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The Perils and Pitfalls of Blogging in College

Posted By Guest Blogger 19th of June 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Rob Paone of BROcrastinator.

In March of 2010, during my sophomore year at Elon University, I started a blog called the Jersey Jets Fan as a way to exercise my passion for professional football. What originally started as a hobby evolved into much more than that, as I constantly looked to further promote my blog and slowly began to monetize the site.

In January 2011, I launched my second blog, BROcrastinator.com in hopes of capturing a large piece of the male college demographic. While, I’ve had varying degrees of success and made a few dollars along the way, I’ve learned a lot about the blogosphere. Balancing the work load of college as well as maintaining a full-time blog is a difficult thing to do and it certainly has its benefits and pit-falls. Here they are, according to yours truly.

Pros

Real business experience

College is a time in which you’re supposed to learn everything you need to adequately survive in the real world. As a marketing student, I’ve learned my fair share of terms, equations and statistics in college, but only blogging has given me the real world experience that will help me to become successful in the business world.

In the past year and a half blogging, I’ve joined various affiliate networks, spoken with a ton of potential advertisers, hired/fired/kept bloggers, worked with different partner sites and created business opportunities for myself on the way. I’ve never made a lot of money, but it’s been enough to offset the costs of up-keep on my blogs and even to splurge on a few items like new golf clubs.

Resume booster

Whether you’re applying for an internship in the summer, grad school or a full-time job, include your blog in your resume. When I was applying for an internship in sports marketing, my experience as a blogger with the Jersey Jets Fan was one of the key factors that generated employer interest.

A lot of people say they are interested in a subject or have experience in something, but not many people have the dedication to maintain and run an effective blog. If you do, don’t be ashamed, write about it in your resume and it might help you earn that job you’ve been striving for.

Self-esteem booster

Never in a million years when I started blogging did I ever believe my articles would be featured on Sports Illustrated or talked about on the New York Times website. It truly gives you a sense of accomplishment when you work hard and someone notices by featuring your work.

As a blogger who only gets around 400 views a day, sometimes I get discouraged when reading the “quick and easy” success stories of other bloggers who reach a million views overnight. Even though I’ve never had a viral post or even broken 1,000 views in a day, it makes you feel good when someone acknowledges your work.

Cons

Lack of time

While I originally started a blog because I had spare time in college, I soon realized the amount of spare time I had wasn’t enough to take my blogs to where I wanted them to go. There were points in time in which I was too spread out, writing for too many blogs, concentrating on too many social media sites, talking in too many forums. You only have so many hours in a day, and I’ve learned that you must spend them wisely on what works well for you.

At one point, I was writing for a prestigious New York Jets blog in addition to my own. While I was at first honored by the opportunity and experience, I didn’t have enough time to put full effort into both. Something had to give and as much as it pained me, the prestigious blog wasn’t as important to me as my college grades or my own blog.

Lack of capital

Like many of you, one of the reasons I began to blog was because of the chance to make money. I was never hoping for much, just enough for some spending cash on the weekends. However, there have been times when I started to believe the saying, “You have to spend money to make money”. Well, like I just told you, I am cash strapped college kid with a few spare dollars here and there but nothing significant. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to launch a good looking website with about $100 while others out there are spending thousands.

I’m aware that my blogs aren’t the prettiest thing your eye has ever seen, but I’ve done my best with the money and technological skills I’ve had. While some older bloggers may have the spare cash to drop $10,000 on a beautiful looking website, college bloggers might have to quit at a $50 premium theme. I’m not saying you need money to build a good looking and successful blog, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Overcoming the difficulties

When blogging in college, or on any time constraint, it’s important to make sure you know your priorities. While I place school work over blogging, when I’m not studying, I use that time to advance my blog. I actually spend a lot less time doing school work then I did before blogging because I know I have additional work to attend to when I’m done. The most difficult times can occur during mid-terms and final exams when the stress of multiple classes all come crashing down at once. Sometimes, you just have to put your blogging goals on the backburner for a week, even if your visits and page views have to suffer.

In regards to the lack of money many bloggers have, I’ve learned to make the best with what you have. I originally started with a free WordPress theme and then moved on to a Thesis theme with a premium skin as my blogs advanced. By re-investing almost all of the money my sites have earned, I’ve been able to improve the design and even spend a little money on advertising. While I sometimes wish I had thousands of dollars to spend on my blogs, the reality is I don’t. However, with some smart money management and a little creativity, you can stretch your dollar and take it a long way.

There you have it, those are some of my main advantages and disadvantages to the college blogger. I hope I’ve shed some light on the topic, especially to you college students out there who are looking to potentially start a blog. It’s a tough thing to do, but it is certainly well worth it. I’ve found in blogging that you only get out as much as you put in, but if you put forth a ton of effort, you can find huge rewards.

Rob is an up-coming college senior, blogger and wanna-be entrepreneur. He is currently working on his second blog, BROcrastinator, and working toward his dream of blogging full-time after graduation.

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Comments
  1. It doesn’t matter what age you are. College + blogging = everything you have said here. I will be 36 next month and next week I will graduate with my BA. I have roughly 6 weeks before starting my MBA. In that time I am taking another creative writing class as well as a poetry class. Maintaining 2 blogs, with juggling a paid writing job, school, and family can be quite tiresome. I have a feeling it will all be worth it one of these days.

    Great post!

  2. Very well written Rob ….

    Your awesome article inspires me to manage both my blog and college studies more efficiently. Truly said that there are both pros and cons of blogging in college

    Thanks again for the wonderful article :-)

  3. I’ll be entering college in September, and hopefully I’ll still be running my blog then. I’m actually looking forward to putting my college experiences into my blog. Thanks for the tips. It’s encouraging to know I’m not crazy for planning to manage a blog (or two) while in college. Great article, Rob!

  4. I find it not true about the money problems. To start blogging online yes, It will take time , but as with all business you will have to throw money earned back into the business to make it viable.

    With the time constrictions, it will take time and effort to be able to get the amount of work out that other people are doing, but with a little hard work you will be basking in the passive income and not have to work.

  5. Just one question, Rob.

    If you’re planning on becoming a fulltime blogger….

    why go to college?

  6. A great article and all of it is very true! Like you I started blogging in collage to make some extra money, it’s hard work, but so worth it when you realize people are listening to you and you have an outlet to show what you have learned in school.

    I also agree that everyone should include their blog on their resume. I have a blog based on interior design and that is my major. I have it on my resume and on all of my online profiles. Showing that you have the drive and passion for what you are majoring in goes a long way with employers.

  7. I am also a college blogger. Another thing it does is make you suuuuuper irritated when people waste your time. You become acutely aware of all the purposelessness in your friends’ time spending habits.

  8. I think college is a great time to start your blog. Once you have a full time job, a house, a partner, kids, there’s not much free time to spend anymore…
    Time management is the key to success.

  9. As a fellow college blogger, I can relate to everything you said in this post. Nice work.

  10. Great post Rob! I feel like you’re talking directly to me, I blog and attend college full-time (for business). I find it almost impossible to divide my time; just this past week one of my video game editorials went viral and brought 15,000+ visitors to my site. My comments and inbox were flooded—and I had an exam to study for.

    I didn’t feel right leaving all the madness unanswered (there was a flame war starting, and I was public enemy number one). I answered everything, and neglected my studying. Ugh, I barely got a C…

    My plan was to get a “decent” job when I finish school in two years. But, at the rate I’m advancing—in two years I’ll be able to live comfortably off of my blog. Still, I can use what I learned in school to strengthen my brand. Luckily I decided to major in business :)

  11. Great post. I actually started two of my blogs as class assignments and at first found them to be incredibly annoying. It took up so much of my time, but as the class progressed (I was a journalism/PR major) I really began to get into it. Soon I was spending all my free time either thinking of ways to improve my blog, actually tweaking it, or coming up with new angles for posts. Now, more than five years later many things have come and gone, jobs, friends, hairstyles but the blog is still going strong as is the relationship I have with my “blogging mentor” the professor who introduced me to it in the first place. The cons of blogging in college of course were that I often was up late, neglected people and other work and sometimes appeared obsessed to others who couldn’t understand why I would spend so much time on something I wasn’t getting graded on (anymore) or paid for. It was hard to explain how I felt about having a creative outlet that was simply mine. You can read more on that in my latest post “Why I will never stop blogging.” The pro’s of course were that I was becoming a better writer, a better interviewer, and was developing a strong sense of self confidence when it came to social media, blogging and who I was as a writer. My blogging and the research I was doing along with it (in part) got me a job within six months of graduating college and also helped me to be chosen to craft the social media policy for the state of Georgia (Government) that is still in use today and has been used as a model for NOAA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service as well as other state wildlife agencies, something I am very proud of.

    Guess I am rambling now, but you were also one of my biggest influences, along with Chris Brogan, BlogBloke, Derek Halpern, Holly Hoffman, Joel Warady, Eric Qualman, Lisa Barone, Matt Chevront and many others so I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you.

  12. You will NEVER be less busy than you are in college. Wait til you get a real job and have real responsibilities and real bills. Then a wife and kids, and a dog, and in-laws, and friends children’s birthday parties, and weddings and networking events and business trips.

  13. Then you will be bordering on busy. How about working full time, running two online businesses, a blog, getting a biochem undergrad with a 4.0, studying for the mcat and all those things mentioned above. Oh yeah, then change the oil in both your car and your wife’s minivan, cut the grass, fix the leaky toilet, put up the new shelves in your kids room, spend a few days at the hospital having a new baby, get up ever 2 hours with said baby for the next three weeks, paint and decorate the baby’s new room, wash the cars, find time for date night, walk the dog, bring the dog to the doggy emergency room when she vomits blood at midnight the night before a huge test AND a huge client meeting…

    so, enjoy the nothing you have to do for the time being and don’t bitch about not having enough time.

  14. I stated blogging in my last semester of college but I wish I had started much earlier. I don’t think you need to dedicate a lot of time to it necessarily- if you work on it for all four years of college every now and then, then if you want to make it a full-time job or have it bring you income when you graduate, you’ve already got a great base to work with.

    If you’re interested, I’ve been keeping track of my monthly traffic and income so that people can see how much work I put into my blog and what come out of it- I was able to build it up to a good (though small) amount of traffic in the 3 months I worked on it in college: http://www.escapenormal.com/category/monthly-traffic-income-reports/

  15. Hey Rob,
    Blogging is very time consuming in the beginning because we try to do everything ourselves. Eventually we can outsource our tasks and focus on writing and creating products.

    Blogging is an awesome way to earn passive income once we get the ball rolling.

  16. hi rob,

    i have three jobs right now – in the morning i work on my websites, in the afternoon i have a private lessons agency and i study online in the evenings – well, it´s hard but it works somehow and now it´s paying off. i have no debt for studying because i pay the classes cash and i have websites which make me some money. and in 11 days – on june 30th – i´ll give up my private lessons agency (YAY!) and work fulltime on my sites – i have another 9 classes to go and i´m done. the question is in the end if you see blogging from the start as a “MUST” or if you enjoy doing it. i enjoyed it in the end, it was my hobby as my other websites. so no problem to work on blogging and college :-) good luck to you!

  17. very happy if our hobby giving pasive income. And usually with hobby make everything easy.

  18. Funny this is on problogger today–I just dropped out of college to blog/do business full time. My priorities were this: my business/vision, school, friends. When school became too much to handle with my business, it had to be cut out. If you want to know more about my decision, you can read about it here: http://www.ironcoding.com/2011/06/why-i-dropped-out-of-college-and-why-you-probably-should-too/ –though, beware–it’s not the most…professionally written article.

    Blogging in college is HARD work, and this post is right on the money on the pros and cons.

  19. I got my MFA in fiction writing in 2006 when I was 59. I came to blogging late in life, about five years ago. Now I’m retired; or, I should say I am retired from working for other people. I’m a full time online writer now and I am working on my third blog. Hopefully, three will be the charm; but the one thing I do not have to worry about is having enough time to blog. Now, if I can only emulate your 400 hits a day average. Onward and upward.

  20. Interesting post. I am doing the blogging while in college, as well, although it’s actually grad school. I wish that I’d have had this opportunity as an undergrad back in the mid-1990s. The internet was just becoming popular at that time, and I had never even used it. It would have been much easier then than as a grad student with a family and a couple of part-time jobs. Hence, the end of my first blog prematurely. I’ve started another this summer that is more narrowly focused upon my field of study.

  21. Great post here, the biggest part of it for me while I was in College, but even now, is the time factor, there is never enough time to do all the blogging related tasks I want to do.

  22. Hey guys, thanks for all the great feedback. I’m really happy most of you enjoyed the post.. It’s always nice to know that you’re not the only one out there in a situation, so I hope I gave some of you struggling college bloggers a little inspiration by knowing you’re not the only one!

    PS: Can anybody let me know how to get an avatar picture in the comments? Is it done through Gravatar?

  23. Thanks for the post, Rob! I am blogging while going through dental school. Luckily, my blog relates to dentistry, so it’s fairly easy to find things to write about since I’m exposed to it every day.

    Blogging while going to school full time has definitely made me better at using my time wisely.

    During finals week, I usually just write a post that Monday letting them know that it is finals week and I think most people understand. I really don’t see much of a drop off in traffic during those weeks. I find that as long as I’m fairly consistent at writing a few posts every week throughout the whole year, then the traffic keeps on growing!

    By the way, if my picture shows up here, then the avatars are through gravatar. If not, I have no idea where they’re coming from…

  24. Very good post.
    It is not only valid for students. It is more or less valid for everyone who is not pro-blogger. You always have to split your time between main job (study in your case) and blog.

  25. Good article,

    Blogging really helps college students vent their ideas and problems on an open forum. Whether it is about sports, college, or anything, it is a good way to get ready for the real world. Advertisers also blog that way they can reach college students in a different kind of way. This can be effective due to the popularity of certain blogs. College newspapers are also very effective in reaching college students. With the majority of college student reading their school paper, advertisers can easily take advantage of this and place ads in these papers.

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