Developing A Plan For Your Blog’s Future

I have been blogging for five years, and about two years ago I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, so I made a decision to learn everything I could.  One thing that I’ve learned is that I have no interest in blogging on other people’s terms unless it is aligned with my brand, will help my audience, or provides an outlet for me to explore my creativity.  When I first started blogging I loved it, but as time went on my love for blogging seemed to diminish and it became more of a burden. 

It is not an easy thing to grow an audience and there is a lot of work involved, but when I stopped boxing myself I begin to see the light again.  It is important to create a business plan for your blog that will allow you to profit without solely relying on partnerships and collaborations.  My goal is to make sure that most of my blog’s income is from my own business endeavors.  That is really important to me as a blogger.  

Now that I actively blog on my own terms it is not easy, but I have a few tips to share that you may want to think about if you plan to blog on your own terms and not someone else’s. 

1) A Sponsored Post is not blogging on your own terms…lol!

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Every time a company reaches out to you for a collaboration be ready for a very detailed rundown on what you have to do on your social media and blog to meet the contractual requirements.  This is why I am very selective about the sponsored posts that I do on my blog.  I prefer to use affiliate programs that allow me to purchase the clothing that I love and share it with my audience.  This can be a great way to profit from your blog if you are able to convert your readers into buyers.  I have to really love a product to do a sponsored review or the opportunity has to be so great that I cannot turn it down.

2) Blogging trends only matter if they actually work to get the desired result from your audience.  There are always new trends in every blogging niche, but I have learned to embrace the trends that I love and to march to the beat of my own drum.  It is not easy because every day you are consumed with ideas, images, and thoughts from other people.  The lines can get very blurred, but I actively take the time to assess what content I think my audience will enjoy the most.

3) Trying to be popular is the gateway to failure. Many bloggers associate success with popularity, but when you focus on attaining popularity or trying to get close to popular people, all of you authenticity walks right out of the door.  I try my best to stay true to my core values and I don’t allow fear to stop me from having a true “voice” on my blog and all of my social media platforms.  If my audience expresses something that they would like to see me do, I always consider it (but I refuse to work on any content that I do not love). That is true blogging freedom!

4) Create Your Own Opportunities.

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I had a deep desire to create an event that would empower women to have high self-esteem, develop personal style, and give tips on how to develop a blog or social media presence.  This is why I created my “Own It” event!  It is a way for me to connect with women and build relationships.  It is my greatest blogging accomplishment to date, and the one that I take the most pride in.  

A lot of blogging experts heavily focus on how to build blog partnerships with major brands as a way to earn or supplement your income.  I enjoy working with brands that I love, but the Internet is a fickle place.  You never know what may happen with this whole “blogging space” in the future, so I think it is essential to view your blog as a gateway to entrepreneurship.  There is only a handful of bloggers that are actually making 6-figures from their blog, so it is essential to identify a service or product that you can offer via your blog.

I hope this post gives you a few things to ponder over if “blogging on your own terms” is as important to you as it is to me.  Please feel free to continue this discussion over on twitter by tweeting me:-)

Do We Need SEO In 2015?

Search engines have constantly changed the SEO over the last couple of years, which have some experts claiming that SEO is dead.  You all know that I mentioned on Periscope that I do not waste a lot of time with SEO because it is difficult and time-consuming to master this strategy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about it at all.  I like to keep my focus on my target audience and if you are trying to build your blog traffic, I highly recommend that you download this free worksheet for a few ideas on how to do that! Let’s talk SEO right now!

It is true that the rules of SEO have changed and are still constantly changing. The drive behind this is not to make it harder for people to get their websites ranked properly or to make SEO harder but rather to get rid of the bad SEO that could otherwise taint the efforts of those that are looking to rightfully earn their place.  Nevertheless, the basics of SEO have still remained the same and you are about to find why SEO is still a great strategy in 2015.

1. Quality content is good but optimized content is even better.

There is no question that your readers love great content that is helpful to them. However, they have to be able to find that content which is where optimization comes in. The aim is for search engines to try and reward high-quality content by making it more findable, which is why it is vital to ensure that you have some keywords to make it more relevant to the search engines and easily find by your readers.

2. It will take time to kick in.

The changes that search engines have made ensure that the process is more rigorous and that only the approved methods that are allowed. It will take more time for your efforts to pay off but eventually, it does work and the best part is that when it does, you will be enjoying them for longer. Some strategies that are worth investing in currently include:

  • Keywords that appear naturally within your content will help to rank you higher.
  • Hard-earned and quality links for your blog are still the way to go. Not only do they allow you to get more traffic but it also allows you to build trust and confidence with your readers.
  • Technical SEO.  This refers to anything that is designed to give search engines easier access to your site. The more compliant you are, the more lenient they are bound to be.
  • You might also want to consider learning more about link attraction.  Most bloggers do this by collaborating with larger websites that can provide linkbacks to their website.

On the other hand, there are certain SEO strategies that may be outdated. This is perhaps because the ease is gone and it takes longer before tangible results can be seen.  Some of these strategies that are a total waste of time and could even get your website banned include:

  • Keyword stuffing and especially when the keyword appears unnaturally and is not related to the content that is on the websites.
  • Buying mass directory links.
  • Spinning of content (republishing the same content to multiple sites).
  • Optimizing purely for the sake of ranking.

If you are not looking to fail in the SEO game, which is something that no blogger wants, these would be strategies to avoid. While they could have worked to a certain degree in the past, they may not work in the current day and time.

3. SEO is based on the interest of your audience.

One of the factors that make SEO a great strategy currently is that it has moved from just being a strategy that website owners can use to be ranked highly to one that is aimed to reward high-quality content and compliant sites with the best ranking so that users can have the best experience.

4. Keywords still apply.

As long as people will use search engines, Keywords will remain to be an integral part of SEO. Without them, it would impossible for internet search engine to give credible results to the searches that are conducted. However, the ways in which the keywords are processed by the search engines nowadays have changed. This is why methods like keyword stuffing have fallen from grace. Nevertheless, the keywords still hold their importance in SEO.

As much as many might claim that SEO is living on borrowed time, it is worth noting that while the descriptions and algorithms could change, the skeleton and basics of SEO have remained the same. How important is SEO to you?

 

3 Reasons I Don’t Care About Blog Traffic

I used to be very concerned with the amount of visitors that were coming to my site each month, even after I experienced massive growth!  I thought that the only way to have a truly successful blog was to have a huge amount of blog visitors, but I was mistaken.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a ton of blog traffic because it helps you with exposure and monetization, but it is not the end all be all.  I employ whatever strategies necessary to increase my blog readership, but that is not my main goal anymore.

Most of us will not see a huge amount of traffic to our blogs (unless you have a post that goes viral) because the market is highly oversaturated.  There use to be a time when it was not very hard to get blog readers, but nowadays it is nearly impossible if you are not widely popular!  If you are just starting out and trying to build an audience, download my free worksheet on “5 Ways To Build Your Blog Traffic.”  So let’s get into why I don’t focus on blog traffic anymore!

1) Conversions are more important than traffic.  If you have over 3,000 people visiting your blog daily, but only 500 of them are actually consumers (the people that actually purchase items and click-through your links), you have a problem.  Your traffic is basically amounting to nothing. You need to focus on creating content that your unique audience will enjoy and benefit from because those are the people that value you what you are offering them on your blog.

2) Your blog is a tool, not a business model.  Although I am able to earn an income from blogging, I only use it as a tool for future endeavors.  Most of us will never be able to maintain the lifestyle that we desire solely off our blogs, like some mega-bloggers are able to do.  We have to think BIGGER!  My blog is the catalyst that helped me to use my skills and talents to create my own business opportunities.  I don’t view it as a serious source of income.  I focus on creating streams of income that don’t require me to work day and night because blogging is a non-stop grind!  Your blog is essentially your body of work and you should use it to be helpful, creative, and to pursue your entrepreneurial goals.

3) Once you identify your niche and core audience you will not have to worry about blog traffic.  You have to know who you are blogging for, and it is not everybody.  Once you have a clear idea of who your supporters are and what types of content they like, you will not have to worry about anything because they will continue to share your blog and promote you. Your core demographic will become a part of your tribe (supporting everything that you do). For example, my Beginners Blogging Course really sells itself.  Yeah, I post about it on social media, but that is to serve as a reminder and to inform new people that I offer blogging classes. The reviews from past participants and my loyal readers have catapulted my courses to success. This is the same thing that will happen when people fall in love with your blog.

So while I encourage you to continue to build your blog audience, I would not recommend that you look at that as your sole purpose for living.  You have gifts, talents, and skills that you should be providing.  Always make sure that your blog is aligned with your passion and your purpose and learn how to use it as a tool!  You will never lose this way.  Tweet me with your thougths!

How To Pitch Yourself To A Brand

You all may not know this, but in the past I never pitched my blog to brands.  I could say it is because I was able to figure out how to monetize on my own or that brands will reach out to you if you create quality content (and both would be true), but then I would only be telling you half of the truth.  The real reason was my PRIDE.  I don’t like to ask anyone for anything, but you know the saying, “Closed mouths don’t get feed.” I really prided myself in knowing that I could maintain a blog and create my own lane without begging brands to work with me (and I still feel that way sometimes), but now I realize that this has been one of my biggest blogging mistakes.

Reason 1:

Although I get contacted quite frequently to work with brands and small boutiques, I have been missing out and cutting myself off from possible collaborations.  Brands may not even know that I have a successful fashion blog that thousands of people visit every month.  There are so many blogs out there and it was naive to believe that everything would just fall into place without pitching.

Reason 2:

Blog collaborations give your blog more exposure! The number one thing that most bloggers want is more exposure.  We want the world to see how hard we work on our blogs and how much blood, sweat, and tears really go into maintaining a blog that you love.

Reason 3:

You’re missing out on opportunities to build your credibility and showcase yourself as a leader within your niche.  Popular bloggers are able to work with some of the best brands, attend events, and have more of a platform to monetize their blogs.  This does not apply to all blog niches, but in fashion, it does!  If you are not pitching blog collaborations to brands, you may be missing out on golden opportunities to  increase your income and blog traffic.  Plus, other brands will be more apt to work with you when they see you have a positive working history with other businesses.

How To Pitch

I believe there are a few key things to remember when trying to contact a brand, and a major question you should ask yourself is, “Am I Ready?”  If you do not have a regular blogging schedule, a well-designed blog, quality content, or have an audience that you interact with regularly (no matter what the size), you are not ready to reach out to brands.  So make sure you get those things straight first, but when you are ready, here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure that you study the brands that you want to work with on social media and try to build a relationship by re-posting and commenting, and using their products before you reach out to them.
  • Find the brand’s PR contact info and send an email (you can request this info).  I go deeper into this with my Blogging Bootcamp 2.0 class, but basically your email should include the following: why and how you want to collaborate, reasons why your blog is a good fit for the brand, media kit with statistics about your blog and readership, and expected results from the collaboration.
  • When pitching to a brand, there should be a clear understanding of who your audience is, what makes your blog unique, and what you expect the end results of the collaboration to be.

Partnering with a brand can give your blog the exposure that you need to go to the next level.  Don’t be desperate, but don’t be afraid to start pitching yourself to businesses and brands.  Don’t feel intimated by popular or well-known brands because they will work with you if they see the value in your blog and believe a collaboration would be profitable.  If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or tweet me.

 

Do You Want To Work With Brands?

If you have been wondering how brands and bloggers collaborate and the best practices for reaching out to brands, check out the amazing Google Hangout that I did with TV Personality & Style Expert Marcy Guevara.  We had an amazing conversation about the business of blogging, brands, and understanding how to pitch yourself.  Check it out below!

 

Blogging Bootcamp 2.0 Has Launched! Get Your Discount!

 

I have great news! After a successful round of my Blogging Bootcamp courses, I have now created Blogging Bootcamp 2.0.  You all wanted a more advanced course and that is just what I have done.

Blogging Bootcamp 2.0 is self-paced  e-course for intermediate bloggers that have already started a blog that is at least six months old, but you feel like your blog is not growing and expanding.  You may be unsure of your next blogging step, how to build your traffic, and use your blog as a source of income.  Now is the time to treat your blog like a business.

This class is broken down into 6 modules with online training videos, printables, resources, and access to a Blogger’s Mastermind group.  I have a special 15% off discount code for you if you enroll this week! Use the code: STARTNOW

Need more inspiration?  Take a look at what some of my past participants have to say about my courses! Register and get more information about Blogging Bootcamp 2.0 HERE.

Be Proud To Be An Underdog Blogger

Being a new blogger can be very frustrating.  The process can become very difficult when you are working hard trying to gain an audience for your blog, but no one seems to care.  Sometimes you may feel shut out and isolated, but remember it takes time to build relationships and for you blog to gain momentum.  Don’t give up!  Hard work always pays off and even though there are a lot of politics in the blogging world, your voice is unique and is needed.  Check out today’s video, where I share three reasons it’s good to be an underdog blogger!  Let me know what you think.