Have you ever left an event, a class, or even a webinar floating on a high because you feel so inspired? That’s how I felt last night, furiously typing away at Kings Cross station after an amazing day at the Career Girl Academy.
Held at The Apartment inside The Hoxton Hotel, Holborn, the Career Girl Academy was a ticket-only masterclass on blogging and how to take your site to the next level, created by the team behind Career Girl Daily.
With an introductory talk from co-founders Celina Fairbairn, Lois Milan and managing editor Beth Macdonald, the day was filled with incredible inspiration, advice and Q&A’s with industry leaders such as Chloe Watts, the founder (and ultimate girl boss) behind tech and strategy support system for style publishers, Chloe Digital. If you’re unfamiliar with Chloe Digital, then head on over to discover the empire Watts has grown, in an industry more traditionally dominated by the male species.
Covering everything from the secrets to creating online strategies, to discussing ways of making money via social media and affiliate marketing, I took away so many snippets of useful advice, I thought I’d be a good egg and share for you guys to read.
1. Strategise From The Beginning
Listening to Celina and Beth talk about how they developed Career Girl Daily into the brand it is today, it was clear to see these entrepreneurs knew from the get-go they wanted to create a business. Writing up to seven posts a day each when they began their journey, they made sure CGD was constantly refreshed when readers logged on, their content was promoted in the right places and the content was relevant to their target audience of career women and women looking to get on the career ladder. They made mistakes like everyone but worked together on their strengths to make the site the best they could, and after two years of working pretty much night and day, potential sponsors started to come on board and they could expand their team. It really hit home how strategic you need to be if taking your blog to the next level is on your hit-list.
2. Analyse Your Content
Which of your blog and social media posts are receiving the most engagement? By engagement, I mean likes, comments, shares etc. See what’s working with those posts in comparison to less popular ones and start creating more of the winning content. It sounds simple doesn’t it, but I don’t do that and I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years. For so long I’ve blogged about what I love and if you guys commented and shared, then even better. Another useful point to note is, you can also create content around trending topics by looking on Google Trends, keyword planner and a new tool to me, Buzzsumo, which gives you all the trending topics in your niche.
3. Tone Of Voice
To grow your blog successfully you need to really craft your tone of voice. Are you talking to your readers as if they were your best friend? Relatable and with humour? Or are you the older sister, giving advice but still relatable as you make mistakes along the way? Or perhaps you’re the older aunt with an authoritative but likeable tone? Once you work out how you want to talk to your readers, stay consistent throughout your blog posts and social media so people know what to expect from you. I like to think I’m like the older sister, sharing things you might not know but definitely making mistakes along the way.
4. Content is King
The above saying really is true – content is king. Have editorial meetings – even if it’s just with you, yourself and I – every two weeks and plan your content for the fortnight ahead so you know what you need to shoot, what you need to create by what time, if you have any events/travels etc that could be worked into your editorial calendar. It’s also advisable to look at a three month spread and see what dates could create potential post ideas such as Easter, Valentines Day, National Stationery Week, Milan Design Week etc. Frequency really is one of the most fundamental elements of creating a successful blog, and even though you might not have the time to write seven posts a day like the CGD girls did in the beginning, make sure your audience knows that you’ll be posting every single Tuesday and Thursday. Also, another helpful snippet of content advice from Chloe Watts included thinking about your categories first and not as an afterthought. If you cover fashion, travel and food, for example, make sure you post about each of these throughout the week to keep content fresh. You could also create a series such “Three Ways To…”, or interviews with people who could potentially inspire your readers.Why not share personal stories and allow your audience to relate to you even more, or tackle a widely written about topic but with your own twist? Another great tip was to turn your title into a list, such as “10 Ways To…”, and always use digits instead of the actual word ten. Use top words to make titles sound catchy such as “smart, surprising, key and must-have” – “10 Must-Have French Beauty Products”, for example. And finally, for SEO purposes, make sure your post is at least 300 words long.
5. Being Human is the Key to Instagram
With so many changes to Instagram it seems so hard to grow your following in a genuine and honest way recently, doesn’t it? I find it really difficult to post content, engage with followers, like other feeds, comment, and still find out that I’ve lost 14 followers overnight for no reason at all. The key is to be human, make sure your content is real and showing real snaps of your life, all the while staying “on brand” (are drunk pictures from your late night trip to Dixie Chicken screaming HIRE ME! to anyone other than fried chicken brands?). Talk to your readers and ask them to share their stories with you. Make sure you reply to your comments and get a conversation started. Another point the girls at social media agency Born Social made was to consider Instagram Live, so you build a following with your ace personality and not just your perfectly curated feed. You don’t need to have thousands of followers to work with brands, especially if you have a high engagement rate (to find out your engagement rate on Instagram for instance, you can work it out on this site) – it’s about how much influence you have over the people that are viewing your content. One point to remember though – if you’re being paid to promote a post you absolutely have to add some kind of disclaimer in, whether it be #ad, #spon or “partnered with”. If it’s a free gift, however, you don’t need to declare this.
6. Sell Yourself
If you’re sending your media pack out to potential sponsors, then make sure they have every single reason as to why to work with you listed right there in from of them – from page impressions to your social media engagement rate, key demographics across your site and social media platforms to what you can do for their brand and why they will benefit from partnering with you and your blog. You also need to add your pricing structure so the brand knows from the off if they can afford to add your costs into their budget. Don’t make them have to email you to ask questions because they might just not bother.
7. Collaborate and Grow Your Team
If you’re looking to grow your team then reach out to like-minded bloggers and see how you can work together. Would you consider taking on contributing writers, or guest posts from other bloggers in your field? It not only takes off some of the pressure off writing content when you need to be out shooting pictures or networking, but this way you’re growing into a fully fledged company rather than a one-man band.
8. Don’t Underestimate Your Worth as a MicroBlogger
I think the biggest lesson of the day is to not underestimate yourself as microblogger, especially if you’re sat at home feeling low because your numbers aren’t growing as fast as you’d hope. Be consistent, be yourself and the opportunities will come. You have to work hard, put your all into it, but now is our time fellow microbloggers. Brands are looking for authentic blogs, with honest voices and an engaged following, whether that’s 1000 or 100,000. Blog because you love to blog, not because you want to get rich or get free stuff.
I hope you found some of these points as useful as I did. After nearly ten years blogging, I’m finally feeling like I’m creating a business rather than a blog, and I couldn’t be more excited. I might have taken a long way around, but I’m getting there. I’d love to know how you see your blog developing over the next year, or what you want to work on to see even more growth?