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To Blog or Not to Blog: Book-Job Boot Camp, Week 3, Day 4

Bouncing off our post from Week 1 about refining your online persona, it may be helpful to start a blog before or during your job search. You may have heard about people whose blogs helped them land jobs, like Marian Schmebari, whose “How to Get a Job in Publishing” post for Publishing Trends sparked this entire series (or yours truly, whose creative writing blog sparked some interest when I was applying for internships).

But signing up for a blog just to post funny cat videos and long laments about your recent breakup aren’t going to help your job search, nor is that the type of thing you want to be listing on your resume (obviously). Again, it’s about creating an online persona that shows that you’re involved with an online community that is somehow (though it doesn’t have to be directly) related to your interests and the job you’re hoping to land. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

DO

  • Pick some kind of theme. Interested in science fiction? The evolution of the ebook reader? Cookbooks? Create a blog about it. There are eight kajillion diary-style blogs online, with people writing about random thoughts and daily occurrences that have no connection other than that it’s all coming from the same brain. But think about it–it’s the ones that have a theme that stand out and gain popularity.
  • Pick a theme that somehow relates to the job you want. You don’t have to have a blog that focuses solely on the editorial process or the current marketing trends. But if album art led you to be interested in design, or hating Twilight made you want to become an editor, it’ll provide a link to hiring managers that shows you have a genuine and personal interest related to the work you hope to be doing. And if you’re interested in what you’re doing, you’re more likely to work harder. Ding ding ding!
  • Reach out to others blogging in your genre. That’s the best way to gain an online “persona”. Email or message other bloggers and introduce yourself, or better yet, ask to do a guest-post exchange. When other, more popular blogs link to yours, your traffic will go up. Your blog will seem much more legitimate if you can say that you have 10,000 followers or are averaging 20,000 page views per month than if your mom and the hiring manager are the only people who have seen it.
  • Link back to as much as you can. When people view analytics about who is visiting their page, they can see where their hits are coming from (WordPress even automatically generates “Pingback” emails when another site references your blog). So if you link to, say, an article on Shelf-Awareness that you reference when forming your own opinion on a matter, there’s a chance the people over there might come across your blog. Plus, it’s good netiquette, and we all remember the “DON’T PLAGIARIZE” speech we got 980974589401345 times during our high school and college years.
  • Personalize your page. Figure out how to make the look of your blog stand out from others–whether it’s editing the template or throwing up a good header image. If you aren’t web-design savvy, either use this as an opportunity to learn how to be, or reach out to those who can help you. Having design skills and being web-savvy are as useful in today’s job market as Microsoft Office fluency and typing abilities were a few years ago.
  • If your blog does gain popularity and you feel comfortable putting a link to it on your resume, include information about how many views it receives or how many followers it has. Again, if this number is high, it can legitimize your inclusion.

DON’T

  • Write about your current job. Certain bloggers, like Dooce, have actually gotten fired for publishing less-than-flattering commentary about their jobs on their blogs. And who wants to hire someone who that’s happened to? Even if you’re lauding your current company, a future employer might not want to risk having that much information about their internal workings put on the internet should they hire you.
  • Confuse your Twitter with a blog. While Twitter can be considered a form of blogging (see below), even if you only Tweet about book-biz things, it’s just not the type of thing you want to put on your resume.
  • Post other peoples’ property without giving credit. Though internet copyright laws are still morphing and molding, it’s important to source as many references as you can. And even if the law doesn’t catch you, there’s a chance the original poster will–reverse search websites like TinEye, for example, are making it possible to track where photos you’ve posted have ended up elsewhere on the internet. Blogger-plagiarizers are also usually given a bad name if they’re found out, and if your blog has a negative reputation, it’s definitely not going to be something you want to include on a resume.
  • Post anything that you don’t want stolen or sold. A lot of blog platforms, including Twitter, have some technical writing in their Terms of Service that basically says they’re given complete rights to anything you post. For example, if you’re a photographer and you post a Twitpic or a photo on Tumblr that you took of a ski resort, Twitter could technically sell it to a brochure-making company, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Similarly, many literary magazines won’t pay you for first publishing rights if you’ve already posted your story on your blog.
  • Make a blog about trying to find a job. It’s been done. Don’t be cliche.

That being said, it is important to learn the difference between various platforms. We have them ordered here from “simplest and smallest and most casual” to “most sophisticated, professional, and complicated”.

Twitter: Ah, Twitter. While it’s debatable whether tweeting is a form of microblogging, an off-shoot of Facebook status updating, or it’s own format all together, Twitter is one of the most-used “self-publishing” platforms, and the one website of the four listed here that you’re most likely to already have. While you can use Twitter to make network connections and get updates on the industry, you mostly likely don’t want to put @yourname anywhere on a resume.

Tumblr: Some people distinguish “tumbling” from blogging, but let’s be real: Tumblr is a blog platform. Tumblr is similar to Twitter in that you can follow other blogs, “reblog” (as opposed to retweeting) what you like, you have a feed of the blogs you follow (called your “Dashboard”), and that posts are supposed to (but don’t have to be) short. The difference is that posts can easily be published in various media formats, as seen in the Tumblr toolbar, below. But don’t let the simplicity fool you; Tumblr posts have all of the editing features that more “professional” blog platforms do.

Tumblogs can definitely serve as “serious” blogs–on the front end, they don’t look differently from any other blogs, aside from the little “Follow” button in the upper right (coughcough my blog, Yeah Write!, is a Tumblr). It’s the back end (how you post) that’s a little different.

Blogger: Like Tumblr, Blogger aims to be user-friendly. But it’s definitely another step away from Twitter. Blogger is pretty easy to set up–you can use your gmail account instead of creating a new username/password–and very straightforward to use (see the posting screenshot below). And unlike Twitter and Tumblr, Blogger has a built-in Comment feature. If you want an easy way to “purely blog”, Blogger (formerly BlogSpot) is your best bet.

WordPress: Are you web-savvy, ambitious, and patient? Then WordPress, the most professional of the platforms, is right for you. Though WordPress DEFINITELY has a learning curve, it hosts more blogs, has more customization options, and is more advanced than any other blogging platform. Many of the websites you may regularly surf that look like “normal websites” are actually WordPresses. Wondering which platform we use for Trendsetter? You guessed it!

The best thing about WordPress is that if you can think it, you can do it. If WordPress doesn’t already have a feature built in–favicons, SEO optimization tools, galleries, smart scrolling–there are zillions of user-created plugins that can be installed.

More than likely, if the company you’re applying to has a website or a blog, they’re using WordPress. So out of all of the others, it’s the most beneficial to learn to use on the “back end” before you start applying. “Comfortable using WordPress” is definitely the kind of thing that you could put in the Skillz section of your resume.

One Comment

  1. This is a very helpful and useful post. Thanks a lot. I have just started creating my blog and I was surprised to find that most of the things I wanted to include in my blog were in your “don’t” list. Thanks a lot. I’ll follow your advice!

  2. […] a creative personal project. Whether it’s a blog, a novel, or a web short, feel free to use this free time to pursue passion projects. Not only will […]

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  1. […] a creative personal project. Whether it’s a blog, a novel, or a web short, feel free to use this free time to pursue passion projects. Not only will […]

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