How to start a blog

Need a way to make your application stand out? Try blogging…

Creating your own blog is not only an exciting hobby, it’s also a great way to demonstrate your practical skills, specialist knowledge, and creativity to employers – especially if you’re looking for work in the media, design, and digital industries.

To help you get-to-grips with building yours, here are our top tips on how to start a blog:


Decide what to blog about

Firstly, you need to give your blog a topic.

It should be something you enjoy, are knowledgeable about, with plenty of room for discussion.

Using your hobbies and life experiences (either personal or professional) as inspiration is a great place to start, with cooking, parenting, marriage, student life, travel, fashion, and sports being popular grounds for content.

You could also use the platform to promote products and/or teach useful techniques – whether it’s by using a video blog to do a cooking demonstration, or writing a review about a new type of makeup.

Other examples include things like ‘how to’ guides and top 10 posts; written based on your own experience, industry specialism, or general expertise. For example, marketing professionals may use their blog to teach others about content strategies (which will also add value to job applications).


Identify your USP

OK, so you’ve decided on a topic – but how do you make your blog stand out from the crowd?

Unless it’s particularly obscure (see: ponies wearing sweaters), you’re unlikely to be the first person to blog about your chosen subject. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make your blog unique.

To make sure you’re not blending into thousands of identical blogs, always research your competition.

Not only will this allow you to gain valuable insights on what techniques and features the most successful blogs are using, it’ll also help you identify your USP.

For example, if similar blogs base their graphics on prebuilt themes, consider putting your own spin on it by hand drawing your own imagery (or, if you know how, building your own site from scratch).

Posting more regularly, approaching a brand new topic (e.g. up-and-coming technology), and offering a unique sense of humour or tone to your blog are also great ways to stand out.


Choose a domain name and platform

Once you’re sure of what you’re going to post about, it’s time to come up with a domain name.

Your blog title should be unique but relevant, making it easy for readers to find on search engines, and also understand what it’s about before clicking. Keyword tracking tools are ideal for checking how high certain phrases rank, and there are plenty of free resources out there to get started.

Secondly, you need to figure out what platform to use.

Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr are amongst the most popular blog creation sites – offering a range of different tools and features to help build and promote your blog.

However, not all features are provided in the free versions, so if you’re looking for more ownership, plug ins, and modified themes, you may need to pay a small cost to self-host your blog instead.

But don’t panic if you’re not looking to spend. Free usage will still provide everything you need to get started, with the option to upgrade at a later date if your blog proves to be a success.


Design your blog

Aside from registering your site, you also need to figure out how you want your blog to look.

Blogging platforms will usually offer a variety of themes, so all you need to do is pick one that suits your own style, as well as the type of content you’re going to post.

Alternatively, if you know how to code, you could even choose to build your own.

For example, photography bloggers will probably benefit from a layout that places an emphasis on imagery, rather than text – and those looking to post in article format might want to use a theme that offers a multiple page format.

Other features include everything from various types of tagging, categories, headings, and icons to layouts that accommodate for high-resolution backgrounds, videos, and music.


Make your blog visible

Once you’ve started posting, it’s time to do some self-promotion.

This can be done through sharing your posts on social media, attending conferences, workshops, or meetups, or leaving useful comments on similar blogs.

You can also add a link to your blog in your social media profiles, giving anyone who views it the opportunity to visit your site.

If you’re still struggling to get views, spending more time learning SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) will help you climb the ranks on Google, and get more people finding your content.

There are plenty of SEO courses and digital marketing certifications out there to help you get started – many of which are relatively inexpensive, and could prove invaluable in helping you set up a successful blog.


Using your blog to find work

Having your own blog isn’t just talking about a topic you’re interested in. It’s also an excellent way to turn your passion into a career.

Aside from monetising your site by including assets such as paid adverts, just having a blog is a great way to demonstrate your skills to recruiters.

Start by linking to it in your CV – or even just mentioning it in your hobbies and interests section, along with the title or URL.

If it’s related to your chosen industry (for example, fashion and beauty), it’s an effective way to show recruiters your expertise in the subject area.

But even if it’s just showing your transferable skills (e.g. how running a blog shows commitment, hard work, and dedication), or examples of your written and design skills, it could prove to be the deciding factor in finding you your ideal job.


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