Today’s post is all about growing your business on social media. Our guest today, Amanda Brooks, shares her strategies to growing her blog and business. Over the last few years she is doubled her readers and following on each social media platform without pulling her hair out. She’s created the lifestyle she wanted thru following her passions, making the right choices surrounding her brand and strategy.
Did you have a particular growth strategy to building your social media accounts?
I’m someone who loves research, so I will read everything there is and anything that I can get my hands on. I researched some of the tactics and strategies that people were using and if I’m spending the time pouring my heart and soul and effort into writing blog posts that I think are actually valuable, I need to get them out there. I need more people to read them otherwise why am I doing this? One of the things for me that I knew even before I started was together we grow. Too many entrepreneurs and bloggers come at things from a very competitive attitude and I just don’t believe in that. There are enough readers for all of us, so I love sharing other people’s great content and that paid off for me. I think sharing other people’s work was key. Another one was really just taking the time every once in a while to read some of the latest industry news on what tactics are working and then continuing to test the map.
What was the social media platform that really launched your blog growth?
I have done pretty well on Twitter for a very long time but I think Pinterest has really evolutionized blogging in the last few years. The amount of traffic that it drives is mind blowing and I’m a little terrified if we ever stop using it.
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Do you have 3 quick tips to maximize people use in Pinterest?
- Make sure you’re using vertical pins. You can have the most beautiful food picture but if it’s horizontal when someone is scrolling through Pinterest, it just doesn’t grab their attention.
- Re-pin other people’s content. People want to follow people who are sharing great content. If all you’re doing is pinning one blog post per day from your website, you’re not building a Pinterst board that people want to follow.
- Pinning at the right time of day. There is a number of studies that show that the evening is when people tend to be on Pinterest, so that’s when you want to be putting your best stuff into their feed.
Do you have a Pinterest scheduling tool that you like?
I use Ahalogy and got in when it first started.
What do you think is the most underutilized tool that entrepreneurs need to babe using?
I really think that tracking and scheduling are sort of huge things. When I say tracking I mean setting up a spreadsheet where you literally track every dime that comes in to you. You track it from the perspective of what did you receive as a service? What did you receive as a product? What did you receive in terms of actual cash money. I think just seeing that every month is super helpful to keep you in the mindset of making money. You can think about how much you could make or should you be charging more if you have a different goal. Track that right along with your expenses, so that you know if you’re really over investing before you’re bringing enough income.
Do you have any suggestions how to craft the pitch?
In the early days I pitched brands like crazy because I knew that working with brands was (at the time) one of the fastest ways for me to grow. I think what’s key is look around at what brands are already sponsoring other people. It means they’re open to the idea. Consider what brands you truly absolutely love and talk about. When you first write to them make that clear and even provide them a link to a place where you already talked about them because 8 million people are reaching out to them. Instead of focusing on your numbers especially if you’re a smaller blogger you reach out to them, “Here is my audience and here’s how it’s going to benefit you if I talk about you.” I think that’s the biggest key from any PR person is when they get your email what do they want to know? They want to know how it’s going to benefit them to work with you, not how it benefits you.
How has what you do change over the past few years?
Definitely my writing style has evolved over the years. For a while I looked at what some of the big blogs were doing. They were sharing their personal day to day or what they ate and I tried that a little bit and then I tried doing very specific reviews of a product and those things didn’t feel quite right to me. I started looking around and realized there was really a couple specific types of content that people love to share. They love to share things that are educational, they love to share things that are funny and they love to share things that really set them apart in some kind of light, whether it’s showing that they’re an expert or something that’s emotional and really connects with them. I started focusing on that and thinking about that every time I went to write a post. I started posting less and by posting less I got more readers, I got more shares and my actual views went up quite a bit.
What is the best way to make money on your website and just online general?
There are the ads on the side, those might be very small income until you start driving more traffic but it’s a way to get started. Working with brand sponsors is a great tool if you can figure out what it means for you. What I mean by that is do you want to be a site that just does reviews? You can absolutely do that all day long. For me when I work with the brand I still like it to be a very informational post.
How can we maximize our time without feel like we’re spinning our wheels?
I think the key is not feeling like you need to do it all. Figure out which platforms you enjoy and which platforms are actually driving you traffic. Get really, really good at one of them and you can start to leverage that one to grow another.
What works best for you?
Pinterest, like I said, is absolutely the top traffic driver. I love the interaction though that comes from Instagram now.
Do you have a few tips on how to grow your following on Instagram?
One is to look at why people follow you. In my case, obviously I write about running, my channel needs to be all about running and fitness. If I randomly post the photo of my cat, it’s all right but if I do a whole bunch of cat photos and random here’s my kitchen and here’s this and here’s that, people are confused. That’s not why they followed me so when they find your photo because you’ve used a great hash tag and then they looked at your feed and then they’re like, “Wait a second. She was talking about food and has this beautiful food photo but the rest of her feed is like her kids and her cats why would I follow her?” Now Instagam has made it easier to have multiple accounts if you want to be able to share photos of your kids and stuff maybe you’ll have a personal account and then you have an account specifically for your business and it’s focused entirely around whatever your topic is. That is huge for growth.
What about hashtags? Do you think you should be using them and how you should go about finding them?
Hashtags are key for Instagram; it’s how people find each other and how they figure out who to follow. One of the things you can do is look at someone in your niche who is doing well, see what hash tags they’re using and start using them. I try to rotate through different hashtags so that I’m not using the exact same ones all of the time. I have a note file on my phone so that I can copy paste the hashtags and put them in. I don’t have to remember them off the top of my head.
What is your social media pet peeve?
It’s the automated message when I follow someone on Twitter that says, “Hey! Thanks for following me. You can connect with me here, here and here…” It really, really bothers me and I always immediately unfollow them.
Why do you think people need to have an editorial calendar as opposed to just flying by the seat of their pants?
When I am brainstorming ideas it allows me to write things down. I can easily build on something that pops up here or there, so I’m never forgetting all of those ideas. It also helps me to stay on track if I’m doing sponsored posts. I know exactly what day it’s due so that I’m not working on it the night before.
What does balance really mean to you?
I don’t believe in traditional balance. Because balance for most us means that every day is this perfect ideal world of I spend exactly this much time working, exactly this much time with family. You have phases where you have a big project and you might be working lot. You have phases where things are easier and so you could step back and really invest in time with friends and family. For me balance is looking at things as a whole whether it’s food (“Did I generally eat well this week?”) or whether it is work. So, finding that space of knowing what’s your priority right now and leaning into those periods when you are a little bit less busy. It’s really easy as someone who works for yourself to just make yourself always busy. It’s choosing to see those moments where you can step back and really utilizing them to enjoy the life that you’ve wanted to create.
How do you manage the juggle?
Juggling for me is a matter of priorities. I have a notebook and every day I write down what I call my sacred 6. I write down 6 things that absolutely must happen that day and everything else if it doesn’t happen, that’s just life. My sacred 6 might include meditating and running. I’ll look at what are 4 things that are going to move me forward in my business today because it’s super easy to get bogged down in the 8 million things that we need to do. If I can break it down to just focusing on these individual things today then I’ll know I’ve done what I need to do and tomorrow I can keep going from there.
How do you manage to stay healthy while you’re traveling so much?
Travel is never an excuse to skip a workout, it’s actually the best reason to work out. I love running in new places even when I’m on press trips, which means that your time is not your own. I will find ways to get up early or after dinner to go run because I know it’s going to give me more energy. It’s exciting to see a new place in a different way. I also really make sleep important.
What is the one thing you want our listeners to know about building a brand?
I think one of the things that is really key is to decide what you want to focus on. As soon as you decide who you’re writing for and what topic you really want to become an expert at that’s when you’ll start to see growth.
Amanda is an eight time marathon finisher who has turned her passion for running into an online business through her blog RunToTheFinish.com which has become a destination for running tips, motivation and nutrition advice. Over the last few years, she has doubled her readers and followings on each social platform without pulling her hair out! She’s created the lifestyle she wanted through following her passions and making the right choices surrounding branding and strategy.
Amanda provides digital strategy coaching to fellow bloggers looking to create a stable income from their site and grow their following on social media. Learn more about her services here.
- Website: Run To The Finish
- Instagram: @runtothefinish
- Pinterest: Amanda Brooks
- Facebook: Run to the Finish
- Twitter: @runtothefinish
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