Tag Archives: business

It’s A Blog Eat Blog World Out There: Best Practices for Blogging Success

its a blog eat blog world out there

Someone tweeted me last week that I should write a post titled “It’s a blog eat blog world out there”. It made me chuckle so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I hope it’s helpful as well as just slightly amusing though!

Here are my thoughts on what makes a successful blog:

Be yourself

The famous Oscar Wilde quote “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” is a cliché but it’s so true. You’ll never make your site a success if you’re following in someone else’s shadow. Don’t try to be the next (insert blogger name here), strive to be the first YOU!

You might think you have nothing new to offer, but that’s total crap! Remember, no one else has lived your life or had your exact experiences. What you might think is the mundane everyday, will be wildly exciting and different to someone living on the other side of the world.

Stop putting yourself down. You are amazing and you have something of value to offer.

Practice your writing

The more you do something, the better you get at it. So, if writing isn’t your strongest skill, practice, practice and practice some more!

Read a lot. Get your writing inspiration from a variety of sources, not just other blogs in your niche. Read books, read magazines, read journals… keep reading, keep writing, keep learning.

If you go back and look at my very first blog post you’ll see just how far I’ve come. Oh cringe!

Present things differently

But blogging doesn’t just have to be about long form writing. Look at places like The Oatmeal, Buzzfeed and all those YouTube beauty bloggers. They use comics, listicles and videos to connect with their audience and get their points across. Mix things up a little!

be yourself everyone else is already taken

Include great images

If you look at your favourite blogs, I’d imagine that most of them also include amazing imagery. Whether you’re taking your own, using stock photos or asking photographers if you can use their work, always accompany your posts with at least one gorgeous shot to draw people in and pretty up the page.

Push yourself

It can be very easy to get stuck in a blogging rut. The old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. But if you’re bored, or not pushing yourself, your readers will be bored too. Diane Vreeland once said “Give them what they never knew they wanted” and never is this more true than in blogging. Don’t always go with what’s expected.

Push yourself to post something different and a little bit scary once in a while. It will keep you on your toes and keep things interesting for everybody.

Have an opinion

Don’t always take the easy path. If you believe in something, stand up for it. Occasionally say things that you know might ruffle some feathers. While I don’t believe you should be controversial for the sake of it, if there is something you really want to get across, DO IT!

Yes, you might piss some people off, but great blogs are polarising. They attract and repel people in equal measure.

Teach people something

The golden rule of successful blogging is to post things that help other people. While you might look at a lot of fashion or lifestyle bloggers and want to emulate what they do, it’s the hardest niche to really get any traction with.

Bloggers that get famous by simply posting their outfit photos or sharing things about their everyday life are few and far between. They are definitely the exception not the rule.

If you can teach people something and help them in some way, then they are more likely to find you in the first place and keep coming back.

What is it that you know that other people don’t? It doesn’t have to be complicated, and actually it is often the simplest things that prove the most popular. Did you do a great DIY project recently? Discover a new way to style your hair? Learn a new trick with your camera? Share it!

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On Feeling Guilty

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The rumours are true, I’m obsessed with my work. But I have a dirty little secret… I sometimes feel really guilty about just how very obsessive I am.

Confession time (deep breath). On an almost daily basis I have that overwhelming feeling of guilt that I’m devoting too much time to this blog and not enough to everything – and everyone – else. As painful as it is to admit, I often feel like I’m letting everything else play second fiddle to work. That, by the way, is an awful feeling to have.

I am so incredibly lucky that I have an understanding husband. He supports me and my choices so much and our relationship has never been stronger. But every time I only half listen to what he’s saying because I’m concentrating on something else, every time I have to get back on a plane, every time I have to head up to my computer as soon as dinner is finished… I feel bad.

So how to we banish it? Can we ever let things slide a little but still strive to be the very best at what we do?

Danielle LaPorte once said, “The guilt of following your heart is a weight you can bear if your dream is strong enough. It’s the price of admission to fulfilment. You’re going to feel guilty. Breathe. Keep going.”

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Taking Risks Vs Being Reckless

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I speak a lot about jumping in feet first, launching and learning and making mistakes to grow your business, but the truth of the matter is you can’t always lead with your heart. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each major decision that you make so that you don’t end up losing it all.

While I am a firm believer in trusting your gut, I would never encourage anybody to do things with wild abandon. Don’t quit your day job until your baby business can cover your bills, have a plan and a back up plan, and make those big choices based on fact, not whimsy.

But the reality is that if you do nothing, you’ll gain nothing. There is always an element of risk when it comes to striking out on your own. It is essential if you want to move forward, do something different and stand out against your competitors. Risk is actually one of the very best, if not scariest, ways to expand our knowledge, offerings and confidence.

So how can you make sure you’re making good risky choices, not one that will destroy your business?

The difference is forward-planning. Having goals to work towards, projecting your income and having quantifiable ideas will all help keep you on track. I started this blog in 2007 but I didn’t quit my day job until 2011. As someone who struggles with patience this was immensely difficult for me! I wanted to strike out on my own as soon as I’d made my first £100! If it was up to me I’d have jumped in right away and figured it all out as I went along.

Luckily Gareth is the yin to my yang. He’s a lot more risk averse than me. He wants to make sure all the possibilities are planned out before making any decisions. It takes him forever to do anything (which, yes, does drive me crazy!) but he always seems to make the right choices in the end.

For example it took him about six months to choose our new television because he had to get the very best one for the very best price. If it was me I would have walked into one shop and picked out the first one I saw. It would probably have ended up being too big, tinny sounding and with a crappy picture display… but because of Gareth’s research and forward-planning the one we now have is awesome.

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On Mistakes, Friendships and Not Going it Alone

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Being your own boss is the most wonderful thing. Since launching Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 I’ve discovered a LOT about myself, the wedding industry and running a business. But if there’s one lesson I learnt faster than anything else, it was that I couldn’t do everything myself. For example, I could have spent hours wrestling with Photoshop to come up with a design for my site, or I could work a little harder on the things I am better at so I can pay my designer to do it for me.

However, to me, even more vital than learning to outsource, was finding those people I could trust to help or advise me on a more personal level. These are the people that you know will always have your back and your best interests at heart. Without them in your corner, running your own business will be a million times harder.

I kept Rock n Roll Bride a secret from ‘the real world’ until the end of 2008. Gareth and I got married that April and I was completely embarrassed to be still obsessed with weddings after our own big day was over. At this point, the blog was nothing more than a hobby anyway, I didn’t feel the need to make a big deal about it offline. Then, about a year in, I made my first big mistake. I was trying to install Google Analytics on the site (I am NOT technical AT ALL by the way!) and somehow managed to delete the whole thing!

ARGH!

So I went to Gareth and shamefully admitted that I had this secret blog… about weddings… that I’d somehow managed to delete. Despite his techy prowess, there was no way for him to magically bring the obliterated site back, but he offered to help me start over. We signed up with WordPress.org, bought rocknrollbride.com and I began again.

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The Seven Secrets of Making Money Online

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We’ve all seen them, those business coaches promising that they can make you rich. Swearing that for the measly sum of (insert number with way too many zeros on the end here) they can turn your business around by showing you their top secret techniques that will make your pockets bulge with excess cash. They brag about their seven figure incomes, their thousands of happy clients, their giant mansions and the exotic vacations they take at every opportunity.

Don’t be fooled my friends.

Let’s keep it real for a second – even if you did the exact same things, at the exact same time, you’d never get the same results as someone else. There are just too many variables.

So let’s cut the crap. Here are the REAL secrets of making money online:

1. Work harder than everyone else

The reality is that there is no escaping having to put in a truckload of work if you want to make a living from your own business. I am genuinely amazed when I hear of people who want to start their own online empire because they think it will be an easy way to make a passive income. Too many people want to believe that there are shortcuts in life. They want to jump ahead to the (expected) riches without actually working their asses off for it.

Those overnight successes that we seem to hear about all the time are the exceptions, not the rule (and even then they’ve probably been working bloody hard doing something before anyone ever heard of them). We lap these stories up though because it’s much more exciting to hear about the start up that made £100,000 in one day, or the developer that made millions from their first app, than the author that struggled to sell 100 copies of their book or the blogger than had to quit because they couldn’t pay their rent.

2. Make sacrifices

Oh yeah, sacrifice. That’s a big one. I genuinely think the majority of people don’t realise just how many if them they’re going to have to make if they want to run their own business.

You have to be obsessed to the point of madness with it. You have to want to do it so badly that there is no other viable option for you. You’ll have to get up early, go to bed late and say no to way more invitations than you’d like to. You’ll have months when you can only afford to eat beans on toast, and you might need to work two jobs for years before the business can support itself.

Sounds depressing, but you won’t care, because you’ll want to make your business a success more than any of those other things.

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3. Forget about the glamour

I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to do something I love and get paid for it. I’ve also been presented with some truly amazing opportunities since starting this blog, all of which are beyond my wildest dreams of how I thought my life would turn out. I’ve been featured in magazines, interviewed on the TV, published my own magazine, and flown all over the world to talk about something I am truly passionate about.

But like everyone, I only share the highlights. My day to day life is not that exciting. Most of my time is spent writing content, replying to emails, sitting alone in my office, drinking tea, still wearing yesterday’s underwear…

I love what I do, but it’s important to keep some perspective. Even the most successful entrepreneurs spend most of their time doing normal, boring things.

4. Don’t get too comfortable

As your business grows it can be easy to get complacent. Your time begins to split between doing things to keep your customers happy, and coming up with new ideas to grow. If these ideas end up being super successful, you might eventually get to a stage where you no longer feel the need to implement new marketing techniques or bring out new products. This is where the cracks can start to appear.

Especially if you’re in the wedding industry, which is not only a seasonal but constantly refreshing market (aka your customers get married and then no longer want to buy anything from you) it is vital that you don’t get lazy or complacent. All it can take is one weak year for you to drop off people’s radar. You are only as good as your last job. Never forget that.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

Comparison is the thief of joy and all that… and this never as true as when you conduct a lot of your business online. It is waaaaay too easy to look too closely at what your competitors are doing, to stalk them on social media and feel bad about yourself when they do something amazing. WE ALL DO IT.

You need to remember that their successes are not your failures. You can co-exist. It is vital (for your own sanity) to work on improving and differentiating your offerings instead of focusing how you can compete with them. It’s just not a very healthy mindset to be in.

When you start to feel that green eyed monster creeping in – stop. Shut down your browser and step away from the computer. Nothing good can ever come from spending all your precious energy focusing on what someone else is doing.

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Positive Peer Pressure

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When you’re a teenager, peer pressure sucks. That constant squeeze from your peers to act the same, think the same, be the same as them. It forces you to fit in, to conform, to not be your own weird ‘n wonderful self.

As an impressionable, confidence-lacking 14 year old, peer pressure can define you. It can make you take up smoking (yep), start drinking (er… yep), sneak out of class and lie to your parents (yep, er… yep!) I think we can all look back on those times and realise that peer pressure was actually just a form of bullying, dressed up with a more socially acceptable name. And bullying sucks. Period.

Then suddenly, you’re an adult. If you’re anything like me, you quickly realised how stupid it was to want to be the same as everyone else, and how marching to the beat of your own weird-ass drum is a much more attractive option. After all, it’s what make you, you. You’re more confident in your own skin, and much happier doing things that make you jump for joy, rather than trying to please other people.

But for a lot of us, the peer pressure remains. However in adulthood, with our new-found self-awareness, it can actually be a really positive thing. Peer pressure is more likely to encourage you to push outside of your comfort zone and improve yourself, rather than make you want to take up a questionable or addictive habit.

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Tote bag from Another Fing Tote

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