So, what do bloggers do besides look amazing in photos and get facials?
One of the scariest and coolest parts about being a blogger is that you get to make your own schedule.
The thing is that it can either be a full day or a light day depending on how many brands you’re working with or events you have.
Unlike a job where you are assigned your work, as a blogger you have to create your work.
I run Windy City Cosmo, so I have to develop the content calendar, reach out to experts and entrepreneurs, interview, and write articles and then promote them and my brand.
I’m going to go through some of the aspects of blogging and then give you a one minute recap of what a typical day looks like for bloggers.
I always love a good party. Do you go to see or be seen – or ya know, for the food? I did a little bit of everything with these earrings from @fabrikwickerpark, taking in the beautiful @fschicago decor and seeing some of my favorite #girlbosses, @onceuponadollhouse 💁🏻 📸 @alexshebar . . . . #huffposttaste #thatsdarling #onceuponadollhouse #chicagogrammers #instagirl #f52grams #cocktailtime #thanksgivingdinner #womenandfood #cocktailqueen #squeeze #nightout #sparkles #onthetable #desserttable
Content creation is one of my favorite aspects of blogging, and I’m currently looking for a full time job in that area.
There’s many ways to come up with content ideas. I look at the different areas that my blog covers – beauty/health, building relationships, food/bar/travel scene and how to grow a business. I like to find events or people to interview for each of these topics.
Usually, I look at magazines like CS magazine or TimeOut Chicago. I also receive Google Alerts. And I subscribe to publications and organizations with similar beats like the tech and entrepreneurial news from ChicagoInno, 1871, Women Tech Founders and Built in Chicago, or the global beauty and business brands and bloggers like Marie Claire and Forbes and On-Air Beauty Expert, Deepica Mutyala, as well as connecting with people in these areas like my interview with the former editor of Vogue. I also join local Chicago groups like Creative Women’s Co. which I’ve volunteered for their events (they also have a great podcast), or Ms. Tech which I’ve covered for Windy City Cosmo, and I’ve written for them.
There's a lot of bloggers out there. And, they're pretty fab. So who do trust to inspire your next outfit, find your next mascara or help you plan your next date? I've talked with 5 Chicago #lifestyle bloggers to learn why they started and how they built a following. Why do you follow certain bloggers? #girlboss #bloggerlife #workingday #windycitycosmo #chicagogrammers
Then, I also think about ideas or events that I would be interested in and what might be good for that time of the year. I like to think in terms of season or holidays, but’s it’s also so important to think about evergreen content – content that is relevant all year round.
Keywords and Relevance
When I think about writing an article, I have to think of what people are searching for as well. Writing for the web is kindof like filing except you want to make sure you write something engaging not just robotic. (Hint: start with the headline). There’s a system created by Google and it’s called SEO – search engine optimization. If you label your document correctly (through your title and keywords in your post), people will know it’s relevant when they search for it. It becomes more relevant when you link to other documents/articles, and even more relevant when people share it and talk about it. You can learn some more tips about SEO here. One of my favorite authors about the subject is Orbit Media.
When I write an article I think about the specific topic I’m addressing and if it will be relevant and if it is worth filing away for reference. The only caveat is if it’s timely. I’ve learned that it’s hard to compete with bigger brands when it comes to timely news – but just because you can’t break the news, you can create a voice and opinion from that news. People like Luvvie from Awesomely Luvvie have grown their audience from doing that and writing for popular websites.
Photos are an important part of blogging. This can be the main part of blogging for some bloggers. They will have photo shoots almost everyday or spend a Saturday shooting looks for the week.
Most bloggers with recommend Canva which helps you easily create pictures for your blog. For photo editing, people use different apps. I’ve enjoyed Snapseed, which I learned about from a fashion designer.
Writing a Post
Writing an article can take awhile. There’s a lot of aspects to creating content and writing can sometimes be the hardest for bloggers. The main parts of the article to focus on is the intro and the headline and having a keyword. But, also don’t neglect the conclusion and how someone would share or learn from your post. Hubspot has a great class about how to create content for different mediums. I learned about how to take one post and truly reuse the content to get more traffic.
Another overlooked part of blogging is editing. I will recommend Grammarly for editing. If you don’t have someone who can look at your work, Grammarly can be that free extra set of eyes. It’s a Chrome plug-in that you can use on WordPress or even for your emails and social media posts.
I’ve read a lot of tips from other bloggers and also followed them. I learned that having a theme or style whether that’s your Instagram filter or tone on your blog have helped them to grow their following. If you look at Once Upon a Dollhouse, a blog about two best friends, they are always wearing creative outfits like twin. Chicago blogger, Emma Lenhart has a similar filter in all of her Instagram filters and she talks about her process here.
Bloggers also experiment with their posts. For Instance, Macy Stucke found out that her pictures would get reposted if she was at a crosswalk. In a podcast I’ve listened to The Chris Loves Julia Podcast and Julia talks about how she would post a few different photos to figure out what her audience liked. For instance she would post a photo of a room and then she would post a photo of someone in the room to see what had more engagement on Instagram. A huge part of creating content as a blogger is testing content.
Events: Hosting or Attending
One of the best parts of blogging is meeting new people. To do this, you go to events or you create your own and invite others.
Some bloggers are know for their events like Once Upon a Dollhouse threw an amazing Friendsgiving at The Four Seasons.
A lot of bloggers simply go to events. I average anywhere from an event a week to four events a night depending on my schedule. Some of my favorite events was a staycation in Rosemont or a cocktail party with The Everygirl at Celeste or the Popculture themed real estate party.
When your dress is art and functional. 👌 Last night we were treated to an art rooftop party at 777 South State Street. We took a tour of the #penthouse which had unreal views of Chicago. Then we enjoyed dry ice purple champagne, swings on the rooftop, beats by @b96chicago and imitation Samoa Girl Scout cookies. I love a good party. And what does a good party have? A good view, a good cocktail, good music, a photo booth, inspiration, and people you want to meet. Where’s the best party you’ve been to and why? (PS check my Insta Story for events this weekend).
Gaining a Following from Social Media
Another main aspect of blogging is social media. I spend about an hour to well, I really don’t want to admit how much time I spend on social media a day. I’m primarily on Instagram or Snapchat and Facebook and then I also go on LinkedIn and Twitter. Some of the main things I do on these platforms is follow bloggers like me or people I want to connect with for articles or events or brand sponsorships (so PR).
Have you ever found yourself freaking out about talking to a guy, sending that email blast, or #networking. I got the best advice today before my day of interviews and meetings: calm down – it’s just a conversation. Remember that people are people and in business, love, and life it all starts with “hello.” Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s hard to act natural when we put too much pressure on one interview or one client or one guy – read the news, smile, and remember it’s just a conversation. You can say “hello” 😉
Then I also reach out to my followers and see who they are following. I spend a good chunk looking at content and using that to think of my own brand.
Another thing I use social media for is outreach. I write comments and I go to other websites and read and comment on articles. I think when I first started blogging I was so focused on my content, but now I realize three years later that caring about other people’s content and learning about your followers helps you build a more engaged brand.
How to Make a Business from Blogging:
While writing for my blog and going to events is fun, I’ve really wanted to turn my passion into a profit. I have to make blogging a business by applying for speaking opportunities and networking and working with brands for sponsorships. Other ways bloggers make money is through affiliate links, coaching bloggers in how to blog, freelancing and managing brands social media profiles.
This morning we spoke at @thesecondcity to tell our stories about following your passion, making a living and adulting. Thank you @itsinchicago and @miyahara_eats for coming to hear me speak and thank you for following Windy City Cosmo and seeing the cool #girlbosses to meet, the next party to go to and watching me as I go on too many dates. 🧡
Sometimes I join blogger groups, but I also go to a lot of events and my relationships with PR people from when I was a journalist have really helped me grow my brand. From that, I’ve met some great PR people at parties and on social media.
Making Connections Through Social Media and Email Marketing
One of the key ways to connect is either going to parties and running into the same people and also combining that with social media and email marketing. One of my tips is to find people going to the same party as you and connecting with them before the event on social media. You’ll be surprised that people look for you at the party when you follow them and drop a line. I also connect with people after a party by using the Instagram Geo filter to see who tagged photos or by using the hashtag.
Another good way to follow-up is by email. I have a few templates I use. You want to include a blurb about your blog and how you can help each other. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying – hey, I’m a blogger. I cover this beat. I’d love to know more about the brands you’re working with and how I might be able to help your clients reach their target markets.
It’s also good to see which brands are working with bloggers. You’ll notice that Chicago bloggers like Emma Lenhart and LincolnParkMin have sponsorships with Glossier.
Other sides of the blogging business include setting my rates and invoicing.
Understanding Algorithms and Social Media Rules
A Blogger’s Daily Life
Below is a one minute video of what my Monday schedule looks like.
There’s a lot of aspects to blogging. I don’t do all of these tasks everyday, but I do touch on them in some form or another. I know bloggers who delegate their tasks or who build a team and others like me who do everything themselves and sometimes have guest contributions.
What’s your favorite part about blogging?
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.