How Building An Online Presence Put Me On The Right Career Path

I’ve spent years as a celebrity and pop culture blogger, building a digital presence, but I didn’t always know how to leverage opportunities presented to me into more lucrative ones.

The biggest one yet, has been landing a full-time position as a Digital Content Marketer for a company that puts together events catered to health care professionals and pharmaceutical start-ups. I finally feel that I’ve put myself on the right career path, one that will present continuous growth in my field.

When I started blogging eight years ago – while interning in the marketing department of a major record label in New York City – it was because I realized the importance of digital media within the entertainment industry. I also realized that I was good at it. I am a good writer. In fact, writing – especially creative writing – comes easy to me. When I started the blog, Cotten Kandi, I wanted it to serve as an indulgence for readers to get music from their favorite artists and the latest developments in entertainment.

By popular demand, the blog’s content shifted to pop culture and celebrity gossip. To be honest, I didn’t have a concise and clear vision for the site. I knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and if the blog could be a vessel to do so then so be it.

After graduating college and earning a B.A in Media Marketing and Communications, the harsh reality was that I could not land a job. I applied for entry level marketing positions as well as to PR firms to no avail. I eventually landed a 9-5 administrative position in the education sector. I felt under accomplished and unfulfilled while I watched friends and colleagues soar in their own career endeavors. I was miserable.

It took some time – and I worked really hard – but I began building my network of fellow media influencers, attending events, conducting interviews and compiling a portfolio I could use to reference my work and land the job of my dreams.

In the eight plus years since starting the site, I’ve interviewed Grammy award winning artists including Wyclef Jean and Ne-Yo, reality stars and TV personalities including Yandy Smith and Lala Anthony. I’ve covered music events and conferences including the VMAs, Essence Music Festival, and have collaborated with brands including Glade and WE tv. I’ve also put together and hosted women empowerment events, worked with small business owners to put together marketing and advertising strategies and PR campaigns and have written for other publications.

Might I add, network, network and network! I’ve connected and collaborated with other bloggers to co-host podcasts, share blog content and brand exposure. I’ve not only attended free networking events but I’ve paid to go to blogging conferences, such as Blogging While Brown, to learn more about becoming a successful blogger and influencer. Needless to say, it is important to invest in your career and your future.

I’ve used all of these experiences to position myself as an industry expert while acquiring new skills as a writer, editor and content producer, an interviewer, an event planner, host and public speaker, brand strategist, media and public relations professional and several other dotted lines!

And while job hunting, I used my web presence and freelance gigs to pitch myself by doing one other important task, I documented and screenshot highlights along my blogging journey. While it certainly helps to have your own media outlet, doing this was also helpful in pulling images and references to be used in my portfolio.

In fact, here’s the exact portfolio I used to pitch myself for the position that I have now. It serves as a snapshot of all the things that I’ve done and experience I’ve acquired over the years.

It took me some time to get on the right career path, much of which was trial and error and figuring out what it was that I really wanted to do, but it doesn’t have to take you half as long.

Do you have a career goal that you haven’t reached yet? My advice? 1. have a plan, 2. set it in motion and 3. track your progress.

Want more career and business advice from Toni?

Here are some related posts she’s also written.

Follow Toni!