5 Takeaways from General Assembly's Business of Blogging event

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Last Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of moderating the Business of Blogging panel at General Assembly, San Francisco alongside three amazing women: Elise Armitage from What The Fab; Emily from Jet Setting Fashionista and Aimee Rancer, from the Ohio Transplant.

During the panel, we talked about everything from taking your blog from side-project to going pro; how to approach and work with brands; coming up with content ideas regularly; building your community; engagement and the pesky algorithm and how to beat it - and so much more!

There was a ton of incredible wisdom shared over the course of the night from these super inspiring women - whose combined years of blogging experience is over 30 years{!!} - so, today I thought I’d share my top 5 takeaways with you…

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{L to R: Emily, The Jet Setting Fashionista; Elise Armitage, What the Fab; Aimee Rancer, The Ohio Transplant; me!}

  1. Write / share / create what you’re passionate about.

The number one theme that kept coming up throughout the evening was to focus on and choose to blog about what you’re passionate about. As the panel was focused on the “business” of blogging - AKA how to make money - the clear message from everyone was: ‘don’t get into blogging just to make money cause it ain’t going to work’.

Making money from blogging is not something that will happen overnight - it can often take years of consistent blogging to make an income even comparable to a full time job - and even then it still may not be as much.

Elise shared that she was blogging for six years over on What the Fab before she was in a position with her blog to even consider leaving her full time Event Marketing job at Google. Whereas, Aimee, despite blogging consistently for over six years, currently works full time at Pinterest {by choice} and the money she earns from her blog she treats as an added bonus.

While Elise and Aimee have very different goals with their blogs, the one thing they have in common and that has kept them invested in building their online presence over so many years, is that they love what they write about and they love sharing it with their readers.

In short, if your goal is to ultimately make money from your blog: write and share about what you’re passionate about {and won’t get bored of over the long term!}

2. Be your own permission slip: Ask for what you want.

Here’s the awesome thing about blogging: there are no rules. You get to make it up as you go along and have the opportunity to create and invent whatever you like! It was this creative freedom that drew me to blogging way back in 2009.

While there are no rules, it also means that instead of waiting for someone to ask you / invite you to step up in a big way - you need to give yourself this permission and ask for what you want.

If you want to work with brands - don’t just wait for them to approach you! If you have an idea for brand partnership, put together a pitch and propose it to them.

Bottom line: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. All of the women on the panel agreed that when working with brands it was a mix of pitching themselves as well as the brands approaching them.

This is also goes for other monetization strategies you’re considering for your blog. The truth is your blog doesn’t need to be a certain size or have a specific number of followers to make money. How successful you are at monetizing your blog comes down to the value you can offer your audience and how creative you are in your approach - and the options are endless!


Psst… My eBook The Brand Plan gives you the exact formula for making your brand memorable. Get it free when you sign up for my newsletter below!


3. Network!

While meeting like minded people online is all kinds of awesome; meeting them in real life takes things to the next level.

All of the ladies were in unison on this and agreed it’s what helps to fuel the growth of your blog.

Why?

Because while online is brilliant - nothing beats in-person connections with people. Once you meet in real life, your relationship is in many ways solidified, taking your know, like and trust factor up a notch.

In-person makes it easy bounce to ideas, collaborate on new projects, and given your new level of trust, it’s easy to then open your existing networks to each other, helping you grow even further.

You know that saying: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? This couldn’t be more true in the business of blogging.

4. Build your inner circle tribe.

Before the panel officially started, I was chatting to Emily and Elise and asked them how they knew each other. While they couldn’t pinpoint the exact event they met, they both agreed it had been some kind of industry event where they formed their friendship and stayed in contact, having regular lunch meet-ups and attending events together in the months and years that followed.

During the panel, while we were discussing things like rates of pay and negotiation with brands, everyone was in agreement that it’s these kinds of inner circle relationships that help you make sense of things and help empower you to make bold moves.

Key takeaway: find your inner circle tribe and love them hard - these women will become your greatest allies and the best kinds of friends - who get you and your crazy ideas when no one else in your world will!

5. Be authentic.

I know, I know - the phrase “be authentic” is bandied around so often these days it's hard to really understand what the heck it means.

But know this: you don’t build an audience - an engaged audience at that - without bringing a level of realness and vulnerability that allows people to relate and feel like they know you. In the online space, it’s this authenticity that helps people build trust with you.

This is much easier and quicker to do in real life {see point three}; but online, given the amount of noise and clutter people are faced with each day, to be able to cut through and create any kind of impact, you need to be doing / creating / sharing things that are you unique to you and your experiences {hint: this is your secret sauce that no one else can copy or replicate}.

Case in point: when we all got seated for the panel, Aimee brought the bottle of beer she was drinking with her and continued to drink it throughout the evening. She even made reference to it when this whole authenticity topic came up and said “I’ll always be real and do what I’d normally do, which is drink beer!”

Bottom line: there’s no shortcut or big secret to being authentic, just do YOU.

Over to you: tell me which of these resonated with you most and what you’ll be taking with you to grow your online brand?


Ready to take your blogging game to the next level? Come along to my next Blog Bootcamp Workshop at General Assembly, San Francisco on 1 May. Grab your tix here.


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