By guest blogger Nina Vallard

Have you ever considered writing a blog whether it be for pleasure or work? Did you know blog writing can really help you de-stress and support your wellbeing? Join Nina as she invites you to share her experiences with blogging and many of the great resources she has discovered, which might help you begin.

I have been using SharePoint blogs to host my reflective writing for years. This began in 2016 when my previous workplace was migrating to SharePoint, and I happened to be doing a reflective writing assignment for my PGCert. I decided to use the blog space so I could become more familiar with SharePoint and so my assessors could find my work with ease. My assignment was to reflect on my experience in a dozen art workshops, specifically around the ideas of inclusive practice.

What is sharepoint?

At the time, my art practice was all about zines – as they encompassed my love for life writing and collage. As the semester progressed I began enjoying my reflective writing more than my art practice. And that’s why I decided to change my research focus from art books to creative/expressive writing.

Why a blog?

A digital blog is more helpful for me because I prefer typing to writing, and because I like having a space to invite comments and share ideas. One of the things I found most helpful during my reflective writing assignment for my PGCert was when classmates would comment on my blog posts. During my lessons, I am not a confident speaker but in my blog I had more time to develop my ideas. 
Similarly, I also had more time to respond to comments – which meant I could go off and research and/or draft my replies before posting. Something that I find difficult to do when I am responding to someone face-to-face.

What is the benefit of a blog?

I like the ability to edit and remove blog posts, as well as the customisable features like changing the layout and privacy settings. But, for me, the main benefit is that I am sharing my thoughts and ideas with a wider audience. Also I am keeping a record of my goals, and steps I take towards them. I find the process of publishing my plans make me feel more inclined to stick to them.

What are the downsides to having a blog?

Like any other form of social media, there are risks. You could overshare or open yourself up to trolling. This is why I like to use SharePoint blogs, because only CCCU students and staff can view/comment on it. I write a lot about my mental health and unease about being in academia; some do see that as oversharing but I feel as though it’s important to have these conversations. Similarly to a reallife discussion you could be having with friends/colleagues/strangers; only share what you feel comfortable sharing. And there’s a great course on Blackboard called How to be social media savvy which is a great starting point if you are thinking about blogging (or any other form of social media).

How do you start a blog?

woman working on  her blog on a laptop with her notes and coffee to the side

There are lots of blogging platforms you can use; including WordPressBlogspotEduBlogs, and the SharePoint blogs. And there are lots of guides about blogging best practice. If you are looking to start a blog one of the best ways to learn is by creating a blog and trying it out. If you are not sure what to write try looking at WordPress blogging basics or Edublogs’ Student Blogging Challenge for ideas.

Can blogging help with career progression?

It depends on what industry you want to go in. I got my first freelance writing job after showing my employers my blog, and the website in my current workplace uses WordPress so my blog experience helped me. However the main skill I developed with blogging is my ability to reflect, which is a useful transferrable skill. There’s a series of elearning courses about reflection in the Careers and Enterprise Hub.

What do you write about?

My personal blog is a series of posts about the challenges I’ve faced as I do my Masters research project and apply for jobs. Sometimes I want to celebrate when I’ve got a good grade, or some positive feedback and other times I just want to share that I feel a bit low. Looking back is helpful because I can see my journey in academia has been a lot of highs and lows, so when I’m next struggling I remind myself that these feelings will pass.