In case you missed the Twitter Q&A with me last Tuesday, I thought I’d put some of the main questions here along with my answers plus a little more detail. No 140 character count here, that’s for sure. The Twitter chat was focused on blogging, university, placements, careers and personal branding. The original chat can be found under the #AskOrlagh hashtag on Twitter. Or if you want to scroll down my Twitter feed, be my guest…
Even writing this post I’m thinking, Who am I to host a Twitter chat about blogging?? I was petrified no one was going to ask questions and was tempted to delete my Twitter account five minutes in when I thought no one was taking part. Until I discovered the ‘latest’ tab of the search feature. The ground thankfully didn’t need to swallow me up that day.
At one point I was shaking, trying to keep up with all of the questions, trying to type as quickly as I could with as little spelling mistakes as possible, all while not missing any tweets. I enjoyed it so much, but I was also like ‘lol who do I think I am?’ – still dealing with that impostor syndrome.
Here are some of the main questions and my answers for those that missed it!
Q. When did you start blogging and what website do you use? (@tess99armstrong)
I started blogging years ago but failed many times. I started to take it seriously when I was going into my second year of university as it was coming up to the time for applying for placements. I started off using the free WordPress blogging platform and then moved over to the wordpress.org site which I pay for.
Q. Any tips on how to build a good ‘About Me’ page? (@MiriamPelusi)
I would start out by saying why you blog, a little background information about yourself and what your goals are in blog terms and in general life. Let readers know who you are but don’t give too much away. Include contact details and social media handles. In my About page I’ve also included my past work experiences in terms of PR. Just in case an employer was to come looking…
Q. What would your tips be for a first blog post? (@DanielJ2203)
My first blog post was an introduction to who I was, what I was going to be blogging about and why – why did it interest me etc. I would suggest something similar, what your interests are and what you want your future career to look like. Or even write about something you’re truly passionate about. That always makes for a good blog post. Something you’ve seen in the news that you agree with or disagree with. Give your opinion on something – it’s your blog after all. It doesn’t matter how you start, as long as you start. Put pen to paper and you’ll soon come up with something you want to talk about.
Q. How do you find time to blog and when is your favourite time to write? (@oliviaprice_28)
I usually spend every spare minute on my blog. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it. When I’m sat in the airport, when I’m at home after uni or work, when I have a free evening etc. My favourite time to blog is late at night. I don’t know why but I work best in the early hours. When I wake up in the morning, I want to blog. When I get in after work or uni, I want to sit at my blog and write. I just hope all this time spent on it doesn’t go to waste and I hope I don’t give it up in the future.
Q. Normally, how long are each of your blog posts? How do you find out what you want to write about? (@tess99armstrong)
My blog posts end up being quite long. I usually start out with a small idea and then can’t stop typing. It just flows out of me. I usually find inspiration from things in the news, hot topics or from reading other blogs. Anything that I have a strong opinion on (most things). Usually my posts come from things I’ve seen or read that week. Or maybe something that I’ve overheard and thought ‘I disagree and that would make a great blog post’. I tend to overthink a lot and that’s where most of my advice/opinion pieces come from.
Q. What benefits do you get from PR blogging? (@GeorgeCadman1)
So, so many! I now have tons of contacts in the PR world outside of my university campus. Through my
#GirlBossMonday series two years ago I now have contacts all over the world. I’ve been offered placements, jobs and work experience through my blog. I’ve also worked with a lot of brands this year which I never imagined would happen! I’ve received an award for my blog after two years which was really special. The best benefit from blogging is having so many contacts and becoming somewhat known in the PR blogging world.
Q. If you’re blogging for a game studio @GamesSpaghetti, would you only blog about your development? Or can we stray a bit from that? (@Alex64783326)
If you have something specific like that, I would stick to it. It’s why I don’t have PR in my domain so that I can sometimes stray from blogging about PR. I would have a personal website so you can blog about anything that interests you instead of just one topic. If you have something that specific in your title, readers are coming to your blog expecting that content. My blog would fall under a lot of topics, but it’s mainly a student advice, PR and lifestyle blog.
Q. What’s your biggest *why* when it comes blogging? What keeps you motivated? (@marcelkl)
I love having my own little piece of the internet and being able to share my views and opinions. I also love that people are able to relate and that I can help people by sharing my own experiences. I keep going because I hope it will reward me in the future. The little milestones also keep me motivated. Hitting certain blog view milestones, receiving comments or emails about how my blog has helped someone, being featured on other people’s blogs and seeing my blog grow every month.
Q. Have you noticed a boost to your self-confidence since you started blogging – maybe in terms of your writing ability, but also perhaps networking, believing that you have valid opinions to express? (@ConorMcGrathPR)
I definitely have more confidence writing about more controversial topics and giving my own opinions. And with anything, the more reassurance and good feedback I get, the more confident I become. I’ve definitely opened up a lot in terms of personal posts too. I never thought of myself as a great writer, I just enjoyed documenting my thoughts and keeping journals. But as more people read my blog and gave me feedback, I definitely have grown more confident to write about various topics. I don’t have much confidence when it comes to networking but it’s much easier to do this via Twitter, email and LinkedIn. I haven’t been to an actual networking or blogging event as I don’t feel I’m at that level just yet.
Q. On personal branding, how did you start? (@PRStudies)
I started by reading lots of PR blogs – mainly student ones as I was unsure if there would be enough content to write in order to keep going for a while. But PR seems to be something that you can’t stop writing about. When I started, I knew I didn’t want to be just a general beauty/fashion/lifestyle blogger. I wanted placement recruiters to take me seriously and so I started to write about PR. I honestly didn’t think I could be here two years later still with heaps of PR content to write. I mainly started off with ‘How to’ posts and writing about my PR degree and how and why I got into PR. I didn’t really know what my brand was at the beginning but I didn’t want to use my full name, so used my middle name instead. I also toyed with the idea of adding PR to my blog name, but knew I would eventually stray a bit from PR so chose not to. Plus I thought that would be a little bit cocky of me to include it and some might think I had my own agency or was already a working professional.
Q. Where did you get your inspiration from for your personal brand? (Leeds Beckett PR Student)
I wanted something that would reflect me personally and that would show who I am which is why I’ve linked my personal Instagram account and share a lot of personal stories. I try to stay as true to me as possible. I loved my old theme for my blog but didn’t think it was ‘me’. I had a scroll through some themes until I found the perfect one. I just knew it was what I had been looking for, so I paid for it. My Instagram feed is very visible on my blog, so that there are pictures of me, my friends and my life to show that I’m a real person with a real life. I just hope that I come across as genuine as possible, because I’m not here to tell you what to do or to force my opinion on you. My brand is just me, writing about what I think and trying to help people with what I’ve struggled with in the past.
Q. Did your work placement contribute/influence your own personal branding? (@HarriettBolto12)
Great question! It definitely helped shape my blog last year and gave me tons of content. It helped me identify the type of blog I wanted and the type of PR person I wanted to be. It was also great that my work were incredibly supportive of my blog too! I honestly think my placement year transformed my blog. I was keeping diaries every month of what I got up to, working in the type of PR that I had always dreamed of and documenting every event I attended and every celebrity I met. It was an exciting year to say the least and I know if I was an aspiring PR student that I would have wanted to read about my year with Coty. Maybe I was too open with my life that year, but it definitely enabled people to get a real picture of who I am as a person – that I come from a very small town and was very much floating through London in a bubble.
Q. Should creating a personal brand online be a deliberate or a natural process? (@marcelkl)
I definitely think a natural process. You can start out by trying to pinpoint your personal brand but after a while I think it comes through itself when you discover your style of writing and personal voice. It all comes together with time. Like for me, my personal brand definitely evolved during my year in London and I expect it to progress and change over the next few years as I finish university and continue on to my next adventure.
Q. How have you developed your voice online? How do you make it look natural? (@MiriamPelusi)
Definitely through practice. I have over 100 posts published on my blog now. I write as if I’m talking to one person and make it as personal as I can. I don’t want it to come off as robotic as it’s just a personal blog and not an academic site. Keep it informal and personal. My website isn’t BBC News so I want it to be personal, informal, as witty as I can make it and useful. With time I think I have definitely become more outspoken with the things I say and what I write about.
Q. I have just recently created my blog when I began University and have written a post per week so far. How do you continue to keep your brand new and up to date as time goes on? (@oliviaprice_28)
I always aim to post at least once per week to keep it consistent. I find the more I read, the more ideas I come up with. I keep a list of blog post ideas to refer back to if I ever get stuck for a new post. Grow with your blog and document personal achievements. When I started I was afraid I would run out of PR blog posts after one month in, but there’s literally always something going on that you can write about. If you dedicated your blog to PR scandals or crisis management, you could blog every day. As time goes on, I blog about my work experience, placements and anything happening in my personal life or with uni. I hope my blog continues to grow with me and follow my PR journey.
Q. What jobs are you currently applying for? (@PoppyStobart)
I’m currently stressing out about jobs but I haven’t applied for any as of yet. I know I don’t want to do a grad scheme as I’ve already spent a year doing placement and I know what I want to do (work in PR) but I’m thinking of moving further afield after graduation. A few of my classmates have already started applying for jobs and have interviews lined up which is stressing me out even more, but I know what’s for me won’t pass me and I’ll figure out what I want to do and where I want to go when the time is right.
Q. If not work after uni, what are your plans? More studies? (@heida_84)
I’m hoping to move abroad somewhere and try to work in PR, but if that doesn’t happen then I would happily work in hospitality for a while. I really want to reach outside my comfort zone and have life experiences before getting into the 9-5 grind. Unless I find an amazing job that keeps me in the UK or Ireland after graduation, I’ll definitely be leaving. I want to move away and live in new places before I settle down and I want to do that as quickly as possible after graduation, otherwise I think I’ll be stuck here and be too afraid to leave. I really want to move away and work in the PR industry to experience how other cultures conduct PR.
Q. How did you find working a placement year? (@PoppyStobart)
I loved my placement year so much but it did make me miss uni and also realise that I don’t want to go straight into work after I finish. I would 100% recommend a placement year – it was one of the reasons I chose my course because it had the option. It will stand to you so much when you graduate, and it was definitely the best thing I did. I now know what it’s like to work in PR and it has made me realise and re-consider a lot of things when it comes to my options after graduation.
Q. What advice would you give for applying for a placement with Coty? (@GraceBlaney)
Definitely make it personal when it comes to your cover letter. I mentioned about my struggles with acne and why I was so interested in the beauty industry. Also make sure to include all skills they are after in your CV! One of the main things they look for is any previous experience in a similar role. You’re going to be taking over from the previous intern who will know so much and it will be incredibly daunting, so to have some previous office experience would definitely be a positive. I would make sure you show how passionate you are about the industry and really let them know why you want to work for Coty in particular.
Q. What were you doing on a daily basis during your work placement with Coty? (@tess99armstrong)
Every day was different but my main jobs included gathering coverage for all the brands I worked on and putting these in reports. Mainly talking to journalists and Influencers, sending out products, organising events, keeping track of competitors, constantly monitoring social media, doing large mailings etc. One of my main jobs was answering and sending emails. I honestly don’t know how people worked before emails came on the scene. It may seem strange but communicating via email is an art and you might think it’s like sending a text, but it’s really not. There was so much organisation involved in my job as I was assisting on absolutely everything and always had one million things to do at the one time. I was also multi-tasking a lot as I worked across all twenty or so of the Luxury brands.
Q. How do you suggest growing your follower base on social media? (@Alex64783326)
Definitely engage with the right audience. Follow people with similar interests and engage in conversation. For blogging I definitely think Twitter is the place to get involved as I keep my Instagram more personal. If you want to be seen as an Influencer in the fashion/beauty world then Instagram or YouTube is definitely the place for that. As I just write blog posts, my main social media platform for this is my Twitter account. There’s always so many conversations to get involved in, debates to be had and opinions to be shared. You can also connect much better via Twitter than Instagram career-wise.
Q. Do you suggest using Metakai or other platforms to grow your following base? (@Alex64783326)
I’ve only ever tried Buffer to tweet links for me but I don’t use it anymore. I find growing my following the hardest thing as there are so many blogs out there and also a lot of bots which is annoying. Stay true to you, keep producing good content and the followers should come! I’m not a fan of the follow/unfollow bots out there which follow me quite regularly on Instagram. It does seem to work as the person usually has a lot of followers, but it’s not how I would want to grow my following.
If there’s any questions you have that don’t appear on here and are dying to know then do drop a comment below, email me or tweet me! Any question you have, I’m all ears.