Instead of my usual somewhat-lazy Saturday, I spent this past one at the OWN IT Summit at Georgetown University. Focusing on how women can lead in the 21st century, I was able to hear from speakers like Norah O’Donnell, Kara Swisher, Liza Donnelly, and Richelle Parham.
I also had the opportunity to go to office hours with Georgetown Alumna, Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster, and pick her brain about all things blogging. Since so many of you are also bloggers, I thought it’d be fun to share her advice with you today.
1. CREATE DIFFERNT CONTENT ON ALL YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS.
In order to grow your following on each social platform, you need to give your readers something unique they can’t find elsewhere. What’s the point of having a Twitter if all you do is link your Instagram feed up to it? Instead, you should strive to create content for each network that suits the medium. Overtime, your readers will know that particular social network the only place where they’ll be able to get that kind of information from you.
Over time, if you truly create unique content, you’ll see your numbers grow. It won’t be exponential (even Carly’s isn’t!), but it will be steady over time. And set realistic goals for yourself—don’t say you’re going to gain 1,000 new followers in a month if last month you only gained 50. You’re setting yourself up for failure—instead, make sure you get at least 50 again and maybe a few more. Over time, those numbers will really start to add up.
2. WHEN YOU’RE CREATING CONTENT, BE AUTHENTIC TO YOURSELF.
One of the questions I asked Carly was how she dealt with criticism of her blog. She said that although it’s a hard lesson to learn, you have to realize that you cannot be everything for everyone. Instead, you have to focus on being authentic and the readers who relate will follow.
This means it’s important to create content that is true to who you are, whether it’s sponsored or not. She gave the example of creating a sponsored post for Air Heads. If you were going to accept the opportunity, you should actually like Air Heads and be able to incorporate them naturally into your content. If you can’t, it’s best for your brand if you pass on the opportunity. Learning to say no to unauthentic opportunities will help you in the long run.
3. TRY TO GIVE YOURSELF ONE DAY A WEEK WHERE YOU HAVE NOTHING SCHEDULED.
Carly makes sure she doesn’t have any meetings or plans scheduled at least once a week so she can just sit down and power through her to-do list. Since she works for herself now, some weeks she does this on Tuesdays, other weeks it falls on other days.
Although this may be hard to do if you’re working full time or if you’re in a situation where you have less control over your schedule, I love the idea of setting aside time to just power through your task list. Maybe it’s just an afternoon or a few hours, but I think we can all agree: less distractions = better work.
4. WHEN YOU’RE PITCHING TO BRANDS, HAVE A CLEAR COLLABORATION IDEA.
Even though Carly doesn’t pitch to brands very much, when she does, she makes sure she has a very clear vision for their partnership. It’s a lot easier for brands to say yes if you’ve already done the work of coming up with an idea and showing them how you can bring them a return on their investment.
If you’re a PR person trying to work with bloggers, the same rule holds true. Avoid canned emails, and make sure you have the blogger’s name spelled correctly and that you’re sending the pitch to the correct blogger. Carly receives pitches addressed to Jess of Bows and Sequins all the time, which makes it extremely hard to take a collaboration idea seriously.
And as an added bonus, a few fun snippets of information I loved learned about Carly—she’s so sweet in person, y’all!:
- Shoes are the best seller on her blog.
- Her favorite class at Georgetown, where she was a Business Major, was Entrepreneurship.
- Her biggest regret from college was not studying abroad.
- For the first year and a half, the only people that read her blog were her Mom and Grandma. Overtime, different sororities on campus found her blog which is how it initially started growing. She also credits her use of Twitter around 2011 for rapid growth, since it was such a new platform then.
- She admits to having an obsession with Barbour jackets since you can wear them almost year-round in New York City.