Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blogging Q & A... Part 1.

Welcome to the first blogging q & a!  I'm so glad that some of you had some (really great!) questions for me on blogging... I'm here to answer them!  I realized once I sat down to answer these questions that I get super pumped when I start talking about blogging.  I really love to help people create amazing blogs and I love that it is my career as well. 

I hope you find inspiration and answers here, I truly do.  And don't forget... I'll keep this series going for as long as you gals have questions... so ask away either in the comments or via email to me!

So let's get on to the questions and answers!  Click the "read more" button to get to the Q &A!  There were so many great questions I couldn't squeeze them all into a decent sized post!

Steph of Scarves & Styles asks...
I would really like to offer giveaways to my readers and I wonder how to go about it. How do you get sponsors? What are the first things to do in order to host a giveaway?

Great question Steph! Giveaways are great to offer to your readers because they can create good buzz and can help spread the word about your blog.  When offering a giveaway don't forget to ask your readers to follow your blog, follow you on Twitter or Facebook or to blog or tweet about your giveaway to get entries.  It's like your readers "gift" for the chance to win whatever you are giving away.  I have held three types of giveaways... 
  • Sponsor provided - they ask.  A company emails you and says they love your blog and they have a shop they own or are representing and want to provide a product to giveaway in return for your blog hosting a blog.
  •  Blogger provided.  You buy a product and offer it for giveaway on your blog... a fun way to treat your readers to something you love and also a great investment in your blog.  This is what Linda and I did with the Luxe Lotto last fall.
  •  Sponsor provided - you ask.  Once I bought a really cool necklace from Etsy.  When I received the necklace in the mail and wore it, I realized my readers would love it as well... So I emailed the Etsy shop owner and let her know how much I was enjoying the necklace I bought from her and inquiring if she would donate a similar piece for a giveaway on my blog.  
These are just examples of how I have successfully run giveaways - I hope that helps!

Hannah of My Runaway Style asks...
What is your advice for gaining followers and having sponsors? Basically, how to get your blog out into the bloggersphere!

This is always a great question and one that EVERY blogger has encountered... no matter how big or how small.  It's something that I also talk about in my Blogging Bits E-Book... so check that out if you have a chance!   But here are the basics:

  • Put yourself out there by reading and (thoughtfully) commenting on blogs you love in your niche.  This can seem slow and cumbersome, but it really DOES work.  Make sure to leave a link to your blog in your comment.
  • Email your favorite bloggers as an intro... again, be thoughtful and kind and simply introduce yourself like you would at a cocktail party.
  • Use (and use and use) social media!  Get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and let people know you are posting.  Every time you publish a new post make sure to blast it to all the social media you can!  And use hashtags for searching so that people can find you.  Simply including #insertkeywordhere in your Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram blasts make you easy to find!  I post all my content to Pinterest and right now it's one of the top referrers to my blog!  And it's free!  And easy!
As for sponsors, a lot of times sponsors will find your blog and email you.  But sometimes it works to email small business owners or Etsy sellers to let them know who you are and that you are accepting sponsors.

When it comes to my blog I want to keep anonymity so I blur my face or crop outfits to cut off my head. I have not seen a blogger with 1000s of followers who crops her face out. Is this maybe that I have just not found any or do you think that hiding the face contributes to a smaller following?

This is a tough one.  Because I think the answer I am going to give is NOT the one you want to hear.  I do in fact think that blurring out your face can hinder your blog.  My personal opinion is that outfit photos or photos of our daily life help to create an instant bond and a personal connection with our readers... I know that when I first started doing outfit photos (while the quality was terrible in the beginning) I gained a new following that I hadn't reached before.  I don't think there are any hard and fast rules though and you really need to do what is right for you (and perhaps for your career as well)... but if you are blogging the right way you should never be ashamed or embarrassed of the content you are putting out there!  Also, keep in mind the blog "Monkey Face" did it quite successfully for a few years until she hung up her blogging hat.

Sarah of The Frontier Kitchen asks...
One thing I'm always curious about is whether more popular bloggers promote their blog or if your audience is just something you let grow naturally? On one hand, I like to have a "if you build it, they will come" type attitude but on the other hand, the blogosphere is so darn large that I wonder if it's even possible for others to even find you since there's so much out there to weed through. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that topic!

This question is similar to Hannah's above... but I do want to address it individually.  I agree, that if you build it, people will come.  But not always as quickly as you may want them to.  To speed up the process I would give you the same advice as Hannah.  Rely on networking with other bloggers and social media to build your blog!  Everyone has their own niche in the blogging world... don't let yourself feel drowned out by others.  You have an important story to tell as well!

Lindsay of Lipstick and Lollies asks...
When you started your blog, did you start it with the intention of making it into a business or was it just something that naturally evolved? And how important is social media to the growth of your blog?

Great question Lindsay!  When I first started good life I posted like once a month and really had no clear direction.  Then I quit my job to stay home with my kids and to figure out my next career steps.  At that time I started contributing for a large conglomerate blog that was definitely a "for-profit" blog and I got to see some of the behind the scenes stuff that comes with earning money from a blog.  At that point I decided to quit that position and go out on my own.  Sometimes when people write blogs 'for profit' they get a bad rap... but I will say this: If I wasn't blogging for a living I would be working outside the home (for myself and for the money).  And as a mom, I would rather work at home and be flexible.  So yes, when I started I knew I needed to make it work and needed to make money from it.  I will say that the money making part has only recently become very steady (after three years) but that now more than ever it's easier to make money on your blog.  

As far as social media goes... I think you should use it and use it well.  But content is king... make sure your content is amazing and then social media should click.  

There is also a lot more information on the details of making money with your blog in the Blogging Bits E-Book!

Shelly of GS Lillian asks... 
When you feature specific items that link through to the retailer, do you get a commission? If so what who do you use?

Another fabulous question! You gals are definitely on the right track with your thoughts... Shelly, the answer to your question is YES!  When I feature a specific item and link to that item and get a commission that is called "affiliate marketing".  It's very common and there are TONS of programs to use.  My favorite is Shopstyle's program called Shopsense - I highly recommend it.  Other programs include:
Besos, Reward Style, Commission Junction and LinkShare.  Amazon has a great program too and since Amazon carries just about everything - it's easy to use.  Those are just the ones I know of, I'm sure there are more!  Check the benefits and terms of use for each program and see what will work best for you and your blog.

The two sisters that write Sister Style Forever ask...
We were wondering how to set up our outfits like you do. How are you able to overlap the clothing like that. We have tried to overlap our pictures, but it doesn't seem to work. Can you give us some advice?

I am assuming you girls mean the montages of outfits or clothing pieces for posts?  There are several programs you can use and many ways to do it as well... Shopstyle (free) and Photoshop Elements (not free, but not inexpensive) are how I do my montages.  Polyvore is a great free program too.  Each of those programs let you play around with images and delete their background and/or overlap images.  Then you simply embed the montage into your blog post.

Emily of EmilyAnneStyle asks...
My blog is relatively new, so I'm not sure what to expect. On a typical day when you first started out, how many pageviews did you get? Did your views rapidly increase at a certain point? What is your best advice for writing a popular blog? 

I don't exactly remember what my page views were when I first started... but they were very, very low.  I remember being excited about my first 50 page views and then my first 100 and so on.  I have definitely had large spikes in traffic since then, but very sporadically.  Usually large spikes (for me) happen when I write a post that becomes very popular (when I wrote about my closet here... that was a very popular post for instance) - but the tricky part about that is you never know in advance when spikes or popular posts like that will happen.  I always set out to write my BEST POST EVER - but it's a different story what my readers will think is the best.  Really the readers (not me!) decide!

I would say that my best advice for writing a successful blog is to find the niche that intersects with what you know and love best and with what your readers want to see.  If you notice that a type of post that you write gets more comments or attention on social media... then keep writing those types of posts.  Feel your readers out, but always, always be true to yourself.  Don't try to emulate what another "successful" blogger is doing - pave your own way!

That, and use social media... but I've already mentioned that a few times! ;)


THANK YOU gals SO much for such great questions... I hope you found some great insight here... 

Keep the questions coming and I'll answer more next week!

1 comment:

Franziska said...

Thanks for this Jill. I started out as a headless blogger (as you probably remember from my time on the the It List) but have recently changed to including my face. Thanks for the words of advice, its always great to see how some of the bigger bloggers got to how they did!


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