The benefits of blogging?
Blogging is a great way to display your knowledge about a subject that interests you, for example, I have a music blog. So, as you can see it doesn’t have to be purely academic but if you are aiming to increase your employability it would be beneficial to write about something that links to your desired career path or industry. For example, the blog I created was very helpful in securing the role I have now and has provided me with some good connections in my field.
You may not have much experience in your chosen field, so blogging is a great way for you to establish yourself as an expert in your particular subject as well as display your passion and personality. There is never a bad time to start writing a blog. Though as a student I would say it is probably the perfect time for you to begin creating and writing your own blog.
This is all part of forming your digital footprint. A good blog can set you apart from the competition as it can show off several skills that employers are looking for such as social media skills and written communication. It gives an employer the opportunity to learn about you and your opinions before they ever meet you. It will also help you learn about things like search engine optimisation (SEO) or website customisation and maybe even writing some code. Self-improvement and personal development are not only beneficial to you, but employers will also value these traits. And of course, writing about a topic will inevitably help you learn more about that topic whilst developing your critical reasoning skills.
Writing and sharing a blog also provides a fantastic opportunity to network and meet new people. Engaging with your audience could potentially lead to all sorts of possibilities, ranging from job opportunities to collaboration on projects. If you are a research student, blogging is also an effective way to develop ownership of your research area and to connect to others in your field.
Name your blog
Once you have chosen your platform you need to decide on a domain name (the URL that you purchase), this could be your own name, or something related to the subject you have decided to write about. This could be someone’s first impression of you, so take some time to think before you decide. The name should be short professional and to the point. You ideally want a “.com”, “.net”, “.org” or “.co.uk”. If these aren’t available maybe re-think your domain name so you can use them.
You can use a tool like NameMesh which lets you enter 2-3 keywords and generate some available potential URLs. Be careful when choosing keywords as this will affect your search engine optimisation (how often your website appears in searches). Once you have selected your domain your next step is to look for the best price to buy it.
Selecting a domain provider / host
It is useful to look around as prices on domain names/hosting are always changing and there are many different deals available. Also bear in mind you don’t have to buy hosting from the same place you bought your domain.
There are a few things to consider when selecting a hosting provider. For example, to make it easier it would be helpful if the host provided something like 1 click WordPress installation. This makes the process much simpler sort of like a website installation wizard, there are just a few pages to click through where you enter some information. Then when you are done your website will be up and running on your URL and ready for customisation. Here is a guide for how to use WordPress and set up your site.
Installing WordPress for blogging
WordPress is one of the most common host providers and it is what the University library uses for their blog. Here is a quick guide to installing WordPress.
Writing your first blog post
Now your website is up and running, it’s time to write your first post. The first post should be introductory, you want to explain who you are and what you are writing about, and why you started a blog. Additionally, you need to decide who your blog is for (your target audience) and what you want to achieve by writing this blog. The rest is up to you just keep writing and have fun blogging.
Relevant Skills guide: The Digital Student: Guide to Blogging