When you started blogging, did you think it could get you a job? When I started blogging, I did not think the blog itself would lead into a new career, but as the bloggosphere evolved, it soon became apparent that the skills I have learned as a blogger have value to all kinds of companies. Earlier this year, I was hired to develop an editorial denim blog, eat, sleep, denim. Interestingly, the company sought me out for having a unique skill set to launch a successful blog.
What does that mean for you? Since blogging and the larger field of social media is so new, many people did not go to college to become bloggers or social media experts. Britt Aboutaleb (formerly) of Fashionista.com said in the Evolving Influence Video “I didn't even know [blogging] was a career option when I graduated from college, and that was just a few years ago.” Bloggers are finding more opportunities for new careers, career changes, and for starting their own businesses. But how do you do it? How do you know when the skills you have developed have become a valuable means to develop an enriching career?
Cultivate your unique voice
This is much harder than it sounds. Nearly everyone I talked to about hiring bloggers said that they look for people that communicate their own unique perspective. It's the number one factor in what makes a good blog stand out from the rest of the pack. What is your angle? What makes your blog different from all the others. This ability to differentiate from the rest of the bloggosphere is so key, that whether you plan to use your blog to develop your career or not, it's something every blogger should make a point to develop.
Blog your foot in the door
A good blogger will be able to use their networking and self-promotional skills to meet people, while this shouldn't be your main motivation to get out there, the natural tendency for bloggers to develop their communities can also be transferred to casting a wider net of contacts and potential job leads.
“Blogging could be a ticket to enter an industry or a special company,” says executive coach, Patty Dedominic, “Employers often hire people they know.” The more people you know the more chance you have of knowing your potential employer. If your blog is well known in a particular niche, this is an added bonus, because that will really help elevate your visibility, and demonstrate you've paid your dues by pursuing your passion and building something successful with your own motivation and talent.
It's not just your blog
As a blogger, you know that it's not just about writing, blogging is part conversing, part design, photography, video, part tech and a keen understanding of the social media sphere. While companies scramble to build their presence online, bloggers have an advantage because they know how to build their presences from the ground up. At Attention!, a PR firm which specializes in social media, Managing Director, Dina Fierro says, “Assuming a candidate has a blog, it's among the first things that I look at. I love to see quality content, a unique point of view and strong writing but distribution is equally as important.” She goes on to say, “I firmly believe that to understand social media, you've got to participate in social media. So, the vast majority of new hires that we make at Attention are hyper-active in the space. They blog, they tweet, they engage with brands on Facebook, they are Supermayors on Foursquare.”
Why the emphasis placed on external networking sites? Alison Woo, co-author of How to Say It: Marketing with New Media “One of the key things a blogger needs to do is to be able to stimulate dialogue. It used to be the number of comments but now it’s the number of retweets or the number of times someone has shared your post on Facebook that matters. A blogger’s skill set is still firmly grounded in the editorial but with an eye of what’s coming over the horizon. If you don’t know that FourSquare is the new up and coming social network, you’ll be at a disadvantage to the next blogger who does.”
When to put your blog on your resume
It's amazing how even if a person is applying for a social media job, they don't put their blog on their resume. It's a missed opportunity. I put my blogs on my resumes, because the work I go after is social media related. It's on my LinkedIn account because most people who are social media savvy will look for your LinkedIn account, and they will look to see if you have any recommendations, and if you have any contacts.
While each job application will require a spotlight on different specific skills, on my resume, I don't just list what my blog is about, but include a holistic portrait, in brief bullets, always keeping in mind what can be valuable to potential employers:
- Updated stats: How much traffic do my blogs get? How many subscribers?
- Achieved Goals: ‘Getting 1000 Twitter followers in two weeks.' ‘Doubled traffic using email newsletter.'
- Technical Skills: Knowledge of WordPress, Blogger, OnSugar, Google Analytics, HTML, CSS, PHP, photography, video.
- Marketing Skills: Building twitter profiles, building newsletter databases, creating Facebook pages…what's the level of interaction?
I usually list out every single thing I do to keep my blog running and look at the job description of what I'm going after. How do they fit together? What's missing from either my skills, or the job description. If they want a blogger, do they want someone to write, or to promote the site? What skills will they need to know to make that happen?
The skills that really matter
Social media may not be taught in college (yet), or you may not have even studied writing ever, but that doesn't mean that your work doesn't give you an edge, and it doesn't mean you have to jump on every single bandwagon either. We may not know what the future holds for social media, so it's important to keep a clear vision of what you can really offer. Alison Woo reminds us, “The world will always need communicators. It’s only the form that changes. The need doesn’t. If you can communicate well, you’ll always have food on your table.”
Image by Bee Skutch