October 31, 2016

Blogging For Business | What I’ve learned in a year


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.

Seek Guidance

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!

blogging for business


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!

Amanda xx

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.

Be inspired by the amazing women who run small business with big intention. Expertly captured in one blog post by Monica on The Elgin Avenue.

What Twelve Months Of Self-Employment Has Taught me – Kaleidoscope Design Studio Blog

And here’s a couple from me…

Essential Reading to Motivate & Inspire

My Top Five Social Media Tips For Blogging

💻✨ 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…

And Tee | Long Harem Trousers | Leather Star Trainers 

12 comments on “Blogging For Business | What I’ve learned in a year”

  1. Amanda, another brilliant, honest and generous post. I love your insight, and whilst I am not a blogger I think so much of what you say applies to any small business owner. On that note, how fab was Monica’s recent post on owning a big small business?

    You should pat yourself on the back and allow yourself a glass or two of something bubbly because both your blog and Instagram are looking stunning, and have amazing substance too. I love that you point out that this is due to hard work, risk taking and much stress. You have earned every part of your success. J xxx

    1. Thanks so very very much Jen! Hopefully some of it can apply to small businesses and I think Monica and I must’ve been in synch as her email for the brilliant Big Small Businesses post popped into my inbox as I was putting the finishing touches to this post so it felt perfect to include it!
      Thank you as ever for your unending support – it really does mean so much and now I’m looking forward to doing the same for you with the stunning Lois Avery cashmere!
      Happy New Business Monday my love!
      Amanda xx

  2. Thank you once again for yet another inspirational and motivational post, you are very generous in the way you share your experiences and I am grateful to your for that. I often feel adrift, today is one of those days but I feel better after reading your post. Already looking forward to the next instalment, happy Halloween!

    1. Thanks so much for reading as always Antonia and so happy to share here on the blog. When you work by yourself its so easy to go adrift – it takes such discipline to stay on track sometimes when there’s no one else to answer to!
      Happy Monday to you!
      Amanda xx

  3. Hello you! I am genuinely interested in this post – thank you for sharing as I know sometimes bloggers keep their success as a closely guarded secret! Have you seen that quote by Madeleine Albright that says: ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’ or words to that effect and I must say, as blogging is a largely female-occupied world, I’ve always subscribed the view that to share is good and important.

    I’ve witnessed the way you’ve grown your brand over time through various social media streams and this has clearly brought fantastic brand alliances and sponsorship to you (well deserved I’d add), not to mention lots of happiness and style tips to the likes of me! I am fascinated by the extent to which having say, Instagram followers translates into business, and by this I mean does having 15,000 followers mean that those followers part with any money to purchase what you recommend? I am applying the most base interpretation of business here – that of money. Or is it the case that we measure business success by the general awareness of a brand rather than the spend by any one individual with that brand? I know this is a deep-thinking point (characteristically so) but I ask because I am considering my brand; that of being a writer, or publishing a novel and I wonder whether my blog/Instagram following will translate into people actually buying the book?! For sure there have been things I have seen online that I have wanted to buy so I think there is a direct link. It’s a whole area of interest in our modern times; the way in which we identify with brands and therefore whether a brand grows and what that growth looks and feels like. I think it’s great that you start these discussion and I shall look forward to part two! Oh and OMG we have to catch up face to face properly!! Much love Amanda, your friend Lou x

    1. Hey Lovely Lou!
      So with you – sharing is caring and there’s no reason not to with so many of us out there doing our thang!
      I think the Instagram followers translates in one of two ways – huge numbers and therefore volume message spreading or a smaller but hopefully very engaged audience who become part of your conversations and therefore trust your recommendations. Luckily brands are beginning to see the value of the latter more and more.
      Re your audience buying your book (*squee!! claps hands*) if they care then they will. And I think they care from how your blog is received and the lovely comments your readers leave. And why not add the link to buy your book into your Instagram profile once its out there?
      Yes we HAVE to catch up soon – I think we might use up the oxygen with fast paced chatter!
      Lots of love, A xxx

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, A! Already looking forward to Part 2. I’ve been trying to immerse myself in a Blog education of sorts – reading guides, attending events including an inspiring talk by Alex Stedman & getting involved in Sarah Akwisombe’s ‘No Bull Blog School’. It feels so different for me writing under my own ‘brand’ when I’m used to a byline or anonymous features. A camera is going to be my Christmas investment present! Going to have to try & get along to one of your Workshops. S x

    1. Hello Gorgeous Sophie!
      You’re so welcome! I find Alex such an inspiration – she’s amazing. I hope you’re loving begin your own brand? It does feel so very different to anything freelance – so much more invested as its personal isn’t it? Ooh do you know which camera Santa might bring you? And you know I would LOVE for you to come along to one of the workshops! Keep an eye out on hero for next year is all I’ll say! Lots of love to you,
      A xxx

  5. What a great post, thank you for being so honest and taking the time. I’m not a blogger or thinking about becoming one but I am thinking about setting up my own business and much of what you write is so pertinent to goi g it alone and running and developing a business. I’ve taken a lot of reassurance from this and will keep coming back to it. Also loved your post about Biscuit ( I read that one before this!) must now try and persuade my husband, the children are already on board!

    Best wishes and happy blogging, Vicky

    1. Ah thanks so much Becky and I’m glad you found it useful in terms of setting up alone. It does feel so daunting but it such an exciting journey too and I wish you all the luck and lots of fun and enjoyment along the way! And yes – I think a dog would make the perfect business colleague – but then I am a little biased when it comes to dogs! Work on persuading your husband!
      Amanda xx

  6. Really interesting blog! Thanks! I’m a keen photographer and looking to see whether I could viably make a career (or even a little pocket money) out of my hobby. Whilst I don’t blog as such, there are definitely parallels between uploading blog posts and photography projects. Currently I’m very much relating to the “Go backwards to go forwards” stage and have taken inspiration from this post to put a 2017 plan together! Thanks for article and keep up the ace work!

    1. Hi Ben. So glad you found the blog post useful and I think as you say, whether you blog or not, there are parallels for anyone who works for themselves. Wishing you tons of luck in 2017 with your plans – its sounds really exciting!

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