Photo by Angie Wolfe Photography
Many of you know the story of how I began this blog but I’ll do a recap for this post.
I had been reading blogs for about 6 months before I started writing Colour Me Happy over 8 years ago. Business was slow for me at the time and I was tired of the ups and downs of being a self-employed designer. You know what it’s like, when it rains, it pours and when it’s dead, it’s dead.
Well my business was very slow at the time and I was back in debt.
I found a design conference webinar on-line that cost $300 for three days. That was a lot for me (everything’s expensive when you’re in debt) so I convinced a designer friend to split it with me and we did it together. Every day she drove to my house and we treated it as seriously as though we were really at a live conference.
Then one of the presenters started talking about blogging, and how every designer should have one. Because a blog is an extension of your website and also gives people a sense of your personality.
And that was it. I came up with the name Colour Me Happy, and started writing that weekend. I wrote five blog posts in two days, this one is still in the top 10 most read posts of the almost 1500 posts that I have written in eight years.
My white kitchen – Interior Design by Maria Killam
Sure you can’t write? It’s easier than you think.
Before I started my blog, it took forever to write a professional letter. Seriously. I needed help. I had to read it over and over. It needed to be edited by my long-suffering wife, again and again. It was truly painful.
In the very beginning of my decorating business, back when the name was ‘One Day Design’ a local journalist wrote a story on me and my business. I went to her apartment and did a little one day transformation and I remember being truly amazed at how she turned it into the article that she wrote for the newspaper.
I was even more clear after that, I was NOT a writer.
But a blog is not a professional letter. It’s a conversation between you and the reader. Take your favorite client, your ideal client, and put her/him across the table in your mind. And write to that client.
If you were having a conversation with your best and ideal client, you would never be mean, patronizing or condescending.
It’s the same with your blog.
When you share your expertise, be bossy but in a charming way, so that people get that you know what you’re talking about, but never talk down to your reader.
Write like you talk. Actually the worst thing you can do is try to be stuffy and professional.
There are a lot of posts out there where people are saying ‘blogs are dead’. But they’re not. My blog is and continues to be, pretty much the source of my entire 6 figure income.
Start your blog post with a story, then the reader can relate to you instantly.
People love stories and remember them.
The more you can weave your life into your blog post, the harder it is for other people to copy your content and the more interesting your post will be.
When you’ve written your post, read it again and look for your personality. If your post is so generic that anyone can search for the same answers and find them anywhere on the internet, keep writing, it’s not finished yet.
My yellow sofa – Interior Design by Maria Killam
Why No one Comments on Your Blog
I hit a thread on Facebook a while ago, where designers were complaining about the lack of comments on their blog posts. Some were so cranky about it, they had taken the comments widget right off their blog so they wouldn’t be disappointed when they opened their email each morning only to see crickets.
So here’s the thing, 95% of the people who read your blog will NEVER comment and 95% of the comments you do get, will be from other bloggers. What this means is, if you write a blog post and just sit back, waiting for the comments to roll in, well, it’s not going to happen.
For three years, every time I published a new post, I would spend another hour commenting on at least 30 other blogs. And every blogger who commented on my blog, I would post a comment back, on their post.
This is how people find your blog and this is how you start building a following.
Everyone is so worried about hitting publish on their first blog post, but what they don’t realize is that it takes a while for Google to index the post so it shows up when searched. Even your Mom won’t find your post unless you send her a link.
Now I have a core group of fans who religiously comment whenever I put up a new post. And I want you to know I read every single one. And I love every one of you for your comments!
Comments are like oxygen to a blogger so when Mary, my ‘Sister from another Mother’ in Chicago or Lucy in LA or Brenda or Paula says something particularly sweet, I email her back and tell her how much I appreciate her comments!!
My favourite mornings are after my blog has been sent out because I feel like I’m having coffee with my friends when I read the comments.
Build Your List
Think of your best advice. What is the advice you would have LOVED to know when you first started your business?
That’s a good place to look when thinking about writing your ‘bribe report’ or ‘giveaway’.
When someone hits your website, make sure you give them a reason to stay by giving them something good in exchange for their email.
Your list is where all the money is.
The people who follow your blog are 10 times more likely to buy from you than the reader who finds your site from a google search, gets what they need from your blog and then moves on.
Your list trusts you, that’s why they are the most important.
Don’t focus on artificial ways to build your list, focus on producing great content and giving your readers value that will organically build your list.
Stop Resisting and Learn Something New
We spent $50,000 (including travel and hotels) one year attending conferences with top gurus in the field because I seemed to be one of very few designers in my niche who sold products and webinars on-line and I wanted to figure out the system.
Ready? Here it is:
If there’s something on-line that you need to learn that is critical to your success?
Figure it out.
Get yourself trained.
Just do it.
My partner and I have written and launched webinars where we made more money in four days than I made in a year, before I started my blog. In order to coordinate the whole thing, we needed to learn three on-line platforms.
You can’t hire someone to do this for you.
Because the person who knows how to do that, is usually running their own company. None of this is that hard, but you do need to learn it.
For 5 1/2 years I took photos with my point and shoot camera and thought they were good enough. I’m a design blogger remember?
They were not. I cringe every time I click on one of my old posts now.
I finally learned how to photograph my own interiors and how to make even my iPhone photos look 100% better in Photoshop. Not only do my day-to-day photos in my posts look so much better, I have saved thousands of dollars in professional photography fees.
And, it’s not even about the money you save in photography fees. If you’re a design blogger, you’re not going to hire a photographer every time you need to take photos for your blog. Or it’s Sunday when you decide the photo shoot is going to happen, and your photographer is simply not going to be available.
Which Social Networking Platform Should you Focus On?
For the first few years of being in this on-line marketing world, I felt alone, because although there were a lot of designers who had amazing blogs, I was doing something different. I was also selling and leading colour training events in addition to keeping up with my blog.
Every day I felt like a hamster on a wheel. Never getting enough done and always feeling behind on everything, especially the marketing/social media side of things.
When Pinterest got really big, I was a hold-out for about 8 months. I thought “Really? Something else I have to figure out and work on daily?”
Then when I finally jumped on board and created an account, I was mad at myself because I realized how silly I had been to wait, since I was already sourcing all my blog images there.
Also, my number one source of blog traffic is Pinterest like it will be for many of you.
Now many of my clients tell me one of the reasons they hired me was because they loved my Pinterest boards.
This is important because you can get a sense of someone’s aesthetic by just one glance.
Instagram was the same. While my blogger friends had accounts with followings that got bigger and bigger, I consoled myself by saying “I blog more. That’s where my energy goes, you can’t do EVERYTHING right?”
Well, about a year ago, I realized that I can’t ignore Instagram either. Especially when suddenly, everyone I spoke to, was on Instagram.
I heard stories of real estate agents, who sold all their properties on Instagram. Artists who sold all their art, strictly on Instagram. That’s when I realized, I’d better get busy.
If you want to know exactly what it takes to become an Instagram influencer, read this post.
A few weeks ago, Terreeia and I had dinner with her best friends. A couple she’s known for 30 years. They run a fast food franchise business and were having trouble connecting their business Facebook pages to their other accounts.
Their question for me was “How many social media platforms do you need to work on?” I said, “Unfortunately all of them or at least Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram”.
Now I do what I can do, but the feeling of “I’m so behind” is way more in the background these days. Perhaps because I’ve been in this business for a while now and I’m used to it.
As soon as I give most people even a glimpse of what it takes to have an on-line business, inevitably they start asking ‘How do you find the time?’. If you’re passionate about what you do, that question usually isn’t the first one that comes up.
The weekend that I started my blog and wrote 5 posts, I barely slept. I went to bed at 11:00 pm and then bounced out of bed at 3:00 am because I woke up with another idea for a blog post. I had no idea that I had so much to say until I started writing.
And your platform might be totally different? Maybe you’ll be the real estate agent who sells all your properties on Instagram.
I talk about all of this and more in my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops on Day 3 when I teach the Business of Colour:
- The third day you’ll learn the business of colour and design. I’ll share how I developed my successful business model and you’ll discover which pieces you can map onto your business.
- What you need to do to set yourself up for success
- How and what to charge for your services
- How to ask for the money
- Design has evolved to where we now source most of the items we need for any project on-line. The better you get at seeing the 9 undertones in my system, the easier it will be for you to source specific items on-line and get very accurate. “You would be amazed at how most things that arrive for my client projects are exactly the right colour we thought they would be. Just because I could distinguish, in advance, the neutral undertones in the rug, pillow, or duvet that I needed.”
- You’ll learn my insider secrets on how I work with clients on-line, choosing and specifying colour for their interiors and exteriors, so you can add this valuable and lucrative service to your list of offerings.
The training also includes:
- 3 days of live, in-person training by Maria Killam
- Your own complete and extensive work book filled with useful cheat sheets, forms you’ll need for your business and information you can refer back to as you build your experience and train your eye.
- Maria’s two e-books, How to Choose Paint Colours — It’s All in the Undertones; White is Complicated
- Unlimited access to Maria’s “How to Choose Exterior Colour” webinar ($297 value)
- Work with fabric, hard finishes and large paint samples during in-class, hands-on exercises throughout all 3 days. After your group has made their selections, Maria works with each group to tweak their colour selections and explain WHY each choice is the correct one
- Paint colour fan decks (Value $55)
- A $350 photography tip you’ll start using immediately
- Catered lunch, coffee, soft drinks and snacks each day
- Certification as a True Colour Expert™
- Access to a graduates-only private Facebook page, PRICELESS. Especially if you work alone and sometimes need a sounding board for the endless decisions to be made throughout your design and colour consulting business
- A Certified True Colour Expert button to display on your website
Here’s a video testimonial by one of my fabulous True Colour Experts and interior designers, Arianne Bellzaire. I bumped into her at High Point in the Fall and she was quick to tell me that my course had totally changed her business! So I asked her to record a video for me and I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful video and her work and website are also gorgeous! See her website here. Arianne attended my workshop in Houston in the Spring of 2015 and she’s located in Baton Rouge, LA:
Interior design by Arianne Bellizaire