When I was managing college bloggers at Uloop, the most common question I got was about how I got my job there. I was not a typical journalist - having just graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering - but I had managed to get dozens of writers to work for me at the University of Tennessee and then hundreds at Uloop later. My advice here wasn’t typical j-school advice, but it was a viable way to break into the business of being paid to write.
This post was first published in March of 2012, and is being republished as part of my 2017 writing goal.
In a recent article posted on Internships.com, I was asked about tips that I have for college students looking to break into the online publishing industry. I’ll admit, I borrowed a little inspiration from my friend and fellow blogger, Thomas Frank who was also featured on Internships.com for his blog, College Info Geek.
First, Why Publish Online?
Let me back up for a minute. Print is dying. If you want to get into the news delivery or publishing industry, your chances of being published in real print are about as slim as writing the next Harry Potter…it might happen, but it’s unlikely. Now, I’m all about pursuing your dreams, so if you really want to see your work in print the best way to get started is to turn to the internet. Whether you go the traditional print route or not, your work will be out there for millions to see, and you’ll start to see yourself in Google searches much more often.
Pick Up Your Keyboard Now
The first thing to do is to start writing…now. Buy your domain name, install Wordpress, and start writing. Skip using a third party service like Blogger or Tumblr because those won’t give you nearly as much search engine visibility. Installing Wordpress is dead simple, and all the free themes mean that no coding is required to get a site up and running in an afternoon.
Don’t Keep it to Yourself
Self publishing is a great place to start, but if you stop there, you’ll never have enough readers to matter. Build a nice portfolio of 10-20 posts on your personal blog, and then start contributing to as many websites as you can. Check out some of the listings on ProBlogger, send cold emails to blogs that you read, offer to write a guest post for free. Most blogs are open to publishing guest content if you don’t want to become a regular contributor.
Join the Community
You’ll quickly find that bloggers are a friendly and welcoming group. Use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to connect with like-minded writers, and trade stories or links as much as possible. Building this network will help you come up with new content ideas and help you make a name for yourself on the internet.
Keep it up
The biggest mistake young bloggers make is quitting too soon. Impatience is your enemy. You won’t see results in three weeks, three months, or maybe even three years. This is a career building tool, not an instant recipe for millions of dollars. The good news is that if you start early, you’ll have a much higher chance at making a living as a published writer down the line.