Build a better blog; be a better journalist

I was really excited this week when I found out that the lecture topic was on blogging and building our “online brand.” Blogging is something that has definitely fascinated me for some time now, and I have to say that the information I got this week was absolutely invaluable.

I’ve actually been blogging for a little while now. I started keeping a personal blog about nine months ago, and I’ve been keeping it up sporadically since then. I’ve heard people mention before the importance of posting regularly, and while I’ve always thought it was a good idea, I’ve never really had the motivation or inspiration to keep something up consistently. Sometimes I would post a couple of times a week, and sometimes there would be a month or so long gap between posts. While my blog has been a good outlet for me to express my thoughts about my life, it’s never really been consistent.

While it’s definitely frustrating for me to keep up a blog once a week now, I am starting to see how valuable it is. As an English and journalism major, I’m being stretched a lot in the creative sense and in the sense of producing a lot more writing than I have in a long time. Between keeping up a weekly blog here and turning in something for my creative writing class (whether original fiction or short literary analysis) almost every day, I feel like I am becoming so much more beautifully consistent in my writing. It’s been a struggle at times, but having the built in structure is giving me the practice I need to make my writing really improve. It’s definitely something I’ve missed over at least the past year.

I took this photo at the Columbia Art League's "Hint Fiction" exhibition. Robert Swartwood, who edited the anthology that was the basis of the exhibit, spoke about the book. Interviewing him and listening to him speak definitely encouraged me to work on being a better writer.

One of the things we talked about in lecture was holding our readers’ attention by establishing a consistent presence and encouraging dialogue with them. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with since I started blogging. Aside from being a little inconsistent, I’ve never really thought much about engaging my readers. I guess I didn’t realize until recently how important it could be, how it can help me network by getting connected to other bloggers and by keeping them engaged in my writing. I’ve thought a lot recently about ways to get more people to read my writing, and I think this could be an important part of it.

I don’t think I realized until this lecture that what I post online could help me get a career one day. Professor Simons showed us a number of other student blogs and told us about how a couple of them had managed to get jobs or be part of larger projects because of their writing. And honestly, I think this single point may have motivated and inspired me the most. At the beginning of the semester, I really thought this blog would be something I would keep up until December and that would be the end of it. But now I am starting to think that maybe keeping this up after I finish J2150 might be worthwhile. Even if it doesn’t get me a job, maybe it can help me connect with other students. My friend Lindsay, who graduated last year and went to Texas A&M to get her master’s in student affairs, keeps a blog that talked a bit about her experiences at Mizzou. In a cool turn of events last year, she actually managed to get in touch with an upcoming grad student who came here this fall and was able to share her experiences.

I really like this idea a lot, the thought that if I keep writing about my experiences, maybe one day I will be able to influence someone who is looking at going into journalism. I can show them my part of the journey and help answer their questions. By keeping a record of my time at the J-school, I can really point people in a direction and show them what it’s really like: The ups and downs, the questions and conundrums, the stress and the exhilaration. I think it really could be a good thing. I think it’s motivated me to keep writing, so maybe one day I can either find a better job or set someone on the path to finding their own.

My friend Kyle is a senior at the J-School. I've found that being able to ask him questions about what the classes are like really helps point me in the right direction. I want to be able to do that for other students one day.

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2 thoughts on “Build a better blog; be a better journalist

  1. Allie, good point. Two very successful bloggers that I like to read regularly are
    thepioneerwoman.com and thebloggess.com (warning: she uses profanities).

    They are two women that have found interesting things to write about, their surroundings, their kids, and are extremely humorous and well written.

    Thepioneerwoman.com has been getting 20 million hits a month on her blog and has turned it into a monetarily successful adventure leading to cookbook publishing, children’s book publishing and now having a six part food network show. She is a regular speaker of BlogHer which is a site that brings women bloggers together on line and with a very large convention once a year.

    Thebloggess.com is extremely witty. She is not only writing for a few newspapers with different themes and a cleaner language but her home site allows her biting humor to come through, but like I said be prepared for some profanities….this woman is hysterical.

    Don’t hesitate to keep up with some really good blogs and look at some of their favorite sites as well, this will give you an idea of what is out there and what is entertaining to their personal readers. When the comment levels are high, then you will know how many are enjoying their site.

    Happy blogging by the way, and my site is not as wordy as you journalists like them to be, but I try to liberally add photos of my adventures in old towns and jewelry making. If you want to keep up with what I’m doing my site is http://www.beadnfun.wordpress.com

    Colleen

  2. Allie – consistent, quality work, as always. I really enjoy your writing style, and thought the photos (along with the captions) were nice little side bar conversations. They definitely connected to the work, but stood on their own right.

    You have a minor typo in paragraph 5, “when [went] to Texas A&M to get her master’s…”

    Overall, great job, and I’m glad you are keeping your writing on a schedule. It’ll definitely help you become the best writer you can be.

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