How to Use Blogging to Build Your Portfolio

Today’s post was prompted by an email from a reader wanting to know how to make the most of her blog and how to gain experience in her chosen field of work.

Blogs are a good tool for helping you get established in a particular field, as they help build your portfolio and allow people to see the quality of your writing and thinking. They (usually) don’t pay, but they do offer the opportunity to establish your expertise about a topic you find interesting. Below are some general guidelines to help you focus your blogging activity and use it to your greatest advantage. You should have:

  • A focused topic.
  • A unique slant/point of view.
  • Demonstrated knowledge or advice that can help show your ability to be an “expert” in the field.
  • A specific target audience that can benefit from reading what you have to say.

A word of caution, though: originally, I was going to write a blog about the aerospace field. However, I quickly realized that I did not know enough or have enough patience to argue with some of the more informed or more opinionated members of the space community. Also, I needed to take a break from writing about space in my free time. I chose instead to write about the business of technical writing–all the stuff they don’t teach me in college. I care about the topic, but it’s not so close to my day job as to be repetitive. Additionally, I avoid potentially alienating current or future clients because I’m not shooting off my literary mouth by criticizing one company or another. The space community is a small one, and the people I criticize today I might have to work with tomorrow. If you choose to write about your chosen professional field, just keep that political dynamic in mind. If you still want to express your opinion, just be aware of the potential sensitivities.

The advantage of a blog, again, is that it helps you establish your literary “voice” and provides you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in some way. It might even help you land a job or a customer. It also can help establish your reputation as a writer, potentially leading to paying work in your field.

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to have a target audience in mind when you’re writing and to write about things that matter to that audience. In addition, to help make your content more personally relevant to your target reader, write “How-to” articles (as this one is) or something like “Five Ways to Improve Your Job Hunting Skills.” The bottom line is to make your blog useful, engaging, and pertinent to your audience.

Whatever your chosen topic, swing for the fences!

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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