blogging for business
I recently posted a blog link to Twitter with a narrative pertaining to the fact that in the last year, I’d managed to grow my Instagram following from approximately 7K last October to just over 14K now.
Having scheduled said piece of social media with an appropriately pretty picture and moved on to the next item on the To Do list, I pulled myself up short with a “Hang on a minute – you flippin’ did it! You only went and achieved one of the MAJOR things you set out to do last October!!!”.
As I realised that I’d almost bypassed my own goal without so much as a self-congratulatory pat on the back, something we all do too often I think, it took me back to October 2015 and the talking to I gave myself about where I was supposed to be heading.
Honestly I didn’t really know. How was I going to grow this blog? What did I want to achieve in the coming year? What should I focus on first? Where the hell do I start?? Arrgghhh!
Looking back, the frustration I felt lead to a severe bout of inertia and it was that that was stopping me from breaking it all down and formulating a plan. So rather than carry blindly on, head buried firmly in the sand, I made a decision to get some help. More on that in a minute!
This set off a chain of events and actions that finally made me feel like I’m taking proper steps towards understanding how blogging for business needs to work… for me at least. Others may adopt a completely different approach that works just as well but I think I needed to do it my own way.
So in the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d list here the most important aspects that have helped me to get on the right path. As I began to extract it all from the brain and get it down on the page, I realised it’s a bit of long post so I’m going for another two-parter!
Make A Plan
Find a good use for that oh so Instagrammable notepad you bought (I’m not alone there am I?) and set out your goals. Get them down on paper so they can’t be ignored. All of them – every single last one you can think of for now.
If you have some blogging specifics you really want to achieve, it’s good to know how many things there are on the list, why they’re important and if they all lead to the same end game.
My example of that? I thought that in order to succeed on the business side and open up more opportunities, one of the things I really needed to do was to grow my blog traffic. I was totally fixated on this and thought it was the only path to success.
Through the process of making a plan, I’ve actually ended up posting less here and I’m trying to focus more on creating better, more sharable content. Alongside this, I wanted to concentrate on growing my Instagram numbers and engagement.
The outcome thus far is that is my blog traffic has pretty much stayed the same with the odd monthly dip or spike, but my Instagram following has doubled, making it another marketable aspect to offer in tandem with the blog. As a direct result I’ve had better opportunities come my way and feel I can pitch to brands in ways I wouldn’t have been able to before.
I’m still working really hard on both aspects with so much more to learn but all the way along, I’m loving the challenge and, having seen some small successes, I feel truly motivated. If I hadn’t sat down and made that plan, I’d still be sitting here now hung up on blog traffic alone.
When you work for yourself and by yourself, it can be incredibly hard to be objective and find ways to come up with new ideas or even plan a refresh in your direction when you really need to.There’s no shame in admitting the need for assistance nor is there any in hiring that help either.
It can feel like a lonely game and sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off or turn to for a bit of guidance. Someone who understands the blogging game but can look at YOUR blog and social media channels objectively with a fresh pair of eyes and perhaps see the things that you don’t.
There are a couple of ways you can go about this. The first would be to partner up with a fellow blogger who perhaps you’re already friendly with and whom you really admire and respect. Be mentors for one another – spend an agreed block of time each month, separately focusing on each other’s blog offering a fresh perspective and brainstorming ideas to go forward with.
The other option is to hire a Branding/Creative Consultant and this is exactly what I did last October. For a couple of hours a month, I get to spend time with the fabulous Monica Welburn of The Elgin Avenue fame, either via FaceTime or in person.
Monica is brilliant at not only providing specific advice but also at helping me to focus on what I do well, where I should branch out a little and exploring the things that I could change or grow. Having her set me a monthly goal or two is incredibly motivational and our shared enthusiasm for the subject of blogging just inspires me to want to do better.
As an aside from that, I feel that I’ve made a wonderful friend who totally gets the highs and lows of this crazy blog world and who makes me wish I’d been as smart and business savvy as her in my mid twenties!
Go backwards to go forwards
In order to move forward, you need to accept that you’ll sometimes feel as if you’re going backwards. For me that going backwards feeling comes from not producing content on a regular basis.
Which has lead to my biggest mistake on my blogging journey so far. By letting that inner voice that shouts “I MUST get a post up now!” win and not spending enough time time focusing on the long term, you can end up in a very tricky place.
In order to grow you HAVE to step away from the day to day stuff sometimes and think about the bigger picture. Where is your blog going? How will it improve? What’s happening in the blogosphere in general? If you don’t stay on top of those things, you risk simply running out of steam, enthusiasm and perhaps readers too eventually. Which, if you’re blogging for business, is not a good thing!
Know that taking a few days off from posting to come up with a strategy for the next quarter is fine. Your loyal readers will be back when you’re back and maybe they’ve been too busy to read blogs that particular week anyway.
That’s what I did last week. It was half term and as well as time off with Holly, I needed some planning time for the blog. And you’re still here. Aren’t you? Hellooooo….? *looks for tumbleweed emoji*
wear many hats!
Accept you’ll need to be multi-talented. Aside from being the all singing, all dancing creative blogger with an unending supply of inspiration, you need to tackle admin, finances, PR and marketing – the latter meaning both promoting yourself and understanding how PRs that approach you operate too.
Then there’s the ability to fight your own corner, be a killer negotiator and quite frankly, if you can grow a pair too then that will really help when you find yourself in situations that would ordinarily have you running for the hills! Oh and don’t forget the photography skills too.
My inner control freak helps when it comes to keeping up with admin. And oh boy the amount of admin that grows year upon year never fails to amaze me – make sure you plan for time to tackle it as the business side of your blog grows.
Years spent working in Finance have given me the gift of spreadsheet geekery – far more handy than you might think when it comes to style blogging! It also helps with knowing the importance of keeping financial records in order and an understanding of how payment terms and purchase ledgers work when it comes to that all important matter of getting paid for your endeavours!
By the time you factor in an element of pitching and promoting and attempting to continually further your photography skills, it’s little wonder that growth, on the whole, can be more of a slow and steady process when you’re a party of one.
So there you have part one of this somewhat major post – phew…lotta typing there and thanks for reading till the end! I hope you find it useful if you’re just starting out or thinking about ways to grow your blog into a full time gig.
In part two I’m covering the twitchy subject of income and when to reinvest, the importance of staying inspired and why I swear by having an editorial calendar. And it’s not just because I’m a secret spreadsheet geek! Take a look here.
I’d love to hear any pointers you might have or just what you think about the issues surrounding growing a blog as a business – feel free to drop me line in the comments below!
Recommended Reading & Resources:
The Ultimate Guide To Blogging – E-Book by Ella Gregory from Coco’s Tea Party. This is brilliant and as a long term blogger, I picked up a few useful tips – don’t get started without it!
Capture Your Style by Aimee Song. If you’re looking to create a stylish Instagram feed to accompany your blog, Aimee’s book makes for a fun and inspiring read.
And here’s a couple from me…
💻✨ On Wednesday this week I’m thrilled to be co-hosting another Blogging Workshop with my friends at the amazing lifestyle boutique, hero.
Throughout the day, I’ll be sharing my three top tips on each of the six hot blogging topics with the workshop participants. If you’d like to find out what these are, make sure you’re signed up to receive The Online Stylist email – over there in the sidebar 👉🏻 or below👇🏻 . I’ll be sharing them in an exclusive newsletter later on, along with a sneak behind the scenes peek of the event! ✨💻
📝 Style Note: The photographs in this post were taken for a feature I did for hush recently. If you ordered something from hush in October (I know I did!), you might have seen my interview in the newsletter that accompanied your order. Talk about surreal & exciting! 📝
Here’s what I wore…