Advanced Blogging Skills
Panelists were Helen Jane of Federated Media, Whitney Johnson of Dare Dream Do, Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked, and Amy Anderson of Parker Etc. I’m going to be totally honest here — they were not playing when they said “Advanced Blogging.” We’re talking agents, advisory boards, and some things relating very specifically to the business of being a big-time blogger. Since that’s not my goal, I focused on the more general takeaways for business and blogging and didn’t take as many notes.
ADVANCED EDITORIAL CALENDARS // You know I love a good editorial calendar, so this was my favorite section. The biggest takeaway here is that by creating an editorial calendar, you focus on the work you want to do, not the work you see from others.
- The benefit of an editorial calendar. For many of us, the first thing we do each morning is read our favorite blogs. If you don’t have an editorial calendar, your work is heavily influenced by what you just read. An editorial calendar is your chance to push your content further and develop it in absence of other people’s vision. It’s your chance not to be influenced by the outside.
- Work backwards from tentpole events. Holidays, vacations, travel, seasons — whatever inspires you. Want to talk about spring colors? Pick a date in the spring for your post, and make your plans from there.
- Plan your sponsors and amplification all at the same time. When you are planning your posts, take some extra time to figure out how you will promote it as well.
ASSEMBLING AN ADVISORY BOARD // An advisory board is a panel of experts you can call on for business advice. Usually they get a small percentage of your business to remain “on call” for advice and connections. I think you can also take some of this advice when it comes to hiring someone for your business.
- Know your blind spots. What jobs need to get done that I can’t do? If you say “I’ll do it later,” it’s a blind spot that you need help with.
- Do your homework and figure out what you don’t know. Then you can tell friends you need someone who can do x, y, z. You have to articulate clearly what you are looking for to get what you need.
- Do a trial run. When you’re out of your level of experience, you will probably be asking people stupid questions. Do a few things with them to get a feel of how you work together.
PASSIVE INCOME // Honestly, I’ve always thought of passive income of money you earn while you sleep, for example, an e-book that you just do the initial work, then people purchase, it’s automatically delivered, and you don’t have to do anything but earn the money. This was slightly different than that — I took it as ways you can grow your business while still focusing on what you do best, in a sense, automating and hiring out as much as you can.
- The most important thing. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row to push something out. All you need is a duck. Susan started making baby mocassins with the materials she could get, then once people started buying, she was able to get the feedback she needed to turn it into a really great product that she can charge more for.
- Systemize everything. Make your system scalable. Start where you are and take notes of what you are doing. What takes you longest? Fix it and figure out how to teach it to someone. Do what you do best and hire out the rest. It will free up your time to do something else. Be honest with yourself about what you are good at, then figure out what you like to do, then only do that.
- Hire it out. You will feel the pinch of hiring someone, but it will allow you to focus on what you do best, which will make your business grow in a way it wouldn’t have if you were still trying to do everything yourself. You cannot be the engineer and the entrepreneur in your own company.
WORKING WITH AGENTS, PR REPS, AND BUSINESS MANAGERS // Honestly, this was the section I stopped taking notes and just listened. Amy talked about her experience working in the entertainment industry and shared the differences between a business manager (handles day to day tasks), PR rep (helps you get publicity), and agent (helps broker deals). She recommended hiring these when there is something they can accomplish for you that you are unable to do yourself, to help push you to the next level. Here are a few of my more general takeaways:
- Know what you want. At the end of the day, you are your brand’s best representative.
- Demonstrate your value. Amy told the story of Penny Chic‘s Shauna Miller, a blogger who started blogging on the premise that she could make clothes from Wal-Mart fashionable. Ultimately, she got the attention of Wal-Mart, and when she met with them, she came prepared, outlining all the ways they were missing out on a fashionable target market. Now she’s launching a clothing line with them, starting with a 5-piece collection of little black dresses made with the fashionable woman of all shapes and sizes in mind, each retailing for $20.
- Do your homework! Before you reach out to anyone, do your research, know what they’ve done, and how you can benefit them. Amy talked about how she would often meet with people who just wanted to make contact with someone in the entertainment industry, and she always researched them and prepared at least 3 pieces of advice specific to what they were doing. This often resulted in client work later.
I hope you enjoyed all the panel recaps! I do plan on sharing one final post from Alt, just on my experience as a first-timer and anything else that didn’t quite fit with the other posts, so look for that either tomorrow or next week (still playing catch up from being away!).