Category Archives: Blog Log

Blog Log #17: Products, Services and Digital Offerings: Successfully Selling Yourself Without Traditional Advertising

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Nubby Twiglet | Products, Services and Digital Offerings: Successfully Selling Yourself Without Traditional Advertising

In the early days of blogging, the most obvious way to generate extra income was through banner advertising. And while there is still money to be made in this format (especially for the big-time bloggers with huge traffic), there are a lot more blogs now and therefore, the slices of the pie to go around are much smaller.

Today, I’m talking about a few alternatives to the more traditional forms of advertising. While I occasionally do some advertising and sponsorships on my blog (and have a media kit on hand for when I’m contacted about those opportunities), as a creative offering services since I launched my site in 2007, I’ve always viewed income generation slightly differently.

Since the day I started my blog (I just celebrated my seventh anniversary!) it’s been more of an indirect portfolio. While I was blogging, I was also in school full-time for design and the week after graduating, that transitioned into a full-time agency job. While I was very consistent with sharing fresh content five days a week, it wasn’t my full-time gig. During those very early days of blogging, I was also doing freelance work on the side for clients including Virgin Records and Forever 21 and my blog gave me a direct outlet to share these projects with my audience. Though project-focused posts were perhaps 10% of my overall content (variety is important — you don’t want to bore your audience!), it was enough to help me gain even more freelance clients. Building this client base through my blog eventually made it possible to quit all outside agency work.

If you’re looking for fantastic examples of folks who indirectly generate livings from their blogs by offering products and services, Joy Cho, Jess Lively, Alexandra Franzen, Garance Doré (I love her online shop!) and Breanna Rose do a great job of making it feel seamless.


On that note, these are three key ways you can generate income from your blog without traditional advertising:

1. Offer A Service

My blog was built on offering design services though I never pushed them very hard — I just naturally shared projects as they wrapped up and had a permanent link to my portfolio in my main navigation (note — if you do this, be very direct. Mine says,”Hire me” so people know that I’ve available.) Even when I wasn’t posting about client work, I still used my blog as a vehicle to share my interests, aesthetics and personality. When I launched my design studio Branch last year and was no longer just supporting myself, all of our rates doubled overnight from my previous freelance ones. At that point, advertising felt a lot less lucrative since an average client at Branch books in at a few thousand dollars minimum and blog ads generate much, much less here on average. About half of Branch’s potential clients find us on Nubby Twiglet and click through from a project link, graphic in the sidebar or a pinned project image on Pinterest. I’ve also watched dozens of other bloggers launch services and cultivate a dedicated following of clients directly through their personal sites.

2. Create Digital Products

Digital products are the holy grail of blogging these days. After all, your dedicated readers tend to want more of what you have to offer and if you can provide them with useful content in a nicely packaged format, they will love it. We have a whole section dedicated digital products at The Blogcademy because it’s such a far-reaching subject but in a nutshell, digital products can range from PDF / Kindle / iPad friendly books, Photoshop actions, podcasts, online courses, blog templates or anything else that can be packaged and delivered in a digital format. In the last six months, we’ve done really well through offering digital products at The Blogcademy with our Home School modules. Our digital products are centered around 14 different blogging topics and each one features a video with PDF worksheet downloads. You pay $20.00 for access and can watch the video as many times as you like. The key to digital products is to create an offering once and then sell it repeatedly to generate income with very little extra effort. If you’re looking for a shop example with a variety of digital product formats, Gala’s is a great place to start.

3. Support a shop or outside business

Over time, it’s natural to evolve and gain new interests. When I first started blogging, I had no outside businesses and now, the two that I do have make up my full time job. Chances are that you’ll also start businesses beyond your blog and your personal platform is a great place to share these ventures. Perhaps you’ve started a vintage clothing shop, a baking company, a juice stand or even a line of art prints like Anna has. If you feel that this content ties in with your audience’s interests, create useful posts and how-to guides that promote these offerings while helping them in some way. That’s the key. A Beautiful Mess does this extremely well since they now have books, Photoshop actions, e-courses, apps and more. They are able to promote this wide range of content on their blog while always keeping their core audience in mind.

Advertising is just one way to generate income from your blogging. I hope this post helps you think outside of the box and use your blog as a vehicle to make a living doing what you’re passionate about.

Your turn: What are the unique ways that you’ve used your blog as a platform to generate interest in your offerings?


Photo: Shell de Mar with special thanks to Go With Oh.

Blog Log #15: Define What Your Blog Stands For. Create A Manifesto!

Nubby Twiglet | Define What Your Blog Stands For. Create A Manifesto!

A manifesto is a call to action. It’s a crystal clear declaration of what you stand for and believe in. Do you have one for your blog? I recently wrote a manifesto for Nubby Twiglet and though it’s still a work in progress, it was a great creative exercise to define my blog’s mission. Penning a manifesto for your blog can also be a great personal reminder for what you do and why you do it, especially after you’ve been at it for a long time (my 7 year anniversary is creeping up!).


My Manifesto

Are you a creative who’s passionate about the aesthetics in your daily life? Does design play an integral role in your personal expression? Then you’ve come to the right place. Nubby Twiglet was founded in 2007 under the guise that we should embrace our individuality in order to live a unique, inspired existence. As creatives, our lives are multi-faceted and expression ruminates from everywhere including our surroundings, careers and travels. Why should we separate our lives into bite-sized pieces when we can live it as one, inspiring whole? Come as you are, take charge and embrace a lifestyle that leaves you personally fulfilled.


Manifesto Cheat Sheet

If you’d like to write your own manifesto, here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Call out your blog by name.
You immediately want readers to know what the manifesto represents.

2. Define the purpose of your blog.
How are you helping your audience and adding value to their lives?

3. What makes your blog different?
What’s the unique twist on your content that makes it irreplaceable?

4. Who is your blog’s audience (or ideal audience)?
Are you writing for college students, stay at home moms, creatives or aspiring chefs? Define your niche.

5. How can you end on a positive note?
Tie everything up in a nice bow. Leave your audience feeling inspired and energized.


Do you have a manifesto for your blog?

If you have one or write one after this, please leave it in the comments so we can check it out!

Blog Log #14: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!

Say No To Clutter: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!

I’ve had a few readers ask me how I organize the digital files for my blog posts and today, I’m sharing my process. I strongly believe that staying organized digitally is just as important as keeping your physical space tidy. There’s nothing worse than falling down the rabbit hole of lost files, digging though old folders and hard drives that you inadvertently labeled “stuff” and “sort later” without a second thought years before!


Say No To Clutter: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!


Because I run two different blogs, having a system in place keeps me mentally focused and reminds me of what to post when. And, if I need to pull images and assets from old posts, I can find them in mere seconds.

Here’s a summary of my organizational structure:

1. I keep one master folder on my computer labeled BLOG.

2. Inside that folder, I have subfolders that are sorted by year (I’ve actively been running this blog since 2007 so that’s A LOT of content).

3. Inside each year, I have folders for each post I’ve ever done titled by date and description. For instance, my Link Love column from February 5th is labeled 02052014_LINKLOVE.

Inside each post folder, I have a few things:

4. Final JPEGS, edited and ready to go for that post.

5. A text document of the post.

6. An assets folder where I keep the original raw images, layered PSDs and any visual research I did for the post.

That’s it! While my system might not be a perfect match for you, hopefully it inspires you to get organized when it comes to your content. And, it seems that I’m on a roll this week when it comes to whipping digital assets into shape. If you run a creative business, you may also enjoy this post over at Branch about how we keep our client files organized.


It’s your turn: Do you have any tips, tricks or systems that you use for keeping your digital assets sorted?

Blog Log #13: The Key To Building an Engaged Audience Plus 30 Ideas For Fresh Content

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Nubby Twiglet | The Key To Building an Engaged Audience Plus 30 Ideas For Fresh Content

The quickest way to grow your blog doesn’t hinge on implementing the latest SEO techniques or posting a lot of pretty images. If you want an audience that’s engaged and keeps coming back for more, create genuinely helpful content.

If you poke around the internet, you’ll notice that a majority of the most popular blogs are heavy on content that teaches you something. Whether it’s how to live a better life, how to tie a scarf or how to whip up something new in the kitchen, people are always searching for opportunities to learn something new, even if it’s ridiculously simple.

Think about it this way. When you sit down to google something, would you key in:

Popular lipstick shades or how to pick flattering lipstick shades?
Graphic design portfolio or how to build a print portfolio?
Cute hairstyles or how to style short hair?
Chunky sweater styles or how to style chunky sweaters?

Audiences want applicable advice that is helpful and benefits their lives in some way. The concept of being helpful can feel a bit daunting at first. After all, not all of us are gourmet chefs, DIY masterminds or decorating geniuses. But, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. When it comes to being helpful, we each have a unique set of talents and life experiences. We just tend to assume that everyone else knows how to do what we do. You’d be surprised at how popular some of your tried and true skills can be when turned into a series of blog posts.

To be genuinely helpful, the key is to think of little ways to add a twist to what you already enjoy doing.


Here are some ideas to get you going:

1. Bake your way through a stash of favorite family recipes and photograph the results.

2. Review the books that have had the biggest impact on your life.

3. Break down your favorite makeup and skincare routines along with the products you recommend and why.

4. Document before and after shots of your home renovations with how-to guides.

5. Are you a green thumb? Create guides around what grows best in which climates.

6. Tour your city’s food carts and let us know your top picks!

7. If movies are your passion, create guides of must-see films broken up by genre.

8. Did you bypass college and follow a self-taught path to the career of your dreams? Tell us how you did it!

9. Share styling tips on how to get creative with a very limited wardrobe.

10. If you’re a master at smoothies, create a series around your favorite recipes.

11. Do you have a knack for hairstyles? Let us know the best ones for long, short, updos and more!

12. Create a series of helpful email templates related to your industry.

13. Share your tried-and-true social media tips and tricks for each platform.

14. Develop a series of paint swatch combos for the color challenged.

15. If organizing is your thing, share before and after shots alongside your sources for supplies.

16. Do you have a talent for modifying the mundane? Share your best IKEA hacks!

17. Are you a web designer? Let us know your favorite web font combos.

18. If you’re a thrifting champ, create guides for cities you’ve visited.

19. Is bartending your specialty? Share recipes and photograph your best drink concoctions!

20. Review your favorite restaurants in town and come up with your own rating system.

21. If you’re a shoe obsessive, create guides for the best shoes from working out to going out.

22. Is traveling your passion? Create guides for each locale you visit including transportation, dining and hotels!

23. Create a series of style posts centered around a favorite wardrobe staple.

24. Do you have a specific way of shooting and processing your photos? Show us how you do it.

25. Have you mastered how to clean your house without using harsh chemicals? Teach us your tricks!

26. If you’re a creative that’s burnt out on “pinspiration” posts, inspire us through real life mood boards.

27. Run your own business? Create an advice column centered around what you’ve learned.

28. Have you pulled off a career change into a completely different industry? Break down how you did it!

29. Are you a fitness junkie? Share routines for busy, on-the-go types.

30. Is event planning your passion? Teach us how to make gatherings and parties run more smoothly.


When it comes to building an engaged audience, be genuine, be helpful and share what you know.

Your turn: What are some recent helpful posts you did that were a big hit?


Image: Alexa Loy Photography.

Blog Log #12: Is Your About Page Living Up To Its Purpose?

Nubby Twiglet | Blog Log: About Page

Is your about page conveying the story that you want it to? And more importantly, is it resonating with your readers? Mine wasn’t.

Up until a year ago, I never realized the power an about page held. Mine was decent on the surface but internally, I knew it was lacking across the board. For many of us, talking about ourselves and playing up our strengths in tidy little paragraphs can seem downright weird. Instead of coming across as proud and well-earned, it can feel more like flat-out boasting. And for the most part, none of us want to be that person. Yet, I knew that after launching Branch in September, it was time to own who I was and get over the awkwardness of talking about myself. I carefully tightened up my bio once again, mostly outlining my professional accomplishments.

Then, something happened — eerily similar emails kept popping into my inbox from new readers. A large chunk of my blog’s traffic is from creatives who are in college or entering their first professional jobs and they were essentially asking me, “How’d you do it?” They wanted to know how I’d gotten to where I am now but when I read back through my newly slick bio, it was leaving a lot out. It may have focused heavily on my accomplishments and been high on aspiration but the details of how I got from point A to B had been cut.

When it comes to your about page, there’s nothing wrong with being polished and professional but looking back, I feel like I’d fallen victim to the the marketing and PR machine — I am constantly absorbing the stories of people I admire in magazines and the intros usually focus on the present and how wonderful their existence is right now. Very rarely do they pull back the curtain and share their ups and downs, their personal struggles and their biggest failures along the way. And if we’re being honest, this missing piece is what we want to hear most because it’s what makes them human and relatable.

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As I sat with my bio a little longer, I realized how many misconceptions I’d built up. In a way, I took it for granted that most of my readers had been with me for the long haul, since way back in 2007 when I launched this incarnation of my blog. Every few months, I’d been polishing up my about page to reflect the current me but not talking about any of the details of how I evolved and became who I am. I was stripping out the old and slipping in the new. I was missing the big picture: we don’t just become who we want to be overnight; a whole lot happens in between. Our past heavily influences our present and we shouldn’t discount that.

Think about your own About page: if a reader is dropping in now and just discovering you, they’ll see something very different than if they’ve been following you for a few years. We all have to start somewhere and I am guilty of clicking into a fabulous about page or portfolio and thinking, “I’ll never be good as them.” But then, sometimes I unearth glimpses of a creative’s past and realize that they’re just like me. They had to start somewhere.

About pages are incredibly powerful and if you don’t take the time to tell your own story, chances are that no one else will, either. It’s up to us as bloggers to own our stories and to get comfortable with sharing them. After all, our personal experiences are what differentiate us from everyone else. I’m still reworking my about page to be the best it can possibly be but in the meantime, it’s already an improvement from where it was. Baby steps.

How do you feel about your about page? Is it conveying what you want it to? Is it resonating with your readers?


Photos: Made U Look Photography.
View more Blog Log columns here.

Blog Log #11: Why Are You Blogging?

Why Are You Blogging

This summer, as I scanned through my RSS reader, I noticed some of my favorite blogs being overtaken by a sense of malaise. In part, it may have been a case of wanting to escape from the screen to enjoy the nice weather but I sensed something more than that under the surface.

At this point, we’ve collectively reached a moment where blogging has been around long enough that there’s a bit of a “been there, done that” mentality. And because of that, there’s a natural shift taking place.

When I first started blogging, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest didn’t exist yet — blogs were the place for breaking news and new discoveries. Now, all that information hits social media at a dizzying speed. Photo shoots are sneak peeked and teased up sometimes weeks before their big blog debuts. Some of that magic of settling into a new corner of the web and soaking up something you’ve never been seen before has been lost. Where does that leave blogging?

I’m all for embracing the new, especially when it comes to social media platforms. But at the same time, I still believe that blogs have their place and always will.

I’ve always thought of social media and blogging in these terms: Social media is meant for sharing snippets of your work and life while blogs are the place to showcase the full story. In a way, interacting on social media is the equivalent of a quick coffee date. You’re making small talk, feeling things out and getting glimpses inside a person’s world. But with blogging, you’re taking it to the next level. Blogging is about inviting someone into your living room for a deeper conversation. They have the opportunity to dig in and really find out what you’re all about.

Creatives and business owners email me all the time, asking me if they should have a blog. My response is always an enthusiastic yes, definitely! Especially if you’re just starting out, blogs are the ideal vehicle to build trust when it comes to your brand. They are the space where you can open up and share your work and life on a deeper level. While that’s just my opinion, social media trends come and go. And if you choose to put all of your eggs in one basket, especially when it comes to getting the word out about your business, you run the risk of hitting some rough patches. I’ve always felt that having a blog to anchor your brand for the long haul as people move on and explore new social media platforms is a safe bet.

When it comes to blogging, I still do so regularly because I genuinely love it and besides that, blogging indirectly supports my design business. It’s as simple as that. But, feelings and focuses do shift. It’s always good to occasionally step back and ask yourself if the effort you’re putting into your blog, business and hobbies are worth it and decide if it’s time to make some changes.

I want to know: Why do you choose to blog? Is it as a creative outlet, to promote your business or for some other reason?

Blog Log #10: How Often Should You Post?

Blog Log

One of the questions we get asked every time at The Blogcademy is, “How often should I post?” And, I’m not surprised that it gets brought up so often because it’s an important one. But there’s a lot more that comes into play before you can land on that magic number. So today, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of determining a posting schedule that works for you.


Set Attainable Goals

When it comes to setting goals, a lot of us (including myself) tend to set the bar so high that it’s nearly impossible to reach. And when we don’t reach it, we feel like we’ve let ourselves (and our readers) down. Remember, it’s much easier to start out slowly and build your blogging empire in small but achievable increments than the alternative, which is to post so frequently that burnout sets in.

Think of it this way: how would you feel if you fell in love with a new blog that posted once a day and a month after your discovery, it suddenly dropped down to once a week with no explanation? Even if the content was still really high quality-wise, you’d probably wonder what happened. But, if your favorite blog that consistently posted once a week announced that it was growing and would now be posting once a day, you’d probably be over the moon.

The mistake a lot of bloggers make in the beginning is to set goals that they’ll never have the time for. It’s better to just dive in with a schedule that you can manage now (even if it isn’t that often) and roll with it — as you grow and are able to carve out more time for your blog, you’ll already have a solid foundation to build on.

Also remember, posting too much can be as bad as posting too little! If your frequency is too often, it can leave your readers feeling overwhelmed. So finding that balance is key.


Define Your Blog’s Purpose

Some people blog strictly as a creative outlet while others blog for income. Still, others like me blog to support our businesses. A lot of business consultants claim that blogging once a week is enough for a business to post and then, when it comes to personality-based blogging, it’s common to post much more often (3 to 5 times per week). The more often you post, the more potential “doorways” people have to discover your site — but frequency depends heavily on your goals and niche.


Be Aware But Don’t Obsess

A lot of bloggers observe peers in their niche posting every day (sometimes twice) and consistently making the rounds on their social media accounts. Competitiveness starts to sink in and they think that they have to do the same to climb the ladder.

But when it comes to blogging, you need to step back and remember it’s not about them, it’s about you. If your current schedule allows you to post three times a week, that’s perfectly fine. If it only allows you to post once a week at the moment, that’s fine, too. The point is work at a pace that fits into your life and not dig yourself into an obsessive, friendless, lifeless hole in the process!

Some of my friends including Kat post twice daily and sometimes even on the weekends. I usually only have time to post once every weekday. But instead of beating myself up for not posting more, I remind myself that full-time blogging is her job whereas I’m a full time graphic designer (and most of my day is dedicated to my clients). I’m aware that some bloggers post much more than I do. And others post less. I just do the best I can, when I can and focus on keeping my routine steady.


Create Regular Features

While some bloggers feel that setting a regular rotation of features is creatively stifling, think of them instead as a framework to give your ideas structure and cut back on stress. What are you already posting a lot of or really interested in? Define it and create a column. For instance, in 2008 I realized I was taking a lot of photos of my projects, surroundings and daily life but most of them went unused. I thought, why not round them up every Friday and share my Week in Pictures? Now, it’s one of my most popular columns and I never have to scramble to come up with a post idea for that day of the week. If you post multiple times a week, it’s easy to start feeling the drain of ideas a few years in — but those staple columns keep your regular readers coming back and allow you the opportunity to fill in your other days with exciting, unique content.


Stay Consistent

If you announce that you’re going to post three days a week, do everything in your power to hold up your end of the deal. If your posting becomes too spotty, your diehard readers will probably stick around but the influx of new readers will probably move on. Building an audience for your blog is based on trust. Just like you’d show up to school or work, show up to your blog. Of course, sometimes life’s circumstances get in the way and we’re all human — some things are just out of our control. But if you do have to take an extended absence, make an announcement so your readers don’t think you fell off the face of the earth!


In Closing

As a blogger, there is no right answer when it comes to your posting frequency — it comes down to what works for your lifestyle. It’s much more important to stay consistent. It takes time to build an audience and brand you believe in and there’s no one posting schedule that will work for everyone. Make blogging work for your lifestyle — not the other way around.

I want to know: How often do you post new content and how did you determine that number for yourself?