As part of the Starter Studio program, we get to hear all sorts of fabulous presentations given by industry leaders, proven business people, and outstanding entrepreneurs who have actually made it. (If you didn’t read our post about being a part of the Starter Studio, start here.)
In fact, each Monday night at 7 pm, there’s a “Founder’s Talk” where different company founders share how they built their businesses. This first one featured Gregg Pollack, founder of Envy Labs and Code School, and the brains behind the Starter Studio. While I had heard Gregg’s name over and over in the local tech scene, I didn’t really know his story and I was fascinated to hear about how he had some similar struggles before he found his way to success.
Gregg couched his talk in “25 More Things I’ve Learned in Business” which builds upon his previous Founder’s Talk that you can watch at the bottom of this post. Although I took notes on all 25 things, some dealt with managing teams of people, which not a lot of bloggers have to do. So, in this post, I’ll just focus on the ones that apply to bloggers most.
1. Properly Advertise Yourself.
This seems like a no-brainer, but Gregg was right when he says he sometimes visits a website and isn’t really sure what the website is about. This is doubly true for bloggers. A visitor should be able to instantly tell what topics you like to write about. Some great examples of this branding can be seen on a variety of successful blogs. I’ve listed some great examples of bloggers who really brand themselves well below.
One final thought about advertising yourself with proper branding. Make sure to carry that branding look across all of your social media channels. You should be instantly recognizable by readers whether they are on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
2. Don’t make yourself look like a corporation.
We all want to look professional, but people read your blog to connect with you, not a company! Brands know this so that is why you make the difference in your blog. Brands want to see your personality and see how you connect with your readers on a variety of platforms.
For example, on Twitter, if you just use it as a billboard, a place where you autotweet, then you look like an impersonal corporation. Join the human conversation by replying and retweeting other people. You’ll gain a lot of new fans through the process!
3. Always try to make a friend.
This is especially true as you begin to work with brands. Get to know the PR rep or brand marketer. Find out their likes and interests and ask about their day and life before you get down to discussing business. Not only will this make a happier blogging relationship, but it might result in some preferred return business, too. Here’s a photo of me toasting the holidays with Audrey and Katie, two PR peeps I consider friends.
4. Solidify Your Core Values.
I bet a lot of bloggers haven’t spent much time thinking about their core values. Do you have a list of rules you blog by? Part of our Starter Studio exercises has me thinking about the core values of FLBlogCon and they include:
-Provide high quality at an affordable price
-Work to connect bloggers with brands
-Create a community of support
-Showcase and promote bloggers from the state of Florida
So, everything we do here at FLBlogCon should support those core values, and we try to seek out companies, like the Southern Ford Dealers and the Florida Dairy Farmers, that support these same values. Do you have a set of core values that guide your blogging? Have you ever written them out before? Maybe give it a try and see what you come up with.
5. Be trustworthy, honest, and humble.
I think this applies to everyone all the time, no matter your industry, but especially to bloggers. Our readers are smart and they can see right through dishonesty or insincerity. It is only by building and then fostering trust that we truly gain loyal readers who will forgive the occasional mistake, which is the next item.
6. Don’t be afraid to apologize to your customers.
Of course customers means our readers, but we should always be willing to ‘fess up when we’ve made a mistake. Sometimes we may go off on a rant or list something wrong in our post… and yes, our readers are usually quick to let us know when we’ve messed up. But if we’ve done our job of creating trust with our readers, they are generally quick to forgive us, too. We’re all human after all!
7. All businesses are based in systems.
Not being from the business world, this one was new to me but it makes sense. It is only by having a system in place that we truly become efficient. I think many bloggers already have systems in place without even realizing it. For example, what are the steps you go through to create a blog post? And then the steps to broadcast it through your social media channels? Are there ways you can maximize these systems? Give it some thought and I bet maybe you can tweak a few steps to become even more effective in your blogging.
8. Practice the pseudo-science of projections.
I know bloggers do not spend enough time setting 30, 60 and 90 day goals. Sometimes it’s hard enough to convince bloggers they need an editorial calendar! haha
9. Surround yourself with people you could hire.
This was a light bulb moment for me when Gregg said this. I have spent the last 5 years blogging from my living room. Yes, I have plenty of real-life connections, but 99% of my blogging time has been spent in a vacuum. Gregg’s advice was to instead work near where other techy type people are. Imagine if I was working near where some coders were… what a resource if my blog crashes or I have an amazing idea of what else I could do on my website!
So, while you might not have access to a co-working space like I currently do at the Starter Studio, you can start to create your own co-working spaces, like a blogging club where you meet up with others a few times a month. Or join a social media group or go to an Orlando Tech meet up. There are tons of capable, willing creatives out there that are an incredible resource to us bloggers!
10. Join a support group.
We bloggers already rock at this! We have tons of groups you can join – Central Florida Bloggers, Lady Bloggers, etc. If you don’t like conversing with strangers, though, once again, you can start your own group via Facebook or Twitter. We are all on this strange blogging trip together so reach out and connect! I guarantee somebody else is experiencing the same frustrations as you.
11. Seriously, follow up!
It’s okay if a brand doesn’t want to work with you the first time around. Email again.. and again… and again! This shows not only how much you really value this brand, but persistence just might be the key to starting off your brand ambassadorship.
12. Understand it is your job to wear the hats.
As entrepreneurs, we bloggers have to learn all aspects of our businesses. We have to learn how to build a website, do social media, create eye-catching graphics, write compelling posts, take beautiful photos, make interesting videos, understand SEO, and master a whole list of skills! And don’t forget the business-side of accounting, strategizing, and marketing.
13. Take a calculated risk.
Gregg quoted, “Comfort is the enemy of greatness,” and this really resounded with me. I know what I am good at and tend to focus my energies on what I do best. However, I’ve got some really big obstacles I’ve got to get sorted out – structuring my business, setting up my accounting, etc. I bet you as a blogger have some things maybe you are avoiding trying, too, simply because it is out of your comfort zone.
I will continue to share what I am learning here in the Starter Studio with you, as there are some really valuable ideas that will aid all bloggers. However, all of the Founder’s Talks as well as the Tuesday/Thursday “Brown Bag” lunches are open to the public, so check the schedule and come join us.
I truly enjoyed Gregg’s talk and look forward to being a sponge, soaking up all I can from him.
If you are interested in his original Founder’s Talk, you can view it here: