I have a new post up at Lifescoop, Gear Up: Back to School Shopping for Grownups.
Kindergarteners are cute or whatever, but why should they get all the back-to-school fanfare? Reclaim the September ritual of starting fresh with new supplies for your work. Treating yourself is the best reason to grow up in the first place. Read more…
(Photo from Oh Happy Day!)
I’ve had a version of these business cards for years, though never as lovely as the ones Jordan made as a gift, above. (Thank you again, sweets.)
They’re blank on the back, so I write in whatever information I’d like a particular person to have. I can put an @ in front of the “Maggie,” write just my phone number, a little note, whatever.
For me, they’re perfect — evergreen information, versatile, google-able only insofar as I’d like them to be, and they double as social cards so I don’t feel like I’m “doing business” at a party when someone asks for my contact information. Yes, I know I am alone in thinking about this. Allow me my WASPy pleasures, they make me feel alive.
Someone on Quora asked about the most influential design blogs, and many of the responses had to do with professional web and product design. I have a much more colloquial view of what it means to be a design blogger, so almost none of the blogs I consider influential were on the list. I added these with a notation that I wasn’t including fashion or wedding sites, which have some overlap in the community, especially because personal sites can be so tough to classify.
I’m defining “influential” as folks with large audiences (upwards of 10,000 visitors a day or so) with dedicated readers who really care about the information presented there.
Who am I forgetting?
DesignSponge founded by Grace Bonney
Home, DIY, entertaining, products
Design Milk founded by Jaime Derringer
Design magazine on art, architecture, home, fashion, tech
Swiss-Miss by Tina Roth Eisenberg
Professional designer and aesthete
Apartment Therapy founded by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
Home design/products with sister sites for tech, green and kids as well
NOTCOT founded by Jean Aw
Products, fashion, tech lifestyle, with sister sites
Poppytalk by Jan and Earl (Husband/Wife)
DIY, Home, Handmade
Decor8 by Holly Becker
Oh Joy founded by Joy Deangdeelert Cho
Products, fashion, interiors, inspiration
SF Girl by Bay by Victoria Smith
Photography, interior design, product
Design for Mankind by Erin Loechner
Art, fashion, home
Not Martha by Megan Reardon
A one-woman consumer reports on a range of products
Oh Happy Day by Jordan Ferney
Entertaining, diy, stationery
Making it Lovely by Nicole Balch
Design Mom by Gabrielle Blair
Designer who focuses on good design for parents and kids
A Cup of Jo by Joanna Goddard
Style, products, fashionable parenting
What design sites do you love that don’t seem to have large readerships yet? There’s so much professional-level content out there right now, it’s tough to keep up.
I want every single thing in my Father’s Day Gift Guide over at Lifescoop, especially this spot-on iPhone alarm clock dock. Go have a look. Tell your dad I said hi.
So while I was at ALT Summit, I did a panel on the business of blogging with Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind and Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101. I always enjoy presenting, but something about the chemistry with those two girls made this conversation extra engaging for me.
I finally remembered to ask someone to record my presentation, but neglected to bring her a tripod. (Thanks for your forbearance, Kelly.) Here’s a slightly shaky video of my portion of the presentation:
I know a lot of you are bloggers trying to bring in a little income, so here are the main points of our entire presentation — each of us took on four tips.
Beyond the Banner:
A 12-Step Program for Successful Content Campaigns
Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind:
1. Re-invent the wheel.
Creative campaigns are fun and memorable. Consider Jason, who’s renting out his torso at I Wear Your Shirt. What do you have to offer that’s a little offbeat?
2. Test the waters first.
Before you jump into a huge commitment with a single advertiser, put a toe in the water. This way you’ll know more about how your readers will respond, learn how to price yourself through trial and error, and figure out which campaigns make you want to take a nap, and which are fun.
3. Know your professional strengths.
If you’re crappy at project management or staying on top of communications with clients, hire someone to do that for you while you produce content.
4. Less is more.
Erin likes to keep a ratio of 95 percent content to 5 percent sponsored posts. You’ll find your own ratio, but be mindful that you’re giving your readers something of value while you’re paying the rent.
Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101:
5. It’s not all about you.
Think about the sponsor, what are their wants and needs? Let that shape the program you propose.
6. Measure your digital footprint.
Remember that your blog probably isn’t your only online presence. You may have readers on Twitter, Facebook, or even a newsletter. Think of the whole package.
7. Know thyself.
If your gut tells you that an advertiser doesn’t seem like the right fit, say no. Your readers know you, and they’ll obviously be able to tell if you’re promoting something and your heart isn’t in it.
No one likes to feel misled. Let your audience know who’s paying you and for what.
And me, Maggie Mason from Mighty Girl:
9. Consider events.
Throw a party for a local boutique, host an event in conjunction with a larger conference, or start a little retreat and build from there. If you enjoy throwing events, they can be a good way to build a tighter community while you grow your business.
10. Remember advertisers are people.
People who want to give you money are not your enemies, so keep the conversation going. If you start to feel adversarial about a proposed campaign, suggest other ways to work with a brand that might be more interesting to you and your readers. Even the largest brand has a team of people behind it, people with faces and families, who care about their product succeeding.
11. Pitch to your passions.
Seek out advertisers to support the content you’re already producing by being smart about how you package it. Can you tell people what your site is about in a single sentence? Is there a memorable narrative in your life story – maybe you’re building a house, starting your life over, becoming a new parent? Focus on that when you approach potential sponsors.
12. Know your worth.
Don’t just look at your daily unique visitors when you’re pricing a campaign. Consider your ability to amplify on Twitter, Facebook, via newsletter. Think about engagement — if you have a small audience of readers who are passionate about a particular subject and will leave lots of comments, that’s valuable to an advertiser. And don’t forget to take your time into account. Your work is probably worth more than you think.
That’s it! Are you trying to figure out how to make your living as a blogger? What did we forget?