Reasons Students Should Blog
No, do not blog about partying, underage drinking or anything stupid. Remember, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a college admissions office or potential employer seeing. However, I recommend every high school senior start and maintain a blog for both personal and professional reasons. “Why?”, you might ask. Well, here’s why:
Learning through Teaching
One of the best ways to learn a subject is to teach it yourself! Whether it’s course material or a niche hobby, explaining to others is tremendous for reinforcing the subject in your own mind. The first college class I ever walked into was chemistry. I really enjoyed chemistry and was able to pay attention in class but my lab partner, Chris, didn’t grasp the material so easily. Chris and I became good buddies during that class and we would spend a lot of time going over the material. During the time we would study, I would primarily answer his questions and try to explain the the topics in ways that would make sense to him. On nights before exams, I could bank on him calling me anywhere between midnight and 3:00 a.m. to go over the topics for the exam coming up in a few hours! When the semester was over, he was ecstatic to have pulled out a solid A in the class. My help was much appreciated and he was extremely grateful to have had me as a lab partner (and personal tutor). I was also thankful to him because I know I wouldn’t have done as as amazing as I did without having someone to explain things to (112% w/ extra credit; highest grade in the class and of my college life). In the process of helping him study, the course content was pounded into my memory banks and I could regurgitate it without issue on test day.
The point is that assuming the role of a teacher and helping your peers learn specific material helps encourage preparation and promotes better understanding of that material. Taking some time to blog about a certain topic with the goal of educating others has the same effect and will almost certainly help you retain that information much more than just burying your head in a book.
Develop a Voice and Passion
Have an interest in a certain field? Blogging about it will encourage further study of that field and, as you learn more, you may realize that you have found a new passion in life! When I first took an interest in web design, I didn’t blog about it but I spent months just studying the field. The more I learned the more I wanted to keep learning. Within a short period of time, web design went from a simple interest to a passion of mine. Today, I love sharing information with others about my ideas, opinions and knowledge. By blogging, you can write about your passions and discuss them with other similar minds (the readers of your blog). Blogging may even become one of your favorite hobbies! If you’re wondering how blogging is different from social media, a blog is your main source of sharing content and is accessible to everyone. Sure, you could just do all your writing on Facebook but then you’d miss out on all those readers who you aren’t FB friends with and who’d otherwise read what you have to say. After all, your FB friends usually know you personally. What you really want to do is reach those who don’t know you but would appreciate your writing.
Contribute Information and Build an Audience
This one ties into developing a passion and a voice for it. By contributing quality information to your niche community (i.e. gardening, houses made of popsicle sticks, etc.), you can become a leading source of information in that niche. When dedicated bloggers provide quality information, readers respond and come back for more. If you find that you have a certain interest and believe you can share helpful information with others who have the same interest, then blogging about it is the way to go!
One of the reasons I recommend starting a blog in your senior year of high school is to get it going strong for college. Your time in college will certainly bring new experiences that you’ll want to share. Maybe you travel to Europe on a study abroad trip or perhaps you learn how to make moonshine (by reading a book!). Whatever it is, sharing your experiences is always fun. People love to talk about interesting things that happen to them and they love to be heard. A blog will allow you to share your experiences with your readers and, most importantly, to reflect. Reflection isn’t something that many people do. It’s not too often that people, especially college students (I know because I am one), sit and reflect on something for a considerable period of time. Writing about an experience lets you spend time thinking about it. Every good writer makes his or her readers feel as if they were there themselves and you can’t paint a story like that without real reflection.
Let’s face it, as younger people just starting out, we’re sometimes in a position where we just need a job. It may not matter what job it is, as long as it’s putting money in our pockets. I know, I’ve been there (I’m only 23). This means submitting a ton of resumes and applications with hopes that something sticks. A blog will allow you to post your resume online for 24/7 access. Your online resume is your own little billboard. Use it to increase your exposure and display your skills, experience and education. You can even add a simple contact form for prospective employers to easily reach out to you. On a side-note, it’s always pretty cool telling others to “check out my website.”
Social media is now a primary method of networking. With websites like LinkedIn that are dedicated to networking professionals, it’s clear that social media is the current trend for networking and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Blogging is not an alternative to networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook but it is a great supplement (I’d say social media should supplement your blog). Blogging can even give you a leg up in in-person networking.
Because your blog should also be used as your online business card, you should always direct business connections to your website rather than to your Facebook or Twitter account. It looks more professional and tells people that you’re a modern person and good with technology. Oh, and your blog should be a hub for viewers to access all of your social accounts (so make sure they’re clean)!
Control Your Online Presence
You can also control your online presence by managing what people find when they Google you. First, setting up and managing a blog will likely lead it it being discovered first in search engine results because it is relatively easy to rank your name in searches. Although you may not be able to control an unfortunate situation where you appear on another website or someone else’s social media, your own blog will allow you to produce enough content to drown that stuff out (hopefully).
Learn a Skill and Display Writing Ability
In today’s tech driven world, blogging is often considered a skill that can be marketed to employers. Creating content on your own blog tells employers that you have at least some tech savvy. Additionally, and more importantly, it allows employers (or even admission committees for those considering grad school) to evaluate your writing ability. Regardless of what field you enter, effective and well-organized written communication is always a must-have in the skill department. A college student should be able to write well. Show others you can and it will pay off.
Create a Side Income
There a many different ways to make money online. Given the traditionally tight budgets of college kids, generating some extra income online can be an attractive opportunity. With easy access to computers and the Internet, students can take advantage of things such as affiliate marketing, selling information on a membership basis, advertising programs, etc. With enough work and patience, you can use a blog to earn a nice income while attending college.
Types of Blogs
Now that you know some of the benefits of blogging, you might be wondering where to start. There are numerous blogging platforms to utilize. Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com are some of the more popular platforms. These options are great for quick setup and they’re also the cheapest (free). However, for professional reasons, I always recommend a self hosted WordPress blog (and our SiteGround review explains why we host with them). One difference is that you will need to pay for your own domain and hosting, both of which are inexpensive. With free options like WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about these costs but you won’t have the flexibility you would have with a self hosted blog. For instance, a WordPress.com blog’s URL will be something like yourname.wordpress.com rather than yourname.com. Clearly, the latter appears more professional. Also, if you want to advertise or profit from things like e-commerce or membership fees, you will need a self hosted setup because the free options often don’t allow this. Overall, a self hosted blog will allow you to fully customize everything as you’d like and can be scaled in the future without too much effort. The small costs are well worth it.
There are tons of resources to help you get started with your own blog. Look at the different options (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, etc.) and decide what you want to do with your blog. Then, read other blogs and watch YouTube videos that teach you how to get started. Taking the time to learn is a must if you really want to grow and maintain a blog. If you need help, feel free to email me and I’d be lend a hand.