By: Rachel Cansler
AWCSB members and friends gathered Wednesday, September 12, at our new home at Antioch University to learn how today’s leading bloggers have managed to leverage their blogs for new business and, in some cases, turn them into their own self-sustaining business. Sharing their secrets to success were expert panelists: Hollye Jacobs, a nurse and child development specialist whose blog, The Silver Pen was originally created to chronicle her journey through breast cancer and was selected as one of Forbes’ top 100 Websites for Women in 2012; twin sisters and award-winning fitness professionals Kymberly Williams Evans, M.A., and Alexandra Williams, M.A., of Fun and Fit, were both recently named by KRED radio as Top 50 Fitness Bloggers; and Mikki Reilly, a certified fitness trainer and strength and conditioning specialist who transformed her blog, Fitness Transform, into a book entitled Your Primal Body: The Paleo Way to Living Lean, Fit and Healthy at Any Age. Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, moderated the event and enlightened the group on how to successfully market yourself and your business online.
The main question on everyone’s mind seemed to be: How do bloggers make money? Kymberly Evans said that blogging often functions as a virtual calling card; attracting potential business as a guest speaker or attracting writing assignments for other businesses. Her sister, Alexandra Williams, added that taking ads is another way to obtain capital from your blog, but warned that one should only accept advertising for products and businesses that agree with your blog’s mission. Mikki Reilly noted that when it came time to compose her book, her blog provided her with a running template as well as much of the content she needed. Hollye Jacobs, never intending for her blog to reach such a wide level of exposure and using it mainly as a way to share her personal experience and perspective on breast cancer, has partnered with companies that include The Huffington Post and Livestrong.
For those looking to book speaking engagements or encourage more business, the panelists suggested to post video speaking samples and design your blog in a way that reflects your personality.
On the subject of intellectual property, the question was asked if blogging enables others to freely violate what is yours and take your ideas or if it is beneficial to share your thoughts with the world? When it comes to blogging, Mikki feels she never really owns anything. Even her book was inspired by another author’s essay. She stated that her blog becomes more popular when others repost or ‘repin’ her posts, so she views others’ “borrowing” your ideas as beneficial. Hollyes added that ‘pinning’ content such as info graphics, is a great way to credit others and attract people to your own site. Alexandra Williams stated it is bad etiquette to post only your own material and it is desirable to share information from other bloggers, let them share yours, and build your social network.
All of the panelists stressed the importance of crediting other people’s work—whether it is a photograph, a quote, or an article that appears on your blog or site. Credit, credit, credit!
Aware that today’s social media often violates people’s personal privacy, the expert panelists advised attendees to be very careful of what they post on their blogs. While Hollye shares many intimate details about her breast cancer journey, she would never post her child’s name or a person’s home address.
The panelists agreed optimizing and organizing your blog to meet your and your audience’s needs is vital to any blogger’s success.
In sharing their best ‘blog story’ to date, Kymberly retold the story of the time she went to her sister to propose her idea for the blog titled “Fit and Fun”. Alexandra responded, “That’s perfect, I’m fun and I’m fit...you can be and.”
Hollye noted that the best stories come from her readers. She said it is heartwarming and reaffirming when readers write to her saying that she’s given them a voice when they feel like they don’t have one, or that they have a better understanding of what they or their loved one is going through. Lorrie concluded that blogging is possibly one of the most important tools used to educate, empower, and express your ideas and personality...you have to have the time to keep at it!