As I quickly approach my fifth anniversary of Oh So Fresh! Music being created (where did the time go??), I started to reflect on everything I learned from music blogging. As I began to ponder it all, I ended up with a list that really detailed why creating this blog was important into my career development and how it shaped the person I am today.
In fact, it actually sort of shocked me at how much a hobby, passion, and enthusiasm for music really became even more than that over years. I'm sure I'm not alone in some of these points with other music bloggers, but I wanted to share how important it is to follow a passion and what it can do for you.
Am I a full time music blogger? No, but a few have made career of theirs like the ever so excellent Pigeons & Planes. Yet, should that stop you from starting one or keeping one going? Absolutely not. Not only has keeping my blog led to learning and building a ton of skills, but it also opened the doors for new career opportunities. You might be wondering how or are curious to what running this blog has done for me in the past few years. By no means is this a post to brag about accomplishments or to come off condescending. I'm merely hoping to inspire you and maybe help you see that instead of having hesitations about an idea or project, to just go for it.
One of the main reasons I decided to start my own blog was plain and simple: the music. I wanted to have an outlet to share some of my favorite music, a place to share my thoughts, and something I could say was my own. Yet, it also opened my mind and ears to music I might never have come across otherwise. It connected me to many PR, labels, and new artists looking to have someone share their music. It didn't even matter that at the beginnings I only would receive 15-30 views a day, artists just appreciated the love. However, while the love of music has always been the main goal, there has been so much more that I learned.
Follow Your Idea Through, Even If You Have No Clue Where to Start
Research: While I was a few months out college with a Computer Science degree, there was still a lot I didn't know or how to start. One thing that music blogging has taught me is more patience for research. I had no idea about blogging platforms, how to connect a domain, where to begin, or how to be noticed by search engines. Sure, I knew some basics, but this was a start from scratch project with no help but my own.
Entrepreneurship: My blog has not become an actual business like some, but it also gave me the insight about being an entrepreneur. Going out there and creating something all on your own is not always easy, but creating a music blog was the first step in understanding this concept more. This has also been useful when it comes to job interviews. I'm always asked about it, why I started it, and how I went about it. You are showing the interviewer initiative in starting something on your own and that you have a passion that drives you. I never really thought of it that way initially because this was my hobby, until my first major job interview was so interested in.
Writing & Grammar: Let's face, writing and grammar will always be a major factor in the real world, especially in the workplace. It doesn't matter what degree you have or what field of work you are in, writing and grammar are always important factors. If you can't formulate a proper sentence or know the difference between "your" and "you're," what are the odds a company would trust you with bigger duties? By having a music blog and posting constantly, it has helped me shape my writing voice, tone, and pick up on spelling errors much quicker. Sure, some still slip through the cracks, but over the course of five years I discovered I make less mistakes no matter how fast I type. By no means am I an expert, but this has improved with time by having a blog.
SEO: If you aren't familiar with the acronym yet, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (for any Internet noobs out there). All I knew in 2010 was what the acronym stood for, other than that, not a clue. Yet, when you run a website or blog, you quickly realize how important understanding this concept and the rules are for your site to generate good organic traffic. In the music blog world, ranking in search engines can be tough because there is some serious competition for the music you post about. But researching (Oh hey, see above again) led me to thousands of articles discussing the importance of SEO. From there, it was trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn't.
Marketing: Now that I had a website, how the hell do I get people to notice it? This is where the whole concept of marketing came into play. While we all tend to do some sort of marketing whether we realize it or not, when it is something of your own you find unique ways to be heard. This could be social media, shows, events, reaching for press, etc. The list is endless and it quickly teaches you creative ways to get your product out there.
Social Media: When it came to social media, the only thing I really knew was I needed a Facebook page. Yet, I quickly learned how important Twitter was for my blog and became my main outlet for getting new readers, connections, and traffic building. This also turned into utilizing Youtube, Google+, and Pinterest. I learned not only about how to interact, gain followers, and all that good stuff, but the analytic side of things as well. Social media is more than just posting, you need to have and create some sort of strategy in order to find success.
Networking: You can quickly find value in networking, whether it is with bloggers, industry leaders, advertisers and more -- networking, networking, networking. If there is anything you do on this list, never stop making connections. You know the saying, "It's not always what you know, it's who you know?" Well, while sometimes it might not seem fair, this is true and a part of life. Keep it friendly, don't be afraid to reach and connect with people in your niche. You never know where that can lead you or who it can lead you too.
Analytics - Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools (Now Search Console) became my new friends. Sure they were a little complicated at first and I thought they were odd, but the more I clicked around and used it, the better I understood it's value. These are two of the most free powerful tools to have if you run any type of website or business. It allowed me to see where traffic is coming from, what SEO practices work or don't work, how my content is linked, and much more. But by having no formal training, it allowed me to make mistakes and continue to learn from it. My experiences in this have led me to working a job where I look into analytics for companies and provide them with techniques to improve rankings.
Organization: 25k+ emails are currently in my inbox and while I may not respond to most of them anymore as I am a one man operation, I have learned some serious organization skills. This is a big skill to develop, especially for millennials diving into the workforce. We have our hands on so many things and our attention spans are all over, running something of my own taught me how to stay organized and on top of things. Especially with responding to business or advertising inquires, writing, scheduling posts, email follow-ups, etc. Starting a website, blog, or your own project helps you realize how important being organized is. This extends to more than what I listed, this is also for site files and photos, drafts of posts, strategies, ideas, passwords, etc.
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