When Emily Shulman, the blogger behind popular lifestyle website Cupcakes and Cashmere, hit a million page views in a month, she knew it was time to quit her 9-to-5 job, and devote all her time to the blog. It turned out to be a good decision because with hundreds of thousands fans online and a bestselling book, she has turned Cupcakes and Cashmere — a site started as a hobby — into a full-fledged lifestyle brand.
But how was Shulman able to stand out in a sea full of bloggers? Hard work. While everyone with internet access can technically start a blog, it takes a lot more than just posting pretty pictures to get a substantial following. As with any business, to create something lasting, you need a smart strategy and impeccable branding.
I caught up with Shulman and asked her what tips she had for people looking to take their blog to the next level.
Don’t be fake. When you are the brand, it is important to create an authentic public persona. This is often easier said than done. Often bloggers lose momentum, because they can’t live up to the personality they have created. When you photograph every aspect of your life, it can be hard to set boundaries. While she admits the lines between work and her personal life are blurred, Shulman does maintain some privacy.
“What I portray online is a curated snapshot of who I am as a person,” she says. “I try to keep the mundane aspects of my day-to-day outside of my content, so the Cupcakes and Cashmere brand always has an ‘elevated’ perspective.”
It should be all about the readers. If you want to make blogging your full-time gig, the relationship you have with your readers should be your number-one priority.
For Cupcakes and Cashmere, the sole purpose was never to just generate revenue. Instead, Shulman focuses on sharing products, recipes and fashions that she actually really likes. Her readers know that she won’t post anything she hasn’t tried herself, which helps foster trust.
Post, post and post some more. If you want a successful blog, you can’t post every two weeks, as readers will stop visiting your page. You need content on a regular basis to keep readers intrigued.
Can’t think of any ideas? Look no further than yourself. When you use situations in your own life as topics, it becomes easy to create content regularly. For Shulman, she turns to movies, other blogs, magazines and restaurants for inspiration.
Say yes only to the right business opportunities.
Work with companies that make sense for you and your readers. Shulman is very selective when it comes to the brands she will work with on Cupcakes and Cashmere. If you sell out to every opportunity that comes your way, readers will no longer trust your opinion, which will impact your influence.
“Essentially, if the brand is not something I’d consider purchasing or using personally, I’m hesitant to integrate them into the content,” says Shulman.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in business, lifestyle, fashion and beauty.
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