In my last post, I talked honestly about my problem with procrastination in updating my personal blog. However, do not think because of that post that I am terrible at writing blog posts. Currently, I’m interning at an online magazine called Dulwich OnView. I produce two or more articles for that blog a week, and I’m thriving. Last summer, I also wrote weekly articles for Independent newspapers. In fact, I prefer to write for a job than to write for personal reasons. But it’s not that easy. Somewhere, the line between blogging for a job and blogging for myself becomes ambiguous, as I find that as I write for a job, it can be so much fun that I’m also writing for myself. I want to make it clear that my last post was a joke, and that, when motivated, I can become a posting guru. And when I’m writing for work, it’s that much easier.
Here are some of the best things about blogging for a job:
What I love most about writing for work is hearing back from my boss or bosses. Currently, I have the perfect situation: my boss allows me to write several articles a week and trusts me to meet deadlines, while every so often emailing me with a positive remark or a critical response. As a writer, I put a lot of value into constructive criticism, and I always feel honored to receive some from a professional. It’s always nice to know that someone is reading your writing and taking it seriously – even if it’s your boss.
Personal Blog Tip: Ask your friend, or your mom, to read your posts before you publish them and give you feedback.
Even though I only go into an office once a week for my current job, I definitely feel more productive there. I bring my laptop, and I have my own area where I can spread out. The desk, itself, is a very valuable and under-rated tool for a writer. When I worked at a newspaper last summer, I got so much work done at my desk – just because it was there! Now, I find that I’m more productive when I’m in a work environment. I do have to work from home every so often for Dulwich OnView, and when I do, I try to make my table into a work environment, and imagine myself sitting in my desk. It’s a psychological thing.
Personal Blog Tip: Always write in the same place in your home. Make sure it’s not distracting. Maybe invest in a desk.
When I worked for the Independent, I knew that my audience was Southern Rhode Islanders. Now, I know that my audience is people in South London, especially Dulwich residents. Knowing your audience helps you organize your post and of course actually write it. I may prefer a different wording if I’ m aware that my audience expects something more professional, as in the newspaper; however, on the blog, people want to read first-hand accounts of a gallery opening, or a special event. Thus, because I know my audience, I am positively pigeon-holed into a certain kind of writing. For a personal blog, though, it’s hard to identify your audience, so your niche is less developed, and you may become worried about pleasing someone. I want to write for 20-somethings like me, but I also want to please my parents, any job employers or teachers.
Personal Blog Tip: Imagine your readers. Create back-stories for them. Draw them. Then, write for them.
At the newspapers, I would be assigned articles. Every so often, I would pitch my own, but more often than not, I would be assigned to write a profile article or an article where I would have to cover an event. This forced me to actually go somewhere, interview people. At Dulwich OnView, I have a Google doc that is updated weekly and tells me where I’m going the next week. I’m usually reviewing a gallery of some sort. Because of this organization, I feel more motivated to complete the article than to complete one for my own blog.
Personal Blog Tip: Keep a Word Doc full of ideas for blog posts, organized by month. Force yourself to go somewhere and write about it. Take pictures everywhere.
For my blog, I post whenever I have an idea. But for Dulwich OnView, monthly editorial calendars keep writers in check. As a journalist, I’m used to operating by deadlines. It helps me organize my life, and I relish the accomplished feeling I get when I finish an article a day before deadline. Again, for job, I feel much more motivated, because I have to be.
Personal Blog Tip: Keep an editorial calendar. Schedule posts in WordPress. Go crazy one day and write three posts at once, but wait to post them.
With all these pros added up, writing for a job is actually fun. You’re not alone, you’re aware that you definitely have readers, and you’re happy showing your opinion professionally online. Perhaps by treating my personal blog as a job, and following the tips lined out above, I can make myself more motivated.
Hopefully, I will continue to write and blog for professional outlets. If you enjoy writing, but are not completely invested in your personal blog, look for other creative outlets. Sometimes, it’s easier to write for another publication, and sometimes, you learn things about yourself that may help you become a better personal blogger.