How to Jumpstart Your Career With a Blog

(This is a guest post by Lauren Orsini.  Thanks Lauren!)
If you read Steven’s interview with me, you know that my blog was an important part of landing a new job. I always knew that blogging was a great way to record and share my passions, but I didn’t realize that it could also get me work.
I started my short-lived NaNoJobMo (a riff on NaNoWriMo) blog on November 1. The basis of NaNoWriMo is that anyone can be a novelist in a month as long as they plug away at it every day for 30 days. I thought I could apply the same logic to my job hunt. I would apply to a new job every day for 30 days, and I would do it publicly so the world could hold me accountable to my vow.

I made my blog something I thought people would want to follow. Each time I filled out a job application, I provided a link to where I found it so others could apply as well (in retrospect, I guess that didn’t improve my chances!) I also posted personal stories about living without health care, working my dead-end part time job, and my wildest career goals. These started getting responses from my friends, then people I didn’t know very well, and then strangers. It felt good to know people were rooting for me on my job search.
By the end, after I’d applied to 30 jobs, I ended up getting seven interviews, or about one for every six jobs I applied for. The rest is history.
This is why my number one advice for people who are unemployed is to start a blog. In fact, I believe everyone should maintain a blog. Here’s why:
It’s something everyone can do. There’s nothing stopping you from starting a blog today. It’s free at a variety of places like Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress (my favorite!) If you don’t think you’re much of a writer, you can start an audio podcast or a vlog instead.
It’s a showcase of your talents. Whatever you’re good at, it will come out in your blog, even if it’s not the direct topic. For example, I write about fandom at Otaku Journalist, but I frequently post related infographics and graphic design items that I’ve made. This is how I express my fandom and my blog shows it. For you, it might be that you like to use your statistical skills to show the dropping prices of baseball cards, or your event planning skills to discuss how you helped bring up attendance at your local convention.
It’s a great way to network. A lot of the people I know today I might have never met if it weren’t for my blog. Blogging publically about my job search was a great way to make people aware of my situation and ask for help. Lots of people rewarded my efforts by sending me job tips and advice. If I had written about it in a paper diary, I would have never gotten that.
It solidifies your online identity. Blogging puts you out there. If you blog about your portfolio, you might attract employers — the way my current talent agency discovered me was by googling “interactive designer” and finding my name. And if you don’t blog just about work, that’s great, too, because it’ll make you more memorable. I’m sure there aren’t a lot of interactive designers who volunteer by making charts for anime conventions. It was something that my current boss even brought up in my interview, and we had a great discussion about hobbies.

Your blog doesn’t have to be about unemployment (though that worked for me). Pick a topic you’re passionate about, and put yourself out there. It might seem scary at first, but you’ll be glad you did it. My only regret about blogging is that I didn’t start years earlier. The best time to start is today!

Lauren Orsini