I attended an amazing conference yesterday put on by the leadership of my organization. This is a leadership conference for leaders at my organization, and you have to be nominated to attend. You don't have to have a leader title such as a supervisor or manager, but instead, they were looking for people who positively impact the culture of the organization. People who have the ability to influence others, who help take strides to furthering the mission of the organization in a positive way, and people who are innovative and committed to personal development.
I was furiously taking notes, soaking in all the awesome speakers wisdom and knowledge. I had a list of ten things I wanted to share today, but then I realized if you wanted to read a book you'd download one from Amazon, so I thought I'd stick to just six points that really stood out to me. I really believe that no matter what we do whether its work all day in an office, take care of your babies as a stay at home mom, or work from home every day, we can apply and benefit from some of the leadership principles that were covered. I thought I'd share about how I think six of the principles that the speakers addressed affect us bloggers. This is more geared to bloggers who want to grow their blog and maybe even monetize it, but still even bloggers who blog purely for fun surely can find something in here that applies.
1. Understand who your customers are and meet their needs.
In business, one thing I've learned through my three years in HR is that a customer is more than someone buying a product from a company. As a Recruiter, my customers are my hiring managers who I partner with to help find the best candidate. My customers are also applicants.
As a blogger- who are your customers? Maybe your customers are the bloggers who buy sponsorships on your blog. Surely, you should focus on them, support them, ensure that you meet their expectations and fulfill the promises you make to them when they purchase an ad. But I also think that you should spend some time digging in and figure out who is reading your blog. Are you a lifestyle blogger sharing insight, wisdom and tips on how to navigate marriage to new brides? Are you a mom who is sharing the real mom moments instead of portraying a picture perfect life all the time? Who are you writing for? This is important because it will guide your writing and help you answer the questions "What do my readers want to hear from me?"
2. Know what your competition is doing.
As a blogger, I don't advocate copying another bloggers ideas or trying to be someone you're not. What I do think is crucial is to look at those blogs you love and admire, and figure out what they're doing well. Do they include amazing photos every post that inspire you to learn how to use your DSLR camera? Are they interacting with their Twitter followers and building real relationships? Maybe they just reply to every comment, so readers keep coming back because they feel valued and heard. There's a lot of awesome posts about how to be successful, but I've learned the most by watching and learning from more experienced bloggers, and then using what I learn to inspire me and help me grow.
3. Pay attention to the details.
The little things matter in business. In order to be successful in HR and hire the right person for a job, I have to know what that person will do in their job. I have to know the good, the bad, the awful. I have to know what would make someone successful in a position in order to effectively recruit for it. Details matter in business in order to understand and execute the big picture.
Details matter in blogging too. Details affect your credibility as a blogger. If you want to monetize your blog, you have to pay attention to your spelling, your grammar, your blog design and your social media presence. You have to take the time to reply to reader comments and emails and keep a consistent schedule. You have to post your sponsored posts and social media shout-outs and do it on time. Details matter. Now, obviously real life comes first, and sometimes we all deserve a break from blogging, but if you are accepting money for blogging and sponsorships, you have to pay attention to details.
4. Learn everything you can about your profession.
In business, you should always be learning. You should soak up the knowledge of your colleagues, read business articles related to your profession, network with other professionals, and continue to develop as a professional.
You should do the same with blogging! In order to be great, taking classes, workshops, doing blog consultations, reading posts by other experienced bloggers, etc. are all great ways to continue to learn and grow as a blogger. I know a lot of us blog for fun, and maybe don't care about the number of followers you have or maybe don't care to monetize it. Personally, I just have the personality that if I am going to do something, I am going to do it to the best of my ability. I continually push myself to be better. Take a break when you need one, but to grow your blog and be successful, the best thing you can do is never stop looking for opportunities to learn and grow.
5. You don't have to have all the answers.
At the conference, I was encouraged by the stories from managers and administrators who had the humility to go to their team with a problem or issue and tell them they needed help in finding a solution. I thought it was so important to be able to admit that we don't know everything, and we don't have to. We can't all be experts in everything! There are a lot of things I still need to learn and grow in in blogging, and its okay. I think one of the most amazing things about blogging is the relationships that we create with other bloggers, and I know that I don't hesitate to ask for advice from a blogging friend when there's something I am struggling with.
Whether its blog related or life related, I have a handful of blogging friends I have and will text with questions, prayer requests, or even to ask for favors like retweeting a tweet or helping me spread the word about a post.
I've also realized that there are things I am just not awesome at or don't enjoy about blogging, and even if its what "everyone does" I don't have to do it too. Its important to realize that if you hate having to do social media shout-outs for your sponsors, you can take that option off of your packages. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing-be you and do what is best for you. Ask for help when you need it from bloggers you have developed relationships with, and know its okay to not always have the answers to everything.
6. Encourage and inspire others to be great.
This goes along with number five, but I think as bloggers, its easy to compete and compare ourselves against each other. Its easy to fall into the trap of comparing followers or judging others when what our community needs is more collaboration, more support, more encouragement. You don't have to hold a brand new blogger's hand when they ask you for help starting a blog, but I've always appreciated the people who point me to resources or encourage me when a post of mine I thought was the cat's meow flops. I don't have all the free time in the world and I am sure you don't either, but one thing I want to do better at is encouraging other bloggers. Blogging is hard, right? But the more we support each other and help each other grow, the more we receive from this blogging community. Less competition, more encouragement.
Like I mentioned, some of these principles may apply more to bloggers who are focused on improving and growing their blog, maybe monetizing it either with sponsorships or working with brands. Even if you just blog for fun and as a creative outlet, knowing who your readers are and encouraging others are a couple things that may help you.
Tell me what you think, do you think that business and leadership principles are applicable to blogging? Did I miss any big ones?
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