First, to get the heavy stuff out of the way…
To make a blog worthwhile, this is probably the biggest time-investment you’ll make out of all the social media discussed in this course. Think seriously about whether you have the drive and commitment to it before you begin.
In order to build a following, you really do need to commit to being consistent and engaging – I would recommend no less than one blog post a week, at minimum – preferably 2 or more.
So, what are the benefits of blogging for my business?
I see my blog as my online home. It’s the place that I send people to, and from there, they can find out anything they want to about me and my business. Having this kind of base is really invaluable as a marketing tool.
Also, when you run a craft or creative business, you are a big part of your brand. By making yourself accessible, and building a blog following, you extend the reach of your business!
When you start out, you may wonder what on earth to blog about? There are endless resources out there about this very topic, but if you want a structured, well-thought out plan I recommend getting your hands on Tara Gentile’s 52 Weeks and 52 MORE Weeks of Blogging ebooks (I’m an affiliate of these) – they really are awesome We’ll talk a bit more about this later in the week.
My Top Ten Blogging Tips
1. Love it
If you don’t love it don’t bother – because honestly, it’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward for a long time. I started seeing the concrete benefits of all my work a while ago now (getting sales from the blog, as well as a little advertising income) but for a long time the only reward is the warm feeling of nice comments and hearing how people have made sales after being featured – all of which are awesome, but not worth the effort for some.
2. Be consistent
Decide on a posting schedule, and stick to it – or at least blog a few times a week. My blog is a business in itself for me, so I blog every day and I’m working harder at having consistent weekly columns to draw readers back. If you’re all over the place with your posting, it’s a lot harder to build a loyal audience – not to mention, the more you blog, the more chances there are for someone to just stumble over your blog because they’re searching for something!
3. Leave credit, and inform people you’ve blogged about them
My blog, being about handmade style, indie design, and crafty resources, is very image-heavy. I try very hard to always link back to and/or credit the source of images. And I also do my best to always e-mail or convo someone when I’ve featured their work. Everyone loves to know when they’ve been featured, so not only will you make them happy, but they’ll spread the word about your blog, too!
4. Decide what you want from the beginning, and choose a platform accordingly
I always knew I wanted to be serious about my blog, so right from the start I bought my own domain and blogged with self-hosted WordPress. It means I own my blog, I have a professional address (no ‘blogspot’ tacked on) and I can do whatever I want! Of course, when I was doing my research it was against the blogspot rules to have advertising on your blog – that’s obviously changed now.
5. Schedule ahead
I would go mad if I didn’t do this, due to the frequency of my posting – while I’m trying to run my jewellery business as well! As you’re browsing Etsy or the web, save interesting sites in draft posts – and when you get a little downtime, do up as many posts as you can ahead of time, then schedule them to post. I very rarely publish something right after I’ve written it – I usually have a regular schedule to stick to, and I try to have at least a week’s worth of posts scheduled ahead of time. That way, if something happens in my life, I know my blog is a-ok for a week at least without me
6. Promote! You can’t just wait for folks to find you – get the word out!
I actually have an ad or two out there for my blog, but the best promotion for me has always been word of mouth, and through forums. My street team here (DUST - Down-Under-Street-Team) has also been great! Oh, and twitter, and FB, of course. Don’t spam people, but share with them when you’ve blogged about something you think they’ll enjoy! I’ve also been featured by Etsy a few times, and by the Australian site I sell on - madeit.com.au – as well as many, many other blogs. My rule is to always say yes when someone contacts me wanting an interview!
7. Engage your audience
I love to run projects and other things that get my community involved. Give people something to care about – a reason to return!!
8. Be positive
It will take time to build a following… but it will happen if you stick to it.
9. Be professional
In your blog’s appearance, especially – I work hard to make my blog look slick (and I’m sure it could look better!). I do all the work myself, but one day hopefully I’ll be able to afford someone to do it for me! (One day… a looong way away… )
10. Be yourself
Only you can be you – and a blog is a personal medium – don’t be bland and boring, inject your own personality into what you do – people always respond. Good luck in your blogging adventure!
Tomorrow we’re going to discuss the different blogging platforms you could use…