September 21, 2016

Student bloggers create online portfolios

Blogs, which originated in the mid 90s in a tech-savvy subculture, made their transition to mainstream in the mid 2000s as new, free and easy-to-use blogging platforms emerged.

Early blogs functioned more as online journals than the aesthetically pleasing, colorful blogs that have become highly publicized today. They were an online space to share personal thoughts and life and to some degree, they still are.

Through new blogging platforms – such as Wordpress and Blogger – blogging transformed from a “web-log” that required HTML and coding knowledge to build a website to a simple task that requires only the ability to create a free account.

More accessible platforms led to a new understanding that blogs could be personal publishing centers for self-branding, or even branding a business. Today, anyone could be a publisher.

“Blogs can be a wonderful tool for personal branding, particularly as you’re moving from a student to a professional,” Dr. Kathleen Stansberry, assistant professor of public relations and social media in the School of Communication says.

“It [blogging] allows you to distinguish yourself as an expert in a particular area. And that area can be whatever you’re passionate about, whether it’s an industry, where it’s Cleveland sports, or cooking, or a hobby, or travel.”

Lauren Franklin, a Cleveland State University graduate student studying communication theory and methodology, started her blog a year ago. She turned her passion for writing into a personal outlet to vent and express her feelings.

“My blog is basically about my life,” Franklin said. “Breakups, books I like, baseball…It’s anything and everything I want it to be. I try to tell my story through my blog and I ultimately want people to be able to relate to me.”

Dr. Stansberry explained that through social media outlets, opportunities exist to curate an online presence. Through strategic social media use and blogs, users are able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd.

Blogs can become networking tools and spaces to connect to other bloggers in the same area, whether geographical or an area of interest.

Social media has the ability to break down boundaries of time and geographic locations to allow conversations to happen without those barriers according to Stansberry.

Dr. Stansberry described how blogs can function as an online portfolio for users. Through social media accounts and blogs, users are able to curate an online presence when employers look up potential employees.

She went on to explain rhat when users are aware and strategic with their online presence, it can lead to benefits regarding jobs and potential future employment.

Dr. Stansberry said that it is possible to use the exposure from developing and consistently updating a blog to become more successful in searching for a job or finding a better position. Blogs allow for writing experience and, essentially, become online portfolios.

“Blogging and using other forms of social media, particularly when you extend it beyond your close friend group or your close family group and start to comment or participate in conversations with others that you may not know personally but that share your personal or professional interests…that can have some wonderful benefits in terms of expanding the diversity of content that you’re exposed to,” Stansberry said.

Franklin, also a social media and marketing intern at Balloon, Crew Inc., said that while her own experience with social media was beneficial in receiving her internship, she attributes it to having her own blog and a creative outlet that she self-manages.

Social media, while transient, does still linger on the Internet and remain searchable.

Users must be aware of what they post and publish. When done well, blogging has the ability to allow users to leave a positive digital footprint in the world.


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