If you had asked me to predict my career path five years ago, I never would have said marketing.
I studied criminal justice and psychology in college and thought that the logical next step would be law school. After graduating, I became a paralegal at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. I decided to start a blog. To accommodate my schedule, I would write blog posts on the weekends and schedule them to be published during the week. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I was actually passionate about. And then I had an epiphany: What you did “for fun” as a kid may reveal the right career path for you as an adult.
Since I was a child, I always loved writing. I shared short stories, long stories, journal posts and memoirs with friends and family. Though I lost sight of that when I went to college, oddly enough, I do something similar now.
When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a Gen Y women’s career development startup followed my blog posts on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications. My current employer also hired me because of my blog, social media, and freelance writing portfolio. They were looking for someone to manage our clients’ social media presence and, given my blogging experience, they realized that I could create an online brand.
I started a blog “for fun,” but blogging introduced me to a world that I hadn’t even known existed. To my surprise, there were career paths incorporating exactly what I was doing “for fun.” Today, I have a job doing what I love. I actually continue to blog and freelance during my personal time. As I improve my writing and blogging skills, I become a better professional.
Here are a few ways that blogging and building a personal brand helped me to find a fulfilling career path. Hopefully these tips will inspire you to find your own success!
Many people wait for the “perfect” topic or idea before they even start a blog. Instead of stalling and waiting until perfection struck, I started right after doing the following brainstorming exercise:
- First, jot down a list of things that you enjoy reading, writing, or talk about. You can look at your Internet browsing history if you’re drawing a blank. Then, write down the words that you would want people to use when they describe you. Your blog and social media will reflect the topics you are passionate about and the personal values you have prioritized.
- Next, come up with a working mission statement and tagline.
- Finally, start writing! Don’t worry about sounding strange at first—you’ll learn to hone your voice and writing as you go along.
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 fervor. This is also key to the type of career you might want to pursue! If you want to write about fashion, for example, take it as a sign that you may be destined for a career in the fashion industry.
3. Be unique
Don’t be afraid to branch out. I have grown so much both personally and professionally since creating my blog. I have had new experiences, developed new interests and learned new skills, which have consequently changed the content of my blog. You are multifaceted. Your blog will be more interesting, relevant and fulfilling 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. Join the conversation by sharing your work and promoting others’ work. Make a community for yourself by finding other bloggers who you admire. 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 future topics. The best part of this exercise is that every answer is different, and I discover something every time I ask.
Maintaining a blog takes work - but it won’t feel like a job if you love it. Blog if it makes you happy. You just might learn a lot about yourself (and get your dream job) in the process.