As I’ve worked my way towards my degree in Public Relations at Eastern Michigan University, I made a decision around the first of this year to take on a side project (not school related) that would take skills I learned in class to the next level. I learned the basics of WordPress the semester prior in my Intro to PR class, and absolutely loved the workability of the site, how it visually displayed my writing and gave it life on the Internet. As I was taking a shower the day before New Year’s Eve, I had an idea. I was going to create a site dedicated to my love for Detroit sports. The next day, the Detroit Sports Network was born.
Since I created the site, doors have started to open. My blog articles got noticed and I was picked up by an up-and-coming online sports magazine called Get Real. My first articles for the site were written about the Detroit Red Wings on the GetRealHockey.com portion of their network. I am now writing for various parts of their site on a regular basis as an intern and have been working with the creators to expand and grow the site.
While creating my baby, the Detroit Sports Network (affectionately dubbed the DSN) I knew that creating adjacent Facebook and Twitter accounts was a necessity. With the creation of the social media aids, my blogs began to get more hits. Only about six months in, I have well over 100 followers on Twitter, and my site has thousands of visits. This isn’t anything that huge, but I’m on the right track and creating a huge resume piece in the process.
Although this type of thing may seem a bit overwhelming for some students to fit into their free time, my advise is that every PR student should create a blog about something that interests them. Here are some tips that I’ve learned so far in my current adventure in blogging:
- Be Specific. When you start your blog, pick a topic and stick to it. Obviously, it should be something you know a little something about and enjoy discussing. If you blog about to many different topics the blog will become unorganized and won’t get followed.
- Learn How To Tag Effectively. Although I won’t get into detail on how to tag on your blog (it’s a process you have to play with on your own blog to learn), I will give you advice on how to do it effectively. When you write about a topic, you need to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For your blog, this means discovering what types of titles, tags and keywords will be the most effective to get your blog towards the top of search engine results. In some ways, it’s a bit of an art form that I haven’t completely mastered. But I’ve had success tagging by using creative word combinations. Think about when you Google something. Don’t tag using full names, and long drawn out explanations. Use abbreviations, nicknames, and word combinations that other sites and people haven’t already used to get towards the top of searches. (for example at the time of writing this, my blog is the fifth from the top when you Google “what’s wrong with the Tigers”)
- Use Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media. Using social media to share your work is essential to getting seen. Although I’ve struggled with getting a big following on Facebook, Twitter has been a wonderful tool. My Twitter (@DSportsnetwork) is followed by some of the area’s biggest journalists and radio personalities. I have recently started to look to sharing my blog on Reddit and have been exploring some other sites to grow readership as well.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Mind. My most viewed posts have been some of the more controversial posts I’ve made when I’ve been the most angry. Now don’t go posting slanderous venom, that will get you into trouble. But what I have realized is that I do some of my best writing when I’m in my more emotional states. My trick is to wait an hour or so after writing an emotionally charged blog and then go back and edit it before I actually post it.
Even though I’m giving you tips about starting a blog, in no way do I consider myself and expert quite yet. In fact, I’m still learning. But these tips will give you a few tools to get seen, and maximizing your potential for enjoying the experience. If you are a PR student, a Journalism student, or plan on being involved in any kind of communication-type business, starting a blog is one of the best ways to sharpen your writing ability. I highly recommend it!