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.
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.
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.
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.
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.