Blogs to Drive Audience

About four years ago, I started a personal blog. While I was home with the kids I wanted to keep up on my photography and writing skills, so I chose to document the crafty fun things we were doing. (And, I saw all the other crazy cool craft blogs out there so I just had to join in the fun.)

It was a really interesting experiment for me watching what was popular and seeing how I could drive an audience to my blog. At the time, Pinterest was exploding so I was able to gain an audience there pretty quickly. My Cat Condo post blew up pretty much overnight due mostly to Pinterest, which was exciting. I also found a bunch of link parties happening on craft blogs which also gave my links a boost. I tried to send my links out to as many places as I could, like my Ikea Hack Sewing Desk that I posted on the IkeaHackers site, or the Silk Soymilk Box Organizer that was featured in a Facebook post by Silk Soymilk. These were all organic ways I tried to drive people to my blog.

Ultimately, my goal was to drive people to my Etsy Store to buy my photographs and handmade creations. In hindsight, I think I could have organized things on my blog a little differently and created some paid ads (especially on Facebook), but overall I was really satisfied at the audience I gained. A lot of views, a few (ehem-family) subscribers and a little bit of sales on my Etsy website. Not bad for a first time experiment with little financial backing.

When I stepped back out into the working world, I was hired to increase visibility for a local university division. Part of the strategy I came up with was to create media outlets focused on different audiences. This allowed us to slot different content creation into the correct broadcast channels. (I am a huge believer in not posting exactly the same content on all media channels–why would anyone watch any of them if they were all the same thing?) So, I defined our blog as where we posted all the internal divisional accomplishments.

These were meant to be more in-depth articles about experiences our students had in our programs, accomplishments of our faculty and staff, and larger events going on in the division. A lot of times we would push these articles out to other media channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or they would be picked up by our University News Division. This way, we could keep our Facebook or Twitter descriptions short, but draw in readers to longer more interesting articles.

2016 blog stats-March

Because our blog posts became publicized within larger audiences, our blog viewership rose and our visitor traffic grew larger. Our hope was to drive some of these viewers to our website so they could learn more about our programs and eventually apply to the college.

So, you can see from the two examples above that while creating content is important, creating the “why” behind the content can help accomplish goals (I just read a great article on this from Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog). In both these examples, a blog was created to help drive traffic towards a website where products were sold. And an increase in viewers means an increase in a potential sale.

Project Organization

When I was an intern in the eMedia Department at UC Blue Ash, I developed an instructional manual for bulk film loading. Everyone used film cameras back then for department photography projects, so it was cheaper to buy film in bulk and roll it out ourselves. The problem was, every time there was a new intern, the process had to be taught by word of mouth: there were no reference directions. My manual made it easier to learn the task and created something to look back on if there were questions. (View low-res PDF: film-manual)

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After several years, I was hired on full time to manage and organize the media projects that ran through the department. I developed an organizational system for all the in-progress projects and their assets so we could keep everything together. After the projects were completed, I designed a system-wide packaging template to label all the archival copies. The final copies were stored in a library and could be immediately recognized as a part of the archives. (View low-res PDF: support-docs-web)

PDQ Support Docs-3

0901012 Graduate Book-1In addition, I chose an online project management tool so team communication could be facilitated. I would assign a project number, enter it into our online project management system (at the time it was Liquid Planner), and fill in a framework of tasks that needed to be completed by the student interns. This way they would know exactly what was expected of them and if they had questions they could clarify.

Lastly, I worked on a comprehensive 50 page manual detailing project-related procedures in the department. It covered everything through pre-production, production, post-production, and project finalization. When it was finished, everyone had a detailed reference to look up how a project was created from conception to completion. Again, this clarified expectations and allowed projects to run more smoothly. (Below is a small excerpt from the manual. View low-res PDF of excerpt: handbook-excerpt)

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Over the years I’ve learned that doing things in a procedural way allows more flexibility. At first this sounds like a juxtaposition: How can a more defined experience allow for more creativity? I’ve found, though, that once expectations and rules are expressly stated one can move on to the creative portion of his/her work with the framework of the project already in mind. This frees up the process for more creative details to shine through.