After eight years at Warwick, over 100 blog posts and too many espressos to count I will be leaving the University for pastures new. My first blog was accurately – if not, exactly, creatively – entitled ‘It all starts here‘ and if I was the poetic sort, I’d probably end in a similar vein. Except I’m not poetic and it’s not the end. This is the start of something new for me – and the careers blog. I will hand over the reins to someone else, and re-calibrate my position as detached (but interested!) reader.
The power of blogging
Followers of this blog may have spotted a taste for provocative, occasionally contentious, posts – some have hit the spot, others less so. I’ve had healthy debates with fellow bloggers, careers folk and students and enjoyed every one. I’ve challenged assumptions, and had others confront my own. It’s been a fantastic way to engage with the latest thinking and ideas across the careers landscape, and I’ve even managed to extend my professional network – all from the comfort of my keyboard. I consider this an accomplishment on behalf of introverts everywhere. Susan Cain may be right, The Quiet Revolution is coming….
So, before I sign off from the blog for good (*deep breath*) I wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way:
1. Don’t chase the numbers
My colleagues will probably laugh incredulously when they read (and I hope they are reading…) this comment, because it’s fair to say I have taken more than a passing interest in the blog stats. Visitors, views, page rank, shares, keywords, SEO – these have seamlessly entered my lexicon and assume an importance I could barely express two years ago. But with knowledge comes increasing wisdom – the numbers matter, but content matters more. Part of the blogger’s role is to curate and create original content. To paraphrase ‘Field of Dreams’, “Write it and they will come”. If you do this, the ‘numbers’ will soon look after themselves.
2. Find your voice
It’s hard to stay relevant in a saturated market and retain readers’ interest. The (careers) blogging community was expansive when I started and shows no sign of contracting. Although the careers landscape has evolved – in part to keep pace with the digital environment – the building blocks look much the same. Students still need to navigate the vagaries of the graduate job market, and that means a continuing focus on the careers nuts and bolts: applications, interviews, internships. I don’t worry about re-visiting well- trodden ground, but I do like to give old content a new spin. Don’t be afraid to step out of the herd, and say something a bit different. The internet is replete with groupthink – there’s no need to amplify it.
3. Give others a platform
Don’t keep such a tight leash on your blog that you decline (good quality) guest posts. It is important to maintain editorial consistency, but there’s no need to let control freakery outwit common sense. Blogging is a pretty time intensive activity, and it can really help to share the
burden joy! This doesn’t mean outsourcing all of the hard work – guest posts should add quality, not fill a vacuum. The balance of in-house to external posts should be firmly towards the former unless you’ve established a blog that’s an info digest or blogroll.
Inviting guest bloggers will also expose your blog to a new audience and potential new followers. A win-win situation. Just make sure you exercise good judgement and a right to decline unsuitable posts.
4. Share good content
And I don’t mean your own. Part of establishing your own reputation as a blogger is signposting your followers to other blogs and bloggers, and sharing the best the web has to offer. You may have an encyclopaedic knowledge of your subject matter and an ear for witty phrasing, but you don’t have a monopoly on readable content. Even the most narcissistic fashion bloggers (and boy are there plenty) must concede there’s room for healthy competition. It’s inevitable that you’ll stumble across posts that are so good, you’ll gasp in admiration as the words fly off the page. You may be tempted to give in to green eyed envy at this point, and decide not to share. Resist this temptation. There’s an unspoken contract within the blogging world, that you both give and receive – try to honour it.
Some bloggers have a mastery of language and creative thinking and if you still believe in that old broadcasting mantra – educate, inform, entertain – you’ll want to share, not deny, their talents.
5. Establish a pattern
This might seem rather prosaic, but it’s worth stating nonetheless. When you first start blogging, you may feel an urge to post incessantly to ensure a flow of fresh content. This is all very well, but you’ll struggle to keep the momentum and could soon lose interest. Try to find a pattern that is both manageable and sustainable – whether that’s twice a week, or twice a month. Just try to avoid posting erratically, as readers will be turned off by your feast or famine approach!
Well, this post draws to a conclusion my Warwick journey and two years of happy blogging; I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading it as much as I have editing it. And to all students out there wondering whether it’s worth the investment of time and energy, I would offer a resounding ‘yes’. You might not be able to blog yourself into a job, but it could just get you noticed.