29 March 2013, 10:54
For the last ten weeks, I’ve been writing about blogging, giving my tips on how to make the most of your little corner of the blogosphere. I headed over to Facebook to ask my babes what I hadn’t yet addressed. This question stood out to me…
What about someone who’s struggling to start and getting caught up on things like the name of the blog, etc.?
My answer? Just begin. Perfectionism is procrastination.
Way back in 2006, I started my blog on a terrible platform, with a banner I’d handwritten, and a name — iCiNG — that didn’t mean much. I didn’t know what it would become or where it would take me, I just knew that I wanted to do it, and I wanted to enjoy myself as I did it.
I didn’t even read blogs when I started mine… And I think that has been an advantage. The more you compare yourself to others, the more you seem to come up short. The more you take in from everyone else, the more their influence starts to creep in. And the more you read, the more your work starts to look and feel like everyone else’s.
That’s the thing with the start of any story: you can never possibly know where you’ll end up. When you open a door, you don’t know what effect that will have on your life a year from now. That’s the fantastic and terrifying thing about life — no guarantees.
So, my sweet procrastinator: pluck a name out of thin air. Choose a couple of colours that don’t make you want to puke. Buy a domain, install Wordpress, and just get going!
You can spend hours “gathering inspiration” (also known as pinning recipes and DIYs that you’ll never get around to). You can agonise over the perfect colour-scheme, or the snappiest slogan.
But you know what? Some of the best websites have silly names or hideous colour schemes. When it comes down to it, what matters is your content. If you’re writing drivel, the fanciest template won’t encourage people to stick around. But if you’re writing rich, smart, compelling, unusual stuff, then even a flashing gif won’t keep people away.
Of course, once your writing is up to scratch, you can start fluffing around with templates, creating more of a brand for yourself, networking and doing the other million things that will take your blog from zero to superhero. But you can’t do any of those things until you START.
I know how easy it is to get tied up in the planning stages. You um and ah over every small decision, wondering what the longterm effects will be if your URL has a hyphen in it. You dither around with colours, fonts and business cards — never-mind the fact that you don’t even have a business yet! This whole process is so common, in fact, that it has a name: analysis paralysis.
The best branding in the world means nothing if you don’t have anything for your audience to read once they find you.
It doesn’t matter what decision you make, all that matters is that you make one. In fact, any decision is the right one, as long as you start working towards it today.
There’s a fantastic Chinese proverb which goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Get it, girl!
22 March 2013, 09:43
Hey, blogger babe: this is part nine of a ten-part series on blogging! (How is it almost over already?!) You can read my other tips on the subject by clicking on the blogging tag... And you can learn from me in person on The Blogcademy World Tour!
As Notorious B.I.G. might say if he had a Tumblr, “Bloggin’ ain’t easy, but it sure is fun!”
In life, the only constant is change. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, things are always in a state of flux. For example, if you’re a writer, the playing field looks different from day to day. New words are being pushed into the vocabulary all the time, there are trends in writing styles and subjects, and even the Oxford comma was given the old heave-ho!
Blogging is no different, and because it’s still such a young industry, this is even more true. The blogosphere is being refined and transformed every day, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in gigantic jumps.
Just think about this time last year online. (If you find that difficult, check what you posted on this day in 2012!) Even in that short time, advertising networks, genres of blogging and design trends have switched hands, been revamped, or completely evolved.
If you don’t know what’s new on the horizon, it’s all too easy to get left behind.
Okay, I can already hear some of you saying that you don’t have time to do this… But I beg to differ. Bloggers are notorious for faffing around online — let’s not kid ourselves! So take some of those moments you would otherwise be pinning up a storm, and do a bit of research!
There are oodles of blogs about blogging — read them! Problogger and Hubspot are two of my favourites, but a lot of bloggers are writing “how to blog”-type content now, too. Keeping up with these blogs is an easy and quick way to stay ahead of the curve.
There are also lots of courses, seminars and workshops to help you update and improve your skills. I went to my first one in 2008, with Shauna. We headed to Las Vegas, with no idea what was in store for us! Back then, these events were very male-centric, and mostly attended by a bunch of middle-aged dudes wanting to learn all they could about SEO. (Yawn!) Suffice to say, we had more fun gallivanting around the Strip than we did in the conference centre.
Mercifully, the tide has turned, & now there are a slew of fun, enjoyable & educational events that are very gal-friendly. Alt Summit is a fantastic two-day conference in Salt Lake City, Blogshop is a Photoshop course & The Blogcademy, well, I can’t recommend that highly enough! (Wink wink, nudge nudge!)
If you can’t quite swing the cost of a full workshop or conference, there are a lot of lower-price events available, too. For example, next week my fellow headmistresses and I are holding a live Q&A session where we’ll be answering blogging questions. It’s only $7 — bargain! It’s your chance to get a little taste of the Blogcademy experience, and have your questions answered at the same time!
There are plenty of books available, too. Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho is a great place to start, and I’ve also really enjoyed ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income and Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row- The Insider’s Guide to Turning Your Fashion Blog into a Profitable Business and Launching a New Career, Vol. 1 (but heads up, I contributed to or was featured in both of ‘em!).
There is information swirling around us all the time. If you want to know how to make the most of your blog, or if you simply want to know what the next chevron/neon/macaron will be, you simply have to look around at what’s already out there and get readin’!
Stay in school!
19 March 2013, 06:57
This year, The Blogcademy goes truly international. What started out as an experiment exploded into three sold-out classes in New York and London… And now, we’re expanding across the world!
We’re hittin’ the road, Jack! We’ve planned our dates for 2013, and we’ll be kicking up a turquoise tornado in…
Cleaners at The Ace Hotel
Location to be confirmed
YEAH BABY! I am so excited about all of the dates but I am particularly psyched to bring Shauna and Kat to my home, New Zealand! AHHHH!
As always, we’re offering an earlybird special for the first three days, so be sure to snap up your ticket! (Remember, our first class in London sold out in 24 hours!)
We’re also pleased to announce one scholarship prize for each city. All you need to do is post your entry on our Facebook page up to one month before the date of your chosen event. There is more information about the scholarship at the end of our FAQ!
Don’t know what I’m talking about? The Blogcademy is a two-day bootcamp for blogger babes. You can read all about our curriculum, get answers to your frequently asked questions, read some testimonials and watch a video all about it!
Man, we are SO EXCITED to see you… I can’t wait to give you a huge hug!
It’s going to be a big year of travel for your intrepid headmistresses… I’m already mentally packing my hot pink suitcase! I am loving the thought of touching down in all these fantastic cities!
A lot of you have asked if we’ll ever make The Blogcademy available online, & the answer is no, simply because what makes The Blogcademy so special is the physical bringing together of people. But we appreciate that there are a lot of you who would love to come along and can’t.
For this reason, in Portland, the three of us will be doing a live online Q&A session, in which we’ll answer all your burning blogging questions! It’s the best way we could think of to bring ourselves right into your living room, and address the questions you really want answered.
Wednesday March 27th 2013
1pm PST / 4pm EST / 8pm GMT
(9am on the 28th in New Zealand!)
Tickets are $7, and if you can’t watch it live, don’t worry: your ticket gives you access to the recording forever!
Even better than that, we’re giving away a Blogcademy goodie bag to one lucky viewer! Inside, you’ll find some sparkly bunny ears courtesy of Crown And Glory, some treats from IF Ladies, awesome shoe clips from Head Full Of Feathers, jewellery from Moorea Seal and so much more… You’ll even get your very own copy of the exclusive workshop magazine, which is packed full of inspirational articles and activities to get you and your blog in tip-top shape! Everyone who buys a ticket will be in to win the goodie bag, so… You know. Get on that!
Ah, so much exciting news. Love it! I can’t wait to see you (both in person and digitally!), and of course, if you have any questions, please do tweet us!
15 March 2013, 08:58
Photo by Brooke Davis.
Hey, blogger babe: this is part eight of a ten-part series all about this crazy thing we call the blogosphere. You can read the others by clicking on the blogging tag! Enjoy!
Hello! Good morning. I’d like to start off today’s column with a multiple choice question.
How do you think the A-list bloggers got to the top of the game?
A) They asked everyone around them for their opinion and advice all the time;
B) They met a blogger guru who told them the secret to SEO and passive income;
C) They watched what everyone else did and copied them;
D) They hustled their ass off. They tried plenty of things and made plenty of mistakes. They didn’t ask people silly questions — they used Google, instead. They listened to other people’s opinions selectively. They did what they felt to be right.
Hopefully, you picked D. You did pick D, didn’t you?!
In life, a lot of people want to be spoonfed; they can’t do anything for themselves. These people will never be successful at their chosen pursuit because they are too afraid to strike out and make their own moves.
Being successful is not about following the rules, being politically correct and kissing everyone’s ass. It’s about making hard choices and being unpopular sometimes. It’s tough, and that’s why most people straggle along, never rising to the top of their game.
Sure, as a blogger, you could do what everyone else is doing. You could try to put your spin on someone else’s advice; you could imitate someone else’s street style. You could rip off someone else’s video format, or knock together a trendy blog design.
All of that stuff is a waste of time.
Of course, there is always plenty to learn: new ideas, tips and tricks; writing skills to improve; networking to do and tactics to brush up on. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — there is a wealth of information out there which you can absorb and use to your advantage. But you can ask all the right questions, take all the classes and sign up for all the e-courses, and it doesn’t amount to anything unless you take some real, decisive action.
There is one crucial element that no one can teach you: to take initiative. You are either a self-starter or you aren’t.
If you want to be successful, you have to make people sit up and take notice of you. If you’re not comfortable in the spotlight, it’s safe to say that blogging is probably not for you. With attention comes scrutiny, and it takes the thickest of skins to deal with that on a daily basis. But if you love the limelight? Dive on in, the water’s fine.
If you really want to thrive in this environment, you have to relentlessly push the envelope. You have to try new things. You have to post pieces that make you feel a little nervous or sick to the stomach. You have to be prepared to take it where no one else will.
When it comes to blogging, you have to embrace your weirdness! Click to tweet!
Photo by Lisa Devlin.
Remember what I said a couple of weeks ago? You have to go your own way. As proof of concept, my site is not like anyone else’s, and I love that. I am often imitated, but never duplicated, and I cannot be pigeonholed. I march to my own fabulous drum, and I dance to my disco beats, and I put sparkles on that shit and I make it my own.
I change things all the time. I try new tactics. I experiment by writing about different topics in different ways. Some of it doesn’t work, but some of it does. In any industry, you have to be constantly innovating in order to stay fresh and relevant. Don’t be fooled into thinking blogging is any different.
You will never make a name for yourself by pretending to be someone else. You will never carve out a niche by playing it safe. You will never make the grade if you never try anything new.
Get out there and rip the pants off the internet! Shock us stupid! Do something devastatingly brilliant. Give us what we didn’t even know we needed.
8 March 2013, 12:46
Hey, blogger babe: this is part eight of a ten-part series! Phew, we’re almost done! If you want to read the other pieces, just click on the blogging tag! And of course, if you have any questions or things you’d like me to address, hop on over to my Facebook page!
The best thing about being a blogger is that you get to create any kind of content you want, on a schedule which suits you, as often or as infrequently as you like. The worst thing? Sometimes an overdose of Pinterest, Twitter and other peoples’ blogs can clog up your brain… In a bad way.
So this week’s tip is a simple one. All I want to do is encourage you to leave the house this weekend.
Slide your camera into your handbag and go out to see something different. Wrangle your friend into taking a roadtrip, ride your bike through a new neighbourhood, or go out dancing. Sit in the park and soak up some sunshine, make conversation with strangers, or finally visit some of those places you have bookmarked on Yelp!
(If you’re in New York City especially, there is no excuse to stay inside! It’s going to be 50 degrees and gorgeous!)
The best ideas come to you when you’re fully engaged with life; when you’re experiencing something new, or taking a walk. That’s when you have those realisations that change the way you do things.
When you have time alone with your thoughts, it strengthens your sense of identity. It helps you realise who you really are, at the core of it all. The more you can do that, the happier you’ll be as a person… And the more individuated your blog will be, too.
Go on, then!
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