Advice for Future MBA Bloggers

It’s that time of the year once again – prime time to start studying for the GMAT and begin the long journey known as MBA applications.

While the majority of MBA applicants choose not to, I know from experience that there are quite a few people who will blog about their journey and quite a few more that are considering it right now.

Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon (Flickr)

Let me just say first to those that are on the fence that it’s definitely worth it. And to those that have already committed to blogging, I’d like to share a few key things I learned from going through the process myself.

Blog About Both the Good Times and the Bad

During the MBA admissions process, there were definitely times when I didn’t feel like blogging at all. Some of my own worst moments included blowing a GMAT practice test and getting tough feedback on my application essays. The MBA admissions process is a volatile rollercoaster ride with a lot of, if not mostly consisting of, low points. My recommendation is that you shouldn’t flush them out of your mind, nor hide them from your readers. It’s important to face your failures, learn from them, and use these moments to make yourself a better person. Anything that’s bad for your ego can end up being good for your soul.

What I wouldn’t recommend is using your blog as a brag wall; that’s what LinkedIn is for. People want to read about both the ups and downs, to get an accurate picture of what the admissions process is really like. Every person who starts a blog early on in the admissions process has the potential of getting rejected from every one of his or her desired schools. Applicant bloggers put themselves out there and take a risk. There is no guaranteed happy ending and the possibility of failure and embarrassment is real. It’s this risk and sacrifice that truly defines the MBA admissions process.

Work to Help Others

Out of all the things I’ve experienced with my blog, I can tell you that by far, the best moments occurred when I was able to tangibly help another person. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply take notes on complex subjects related to either the GMAT or essay writing. I initially started taking notes just for myself because the process of formatting a post that would be shared with the world forced me to fully comprehend the subject. But soon I began getting comments and emails thanking me for the documentation on my blog. My “studying” posts were not only a way to reinforce my own understanding of a difficult subject, but also acted as a roadmap for anyone else facing the same obstacles.

Also keep in mind that your posts don’t necessarily need to show expertise in a certain area. Sometimes the best help is simply providing comfort to someone else who is going through the same thing you are, such as getting waitlisted or preparing for an admit weekend. I may be biased because I plan to work in social enterprise, but in my opinion, the best thing an MBA blog can do is provide someone else a path to success.

Don’t Make Profit a Priority

If you’re intending to go to business school and you’re considering writing a blog, the idea of earning income from your blog has probably crossed your mind. While there are definitely success stories out there, the majority of blogs that start with this intent eventually fail. There was a time many years ago, when any person could start a blog, get tons of traffic, and make a reasonable amount of income from their efforts. But with both Blogspot and WordPress, the blogging market now has few barriers to entry and is completely saturated. Some of the best bloggers out there don’t earn anything from their exploits.

If making money off your blog is your only measure of success, then you’ve likely set yourself up for disappointment. I’m not saying profit can’t be a goal of your blog. Just don’t make it the only goal. The best blogs have a real purpose and are driven by something more than money.

When I started Random Wok, I honestly just wanted to learn how to build a website. It was mainly a self-facing blog where I took GMAT notes and ranted about having to study so much. The idea of making tons money off of my blog did indeed cross my mind, but after I opened my Adsense account, I quickly “learned” how unlikely that would be. After this realization, because I was still learning, I decided I would continue blogging.

I didn’t think anyone was reading my work, but before long, fellow bloggers began syndicating my work. David Park from Beat the GMAT eventually reached out to me and offered me free access to the Beat the GMAT Practice Questions. Having this support definitely ended up contributing to my GMAT score and made a huge difference in the overall admissions process.

Like the business world, blogging at its core is not about money; it’s about people. People who are genuine and candid. People who receive help and pay it forward to others. If you use your blog to find your voice and speak your mind, I promise you that you won’t feel alone while taking on one of the biggest challenges of your life.

About Mark Wong

Mark Wong is a former management consultant and soon-to-be MBA in the Class of 2013. Mark founded randomwok.com to help other prospective applicants by documenting the ups and downs of the MBA admissions process. And if this whole MBA thing doesn't work out, he'll turn his blog into a cooking website.