Blogging: Tools of the trade for building confidence and furthering your career

22 Apr

In an increasingly competitive world where more people are applying for similar positions it is becoming imperative the CVs or portfolios employers see stand out from the crowd. While there is no magic right or wrong answer to the problem there are solutions out there to help with future prospects.

Blogging is a great way to reiterate in small to larger potions how you want to be perceived. It can be used as a portfolio for your credentials and shows employers what you can do, whether it is catering, DIY, the arts or writing (to name but a few).

Below I have compiled a selection of tips and hints, which have personally helped me through my blogging process. Some of them are more building blocks than concrete foundations so take from it what you need. Hopefully something will prove useful or serve as a reference at a later stage.

In any case please enjoy and feel free to comment if anything has helped you in your work.

Exercises to start off the process

To avoid the inevitable blank screen syndrome or lack of concentration, try to write as much as possible on a given topic without worrying about spelling, grammar or punctuation. Keep writing as if you had nothing better to do so your mind and writing ability gets stronger. The idea is not so much what you type or how well but simply a way to break the ‘wall’ barrier and get the brain juices flowing.

Other exercises to consider when looking for ideas include bullet pointing key areas- such as career aspects or topical issues. From this you can create a mind map, with relevant thoughts and links to other fields you can refer to.

The little things

The way we write can greatly affect the amount and detail we put into each piece: consider the environment you work best in, whether it is to do with the atmosphere, the computer set up or even how comfortable the furniture is. Some people may work better under different situations. If you are writing to a schedule you may consider setting out word limits for various times of the day. Likewise if you have a deadline to meet then work out a plan of action beforehand to decide the limits and perhaps how you use this time, for example researching one day and writing the next.

It happens to the best of us – a hint of inspiration comes to us when we are out and about or away from the keyboard. Instead of writing it there and then we decide to note it down later. The inevitable occurs and the idea either floats away or changes. Dictation machines never go out of fashion and are a great way to quickly collect information and ideas on the go. Sometimes it takes getting away from the problem and coming back later the only way to find the solution.

The modern approach

Nowadays there is a large assortment of social media and networking sites any fellow blogger or reader can use to connect to people in similar situations in order to communicate and share ideas with. Whether you choose to converse on Facebook, Google+, or boost your career credentials on LinkedIn, the choices are limitless. Social media is also a great way to promote your work even if it’s simply offering a link via Twitter or understanding in more detail what the desired readership look for in terms of a website.

The world of journalism and the way we find news is forever changing. As employers continually search for uniqueness in an abundance of CVs, the idea of volunteer work, freelancing and individual projects become more enticing. Keeping up with the times is increasingly important, so if you feel you don’t have the writers’ instinct within, but want to voice an opinion across, then Video blogging could be the next step. Using either a combination of YouTube or video websites anyone with a webcam or camera can convey their thoughts to the world in a way that perhaps isn’t possible through paper or computers. Conversely, many choose to offer both blogs and videos to reach a newer readership or make websites appear more attractive to the readers’ eyes.

The pen is mightier than the keyboard

While looking to the future is important in an increasingly media related environment older traditions still prove useful. Learning shorthand is a great way to ingest a large amount of information at a speaking speed (this can vary from 40 words to over 100 per minute). There are various styles to follow, such as Gregg or Pitman. A modern variation version taking inspiration from the alphabet with optional flexibility is Teeline (a personal preference). Shortcut phrases helps speed up the process while getting ideas down on the paper quickly. Examples include a curved and backwards L- close together to mean ‘ladies and gentlemen’, while two small lines ‘//’ means ‘I think’.

On the subject of pen & paper, staring at a blank electric screen can sometimes prove strenuous on the eyes after long periods of time. When concentration is key or when you simply need to get away from it all using old trusted methods (even a Typewriter if you’re lucky) could help. This advice can be combined with using a Dictaphone to quickly transcribe important notes.

How long is a piece of string?

The age old riddle which becomes more apparent with websites when deciding on the length of any article or blog. Varying the length depends on the subject or readership and how people read the page. Structuring a finished piece by the length of paragraphs or where items are placed on a page can have an immediate effect to those looking for specific topics. Some may scroll down a page slowly while taking in the majority of information. Other ‘casual’ readers could choose to proofread parts at a faster rate, looking for specific elements or lines of interest.

By Stuart Andrews

About me

I’m a freelance blogger with my own website, devoted to my passion and improving my abilities.

I’m hoping to do a lot more work in the field of videogame journalism (and getting paid to do it for a living will be a bonus). 

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