Around the mid-year point I decided to do some reflecting on my birthday list and to swap out any items that I’d decided I really wasn’t interested in. I completely agree with Danielle LaPorte’s writings on letting go of dreams that are no longer jiving and choosing feelings over objectives. If it doesn’t feel good and light a fire in your heart, then what’s the point? So I chose to strike off three of the goals from my list and picked new ones that I was actually excited for (you can see the amendments here).
One of these items was “Completing B-School.” I initially signed up in the winter, but after wading into the content, I decided it’s not for me. While I’m still working to create financial independence and do my own thing full-time, I’m not ready to leave the job I love and a lot of the material wasn’t well-suited for blog-based, digital entrepreneurs. I wanted an intensive learning opportunity that was aligned with my goals and plans for world domination (cue maniacal laughter).
Enter The Blogcademy.
This two-day workshop seemed like exactly what I needed to get the focus and expertise required to take my blog to the next level. I’ve been following Gala’s blog for years and her work was pivotal to my own self-love journey. All three of the headmistresses have inspired me to create a beautiful, helpful blog and it seemed like a dream come true to learn from three women who are all so uniquely talented at their crafts. So I was elated when my scholarship video was selected and I was offered a spot in their Berlin class.
At the end of July I got in a plane and flew to Germany. I settled into my AirBnB apartment and got ready for a weekend of rigorous learning, laughter spiked conversation, intense brainstorm sessions, and constant note-taking. In between classes I gorged myself on Vietnamese food and vegan burgers, oogled colourful street art, was brought to tears by the V&A David Bowie exhibition, and caught up with old friends over beer. I absolutely adored my time in Berlin and, most importantly, left The Blogcademy bursting with inspiration and new ideas. Here are the five most important things I learned:
Have a plan. Anyone can start a blog and so most of us do it without much planning beforehand. But we accomplish more when we have a plan. This can just be a short document that outlines your mission and goals, how you’ll measure them, and how you plan to achieve them. Allow it to evolve organically, but putting some thought into this gives you something to refer to when you’re feeling lost or unfocused.
Consistency is king. Quality content is always important but if your readers can’t rely on you to be around when you say you will be, eventually they’ll stop checking in. It’s better to post less frequently but consistently, then to plan to post every day and then find yourself constantly behind. If you end up being able to post more often, this will be an extra special bonus for your readers.
Be distinctive. Choose words that paint a detailed portrait and make people’s eyes light up. Design photo elements that make each post look undeniably like yours. Wear a statement piece that makes someone want to come over and talk to you (case in point: my new, faceted United Nude shoes from AllSole). Write posts that make people think and look at an issue from a new angle. Take photos that show off your point of view. Standing out from the crowd makes you interesting. It gives people a reason to follow you rather than the millions of other blogs out there.
Write for someone specific. Know who your reader is. What she likes. What she wants. What her hopes and dreams are. Create a vivid picture of her in your mind and write every post for this person. It’s a lot easier to write compelling content when you know who you’re trying to reach, rather than writing for everyone and creating something totally mediocre.
Create value. People are looking for content that teaches them something or helps them in some way. Your blog might provide inspiration on how to dress or instruct people on how to make amazing food, but if you’re creating something useful, you’re more likely to get people coming back for more.
The headmistresses emphasize from the first minute of class that The Blogcademy alone is not going to make you a superstar blogger; only years of dedication can do that. But I walked away from the weekend with renewed focus, more confidence in my brand, a better understanding of how to monetize my website, and an imagination brimming with new ideas for content.
Of course it’s important to consider carefully before investing in any new venture, but I think beginner bloggers would benefit from getting so much knowledge in one place rather than learning everything through trial and error, while more seasoned bloggers can gain valuable insights on how to up their game.
If you’re planning on becoming a blogcadette, these are my tips for making the most out of your experience:
Be realistic about your expectations, but also know what you want to get out it. There’s only so much that can be covered in two days, but the headmistresses are more than willing to provide guidance about your individual situation. Come armed with questions and don’t be afraid to ask them.
Get your blog up to scratch. Make it as good as you can before the workshop so that when you get your individual report card you’ll be getting feedback on your very best work and then you can make it even better.
Follow through and review. The Blogcademy blues are real. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with ideas, so break up what you’ve learned into actionable items and start chipping away at them one by one, day by day. And don’t forget to review your notes regularly because you’ll find new ways to implement this knowledge the more you progress.
Take advantage of the community. I love that The Blogcademy connects you with badass babes, not only in your class but around the world. There’s a private forum and monthly Google hangouts for blogcadettes, and all of the other women are so willing to provide their feedback on everything from design and content to newsletter formats and digital product ideas. One of the best things about blogging is making new friends across the globe and The Blogcademy makes it easy to become part of a community.
And of course if you have any questions about my experience, I’d be happy to answer them!