This is a guest contribution from PR specialist Caitlin Dodds.
I remember sitting alone in the airport with three hours to kill before my flight to Madrid. Squirming on the hard plastic chairs at my boarding gate with my laptop perched on my knees, I typed my first post on my new study abroad blog.
You know the saying, “the rest is history”? Well, that cold January day is a big part of where I am today because my little study abroad blog helped determine my career and land my first job. Here’s how I did it.
Getting Started with my Travel Blog
All my friends that had spent time in Europe kept blogs that were updated every few weeks with a snapshot of their crazy jet-setter lifestyle. But as their semesters progressed, updates got shorter and less frequent. I loved writing, and I jumped at the chance to blog about something exciting.
I set up my WordPress blog, customized the layout, learned how to use widgets, set up category pages and everything else that mattered. I obsessed over themes, the tagline for the blog, and the ‘about me’ page.
I didn’t know how much time I would have to write but week after week while my friends’ updates became few and far between, I stayed up late writing detailed recaps of life in Spain, the trips I took, the people I met, the food I ate, etc. I was obsessed with editing, picking the perfect pictures, writing, rewriting, and editing posts to perfection. When I discovered WordPress built-in analytics, “stats,” I was hooked. I loved seeing where my readers were coming from (all over the world!) and what brought them to my blog.
All these things got me thinking – I was studying for a marketing degree, but hadn’t figured out what to do yet. I had friends that worked in web development and SEO and I was sort of interested in Internet marketing. I loved managing my blog, so why shouldn’t I try to blog (or at least write) full time?
Turning My Blog Into a Resume Piece
When I returned to Grove City College for my senior year, my Content Marketing professor encouraged me to use my blog for the final project. He had me expand the blog and turn it into a travel resource for students trying to study abroad on the cheap. He challenged me to find ways to monetize what I loved and apply SEO strategies to it.
In the Spring I was taking a class in SEO and job searching for digital marketing jobs that would allow me to write for a living. Through a friend of a friend, I found a position in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at Web Talent Marketing, a digital marketing agency. I applied for the position and to prove my experience – I sent the hiring manager a link to my blog with a short snapshot of it’s stats, growth, and success. Within hours I had a voicemail asking me for a phone interview. When I went to visit the company and interview, I was able to use my blog for specific examples of things I had done, the knowledge I had of content marketing, and my writing ability. I was able to talk about the type of promotion I did for it, how I tweaked blog posts to perform better, and how I used analytics to determine the content my audience liked best. I had a job offer within three days.
If you’re blogging full-time, or maybe just part-time, and in the market for another job, don’t underestimate how you can leverage your blogging experience to land that job!
Here’s how my personal blog made me more marketable:
1. It helped me stand out in a competitive job market of college grads because I could market it as “real life experience.”
2. I could showcase my writing ability in a fun and engaging way.
3. I gained experience in the number one CMS platform, WordPress, and proved I could implement technical changes on a blog for SEO.
4. It demonstrated my ability to analyze content through statistics and use that data to improve my content for increased visits, dwell time, and engagement.
I’ve used my blogging experience to help my clients maintain better blogs and succeed in content marketing. I even became one of the first members of our PR team and have helped grow Web Talent’s SEO blog by being a top contributor every month.
I’m not blogging for myself on a regular basis anymore, and I’m nowhere near monetizing my efforts. Still, I know that having that blog during my time in Spain is the reason I have my job and career, and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll have the opportunity to monetize my personal blog.