So, you’ve decided to start blogging to improve your CV and employability. But how do you create a blog and keep it going? And what should your main considerations be?
Firstly, WordPress is the best site to use. Start a blog for free via WordPress.com, or use WordPress.org if you want to self-host (use your own domain, without ‘wordpress.com’ at the end of the web address). As a new blogger, you could start on the free version and move the site across to a paid version later – WP Beginner has advice on both options. As for the rest? These are the top things you should consider when blogging, to enhance your employability.
Be honest and authentic within your niche
Firstly, you need a niche to get ahead. What do you truly want to blog about, and can you connect it to your job search? Your blog doesn’t have to be solely about your dream career – there are ways to showcase your skills in other areas.
For example, a photography blog with tutorials will prove your photo editing talent, your eye for great visuals, and your ability to communicate with others. Jobs in advertising, marketing, web design, PR and the charity sector could easily use those skills.
However, your blogging voice is less formal than your CV writing voice. Write how you talk (avoiding any explicit language!), and be honest about any challenges you overcome as you write your posts; with the photography blog, that could involve shooting on a cloudy day or trying out a photo editing app. The best blogs are authentic and confessional, and they show growth.
Learn basic SEO
Consider taking a beginner’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) course, or use a free beginner’s SEO guide from Moz. Once you’ve mastered SEO through your blog, you can count this as a skill on your CV.
Start linking to your blog from other sites to direct people there – firstly, from sites you already use, such as LinkedIn, About.me, Flickr, and the main social networks. Also, add relevant outbound links in your blog posts, pointing to other trustworthy sites where people can find more information about a topic.
Learning about SEO will help with your writing, too. You’ll understand the importance of a relevant blog post title.
Gather some great images
Even if photography isn’t your niche, you still need great photos to make your blog shine. Choose images that are free to use under a Creative Commons License, source them from free image sites like Pexels and Pixabay, or use your own photos. Always credit the photographer, and describe the image in the ‘alt-text’ box when uploading.
When you publicise your latest blog post on social media channels, sites like Twitter and Facebook will normally pull through the main image from the post, which should help with engagement. According to HubSpot, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those with no image.
To push a post on Instagram, use a relevant image (preferably one of your own, or credit the photographer) and talk about the post content in the caption, adding ‘link in bio’. Then, add the URL of your latest post into your Instagram bio.
Schedule (and backdate)
Scheduling content means you’ll never be stuck for ideas. Discuss relevant events, such as big anniversaries or awareness weeks – if your blog covers retail, marketing or sales, whether fashion-focused or tech-focused, write about Black Friday ahead of 24th November.
Potential employers need to see your content is driven by trends and an awareness of the wider world. Trend-focused posts also help to drive traffic to your blog, and may get more social media attention.
If something comes up and you can’t publish the content you’ve been working on – perhaps you’re ill, or tackling major projects in your current job – you can sneakily finish that blog post later and backdate it (choosing an earlier date from the calendar function of WordPress). This is particularly useful if you need to show enthusiasm for a topic, ahead of sending out your CV; simply backdate a few relevant posts. You can also backdate Facebook page updates promoting your blog posts.
Many blogs use plugins like CommentLuv, Disqus or Livefyre, where commenters can list their blog when they comment, and readers can be directed via a link to the commenter’s most recent content. This is a great way to raise awareness of your blog and do some networking without seeming too self-promotional. Just make sure your comment is genuine and thoughtful – not just ‘Great post. Thanks!’.
For inspiration, refer to lists of Commentluv-enabled blogs, but don’t treat this as a link-building exercise. It’s more than that. By following, sharing and responding to other bloggers’ work, you’ll understand which topics readers like, and you’ll become a better blogger yourself.
Don’t forget to install CommentLuv, Disqus or Livefyre on your own blog, giving bloggers an added incentive to leave you a comment, too. As you build up relationships, try to meet bloggers in real life at events, and follow them on social media: they could come in handy for job-hunting and will boost your own following, too.
Now you’re ready to blog: go out and create some great content and enhance your CV with your new skill.