What does it take to be successful online today? If you haven’t settled on an Instagram aesthetic and curated the heck out of your Pinterest boards, then there’s your homework. But the successful creators who have built a truly holistic personal brand, not to mention a loyal following, know that blogging still matters in the Instagram age.
And getting there will take more than snapping perfect selfies. We asked Samantha Skey, the newly minted CEO of the premier female blog network SheKnows, about #bloglife, whether you’re just getting started or already have a following — and she did not hold back. Get ready for some tough love about building a personal brand, why blogging still matters in the age of Instagram, and getting started in blogging at any age.
Be really honest with yourself before you start
“Are you deeply passionate about creating digital content? If yes, keep reading. If not, volunteer for your favorite cause, or spend time with friends and family instead,” says Skey. It may seem harsh, but with as competitive and time-consuming as blogging can be — it’s a full-time job and then some — you’ve got to be honest with yourself if you genuinely want to cultivate a personal brand.
Once you’re committed, Skey advises thinking about what kind of content you want to create: short or longform? Sharing personal stories? Lots of images or just a few? Videos? “A blog may not be the right format in which to launch your digital voice,” Skey advises. You might want to think about where to start, which isn’t necessarily a blog.
Why is a blog still important in the age of Instagram?
“True loyalty requires deep engagement from an audience and deep commitment from a content creator,” says Skey. Photos on Instagram are great, but people hunger for the story behind them; same for videos on Youtube. Your blog is the way to give these carefully edited snippets of life context and, as Skey puts it, “depth of perspective.”
So be ready to get real: “Blog readers anticipate a greater degree of intimacy. Blogs confer the type of authenticity and connection that comes from a longer conversation.”
Do your homework and resist temptation
To build an audience, they have to be able to find your blog in ways other than stumbling across your blog. The biggest mistake bloggers make when starting out is not doing their homework: It’s not sexy or fun, but you’ve got to get familiar with search engine optimization, tagging and learn the naming conventions of your field.
What about bloggers who have been successful enough to build an audience? Skey says the biggest mistake they make is working with too many brands or brands with whom they are not authentically engaged.
Posting is just the beginning
Think of running a blog as tending to a garden. Once you’ve planted your seeds or plants, those plants often can’t be left alone — and neither can your posts once you’ve made them. Something that takes up way more time than anyone on social media necessarily expects is replying to fans and community members. Think of everything you post as the beginning of a conversation.
Remember that when it comes to potential advertisers, you’ll be judged not just on reach but also on the quality of your engagement: as in the depth of interaction with your audience. Be diligent and if you can build a monthly audience of over 100,000 people, you can start thinking about making a living off your blog.
Don’t let being older than 30 stop you
Social media can feel like a very young space, but women who aren’t in their 20s shouldn’t feel intimidated. Being genuine is so important when it comes to building your brand, so Skey advises sharing your honest experiences, and your audience will find you. “Most of our top bloggers write about the things they love, and every experience with a new recipe or workout regimen, or adventure with family, represents great fodder for their blog.”
Like what you’ve read here? From Aug. 8-9, over 2,000 bloggers and online influencers will gather in New York City for the #BlogHer18 Creators Summit to hear from online-savvy celebrities like Gabrielle Union, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Jessica Alba, as well as workshops, networking and connecting with brands. It all goes down at Pier 17 in the Seaport District; tickets are $350 on.