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Blog your way to success – part one

Blogging provides an opportunity to network, learn, share and be part of a community.

Student gazing out of the window, drinking a latte and using her laptop
Your blog must provide value - whether this is in the form of knowledge, humour or how to get the best out of studying your course.

Recently highlighted on our social media channels are the top seven posts of 2017 from our Official Student Blog. With that in mind, we’ll be writing a series of articles and top tips around blogging and how that can benefit you in several ways.

Blogs are a useful way to share and get feedback from fellow students who leave comments on posts. Posting can also serve as a platform to promote your skills in writing, specialist knowledge and provide evidence you do engage online.

Many of our students work while studying so you can use your posts to illustrate how you juggle your career. One of our seasoned bloggers is Caowrites who works in the United States and studies via distance learning.

Caowrites started on our Official Student Blog when she studied for her BA English. In her work she writes all the time but also for fun too. We appreciate her ideas around how she organises her study plans or tackling the mountain of reading required for coursework.

We asked Caowrites what she likes about writing for blogs

For me, writing for blogs at University of London helps me keep in touch with the student experience throughout the university. There are so many colleges and programs, and such an incredibly diverse student body. It is a real pleasure to think and learn about other students' perspectives and needs. Interacting with the really kind and generous people who post comments is a lot of fun, and I like learning about the university.

Studies aside we loved hearing about Caowrite’s pets too, the late Jelly Bean had a loyal fan base. Today, Jaeger is Caowrites’s current canine study companion while she studies Postgraduate Laws.

Our students are part of an international community in over 180 countries, so it's a good way introduce yourself to others around the world. Caowrites's previous post is available to read - Managing challenges: What I learned from my new dog - featuring Jelly Bean and Jaeger Mister.

Starting out

Blogs are now rather competitive but they should also be fun. Do a bit of research to help you decide why you want to start or write for a blog. Key is to ask yourself: will it be useful to your audience? And will you benefit from the experience?

Your blog must provide value - whether this is in the form of knowledge, humour, or how to get the best out of studying your course. Make something your calling card so readers will revisit or subscribe to your blog.

Before you start, consider if you have enough time to do regular posts alongside your studies and work. Irregular posts can lose you your visitor base. Factor into your year plan how many posts you'll write every month.

Next, get a good standout domain name and a unique design for your blog - something that looks a little different. Do your research before you settle on a name.

Find out your posting level for your type of blog. If it's a news type blog then it's acceptable to post multiple times daily. Make sure you tailor this to your audience - some may only want the option of three or four posts per week. Look at different types of blogs to see how many posts go out and when these are timed.

More starting tips to consider:

  • Know the purpose of your blog.
  • Implement an idea nobody else uses to make your blog stand out, like bringing in specialist people for interviews.
  • Create a list of top blogs in your field of study or academic research to see what makes them tick.
  • Offer content in different formats like videos and podcasts.
  • Make sure you write good quality, well-researched content.
  • Use subheadings for longer posts.
  • Lots of dense text can be off-putting, so keep paragraphs short with breaks every three to four sentences.
  • Use eye-catching images optimised for web use to download quickly, especially for mobile devices. If you use Photoshop read about optimising images for detailed information.
  • Choose the advertising that is right for your blog.
  • Always write for the benefit of your readers in mind.

In part two we’ll look at a few top blogs and what makes them interesting, the best blogging platforms, plus tips on how to promote your blog.

In the meantime, read 2017's top post on Our Official Student Blog by Philip, a Master of Laws (LLM) student from Trinidad and Tobago.