So your instructor has saddled you with a daunting assignment. You are going to have to blog regularly, maybe weekly, over the coming 15-week semester. You will be reflecting very publicly about writing to a global audience and you will be writing about what you are learning in your Advertising courses.
You should be excited about the prospect of all that you will learn in the process. But maybe you are not.
“Can I delete my blog as soon as it’s done?” one of my usually more motivated Advertising students whined to me last semester when she heard about the coming assignment.
I resisted the urge to show my disappointment. This blogging assignment has been one of the most powerful learning experiences for my students in the past. Students who have embraced it have grown hugely as writers and editors. The blog has helped them improve their critical thinking and reflective skills, their eye for design, their web-tech skills, their research skills and their writing and editing abilities, among others.
And it’s helped them get jobs.
Indeed, the assignment, as delivered to consecutive years of Advertising and Marketing students, had been so successful that other programs at St. Lawrence College have copied it or used it as a foundation to develop their own similar assignments.
But I knew that my claims would not convince that nervous student. So I’ve assembled some younger folk whose blogs have helped launch their careers, or who blog for a living, to testify for me.
First, there’s Ron Johnston, a St. Lawrence College Marketing students whom I taught in 2013. A father and full-time student who ran his own culinary consulting business, Ron was overwhelmed by his academic workload and was skeptical as to how blogging was a relevant skill for a Marketing grad—until his placement boss asked him to start blogging for the company.
“Immediately following a quick review of the material that he would like to have talked about, I began drafting ideas down on a sheet of paper,” Ron wrote in his blog in my course. “I am really looking forward to this aspect of my placement as I feel very comfortable blogging because of all the training we have received in our Comm57 class with professor Frank Armstrong.”
Next, I hope to bring at least two of our Advertising grads into the classroom, either in person or digitally. One will be Jason Manuge, Marketing Manager at FuneralTech in Kingston, Ontario. Then I hope to introduce students to Brook Johnston, a successful freelance copywriter and creative in Toronto. Both scored their first industry jobs in their first year of college as a result of the blogs they wrote in my first-year writing communications class.
Then there are dozens of articles online that talk about why college students should blog.
Famous college strategies YouTuber Thomas Frank, blogger Melissa Burns at Stanford University, and Anna Pitts at Basic Blogging Tips give many unassailable reasons, including the following five:
Reason #1: It looks great in your portfolio and demonstrates your writing, editing, proofreading, design skills, and it increases your positive digital footprint.
Reason #2: It solidifies what you are learning in your program. By reflecting in your blogs on what you are learning, you are actually teaching. And teaching a subject is the most powerful way to learn it.
Reason #3: You can get access to people that others can’t. Talk to anyone who has blogged regularly and for any length of time, and they will tell you that they have connected with people they never would have expected to meet. Some may open doors that would have otherwise remained closed to you.
Reason #4: Blogging to a real-life audience helps you to become a better writer. Knowing that people other than your instructor will be reading your blog motivates us to do the best work that we can when it comes to writing and editing and designing our blog posts.
Reason #5: Blogging teaches you useful technical skills. You can improve your blog by employing Google Analytics, SEO, Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS, and HTML—all skills valued by the employers who are looking for capable Advertising grads.
There are many other reasons to blog and blog well, but I’m hoping these will convince my students. If they don’t work, well then, there are two more bones that I can throw: the assignment is worth 15% of their grade, and the best bloggers will win awards in April at the Advertising program’s annual Greg Awards, our college’s equivalent to the Academy Awards.
Even timid and struggling writers can win. Former student Kassandra DeGuire told me on the first day of our writing class that she was worried about doing poorly in my course. She worked hard to produce excellent blog posts each week. The practice paid off. She won second place at the Gregs for her blog and even ended up blogging in one or two of her post-college Advertising jobs.
So there’s my pitch. Have I convinced you that your blog might help you if you give it your all? If not, well then, I give up.