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Want to start a crochet or knitting blog but not sure where to start?
There are a lot of things to consider when starting a blog and it can be really overwhelming when you think of all the things that must go into it. Powering through the overwhelm and finding answers to the most important questions is the first test for blogging success.
In this episode of The BHooked Podcast you’ll hear from, Brittany Lynch, who shares her best strategies for starting a crafting blog in 2019, growing an audience and maintaining a balance to keep you on the right track with your goals.
Brittany is the woman behind popular blogs, Ideal Me, Dabbles and Babbles and My Yarn Club and her goal is to help you design and live your ideal life through practical, expert interviews, tutorials, worksheets and more.
Instagram | @idealmedotcom
The BHooked Podcast Episode 143: Blogging Strategies for Makers with Brittany from Ideal Me
Hey there, welcome to Episode 143 of B.Hooked Podcast. I'm your host, Brittany, and as always, thank you so much for joining me today. I know that you could be doing so many other things and you chose to listen to this podcast a nd that makes me super grateful. Well, perhaps you saw the title of this podcast and that's what piqued your interest. You know that we typically like to break things up a little bit around here where we balance maker businesses and just the overall passion of yarn and crochet and knitting. And every now and then those two will sort of overlap. Well, today I wanted to focus on helping you either start a blog, get over the fear of starting a blog, and developing the blog that perhaps you already have; you're trying to grow it and you don't really know how to do that, or where to turn to get answers.
Now, I've been blogging for a long time, and I absolutely do not consider myself an expert when it comes to blogging and building a blog. For me, it's all an experiment. It's constantly changing. So today I wanted to bring on somebody who I know is an expert in having a blog, maintaining a blog, building a blog, having all of the things that make a blog successful, so you can turn that blog into whatever you want it to be; whether it be a way for you to communicate with others, or an outlet for you to share your designs or your ideas and your thoughts; whether that be something a little more like perhaps trying to pay for your hobby, or pay for a vacation, or better yet have a side business. So I'm joined today by another Brittany who is the expert, the go-to person when it comes to blogging and building an email list. And those are the two things that we'll focus on today and we mentioned quite a few resources. I will have all of that in the show notes for this episode, BHooked.com/143. I'll have everything on that page, just scroll down just a tiny bit until you see the links and the resources section. And you might also want to grab a pen and a piece of paper for this one because Brittany just gives it to us. She has so much wisdom and she doesn't hold back. So let's get to it. Here is my chat with Brittany from Ideal Me.
Brittany, welcome to The BHooked Podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Brittany L 3:12
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be on my very first podcast.
Yes, I am excited to be your first podcast because you were my first online summit class kind of situation, which was super fun. That was the first chance we had to connect. And I had to jump on that opportunity to say, Hey, can I have you for the podcast so you can share some of your wisdom with my listeners. So I am thrilled.
Brittany L 3:39
Me too is total. It's a role reversal. So I'm glad we got to do this. For sure.
Now, typically, here we talk a lot about crochet and a lot about knitting and yarn and just things of that nature. But I'm a business owner at heart and there's a lot of maker businesses in the audience. I know you're a business owner. It's always a real treat for me and for those maker businesses, when I can sit down and just kind of talk shop with somebody who does something that we're doing, or that we're aspiring to do. I know blogging and email marketing are kind of your jam. So I am really looking forward to getting into that. I know you have so much wisdom when it comes to both of those areas. But before we do, I want to give people a chance to get to know you and learn just a little bit of your story. So how did you get into crochet and blogging and crafting and all things you're doing right now?
Brittany L 4:40
Yeah, well, you know, what's funny is I actually started with knitting. So when I was growing up in Toronto, my mom was actually a knitting instructor at a local yarn shop in the city. And so, I remember going into the shop one day and just seeing all of this beautiful yarn and I fell in love with an alpaca yarn and I saw a sweater on a mannequin in the shop and I told my mom that I need to learn how to make that. And so, you know, over the coming months, we kind of worked through creating this beautiful knit cardigan. And it was such a nice experience and so relaxing and just satisfying being able to you know, make something with your hands. And then it was nice, I just have fond memories of going into the shop and you know, watching my mom teach how to knit and to give instruction that way. And then I went away to university, and you know, I kind of just fell away from knitting. And it wasn't until I had started my business that I had a blog, totally not in the craft space. And I was just quite stressed and it was one of the girls on my team that I was working with it said you know, you should try crochet. And so I started trying crochet and initially felt a little bit like a trader. That I was trying crochet and not knitting but I just fell in love with the simplicity of it and it felt a little easier to me the knitting did or more forgiving perhaps is a better way to put it. And it just allowed me to kind of reconnect with the craft side of who I am and the maker side of who I am and I've always loved making things. And then that kind of organically grew into occasionally releasing blog posts on crochet. And then from there, I noticed that my audience was just really engaged in crochet. And so that kind of set me on a path where I almost exclusively focused on crochet and started really building my blog and my audience in the crochet space and, through that it's been an amazing experience because I've been able to combine two of my passions, which is business with crochet and been able to meet all sorts of amazing other crochet entrepreneurs like yourself and others that were featured in our handmade business summit. So that's a little bit of the background of how I got into it and it's a little bit roundabout but it's been a journey and I'm just happy to be where I am today as a result.
It's a really cool story. Did I hear you write and say that your first knit project was a cardigan?
Brittany L 7:09
That is serious. I need to take a minute just to respect that because wow.
Brittany L 7:16
You know what, I am totally the type of person who gets something in my head and that's it. I'm sure my mom probably said, "you know, maybe you should start with a scarf or something". And I just was like, nope, we're making this cardigan. We're going to add pockets. I'm going to change the color and buttonholes like the whole shebang.
Oh, my goodness. Well, it's good that you had a good helper, I'm sure to help you through some of that. That was my big hang up with knitting and you were saying that crochet is a little more forgiving. I totally agree. I always struggled with fixing mistakes and really just recognizing that there was a mistake, other than it just looks weird.
Brittany L 7:56
Yeah, exactly and having your count off and, yeah, my mom probably got frustrated with me on numerous occasions throughout that cardigan but it was a good experience. And maybe that's why when I came across crochet, I was so much more fond of it. I think my first project was a blanket that was just double crochet. So I mean, it's vastly different in terms of difficulty level.
Yeah. You said it was pretty easy for you to pick up. I think it's really interesting; that's something I have recognized with talking to a lot of people who do both. When they start out with one it's always a lot more challenging, but when they pick up that second hobby, whether it be crochet, or knitting whichever one they started with first, it's always easier the second time around, and I feel like one really helps the other even though they're so different. It still is rooted in the same kind of concept.
Brittany L 8:55
Yeah, absolutely. I definitely think that helped and you know, the other thing that was really helpful for me and I think a little bit unique as far as other bloggers out there in the crochet spaces, I really learned with my audience. I picked up crocheting and I kind of shared the process with my audience that I already had, which is a general craft kind of audience. Ideal Me was my original blog, and we talked about all sorts of things, from crafts to business and personal finance, just all sorts of different topics. And when I shared a crochet related post, I just noticed that my audience was so engaged in that and so I actually my second or third project, tI asked my audience if they would be interested in doing a crochet along and the answer was just like a massive yes. So I actually hired a local crochet instructor here and we filmed and I had that instructor create a pattern for us. Again, it was a very simple blank at that first project, and I released it to my audience and I shared it with them and that became the first of now I believe we have 55 crochet and knit alongs that we've held off for the last two or three years. And so it was unique experience in that way because I was learning and sharing that process with my audiences as I grew in my own crochet journey and in return, they also all grew and evolved their skills and, in that way, it was different because I was working with, you know, someone who had crocheted for 30 plus years, and had the privilege of learning what mistakes not to make early on.
Yeah, that's a super interesting approach. Because a lot of people think that they have to know it all or they have to have a lot of knowledge before they can start a blog. And I think it's great to hear your story. You started with pretty much the same principles that a brand new crocheter has and you created a journey and it's still worked for you. I mean, look where you are today.
Brittany L 11:07
Yeah. So I think that in some ways it's relatable to people who are listening on this call right now who, you know might have those doubts. Am I good enough? And I know we all have these doubts; are my projects good enough? Do I have enough skills to grow a blog or grow a business or earn from my hobby? I mean, I think that my journey is really testament to the fact that it really doesn't matter what you believe your skill level is, be yourself and share that journey with your audience and kind of be willing to kind of grow into whatever it becomes and be open to whatever it becomes.
Exactly. Now I'm interested to get your perspective on the type of stuff that you would have with your blog. When you think of the word blog today, it means something, I think slightly different than it did maybe 10 years ago, where a blog was really an online diary where you're sharing things and you're sharing your stories. And now when somebody says the word blog, it could mean, well, a blog post could mean a pattern. Or it could mean a crochet along or a podcast episode. It can mean so many different things. With so many options do you have any advice for somebody who's trying to figure out exactly what it is that they should put in their blog?
Brittany L 12:32
Yeah, it's a really good question. And I think you're absolutely right. There's just so many forms that a blog can take nowadays. And I think because of that, it gives us so many options. And so when I started my blog, I believe the first blog post I ever had related to crochet was 18 or 16, easy crochet stitches to master. It was what was called a content curation post. Other people call them blog roundups or pattern roundups. And what I did was I found the 16 best stitch tutorials that were online from other crochet experts and I linked to them in this blog post. That blog post, I listed it on my blog, and then I just put a link on Pinterest and it blew up I think, almost overnight. It was getting a few thousand page views a day to that one post. And so on that one post, I had an email newsletter capture and, without getting too advanced because I know we'll talk about this in a bit, what that meant was people could enter their email to get updates for when I release a new post and that's kind of where I grew my initial crochet audience and then down the line was able to say Hey, would you like to do a crochet along? So it wasn't again, it wasn't traditional? Right? A lot of crochet bloggers or knit bloggers start by releasing patterns and if you can do that fantastic but the problem with that is there's a lot more listeners on this call, I would bet that want to start a blog or want to earn some of their hobby but aren't necessarily pattern designers. I just want you to know that if you're a pattern designer great release a pattern on your blog and that's a great way to create content for your audience but that's not the only way that you can create content and that's not how I got started. I got started by sharing other people's content and of course, giving those people credit you're linking back to their website. And that, for me, was a great way to approach it because I wasn't a crochet expert. And, you know, on top of that, I was able to actually start to form relationships with other crochet bloggers because I was sharing their information. So a little bit different than how again, a lot of crochet or knit people start their blogs.
Yeah, it sounds like maybe that strategy stemmed from knowing your audience really well; knowing that they were probably interested in crochet because you sort of tested it out before, but also knowing that they were likely not crochet experts themselves, and they just wanted a little bit more information. So how does somebody get to know their audience that well? It seems like such a hard thing to do.
Brittany L 15:33
Yeah. You know, I think the reason why it feels hard is because when you're on the internet, in a lot of ways it's not intimate. You stare at your computer screen and you're by yourself and there seems to be so many questions; who's reading this post? What are they interested in? I think the fact that there are so many possible questions about your audience, that it feels overwhelming. In my experience, the best way to get to know your audience is to simply just ask and to remember that your audience, the people who might come across your blog or who might read your emails are made up of individuals and not just a number. You know, sometimes when you're in business, you get in the habit of saying, Oh, I got 2000 page views yesterday and it moves away from the human feel of what you're actually doing because what that actually means is 2000 different humans 2000 different people passionate about crochet and knit saw your post and bringing it back to the human level is really important. Again, when I thought about creating my crochet along, I had no idea if my audience would be interested in that and again, many of the people in my audience, I didn't even know if they were crocheters or not. I knew some of them were but I didn't know if all of them were and so I really did just send in email to my list and I said something like, "Hey, I'm thinking about hiring a crochet instructor to film a video for me on this project, would you be interested..." I don't even know if I knew the word crochet along at the time "would you be interested in doing this with me? If so hit reply, and we can kind of split the costs. And let me know." I had so many people hit reply and when they hit reply; some of the emails were just "yes", and others were, long stories. "Yes, my name is Mary and I live in, you know, wherever I've been doing this this long..." and you just start to learn and start to bring names to faces; the unknowns that you weren't sure of before, by just actually reaching out and just striving to really form a relationship on an ongoing basis with those people. So I know that was a tangent. I don't know if that answered your question, but hopefully it was a good start
It was! It was a great start! There's a lot of information there. I think it's a great idea to ask your audience for things. I know from experience, sometimes it's not as cut and dry as yes or no. Sometimes it's split, maybe it's split right down the middle, how do you make a decision based on that?
Brittany L 18:26
When you start a blog, or you're doing any sort of endeavor online, you kind of have to have your creative mind and your business mind on at the same time. And so, you know, I was asking a creative question, but what I get back is data and that's where I have to put my business mind on and so just for simplicity sake, let's just say I got 100 email responses. I start to look at the numbers, how many people said yes? How many people said no? How many people didn't say either and just gave me more context? Maybe some of those people who didn't say yes or no said, "Oh Brittany, do you mean a crochet along?" And then at that point, I was like, "Oh my god, what's a crochet along?" And then I go Google it and then I refine my messaging the next time I send an email to my audience and I learn with the process. You're kind of having to be open minded and creative, while still being careful not to put your opinion and your judgment for the outcome on the end result by looking at the data of what your audience says. Because at the end of the day, there is definitive information in that and you just have to kind of try to use your business mind or maybe let's not even call a business mind because I know that can be an intimidating word. A lot of us don't associate ourselves as business people, but just objectively look at the response and even open up a Google spreadsheet and try to like tally up the information like look for patterns of what things people are telling you.
Yeah. I think that's great advice there too. And the other question that comes to mind, and I'm sure others are thinking it as well, is did you reply to all of those people? Were you able to?
Brittany L 20:10
Yes. Whenever I ask a question to my audience, which isn't infrequently, I do try to respond. Certainly in that first question, I did try to respond, I believe I responded to every single one. Back then, it was a much smaller amount of people. You know, obviously, as I've grown with my business, we have much larger audiences and for myself to individually respond to every message would be almost impossible to do now, sometimes it could be thousands of messages. But it's really important my team knows that when someone responds in we want to send them a response and let them know that we've heard them and that their opinion's important. I think that especially early days, when you're getting started online, with the idea of growing an audience, maybe you don't want to use your business but growing an audience, that it is important to try to respond, because you're still in the learning phase, right? You're still trying to understand what are the needs and desires of your audience and by responding and creating that dialogue, you're going to learn so much faster. Is it a lot of work? Yeah, it is. But you know, you're kind of starting this endeavor, knowing that that's something you're passionate about and it probably won't feel like work at that point for you because you'll just feel excited that you have some traction on the ideas you're sharing and know that there's people who are out there listening to you. And that's a really cool feeling.
For sure. Now, it sounds like this is a really great strategy for somebody to get into when they're really trying to figure out the placement of their blog; what they want to bring to the community. How about somebody who maybe has that figured out, and they're just trying to grow. They're trying to reach more people. Do you have any advice for somebody to reach more people?
Brittany L 22:14
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think it's important to use this strategy of connecting with your audience all of the time. Because let's say you've carved out your concept for what you stand for online, and we were talking about this before the interview, you still always have ideas, right? And you still always have questions in your business and for your audience about, would this be an interesting project to pursue? Or would this be an interesting project to pursue? And so as you grow, you get more opportunities. And with opportunity comes choice, you have to prioritize your time. And part of prioritizing your time is, you want to make sure that what you're doing is going to have an impact with your audience. And so we're just really in the habit of connecting with our audience. As an example, we have an online membership for our crochet and knit alongs and that's grown over the three years. We've made a lot of changes, and all of our business decisions, and all of our pivots or improvements have been a direct result of us asking our audience, what would they like to see more of what would they like to see less of? And what you'll find is, the more that you're satisfying your audience; the more that you are getting closer to what it is that they're looking for, the more likely that they're going to share it with their friends and family and businesses that have, without getting too technical, you can run what's called the Net Promoter Score survey. You've probably seen it before, websites ask from zero to 10 how likely are you to recommend this company, and you're essentially able to understand a sense of how satisfied is your audience. So long story short, the higher that score is, the more satisfied your audience is, the more likely you are to have more success, more traffic and more revenue and that's just a proven fact. So by continuing to get in the habit of just checking in with your audience, no matter whether you're just getting started or you have a clear sense of what you stand for and what direction you're going in, asking is so important because there's always going to be questions in the direction you want to take and, and as I mentioned, there's always going to be opportunity and choices for us to make as we grow with our audience, and getting in the habit of checking in with them on an ongoing basis to make sure you're still on the pulse of what that is, is important.
So it sounds like the root of all of this goes back to conversations, just simple conversations. Would you say that email is the best way to facilitate these conversations, or are you doing stuff on social or somewhere else?
Brittany L 24:57
It's a really good question and in some ways, I feel really ahead of the curve in how I approach my business and in other ways I feel really behind the curve so when I got started, it was before social media, email was without a doubt the best way to communicate with your audience because it was direct. People check their email, and it was in their inbox and it was a little bit more intimate. Now obviously we've got social media growing and that's Instagram and Facebook primarily and you know, podcasts what we're on right now. So there's all sorts of mediums for you to connect with your audience and I think what's most important is playing to your strengths. So for me, I know that I could never have the discipline that you have, or I shouldn't say can never have the discipline, for me it wouldn't fit into what I want out of my life, to be able to release a new podcast each week. I think that's tremendous that you're able to do that and I envious of that, but it just wouldn't work for me. Same for video. On Instagram there's all these incredible makers like Tony from TL Yarn Crafts, she's just the most personable person. I'm just so envious of her ability to connect on video. But I would be too self conscious to get on there and do that regularly and yet she just thrives in that. So again, you need to play your strengths and know that there's a medium out there that's going to work so well for your personality to communicate with your audience. But to answer your specific question, yes, for me, that's email because I can send an email just strictly tech space. It's more conversational for me. It's something that I enjoy and with all of what I just said, I still believe that the best way to get results in your business and will classify results as the ability to grow your audience and send that audience to content that they're interested in and to grow your traffic is through email. So that's really been my primary focus. We're embarrassing behind the curve, Instagram but with email, that's something that we've really just made her primary focus.
Well, let's shift the conversation in that direction because there is no doubt that email is a big deal for anybody who has done any research or listened to any marketing podcast. It's so ingrained in our minds that email is a big, big deal. I know for me personally, I was way behind the game, getting an email list and just showing up on a regular basis for those people who are on my list. The big holdup for me was feeling like I didn't have a strategy, but also worrying that I was bothering people because I don't love checking email just to be quite honest. I am very choosy at who I give my email address to because I find it tedious to go in my inbox every day and delete a bunch of emails. I don't want to be one of those emails to somebody else. I don't want to inconvenience somebody. So I really had to check in with myself and say, well, this person offered me their email address and asked me to send them something. So there's a little bit of that going on i n my mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one, though. Do you have any tips for that?
Brittany L 28:42
Yeah, you know, I think what you touched on or probably one of the bigger reasons people are intimidated by email is the fear of intrusion or the fear of not knowing what to say but let's start with the fear of sending an email. What if people won't like it? Or don't want to hear from me? And, you know, the plain and simple truth is twofold. One, in order for them to be on your email list, they would have had to have given you their email. And so what that means is at some point, they were very excited about hearing from you and it's almost a disservice for you not to be emailing them, because you've set this expectation up that by giving me your email address, I'm going to be sharing things with you. They want that that's the reason they did that. Often it's because they have some passion and you have some passion expertise that you can share for them. Now, the second side of that is let's say they've changed their mind and have decided I'm no longer interested in crochet or I don't like what this person is sharing with me it's not relevant or I just don't want to check my email anymore. There is an unsubscribe button and so every email list provider provides that in an email, you have to have that and they can simply click that button and decide, hey, this is no longer for me. I think it's important, and this is hard, it's something that develops over time. Sometimes I think I'm too sensitive to be a business owner because my feelings get hurt quickly and in some ways you have to kind of grow a little, not necessarily a tough skin, and that grows over time. But, you know, I take it personally when someone has a bad experience, or unsubscribes and all this but you really have to push yourself to focus on what you're gaining and what you're providing and now what you're losing in the people who don't like you, because for every person who doesn't like you, there's going to be a person out there who really resonates with you and really resonates with your personality, and is so excited to hear from you. And that person does want to hear from you. I think it's kind of one of those things that it helps you grow and helps you connect and understand what your audience wants to hear from and form connections with the people who are like you and who resonate with you.
Well, that is certainly a message I needed to hear. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. I think if somebody is on the fence about starting an email list, I think this is a great, well, that excuse, we can just throw out the window and right there with you on that one. So let's get into the other thing that's probably holding somebody back and that's the technical side of it. Actually, there's probably three things that could be holding them back. The other one might be the strategy of actually communicating, so maybe we can dive into that one real quick, too. But for this technical aspect of it, how easy is it to start an email list?
Brittany L 31:51
In this day and age, it's actually quite easy. I mean, when I got started with my first website, it was very difficult, but now it's very easy. So, in order to have an email list, you're going to need what's called an autoresponder. So an autoresponder, some of the more popular ones are MailChimp and I believe they have a free plan. There's Convert Kit, which is popular with bloggers. And these are services that you can sign up with, and when you sign up they'll basically enable you the ability to send emails to your customers. A lot of these providers actually have what's called a form builder on there, and you can create a form and then it will give you a link and you can use that link to share with maybe just your friends and family initially, or maybe in a Facebook group if someone asks or a forum in your signature. There's places to do that. There's a whole other larger discussion to talk about traffic which, you know, maybe that's a separate call will have but for now, that's kind of what you need for the technology aspect. Beyond that, how I do it is I actually have a WordPress blog and on WordPress, we use a plugin called SumoMe. And this actually allows us to really easily embed forms on our blog to build our email list and it's a little bit more elegant than just using the form builder from MailChimp or something like that. So again, without getting too technical, I believe you mentioned we can provide links to resources. You can kind of chase up on this information a little bit, but I really think the best way to manage a blog is with WordPress. It's very, very easy to use. It's free to use. And then there's a plugin, they have a free plan and a paid plan (you can start with just a free plan), which makes it really easy to add newsletter forums, or what's called an opt in box on to your blog in order to start building your email newsletter list.
Yes, yes. And you mentioned MailChimp. I do have some experience with them, their free plan is up to 1000 subscribers. It's kind of clunky, if we're being totally honest, I don't love it. I'm still using it today. However, it's really great for beginners because it is pretty user friendly. It's super easy to go in and it's intuitive and there's a lot of help documents that you can figure out what you need to do. And like I said, it's totally free up to 1000. And when you get ready to make that shift, I've also been a user of ConvertKit as well. I personally love that platform. It's a little expensive, and that's why I am not using it today. However, I'm sure it's going to move in that direction because I know it's incredibly easy to add these forms to your WordPress website and that sort of thing. Trying to think of what else you might need to know in terms of starting an email list and putting it on your blog. I mean, it really is pretty straightforward. Like you need the forum, you need the list. And from there, it's just staying in touch with that person. So I guess that kind of brings us into the strategy behind it.
Brittany L 35:18
Absolutely, that would be kind of the next progression. There are ways to get more people to sign up to your newsletter and I'll touch on that really quickly before we move to content because what good is having an email form if no one enters their email into it, right? You want to actually build your list, as they call it. One of the best ways to get people to actually enter their email onto your newsletter list is to incentivize them to do so, and this might be called a lead generation report or something along those lines, and it essentially is an incentive for them to opt into your newsletter. In the crochet and knit space one of the best ways that I found to do this is either by offering them a free pattern that I've designed or, if you don't have a pattern you could do a little giveaway. So maybe enter to win five balls of yarn and the draw date is that month, or some piece of content. Maybe it's not even something that you've created, maybe it's a link to your seven favorite free patterns online by other designers. So you want to give them some reason to hear from you, some reason they're giving you their email address, and that's always going to be more effective than if you just have a call to action that says, "subscribe to my newsletter list" because in their head, they're asking why, like, why should I subscribe to your email newsletter list? So the conversion rates the number of people out of 100 who opt into a newsletter list that says "subscribe to my newsletter" versus, "get seven great crochet patterns" is going to be much higher because that's more along what they want. That kind of brings us to the content side of things to. Brittany, would you like me to just dive right in? Or do you have anything you want to comment on regarding what we just said?
Oh, no, absolutely. I'm loving where this conversation is going.
Brittany L 37:24
Okay. Alright so as far as the content side goes, again, I think that people get very intimidated about that. A lot of us have a perfection mindset; it has to be perfect. But just getting it to 80% is honestly the biggest part. And often we are our own tough critic, right? So often we're doing a much better job than we think. I think it's important to keep that in mind always to, and it's important to remind yourself that again, if people don't I get they can unsubscribe. But as far as actual content strategies go, there's kind of like a hierarchy of priorities. So first and foremost, it's always great to share resources you've created. So if you are someone who does have patterns, or has written a blog post, then you might want to share those first, right? That's the content that you're prioritizing, sharing the most often. But if you're starting out, you might only have one blog post or you might not have any blog posts. So what do you share? This was something that I kind of struggled with for a long while and then I reminded myself What is my job? My job is to serve my audience and to make sure that my audience is satisfied with what I'm providing them. And then I asked "Okay, well, what is it that they're interested in?" Well, they're interested in crochet. What do crocheters want to know more about? Well, they love yarn. They love quirky news stories. They like patterns and when I took it away from myself and made it more about my audience, about "how can I provide value to them so they're excited read my emails?" It kind of opened up the doors because now I'm not just sharing my own content, although I try to prioritize that. On days where I don't have my own content to share, I'll go look at my favorite crochet or knit designers and see what blog posts do they have that are fantastic and they'll send an email about their content. Because again, my audience is going to still have warm feelings towards me sharing other people's content, because I'm the one who brought it to them. I'm still building a great relationship. So I think it's about having that abundance mindset about, you know, sometimes when people start businesses, they're like, well, that's a competitor or this and that, but no, it's about providing value to the people who follow you. I just tried to have that abundant mindset that I'm sending traffic to someone else's blog, but I'm serving my audience and doing that, and that will come back to me in another way. Or I go on Google News and I search for fun for crochet or knit, and I linked to a great article or funny article on, you know, whatever. I remember when the Olympics came out, there was an article on the Norwegian snowboarding team and they all were knitting. They did it for stress relief and so that enabled me to show that news article and then it gave me a great idea for another email about the question of stress and mental health in crochet and knit. So when you start thinking about it, again, like as an abundant mindset of what are these people interested in? What are their passions and interests? And how can I just give them more of that? You're able to just be a little bit more creative with sharing content with your audience.
Yeah, and I think one of the things that we really look at as the person who's hitting send on that email is how many people actually looked at that. When you have that mindset that you just described, your training that person to expect all of these wonderful things from you. So the next time you pop up in their inbox, they'll be more likely to look at that thing. I know that obviously, an email list is part of a business, typically, whether you call it a business or not, it's there to serve a couple of different purposes. One of those being, how many people actually looked at that how many people were actually interested in that. Are those metrics, something that you think are really important for somebody to keep track of, especially maybe early in the game? Or do you recommend just doing your thing, just having that abundance mindset and trying to connect with everyone on that list?
Brittany L 41:49
Yeah, so one of the things that you're talking about are the metrics that are available in your autoresponder like your email open rate, so what percent of the list actually opens your email. And then your other important metric is your email click through rate, what percent of the people open your email and click through to that link? If you had one. So those are important metrics and there's certainly a lot of strategies for increasing your email open rate and your email click through rate. But I'm not going to get into them today because I think, again, coming back to "perfect is the enemy of done" and I think we have to be careful of that, because it's going to be a massive milestone for you to even create a newsletter, right? Once you've created your email newsletter, you can slowly start adding layers. Once you get into consistent habits, right? Maybe you've gotten a consistent habit of sending emails a few times a week, which by the way, I do recommend, and once you're consistently in that habit, you can say, "Okay, my email open rates 17% on average, how could I increase it?" and you could start looking into strategies for doing that, but by and large, the best way to increase your open rate and increase your click through rate, and yes, ultimately your revenue, which we haven't really talked on too much, but maybe we can, is to deliver value to your customer. So if you're unsure and you're getting started, you might want to just include a sentence at the end of each email that says, "Did you like this email? If so, hit reply, and let me know". Nowadays I don't do that in every email because it would just be too much response and I wouldn't have a process for taking that feedback. But when you're getting started, and you just have a few people on your email list, again, encouraging that conversation is always a good thing and it's just always going to help you refine and get ideas to provide more value to your audience.
Yeah, very true. Now, you mentioned just real briefly about the frequency of it. How does somebody figure out what is the right frequency? How many emails to send out - is it once a week, twice a week, every time you have something new, maybe it's not super consistent. Is there any advice that you have there?
Brittany L 44:10
Yes. So this is going to be a roundabout answer because before I even answer that I think it's really important to ask yourself, what does success look like to you? Why are you doing what you're doing? Why do you want to grow an email newsletter list? Is it because you want to share your ideas? Is it because you want to earn some money? Is it because you want to grow a full time business? Or is it because it's just something that's fun to you? So I think anytime you think about starting a business or taking on an endeavor like this, it's important to start with a definition of what that success looks like to you. And it's okay if that changes down the line, but you want to start with some sort of target, because maybe you're just getting started because this is something that you're passionate about, and you think it's going to be fun. And if that's the case, probably sending an email every day is going to take the fun out of it and turn it into something that's a bit stressful. So asking yourself, "what is something that I could commit to that is still going to be enjoyable to me?" is going to be really helpful and I think that's a good question for most people. Maybe it's just saying, "I'm going to send a new email every Tuesday at 9am and you get consistent in that and that consistency is going to be key because you want to train your audience when to expect emails from you. So if you're just getting started in each email, you might say, "hey, every Tuesday I release a new email so keep an eye on your inbox" and you can always add more. Then you can say, every Tuesday and Thursday. Now, if you're looking to do this because it's your passion and you want to earn money, then the more often you communicate with your audience, the faster that's going to translate into revenue for you or an income for you. Sometimes people get nervous about talking about money and earning money or it feels wrong. But at the end of the day, I know I couldn't do the things that I was doing unless my business was earning money because I couldn't afford to run the business. And so earning money is certainly not a bad thing and it's okay to talk about but that might not be your goal. So you have to start by asking yourself, what is your goal? What does success look like? And based on that help inform what your content schedule is going to look like? Because this is something else you and I have talked about a lot, which is work life balance and thinking about where does this fall into what I want out of the rest of my life, and make sure that they work together and not against each other and that's something you have to constantly check in on. So the short answer is come up with a decision that works for you right now and maybe that's once a week, maybe it's once a month, and get in the habit of committing to that. Once you've committed to that for some length of time, you can check in with yourself and ask "can I increase the amount of times that I do this each week or each month?" Is that going to fit into my life? Is that going to help me reach my goals faster? And if the answer is yes, you can add to that. But it's always better to start lower so that you can be consistent because consistency is key, rather than giving yourself a crazy goal and then not meeting that goal, which is just going to make you feel bad and create a disconnect with your audience.
Brittany L 44:11
Yes, and you mentioned work life balance, and that's something that like you said, you and I have chatted about. I am always looking for a way to simplify a process and to make things work really well. So it's always so interesting to get other people's perspective on that. I do like to share some of those tips here with my audience and I would love to know, because blogging and having an email marketing strategy, those are two pretty big undertakings, and they can really consume a lot of your time. There has to be some type of balance and I know it's usually rooted in what your goals are. So can you share a little bit about how you find work life balance I know it'll be different for everybody but perhaps there's somebody out there who's similar to you who maybe finds themselves in a similar situation and could use the advice on how you can balance something as big as a blog, plus all the people on your email list? We're not there yet, but we will get there.
Brittany L 48:44
Yeah, yeah, it's uh, you know what, I'll be honest with you. It is something that I really struggle with and I remember when I interviewed you for the Handmade Business Summit, your topic was on productivity and work life balance, and I remember just thinking wow, you really got it worked out. I've struggled with it because my big passion is business and I love business. I love growing an audience. I love forming a relationship with my readers and with the people who are following me online. That is just so fun to me and I love that connection. People always ask, what's my hobby? and I almost hate that question because my hobby is what I do right now it's crochet and it's knit and it's serving my community. So when you feel that passionate about the work that you do for an income as well, it can be dangerous because where do you draw the line between home life and work life? That's something that I have to say has negatively interfered with me a lot in my life because I'm the type of person as I mentioned before, who just goes all in. Like I saw that knit cardigan, I was like, "yep, we're making this". That's a crazy idea. You should not make a knit cardigan for your first project. And I have that kind of approach and a lot of areas of my life of, "if I'm going to do it, I want to do it right" and it kind of totally consumes me. So I've had to be very, very deliberate about trying to take separation and one of the things that I just did three months ago was I actually got an office. And that was a tough decision for me because I thought, "spending money on an office? I have a home, I could work from home. That's the dream! You want to work from home". But the problem is if you're always at home, you have to be very disciplined in your home life to create a special work area so that you're not working in your bedroom or you're not working in areas that you associate with relaxation. Because subconsciously, if you're working in your bedroom, and something stressful happens, you don't want your subconscious to associate sleep with things that aren't relaxing. I kind of just evolved over time of trying to set myself some rules of, certainly, if I'm working from home, don't ever work in bed. As tempting as it is, because you want your sleep to be your sanctuary and be able to just associate good things with that, try to set up a dedicated area at home. And that's what I did for a long time. And every day, it would be tempting to be like, "well, I'll just go sit on the couch, I'll be more comfortable than working at this desk". It would be more comfortable, but there's negative repercussions from that and I was starting to feel very anxious all the time and I was severely anxious every single day. I think that that's something that happens to people who have a high expectation for whatever it is after. Whether that's your job or your crochet or whatever it is. I had put so much expectation on myself. I was really suffering badly from anxiety and it's still something that I have to check in with myself on a regular basis. I know this is a long answer but the way my path went is I ended up deciding to get an office and really trying to put myself in that environment and do work there every day from from nine to five, or whatever the hours are, and then when I'm home, I can relax because having your own business or side project or whatever you want to call it, there's so many amazing perks to it but it's a slippery slope of having a blur into your other areas of your life and you don't ever want it to totally dominate you. And really and truly that is something that I can say, have had in my business over the last 10 years, but certainly the first six years of that dominated my life, and it negatively impacted my relationships, personally, and it hurt my mental health because I wasn't being more mindful and careful of creating that separation. The reason why I say all this is not to scare anyone but just to know that those are some of the things that depending on your personality, you may deal with as you start a project or as you get more involved. The more you can try to encourage yourself to have that separation, whether it's in the home of a separate, dedicated desk, or specific hours, you're going to work on it and the more that I did that, the better it got for me. I think we're probably the opposite in this way. Like when I started having a calendar, there was no worse thing for me than having a calendar. That's not why I started a business. I started a business because I wanted freedom, but what I came to realize is setting up those constraints for myself gave me more freedom and I didn't see it that way initially. So now just doing those things to create that separation, I think has been really helpful. So that was a long answer and hopefully, it didn't shed too much negative light on things, but I just want to be open about my own experience in case other people can relate to that.
For sure. I appreciate that so much because that is something like you said, you may not realize or you may not even think about when you're striving for this dream of having your own business, maybe having the opportunity to work from home. There's nothing worse than feeling disappointment when you finally reach your goal. And it's not that you're disappointed in the whole idea of it, but you're disappointed in aspects of it because it turned out to be something a little different than what you wanted. And at that point it's tempting to question yourself; question whether or not you had the right goal in the first place. And I think the better, more productive question that you should be asking yourself is, how can you make it better? Because I've learned to never doubt my dream or doubt what I want. You feel it in your gut. You either know you want something, or you don't. And that's a gut feeling that you just don't make up. So rather than question, your gut instinct of creating whatever it is that you're super excited about right now, question how you can make it better.
Brittany L 55:42
Yeah, exactly and the other thing that reminded me of is something my dad always tells me because, you know, I really had a tough time even last year, my business was growing so much and you would think, Wow, that's so awesome. But with comes more expectations, more pressure, more responsibility. And, honestly I was, in my personal life, very unhappy because I felt out of control. I didn't feel like I had any control on where my life was going, which is odd because that's not why I started the business. And so, you know, one of the things he told me was that you need to take care of yourself. If you're not taking care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else and you're doing a disservice to everyone who is involved in your business and that means your audience too, right? So sometimes, well, all the time in my opinion, you just really have to check in consistently throughout this process of building a business of "is this opportunity still right for me?" And it might not be 100% yes or 100% no. You might have to drill in and look at little things and say "okay, well, this part of it is taking up so much of my time and not yielding me the results that I expected." I know I had an expectation to myself and to my audience to do this, but I need to change that expectation, because for me, it was slowly killing me. I mean, it just didn't serve me anymore and so I wasn't able to serve my audience anymore in that way. So just continue to check in with yourself and make sure that as you arrive upon your goals that you set out to achieve, make sure that they are still things that you want. More often than not, it's probably some part of what you want but there are areas that aren't making you happy that you can maybe move away from or adjust. Every time I've ever done that, every time I've taken a pause in my business or a pause to check in with myself, to make sure that I'm still in line with taking care of myself, and therefore taking care of my audience, it's been scary because it's different and I didn't expect it to be there but always has resulted in me feeling happier and as a result being able to better my audience,
For sure and knowing that it's okay to change an expectation, I mean, that's certainly something I need to hear almost on a regular basis. It's okay to change your mind, to change the focus. It's not going to be the end of your business or the end of your blog, it will probably be the start of something completely new. And I know that's something we chatted about a little bit before pressing start. It's a message that I needed to hear. And I'm so glad that you shared that here as well because, like I said, I know there's so many makers in the audience who really have a great message to share, who really have a talent, and they're feeling discouraged because there's so much to learn and so much to do when you have a blog. It's almost mind boggling once you sit down and write down all of the steps that you need to take and then oh, by the way, you need to start an email list and all of this stuff. I think the bottom line is, it's not a finish line, right? It's not a it's not a race, you're not racing to the finish line. For a business, I don't know that there ever really is a finish line. It's always just forward momentum.
Brittany L 59:19
Yeah, absolutely. And I guarantee that when you start out, or wherever you are now, everyone kind of has a finish line in their mind, and often it's associated with what you think's gonna make you happy. When you get to that finish line, you know, it's kind of human nature to re up your finish line, you get there and you're like, well, what's my new finish line? And so you're always kind of pushing yourself and so you just have to be conscious of that, that, you know, it's okay that it changes and you're growing with this process as well.
Definitely. Well, Brittany, this has been an amazing conversation. I am so thrilled that we were able to chat about this and that I could learn so much from you that I can share that with my audience. I know somebody will definitely want to check in with you after hearing today's episode. So where is the place where you would like somebody to go to connect with you?
Brittany L 1:00:17
Sure. So we have a few blogs Dabbles and Babbles and IdealMe.com are some of them. My main focus though is MyYarnClub.com a d My Yarn Club is where the home of those crochet and knit alongs that I talked about earlier that I started several years ago are located but we're essentially a yarn club where we focus on providing name brand new yarn at wholesale prices to our members. So if you're interested in staying connected with me, there's a place you can enter my newsletter on that website or our email address listed on there too. So I'd love to hear from you and I'm excited for those who are listening who are thinking about maybe starting a business in the crochet or knit space, I just want to tell you that it's 100,000% possible and to just take it step by step and I hope that some of this information has been helpful to you,
For sure. And it's totally worth it.
Brittany L 1:01:17
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 100% even on the hard days, it's worth it. There's always going to be hard days you might as well have the hard days doing what you love.
Definitely. Well, Brittany, thank you so much. I will have all that linked in the show notes so you can have quick and easy access to that. Now a lot of us here love to hang out on Instagram. Do you have a handle there that you would recommend someone check out?
Brittany L 1:01:40
Yes, I do. It's @idealmedotcom and I'll provide the information to you and you can provide it in the show notes. But as I mentioned earlier, Instagram is something I feel so behind the times on and really my main form of communication is through our email list. But by all means, follow me on Instagram. Maybe this year will be the year that I really tackle that head on.
Yes, yes. It's certainly a completely different beast. But I love how you're really sticking true to, like you said, your strengths. So you know that email is your jam and the proof is in the pudding.
Brittany L 1:02:19
Exactly, exactly. Well, thank you again for having me. It's been so fun to have you interview me and it's been really great at first podcast experience, and hopefully one of many more.
Absolutely. Well, I would love to have you back. I'm sure I'm not the only one screaming that right now. So for sure, we'll have you back on.
Alright, that was Brittany from Ideal Me, and I'm pretty sure that was amazing, right? I enjoyed that conversation so much. I'm going to go back and listen to it again. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. So Brittany did mention a few resources throughout today's episode, and I want to remind you that you can find all of that information over on the show notes page. That's bhooked.com/143. I'll have it spelled out there. It's about the middle of the page, just scroll down until you see the links and resources mentioned in this episode. You'll find it all there so you can get a little bit more detail on some of the things that she talked about and see if it's right for you and your blog. And definitely check out Brittany and some of her blogs and see what she has going on. She's doing a lot of really great things for our industry and in our community and I will have those websites she mentioned in the show notes as well. Now you may have heard at the end of that episode, I told Brittany that she mentioned something that I really needed to hear. And I'm not ready to share exactly what that is yet, but it is coming soon. So I want to just let you know about that when I have all of the details. You will be the first to know. That'll wrap up this week's episode of The BHooked Podcast. Thank you again for joining me. Thank you again for your reviews in iTunes and your ratings. That really means the world to me. It helps the show in so many different ways. So thank you so much for that. And I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you next week. Bye bye.
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About the Show
On the show, Brittany aims to inspire you and help you grow in your craft. Through her own stories and the stories of each special guest, you’ll discover tips and tricks to improve your crochet and knitting skills and find inspiration to make something that makes you happy.
When you want to kick back and learn from yarn industry experts, grab some yarn and turn on The BHooked Podcast. There’s never a shortage of all things crochet, knitting or yarn.