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Why Journalists Should Have a Blog

starting a blogAs journalists, we create content for our clients daily, writing for an audience (and often, multiple audiences) that are not our own. When a contract runs dry, or you find the time to take on another gig, journalists gather clips and links to past articles and blog posts to be presented in a somewhat chaotic manner. Your portfolio–if you compile one–often lacks the full range and potential of your writing style, as editors and clients revise your original ideas.

Establishing a blog is essential in working with today’s new media, especially if you want to stand out as an expert in a specific niche. Here are several reasons to start blogging.

  • Demonstrate Expertise: Blogging under your own name, on your own personal platform is a great way to establish expertise about a particular topic that you want to focus on (even if you’re currently writing about multiple topics.) If your passion is about gardening yet your current clients are focused on social media or parenting, establishing a blog is a great way to demonstrate you’re an excellent writer about other topics and can help you build this portfolio to land a gig and get paid to write about what you really love. It can also boost your current efforts, especially if you are limited in your abilities with your current clients. If you’re not able to delve into the detail you feel is necessary in the articles you currently get paid to write, or an editor outright rejects an idea, a personal blog can be a great opportunity to really strut your stuff.
  • Express Yourself: Often, writing for other audiences limits our own voices, forcing us to adopt the voice of the brand or individual paying us. If your portfolio is full of work written in a style not necessarily your own, a personal blog is crucial to demonstrate your own voice and true range of ability. For journalists who find that their paid work is heavily edited or under strict guidelines, this is especially important when thinking about exploring other opportunities so you can easily demonstrate your full potential. This is also a great opportunity to share what it’s like “behind the scenes” of the industry, such as a funny quote from an interview or photos that didn’t make it into a blog post. Expressing a unique, interesting personality is often just as important as showcasing a well-developed portfolio when looking for work, whether it’s freelance or full-time.
  • Create A Professional Hub: You may have seen personal “splash” pages like, which allow people to create a single web page destination for prospective business partners and clients to access their bio, resume and social media profiles. These are useful, but a blog can also harbor all of these necessary components to which you can direct future clients or employers. Consider using your blog to not only write, but also link to your previous work by creating a portfolio (which can be a separate page), and your other social media profiles, including your LinkedIn profile. This will make it incredibly easy for a future publication to evaluate you, your portfolio and your skills when deciding whether to hire you.
  • Brand Yourself: The term “personal branding” is now as cliche as the term “social media” itself, but the theory behind it is incredibly important for journalists to consider as new media grows. Creating a brand around your own name can help carry you through your career, especially if you write for several publications or have very short contracts. A strong reputation behind your name can lead you to future opportunities that are often not presented to others who do not put forth the effort to build relationships with others, whether traditionally or via social media. This doesn’t mean you need to build a following of 10,000 on Twitter overnight; however, communicating consistently with key influencers in the journalism industry (and specifically, in your niche) can help propel you to more and often better journalistic opportunities more quickly than by simply responding to ads on job boards. Your blog will be your “home base” for your brand; creating a domain name for your blog using your full, real name and avoiding cute or kitschy titles for the blog and your blog posts can help you quickly establish your own brand.

If these reasons to have your own blog have motivated you enough to start blogging, setting up a blog is easy. You can choose from a free blog, or host your own WordPress blog on your own server using a host like GoDaddy. Other platforms include Tumblr, TypePad, and Movable Type. Some other journalists choose social networks such as Google+ and even Facebook to blog, but these sites don’t allow you to “own” your content, so approach these options with caution. Starting a blog, wherever you choose, is a relatively simple and usually very fun process – and having your own blog is something that every journalist should consider.

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