If you build it, they will come
The last few months have been a serious whirlwind for me. I’ve been extremely busy working to build a life that I love and blogging has been a major part of that for me. I’ve never looked at blogging as being a career (at least not for me personally) but it’s definitely something that adds a ton of value to my life. So, naturally, improving my life has been improving my blogging experience.
Along with elevating my content, I’ve been really working hard to cultivate my blog tribe and increase my knowledge. Finding online communities, for the most part, was a breeze. There seems to be a Facebook page/group for bloggers of every niche and level of experience. Finding a physical community, though, turned out to be fairly challenging.
When doing my search on Nashville I uncovered several local bloggers I never knew about. I knew this city was rich in creativity but I never knew just how rich. Though I found many sites and content creators, the event here were few and far between.
After spending a ton of time researching and not finding many things that fit into the realm of what I was looking to join, I sat back and said to myself “just do it.”
So, just a little background on my and big ideas- this is kind of my thing. I am notorious for thinking of a grand scheme, starting off with major momentum, and fizzling out when met with opposition and/or minimal support. I am very self-aware. I know who I am and I was very aware of this fact, yet I decided to continue anyway.
When I first decided to start my own group I ran it by a few of my friends and local bloggers that I knew. For the most part, people thought it was a good idea, but it definitely wasn’t everyone. I legit had someone message me and say “we are doing something similar over at xyz org. Is your event something we can collab on.” They proceeded to tell me how many “great things” they already had going on behind the scenes. I offered to meet for coffee and discuss some collab opportunities but made it known that I had no plans on dissolving. The organizer read my message and didn’t respond. I have since noticed that they’ve adjusted their “multi-city” organization to focus mainly on Nashville. I was a little annoyed at first, but oh well ya know? The only person I’m competing with is myself right?!
I also had a few people telling me that I was copying other currently established organizations. Some of the founders from those organizations even came at me. It was super frustrating because, in all honesty, I had none of them in mind. I saw an opportunity in my city and thought to myself “why let someone come here and start, something when you’re more than capable?” I feel like every creative thinks that way. I can understand their frustration, but I guess with me not viewing others as competition like that I didn’t feel the need to ask anyone permission or let anyone know what I was cooking up.
I write all of that not to scare anyone away or to have my Destiny’s Child “So Good” moment, but really just to be honest about the whole experience. With this post, I just wanted to be candid and give you all some tips and advice if you’re thinking about starting something for bloggers in your city.
Have a purpose
Wanting to have your own thing for bloggers is cool, but why are you doing it? Who will it benefit? How will it last? These are all questions you should ask yourself before getting started. Having a purpose will keep you going when brands and businesses tell you no. It will also help you create quality events.
Figure out your structure
There are a few ways that you can do a blogging group and it’s important to have the structure set in stone (for the most part) before you go public. If you’re thinking of doing a membership figure out what type of benefits you will offer. If you’re just going to do meetups think of ways to make them unique and specific to bloggers.
My first Nashville Blogging Collective event was a simple meet up at a coffee shop. I chose this type of event because it was very informal and gave people a comfortable setting to talk. I wanted to gauge interest, find out what people wanted out of a blogger organization, and also to show people that I too am just a blogger tryna make it. Starting small is also a good way to gain confidence. Trying to go big with an unestablished organization can potentially be discouraging. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Momentum is King
Many of the complaints I’ve heard from local bloggers was that someone will start something and then it will just fizzle out. I myself have witnessed this same thing. Bloggers are looking for consistency. They want to be able to look forward to something every month. If you don’t think you can keep up with planning either wait until you have the time or reach out for help.
Create a web & social media presence
What I’ve seen with the NBC is that people take you more serious when you have a visible presence online and on social media. I didn’t have a website when I first started, but I was on Instagram like crazy. I followed people posted every day and used all the possible hashtags I could to get noticed. I didn’t use my name or any information about my blog but still had a great turn out for the first meetup. The website came next and I definitely think that helped brands and bloggers see that this organization was here to stay.
Get to know your city
If you are going to be the best and put on the best events it is so important that you know your city. Som of the best places to hold events and workshops are places everyone doesn’t know about or are seldom used. People LOVE exclusivity. If people are joining your organization and potentially dedicating space on their blog or social media to your events then everything you do should be more than worth their while.
Always think about your bloggers
This tip has a few parts to it. First, it’s important to remember that not everyone will be in the same niche. They also won’t be at the same level of experience. Make sure that your events are either all inclusive or that you are scheduling multiple/varying events. Second, you also want to keep your bloggers in mind when selecting brands to work with. From what I’ve seen the majority of brands/businesses understand the benefit of bloggers. This is a good and a bad thing. Some of your time will be spent educating companies on why they need bloggers and justifying the things you’re asking for. Another part of your time will be spent trying not to hit brands with “you must be out of your mind” when they offer the absolute bare minimum and expect major promotion in return. Remember that some of the people in your group make good money off of their blog and social media. Don’t sell anyone sole or space for a few free drinks.
Be in control
I know this should probably be a given, but I want to make sure that I state it because I didn’t follow this one myself in the beginning and got myself in a little situation. When I started the NBC I was going through some major life changes. Because of these things, my organization was thrown way out of whack and I was way overwhelmed with trying to get all of my ducks in a row. As I mentioned before I told some fellow creatives about this endeavor, and some of them offered to help. Help is great. I’m not telling you not to get any help but I just want to say be careful. I relinquished a major part of this project for someone to complete and it came back to bite me in the ass super hard. A few months into our being we were hit with a copyright email. I had no idea. I hadn’t been on the copied site in months so when I reviewed ours it looked good enough to launch and I just proceeded as normal. Long story short the issue has been handled, but some bridges were definitely burned. The one thing that saved me in this matter was that I had the web designer under a contract. I was able to get a full refund because I included the phrase “original content” in the contract (shout out to my lawyer friends). I share this story though just to stay make sure you’re in control of all the moving parts. Even the ones you trust your partners with.
It’s been fun and I’ve gained some really amazing friends and contacts. BUT it also has been disheartening at times and very tough. I’m always for anyone who wants to start and create their own things so I wish any of you thinking about taking on this adventure the best of luck. Not everyone will understand the dream, but keep fighting and stay focused. If you have any questions comment below OR feel free to email me, and if you’re in the Nashville you’re more than welcome to join The Nashville Blogging Collective.