On How to Grow Your Blog...

Alt Summit was amazing. I can say with 100% honesty, it is so, SO worth the investment if you are interested in monetizing your blog or if you just want to be inspired to be a better blogger. Really - for the job opportunities alone. There was major networking happening all over.

Plus! It was SO fun to finally meet almost all of my blogging friends in real life. If you're on the fence about going next January, shoot me an email and I'll do my best to pressure you further!

All images courtesy of the Alt 2011 Flickr stream

Lots of you asked for a recap on my presentation. I know not all of you readers are bloggers, and as I learned from my survey, only 2% of you have blogs that make you money. So, I apologize if the following is not very interesting. Come back tomorrow for a great post about using sheets as curtains! You're in for a treat.

I spoke about building a blogging community on a panel with Meg from A Practical Wedding, Danielle from The Jealous Curator and Sarah from Babble. It was such a fun group of ladies. We all have very different blog communities and goals, so it was cool to learn from each other and to be able to speak from unique vantage points.


Sarah, Meg, me, and Danielle

It would take forever to write out everything I talked about in my presentation, but here's an outline (still very long) of what I discussed for building traffic or developing a deeper more meaningful community on your blog. Kindly note that I do not consider myself an expert on building a blogging community. I developed the following ideas from talking with other bloggers, reading your survey responses and also a bit from my own adventures in blogging, which started in late 2007.

1. Preliminary idea: Set goals and maintain the right prospective. What is the end goal for writing a blog? The most traffic possible? A book deal? New friendships? New clients? Build your blog and develop your posts with your end goal in mind. Reevaluate often. "Am I getting closer to or further away from my goal?"

2. Part 1: Capture new readers

a) Most of you found my blog through a blog roll! So great! Let's all share the blog love and keep up blog rolls of our own. If you are intimidated by the sheer number of people who want to be on your blog roll, consider having two - a favorites and a rotating (monthly or quarterly) list of new to you blogs.

b) Make your content buzzworthy so that other bloggers will want to share. What do I mean by buzzworthy?

i) Truly original content (try to post something completely yours at least once a week). Or at least put a really unique spin on the same photos that get recycled on blogs.

ii) Think about common problems (something someone would google to find out) and find solutions to those problems through your blog. "How to paint vintage furniture" or "How to sew pinch pleat drapes" or "How to shop at a flea market" etc.

iii) Start a conversation that other bloggers will want to continue. The two examples I used were Lauren's Design Price Points post and Chelsea's idea to stop complaining.

c) Get posted on a bigger blog. It's hard to get a more golden ticket than that. A HUGE stream of traffic is your big chance. Submit never-before-seen projects to Design*Sponge or Apartment Therapy and see what happens. If they don't bite, choose a big blog with your same aesthetic. Chances are, their readers will love your blog, too. Some words of wisdom though, from a gal who gets dozens of emails about this very thing every day:

i) If you're using comments/tweets to get a blogger's attention, make sure you have an interesting and unique sign-in name. And make your comments funny and sweet. Just be thoughtful.

ii) Try to network offline. Go to blogger parties or conventions. Be friendly and pass out your business card!

iii) Speaking for myself, I would skip the urge to send an email to your favorite blogger just introducing yourself and your blog. Try to only email if you have something specific to share (like a post idea) or a question to ask. Use the blogger's actual name, spelled correctly, and make the email as personal as possible. Don't say:

"To whom it may concern,
Please post about my crocheted baby diaper covers available for sale in my etsy shop. I read your blog from start to finish so you owe me one. I can offer a give away for free shipping to one lucky shopper?
Let me know by noon. Thanks."

Flattery (as long as it is sincere) gets you everywhere. I asked Joanna for a quote on this subject and she said the exact same thing! We also agreed that submissions should be more subtle. Don't ask a blogger outright to post something.

Do say:

"Dear Jenny,
I love your blog. I open up LGN first thing in the morning every day. And I cried when I read the post about Evie's birth! What a touching story.
I just wanted to share a project with you that I recently finished. I thought it would be right up your alley since I know how much you love ikat. Here's a link to my Flickr stream.
Thanks for all the inspiration!
Love,
Kate."

Nice, right? That would probably be my favorite email of the day! Remember that you catch more flies with honey...


Interviewing with a local SLC news channel, we talked a little about my new entry.

d) Consider guest posting on a complimentary blog (like, maybe I would post a flower arranging tutorial on a wedding blog). You're capturing like-minded readers.

e) Keep the new readers on your site for a long first stay. Try to link back to old posts often. Put up your most successful posts in your side bar. Add a Link Within widget to the bottom of your posts. Expose the new readers to as much of your blog that first visit as possible so they can get a real vibe for your voice and your style.

f) Other things to consider: Don't get too personal, but also don't be too private. Readers want to know about your life within the context of your blog, no more, no less. Also, post as consistently as possible. I try my best to post Monday through Friday, with posts going live at 5:30 am EST. Also, try hard to avoid spelling and grammatical errors. None of us are perfect, but a little effort goes a long way here.

3. Part 2: Make those readers want to come back!

a) Understand your readers:

i) Who are your readers? What kind of content do they especially love? Or hate? When do they read your blog (morning? night? at the office?)? How did they find your blog? How many posts do they want to read per day?
Do a survey to answer these questions! Thousands of you filled out my survey and it was SO helpful and informative! If you're just wanting basics though, you can find out the demographics of your readership on Alexa. My readers, not surprisingly, are mostly women, between the ages of 28 and 34, with children and with college educations.

b) Read other design blogs with your aesthetic to make sure you're not overlapping on post ideas. There are so so many design blogs these days, I'm finding it's easy to post about the same things, even if you're trying to be original.

c) My husband and I talk about the idea of Blogger Capital a lot. If you think about your blog posting schedule as a bank account, and your posts as deposits and withdrawals, try your hardest to keep a positive balance on the account. For example, a post with 100% original content would be a major deposit. A post about a new sponsor could be a pretty big withdrawal if it wasn't presented right, with no new take away information for your readers.


4. Finally, remember that blogging can sometimes get a little old. Life gets in the way. Or you're simply feeling uninspired. Things that help me more forward:

a) My mantra is 'I can't do it all, but I can do a lot.' I know I say this all of the time, but it makes me feel better every time I get overwhelmed with commitments (which, sadly, is a lot of the time. Don't judge.). And actually, I'm most productive on the days I remind myself of my motto!

b) Focus back on those goals we already talked about. Want to know one of my big goals? I would love to write a big ol' FAT book about decorating a house, from start to finish, top to bottom. Scrapbook style.

c) Celebrate what you've built! Remember when your blog readership consisted of you, your husband and your mom and dad? I sure do. It's amazing how technology is providing a way for us to communicate with so many people every single day.

d) Remember what inspired you originally. I love interiors!! I always will. I still get all giddy when I flip through a new Elle Decor or when I walk in to a thrift store I haven't visited in a while. Get back to basics and post about that common passion you share with your readers.

153 comments:

Kelly Green said...

Wow - a lot of info. and all so relevant and spot on! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and insights in to the blogging world! Wish I could come to the next session in jan! KG

kate lines said...

hooray jenny! i loved watching the video. your blog remains one of my very favorites.

pve design said...

I am going next year!!!! No excuses, sounds great!
pve

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

This is probably one of the most informative poss ever, thank you so much for sharing, many useful ideas! Thanks Jenny!

Emily A. Clark said...

First off--you are cute as a bug :) And, I'm not just saying that to flatter you and get on your blog. Ha!

Really, I loved this post and wish I could've been there for your panel discussion. Original content is why I was drawn to blogs like yours from the start. And, after starting my own blog and aiming for original content, it makes you appreciate all of the hard work that goes into keeping it up.

You are definitely a pro. Wish I could pick your brain for hours. Like either of us have hours!

Thanks for the post.

Three Pink Dots said...

Thank you for posting this!! For those of us who were not able to attend this alt summit, but have penciled it in for next year!
Absolutely love your blog, your style and motivation!
Lauren

Christy said...

Wow - I'm one of the many who answered your survey and doesn't make money or advertise on my blog, so I wasn't sure this post would be interesting to me - but I loved every word! So very interesting! A great read, for sure!

Andrea said...

This was exactly the kind of information I need right now. Can't thank you enough!

Bianca @ Walnut Avenue said...

This post comes at a perfect time! I am new to the blogging world, officially having started right before the new year, and am trying to learn as much as I can about building my blog better. Thank you for all of the information!! :)

Pat said...

Hi Jenny!

While I do not have a blog I still read this post bvecause I like your blog alot and know that I will learn something. Being better educated about most things broadens your horizens and hopefully makes us more interesting people. Thanks for sharing.

Liz said...

Fabulous information. I really appreciate you sharing this with us, it was very helpful! =) ~Liz

things that sparkle said...

This was so incredibly helpful and interesting to read! Thank you so much for sharing.

elisabeth (bovagoods) said...

jenny,
thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. i filled out your survey and currently do not make money on my blog...yet! i definitely have some goals in mind and your post is just what i needed. i feel like you wrote it just for me! thanks so much. love your blog!
~elisabeth

Tulip and Turnip said...

Jenny, thank you so much for this post! I've been blogging on and off for a while now, but feel like my blog is really beginning to evolve. Your insights made me think a lot about my goals for writing. Love your blog and all of your creative energy!

Aspiring Kennedy said...

This post was really good to see. I love the analogy of blogger capital. You really know when you added to your blog's niched culture with a post that's true to you... and when you are posting for the sake of posting.

Thanks for the encouragement, and the cliff's notes. I wanted to go this year, but it was too far from Oxford!! Next year, let's host it at a ski resort in France. :)

Design Blooms said...

Oh wow-if we can get great info like that at Alt Summit then count me in!! Thanks SO much for sharing your advice with us!

Jen said...

I have a blog but it's really just more or less a little journal of life & inspiration...I'm not trying to "build it" per say & I still had to read your whole post! Intriging really. Congrats on having a really fun blog to dive into.

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

Very informative! Thank you! I need to get back to "why" I am doing this and "is it worth it" for me to continue. Hmmmmm. You've given me a place to start as I make decisions.
Thank you! Enjoy your day!
-Trish

Jen@Organized-Design said...

This was such a great post. Thanks so much for posting this. There is a lot that I took away. Very helpful!!!

Tiffany @ Savor Home said...

Hi Jenny!!! Your perfect post came at a perfect time for me. I am new to the blog world and am trying to balance the blog with my full-time job as a CPA. Its difficult but I love it! I have printed off your post and will reference it often. Thanks!

The Social Secretary said...

Jenny, thanks for such a great recap on your panel. I love the idea of Blogger Capital! Makes so much sense.
-Katie

Aunt Spicy said...

Excellent post, good reminders regardless of the goal of your blog! I am totally going next year, will it be in SLC again?

My Interior Life said...

As always, great advice, Jenny. I need to print these out and refer to them on a daily basis! Thanks for the blog inspiration!

a. harms said...

That was awesome. Thank you for all that amazing and insightful information about blogging.

Terese said...

I was so hoping you'd do this post! So cool seeing you in the video. You look great! What an amazing experience. Thanks for all the tips.

suzannem80 said...

Great post! Thanks so much for writing all this out! I don't have a blog, but I have been thinking about starting one for awhile, and these are great tips. I read your blog every day, and I love it! :)

Bernadette {Chic Spaces for Little Faces} said...

Jenny,
Thanks for all of the great insight. I am new to blogging so this really is helpful.

Jenny at LGN said...

Thanks to all of you for your really kind comments! I wish I could have delved into more of the details, but I would have given you all a little nap by the end I think. Bottom line is that Alt was so fun and inspiring for me. I hope you all come next year so I can meet you and talk shop!!

Aunt Spicy - I'm pretty sure the plan is to have Alt in SLC again next year, although I am doing my best to convince Design Mom to change the venue to Paris! Can you imagine!?

Terese! I miss you guys! Michael was in Cambridge last night for a recruiting dinner (he was helping to recruit new ppl - he better not be looking for a new job yet!!). It was last minute and an in and out sort of thing, but next time I think we all want to come with him! I'll email you.

PS I'm not the hugest fan of that video, but whatever, it's still fun. It was live and I basically ran on to their little set just as the filming started. Not much time to compose myself and think about what I would say!

Michelle said...

Jenny, this recap/takeaway was fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it with us in a way that isn't overwhelming. Even as someone who does monitize and has been at this for awhile, we all need reminders once in awhile. Fabulous.

barbara@hodge:podge said...

Thanks for all that wisdom Jenny! I think I emailed a project to you way back and was dull as a doorknob - sorry. Regardless, I have admired your blog, your tenacity and how you are following your dream! {You living in New York is icing on the cake!}

Dina said...

What a wonderful post LGN! I don't have a blog, nor do I plan on starting one-I'll leave that up to you all who are so awesome at it-but if I was going to, this would be my go-to post-wow! I don't know how you do it, but I can honestly tell you, reading my morning blogs with my cereal, oj, and 8 month old is one of the major highlights of my day! THANK YOU beyond words!

Ashley said...

Jenny, thank you a million times over! As a newby blogger, one of my goals for the year has been to build readership (and followers) and to have a project featured on a popular blog (just as you said!).

Your posting inspired me just today to start a new feature on my blog to add to the variety of content. Thank you for the inspiration and expertise you offer!

Fran said...

Jenny, thanks for sharing highlights from your presentation! It was truly a "Deposit" post in my book! Thanks again!

Rachel @ Pencil Shavings said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I wanted to be at Alt Summit SO BADLY this year, and life got in the way. I WILL be there next year!

Anyway, thanks for posting this - I'm really enjoying reading all the recaps, especially from some of the speakers.

Kate {domestikatedlife} said...

Great advice! Which I could have been there in person, but am glad you could share some of the presentation online.

Nicole @ one half world said...

Jenny, thanks so much for the advice. As a new blogger, this was very helpful information and just confirmed my intuition about what people want in a blog. I read Little Green Notebook regularly precisely because of the original projects and ideas you share. Thanks again!

Aubrey said...

What a fabulous post and so, *SO* many questions answered that I was too embarassed to ask the more experienced bloggers (I am assuming that I wasn't the only one...oh wait, maybe I was (c; )! It's so great to have a concise list! Thanks for all the inspiration, I will always come back here for more!

Danielle Oakey Interiors said...

Thank you so much for all the info! I so badly wanted to attend ALT but it was just a little to expensive! Maybe i will save my pennies and go next year!

lemondropdreams said...

Thanks for all the great info! Maybe if I get the nerve I'd think about going next year.

the peach chablis said...

This was a great post! Thank you so much for sharing with those of us who were not at Alt. As a blogger just getting started, it's nice to hear from a "pro" like yourself. Very nicely done.

Pink Wallpaper said...

you rock jenny...thanks for the info!

Hana said...

oh, jenny, thank you! this information really helps streamline my vision for my little blog, as i feel like i've been winging it from the beginning. thank you.

and... when can we pre-order the LGN design book?! go for it!! xo

mrs. olson said...

Jennie, reading all of your tips reminded me why this is my very favorite blog to read. You're awesome at keeping the blog "bank account" balanced. Thanks!!

mary straton said...

Thanks so much for the info and insight, Jenny! I, too, check out your blog every day, and I think it's been a huge help in figuring out my own style! I should totally wear a What Would Jenny Do? bracelet when I'm thrift-store shopping!
I have a blog myself, and I appreciate all the tips on how to grow my readership. We love you down South!
Thanks again!

LaurenFaythe said...

THANK you for such a helpful and motivational post!

Sherri Cassara said...

Great post Jenny. I am still really new to blogging and appreciate everything you wrote ... and ... I did cry when I read the story of Evie's birth!!! Love your blog. Sherri

{ a m b e r } said...

Thanks Jenny! I have always wanted to start a blog aside from the family one but have been so intimidated by it all. I am moving into my first house and think that now I might have a little more to offer. Great tips! Love your blog every day!

Kelly and Kimberly said...

Way to go Jennica! I'm so excited for you. Are you going to AZ in the beginning of March? Please say yes!

Kelly and Kimberly said...

Way to go Jennica! I'm so excited for you. Are you going to AZ in the beginning of March? Please say yes!

Jenny at Art, Wine & Design said...

Like many others, this post was perfect timing. I started a blog this month and this gave me so much insight! I would love to hear more if you can stand to share more details. I'm so glad I haven't pestered any of my favorite bloggers before reading this. haha. Have a wonderful day. XOXO

m e g a n said...

So much great advice! thanks so much Jenny!

Kate Collins said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! So helpful as always. I will be at Alt Summit next year, no matter what!

Calder Clark Designs said...

Jenny- thanks SO much for sharing all that great gossip from ALT, and your wise pointers. I guess I didn't think I could "hang" at that conference as a wedding designer who blogs, but I need to go next time! Putting those fears aside. Have a great one-

Morgan @ Attention to Detail said...

Jenny! This information was so helpful. Thank you for posting! I'm penciling the Alt Summit in for next year. Oh, and I did cry when I read the post about Evie's birth ;).

Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Such a great post! Thanks for all the great information.

Londen

SignorinaLia said...

great advice to all us fellow bloggers out there getting started. still not sure what my "end goal" is outside of a creative outlet...

www.thislinworthfarmhouse.blogspot.com

Leah said...

Wonderful post with so many great tips, thank you for sharing! I have been thinking a lot lately about my little blog as it relates to my new-found love of writing, a tiny bit of extra time on my hands, and figuring what I might want to do with the next Chapter in my life... So this gives me a lot to think about, thanks!

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

Hi Jenny! Thanks for all the great info- I've definitely been thinking a lot about this lately.

I don't know if I've said so lately, but I am so inspired by your blog and so grateful to you for finding the time to write it! LGN truly is the first blog I read every day and the one I most look forward to and I really feel like my style has evolved through my LGN-ducation!

I loved your video and I would love to hear more about how you manage to accomplish so much with 3 little ones. I believe your eldest is in school, but are your two younger daughters still with you full time? While you work with clients and everything? My oldest is in preschool 3 afternoons per week, so I get a little time with just one child in tow, but that's generally when I get grocery shopping and errands done, and soon I'll have a new baby in the mix. I've gotten used to having "helpers" with pretty much whatever project I'm working on, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but you seem to accomplish sooo much. Any tips?

Niki @ A Dance With Grace said...

Thanks for the info! Speaking of growing your blog, I have tagged you for the Stylish Blog Award :). I've followed you for a while and adore your blog! To accept and see how you can pass this along, follow the link on my name to my site. Happy Wednesday!

Katie Booth @covestreetblog.blogspot.com said...

Jenny,
This is exactly what I needed to hear! I'm trying to grow my blog, and your ideas are priceless! Thanks so much!

Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!} said...

What a great post, beautiful, talented jenny!! ;) thanks for all the free advice. I haven't figured out a goal for my blog yet...other than it serves as a much needed creative outlet!

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Jenny, I've been blogging for a couple of years and don't have a lot of grand goals for my blog, except to grow my readership. But LGN has long been -- and remains -- one of my very favorites to visit every day, and I think your tips in today's post are really valuable. Even if you're not interested in monetizing, I still think it's fascinating to learn about. Thanks for all the smiles you give me every year! And Evie's birth story really DID make me cry, way back when. :)

Dana {Southern Inspired} said...

Thank you SO SO much for this information! It really gives me some insight on where my blog is and where I want it to go. Your blog was one of my first reads about a year ago and it continues to be one of my daily reads today! :)

Judy said...

This is the perfect post for me today. I have been blogging for almost four months now and it has been quite a journey already. My ultimate goals are to make money with this blog...writing this blog has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible. My parents always told me do something you love and find a way to make money doing it. I found something I really love...now I am just struggling to figure out a way to make money doing it. Thanks for some great advice.

emitate said...

Thank you for this. It was so helpful and encouraging to read as a relatively new blogger.

Maggie Rose said...

Thanks so much for posting about this - would love to attend ALT but it just wasn't in the budget this year (hopefully next year, fingers crossed!)

I have struggled before with finding a balance of posting original personal projects but also sharing inspiration from around the web. I like your suggestion of about once per week. Thanks for sharing your other insights as well. I've been thinking of eliminating my blogroll mainly because I feel like I'm disappointing people who have asked to be on it, but I want it to accurately reflect who I'm reading. Decisions, decisions. :)

Brittany Simmons said...

very interesting- glad it was a success! Love checking up on your blog!

tiffany. said...

i am LOVING all these wrap ups of alt summit AND finding new blogs to read too like yours :)

xo.
http://dropsofjupiterBLOG.com

Lauren said...

AWESOME post!

Lauren said...

Awesome post!

Charlotte said...

Jenny--thank you for sharing this. I've been a "secret" (silent) reader of blogs like yours for over a year now, and just about a week ago decided to take the plunge and start writing my own. I'm very familiar with the readership of immediate-family-only... what I'm curious about is how you got from that to where you are now! I feel like your wonderful advice is geared towards those who are leapyears beyond me in terms of blog readership, and i would love to hear about how you first started attracting readership from those you don't actually live with!!

Jenny at LGN said...

Charlotte - I actually recommend the exact tactics for new blogs too. It's just like the idea that the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise. There is no secret other than hard work.

The key to a successful blog is original content, consistent posting and press, which will come if your posts are good. Simple (and as difficult!) as that!

Sara said...

Thank you so much for this really thoughtful, inspiring post. You addressed so many very realistic questions and issues...I feel so much more prepared to start my blog soon. Thanks again!

Charlotte said...

Wow Jenny thank you for responding! I can't think of better motiviation to keep this little project up and put some real work into it than personalized advice from a blog "celebrity" like yourself (and that's not flattery for flattery's sake, your blog is truly one of the most inspiring of the many I read every day!)

Cristin @ Simplified Bee said...

What a great experience! Congrats! Your tips on making a blog grow are spot on.

Keep up the great work!!!

xo,
cristin

katie kate. said...

what a great post. thank you for the encouragement and suggestions, lgn!

Mandy said...

Wow! Thank-you so much for this post. As a new blogger, I have faced nearly every concern you posted about. I really appreciate your advice and tips!

katy {of} katy loves. said...

Definitely going next year! Although I may need to take you up on that offer to e-mail the husband. He may need more convincing. ;)

Thank you for the wonderful information about blogging, I will definitely take everything into account and implement it as well, just added the LinkWithin to the blog and will work on goal-setting.

AAAmy said...

Hi Jenny,

I am curious to know how much time (ie hours per day) you dedicate to your blog. I am interested in blogging, but I have no idea of the time commitment.

Thanks

PS I love your Chiang Mai fabric!

Jordan G. said...

I love this post! Thank you so much for your insight. Wish I could have been there- seems so interesting!

Lindsey Leon said...

I think my blogging goal is going to be to come to ALT next year! From everything I've heard it sounds like it was amazing. Thanks for all hte great advice, I learned so much just reading this post. You're faboulous- i love all your ideas and I'm so glad you share! THanks!

xo
lindsey leon
www.lindseyandorlando.blogspot.com

Jenny at LGN said...

Katy - Start planting those seeds with your husband now! :) T-minus 360 days!

AAAmy - It varies on how much time I spend on the blog alone (just the writing and maintaining). It is most DEFINITELY at least a part time job though - on a slow week. Some DIY posts, or posts about a client project take three to six hours to write, edit and post, let alone the time to actually do the project and photograph it.

The most time-consuming part though is responding to the emails. I send out close to 200 emails a day, and I'm still (literally) months behind on my inbox. It is time to get another intern.

Blogging is a lot of work, but the time table is flexible, which really works for me and my lifestyle. Let's be clear though - work is work and there's really no perfect job! ;) If you have to/want to work though, blogging is a pretty great arena to be in! Best co-workers in the world!

Brandi said...

Great post Jenny! I would love to attend a conference like this one day. I will have to ponder over these things for my own blog.

Design Candy said...

Loved this! This was so full of insight and so well written. Thanks for the inspiration to give a little boost my blog!

Mackenzie {Design Darling} said...

Thank you for taking the time to type this all out! I've added attending a major blogging conference to my list of 101 things I'd like to do in the next 1,001 days and Alt would be at the top of that list! You and your blog are of constant inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! xo

jeanniejeannie said...

I needed to read this today-- Its always a struggle to produce and produce and produce blog posts, and this was encouraging to hear how a pro does it.

A question about your personal life in the blog-- is there a rough percentage or pattern that you use when mixing your life with your posts? For example: is there a ratio of "for every 7 posts about decor, I can post once about my life?" I know it sounds terribly regimented, and I'm sure its more flexible than that, but I'd love to hear some basic guidelines!

Jenny at LGN said...

Mackenzie - have you thought about Blog Fest? I think they might be sold out but I was going to try and email them about getting some extra tickets for us NYC bloggers. It's this summer. May, I think?

Jeannie, That's a good question about personal to professional posting ratios. I would say it's probably 1/10 posts, so like every other week? I think the trick is to keep it light and keep it on topic.

xx

Lauren said...

Hi Jenny..such great info. Thanks for taking the time to share your insight. I am in the process of having a blog designd so the timing of this couldn't be better. Can't wait to join in the party! Thanks, Lauren

idratherbeshopping said...

this is a GREAT little guide on growing blogs -- thank you so much, it is so helpful for newbie bloggers like myself. you are an inspiration!

xo,
joAnn

Millar said...

Hmmmm....how awesome is it that you shared all that?! Thank you! I just started a blog and this really helps me out.

And I love your motto! It is officially on a post-it on my board.

Thank you!

Evita said...

Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us! I've really enjoyed reading about the learnings/panels that my favorite bloggers experienced this past weekend!

Natural Family Daze... said...

great blog post - great info! Helps us newbie bloggers out a lot! :)

Love all your designs

Kristin said...

Thank you so much for sharing this great information. I actually just started a blog this week, so stumbling upon your blog was immensly helpful! You've gained a new loyal reader here!

Lil T said...

Fantastic information. Thank you for sharing. I think that's what I most enjoy about the blogging community - it's all about sharing ideas.

Rina said...

"or I'll send your husband an email to push him over the edge, too"

I don't know if this will make sense to you, or other commenters, but you have just lost me as a reader because of this phrase. Why assume that all of your readers--even all those who blog (I don't, yet, but I plan to start)--are married, female, or married, female AND heterosexual?

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi Rina,

I was just trying to be funny, but I can see how someone might feel left out here or maybe feel like that was insensitive of me.

The fact is that I am a married, heterosexual woman. The vast majority of the attendees at Alt were married women. The vast majority of my readers are married women (I actually talked about this in the 'know your readers' section).

Also, this idea (albeit silly) came up over and over again at Alt. Lots of us jokingly talked about convincing our spouses that dishing out sometimes more than $1000 was indeed a good idea, for what might appear like an extended Girls Night Out.

I would hope any of my readers who don't have husbands would give me a little bit of leeway here and understand that it was meant all in good fun. It really was.

Thanks for your comment, and please feel free to email me directly if you have further concerns.

xx
jenny

EFT Manual said...

Wonderful post! This is full of content and powerful information for newly bloggers! Very well said.

Lisa said...

What a great post. I am a blog reader with no interest in being a blog writer, but it was SOOOO interesting to read about how you make your blog so interesting to me.

Thank you for all of your efforts.

lisaroyhandbags said...

wow, great pointers! thanks for sharing so many great tips and ideas. wish I could have been there to soak it all in in person :)

Rambling Renovators said...

Jenny - I so appreciate you putting this on here for those of us who couldn't attend Alt. Its great too to see your responses to some of the questions.

Do you feel the need to censor yourself on your blog? By that I mean do you purposely not blog about certain things because the topic may not be popular and you know your readers would much rather read about your latest DIY project?

Megean said...

This is great! Thanks for sharing your point of view, and some very thoughtful advice.

Jenny at LGN said...

That is such an interesting question, Jennifer (Rambling Renovators). Hmm.

I don't think I really censor myself. I think it just goes with the territory that not everyone will relate with my tastes and my style. And I'm okay with that - I post my favorite things anyway. I think that's the whole idea of a blog. It's someone's personal take on interiors, or fashion or whatever.

Case in point: one survey respondent answered that they were going to be sick if I posted even one more time about floral fabric! I thought that was hilarious. Do I post that much about florals? I guess I do love them though!

All that said, I do feel the need to censor myself by not posting on unrelated topics, like religion or politics or even musings on silly parts about blogging and the design world. I want to keep it light here on LGN. I think sometimes bc of that people assume that I am overly positive, even naive about life. (see above frustrating comment) It's a tricky line to walk and I'm learning to grow a thick skin.

Sorry this is so long, but I think what I want to say is, give your readers what they want, but at the end of the day, be true to your own voice and opinions within the context of the topic of your blog. Hope that answers your question!

xx

chelsea said...

Love this! Thanks for the mention. I have to say that the no complaining challenge had no strategy about it. That was an off the cuff remark I made for something I was trying to do for myself. I think everything on a person's blog has to be heartfelt and real.

I really need to pick up that challenge again. 2011 has so far been a real drag so I probably need to do it more than ever.

It was wonderful to meet you at Alt.

xo

Jenny at LGN said...

Chelsea - thanks for stopping by! I didn't mean to imply that your post about not complaining was contrived! I hope my mentioning it here didn't convey that! My point was just that those types of ideas are the posts that generate buzz - the ideas that are exciting and can be applied to reader's/other bloggers' lives. I truly appreciate the clarification though. You are as genuine as they come! It was so lovely to meet you last week and I hope we can get together again soon!!

xx

Jennifer said...

Hi, Jenny! Thanks so much for posting this...I plan to read through it a few more times, since this is right up my alley. I am a new blogger and these tips are so helpful!

Laurie Jones said...

Love when successful bloggers like you share information like this! This is one of the many reasons why you're one of my favorites!

Jenny at LGN said...

Pam! I just realized I missed your sweet question about child care and balancing a blog with family life. It's a big one, too, that I am trying to figure out still.

You're right - my oldest, Grace, is in kindergarten. She's gone from 8:30 to almost 3:00. Claire is in preschool two mornings a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the recent past, we were using a nanny on Tues/Thurs and those were my work days (for errands and client meetings). Things sort of fell apart during the holidays though, sadly, and my wonderful babysitter's schedule changed. I'm hoping to have her come one day a week now.
Also, we sold our car, which is proving to be tricky for running errands! I have plans to rent a car twice a month though and just be gone all day. I sort of like to work that way - one or two insanely crazy days every so often, and then the rest of the time I just make it work with my kids in tow.
Here's the real secret to suppressing my mommy guilt: I don't sleep. I work until the wee hours and I get up early to pack in some more work. Then I try to shut down the computer for a big block during the middle of the day. That's when I play with the kids and give them focused time. I might be cleaning or painting or whatever, but I'm trying to really be with them and be present until at least after dinner. Hopefully until after bedtime on a good day.
It's rough. There are bad days, where I'm stressed and I put the kids in front of the tv for a few hours in the middle of the day while I pound out a deadline. They don't seem to mind too much, but I feel really guilty when this happens.
I guess I just take it one day at a time and try harder to be more organized so that I can keep my primary focus on my family.

xx

Kristin said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am a "new" blogger and just beginning to discover what work blogging can be. Posts like these are very inspiring!

Heidi said...

Jenny- How exciting to receive such invaluable advice from one of my biggest role models. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And you definitely sold me on Alt for next year! See you there :)

Heidi
http://athousandlaughingstarfish.blogspot.com/

Rachael said...

Thanks for the insightful information. I have just started a blog of my own but I am not very committed. I found this post to be very helpful - clearly I should have some blogging goals. Anyway, it sounds like a great conference - interesting for bloggers and devoted blog readers alike.

Janna McCalley said...

So many helpful ideas, thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion! Now i'm off to put your ideas to work!

Copy Cat Chic said...

Jenny - What an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing all of your insights :D No matter how big or small there's always room for improvements, I def learned a few things! xoxo

Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids said...

Thanks for all of the great info. This post came at just the right time for me as I just had a banner day for my new blog and hit 1,000 views due to a unique Valentine art project I posted. I'm interested in trying to spread the word about my little post and you gave some great tips - thanks!!

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

Fabulous post, great tips!! Janell

patrice @ duplicity furnishings said...

Jenny, I love the details you shared in this! Really good things to think about...thanks for taking the time :)

cara said...

jenny - that is a whole lot of fabulous information. from someone considering starting up my own blog, THANK YOU for sharing your experience and insights! your blog is clearly a success, and one to model after.
thanks again!

Stefanie D said...

Hello. I wanted to go to alt even though I don't really consider myself a blogger. I would love to get started, but I can be a little OCD and the idea of planning ahead is holding me back.

I was wondering, how do you keep the back end of the blog organized? How do you plan for posts or keep the photos/links/information organized? I want to blog and do so consistently, but I am afraid of getting overwhelmed. I have a tumblr where I post inspiration and random thoughts, but it's really haphazard in terms of structure. Any thought or ideas or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Stefanie

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi Stefanie!

Thanks for your great question about getting organized.

At any given time, there are twenty or more post drafts started in my posting queue. As soon as a post idea pops into my mind, I start a draft. I'll make little notes in my draft about who to email for posting permission, or what I want to talk about in the post or what pictures to use from my image archives. I have a pretty good memory for visual stuff and can usually remember details about photos of rooms I've saved, of which there are MANY. I think the last count was like 400,000 or something insane.

Maybe this is a good time to talk about how I save my images. I have folders on my desktop - Accessories, bathrooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, entry/foyers, etc, etc,. As I go through my week, reading blogs and magazine sites, I just save my favorite images on my desktop. I try to rename the file with the images source and the photographer (if that info is available). Then at the end of the week I file away all those images in the folders. It's really handy to be able to look in my bathroom folder when I'm doing a post about penny tiles (or whatever), and I can just quickly flip through the images looking for the right ones. One goal I have for my new (TBD) intern is for him or her to add tags to my images, so that the image including penny tiles will actually have a penny tile tag, along with other stand outs from the image, like gray, ikat, clawfoot tub, stripe, orange, that sort of thing.

I choose ideas from my drafts list based on what I feel like posting about, what other blogs are posting about, what type of post I feel like I'm missing on LGN, or (most often) how much time I have to get that post together for the next day.

Also, I write my posts at night (usually late - so if there are errors, blame it on the lack of sleep I get!), and I schedule them to go live every morning at 5:30 am EST. Though I'm thinking of changing that to 4:30 to capture some more of my Australian readers before they leave the office at the end of their day. Meg from A Practical Wedding suggested that and I think it's a great idea. I love my readers in AUS!!

Hope that helps a little!

xx

My Humble Abode said...

I was beginning to suffer from blog depression not knowing how to continue or even where to begin my next post. Thanks for all the pointers!! Very inspiring! <3

Jessica said...

I'm getting very inspired by all these atl quotes and "rules" so to speak.

I hope my blog can be as great as others one day!

Kimberly Moore said...

First of all, I was sooooo disappointed that I could't go to ALT this year (considering I live 40 minutes down the road!) You're so right, what an investment! Next year. I've already got the hubby on board too so no worries there. :)

Second, This post is absolute dynamite. THANK YOU! I am really interested in the whole marketing aspect of blogging, but it is definitely a slow and difficult process. It was nice to read this post and realize that I AM doing a few things right but there are so many areas in which I can improve. Can I just spend one hour with you picking at all of your knowledge!?! :)

Third, I appreciate that you're willing to share your "secrets" to the major success that you've had in the blogging world. Your blog is definitely one of my "daily reads" and will stay there for a long time.

Thanks again!

lindsay marie said...

Thank you for all this info! I started a blog and post regularly just for fun but I am curious how much money you can make? I would have to put in quite a bit of time to make my blog competitive with all the other amazing design blogs out there...wondering if it would be worth the time. Also, it seems like the way people make money is just through sponsors...and honestly I am turned off when bloggers are all sponsors all the time, I feel like I am being used. Do you have to post about sponsors at all, to they expect you to? thanks again!

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi Lindsay Marie!

I think there is money to be made in blogging if you make it your full time job. I feel like there is definitely a curve/graph that I could make about the profitability in relation to the length of time spent on growing your blog. There is a huge stretch of time where you spend A LOT of hours blogging and make very little money. Then once your readership gets higher - say between 250,000 and 400,000 page views a month - I think that is the point when your blog can be profitable and more worth your time. Then, I'd say once you can get to about 500k pageviews per month, you're making okay money and more opportunities can be available to you (like getting signed to a good ad network, etc).

The way in which blogs are monetized is changing. I know I have changed my sponsorship policies.

You will notice more bloggers using the phrase "this post is underwritten by XYZ Corp." (plus a link to XYZ) Often, the content won't even be about XYZ, it's sort of like a tv show and commercials. XYZ is just paying for you to link once or twice in the body of a post. I love this, because I wouldn't feel like a sell out at all. It would be content that I'd normally post (like a DIY project unrelated to XYZ), and I'd be compensated for my time and effort, or at the very least would help cover some of the costs of the project.

Some really really big bloggers make super amounts of money off blogging. But I still think if you add up all the money they've made to date and distribute that over all the time they spent blogging and maintaining to date, they probably are making like minimum wage. I probably would make like $0.50 an hour or something! ;)

It's a labor of love, blogging. That's why I loved Alt. I feel like I am building something with my blog and sometimes I need inspiration to keep me churning out the best work I can!

xx

Shazam! said...

Yeah! I was hoping you would post what y'all discussed! Thank you for all the information! Great ideas!

Hello Lover... said...

Great post and lots of great advice. I've been following your blog for a long time now (when a lot of your posts were inspiration images and fun product finds) and it is so amazing to see how you have transformed not only your blog but your work and designs - such an inspiration - and now you speak at big time conferences!

JWK said...

Thank you Jenny!! This is such good, genuine advice. Since I read this post I've made a few changes on my blog that I would have never thought of. I think you make a great point about original content. One reason I'm drawn to your blog is because of its originality so thank you for your helpful advice!!

Brittany @ The Aubergine Notebook said...

a great recap! i loved your panel and it was so great to finally meet you in person! i think you had some great tips and i definitely need to incorporate them myself. you're a gem!

lindsay marie said...

Jenny, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

Abbey said...

i love this post! I LOVE the i can't do it all but I can do a lot! This is going to be my mantra!

InCircle Interiors said...

loved that! very helpful. and love your blog as always :) keep it up!

Eva @ Four Leaf Clover said...

What an amazing and extremely helpful alt recap! Thank you so so much for writing this all out! I so wish I had been able to go, but reading so many recaps from all of the lovely bloggers that were able to attend makes it almost all better. Thank you!!

Jen @ The Decor Scene said...

What great info. Thank you so much for sharing all of this great info and advise for blogging. I started my blog a few months ago and this post really will help me get more out of blogging. Thank you, thank you! You are a great inspiration!!!

Married In Chicago said...

Thanks for such a helpful post! I enjoy blogging for myself and I keep going back and forth on whether I am blogging to gain a readership or just blogging for my own pleasure. There seems to be *so* much that goes into developing and keeping an audience!

Catharine said...

That was such an insightful post Jenny! Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with work, my blog, and life commitments.. and you've really encouraged me to move forward and grow!

Thanks for always being so enlightening :)

The Maltese Kat said...

This is incredible and just what I needed. I have been blogging since 2006 and have been wanting to amp it up a bit. Have you ever attended the BlogHer conference? Wondering if you may be able to post about some of the other conferences around.
Cheers!
Katie
http://maltesekat.blogspot.com

Elise Nicole said...

This is awesome! I am so grateful that you posted this. My blog activity has been on my mind a lot recently and this hit the spot like an ice cream sunday on a hot summer day. Thank you!
Elise Nicole
www.elisenicolek.blogspot.com
www.OceanGirlArt.com

claire said...

These are very helpful for a relatively new blogger like me. Thanks for your inspiration and generosity! :)

melimba said...

I just discovered your blog and I'm wondering what rock I've been hiding under all this time!?!

Thank you for your insights! Such great information. I appreciate your time taken in posting it!!

You've got a new reader and new fan!
best,
melis
p.s. I just saw your daughter's rooms and I'm dying. They are darling. I'm redoing my little girl's room and your images give me so much inspiration. You have so much TALENT!

Elizabeth Horn said...

Thanks for posting this. I just started a blog and my main goal is to inspire others with decorating ideas, the same way that many blogs do for me. I feel a little silly right now because I know that no one is reading my blog, so basically I'm posting for myself! I am encouraged by your post and definitely learned a lot of useful info.

Paola said...

Jenny, thank you for putting together such a thoughtful & informative post. I didn't have a chance to read through the whole thing until now & just started a blog myself so appreciate your sharing a lot! I was wondering what you think when bloggers post an honest/frank opinion about a product/room/vendor which may or may not be taken negatively? How do you recommend balancing honesty & still being attractive to sponsors? Thanks!

court. said...

this has helped a lot. i often think of this post when generating content for my blog so thank you for the advice and good questions.

I'm moving to nyc in the very near future. maybe we can collaborate!

Natasha said...

Thank you so much, what a great bit of info & I didn't even have to change out of my flannel pj pants!

Seriously though, I've had a hard time lately with "what's next" with the ol' blog & I think this will really help to focus myself & get out of the funk. Thank you Jenny!

Natasha
"Samster Mommy"

NattybyDesign said...

Thanks, Jenny! I hope in 3 years I can look back say i've been half as successful as you.

Stacey@Real Southern Living said...

My blog suffered this last year and I'm sad about that especially when I had some good things going for it. I'm ready to set some goals for Real Southern Living and take it to another level. Thank you so much for getting me started on the process of what I need to do to get it back on track! I would love to go to a blogger conference...hmmm going to have to find one in the southeast!

Jen-CraftOManiac said...

You are so awesome and this was very informative and wonderful to read. I feel I am at a road block with my blog right now. So any great tips from successful bloggers is great to read. Thank you. winks-jen

Glam at Home said...

Thank you for this great information. I'll be putting it to good use!

Jae said...

i've been reading your blog for a couple of months and recently decided to start my own. thanks for writing this. it's good info.

Bek said...

Yes! Please DO write a scrapbooky-type book on decorating!

Michelle said...

Super inspiring Jenny. Thank you, as always for the great ideas, and for being an approchable internet personality :)

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Jenny- I know this is a post from last year, but linking back, I really found all of this information so extremely helpful! Many thanks to you and Victoria over at vmac+cheese for taking the time to pass along these invaluable lessons to those of us new to blogging and/or unable to attend Alt this year!

LiveLoveDIY said...

WOW. A first time reader coming from Serenity Now. Amazing post! I'm your newest follower! Thank you for an inspiring, honest, thoughtful post. So nice to read! Virginia from livelovediy.com

Cherise L. C. said...

I've only been blogging for about three months now--and the blog is personal--but I'm contemplating a second blog for profit. These are great tips!
I'm excited to find such a supportive community in the blogosphere, where we can share collective knowledge and success.

Mara @ {A Blog About Love} said...

Just came across this old post. But just have to say I love you. this was amazing. thanks!!!

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