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Better Blogging: Who Are You?

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Better Blogging | Who Are You? | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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On Friday, I announced the new Better Blogging Series and how we’re planning to work together to evaluate our blogging personalities and where to apply some simple sales strategies to grow our audience. Today, we kick off the first official challenge in the series by going all the way back to the beginning. No matter where you are in your blogging journey right now, I suspect you’ve been challenged to do more and be more than you ever imagined when you typed that first post. I know I have!

Better Blogging | Who Are You? | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

When you first decided to blog, there was a moment. A moment where you went “I think I should share this with someone else.” Why? What was the experience that sparked the idea for your blog and what passion continues to fuel that fire? To help, I’ll ask myself and “talk out loud” here.

My Moment: I was constantly being asked “How do you do it all?” by overwhelmed moms. These moms had one of three problems. They were either drained and deflated by the general busy and chaos of life, were struggling with their value as a woman and a mother, or were deep in the muck of small business ownership and felt the light fading fast as they tried to balance all of the work involved along with a decent family life. My “moment” was knowing that their perception that I had it all together was false and that I struggled with exactly the same struggles they faced. I felt motivated to be honest and transparent in a desire to uplift others by sharing that they weren’t the only ones with their heads spinning, trying to juggle too much with too little. I wanted to shout from the roof tops “I’m just like you!” and share some of the things that work for me in hopes maybe they’d work for them.

My Passion: I am fueled by a deep desire for a mother and a woman to feel valued, beautiful and strong. I love nothing more than empowering and encouraging others to excel and succeed in new environments. Seeing those “light bulb” moments of hope and the transfer of knowledge that sparks action and ambition in others…that’s my fire. If I have any tiny piece in me that I can share with someone else so that they feel better, stronger, more prepared, capable…I want to share that piece. That is the passion behind my blog. I want you, my readers, to be encouraged to keep on, keepin’ on and that you’re exactly who you are meant to be and where you are meant to be.

Better Blogging | Who Are You? | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

Now that I’ve identified the short term moment that sparked the blog’s beginning and the long term passion that continues to motivate my writing, it’s time to talk strategy. More importantly, it’s time to acknowledge that there is a wealth of “competition” out there, blogs in the bazillions, attracting each and every reader (and advertiser). What makes me different? Similar to a small business, the best starts come when you do your homework and understand the what, how and why of your intended market before you dig in. This discovery period and ultimate plan of action comes to fruition in three parts.

  1. Research: This is the “what?” behind your blog. It’s time to check out the blogosphere. You must know your market. Are there similar blogs out there? What makes your voice unique and do you see a need for the information that you have to share? Do you have something to say that hasn’t been said? If there are similar blogs out there, what sets you apart? Who is your reader? What about you will make them click on your blog instead of moving on to another? As a mommy blogger, it goes without saying that there are about a million of us. What makes me different? In my research, I found that my particular life experiences provided a neat little trifecta of sorts that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. As a working mother of multiples, daily organization and time management are a must, and I could offer simple tricks to managing time and a huge workload while still engaging with your family. As a small business owner and a long-standing salesperson, I could share marketing and strategy that could help others bring their dreams to life with passion and professionalism. Finally, as a photographer, I could offer multiple audiences basic education and guidance to achieve better results for their family pictures, blog posts and/or Etsy shops. Take that one step farther as a boudoir photographer, and my heart for affirming women and embracing our naturally unique beauties and strengths, especially as mothers, is a strong undercurrent that ties the rest of my personal and professional life together.
  2. Strategize: This is the “how” behind your blog. Now that you’ve identified your unique voice, how do you plan to project it? I’m a firm believer in defining your writing and design style. As your readers get to know you through your written voice, they develop a level of expectation when they come to visit your blog. Meeting that expectation is important, not only because it develops trust, but because that connection to your written voice that they made when they first clicked is what is driving them back for repeat visits. I know that my voice is confident, but humble. I have faith that I can achieve all things, not because I’m pure awesome, but because I believe in hard work, the power of the mind and heart, and that God paves the way to the best life for me. I toss in humor and can be counted on for lots of lists. Most importantly, I am extremely visual as a photographer, and I know my readers expect high quality imagery and graphics because of that skill set. The second piece to strategy is to analyze and assess how you will market your content and engage with your audience. I knew that other bloggers would be interested in my unique experiences, so I made a commitment to visit lots of link ups, comment on other’s blogs and work hard to find my tribe when I first got started. I engaged frequently with top social media experts and small biz whiz blogs to learn and develop trustworthiness as a small business owner. Long before my content caught up, I had developed a rock solid reputation that now carries my content through to various channels that were previously closed to me. Your readers will not come to you. You have to find them and draw them out. What’s the best way for you to do that?
  3. Deliver: This is the “why” behind your blog and brings us back to the introductory post. Why do you write your blog? Not because you want to draw advertisers (although that’s certainly a high priority). Fundamentally, you write your blog because you saw a need in your reader and you are seeking to meet that need. I ask myself constantly, “Are you delivering on the promise you’ve made to your readers?” With technology and Pinterest and all else social media, we are burdened by the pressure to compete and often struggle with feelings of inadequacy as we compare ourselves to others and fall short (at least in our own minds). Couple that with the pressure to monetize, and we often tweak our strategy and style in the name of posing for advertisers or becoming what we think our reader might like. This is a grave mistake and results in mediocrity, which is the first step in the downward spiral to failure. I keep reminding myself these days, that there is not a blog manual out there that says I must blog once daily, or at least three times weekly, and I must have 2 sponsored posts a month and I must tweet each post 15 times. These “best practices” are just that…practice. There is no manual for what we are doing here. There is only this: Your reader needs you and you need to deliver. I’m discovering that 1 great blog post a week is better than 7 lackluster blog posts. Each and every thing I do in relation to the blog comes with a question. Is this taking me one step closer to the dream I imagined for my readers or is it taking me one step away?

Remember your two audiences? Your readers and your advertisers. When you write for your readers, the advertisers will come. When you write for your advertisers, your readers will spot your “disloyalty” from a million miles away and will fall off. It’s just like the salesperson who walks in with the “I need one more sale to make budget this month” instead of “The product I’m about to share with you is going to help make your life so much better.” Your readers need to feel your passion and they need to know that you care about them more than you care about you. That’s the ultimate sale.

Better Blogging | Who Are You? | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Madaline

    August 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

    This was one of the best bloging help guides that I’ve ever read. It actually HELPED me evaluate (questions) opposed to telling me a bunch of obvious things – I hope that makes sense. I have such a hard time delievering! I know what I want to write and for who but I have a hard time – I think it’s the picture aspect. Finding time to take good pictures, editing them, etc.

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Madaline! You totally made my day. Thank you!!!!!! I’m glad you found helpful information here and your kind words mean a lot. Strong imagery is definitely key! Be sure to subscribe and keep up with the rest of the series. We’ll be talking more about that very soon!

  2. Ana Lynn

    August 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Great set of tips Katy! I am sure many new bloggers will appreciate it!

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Thanks as always Ana! You rock!! #ibabloggers

  3. Julie S.

    August 4, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    This is a great post! It is important to remember who you are, who your audience is, and why you’re blogging in the first place 🙂

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Thank you Julie! I hope you’ll come back for the next piece in the series!

  4. Elizabeth

    August 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Great Katy! I really enjoyed the point: who are your readers and are you reaching them? In the midst of all the busyness of blogging, it is easy to lose sight. I know I am recently reevaluating. Thanks for the support and encouragement here!

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

      I’m glad that question proved challenging for you! You are so right, it is so easy to lose sight of why we started.

  5. Niekka McDonald

    August 4, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    My blog just hit its 2 year anniversary and I’m finally figuring out what direction I want to go in. I’m in the process of rewriting my about page to reflect it. I really want to grow my blog and I need to take a page from your book and find small business blogs to learn about the business side.

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:17 am

      I think our blogs are constantly evolving. I don’t know if I’ll ever be perfectly happy with mine. Ha! I know with my photography business, it took me almost 5 years to really drill down to my genre and how I wanted to market my brand. 5 years!!! Wowsa.

  6. Jill

    August 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Great post! Thanks for the encouragement !

    • Katy Blevins

      August 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Thank you Jill! I’m glad it gave you some encouragement!

  7. Danielle

    August 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    This is a fabulous article! Super practical and very helpful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and gleanings from your blogging work!

  8. Lisa @ The Wellness Wife

    August 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Great tips! I pinned so I can go back and refer to this from time to time.

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Thanks for pinning Lisa! So glad it will be a useful resource for you. 🙂

  9. Mrs. AOK

    August 9, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Great tips Katy!! I have to admit, I’ve always wondered myself, “how does she do it all?”
    You GOT this, lady!!! Thanks for sharing via MMBH
    XOXO

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Cloaks and mirrors, girl! Ha! Or you can think of me as that duck who is serenely coasting across the lake. But underneath, my feet are flapping like crazy to keep me afloat.

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  12. Jillian @ Baby Doodah!

    August 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Wow!! I am really glad I came across this post. There are some amazing tips here, but beyond that, it really gets you thinking. Many lists just give you tips, which aren’t bad, but this post gives you the tips AND how to think about things, and how YOU a current successful writer, thinks about things. This is very very helpful!

    Thank you, I will be pinning for later and hope it gets pinned many times over!

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Jillian, this is about the best comment I have ever received. Thank you sooooo much!!!! I am so glad you found it helpful, motivating and thought-provoking. It means a lot that you’re sharing and supporting my efforts. THANK YOU!!

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  14. April

    August 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Love this post! It’s definitely one that I need. I am revitalizing my blogging passion and realize that I do really like it. Thanks for sharing!

    Your co-host from Creative Style Linkup ~~April~~

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Keeping your blogging passion can be super difficult, especially in the chaos of life. Glad to hear you are finding yourself rejuvenated and ready to dig back in!

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  18. Marie

    August 11, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Thank you for all these tips. As a new blogger I appreciate the help this post gives. Looking forward to the rest of the series :0)

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Thank you Marie! I’m so glad you found it helpful. Looking forward to hearing more about what you take away from the series.

  19. Rebekah @survivingtoddlerhood

    August 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

    This is so good for me, Katy! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and learn more about blogging.
    Some of my posts are about things I am learning, some are about my family and some are recipes. What is unique about my blog? That I’m not so sure about. I guess I need to think about that and find areas to work on.
    Thanks for linking this up in the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! I’m pinning this to our group boards and to my personal board. 🙂

    • Katy Blevins

      September 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

      It’s a super tough question to ask (believe me, I had to work through so major changes when I realized the answer to it), but an important one!

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Blogging Resources

Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics

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Social Media Scheduling | The Very Basics
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Why is social media scheduling important? 

Today’s culture, both personally and professionally, is driven by real time transparency. There are any of a million ways that we can interact with the world and share our life journeys, which has been the doorway to maintaining friendships, keeping family from afar close and celebrating life with like-minded individuals. But on the other hand, every time that phone blips that a new message has popped up, we’re driven by madness to look. It’s exhausting!!!! And ultimately incredibly time consuming. As a small business owner, the drive to build a following can be intoxicating and the pressure to be available to your clients 24/7 is crippling. How do you actually “do” your business if you’re always distracted by social media? Social media scheduling is the very best way to continue to curate and share content with your audience, while allowing yourself to focus on higher priorities in your personal and professional life.

If I schedule social media am I lying to my followers by “pretending” to be online when I’m not?

Any way that you can automate your workflow to save time and develop a routine, you are being true to yourself, your clients and most importantly, your family. The key is to appear to be accessible during high traffic times, but not actually be sitting there glued to your phone or computer hanging on every word uttered to the social media gods. Social media scheduling allows us to cater to multiple audiences at their individual peek times, gives us the opportunity to stay active and engaged while on the go and makes sure we have time to focus on what really counts.

Social Media Scheduling | The Very Basics

Where do I start?

I have two go-to programs that can work for even the most basic new learners (and have lots of advanced features for those in the know). And bonus…they’re FREE! What we’re moving towards is organized strategy. Social media scheduling allows you to develop a marketing strategy for your business and then execute it. You simple couldn’t do that properly on the fly and would get lost in the weeds. These next two tools can help put you on the path to a social media presence that translates to growth and long-term sustainability.

If you’re just digging into the social media behemoth, let’s put a simple tool to work for you while you get your bearings. Similar to how Instagram can cross post to Twitter and Facebook, Friends + Me can take your Google Plus posts and push them to several other platforms. I personally post to Google + and it carries over to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One action = 4 social media networks.

I’ll admit, this tool can be visually tricky and take a little getting used to if you’re heavy handed with links and tags. Once you get comfortable with how your posts will appear in the different feeds, you’ll tailor your original content to work across the board. It’s a fantastic way to save time by not having to manually cross-pollinate your content to each and every platform individually. It’s a great way for new learners to “phone it in” while you up your social media knowledge and a stellar way for a seasoned social media vet to knock out a task list for simple content shares.

fplus

Hootsuite is the other tool I rely heavily on. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for me to manage all of my profiles on the various platforms that I use. In its most basic form, I schedule all Twitter activity (content sharing) in here or via their Hootlet (content curating).  I can tell you it’s really the Hootlet that is life changing. This little plugin is ridiculously awesome. It allows me to wrap up items of interest in a nice little box with a beautiful little bow instantly and schedule directly from my point of interest. I can open it up from any source and schedule a tweet/share from any of my accounts instantaneously without having to copy/paste links or images into Hootsuite itself. That save of a few clicks is amazing!!!

hootlet

Here’s a snap shot of my actual Hootsuite dashboard (Don’t freak out! I have a million accounts!):
hootsuite
I am able to jump in between accounts and platforms with the click of a tab, and I can schedule posts from the top bar to any of my accounts with just a few clicks. Admittedly, I pay for the Pro version because I work the account with my business partner and I am in love with the bulk tweet upload feature (I can schedule 350 tweets at once just by uploading a simple Excel file!). Instead of having 15 different internet tabs open for each of my feeds and profiles, I can have one program open that allows me to move among them without having to constantly sign in and out depending on which profile I want to use. Again, the goal is to save time by reducing clicks and hops all over the internet and to streamline your visibility to the information that matters most to you. Here are the profiles my business partner and I manage either completely or to some degree on Hootsuite:

 

– Twitter (8 different profiles)
– Google Plus (2 business profiles)
– Facebook (4 business pages and 1 personal profile)
– Facebook groups (2 community groups)
– Instagram (3 profiles)
– Stumble Upon (1 profile)
– LinkedIn (1 profile)

 

Can you imagine if I had to sign in and out of each of these accounts at various parts of my day in order to engage on all platforms?

 

So. How does this ultimately save time? Have I just traded time spent manually posting for time spent scheduling automation? The key here is to carve out time and stick to it. Don’t be scheduling all day! It defeats the purpose. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind:

  • Set a specific day each week (or even an hour each morning/night if that’s better for you) that is devoted to scheduling the next weeks’/days’ tweets/posts/etc. Make that a calendar time in your routine. Stick to it! I do all of my scheduling first thing in the morning. That way my social media profiles are working in the background while I am completing my normal business day and any activity can just be responsive.
  • Commit to a time each evening that the phone/computer gets put away. For example, clients at The Studio now know that our business booking hours are Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM. If they email us during that time, they expect a response. But if they email outside of that time, they know they’ll hear from us during the next business day. We’ve educated them and we’re training ourselves. Now, when that email dings with a new inquiry, I don’t look at it if it’s after hours. They know, and I know it will be there tomorrow.
  • Give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to take a break from time to time on social media. It’s ok to not post every meal, every night out, every stylish outfit. Let go of the pressure to perform. Focus on enjoying the interactions with people and sharing your heart. You’ll find it not only comes more naturally, but more purposefully. Be IN your life. 

Pin this to your Small Business Tips & Tricks Board or your Blogging Resources Board! Don’t have one? Follow me!

Did you like this post? Check out How to Create Hyper-Linked Email Signatures in Gmail!

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Blogging Resources

IBA Blog Conference – October 12-17, 2015

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IBA Blog Conference
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Mark your calendars!!! I have some very exciting news to share!!! The International Bloggers Association is hosting their very first IBA blog conference! The IBA Network-a-thon will be hosted online October 12th – 15th. Yup, that’s right! A virtual conference! You don’t have to worry about travel expenses, child care, vacation time or anything! Just you, me, the IBA, our computers and some amazingly awesome Google Plus Hangouts.

International Bloggers Association | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide

Want to hear the very best news? The IBA blog conference is SUPER affordable. Only $10 for your ticket! Even more exciting? Use the code KATY to receive a special Chaos & Kiddos discount! You’ll get $5 off. 50% off! At that price, there’s no reason to miss out on what will be a fun week of networking, learning and blog sharing. The IBA blog conference will be a great opportunity to discover your tribe of blog supporters, learn new tips and tricks, and dig into blogging professionally. Don’t miss out! $5 is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee! Woot! Click on the big IBA right below or click on “Buy this on Selz” to grab your 50% off discount ticket now! Don’t forget to use the code KATY! See you in October!

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IBA Blogging Conference | Discount Code

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Blogging Resources

Twitter Tools to Increase Your Sanity

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When it comes to Twitter, automation equals sanity. Simple as that!

We all know that every business must have a solid social media presence. However, scheduling, monitoring and reporting on your feeds eats up crucial time that can be can better used running your business. Have no fear, there are an endless number of Twitter tools available to help you manage your profiles; saving you precious time and money by working behind the scenes while you stay front and center in your marketplace.

TWITTERTOOLS to

Here are the strategic areas you want to concentrate on when engaging the Twittersphere:

Schedule it!

Keep those tweets coming without having to sit at your computer day and night. Tools such as HootSuite and Buffer are extremely popular. With multi-feed capacity, flexible layouts and a host of powerful features, these two behemoths will revolutionize how you approach social media across every platform, not just Twitter.

Keep it organized!

If you have multiple accounts, Twitter tools can help organize and implement your strategy.TweetDeck handles this perfectly. Get more involved with Sprout Social that includes CRM features, or SocialOomph to automate and keep corporate accounts clean and tidy. Nobody wants to click back and forth between a million tabs, or spend way too much time signing in and out of several profiles. Organize yourself with a “one-stop shop” approach!

Show off with pictures!

Grab them with graphics to go with your hot content. No time to source images or develop images of your own offline? Check out MavSocial to link to stock images and manage your digital assets as you compose your tweets.

What did they say?

In order to build engagement, you have to know what others are saying about you. Mentioncan monitor your Twitter mentions and even links through to other tools like Buffer. Twitter tools that are integration-friendly are always a win-win. Trends24 tracks the ever important hashtag and hot topics. Never miss an opportunity to keep an open dialogue with your customer base moving forward.

Flashback!

Remember that campaign from 2013? You need to be able to go back and search on what worked and what didn’t. Topsy lets you search all the way back to 2006 while TweetChat helps you keep up with your favorite hashtags and chat with others. Avoid making the same mistakes twice and repurpose successful campaigns for future growth.

Ready, Set, Grow!

Each time someone shares your content, your reach grows. Make it as easy for them as possible with links using Click to Tweet. Everybody loves the easy button!

Report it!

Being able to determine what works and what isn’t provides critical insight that translates to real growth and sustainability. SumAll and Twitonomy help break it down into specific actionable data that you can use to improve your reach in future campaigns.

There are plenty of options out there to help you manage Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for you and letting them work for you. Which Twitter tools have been pivotal to maintaining your sanity and growing your business?

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