I know you’ve all seen that print that’s floating around on Pinterest. You know, the one about not comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle? When I walked into my last workshop at Alt, I was kind of nervous about whether or not I’d be able to keep myself from playing the comparison game because the panel was made up of bloggers who had seen tremendous success within a really short period of time. None of these ladies have had their blogs for over two years, yet they’ve seen off the charts numbers and growth.
But it turns out that it’s pretty much impossible to get down on yourself or get taken over by the jealousy monster when the enviable ones are sharing all their secrets to success with you. What, at home, would feel like a mysterious magic that they somehow conjured up felt, instead, like a thoughtful, strategic process filled with hard work and, yeah, maybe a smidge of luck. But mostly hard work.
So instead of envy, I found that I was filled with excitement. And not just about the way that I could see the readership of this blog expand, but also about the ways that these methods could help me to open up to a better, fuller life. Does that sound grandiose? Maybe. You’ll see what I mean.
Their Secrets to Success:
Be authentic in everything you do. Only write about topics you’re passionate about because if you don’t people will know. Make sure you’re writing about something you can live and breathe, and would do with or without a blog. This authenticity is what will make you shine among all the thousands of blogs out there — take it from Mara of A Blog About Love. Within two weeks of starting her blog, she received an email from a big time blogger, telling her that her honest, deeply personal posts had what it takes to make it in this business.
Dedicate your blog to helping people. Treat your readers as friends — or better yet, actually become friends with your readers. That way, when you’re creating content you’ll always have their best interests in mind. Think about what you’re doing to enrich their lives with your knowledge or skills and then share those things. Erin from My Thirty Spot created her blog when she recognized that there wasn’t anything out there specifically for women in that decade of their lives. The blog is chock full of advice about adjustments, changing relationships, fashion, and — my favorite — food. It’s a community for women in their 30s, which I can’t wait to be a part of soon.
Find a mentor. In fact, find a few. These ladies referred to their groups of mentors as a board of directors, which I really like. Once you find a few great bloggers to agree to mentor you, let them know your goals, then open yourself up to learning whatever you can from them, whether through email, Skype, or in real life. Remember that your mentors are doing you a huge service and will likely play a large role in your success, so let them know how grateful you are, and often. Send notes. Send gifts. And commit yourself to helping them in any way you can.
Take it offline. In other words, give your blog a place in the real world. Erin says she hands out business cards to everyone she can, and suggests making your mission known to friends and family. She also suggests doing trades with local businesses, in which you ask to leave a set of cards in exchange for a post promoting their services. Meet other bloggers, gather people together, teach workshops, or offer something for free. Mara put together a workshop with a stellar J.Crew stylist, and the post about that workshop went viral (again, you’ve probably seen it on Pinterest). She also offers to go for a walk with her readers to help them in their quests for greater happiness. What can you offer?
(That’s Mara and her handsome man taking tips from a J.Crew stylist. Aren’t they the prettiest couple? Photo by Justin Hackworth.)
Have a newsletter. And a really engaging bio. In both of these elements, make it a goal to make a connection, whether through scope, voice, humor, links, photos, or video.
What Federated Media Wants
And finally, here’s a gold mine that Mara shared. She’s working with the big papa of ad networks, Federated Media, which sent her the following list of elements they look for when searching for blogs to partner with.
- Use categories that are easily visible
- Have Tweet/Pin/Like buttons at the bottom of each post. Include a counter.
- Make your social media buttons easily visible.
- Include integrated ad zones (check out DesignLoveFest)
- Have a clear advertising page (see SFGirlbyBay)
Phew. See? There’s no time to be jealous or intimidated because you’ve now got a dozen things to do to make your blog better. I feel like this is a lesson that extends beyond blog growth to real life — if we’re busy doing what we love, we’re happy; if we’re happy, we’re not constantly comparing ourselves to others. Because, as these ladies pointed out, there’s no such thing as too many blogs, since each of us has something of quality to offer the world.
Thank you so much to the women who hosted this jumpstarting session. I highly recommend spending some time on their super addictive blogs. Oh, and don’t worry if you suddenly feel like they’re your new best friends — they’re used to it.