Get Published, part 1: Why Blog?

October 1, 2010 at 8:44 pm Leave a comment

Re-blogged from RentFoodBroke.
Written by Design Bum, also known as Hillel Smith.
Originally posted August 30, 2010.

“You may be finding yourself with some downtime these days if you’re one of the many without steady work. Or if you’re stuck working somewhere you hate, you may need an outlet. A blog could fill this void, give you something to focus on that you enjoy, and bonus — it could even help you get a new and better job. Showing people what you can do is an essential part of the job search process, and a blog can be tailored to do just that. We know this isn’t 2007, the days when “blogging” was the pastime of the hip and the term was used un-ironically. Think about it instead as an activity in discipline, articulation, and marketing. Here are some ways to use a blog to suit your needs, and hopefully get some good returns.

A blog is an effective way to show the world what you can do, both in terms of quality and consistency. Using a blog as a portfolio allows creative types to easily chronicle their work. Writers, show off your writing chops. Designers and photographers, display your work. But blogs don’t only show what you’ve made, they also say when you made it. What employers and clients want to see when deciding who to hire isn’t just how good your work is, but how consistently good it is. Aspiring journalists, for example, are far better off with a record of solid articles dating back some time, with new ones appearing regularly, than they would be with one excellent piece from ages ago. Illustrators would be well-served with a constant stream of solid work because that shows both talent and dedication to the art. A creative who relies only on a few pieces of older work in a portfolio can give the impression of not being fully invested in the business, as well as not being able to deliver every time.

Sure, people feel more comfortable hiring someone who does what they are looking for all the time over someone who does it sometimes, meaning you’re more likely to score a job if you have a track record of working consistently. But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t have paying gigs you should sit around. Do work for work’s sake. Showing you take the time to do what you do regularly, whether for a job or not, tells the world, “I care about this, this is what I do, and look how good I am at it.” I can personally attest to the success of this method, for wannabes-cum-professional artists, magazine writers, bakers, humorists, and engineers. Want to work in music? How will anyone know how much you know or care about it if you don’t speak up?

Your blog doesn’t have to be work-related to be effective for you. Blogging about, say, quilting, or environmentalism, or anything else that interests you can be a welcome relief from the drudgery of the day. The blog will still be successful if it motivates you to think about and engage in something you enjoy. And your blog may yet show an employer or client that you’re more interesting than they gave you credit for.

Both of these functions of a blog — as a portfolio and as an escape — rely on the same thing to be effective: discipline. As mentioned above, the regularity and consistency of your posts shows how much you’re engaged in it, and by extension, how much you could engage on a potential project. It can be tough to drum up the will and focus needed to make new work when you’re disheartened. Use the blog as a motivation tool to help you focus on your desired goal.

Your blog will only be as successful as you make it. Keep in mind what you define as success within the scope of your blog. Having tons and tons of readers and a book deal should not be the measure of your success. Rather, consider the quality of your work and your ability to repeat mini successes on a regular basis as an attainable achievement. A blog can still be a success even if no one reads it if it fulfills its purpose of getting you in gear. Remember that you are blogging for you. Anyone else who reads is a bonus. Try not to let yourself down and you’ll be halfway there. You could be the next “Julie and Julia,” blogging about something you love and finding fame and fortune. I wouldn’t bank on it, though the possibility does exist.

Then start spreading the word about your new blog baby. Don’t wait until you’ve already amassed a sizable number of posts because you may give up when the task seems too huge. Instead, tell your friends and family in the hope that knowing they’re waiting for your next brilliant post will light the fire under your butt and get you working harder. Once you’ve settled into the routine of creating and posting, start spreading the word to people you’d like to network with. Saying “here’s my website, and also check out my blog” may score you points for being dedicated to your desired calling. Chances are, if you like a certain subject or art form, then you’ll know of others who have blogs you admire. Send a fan letter to let them know. Show them what you’ve done, using your blog as business card, and start networking. Doors may open.

Stay tuned for Part 2, when we’ll discuss the various blog technologies out there and how to pick the one that’s right for you.”

>> October 1’s daily design idea is a self-affirming one: blogging is “an activity in discipline, articulation, and marketing.”

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