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The Secret to a Successful Career Transition: Blogging

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If you want to use blogging to get ahead and reach your goals, check out BrazenU’s newest bootcamp, Secrets of an A-List Blogger. This exciting one-week online course will give participants inside access to top blogger, bestselling author and successful entrepreneur Penelope Trunk. Whitney Parker, the author of this post, is co-hosting the event.

Like many of you, I left my liberal arts education with the daunting challenge of finding a job relevant to my degree in international affairs. Among my college friends, I counted French majors, history buffs, women’s studies experts, urban designers, foreign policy gurus and even philosophers. Growing up in a rural area, I was in the wrong region to pursue my interest in international affairs, and in a field that had few entry-level openings for new college graduates.

My close college friends were not in much better shape; even in 2003 there were relatively few positions open for people who had just graduated. So like my friends, and like many recent graduates today, I relocated to a bigger city, took jobs that were slightly less than ideal just to get that “foot in the door” and actively sought out positions that would give me the expertise that I always wanted.

Looking back more than eight years later, I wish someone would have told me that I didn’t need to wait for a job or title or promotion to become an expert. I didn’t need to get a job as a research analyst to write about international affairs, nor did I need to work at a prestigious government agency to start making a difference.

The secret I wish I would have known then is that blogging can accelerate your career in whatever direction you want to take it. And you can start today, whether you’re still in school or schlepping lattes at Starbucks while applying for your dream job.

I’ve seen the impact blogging can have for young professionals first hand. In the past eight years, I’ve held management roles in Washington, D.C., and New York City for various public and private sector employers, and I’ve seen people get hired for having a great blog. I’ve seen friends make successful career pivots using blogging as the basis for change. I’ve met dozens of people who have successfully leveraged a blog to change careers.

Here’s how they do it

If you are “underemployed” — stuck in a job that doesn’t really challenge you — you can probably spare an hour a day to think about the issues you really care about, whether that’s urban planning, photography, French literature or the latest fashion trends. It doesn’t take any high-tech knowledge to start a blog on WordPress.com or Tumblr. If you get in the habit of writing once, twice or three times a week, that’s enough to start building a credible voice in the field you want to enter.

Pretend you already have the job you really want. What would you be expected to comment on in an expert fashion? Try to develop that expertise through research and writing in your spare time.

When your dream job finally opens up, you’ll have already taken the initiative to develop a new substantive expertise. You’ll have a relevant set of thoughtful articles to take to a job interview. And as an added benefit, you’ll have gained a tangible online presence and technical skills that are highly sought after in today’s economy.

So don’t wait for your next job to get inspired. Embrace your passion now and start building expertise through blogging. That could be just what you need to position yourself for your dream job.

Whitney Parker is vice president for user experience at Brazen Careerist and co-host of an upcoming bootcamp on blogging: Secrets of an A-List Blogger: A Week with Penelope Trunk. If you’re ready to learn how you can make the most of blogging for your personal or professional career, sign up here.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://hollygrande.com Holly Grande

    Excellent post, Whitney. I completely agree.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Holly, I appreciate the feedback!

  • http://queerthevote.com Cecep Zakaria

    Blogs are so amazing, so much information that can be absorbed as a useful input, good work, go Boss! , To make this blog more meaningful.

  • Anonymous

    I second and third the above and below. The main thing I’ve noticed is how much blogs can help you increase your network, which in turn leans to more opportunities in your career.

    • Anonymous

      It’s true! It’s amazing how many more people you can reach with a blog, and how many career opportunities it can open in your field.

  • http://www.websitetooltester.com/ Robert (WebsiteToolTester)

    I really have to agree, your own website/blog can give you an edge over your competition. It’s a lot of work to get started but as long as you do it for a topic you are passionate about it won’t feel like work.
    It’s so much easier to build your network – for example you can ask people for an interview on your blog. When they finally have your application on their desk you are already someone they know.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much for commenting. I agree it doesn’t really feel like work when you find your passion. When I have a good idea about something it’s like I have to write it down and share it now. And it speeds up the learning curve when you do share your ideas publicly with others, and give people a chance to comment and help you refine your idea.

      I also find blogging helps if you’re a bit shy about expressing your ideas in a group setting (at big staff meetings for example). It’s a great way to step back, collect your thoughts and write out a reasoned and perhaps research-supported argument that maybe you don’t feel confident articulating when you’re put on the spot.

  • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

    “I wish someone would have told me that I didn’t need to wait for a job or title or promotion to become an expert.”

    I wish more people would admit that in most fields, no one will take you seriously as an “expert” just because you’ve written about it. In the sciences/engineering, writing something that is worth reading comes AFTER being an expert instead of being a path to become an expert.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Edward, I have to disagree with you a bit. Writing is a process of developing your expertise, and it speeds up your learning curve. For instance I worked in the political science field for 6 years after earning a masters degree at a top school, at prestigious think tank in DC. Even at the entry level, writing is a part of your job from Day 1 — Before anyone would consider you an expert. But you are an expert-in-training, and you’re required to write a great deal — typically longer “reports” that have a narrowly defined professional audience.

      But in writing anything there is a research process, and the challenge is to write about things which you have time to research and understand thoroughly before publishing. There’s no way you could avoid writing until AFTER you become an expert. There’s just no path to being an expert without putting out your ideas, getting feedback and refining — that’s exactly how academia works and how knowledge is developed in the social sciences.

      In the hard sciences, you could have more weight to your argument, but even then, it doesn’t stop scientists from writing up results of experiments in their early careers and trying to build their expertise on a topic through publishing.

      What I am saying about blogging is that ANYONE can start self-publishing about their developing expertise — you don’t need to publish in niche journals or work at a prestigious think tank to do it. You can start now.

      • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

        I agree with the argument that writing is a neccesary part of developing expertise, but it is only a part. You are exactly right about gaining expertise on a topic through publishing results. But the key word is the results. They did something first and then wrote about it. And nobody calls them an expert after one paper (or even a few).

        While it’s possible that it’s not universally true, the perception of blogging is certainly that they are about opinions and advice. In fields where others are looking for opinion and advice on a topic, it works great. In fields where others are looking for fact, they will scoff at anyone who calls themselves an expert without having DONE something to back it up.

        I could write a blog about soil and water testing (the field I am trying to enter), but nobody would be interested in me writing about the topic if I didn’t actually have anything new to provide above rehashing what’s already in textbooks. And I wouldn’t have anything new to provide without doing something new.

    • M.A.

      This is my opinion: I agree to a certain extent, but there are many ways to become an expert in something. One way is through research. Think of your personal blog being a research paper. I think it’s a legitimate way to become en expert. Of course practical knowledge is necessary as well, but it’s only one of your building blocks.

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  • http://dragonpcs.com.mx Venta de Computadoras

    One of the main must have a blogger is discipline, many were amazed to see that there are people who can live and make money through blogging but that does not make it in a couple of days, it takes hard work and consistency.

    • Anonymous

      It is very rare indeed to make a living by blogging. I don’t think anyone should make it a career choice. It is however, a great compliment to a career doing something (anything) else!

  • http://justindupre.com/low-budget-affiliate-marketing-how-to-do-it/ Justin Dupre

    One of the most common pitfalls of new bloggers is that they sometimes loose the commitment and leave their blogs.

  • http://www.ilovepanicattacks.com Panic Attack

    I follow your opinion 100%. When you try to write informative blog posts you need to educate yourself on the subjects you write about. Since you’ll educate yourself, you’ll actually get better and grow on a daily basis!

  • Anna Goldstein

    As a Life and Career Coach, I have used this approach with my clients – great to see an article on it! http://www.selfinthecity.com

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Anna!

  • http://coloradobankruptcyguide.com/ mullison

    I started my law firm last year. 95% of my clients came from my website, where I blog constantly. It can be difficult coming up with a new topic several times a week, but it will pay off in the long run.

    • Anonymous

      That’s absolutely true — websites with blogs index 400% more pages that ones that don’t and thus rank much higher in search results!

  • http://www.rlamsal.com.np Rabindra Lamsal

    Awesome post. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://stasbbs.blogspot.com/ Stasbbs

    I follow your opinion 100%

  • http://www.getmyexboyfriendbackfast.com/3-best-break-up-advice-to-follow-if-you-want-your-ex-back/ Steff@breakupadvice

    I was offerred higher than what I asked for partially because I had a website in the same industry (interior design) offering tips and pictures of my past projects. It’s the fastest way to establish authority and build credibillity in your field, not to mentioned telling your prospective employer just how passionate you are about your line.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, I did not know that BrazenU’s has this Secrets of an A-List Blogger bootcamp, I may join to see how it is maybe it will help me with my websites.
    Thank you for sharing this information.

    Alex form:
    professional low cost web hosting | website template design

  • http://www.brautkleideronlineladen.de brautkleider

    brilliant post!

  • http://www.career2smallbusiness.vpweb.com Career2

    Thank you, this information is timely for today’s career changers. Tradition is out, and individuality is what’s in! Many of us have “thought” this way, let’s be thankful for wake up calls, and teachable moments..

    By, the way if anyone is interested check out the movie “Working Girl”, the line that Tess used during the 1980′s, “why should I live by rules I didn’t make”, that was an “aha” moment for me. So, who actually makes these rules?

    http://www.career2smallbusiness.vpweb.com

  • Diarmuid Haughian

    Thanks very nice share … I follow your site constantly … important issues … Congratulations … I entered this site by chance, but I found very interesting.

    career guidance

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.rigonan Joel Rigonan

    I had a subject about blogging before and I never realized until I knew that I can make a living out of it. Since, almost the whole of the world’s population can gain access to the Internet, there’s no doubt you can make money because of traffic. And not only that, you benefit the people who wants to be updated all the time. Great post!

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