I first started thinking about starting a blog almost two years ago, but for two years I kept coming up with excuses…
What would I write about? Who would read it? Am I a good enough writer? How do I even get started?
Last summer, on June 30, 2013, I finally decided to stop making excuses.
I bought the domain for this website and wrote my first article (5 Steps to Learning How to Speed Read in 20 minutes) on July 1st, 2013. Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not. I didn’t know a single thing about creating websites, about writing HTML, or about content marketing. But guess what? I figured it out.
While there’s definitely a lot more that goes into blogging than appears on the surface, the good news is that you don’t need to know about any of that when you’re getting started. You’ll figure things out along the way, just like I did.
Creating a successful blog (i.e. one that people actually read it) isn’t easy, but no matter what I promise you that the return on your investment is more than worth your while. Most of the benefits of creating a blog are independent of having a large readership.
At the very least, it’s something you can put on your resume. I honestly believe that creating this blog played a large role in helping me get a high-paying summer internship between my junior and senior year (see #6).
But it’s done much more than just that. Speaking from my own experience with creating Collegetopia, here are 8 legitimate reasons why you should start a blog:
1. It will improve your writing (more than your English classes) and make you a better communicator.
We all know how important it is to have good writing skills, yet most students are terrible writers. The problem is that most of us have never written anything other than essays for our English classes. And when you’re forced to write about topics you have no interest in, it can be hard to enjoy writing, which makes it hard to improve. Blogging solves that problem.
When you have the freedom to write about anything you want, writing suddenly becomes a lot more enjoyable. If you can find a topic that you are passionate about, you will enjoy writing about it, and in the process your writing will improve.
Blogging also makes you a more flexible and versatile writer, which in turn makes you a more effective communicator.
If you’re writing for a blog, you must realize that you are writing for an audience that is not your professor. This means you’ll most likely want to write in a different style than you used in your English classes. Personally, this was a difficult transition for me to make (and is something I’m still working on), but I think it is a valuable lesson in understanding the importance of having a target audience, and adjusting the way you communicate accordingly.
2. It allows you to connect with like-minded people and expand your network.
A big part of blogging is about connecting with other bloggers within your niche. Doing so is not only an essential part of growing your blog, but it also allows you to connect with other people who clearly share something in common with you since they are writing about similar topics.
In the last 8 months I’ve connected with a number of bloggers through Collegetopia, including Mark Frost of HackCollege.com, Lars King of HolisiticImprovement.com, and Vasco Brazao of VascoBrazao.com. Without Collegetopia, I probably never would have connected with them.
Obviously you don’t have to have a blog to reach out to bloggers, but it definitely makes it a lot easier because it gives you something to show for yourself.
As my blog continues to grow, I hope to connect with many more bloggers and students who share my same passion to succeed in college and beyond. I love meeting new people, so please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or Facebook at any time!
3. It gives you credibility.
Writing a paper on a particular topic doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. You might feel like one, especially after reading every single Wikipedia page about the topic and managing to write a 5 page paper that’s not entirely bullshit, but let’s be real, it’s mainly bullshit.
But now imagine if you wrote 20 articles about a topic. One article probably isn’t the equivalent of one essay, but let’s say 2-3 articles = 1 essay. So if you wrote 20 articles, that’s equivalent to 7-10 essays. How do you think you’d feel after writing 7-10 essays about a topic? Maybe not an expert still, but probably more so than after writing just one essay.
My point is that you don’t have to be an expert when you start blogging. You’ll learn more and your writing will get better the more you write. After you have a few articles under your belt you’ll start to feel like you actually know what you’re talking about and (hopefully) other people will too.
Since starting Collegetopia, I’ve received many emails from students asking for help and advice with certain problems that they’re facing. I’m by no means an expert on productivity, or time management, or socializing, but they read a few of my articles and came to the conclusion that I could provide them with some valuable advice.
Creating a blog allows you to share what you know, and when you consistently share what you know about a particular topic, you gain credibility.
I don’t know everything about succeeding in college, but I’m confident that I know some things that you do not. I’m also confident that you know some things that I do not. Why not share it?
4. It forces you to constantly learn more and to learn it well.
Even if I were to gain nothing else from creating this blog, everything that I’ve learned in the process would still make it all worth it. I’ve learned so much in the last 8 months that I know will be useful to me in my future, no matter what I decide to do.
Here’s a list of some of the technical skills I’ve learned, just to give you an idea:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Affiliate marketing
Now I wouldn’t say that I’ve entirely mastered all of these skills, but I’ve gone from having absolutely no (or close to no) knowledge about them to at least understanding the basics.
Perhaps more important than these technical skills, I’ve also learned so much more about the topics I write about than I ever would have otherwise. It’s common knowledge that one of the best ways to learn something, and to learn it really well, is by teaching it to someone else. That’s exactly what blogging allows you to do.
Blogging solidifies your knowledge through teaching.
An indirect consequence of all of this is personal accountability. When I’m writing about how to achieve success, I naturally feel obliged to practice what I preach, and to hold myself accountable. You can read blog posts all day, but until you start taking action and applying what you learn, it’s all meaningless.
5. It allows you to be a creator, not just a consumer.
We live in the age of the consumer. Consumerism is and always has been the basis of capitalism, but with smart phones and tablets and all sorts of new mobile devices on the rise, we now consume more than ever. The problem is that most people consume and consume, but never create.
I’ve recently come to the realization that there’s a direct correlation between your happiness levels and how much you create.
We can’t just consume. We need a creative outlet.
The more you create, the more you deserve to consume.” – Tweet This
What’s your creation-to-consumption ratio? How much do you create, compared to how much you consume? Chances are you could add a little more creation to your life.
Blogging is my creative outlet. It allows me to add value to the world, and it makes me happy.
6. It gives you something to add to your resume that makes you STAND OUT.
Not many people can say that they’ve created a website.
I added this to my resume last semester (just 5 months after creating Collegetopia) when applying to summer internships and I am confident that it was at least part of the reason why I got interviews at some of the top consulting companies in the world and landed a high-paying summer internship. Even though it had nothing to do with the positions I was applying for, it made me stand out.
It showed that I have the drive to do things outside of the classroom. It showed that I can learn things on my own. It showed that I know how to write and communicate effectively.
Most students look the same on paper. Good grades, extracurriculars, maybe even some work experience. Anything you can add to your resume that will make you stand out is always a good thing.
So if you want a job, start a blog.
7. It can provide you with a source of passive-income.
Most people don’t realize that blogging is actually a huge industry. There are people who make six-figure incomes solely from blogging. Don’t believe me? Check out Pat Flynn’s website smartpassiveincome.com. He explains everything you need to know about passive-income and even posts his own monthly income reports from the site to be completely transparent with his readers.
So yes, you can make money from blogging. No, it’s not easy.
If you start a blog with the intention of making big bucks, it’s probably not going to happen. Blogging is an extremely saturated market because there is an extremely low barrier to entry. There are 150+ million blogs in existence, and they’re all trying to do the same thing—get your attention. That makes for some pretty tough competition.
That’s not to say that it’s not possible. Thomas Frank, creator of College Info Geek, is a prime example of a student blogger success story. He started his blog while he was a freshman at Iowa State University and was able to pay off all of his student loans (nearly $15,000) by the time he was a senior. Now that would be nice, wouldn’t it?
I’m not quite making enough to pay off all of my student loans, but I did recently monetize this site after one of my articles (How to Approach Anyone with the 3 Second Rule) exploded on StumbleUpon. At this point I’m not making much, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
8. It enables you to help more people than you ever could have imagined.
Blogging gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and teach others what you know. Thanks to the Internet, your blog has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. It still blows my mind to think about how many people I’ve been able to reach through Collegetopia, and it’s extremely rewarding to know that I am actually having an impact on people’s lives.
At the end of the day, a genuine desire to help people should be your biggest motivation to start a blog.
If you’re purely motivated by making money or having something to add to your resume, I guarantee that your blog will not be successful. Successful blogs add real value to people’s lives, just like successful people add real value to the world. If you’re able to do that, everything else will fall into place.
So what’re you waiting for?
Whether you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, or if this is the first time you’ve ever even considered it, my advice is this: do it.
Trust me, you’ll wish you had started sooner.
P.S. I’ll be posting an in-depth guide on how to actually create a blog, from start to finish, next week.
CHECK OUT MY GUIDE HERE: How to Create a Blog in 5 Easy Steps
I walk you through the entire process, step-by-step, and teach you everything you need to know, from start to finish.
Image Source: Flickr – Jacob Botter