Thursday, 24 September 2009

The Benefits of Blogging as a Student

Pink Student LaptopImage thanks to D Sharon Pruitt

Recently, I’ve had a few emails asking for advice about starting/improving a blog, seeing as I’m an ‘expert.’ To this I respond precisely: ‘Pah!’ I am no expert, you see, and consider few to truly be experts in blogging; I think blogging is just what you make it. Nevertheless, what I do have is a little experience, and that I’m more than happy to share! This is the first in a four-part series on starting a student blog.

It’s been just over a year since I started Charade, and although I’ve built a small band of loyal followers (that’s you!) within a niche that has plenty of scope for development, by no means has it been an overnight success. It’s clear that it will probably take another year at least before I’ll see any real 'mass' traffic or monetization but, right now, I’m happy as is. Why? Because I’ve only just finished my first year of university.

Yes, at 20 years old, I’m somewhat of a baby in the blogosphere, I’ve not so much as dipped my toe into the world of work and, at this stage, I’ve got all the time in the world (at least it feels that way). I’m here to tell you the many benefits of blogging as a student.

Why should you start a student blog?

Commitment

Until perhaps your retirement, never again are you likely to have as much free time as you will as a student. There will come a point where living off borrowed money just won’t cut it for you anymore, and work of some description will become necessary. Even if you are of the entrepreneurial breed (which I imagine you are, if blogging has taken your fancy) your commitments will only build and build.

Not only do you have more time to commit than you’re ever likely to again as a student, but blogging is also one of the fastest ways for you to learn the real meaning of commitment; independently producing and running a blog teaches you a level of dedication you may well have never experienced before. It’s one thing committing to a college course, or part-time job – they’re both ultimately a commitment to somebody else’s agenda, not your own. Successfully running your own blog shows you how to commit to you.

Networking and Enhanced CV

It’s no secret that the web is a great place to network; most of us have tried our hand on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and all the others in between, but your own blog takes this principle of a web presence to the next level. Look upon your blog as an interactive CV; a place to communicate your skills and ambitions to the world. Since starting my blog, I have forged many hundreds of links, big and small, with those within my niche, and although this was never really a main objective of mine, it can only benefit me in the future. If you make the time for networking, it will pay dividends, and who knows, you may land your dream job before you even graduate. With everyone and his best friend now making the most of Twitter (@Voila Megan) what are you waiting for?

As for your CV, even if blogging doesn’t turn out to be for you in the long-term, how does ‘I built a community of several hundred readers and subscribers around my own expertise’ sound against ‘I managed a team of four at my local burger joint’? Quite.

Improved Writing and Editing Skills

The ability to communicate well via the written word is a skill that no potential success-story should be without. Writing is applicable to all areas of our lives and careers: your CV, query letters, covering letters, complaint letters, personal statements, job application forms, email correspondence, essays, lectures, written presentations... you get the idea. The ability to articulate oneself well is priceless, and blogging is a practice in that if nothing else. If I look back at some of my early articles, I’m astonished at how far I’ve come in terms of my writing and editing skills, and I know I’m only set to improve further.

Potential Income

This is one I was hesitant to include because, if it’s the only dream you’re chasing as a student blogger, you’ll find the day to day of blogging practices highly mundane and probably just find yourself getting frustrated, but it’s a point worth including. After only five or six months of regular blogging, I was offered $150 to post a sponsored article aimed at students. Even if I never make another penny from my blogging activity, the joy of earning that amount completely by my own means was immeasurable and, as a student, every little helps! If you manage to develop a substantial flow of traffic, there’s every chance you can make a little cash on the side, and if you’re really committed, by the end of a three year degree, who knows what kind of income you could be generating! More on the nitty-gritty of making money from your blog later in the series.

Narrow Your Dreams and Crystallize a Career

Blogging truly is a path to self-discovery. You’ll identify both your strengths and weaknesses, learn constantly, and change your mind a dozen times a day. Regularly communicating your own uncensored ideas to the world, as blogging allows you to do, is an excellent way to find out what you really want to achieve after college. You may start on the topic of chemistry and end up a juggling extraordinaire, or begin a life hack blog only to discover you’d make an excellent style guru - but that’s all part of the fun! The blogosphere is one of the few spaces, as a student, where you can really explore and develop your own opinions, ideas, ambitions, likes and dislikes openly and constructively.

If all else Fails...Use it as an Outlet

Being a student can be tough; you’re at a point of total self-discovery and self-development and it can sometimes be hard to find people who really ‘get’ you - that’s if you even ‘get’ yourself yet. The internet is a wide and wonderful playground for your wildest dreams and your most rampant aspirations; a place where you can write under a pseudonym and make all the mistakes you like; where a business can start and fail within days and you’re none the worse off for it; a place where you can start on the path to a whole new social circle, career and lifestyle, if you so choose. Using blogging as a platform upon which to share and develop your own fascinating personality sums up all that make ‘student’ and ‘blogger’ such complimentary terms.

Are you a student blogger? What has your experience been of balancing the two vocations? If you’re no longer a student, do you wish you had started blogging when you were?

Hopefully this has whetted your appetite when it comes to starting your own blog. Next week I will look at just why I started blogging and, more importantly, give my tips on How to Start a Student Blog. See you then!

15 comments:

Jennifer said...

I started blogging a little before I started my freshman year of university. Now that I've actually moved in and started school I find I don't have as much time as I'd like to sit down and write, but I have so much to write about.

.:*aMbAr*:. said...

WOWWOWOWOWOWOW ok that's a big WOW. Excellent post!!

Maria Fallon said...

My friend and I are in the process of setting up a blog at the moment...I just wondered if I was able to ask you a few 'technical' questions?? Maria xxxx

Voila Megan said...

Maria - Of course! Though it's probably best to wait until I've posted the whole series as I might inadvertantly answer your questions anyway. Plus I'll be providing a whole bunch of helpful links which might do the trick for you.

Chelsea said...

I just started keeping a blog about 2 months ago. It's a lovely way to keep record of things, and to talk with and get to know other people! Making new blogfriends is always fun!

JustAnne. said...

I started 'blogging' in my first/second year of university. Of course that was back in 2001/2002, so it was basically an online journal on my angelfire vanity page. Oi, those were simpler times!! The blog has taken many, many forms over the years and has provided me with a rather amusing sampling of my own consciousness.

Now I seem to be settling into something a little bit more, mainstream, perhaps? Who knows, but I feel like I have finally found my voice having transistioned from a student blogger to a young professional blogger who wishes she could just be a blogger and not so much of a professional. But, we have to make money somehow I suppose. It has been an interesting journey, and certainly my audience has waxed and waned with my own interest. We'll see where the next year will take it!

Looking forward to your next in the series :)

Marie said...

I started blogging in May when I found I had a lot of free time during my first year exams. However, since I moved back to uni only two weeks ago, I've had absolutely no time for anything but studying - which confuses me as I'm only doing two modules this semester. Of course, I've started to settle back into the swing of things and managed to do a post or two in the last week.

However, I'm starting my job again tonight and I'll need to really work on my time management. But I enjoy being busy and, if I'm being honest, see working on my blog as something completely fun and enjoyable and well... not work! Even if no one else reads what I've written, I can go back and read it (though I may cringe at some of the obvious mistakes!) and think to myself "I did this because I wanted to, not because I had too".

JennTRC said...

I'm a grad student and I blog on and off.
It's a good outlet so I'm trying to do it more often.

Rosie Unknown said...

Great post!

I'm a high school student blogger, and last year, I found it was a great hobby. This year, in advanced classes, I am starting to question my ability to juggle homework and a regular blogging schedule. I see it as a challenge though, and I just need to manage my time so that I can fit in this form of self expression.

Anonymous said...

you are the single most amazing person on the planet.

an infite amount of love to you!

cosmo

amanda said...

I'm also a grad student and new follower of yourrrr blog, and a blogger myself. I really enjoy it, and set time aside each week to plan/write/get inspired for blogs, but sometimes it is a bit difficult.

Suzie said...

Excellent advice, thanks! I just got your blog recommended to me and it's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for...although I just graduated. Haha! Oh well, it's still awesome. x

*Ms.Glam* said...

This is great!

I just finished reading your series on blogging (I read out of order, I know!)

I started my blog as an outlet the summer before my freshman year, then reorganized it earlier this year. I'm still in the process of getting it all together and under a routine. My hardest thing is time commitment though. I am a very busy student( but who isn't?) and I've actually decided to really treat my blog as a second job. If that's what I have to tell myself to get more discipline, then that's what I'll do. It seems to be improving though!

LOVE your blog, it's always helpful! :)

MG*

Akhila said...

Great post! I've been "professionally" blogging for a while, and as a student, I have achieved SO much from it and learned so much!

I would add one thing: NETWORKING. Professors, employers, NGOs, and other students have emailed me after reading my blog and I have gotten to meet up with a lot of intelligent people in my field/area of interest! It's a wonderful tool through which you can build your network.

Clare said...

Really interesting how you say that blogging is what you make it - you're so right. I can certainly relate to your point on Crystallizing a Career' - I find blogging to be a great way to dig down into the nuance of my interests and expertise to find the place that I can add the most value.

Everyone who wants a successful career should be blogging in my opinion.

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