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
  • W3 Total Cache: Yes, this is a caching plugin designed to speed up your blog. It is still entirely relevant to SEO, though. Speed matters in terms of page rankings.

The art of improving your SEO is a subject for another blog post. The above plugins will prepare you though. Make sure when your potential employer is searching that they click on the link you want them to see.

3. Network with industry professionals

A couple of months ago I published a review on my blog for a book called Social Media Analytics. Within a few hours of posting it, the author, Marshall Sponder, got in touch thanking me for my kind words. An industry professional made first contact with a student! Yes, I did him a favor, but that was partly in a bid to gain his attention. It worked.

In terms of networking, a blog cannot be used alone. Twitter is still one of the best online networking resources available. Couple your Twitter profile with your blog and you could be playing more seriously. You can gain the attention of industry professionals by:

  • writing reviews of their books
  • writing a reactionary blog post to something they have written
  • offering to guest post for their blog (like I’m doing here!)
  • simply mentioning them in a post with a link.

There are countless methods. Use your own creativity to think of something different.

4. Blogging shows your determination

Make no mistake, blogging is tough. To be successful requires quality content, frequent posts, and networking clout. My blog won a college advisor award in 2010, today I look over the list to find a year later barely half of the blogs are still active. You don’t want your employer to be gazing upon a graveyard of a portfolio.

My current blog has been active for four years now. In that time, I have written 310 posts, which approximately total to 160,000 words. This easily out shadows a measly 10,000 word dissertation. Such a task can only be driven by passion. Only a few blogs reach such a high publicity level that you could consider yourself a minor online celebrity—mine has yet to do so.

In essence blogging is about sitting in your room, with a large mug of tea, which is being drunk by a very determined individual (some say he is mad). Blogging will be worth your time. Plan blog posts ahead. Remember, you are preparing yourself for a marathon and not a sprint.

5. Build a reputation before you hit the workplace

Your professional reputation no longer starts once you have found yourself your first job. It starts based upon the information on the internet people discover. Build your reputation upon the strong foundations of your blog.

My uncle could be regarded as old-school. He has a top job in a worldwide recognized media agency, a result of working his way up the ladder. If you type his name into Google, you will find a dozen news stories written about him by reputable magazines. Never has he needed to build his reputation online first; his reputation leaked online due to his “real world” efforts.

The year 2012 is different. Competition is high among students and so you should be building your reputation at all times, even before you study at University. Here are a number of ways in which a blog can help build your reputation:

  • Focus on your blog’s branding. What do the images and colors say about you?
  • Feature references from industry professionals. Let their endorsements give you credibility.
  • Show off your knowledge of the industry by providing insights and advice.

Reputation is everything.

6. Blogging expands and tests your knowledge

Blogging can be an excellent way to expand your knowledge by testing new ideas out publicaly. On a few occasions visitor’s comments have provided me with fresh angles in order to tackle information. Ultimately the result not only expands your knowledge but allows you to effectively tackle debates and tune your mind to thoughts in your chosen industry.

Don’t forget about comments. Whilst the main content serves as an important resource, comments can provide practical feedback (or nonsensical drivel) to take into consideration.

7. Access traditional media opportunities

In the recent post written by the inspirational Chris Brogan he explains how we should view ourselves as media channels. This is exactly what blogs are; frame them as your media channel. If you do then other, more traditional media channels could become available to you.

Over the last year I was fortunate to become a “rent-a-mouth” for a number of BBC radio stations (including their flagship BBC Radio Five Live). It was an opportunity driven by the content they viewed on my blog. Blogging is by no means a perfect media channel as its audience depends upon your activities. Journalists who work for radio stations and newspapers can give you the credibility of opinion, more exposure, and perhaps even endorsement for work you have produced.

This is a priceless reason to blog. Don’t ignore it. Get noticed.

8. Earn money

How could we not include money on this list as a reason? In my experience it is possible to make money from blogging but don’t think it is easy to earn a living from it.

In the past I have accepted sponsored posts from organizations, but only if they are willing to pay me. Eventually I stopped because posts were lacking detail and shamelessly back-linked to their content. The posts were not useful, informative or entertaining—they were useless. Bloggers need to protect their real estate.

There are number of ways to earn money from blogging. If you chose a path then it may buy a few pints as a student. Don’t expect the income to cover your rent. In my opinion earning money is never a goal, only a side effect from doing something you enjoy.

I hope I have inspired a new generation of students to begin blogging. At the same time I may have just harmed by own job prospects … how selfless of me!

Are you a student who is currently blogging? What have I missed in this post? Add to the debate by leaving your comments below.

Michael White is a British public relations student who studies at the University of Gloucestershire. He was a CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) representative in 2009 and completed an internship with Microsoft last year. He regularly updates his blog Musings of a PR Student.

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Comments

  1. Prof. Torg says:

    Blogging puts you in touch with an audience. That helps you think, write, and speak. Gives you a sense of your professional conversation. Might share your post with my students. Nice job!

    • Wpfix says:

      Very nice article on reasons why students should blog.

      Even i am student and started blogging 3 years ago.

    • Martin says:

      That is right prof.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I was worried about negative feedback but your first comment settled my fears. If your students would like any individual help then I am more than happy to assist.

  2. Yash Bhatia says:

    Student blogger here. :)

    Been blogging since a year now and the only problem I have had with other student bloggers is grammar. And, not to forget, spellings. I feel it’s extremely important for your blog to have correct spellings & grammar for your point to be put across easily.
    Apart from this, the quality of the posts keeps deteriorating. Once the initial thrill of writing a blog goes, most teens get bored & write half-heartedly. I have experienced the same & have simply pulled myself up for my online reputation. :P

    Cheers! :)

  3. Bra-U says:

    Great post mike, I see many student bloggers around the blogosphere, but if you consider how many students there are then I guess most students do not blog. I am a student myself and I first got interested in this blogging thing a couple of months ago. I did not know it took so much effort to run a blog. All this optimisation, generating traffic and social media stuff is no childsplay….it definately teaches you to be well organised, a good reader and researcher and all in all it makes you more responsible hence making you better suited for the work environment. Good luck with your site, I hope you become that online celeb.

  4. Bret Simmons says:

    Concur 100%. I teach courses on social business and personal branding to undergraduate and MBA students at the University of Nevada. All are required to blog, and all are required to subscribe via RSS to your blog. Look for us on twitter this semester at the hashtag #unrbrand

  5. Okto says:

    This post is good. All the points described are essentials as motivations for new blogger (not just a students).

    But in reality, there is a fact that I think will hampers these students to start they very first blog. It is support from the environment, particularly family. Most parents still see blogging as useless things to do ( that was my experience). Parents will appeal more from us (to get the real jobs). So if you decide to start your blog do it smart, manage your time (there should be balances between blogging and studying).

    Decide your purpose to plunge into blogging, make your plans and goals. Most of friends become addicted after they find a ways to make money online, thus the study matters being ignored. That is not a good ways for student to use blog.

    I don’t have any intention to discourage. I strongly agree with point number 1. As a students blog is the best ways to provide your own portfolio. In past, every time I have an interview the first questions always ‘Experiences’. Zero experience means GOOD BYE (while I keep thinking in my head, if I don’t get any chances how I get my experiences?) Using a blog as portfolio could be your leverage at this important stage of getting a job. With Plans and Goals of your blog you will manage ways to find your weakness and try to fix it. This is your leverage, which would become precious experiences to have a successful jobs interviews.

  6. Blog to practice your writing. I am starting blogging now and I am 31. I am amazed at how much better I am at writing and spelling in the last year. (truly embarrassing how bad it was even after my B.A) I have grown as a writer way more than any college class. I think it comes from writing what I am passionate about and being motivated from within to have something worthy to give readers instead of just working on something only the teacher will see. I have gone from hating writing to really loving it.

  7. Nice tips for blogging beginners like me as a student. It can also enhance their abilities in any types of literature, and they will use blogging to make their internet skills unique, blogging will also help students to prepare for their future because in blogging a student can earn extra income and help their parents to add extra income for the family. Thank you very much for this great information, it has something to do in motivating myself to keep on my blogging ventures.

    • Allowing my blog to tap into an income has been a big challenge. Advertising and sponsored posts do help. If I can manage to get the blog to pay for itself then I am happy – anything else is a unexpected positive side effect.

  8. Michael says:

    I agree with the points that you have made here! It is a lot more essential to be able to get started sooner rather than later in the process of building our online portfolios! A blogging platform is great for that!

  9. Justin Mazza says:

    Blogging is so much more than writing posts. I can tell a lot about a person by looking at their blog, how they connect with their readers, blog design and monetization strategies.

    It really is an online resume that is publicly visible.

  10. I actually started blogging because I wanted to promote my master’s thesis. I guess what start out as an academic requirement turned out to be something I enjoyed! The more blog posts I wrote about I feedback from professors in different universities. I also got many publishing opportunities because of the fact that I used my blog to promote my master thesis findings

    So after my project was over, I still wanted to continue blogging. So I’ve been blogging since 2004. Started several blogs and also a few side line niche blogs and haven’t looked back since!

  11. Hi Michael,

    All are compelling reasons for students to start blogging.

    Establishing authority and build a rep opens many doors for you. Blogging can do that, and for quite cheap, when a student.

    By sharing your knowledge persistently you can become a go-to guy or gal. This makes you the hunted, not the hunter. Many dismiss blogging as a real means to expand your presence or as a networking tool. This is silly though, because a well-written, keyword optimized post reaches a network that you could never reach in 10 million years in the offline world.

    The determination aspect of blogging is not lost on successful people. To improve your blog you must write frequently, sometimes when you do feel at all like writing. This sends a signal to potential employers or influential people in your industry: you are a go-getter. Like working a job or starting a venture while still in school, running a top shelf blog shows that you have the drive and determination to succeed with anything in life.

    While other students are out partying you are strengthening your brand, establishing authority and maintaining a portal of knowledge that is accessible for now and years to come. Blogging can separate you in a competitive world today. Such is the blessing of being a creator, and not a competitor.

    As for earning money, who wouldn’t want to make money online? Blogging is a super way to open a nice prosperity stream while establishing your presence and providing a neat service to others. If you monetize your blog properly you can make a pretty penny while touching people’s lives in a positive way. Make an impact, get paid and most of all enjoy the process. This is what successful blogging is about, if you choose to monetize your efforts.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Michael.

    Ryan

  12. Dzulhelmee says:

    I am not a student blogger. Wish that I have been blogging during my years as a student. I experience that my writing skill improving at an exponential rate when I start blogging. Your advise are very true my friend.

    • I also found that my writing style improved through blogging. Another way in which writing style can be improved is by reading books. Attempt to try writing in the style of Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Jeffery Archer, etc. Try publishing posts in another author’s style.

  13. Carlos Ramos says:

    Im writing my thesis, but I still am a student XD.

    Nice article here. I have considered some of the things of the list but some other were beyond my wildest dreams. Well, not that far, but never thought of them.

    This really keeps me up, especially when I think in giving up blogging (just began and finding it hard). But I am in for one more round. Thanks.

    • I’m glad the article has caused you to keep blogging for another round. I truly believe in my comment that blogging is a marathon and not a sprint. Keep going :-)

  14. Raymond says:

    I wanted to pin this article but none of the images represent what the article was about, sadly.

  15. Martin says:

    I agree completely with Mike.Your ability to blog and promote your niche can prove how resourceful you are. I believe doing that only tells the world and your future boss that you are tested and proven! That is great post you have submitted here Mike. Students should take up the challenge and show what they can do for themselves.

    Keep it up Mike

  16. I was just thinking about how it would be so cool if blogs existed when I was a college student.

  17. myambalare says:

    8 reasons why students should GET OUT and play or do sports instead of staying in home on blog and FB !!!!?????

  18. Hello everyone,

    I am a student blogger too, totally agree with your view!
    It helps to develop our skills by speaking with others and makes us better writters.

    Cheers

  19. Ravi says:

    Inspired by the this article recently i started my own blog- http://populartemplesofindia.blogspot.com
    It was really a great experience. Keep sharing such information.

    Thanks
    Ravi

  20. I always believe blogging is a very good part time activity for students. It gives them a very good platform and good plus in their CV

  21. David Bourne says:

    Thanks for the article. ProBlogger is great exposure!

    As a parent of young kids, what do you think I should be doing to encourage our school’s leaders in this direction?

    Best,

    DB

    • I honestly believe that blogging begins with good information technology education (IT). In the UK earlier this month it was announced that the current education system for IT will experience a major revamp. I can see why. My whole primary school education was focused around Microsoft Office applications. It is unnecessary. In Brian Solis’ latest book “The End of Business as Usual” he mentions that we are seeing the millennial generation become technologically literate. Most pupils already know the basics behind MS Office applications and are learning extremely quickly.

      IT needs to become exciting. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if social media was incorporated into IT classes? Not only to show its possibilities but to raise awareness around privacy. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if blogging was incorporated into creative writing classes?

      We need to equip pupils for the 21st Century.

      Having an article on ProBlogger has been brilliant. :-)

  22. Jena Isle says:

    I have shared this in my FB profile so that my students can read it and would be inspired to blog. Thanks for the valuable information. This is the first time that I have read a post encouraging students to blog. Best regards.

  23. When I read your last line asking what you have missed in this article. Well as i’m a student & if this is been asked to me then i would have answered; “To Show My Parents” Yes if my blog touches sky in short time i would definitely like to show my parents that their son is not on the wrong path. He’s actually doing something which is great!

    My experience of blogging says i’m doing great! And it’s just a year gone – I have earned lot’s of experience + I have learned many minor part of blogging. This would definitely count in my upcoming success.

    Thank you for writing such an inspiring article for us (Student Blogger).

  24. When I was a student I was “blogging” without knowing it was a blog, this was in the late 90s, and impressed many teachers with it, but more importantly I networked a lot and made extra spending money, wish I still had those blogs active for their age, but the ones I have now are better structure and earn more money.

  25. Michael Neck says:

    I use my blog to inform my fellow students of assignments as well as suggestions on how to improve their study habits

  26. Brett Henderson says:

    Michael,
    I enjoyed reading this blog post about why students should blog because I believe that everything you said is true. I think blogs are a very influential in teaching, communicating and informing. The one thing that I would stress to bloggers new or old is to make sure they know what is acceptable to write. If each blogger were taught the ethics of communication as seen by Aristotle they would understand that they need to communicate with wisdom and intelligence. When Aristotle wrote the theory of phronesis he broke it down into three different character types that people need to live by, ethos, virtue and good will. If each blogger follows the rules of phronesis they will never run into trouble with any thing they post and will blog with wisdom and intelligence. In the Handbook in Communication Ethics written by George Cheney it states that “In theory there is a disjuncture between ethical theory and ideals and or ground experience.” (pg.5) I think this goes hand in hand with what Aristotle was teaching. Gaining the wisdom and intelligence in the field will provide you with the ethics and ideals to communicate in a correct and efficient way.

    Thanks,

    Brett

  27. Micheal says:

    I use my blog to express myself and I do make a blogs everyday in many blog sites discussing on certain things like how to start you day” and one more thing I do use blog and make blog site to earn money in marketing idea and helps me to earn as an extra.This is a great way to make a conversation, a communication exchanging ideas.

  28. Troll Freak says:

    Your blog becomes your identity and express your thinking and your abilities to a much wider audience.

  29. Great post…I just completed a degree in Law and I am proud to say I took no student loan. I paid through my course with income from blogging…I have a part time job which I used to pay rent and food but I decided to save every penny I got from blogging and use it for fees..

    I am done with Uni with a degree on the table and also with the biggest Online Ghanaian Entertainment platform as mine… GhanaCelebrities.Com

    Having been living in the UK for years, I certainly understand what the economic climate has been and is…Now that I am done with UNI, I am not under any extensive pressure to find a job…Though I am looking, I am still pushing my blog…Myabe oneday, I will completely stop looking…

    Thanks for your post…Students should get into blogging…the joy dwells in being able to build something and see it grow…

  30. Morgan says:

    Excellent reasons! I blogged when I was a student, but it was more for personal needs than business. I think if I had been blogging professionally, it would have been a great advantage.

    I feel I still am a student in a sense, as I’m constantly learning and I blog about what I learn everyday. :) Students can do the same thing; they can blog about their everyday academic experiences & learnings in a way that can help others who are considering that career path or who are simply interested in the subject and how a real-life student is going through the process.

    Great post!

  31. MNAHEC says:

    Thanks for the article! This is a great idea for students in many different areas to keep in mind.

  32. (i’m too a student blogger)apart from loosing valuble studying time,i strongly recommend blogging for students because they can build excellent writing and communication skills and make some money.

  33. Josh B says:

    I really appreciated your point on using a blog as a portfolio. I would much rather give a possible employer a first impression of my choosing than meet for the first time the day of an interview! Creating your own first impression through blogging puts candidates in the driver’s seat! Great post!

  34. Aaron says:

    I’m a Cinema Studies Masters student working on my thesis and my blog has been a fantastic place to utilize the new skills and education that I’ve acquired in the past two years. I think my classmates are being left behind in the dust when they do not blog or at least keep some sort of journal.

  35. Sinisa says:

    I’ve started blogging 2 years ago and I started writing on my birth language and now I’ve started a new blog in English and it’s so hard to write good articles especially grammatically correct :)

    P.S. great post :)

  36. For people who are new in the blogging theme, this is a helpful foundation to start!

  37. Lisa Bassett says:

    I see your point about why students should blog. The above address is my blog. However, why is it important to build a reputation before you hit the workplace? Whats the likelihood that our online reputation will even matter when we have a job? Please respond asap!