Home Based Business, Blogger Style
Making Nice in the Midwest’s Mandi is our first full time blogger. I think the perspective of a blogger is an interesting one, as so many have tried to go this route with little to no success, while others have seen enormous success. Most bloggers write for the sake of writing, and while that is a great and lovely ideal, some have been offered opportunities to write for other blogs, brands and so on. The business of blogging is still a fairly big one, with many brands reaching out to popular bloggers to have them review products, share new offerings. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the more popular “mom” bloggers, The Pioneer Woman, Dooce, Single Dad Laughing. These folks have been able to make a career of blogging itself, and in many cases have been offered other opportunities because of the popularity of their blogs. Mandi of Making Nice in the Midwest was willing to sit down and give me some tips on how she got started.
1. What social media platforms are you currently using to promote your business?(Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
I’m a full-time blogger for my own blog, Making Nice in the Midwest, and also Disney’s Babble blog. Of course, I’m always trying to get better numbers on my own blog, though developing loyalty and an involved readership is more important to me on my personal blog than numbers are. For Babble, I receive bonuses if my numbers are in the top three for style contributor’s for the month, so I’m obviously a bit more interested in boosting my numbers for them- which means I like to push my Babble posts hard on social media.
I have used Twitter for a few years and developed a modest following (over 2K) followers who are mostly there because they follow my blog. I always tweet about a new post after publishing it- usually that day. Instagram is a bit trickier, because they don’t allow hyperlinking. So occasionally if I have an interesting Babble post, I’ll share the link to my contributor page with a photo of my project, but I don’t know how successful that is. It seems like Instagram is more successful for photographer’s or for traffic to my personal blog that’s linked from my Instagram account.
Pinterest is a huge source of traffic for DIY style posts, as is a website called Craft Gawker. But the thing with Pinterest is that it doesn’t do much good to pin something if you don’t have a following there. To grow and maintain a following on Pinterest, you have to first of all clue in your followers that you’re there (from whatever source you’re sure to find them- I post a link to it from my blog), and then you have to share content on Pinterest that they’re interested in. And probably not just content pimping your own stuff. This means that you’ve got to be on Pinterest sharing things besides your own content somewhat frequently- it’s never a good idea to just get on there and spam people with things they’re not interested in- that’s a surefire way to lose followers. So maintaining an interesting Pinterest board that gets repins and new followers takes a lot of time. It’s really only something that works if you are already interested in spending time on Pinterest anyway.
I haven’t seen a ton of traffic from Facebook, but I utilize it anyway because some people only have enough time to quickly check their Facebook feed, and if I pop up on there during that small window of time, there’s a chance I’ll get some traffic from sharing links there. I also try to use Facebook for my personal blog to interact with readers and share bonus material that doesn’t make it to my blog, like links to products I enjoy, personal photos, or questions for readers.
2. A. Do you feel that these platforms have increased your business’ scope?
Twitter has been the best thing for me as far as increasing my readership, because it’s helped me to develop relationships with other bloggers who are more likely to share my content on their own blog, or else promote me on purpose or inadvertently by tweeting to me or retweeting my Tweets.
B. Do you feel as though you are getting more opportunities due to using social media to promote your blog?
I definitely wouldn’t have cultivated the blogger relationships that I have had if not for Twitter. It’s really easy to get into Twitter conversations in the evening- it’s sort of like a public forum where you can connect with like minded people and chat, even though you live hundreds of miles away. Relationships happen there- and I never would’ve expected that when I signed up a few years ago. This building of blogger relationships has made people loyal friends who refer people to me just as a blog they should follow, or even to work with me in other professional arenas, such as using me as a photographer, hiring me for design work, or asking me to guest blog or blog professionally for their website. This is actually how I got a nice paid gig writing for Disney’s Babble.
C. How long did it take to start getting leads or developing relationships from each social platform?
It took at least a year of being active and developing relationships on social media before I started getting partnership opportunities and paid gigs from people who I had connected with on there. Social media connections don’t happen overnight, and it’s not something that you can just do sporadically. It has to be a continual thing where you are constantly connecting with people and putting quality stuff out there. Mind you- QUALITY stuff.
3. If you are using more than Facebook, which platform do you feel has the greatest reach for your blog/business?
Pinterest has been a great source of hits on my blog, but it’s not great for developing a new readership or involvement from readers. People who come from Pinterest are usually looking for one thing, and once they found it they normally don’t come back. Instagram and Twitter is better for building a loyal following. People feel they know you after a Twitter conversation, and when they follow you, they will click through every time you share that you’re released a new blog post. Instagram is great because it develops a relationship in a way that’s a bit more voyreuristic. It’s like looking in on someone’s life, and they become more curious about it, and therefore more likely to click through to a blog post if you share about it there.
4. Have you been featured in any traditional media? (newspaper, radio, etc.)
I’ve been published in several magazines. Most of these opportunities came from people contacting me because they had found my blog through other blog’s linking to mine or because they had been following it for years.
5. Have you been featured on another blog? If so, do you have a link to that post?
I’ve been featured on many blogs through the years. It sort of goes with the territory of being a blogger! You can see everywhere I’ve been feature at my blog’s press info page here: http://makingniceinthemidwest.com/press/
6. Why do you think social media is a good fit for your business?
My brand is built around my persona (the one that’s mostly true, but I leave out the boring and ugly stuff), so it’s important for me to curate that persona online, really be picky about what I put out there, and make connections with other people who are like me and can offer a symbiotic relationship.
7. How much time do you spend in a week promoting your blog/business on various social media platforms?
It varies. If life is slow, I’m more likely to pop onto my iPod (I don’t have a smart phone) and see what’s happening on Twitter or share photos on Instagram. But I try not to be on mobile devices when I’m hanging out with family or friends, so this is mostly when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line at the store, or just have some downtime at home. I also have been known to lose a lot of time on Pinterest, so I have to be careful about making sure to sign off and live life!
8. Or, are you purely an organic user – you allow social media to do the ‘talking” for you (as it should be to a certain extent) – do you just allow others to post and comment on your work, or do you actively promote?
I actively promote on social media, but I try not to do it too aggressively, especially on Twitter, because what I’m really trying to do is build relationships and an interactive following. I always respond to people when they tweet at me, and it often turns into a nice little unexpected conversation.
9. How many aspects of your business do you host on social media sites? Do you sell on Facebook? Do you use Etsy? Do you use Facebook purely for promotion or do you list products, etc?
I never list products on social media, but I do use affiliate partnerships to make income from my blog, and I will share those affiliate links from time to time on Pinterest and Facebook. It’s very important to maintain credibility that I don’t do this too often, that when I do it’s interspersed with lots of great original content, and that the product links I share are things I truly love and that align with my aesthetic.
I really appreciated Mandi’s slightly different perspective when it comes to social media. Many of the business owners I have interviewed look at social media as a way to blatantly promote, and that is good with the right audience. Mandi, much like Jordan of Wright and Rede, Mandi feels that she should only post to social media items that are very true to her online identity…keeping it authentic so that her followers don’t lose that sense of genuine communication with her.
Some folks think that blogs are a thing of the past, and that the newer versions of social media are now king. While I agree that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are top dog, I think blogs still have a place. Among our TKG ranks we have several people who maintain blogs outside of TKGenius. I think the avenue blogs have provided to allow your voice to be heard on a more complete and thorough plane will not soon dissolve. I personally read more blogs than I do just about anything else online.
What are you reading? Do you have a blog that you love and have shared with friends or family? We’d love to see a link in the comments!