AROUND HERE…

BELLS LOVES CAR RIDES

We are off today!  I am so excited but I do believe my naughty Frenchie is more thrilled than either myself or my husband could ever be. She loves car rides, we walk by our car every day when we walk her and she always stops patiently at the car door hoping that she might get lucky and get a lift.  Just wait until she finds out we will be in the car for four days straight!  My husband and I have been dreaming out loud of what we will do when we get to ‘civilization’. Both of us agree that we can’t wait to order dinner in. Yes, that’s right we have not had delivery in over a year now being out here in the woods and it seems like such a huge luxury that we can not wait to indulge in. We also can’t wait to have a real working internet connection, something the rest of the globe takes for granted, I shall be forever grateful for an internet connection that doesn’t time out every other second. Cable, we were laughing that we won’t be able to do any site seeing in our new city because we will be too busy catching up on all the cable shows we missed and ordering in take-out. Ah, the simple things in life.  I will just be so happy to be able to see people, it’s amazing how much you miss other humans when you are so far removed from them. So I guess we are a party of delighted folk + fauna heading out West!

And now around here on the beautiful interwebs…

Lettering genius Jon Contino popped by to let us know that his class at Skillshare will be archived, so I can take it and so can you, even if you can’t start it today!

Have you been reading Domaine Home?  It’s a fun lifestyle/interior site brought to you by a former Domino staffer. I also have been enjoying Chalkboard mag, a great read for anyone that is trying to be more green + healthy without becoming ‘granola’.

I am a devoted fan of make-up artist Kara of Maskara she has been on fire with her beauty posts lately, she has a great one for make-up for girls with glasses and a beautiful easy fresh-faced beauty look here.

Missing Polaroid photographs? Me too.  Printic is a new service that prints your Instgram photos into the nostalgic square Polaroid shape + free delivery!

Enjoy your day as will I (thoroughly). I have never been to any of the places we are driving through so I am exited to be able to see more of our beautiful country, hopefully the Frenchie won’t get car sick again like she did on the first leg of our trip coming out East. Nothing like traveling in a car with a sick bull dog when it’s 100+ outside and you have to have the windows rolled up for the air.

P.S. This was set for Monday and launched on Saturday, so much for technology and being prepared, eh?

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER PART V

walt disney quote

I am back to wrap up this series on Becoming a Successful Blogger!  Now that you know how to put all the basics together you will want to know how to start generating an income, right? This is not a conclusive list but I think it will be a great start to finding ways to start making an income from your blog. Missed one in the series? You can find them here:Part I, II, III, IIII.

GOOGLE ADSENSE

These are easy to incorporate into your blog, but may not be the most aesthetically beautiful. Once you upload them to your site the ads will start generating based on your content or what your visitor was previously searching for. For a new blogger it is probably one of the fastest ways to implement a way to start reaping the benefits of blogging. You can learn how it works here.

AFFILIATE LINKS

I love how subtle affiliate links are, they don’t effect your design and they make sense for multiple types of bloggers.  An affiliate link is when you link to a product in your blog post and receive a small commission for it.  One of the biggest affiliate programs is Amazon. In the state of North Carolina where I currently live you can not become an affiliate, but it is available in most every state.  When I was living in California they had stopped the affiliate program but have since reinstated it (so check if your state qualifies). You do have to list a disclaimer on your blog in most countries if you decide to use affiliate links. I like Amazon and I mention it here because it is a reliable and established company that carries just about everything so it will be easy to incorporate for design bloggers, mommy bloggers, craft bloggers, etc. You would be surprised how many times you are promoting an item or asked about an item and are linking to it without potential compensation. Even though the commission is minute (4%) it can add up. I believe that if you are linking legitimate items that make sense with your post that most people reading will have no problem that you are making a small commission. In fact it is a wonderful + easy way for individuals to support your blog. This blogger has made over 400k with his Amazon affiliate program!

RSTYLE

Rstyle is aimed at style bloggers but if you are already doing style posts on a regular basis and linking to retailers such as Anthropologie than why not earn a small commission from it? It is the same concept as the Amazon affiliate links above but you can also link photos.

DONATE BUTTONS

Paypal has a donate button code that you can embed on your site.  This may seem a little tacky but I have seen a couple blogs that write a charming quip such as ‘if you liked this please consider buying me a cup of coffee’. The donate button is great for blogs that often give freebies away such as The Coffeshop blog.

PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTIONS

Some blogs will have a monthly/yearly subscription option which allows readers access to premium content.  You can set this up via Paypal as well. Most subscriptions are priced relatively fairly and if you are visiting a blog daily and utilizing their resources why not invest?  It allows the blog to continue to create even better content and possibly grow to hire other experts to make the blog even better. PSD Tutes is a good example, so is Hello Bee which has a premium subscription service as well. Of course, I am not saying to have people pay to read your blog, but if you offer some other premium information that you feel has value and can be monetized, than it may be a good route for you to get your blog on the road to monetization.

AD NETWORKS

You will need to have a certain number of daily visits before you can approach an ad network. Most companies are already to capacity with bloggers so your blog better be getting lots of love before you consider approaching. I tried to get you sample numbers but couldn’t find them easily for you. Last I spoke to a pal that was with a network they were requesting 3k-4k visitors per day (some more) to qualify. Here are some ad networks to check out when you get to that level-here, here, and here.

 SPONSORED ADS

My feeling on this is that I don’t feel the side banner ads work. I have never once clicked on an ad on a blogger’s side bar.  I have placed ads on a few blogs but didn’t feel the results warranted the fee. I love to support blogs I enjoy reading but I think there are other ways I can do so instead of my placing ads not in my budget. If you want return sponsors than you need to figure out more creative ways to get your sponsors exposure.

SPONSORED POSTS

I think it is fine to have a post sponsored by a company if it is a post that allows you to write the same content as you usually do.  I don’t know how well those posts perform for an advertiser/sponsor, but at least you get to maintain the integrity of your blog.  Where I see a problem with a sponsored post is when the sponsor/advertiser writes it. Most readers will skip over it, which is a complete waste for your sponsor also most readers will be turned off which will effect your return visit rate.

QUICK SEO TIPS

SEO stands for search engine optimization.  I mentioned that there are sites that post multiple times a day, this is important for search engines to find you because it means you are updating your site regularly and it shows that you are a relevant resource. Of course you don’t have to write multiple times a day, but seriously if you are going to try to compete with mega blogs like Design Sponge than you better start ramping up those posts.

Make the titles of your blog posts SEO friendly.  I used to come up with clever + cheeky titles for my blog posts, but I had the good fortune to work at a place that hired a top notch SEO expert and he explained the importance of creating SEO savvy titles for the post.  For some reason it seems that when posts have numbers in it, it gets higher rankings when you are searching. The more specific the better. So instead of writing “AWESOME CRAFT RESOURCES’ as your blog title you should write ‘5 AWESOME PAPER RESOURCES’.  It’s a minor tweak that could start getting more eyes on your blog. I notice a lot of the bigger blogs don’t do this so hopefully this will be something that can give you a little traction to get your blog noticed faster!

I hope you have enjoyed this series, I move cross country on Monday so I have some special lettering goodness lined up for you next week! Please let me know if you have had any experience with any of the above or disagree with me on any of my points (like side bar ads). I am always curious to learn your perspective!

P.S. A huge thank you to Jules for helping me with a frantic last minute email on ad networks!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER PART IIII

winston churchill quote besottedI accidentally deleted my brilliant part iiii post, so I am sitting here in a panic hoping the re-write will be just as brilliant. Word to the wise take good notes prior to writing your opus. This series has painted broad strokes and there is a lot of minute detail that I won’t be covering but I do feel the points I covered will set you on the right course to blogging success.

BUILDING A COMMUNITY

Once you have your url, your theme, your gorgeous + easy to navigate design, your original content that can’t be found elsewhere, a consistent schedule and perhaps the added contributing posts to a larger site it’s time to build your community. I have to be honest I don’t like to refer to my visitors as readers, because I feel like the individuals that stop here are much more, community feels a bit more apropos, since that conveys a sense of  unity and the coming together of like minds. ‘Readers’ feels too detached and I don’t want that and hopefully as the successful blogger you are going to become neither will you.

Let me just preface this by saying if the above mentioned isn’t in place than trying to build a community that will garner you the ability to translate your hard work into an income is going to be futile. I also believe in being authentic, people are smart if they think you are trying to get them to visit because you are just trying to build stats you are not going to get anywhere. There is no reason why being authentic + successful can’t go hand in hand, you need to add value to your potential future visitors. What do you offer that your competition doesn’t? What information do you have that you can share that will be a benefit to individuals that visit? Always remember this is the information super highway most people search and find you based on the type of information they are wanting to discover, most people will come back if you can keep doing so.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Oh, sigh, this is so tough. I feel like I barely have time to write a blog let alone trying to woo people here via social media and that feels icky to me anyway. If you have an affinity for certain social media outlets than by all means use them, it goes back to being authentic, I think it will absolutely be transparent if you are using social media for inauthentic purposes. I don’t enjoy Facebook so I don’t use it, I do love Pinterest so I spend time there and in turn people organically can find me here. When I am traveling I use Instagram often and I do visit daily (some amazing talent), Twitter I update daily but I find that I can fall down the rabbit hole with that one so I ration my time there. Most of the big bloggers use one or all of these social media outlets, you rarely will see them hocking their blog, Dooce will usually have witty quips on Twitter that will have you wanting to visit her. Ez of Creature Comforts is one of the best Pinners around and it sure does get your interest peaked on what else she has going on. What I am trying to get at is use these mediums but do so earnestly and you should reap the benefits.

BUSINESS CARDS

It’s so inexpensive to get a business card these days and you’d most likely have one made for your new business so I think if you want to make blogging your business you should really consider having one made.  I think this very tiny step will help legitimize what you are trying to accomplish on line.

EDITING YOURSELF

You’ve heard the expression ‘do as I say not as I do’ right? Heed my warning here. I was fired from a job because I wrote something I thought was innocuous on my blog. There is a fine line between sharing and being honest about your experience and over sharing. Before you press publish ask yourself if you can live the rest of your life with what you just wrote and would you be okay with it in the future if someone like your employer, spouse, child, friends, etc, were to read it. I like that blogs are personal, that’s what sets them apart from other media such as newspapers or magazines, etc. I love the first person perspective but remember this is a public forum so choose your words wisely.

Most successful blogs are well written or at the very least well edited. I go over my posts multiple times, I know grammar is not my forte (something I hope to rectify; I suggest this book) but I do try to check and re-check spelling mistakes. You don’t need to be verbose, it’s fine to make your posts short + sweet, in fact for most individuals reading it is preferred.

Tomorrow I shall wrap this up, I will discuss both SEO + sponsors as promised and I’ll try to not delete my post. If you have questions or want to add to the conversation please do so below, I always love hearing from you!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER PART III

shoot for the moon quoteI hope you aren’t too burned out by all this blogging talk this week. I have been wanting to address this for a while since I get so many emails asking me to help and I would love to answer everyone individually, I pinky swear I would, but it’s not always possible and I am awful with my email organization (I am open to any suggestions on this). Shall we embark on part iii of our discussion? Are you feeling like this is possible?  I do believe it is!

EDUCATE YOURSELF

You don’t go to a foreign country and expect to speak the native language on your first day there, than why are you flogging yourself for starting a blog and not knowing how to make it a success in as equally short of time span?  If you were realistic you would have taken some classes prior to your trip and maybe immersed yourself in the language before hand.

Before you launch your blog take some classes, if you already have your blog launched you can still take classes to make it better. A class I recommend because it has good basic info in it and even better networking is Blogging your way. It’s on the more expensive spectrum of blogging classes and sells out very quickly, but it is a great course. A Beautiful Mess offers very affordable blogging classes on-line, self paced.  I haven’t taken one but they run a very successful blog so I am thinking it would be a good investment and worth your time. Pro Blogger, it’s more masculine (read maybe not as visually ‘pretty’ as some of the other blogs you visit) but Darren Rowse the creator is a blogging powerhouse, not only is Pro Blogger a huge success so are all his other ventures such as his Digital Photography School which started out as a blog and blew up into a mega site with millions of daily visits. If you want to go pro than I think reading Darren’s posts and book offer access to a mega blogging entity, he’s very transparent with his sharing and you can easily see why he is such a success.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Blogging is a visual medium, if your intention is to use photographs which I am pretty sure it is then choose wisely.  99% of the photographs on this here blog are original and shot by yours truly. When I started blogging I used a tiny point & shoot camera which now most camera phones would probably trump in quality. It is not the equipment that will make you a better photographer, but knowing how to use the camera you have access to. There are millions (I don’t even think I am exaggerating) photography resources, but a great Photo 101 class is offered at Nicole’s Classes, it will teach you the fundamentals of getting a great capture. I also have many photography resources in The Directory. If you are working a full-time job and can’t take photographs until after dark I wrote this post for you. Ideally? If you are blogging for business then find a day you can shoot multiple posts so you will have them at the ready. It takes so long to set-up a shoot and edit that you might as well carve some dedicated time so your posts will look as pro as possible.

Let’s discuss briefly using photographs that are not yours.  For many, many years I did a post every Monday that featured cute animals (preferably of the baby variety). I stopped doing that post when I found it increasingly more difficult to source  photo credit. I recommend you read this cautionary tale of a hobby blogger that got sued for using a photo without permission. I wouldn’t suggest using a photograph from another blogger if it can be avoided (remember that whole being original speech I gave?), but if you are aching to, then follow their guidelines (which are usually clearly outlined) or send them an email asking permission before you do. Personally I don’t care if my photographs are used as long as I am given credit + a link, but I do know a lot of bloggers will not be happy and you don’t want to go around alienating potential allies.

COLLABORATION

I am going to throw this one out there as a suggestion since I rarely see it being done with smaller blogs but I think it’s a great idea to consider if you are wanting to build a blog as a business. If you are a great writer + researcher but are a horrible photographer or graphic artist why not find someone that will partner with you so you can share the blog and build the most beautiful + interesting blog around?  The partnership doesn’t have to be so yin & yang either maybe you want to start a blog have a great concept but fear you won’t be able to dedicate the time necessary to build it into the success you know it could be, why not reach out to a couple other like minded individuals and build the blog together? This could be a disaster of course but it could also be brilliant, each of you contributing a focused post on a category that you have a passion for.  As long as it was cohesive I don’t know why this wouldn’t work. Blogging can be lonely behind the scenes I think it would be great to have a partner to collaborate with, especially with something like DIY posts where you could use (usually literally) an extra set of hands. Pooling funds together could also be a pro for this concept so you can hire a great designer + coder to build a beautiful brand from launch.

CONTRIBUTING

Being a contributing editor or doing a guest post on a larger blog/site is an excellent way to get your name out there and get you/your blog noticed. Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day already had a successful blog up & running when she started contributing to Project Wedding.  If there is a larger blog/site that you admire that you feel you could create beautiful and original content for and they are already working with contributors send them an email with a link to your work. You really only have the one chance to impress them so make sure you re-read your email and show them your best work. Same goes for a contributing post submit something that will knock their socks off. I recently got asked to do a d.i.y. for a large wedding blog I admire, after I shot + laid out the entire post I emailed the editor and told her I didn’t think it was good enough, I wanted it to be WOW and it wasn’t. I wouldn’t have done that if they were on deadline, but I wanted to be honest. I also know that I only have that one chance to make a good impression (as do you) so if you are going to be a contributor make sure it is something that you would stop and read, pass on to a friend, pin, etc.

SOME NO-NO’S

Don’t apologize for disappearing and don’t disappear. If you want this to succeed than you are going to need to be prepared for all worse case scenarios. Have posts done in advanced, that’s right load those posts up.  If you are only blogging once or twice a week than those posts will be done in no time flat. You can always go back in and update or edit.

I’ve already reminded myself to zip it on the complaints that includes the ‘I am so busy’ excuse. See above about having a full queue of posts.  As a small business owner I can’t just not show up for weeks on end and then open shop and say I was too busy to get to work. Yes, there’s legitimate excuses for everything, but in the blogosphere you can lose your readership faster than you can press publish on your posts, so be prepared my soon-to-be successful blogger, be prepared!

Tomorrow we can discuss editing yourself, SEO and sponsors!

P.S. Some sound advice from Andrea of For the Love of on blog envy & dealing with it positively.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER PART II

planning quote besotted blogAnd we are back for part deux on becoming a successful blogger!  Although this series is aimed at individuals that want to make blogging their profession, I do think a lot of the information will work for us individuals that blog as a hobby or blog as a companion to their business (ie. for updates or behind the scenes, etc.), the basic principles will apply. If you missed part I you can find it here.

CONSISTENCY

I tell everyone that asks me about blogging this.  It is one of my top 5 tips for having a successful blog–being consistent. Of all those thousands of people that have asked for my precious droplets of knowledge how many have listened?  I think that number may be hovering at zero. These are the same people that are wondering why they haven’t had throngs of readers blowing up their stats, or haven’t been offered a book deal or had a large sponsor try to woo them.  If you are not consistent you are not going to make it to the higher ranks of the blogosphere. You don’t need to blog every day either, if you only blog once a week, then make sure it is the same time/day the following week.  This minimal blogging is perfect for the person that is running a business and just wants to do an update on say a new design they are working on.  Can you be successful with just one post a week?  I don’t see why not as long as your post is freakin’ awesome, make people want to come back. Yes, there are blogs that are popular + make money that don’t blog on a regular basis but when they do post their posts are so interesting or  ‘pinnable’ that they will garner attention driving readers to the site, one such blog is P.S. I made this. There are also many blogs turned mega sites like Design Sponge that post 5-6 times per day.  When I discuss SEO you will know why this helps your search engine optimization.

PLAN YOUR POSTS

I used to think writing posts on the fly was just my ‘style’, and was more creative but actually it just proves that I am a world class procrastinator. When I decided at the beginning of the year to put together a calendar of posts (in the ‘biz’ they call it an editorial calendar) my blogging life became exponentially less stressful and in turn more creative. I can’t recommend this enough not only will your readers have an idea of what to look forward to, but  you have time to do much better research on said subject. Do I deviate from my set categories? Yes, I do but rarely, most of the time I keep to a schedule. So, for practical purposes an example would be Thursday’s here are my Lettering Love posts, I know that some readers only stop by that day for them, which is fine by me I love that they are welcomed posts. I really believe if you are going to take this seriously as a business you are going to need to put some forethought into the process, sorry to break it to you but there is going to be a lot of work involved. Good news if this is your hobby blog you can still plan ahead, a hobby should be relaxing and not be a chore, don’t put undue stress on yourself.

RESEARCH

Know your market & know your competition. When I work on a branding project with a  product based client I ask them what products they envision their brand sitting next to in a shop. I can immediately tell if they are being unrealistic and also what it will take to get them to their goal. Do you know what blogs yours will be in good company with? That may become a great ally? That have a similar tone (perhaps same readers) but you both are creating your own wonderful + unique content? Are there blogs out there that are at your level that may be potential competition? Ask yourself constantly what you can do differently, what will make you better?  For a hobby blogger this isn’t a big deal, ignorance is bliss, but for those wanting to go pro this is just good business sense to know what is out there, what is getting a good response and figuring out what content you can create that will be an enhancement to readers. No one likes to read the same blog posts on different blogs (taking your own photos and re-wording does not count), readers have very little time so give them something new and interesting and they will return.

CONTENT IS KEY

Once you have figured out the theme of your blog than you’re going to need to work on content.  Remember, if you are trying to break into an already saturated market such as say food blogging really sit down and figure out what is unique about your entry into this category. I think Roost is a sublime example of this, the creator Caitlin’s food photography is always styled to the nines + her images are all frame worthy, she has a unique take on her recipes having worked tirelessly to create delicious food for her husband that was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (eliminating all sugar, grain and processed foods). In a super saturated market she stands out because she created a space that was different from what was available, she filled a niche and she is original. Be original.

Write about what you love. If you love something it is so much easier to wax poetic about it.  I only write about what I love and what I am excited about sharing. There may come a time when a large sponsor wants to write their own content for your blog and what are you going to say? No thank you, but thank you, right?  We’ll discuss sponsors in the near future but your goal for a future sponsor is to garner positive attention for them and for your readers your goal is to provide wonderful + authentic content,  posts written by sponsors are usually a lose lose for everyone that includes the blogger you may get paid but without results that sponsor is not coming back and I bet neither are a bunch of your loyal readers.

I shall be back tomorrow with a few more tips. I will discuss classes, photographs, editing yourself  and some no-no’s. Feel free to add your experience to the conversation below or ask any questions.

P.S. Blogging superstar Joanna Goddard has a great post on Blogging as a career.

P.P.S I love how Nicole summed it up so concisely here. She also has a post on how she took her blog from a hobby to a job.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.