Two days ago I met up with a friend to grab a juice and catch up. She also happens to be in the creative, small business industry. We talked about our summers, traveling (I’m going to NYC next week and haven’t been since I was in high school – must sees/dos??), starting/running a small business, hiring, etc. etc. She owns a brush lettering company, Mint and Maple, and offers creative workshops as well as private lessons. She has a good thing going.
Towards the end of the conversation, she asked me a question that totally caught me off guard. “What is your advice for getting a blog started?” The thing is Natalie already has a successful business – she doesn’t NEED a blog, but she wants one as a way to market her business among other things that a blog can do. It’s interesting because we approached our businesses in total opposite ways. She started her hand lettering company and now wants a blog as an addition to her business, where I started my blog first and then added the business part. There’s no right way, of course, but we have the same goal: to grow our businesses.
*giving you the side eye, like “What? You gonna question that??”*
Back to that question: “What is your advice for starting a blog?” I am terrible at talking to people in general – my brain runs way faster than my mouth and I usually get jumbled when I’m talking. My first thought was to ramble off any and every thought I had about getting a blog going – devoting time to Pinterest through group boards and pinnable graphics, networking with people in your field, solid content, photography, blah, blah, I could honestly go on for 3 weeks straight about stuff to do to get your blog going. But then I stopped. ONE THING. What’s the most important thing?
The goal in writing a blog is to somehow stand out from the other 3452343 blogs out there. How do you make your audience come back to your blog day in and day out?
You know them. You know your readers like the back of your hand. I write to one specific person every day. It’s an actual acquaintance of mine – I’m not going to say her name because there’s a chance she is reading, and I don’t want to make her feel weird. Without saying her name, the person that I write to every day is 31, married and has purchased their first home in the past couple of years. She has somewhat of a budget to get her house how she wants it. She reads A LOT of blogs…..at work. So she skims blogs. She loves trends, and she knows the trends well. She follows brands like Furbish and Society Social on Instagram in order to never miss out on their sales/what’s new. She loves being social and loves to travel. And most importantly, she loves decorating her house one exciting purchase at a time. She reads home decor blogs to get ideas, get inspired and get advice.
Now, not every reader is 31, married and follows Furbish on Instagram. Obviously. There probably aren’t TWO readers that have all of those traits. There are older people that read this blog, there are single people that read this blog, and there are probably people that think Furbish is too trendy for their taste. BUT…. I think it’s so important to write to a specific person in order to understand what your reader wants. And not to mention, it helps with your voice. Giving your readers what THEY want is what it all comes down to…. Some may disagree, but your blog isn’t all about you. Really, I see myself as kind of irrelevant here. I look at this blog as “how do I give my readers what they want?”. If your readers don’t feel like they are getting something from your blog, they will not come back. People don’t have time to read something that isn’t beneficial to them (unless it’s your mom or best friend)……
The reason I’m writing this post is because my friend, Natalie, sparked this topic and I’ve kind of been talking nonstop about it to Parker since that juice date. When thinking about your readers and what they want, it’s important to think about the kind of content you are putting out there…… Just how much do they need that content?
Think about a blog that puts out content about how to start and build a strong blog/brand…. This one is my favorite…. People like me NEED that particular blog. My career/livelihood/future/everything else that is important depends on having a successful blog/brand and Lauren Hooker’s blog is going to help me get there. When I read that blog, I am gaining incredibly valuable knowledge and I am going to therefore visit that blog often.
But this blog isn’t like that. People don’t NEED home decor advice. (There is the exception that there is a reader who is reading home decor blogs because she wants to be a decorator/design blogger, and in that case, she might NEED the content from home decor blogs.) But in most cases, home decor blog readers don’t NEED the content, they just really enjoy it. Decorating is a fun hobby, they want their house to look good for their family and friends, so they read blogs to get ideas and inspiration. Because of the comparison between a business/brand building blog and a home decor blog, the content will probably be presented differently between the two blogs. Lauren is writing to business owners who are serious about building their career. She is spitting out solid content about how to grow a brand. But home decor blog readers need a bit more than that. A home decor blog that is presented in a dry, cut to the chase way, might be a bit boring. It’s all about how you present your content.
So how do you make that blog reader need your content so much that they visit your site regularly?
You know what that reader likes, and more importantly, what they want.
It goes without saying that I don’t have the blogging thing completely figured out. My numbers aren’t that high. My goal over having high numbers is to keep readers coming back once they land here for whatever reason. And I think that knowing who’s reading your blog and what they want is the best way to do that. This epiphany was brought on by my friend, but really, the way that I came about this piece of advice was evaluating how I, myself, read blogs. I follow several on a blog reader, but there are a few that I read almost every day, all because the writers behind those blogs make me feel like I NEED what they are saying and that I can greatly benefit from their advice, inspiration, small talk, and whatever it might be that day.