It was ten a.m. on a Sunday morning. I was in a crowded spin class with my Blackberry resting precariously on the water bottle holder. Suddenly, over Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, the Blackberry blasted its blaring bell. I was on call for the weekend. I jumped off the bike and walked outside of the room muffling the sound of the blasting music. No, I wasn’t being called into surgery because I’m a world-renowned neurologist. I had just graduated from college and was working as a paralegal. I called my manager back and learned that I had to go to the office to prepare binders of key case documents for attorneys leaving for trial later in the week. That was the moment I decided to start a blog.
I missed writing and having a creative outlet and a blog seemed like the perfect solution for filling both voids. On the subway to work that Sunday morning, I scribbled down potential names for my blog before settling on the name: The Preppy Post Grad. I started writing blog posts on the weekends and scheduled them to be published during the week. As I was checking brief citations, compiling velo-bound documents, and preparing an abundant supply of binders, posts would go out about topics I was passionate about and interested in. When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it and I certainly never imagined that it would help me get hired for new jobs, but both happened.
I was sitting in a Town Car at 3 a.m. after a long day at the law firm when I noticed that a company named Levo League had followed me on Twitter. I started reading their articles and found them to be pertinent to my own experience of navigating the transition from college to cubicle. I sent them a Direct Message asking how I could get involved and I soon became an ambassador, a voluntary role for a start-up organization that I hoped would succeed. As an ambassador, it was my job to help promote the company before launch. I went above and beyond by writing about Levo League on my blog. When I wrote a post comparing Levo League to a Birkin bag, the public relations team forwarded it to the founders and they invited me in for a meeting. I was offered a full time position a few months later. I had unwittingly, yet successfully, leveraged my blog to get a great job and this would not be the last time that blogging helped me get a job or opportunities to work with brands and bloggers.
I learned firsthand that blogging, social media, and other elements of cultivating a personal brand can not only help someone get hired for a job but also help them to become positioned as an expert in a particular field or topic. For example, when I started writing blog posts regarding my observations about sorority membership as a catalyst for career success or my love of interior design, I became someone people turned to for advice on both topics.
Even something as subtle as the words we choose to describe ourselves can have a marked effect on how we are perceived by others. In Carla A. Harris’ book, Expect to Win: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet, she writes about learning that her colleagues didn’t think that she was tough. After this realization, she started describing herself as tough as much as possible for three months. She would say things like, “‘You better make sure it’s right because you know, I’m really tough.’” At the end of three months she overheard a colleague lamenting that Carla was tough and would critique a project harshly. Think about the words you would want people to use when describing you and start using your blog and social media as an outlet for demonstrating those characteristics. After hearing this story, I took out a piece of notebook paper and wrote down the qualities I would want people to describe me as and I started to incorporate those words into my social media profiles, blog description, and individual posts. After doing this, I began to hear more and more people describing me with those characteristics. Of course, your actions and behaviors must reflect the characteristics you describe, but this is a good method of helping to select and reinforce how you wish to be and, in fact, are perceived by others.
Blogging allows anyone a space to write about anything. Share what you are passionate about, whether it’s fashion, sports, nutrition, motherhood or an industry, and don’t be afraid to change, add topics, and grow. You are multifaceted. Your blog and social media presence will be more interesting (and relevant to more people) if you share the many things that make you, you.
How Blogging Can Land You a Job:
When I decided to start a blog, I was motivated by the need for a creative outlet. I never imagined that anyone other than my friends and family would read it. Yet my career trajectory completely changed for the better when I starting blogging.
Here are six tips for how to build your personal brand through blogging.
Many people wait for the “perfect” topic or idea before they start a blog. Don’t wait; get started. Here are three simple brainstorming exercises to help you out:
- Take out a piece of notebook paper and write down a list of things that you like to read, write, or talk about.
- Then write down the words that you would want people to use when they describe you. Use your blog and social media as an outlet for demonstrating the topics you are passionate about and the personal values you have prioritized.
- Now, write down a mission statement and tagline and start writing.
2. Be authentic.
Have you ever noticed that kids get really excited about almost anything they talk about? That’s a good thing. It’s so much more fun to talk to someone who is enthusiastic about a topic–it’s contagious. It will be much more fun for your audience to read a blog post that you actually enjoyed writing. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said: “We think sometimes we’re only drawn to the good, but we’re actually drawn to the authentic. We like people who are real more than those who hide their true selves under layers of artificial niceties.” You aren’t perfect and your blog doesn’t have to be either; people will be drawn to your authenticity and passion.
3. Be unique.
Don’t be afraid to branch out. I have grown so much both personally and professionally since starting my blog. I have had new experiences, developed new interests, and learned new skills which has consequently changed the content of my blog. You are multifaceted. Your blog will be more interesting and relevant if you share the many aspects that make you who you are.
4. Be social.
Social media has revolutionized mentoring by providing access to influential and inspiring people (See: LinkedIn Influencers). Join the conversation by sharing your work and promoting other people’s work. Make a community for yourself by finding other bloggers you admire. For example, I use BlogLovin to “like” and share posts that I enjoy. Use social media to listen to what people are talking about, learn what they like, and adapt accordingly. When people tell me that they like my blog, I ask them what topic they like best and least, what they want to see more of, and if they have any ideas for what they’d like to see covered. The best part of this exercise is that every answer is different, and I learn more every time I ask.
5. Have fun.
Maintaining a blog takes work–but it won’t feel like it if you love it. You should blog because it makes you happy–and you just might learn a lot about yourself in the process. I started a blog “for fun.” Then blogging introduced me to a world I didn’t even know existed; I learned that there are career paths dedicated to what I was doing “for fun,” and now I have a job doing exactly what I love to do.
What are your tips for using social media and blogging to build a personal brand? Share in the comments!
P.S. You can use this as an iPhone background as a happy little reminder.