Choosing an Angle for Your Blog
So, now that we have at least one, one to two ideal customer profiles, it's time to think about choosing an angle for your blog. So, we're not yet down to brass tacks of exactly what kinds of posts we're writing, but instead we want to give ourselves sort of a bucket. Like a general bucket of content, of topics, of aesthetic, of things that we're going to cover on our blog. So, how do you decide what to blog about? First, I just want to look at a few common approaches to product-based blogs. So, one is lifestyle. Lifestyle is like the big bucket, (giggles) right? So, this is really any kind of content that focuses on visual inspiration and the lifestyle the brand hopes to encourage. One example of this is, this is the brand Polar. They make, they're clearly... What do you guys think this brand is about just from this?
Travel, maybe venture. Right (laughing)? (students laughing) Right? Yeah, so they make, basically like camping and adventure gear. They make these things that...
are like a sleeping bag, jacket hybrid that you like put on and then throw the hood up, but kinda hide in a big sack. So, that's what they make and this is their blog. And it's literally just adventures in every single one. And what's funny is I thought that these were probably going to be like videos or something fancy that like GoPro put, you know GoPro makes all that crazy content. And when I clicked on them, I was like, oh! Well, they're just photo essays. It's just visual content. Well done Polar. They're pretty good at this stuff (giggles). So, this is a lifestyle blog. I think another company blog that's a really clear example of a lifestyle blog is Anthropologie. So, they're showing some of their products, here's this tour of their store, but here's a recipe about how to make marguritas for Cinco de Mayo. And I believe this one was like, something about terrariums and a summer beauty tutorial, right? So, it's just a general lifestyle that reflects the brand. Now, I'm not saying that you guys have to do this, because I also acknowledge that some of these things are challenging and are also put together by a team. (laughs) I'm just trying to get you guys to think about what a blog looks like for a product-based company and then think about how this is different from what you're seeing from say an infopreneur. Alright? Then another really common approach is like a helpful/how-to. Ideally, you're teaching the audience something. So, I don't know if she's still watching, but Corey Egan was watching earlier and this is Corey's blog. She does a really good job with that kind of helpful information. Right, she's got like, what is oxidized silver? How to store your jewelry. How should my wedding ring fit? So, she's giving useful information and she's also, also in her helpful/how-to, overcoming a lot of customer objections for her products. But helpful does not have to be this literal. So, I wanted to show this example from page two sixty-one. So, she makes a lot of products that are aimed at moms. One of her things is she has a T-shirt that's Minivan Mafia. (students giggle) She's actually started this movement on Instagram, but I was excited to see her carry it over to her blog. I mean it's just, No Shame in My Mom Game, I don't know, it's something like that. Basically, No Shame in My Mom Game. So, this idea that people who are moms face a lot of criticism online. Right, and so she created this place where moms could share their stories, and like judgment-free zones. So, it's like a judgment-free zone, but for moms. But, what I like is that then she started doing these profiles on her blog, and even though these are profiles, I would consider this helpful content. Because if you're a mom and you're on the internet, and you feel like all you're hearing is shame and criticism about your parenting style, this is crazy helpful, right? So, I think we think of like helpful as that really how-to tutorial, teach something. But, this is incredibly helpful content for her audience, and then after they find this, of course they're going to want the stuff that says No Shame in My Mom Game and Minivan Mafia, and whatever the one that is, if you drive an SUV instead of a minivan. So, this is an example of helpful blog content and I wanted to show this because it's not what we immediately think of when we think of helpful, but this is certainly helping her audience. Then you can take a behind the scenes approach. This is really about creating a connection and I think a straight behind the scenes approach works best if you already have a large following. So, if you have a, say a big following on Instagram, or you were already pretty popular online because you got a lot of press, or something like that, then a strictly behind the scenes approach or mostly behind the scenes approach can work for you. It is not, I think, the best approach if your goal is ultimately to attract a lot of new customers. So, somebody who I think does this really well is Lisa Congdon. Now, this works for her because Lisa is incredibly popular. You guys may know her because she's taught several classes on CreativeLive and she's built up a huge following. She does a ton of speaking. So, this mostly behind the scenes approach works for her blog because she's not trying to use it to attract a ton of people, she's using it to deepen the connection with her existing audience. But this is still a strategy, so I wanted to show that as well. And then some plans literally just use their blog for announcements, for keeping customers in the loop. And again, if this is, if your goal is to attract new customers, a blog that is only about announcements is not going to do the job. Let's be real. But it is a strategy that a lot of people use and it is a strategy that you might use from time to time. So, this is Field Notes. They make notebooks and a lot of their blog is just like this is what's happening, this is what's going on. And even I'll use this strategy occasionally, right? This is my holiday order cutoff, and this just happened. So, you can use this strategy as well, but again if you are attracting customers, you're probably better off in our first two categories, right? In our helpful/how-to or in our lifestyle kind of categories. That's really where you're going to be doing the work of attracting new customers. So, you can use these kinds of ideas and these are not, by far and away, the only types of blogs. You can also think about being entertaining. I looked really hard to find a good product-based blog that was like entertaining or funny, and I could not find one (giggles). So, there's probably an opportunity there too. There are other approaches, but these are kind of big ones just to get you started thinking. So, what we want to do is now create a unique editorial angle for your blog. Your unique editorial angle is based on the types of products you create, who your ideal customer is, and the kinds of content that are sustainable for you to create, because remember that's our other piece, right? We're not going to decide that we're going to take a picture of ourselves wearing an outfit every day and then give up after two days (giggles). (students giggling) That's not what I want for you. So, really the unique editorial angle is a fancy way of thinking about this question. If your blog was a magazine, what topics would you cover? What would the aesthetic be? And what kind of tone would you take? So, these things are going to set your blog apart, because even things that have maybe the same kinds of topics, might have a different aesthetic, or a different tone. You could think of it as the difference between Cosmo and Elle, right? Cosmo (giggles softly) has a very different tone than Elle. Generally, they cover the same topics, there are a few things different, but they've got a very different tone and even a different aesthetic. So, if your blog was a magazine, I'm going to make you guys answer this question for real in a little bit, but if your blog was a magazine, what topics would you cover? What would the aesthetic be? And what kind of tone would you take? Here's the thing with your editorial angle. It should give you a feeling of endless possibility, not restriction. It should make you feel like, I have tons of content ideas! Not like, I can only write about these things. Alright, so if it feels restrictive, we want broaden up a little bit. Now, in the next lesson, we're going to talk about specific types of blogs and specific types of blog posts. But for now, we're just going to do the big picture. And remember we're thinking about our products as we create this big picture, we're thinking about our products. It's generally easier to blog in topics that are related to your product, but not required. We're thinking about our customers and the kind of content that attract them, and we're thinking about what works for us. Because if it doesn't work for you, it's not sustainable and it's not going to happen. Let me give you my unique editorial angle. My approach to my blog is kind of a blend of lifestyle and helpful/how-to. Alright, sometimes I show people things, I give them ideas, but it also might just be a little bit like lifestyle inspiration. My blog topics. Obviously, I talk about jewelry because that's my product category, right? I also talk about style. Part of that is because of my ideal customer. I'm going to be totally honest with you guys. I like style. Like, I talk about style because this is sustainable for me. I like style. I'm wearing a jumpsuit right now, okay guys? Like, I like to shop. So, this is on here because I like it. I talk about art, because I know that's of interest to my ideal customer, but I also talk about it again because it's sustainable for me and it inspires my work. And sometimes I talk about travel. Again, things that I think my customer might be interested in. So, those are my general blog topics. My aesthetic: bold, modern, creative. I realize sometimes when you look at things like this, you're like, well that like, that says nothing Megan. But it actually doesn't because I didn't say it's romantic, feminine, and corporate. I don't know what a romantic, feminine, corporate blog would look like. (students laugh) But it would be a unique editorial angle, would it not (giggles)? So, this is the aesthetic that I go for, bold, modern, creative. And then my tone. Conversational. That's important to me. It may not be important to you. I think it should be important to everyone, probably because it's important to me, right? I like to write in a conversational style. I'm also, there's enthusiasm there. I use a lot of exclamation points in my blogging, and I know that it's like, everyone's like you're not supposed to use exclamation points that much. I'm like, guys I talk in exclamation points! (students laugh) I should write in exclamation points too. So, part of my tone is enthusiastic. And then I feel like I'm also honest, right? I want to try to be kind of real. Not in a I'm writing a MySpace journal from the early 2000s real, but just in a I'm a real person and not a corporation. And then the last piece of this is what I call my sustainability strategy. This is what makes this possible for me to do this on a consistent basis. So, I use photos that I take and generally these photos are either of my products and of my products on a model, in whatever situation. But they're the photos that I'm already taking in order to sell my products online, right? So, I'm using the photos that I've taken on my blog, and then I do these product round-up collages, which I'm going to show you guys later. There are no pictures of me. I realized really quickly that was not going to happen. I write short, so I always focus on images. I think for most of us here that's a pretty strong element of our sustainability strategy. And the other one for me personally is no interviews (giggles nervously). The idea of like getting an interview and editing it feels like forever. Some people do great interview style content on their blog, but that one just does not work in my brain. So, I don't do it. Alright, so any questions about the unique editorial angle? (mumbles)
Putting an occasional recipe or something like that, is that out of place in a blog that's selling jewelry, or is it all back to lifestyle thing.
So, I think that's a really good question and I would say, in general, you can post about nature, you can post about the outdoors, you can post about food, you can post about drinks, but when people click over to a recipe, that is the only thing they care about and they are not going to stay for long.
[Student With Long Hair] Gotcha.
So, I would think about instead of maybe recipes, what about things like sharing restaurants, maybe sharing drink ideas, and then also thinking about are their ways to style the photography for those if you're going to do them, that lend back to your product?
[Student With Long Hair] Okay.
So, you can throw those things in, but I think it's sort of like, the other thing is think about if it's lifestyle, are they necessarily going to be using your product while they're doing it. So, are they really going to be wearing your jewelry while they're cooking, or are they going to be wearing your jewelry while they go out to a great restaurant?
[Student With Long Hair] Yeah.
So, that's the other thing to think about too. Is does it fit in the part of their life that your product fits in? But yeah, recipe posts are hard just because literally, like think about it, you're stressed, you're about to make dinner, you look at the recipe, that's it, you're done (laughs). Right? (students laugh) Right, so that's one that is a hard category for anyone. Even if your products are more related to cooking, it's a trickier one to make actually work.
[Student With Long Hair] Okay.
What about writing about your passion and what drives you, like what drives me has nothing to do with my jewelry, it's all about rescuing senior dogs.
So, that's fine if you think it's going to attract your ideal customer. Is your ideal customer going to buy your jewelry because they know that that's your passion? And maybe part of that is actually bringing the two things closer together. So, if you donate something from the sale of every piece of jewelry to an organization that rescues senior dogs, then, suddenly, all the content about senior dogs makes sense. But if you don't have any kind of connection there, then you're probably better off making that it's own blog.
[Student With Short Hair] Okay.
For the record, I also love senior dogs. Our dog was three when we got him, like we're, I'm all about adopting adult dogs. (student laughs) But yeah, so that's the thing, either tie it in a little bit closer to help people see the connection,
[Student With Short Hair] Okay. or else make it it's own thing. And again, think about your ideal customer. If there are any moved by that, then it probably will help.
I've had people that have read about it on my website and they've shown up at my shows because I've written about the dogs, so.
Well, there you go, that answers your question. (student laughs) But I think if you can even make that connection a little bit stronger, it will help even more.
[Student With Short Hair] Okay.
We have a question here from Monica who said, "Due to an illness, I had to shut down "my photography business, "which had a very active blog and a social media presence. "And now I've started writing "and illustrating children's books. "How do I move the momentum from my photography clients "over to this new venture? "Is there any way to sort of bridge that gap "with some blog content?"
You know, that's a tricky one and part of it is, if you had a big community, I'm guessing that some of those people at least are still subscribed on like an RSS reader. That's less of a thing than I think people use, but there are still people who hold on to those. So, in this case, I would just write a, so, I don't know if you're keeping the same blog or if you're moving to a new one. But if you're moving to a new one, I would write a series of posts at the old blog that say this is my new project, this is what I'm doing. And if you actually have like a strong reason why, like this is why I was doing this, but now I'm doing this, share that reason and kind of bring them along on the journey. So, this is one case, because you already had a following, where telling a personal story is going to help because it brings people along. Some of them are going to drop out and that's totally fine. Some people are not going to like the new iteration and that's okay, but you can use a little bit of storytelling to bring people along.