OCT. 29 TWITTER CHAT // Your Questions!

twitter chat - october

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for our Twitter chat, taking place next Wednesday night! We’re looking forward to seeing all of you at our third chat, and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these reader questions. Here’s what we’ll be discussing:

Q1. Do you think having a comment section on your blog is beneficial, and do you respond to every single comment? And, is commenting on blogs or reaching out to other bloggers via social media part of a daily/weekly routine for you? (asked by @26notcounting)

Q2. What’s the best way to grow your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Google+ following? Is it necessary to have a presence on every single platform? (We get asked this alllll the time by our private consulting clients)

Q3. If you’ve decided to monetize your blog, how do you begin working with sponsors/securing sponsored opportunities? Where’s the best place to start, and how much should you charge? (Ditto!)

Q4. Do you use rewardStyle, ShopSense, neither, or others? If you are trying to apply for invitation-only affiliate platforms, what are some best practices to get accepted? (asked by @olivia_margaux)

Q5. What role do you think blogs will play in the next 5 years as audiences, content, and platforms change? And, what can bloggers do in order to prepare for the evolution? (asked by Nicola)

Now remember, each question is numbered (Q1, Q2, Q3), so during the Twitter chat, we recommend numbering your response tweets A1, A2, A3, etc, as your responses correlate to the questions. This way, other participants can follow the conversation! It also means that if you hop in late, you can still answer a question from earlier in the chat.

And, don’t forget, we want to be sure we can see your tweets, and that everyone else in the chat can see them too. So while we definitely appreciate you tagging us at @shopthebbar in your tweets, be sure you include the #BBarHH hashtag. It’s the easiest way for everyone participating to see what you’re sharing!

We can’t wait to see you all next Wednesday night! We’ll be sure to tweet lots of reminders and remind you here as well. See you soon!

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NETWORK // Advice from Jillian Bremmer, Sweet & Spark

jillian bremmer networking advice

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend and colleague Jillian Bremmer, the founder of Sweet & Spark, a fantastic curated vintage jewelry shop. Jillian and I met when I was still living in San Francisco — and yes, we met using the tactics we’ve introduced to you this month on networking (see: emailing out of the blue, inviting someone out for coffee, asking someone to participate in your community). Though I’ve since moved across the country, Jillian and I have kept in touch, and it has been wonderful to see her business evolve and take off so quickly. While hard work and a fabulous eye are sure secrets to her success, I think Jillian is really good at networking too. It’s her tenacity in this department that has led to some pretty amazing collaborations and partnerships in such a short amount of time — for example, though she only launched a few years ago, her jewelry is sold at the Piperlime store here in NY! Read on to learn more about how Jillian approaches networking, and of course, you might want to scoop up a vintage jewelry piece (or two) for yourself over at Sweet & Spark. Take it away, Jillian!

Networking. There’s no easy way around it and you’ll go nowhere without it. And like anything in the entrepreneurial world, there isn’t a recipe for how to do it successfully. This is part of the “hard work” that you must put in.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re networking every day in some capacity. Consider your network as big as the amount of people you know. Keeping in touch with everyone is impossible but when you need guidance or a connection, it is your responsibility to reach out and ask. Don’t let fear of asking paralyze you. Some of my biggest wins were due to a blind pitch I sent to someone I didn’t think would actually answer.  For every 20 emails sent, you may only get 1 response — that’s normal, keep at it!

jillian bremmer, sweet and spark networking advice

When I decided to launch Sweet & Spark, I needed the support of the network I’d built from my high school days through my professional years. Without the intros to magazine editors from past co-workers, early sales from old friends, and brainstorm coffee dates with fellow entrepreneurs, there wouldn’t be any credibility for the business to build from. Each interaction gave me the fuel I needed to continue forward.

Also in the early days, I found that attending blogging/entrepreneurial seminars and workshops were helpful in meeting new people with likeminded goals. Each interaction introduced me to new apps, suggestion for people to follow and allowed me to step away from my business and think about it from a macro point of view. As a thank you to the universe, I value paying it forward in whatever capacity you can. Donate $50 to a friend’s fundraiser, meet someone new for coffee, give advice, connect others. A big part of networking is making a genuine connection without having expectations for what that relationship will do for you. It’s natural to want instant gratification, but stay curious and ask questions. You never know when someone might offer you a new opportunity or perspective on a challenge that you’ve been trying to figure out for months.

I’ve found it helps to make sense of my network by keeping lists (and of course, Linked In is an amazing tool). Lists for bloggers I’ve worked with, ones I want to work with, people I want to meet, editors I’ve had contact with, etc. I have a master Excel doc with tabs for each “project” or function in my biz, and then lists within. Networking is not always tangible on a to-do list, so you have to keep it a priority otherwise it can easily be the first thing to go when you get “too busy”. I set aside 2 hours per week to network. Depending on what my goals for that month are, I email bloggers, follow up with editors, introduce my brand to new social media influencers, etc.

sweet and spark networking advice

As with everything, networking changes based on different needs. Today, I’m a one-lady show managing a growing company. There’s not enough time to meet one-on-one with everyone in my network for coffee every other week. So, I’ve changed my approach to networking. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with what people are doing. I’ll leave a comment when I have something to say or shoot them a note when something comes across my desk that I want to share, like a great article that pertains to something they’re working on. I have to trust that although months may go by without contact, we’ll always support what each other is doing. I also try to attend social events when I can; they are always a great way to say “hey” to a big group of friends at once.

There’s no one-size fits all approach to networking. Figure out what feels comfortable for you by starting small. Leave a comment on a blog you read, email someone you admire to tell them how much you like following them or congratulate an old friend on an accomplishment.<

And more importantly, be nice. What goes around, always comes back around.

Images via Sweet & Spark

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Advice from a Blogger: 5 Tips to Grow Your Blog Following

5 Tips to Grow Your Blog Following

I’m so happy that we have a fitness blogger and registered dietitian, Anne from Fannetastic Food, giving us some tips today. Now if the words “fitness blogger” and “registered dietitian” make you think salad salad salad — fear not! The first time I met Anne in person (she just happens to live in DC!) we ate huge soft pretzels and drank beer! Even dietitians have fun with their food. She also runs (a lot), does CrossFit and yoga. Anne’s blog has exploded over the past few years, so she’s here today to give us her Five Tips to Grow Your Blog Following.

One of the questions I get asked most often from other bloggers is how to grow their blog following. They have a blog, their photos are great, their layout is gorgeous, and they spend hours crafting useful and interesting content – but no one is reading. I know just how frustrating that can be, believe me. Unfortunately part of building your readership is being patient, but there are a number of things you can do to start building your following more quickly. Here are some tips to stay motivated and increase traffic, too.

1. Be consistent.

Don’t feel pressured to post every thirty seconds – save it for when you have something to say – but that said, be consistent with your posting schedule because consistency leads to dedicated readers. Whether you post once a week or once a day, just make sure that your readers know what to expect. I know we’ve all stopped reading a blog because the writer was so sporadic about posting we felt like they didn’t care.

2. Be active in your community of similar bloggers.

This is so important for building a following. Find blogs that are similar to yours, then get engaged in the community. Comment on the other blogs, offer to do guest posts, chat on Twitter (and use hashtags so more people see your tweets), share fellow bloggers’ content on social media, attend relevant blog conferences and local events, and participate in contests/movements/group challenges. The more you interact, the more others will start to notice you, and often if you share someone else’s content, they’ll pay it forward later. Remember that this is not a competition – there’s plenty of room for everyone to shine, so support your fellow bloggers and they will do the same in return.

3. Utilize Pinterest.

Pinterest is one of the fastest ways to grow a huge following, so make sure that the photos or graphics on your site are pin-worthy, and install a plugin that makes it easy for readers to pin your photos. (Tip: If you want to add text to photos or create simple graphics, check out PicMonkey — it’s free and really easy to use. As for a plugin, check out “Pinterest Pin It Button for Images”). In addition to making your site Pinterest friendly, get on Pinterest and start pinning up a storm. The more time you put into Pinterest the more you will get back.

4. Write posts that are searchable.

This is the layman’s way of saying that you should work on your SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is a topic large enough to fill a whole book, and there are a ton of great articles around the web detailing how to optimize your SEO, so I’d recommend reading some of those. But basically SEO is how people looking around on Google for something that you’ve written about will actually find you! Having your blog post titled with something that is searchable is the key – for example, one of my best Google-able posts is “How to Make Brussels Sprouts Delicious.” Worth a look, by the way.

5. Have fun!

Above all, make sure that when you sit down to write your blog it’s because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. If you’re enjoying yourself and truly love what you do, it will shine through in your writing, and if you’re having fun, your readers will, too.

 

Happy blogging, friends! If you liked this post, here are a couple more on my food and fitness blog that you might find helpful. I share all sorts of quick meal ideas, easy healthy recipes, and fitness adventures on my blog as well; I hope you’ll stop by and say hello!

Here’s a few of Anne’s posts you might find helpful:

 

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COCKTAIL HOUR // Links from around the Web

happy hour - the b bar - helpful links roundup

Why shutting down comments was one of the best things I did for my blog // -Elembee

Top Hidden Costs of Website Projects // – Zoe Rooney

The Secret to Bouncing Back Stronger After Failure // -Inc.

Will I Retire from Blogging? // – The House That Lars Built (a response to the NYT article we discussed this week!)

How to Decide Whether to Accept a Sponsored Campaign // – Blogging Behind the Scenes

13 Indications You’re in a Relationship with a Fashion Blogger // – Blogging Behind the Scenes

10 Skillshare Classes for Bloggers // – Betty Red Design

DIY Photo Light Box // – Flax & Twine

Image: Chris Isham for Style Me Pretty

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HOT TOPIC: When a Blog Becomes a Slog

blogging becomes a slog - photo by ken loechner

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times published an article titled “When Blogging Becomes a Slog.” Did you read it? I thought it was an interesting piece, both because of the topics it tackled, the people it featured, and of course, the comments left thereafter. The article interviews or chronicles the journey of several well-known design blogs, and asks one simple question: Is the first generation of design bloggers aging out of the blogosphere?

Here’s a short history (my own interpretation, really!) of the rise of design blogs: I first started reading blogs in the mid to late 2000s, when design blogs were all the rage and amazingly enough, the prevalence of fashion blogs and “outfit posts” were still a few years away (can you imagine?). Before Pinterest and Instagram, design blogs played the role of “inspiration purveyors” around the Internet, re-publishing design, decor, travel, and food styling images to delight and inspire. Soon, as this space became saturated and new products like Pinterest launched, that content was no longer as relevant or necessary — so design bloggers began producing more original content, such as DIYs, tutorials, styled shoots, before and afters, etc. Anyone who has ever generated this type of content knows that it’s time consuming, potentially expensive, and can become extremely exhausting after a while — which is exactly what’s happened to many of the O.G. design blogs discussed in the article.   Read more »