How to Publish Content to the Internet as a College Student for Free

Financially, life is hard for a college student. Trust me. I know. Last year, instead of buying plates, I cut old pizza boxes into squares and used those. A lot of people laughed at me. They said it was gross. I said it was efficient. It really was efficient. (To be fair, I guess it was probably pretty gross too, but hey, I didn’t get sick!) In college, you do what you have to do, even if that means eating off of old greasy boxes and risking judgment and/or illness.

But there are ways to make the struggle a little easier. The most obvious being earning more money. It’s no secret that the average college student is struggling for money. But I would argue that it’s also no secret that the average college student is intelligent and probably a decent writer.

If many students have a talent for writing, why aren’t they sharing and using it? Some might not know how to begin, and others might be nervous about putting their work into the world for anyone to read. I know both of these feelings. So as someone who’s been there, both nervous and a bit clueless, I’m here to help with some quick tips for publishing content as a college student.

Be Bold:

The first step to publishing content online, especially as a college student, is just to work up a bit of courage. Publishing your content isn’t easy, particularly if you’re a young adult who’s never published your own work before. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it takes a great deal of courage just to put words on paper. To share those words with others is a best of its own.

But if you want to work in this field, that’s, for better or for worse, a part of life. Tell yourself that you are good enough to let others hear what you have to say. Believing that there’s reason to share your work is the first step, and in the long run, it’s probably the most important one too.

Why Publish Content Online?: Ok, so maybe you are bold. So bold, in fact, that you don’t see why you should publish online. Some of the reasons are obvious; others are a bit harder to see, but nonetheless, the reasons certainly exist.

Money

As I’ve said before, I know this one is a bit obvious, but I can’t say it enough. Having more money makes college easier. It makes life easier. Money isn’t everything, obviously. It can’t buy happiness. It can’t buy most of the really important things, but it can certainly help with a lot of stresses. As a writer, you have literally no chance of making money with your writing unless you put yourself out there. If you publish work online — even if you publish it for free — there’s a decent chance that someone will notice what you’re doing, reach out to you, and offer to pay you to write. I know this from real experience. I’ve gotten more than one job this way, and I basically just publish movie reviews online. If you do good work that you’re passionate about and you share your work, people will notice.

Resume Building

There’s more to be gained than just money by publishing content online. There’s also that constant, annoying need to “build a resume.” We college students hear it all the time. In order to be impressive, well-rounded students who have good chances at getting decent jobs, we need to fill our resumes with actual experience. It’s frustrating and often getting “actual experience,” seems nearly impossible, but online, it’s — please forgive the cliché that I just can’t resist — as easy as a click of the button. With one click,

Reputation Building

Arguably more important than building a strong resume, is simply building a strong professional reputation. For writers in particular, it’s all about the people you know and how many of them know your name. If you work has been plastered all over the Internet, there’s a much higher likelihood that you’ll be recognized and hired because employers know that others will share their recognition. In a way, building a strong reputation goes directly hand in hand with building a strong professional resume. Employers want to see both.

WordPress:

This website is my first and main recommendation for anyone looking to publish something quickly and easily for the web. It’s free, easy to figure out, and incredibly simple to share. WordPress’ signup process is fairly self-explanatory. If you go to the website, choose to create a new account, and fill out the form and questions, you’ll have an account. It takes a bit of experimenting to understand how exactly to format posts, but mostly it’s up to you. There are tons of options and all of them are easy.

publishing-content-online-free

WordPress Quick Tips:

  • Post photos. – More than anything else, photos will keep audiences interested. If you post a long block of text, don’t hesitate to break it up with a snappy photograph. It will keep your readers interested and on their feet, and it’ll allow you to share some pictures!
  • Get personal. – Don’t be afraid to share personal anecdotes. More often than not, no matter what you think, people actually really like to hear about your life. It helps them feel connected, and connectivity is just about never a bad thing. Make your readers care about you. Welcome them into your life. Once they care about what you care about, they’ll find your writing much more powerful.
  • Avoid rambling. – Sometimes less is more. Say what you want to say and say it well. It isn’t always necessary to post pages and pages of text.
  • Write what you know. – In order to build some credibility, try to crank out a few posts from the very beginning. One of the toughest things about writing is just getting started so if you need to write articles that you’re comfortable with in the beginning, don’t feel bad. If you know you write great film reviews, post a few right off the bat. Just put words on a page, and put that page on the Internet.

Social Media Strategy:

Once you’ve posted your work, the most important thing to do is share it. So sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, anything that gets the word out. Send the link to your friends and family; ask them to share it too. Post it on relevant discussion boards. Without spamming or being too annoying, try to incorporate your article into conversations on various social media sites. Send the article to anyone who might be interested. Send it to celebrities on Twitter who might have an interest in the article’s topic. If they choose to retweet your link — I’ve seen it happen to many people, way more than once. — you’re well on your way to gaining a healthy following.

Freelance Publishing Sites:

If you’re specifically looking to earn a little money publishing your content, there are sites that allow you to post your work where it’s readily available for employers to pick up at a small cost. Sites like this, such as Guru and Elance, can look tempting, and I suppose they could work for some people, but in my experience, even if your articles do get picked up, they pay is so abysmal that it’s hardly worth the effort. I would advise avoiding these sites altogether, publishing your work for free, promoting it yourself, and using sites like Linked In to find more reliable, better paying jobs.

I publish content on a number of sites, and I still feel like I could and should be doing more. We’re living in an age of technology. Today, if you aren’t publishing online and you hope to be a writer or work in a field where writing is important (which is basically any field, to be honest) you need to be publishing your work. Let others see what you can do. Don’t feel intimated by the amount of information already available online or your own feelings of inadequacy. Everyone starts somewhere, and it’s perfectly fine to start by publishing your work on a free site of some kind. It shows tenacity and initiative, and most employers and people in general will respect that to some extent regardless of how many viewers/readers you get.

Basically, if you want to write, share your writing. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you have any further questions about publishing your work, such as how to work any of the sites I mentioned, or whether or not it’s a good idea for you to post your work online, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @SkyyTweet or through email at schylermartin@gmail.com. I would be more than happy to help with anything or just have a chat, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

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