How To Pepper Business Into Your Personal Blog
A little over four years ago I started blogging
about my home remodel project with my then boyfriend Jeremy. My blog
quickly gained attention when our home wedding was featured on Glamour Weddings blog and when A Cup of Joe shared my quirky wedding invitations
with the world. I was working as a senior art director at a small ad
agency but on the side I was getting requests from my blog readers to
design things for them. I was starting to pepper my professional
experience in my personal blog by sharing my work. And when I decided to
make the leap into freelance my readers supported me with encouragement
I was recently invited to facilitate a round table session at The Altitude Summit, a conference for design and lifestyle bloggers, about my blogging experience and share with other bloggers (who might not have the metrics to support huge sponsors) that they too can mix the professional with the personal and leverage their blog as an authentic marketing tool.
1. Don’t be afraid to blur the lines between personal with the professional
Because I had been sharing my post-apocalyptic outfits and frank discussions on deodorant with my readers for years they wanted to hire me for ME when I took the leap into freelance. I also take time to infuse a little bit of design into every post - whether it’s about trekking through the Himalayas or road tripping down to Austin.
2. House your professional work within your personal blog
A lot of bloggers separate their professional portfolio site from their blog - but I like to keep it all in one place. This keeps my work in front of people who are coming to my space to see where I’m going, what I’m eating and what I’m wearing. And on the flipside - if your blog is strictly to share your work or curated collections of things you like maybe start injecting some lifestyle bits in there too. If I like YOU I’m much more likely to support your work.
3. Show your readers what you’re working on w/out feeling like you’re “selling”
A lot of people are afraid of overly aggressive self-promotion so think of it more like show & tell. If your intentions are sincere you’re not going to come off like a used car salesman. Let your readers in on your creative process. For example, I once shared with my readers that I had to reprint an invitation project 8 times and maybe even cried a little before it was printed perfectly.
4. Be consistent with your content
I’m not saying you need to have an editorial calender filled with alliterated day of the week blog topics (ie. Wordless Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, etc.) but if you can consistently share the same kinds of things your audience will begin to develop a relationship with you and your content by knowing what to expect. For example, I always have a mix of anatomy of an outfit posts (always against my black chalkboard), with freelance matters posts, with travel posts, with food posts, with home posts, etc. This is part of what it means to develop a personal brand.
5. Tell your audience what to do
Remind your audience that you are for hire. Your readers are smart but they need to be told what to do - even if it’s seemingly obvious. If you want people to visit your Etsy store, buy your art or hire you to design or photograph something for them you have to LET THEM KNOW. Or if you simply want them to comment on your article ask them to comment. It can be on a sidebar of your blog or at the end of a post where you’ve shared your work. Remind your readers to support you and they will.
6. Your content as proof
When you’ve been capturing, shaping and sharing consistently you will be proud to direct potential readers / customers / superfans to your blog in order to explain “what you do”. Your content becomes proof that you’ve been doing the work. Think of your blog as an extensive capabilities packet that vouches for your skill and character... it builds your “cred.” So not only are they getting to know what it would be like to work with you because they “like” you... but you’ve already naturally positioned yourself as an expert in their mind. Because once you get someone’s business, there’s nothing worse than not being percieved as an expert, and becoming an order-taker. But if you are working with people who already want what you have, you’ve already won more than half the battle of “holding your own” in the relationship.
A good way to expose yourself to other audiences isn’t necessarily by purchasing banner ads on other blogs but actually collaborating with other bloggers. For example, The Jealous Curator is collaborating with artists from all over the country to host a series of Girl Crush Tea Parties - a series of one-day art workshops to talk insecurities, artist blocks and inspiration. It’s a genius way to collaborate and build community.
8. Authentic Sponsorships
If you do want to open your blog up to sponsorships or reach out to other bloggers make it genuine and seamless with your content. For example, I may not have the metrics to get HP to sponsor me but maybe I could reach out to the company I trekked to Mt. Everest Base Camp with to send me to the top of Kilimanjaro and blog about it.
9. But I’m Already A Business Blog? How Do I Pepper In the Personal?
On the flip side if you have a business blog don’t be afraid to interject some personality and company culture into it! We all like knowing that we’re working with (or spending dollars with) real companies with real people. We do it on Braid, and are still finding that balance every week. But that’s a post for another day.
So let’s hear from you. What are some ways you leverage your personality and point-of-view to support your professional business (either online or off)?
FILED UNDER: Braid How-To's, Personal Branding, Videos
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