Your Questions Answered
Last week's Blogging For Business Group Coaching session had a record number of participants from across the country! If you were among them, you know first hand how great it is to join forces with like-minded small business owners to swap tips, share war stories and encourage and lift each other up. You also know that blogging can enhance your business and add to your bottom line. But if you're still confused about what it's like to be in the trenches as you blog for business, this interview with will shed some light on the process.
Along with her husband Dennis, Kayla Fioravanti owns Essential Wholesale, a supplier of cosmetics basis, essential oils and other raw materials for cosmetics manufacturers to purchase and use in their own branded lines. Essential Wholesale has been an active and faithful participant and sponsor of the Indie Beauty Network since September 2000, and I had the pleasure of helping them set up and launch their blog, EssentialU, last year.
Several months later, I wondered what Kayla thinks of the whole process, whether she feels it (and I!) was worth it and how she likes blogging. Here's what she told me.
dM: When did you start your blog?
Kayla: We started posting on our blog in August 2007. We launched it in December 2007.
dM: Why did you launch a blog?
Kayla: I have worked in manufacturing and/or the research and development department as Essential Wholesale for years. My focus left me feeling disconnected from our customers. So we launched the blog as a means of connecting with our customers in a more personal way. I have always loved to write, and the blog allows me to reach people on a whole new level.
dM: Why do you feel it's necessary to make that connection?
Kayla: I knew what products people liked and wanted, and that's important. But I didn’t know what was in their hearts, what drove them to be in business for themselves. Sharing myself at the blog has opened up the dialogue between me and my customers in ways that just taking orders and responding to product feedback does not allow me to do.
dM: Are more of your customers contacting you more often now?
Kayla: Yes, and I love it. Most are still choosing to email me through the blog if they have a comment about the blog, but as they get used to using the blog as a communications tool, I think this will change over time. The blog is already becoming a community of self employed people, including our customers, having a discussion.
dM: I understand you are introducing an aromatherapy certification course soon. Is the blog figuring into that?
Kayla: Yes. Aromatherapy and product education has always been a passion of mine, and the blog opens up a new avenue for me to communicate and pass on to our customers the knowledge I have gained while working in the lab. We will also use the blog to communicate about the new certification program.
I love doing research, running tests in the lab and then sharing the information gathered in an easy to read language. I love geeky science stuff, and enjoy translating the language of chemistry to readable prose.
dM: How much time did it take to set up your blog?
Kayla: Computers are not my first language and the idea of learning the ropes was a bit overwhelming for me. If creating this blog was my job alone, it would still be a concept. I did the wise thing and hired dM to help build the blog. I knew that she had already done the research and worked on blogs for years, so I turned to her for help.
Even with dM working on many of the technical aspects of the blog, there is still a big time commitment for me to fill it with content. I love every minute of time I spend creating posts for the blog.
dM: Today, 3 months after launching and 6 months after beginning to build the blog, how much time to you spend on the blog each week?
Kayla: I spend 5-7 hours per week on some aspect of the blog.
dM: How do you decide what to post about about?
Kayla: I decided to focus on a few basic areas up front. Right now, dM is guiding me and helping me define my own personal blog zone. We are working on setting up a calendar that sets easy to handle deadlines so I don’t get overwhelmed. I have a lot on my plate everyday that is not related to the blog or our newsletter. I helps to prioritize in small bits so I can stay focused when I have a moment to work on the blog.
dM: Is it getting easier?
Kayla: It is getting easier. I am always thinking of things that would be great to blog about. It has become part of my daily thought process. Blogging is pretty addictive. Once you get rolling, it's hard to stop.
dM: Are you posting to other people's blogs?
No, but I should be doing it. I simply haven’t had the time.
dM: Are you glad you launched a blog?
Kayla: Yes. It gives me a creative outlet and has opened up a brand new dialogue with my customers. I think it is a great way to share information. We have gotten only positive feedback on the blog and our weekly online newsletter.
dM: How much time a day do you spend on your blog, on average?
Kayla: An hour. I write the posts and someone else does the actual posting. It would take from 1 to 2 hours if I did both.
dM: Is it time well spent?
dM: What are you getting out of the Group Coaching sessions?
Kayla: I learn something new each time. Listening in on other people’s questions brings up topics I wouldn’t even think to ask. I am always learning about ways to grow business from dM, whatever the setting.
What I love about what Kayla said. Kayla set a goal with her blog. She didn't just start blogging because I or someone else said it was a good idea. She wanted to communicate better with her customers, and once she saw that blogging could help her do that, she was full speed ahead. Even with the time commitment, Kayla is not letting up. At the end of the day, that's what makes and keeps all businesses successful.
Kayla makes her blog personal, introducing readers to Essential Wholesale staff, making fun with her husband, sharing stories about their kids and providing overviews of popular products and ingredients used (or not) in them. Kayla also shares the joys and challenges of business ownership in the Heart to Heart category, my personal favorite.
What About You?
Can you identify with what Kayla says about focusing so much on the details of your business that you lose the connection with the people for whom you are doing it all in the first place? Have you found that a blog helps you reignite that connection and use it to grow your business? Share your experiences in the comments section below.