Edited to Announce: The winner of a copy of the No Brainer Blog eBook by Hayely Morgan is….Emily Fontes! Congrats, Emily!
I have that shivvery feeling you get the morning of your birthday when you can hardly wait for the day to begin ’cause you know it’s just gonna be so. much. fun.
What? You don’t get that? Moving on…
Today I am just tickled pink (and shivvery-excited) to share with you one of my favorite bloggers: Hayley Morgan of the Tiny Twig. I relate to her passion and respect a lot of the choices she’s made on her blog and in her life, and when she said she was gonna release an ebook about blogging–I was on it. I was gonna snatch it up as soon as it released, and definitely share the awesomeness with you all.
But then, glory be, Hayley contacted me (little old me!) and asked if I wanted to be part of her launch team.
Let me tell you, people, it was a no-brainer. (hardy, har, har)
So today I’m asking Hayley some of my most burning questions AND giving away a copy of her book!
Enjoy her insight and nuggets of wisdom and then join me in the comments for some rousing discussion of what we learn, OK? I’ll be first, sharing how I plan to apply this to my blog!
On Niche and Voice
Me: Hayley, you claim to be ‘nicheless’ and define yourself as a ‘lifestyle’ blog instead. Can you explain how this may be a great option for those struggling to define their niche? How can a nicheless blog work as well as yours?
Hayley: Readers can quickly do a Google search to find information if that’s all they are seeking. But, they keep coming back to a blog because of the blogger’s voice and to have a point of connection. They connect with the blogger, their life, their perspective. I think even the truly successful and well loved “niche-y” blogs out there actually rely more on their voice than their niche. They have cultivated a strong point of view within their niche, so in a way they may have used the niche as a stepping stool but eventually outgrew it.
Think of the Nester; she uses her home as “niche”, but the content of her blog could be applied to any aspect of life. As the years have worn on, she’s moved away from doing as many DIYs and home tutorials and speaks more to her philosophy on life through the lens of her home. She has developed a strong voice and a strong aesthetic that people are drawn to more than they are her knowledge of how to hang curtains, arrange pillows, or whatever.
Me: You have such unique vision for your online presence, and a clear idea what you’re about. I’m curious where you get the majority of your input–online (blogs) or offline (books)? What blogs or books have most shaped your vision?
Hayley: I approach blogging more as a businesswoman than a writer. I could find a variety of less demanding outlets for writing if I just wanted to get words on the page. It has been my experience that the blogs that stick around long enough to find a following are blogs that are run like a business–but with a heart. You have to find a way to sustain the day in and day out of blog management in order to give yourself room to find words that mean something.
I don’t even mean that you have to make money, but thinking about things like the return on investment (even if that investment is only time) and opportunity cost (what are you giving up to spend time on Twitter?) will help you last in the fast paced and fickle world of blogs.
I went to school for business and am married to a businessman, so we talk shop all the time. I’d say very little of my input comes from reading blogs, but more from relationships I’ve formed. There are a few very successful bloggers that have taken the time to gather me under their wing. I’ve soaked up every bit of wisdom they’ve said and then I can look at their other decisions and actions and glean more. Whether someone gives you five minutes or five years, there is always something to be learned.
That said, I also love books! Books I have loved recently are The $100 Startup, Platform, and Quitter.
On Mastermind Groups
Me: Are you part of a mastermind group, and if so, when and how did that happen? I believe no blogger should blog alone. What’s your advice to those without a close network of fellow bloggers?
Hayley: I am! I have been in a few groups since I started blogging. Just like in real life, some of those groups had odd dynamics and fizzled and some were really successful for a season.
I was part of a group at the beginning of my blogging days that was really helpful as we all learned the ins-and-outs of the technology and platforms. For that group, I approached about 7 different bloggers with similar sized readerships to mine. I think all of them said that they were absolutely interested in being part of the group. For that group, we simply had long Gmail chains and kept up with each other’s lives, blogs, and answered any questions we could along the way. That group wasn’t the most amazing at strategy, but the relationships I formed in that group are still very integral to my blogging life today. They are the people I approach to collaborate, lead, and dream with me.
Today, I’m a part of a group of 4 that meets over Google+ from 10-11am every Monday morning. We come with 3 things to talk about: our win for the week, our loss/failure of the week, and one strategy question we have for the group (could be how to best work a particular giveaway, or how to proceed with a certain relationship, or a line of code we don’t understand, etc.). We text and email other times throughout the week and are involved in other projects together–so when we get together for our Strategy Meeting, we try to keep to answering those 3 questions.
I’ve also had relationships where I meet one-on-one with another blogger each week to discuss my business and her business. Those were incredibly fruitful relationships for grinding out actual business decisions, because there was enough time for each of us to fully explain and discuss our issues each week.
Phew! I’m out of breath! This stuff is mind-blowing! We’re you inspired? Tell you what, leave a comment sharing which of Hayley’s concepts you are the most excited about applying to your blog, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her new book, “The No-Brainer Blog“ which is chock full of the kind of awesomness you just got in this here post!
Giveaway will be open until Tuesday, Dec. 4th at Midnight. This post includes affiliate links.
Martha Brady says
Trina, thanks for having this series of interviews. Haven’t gotten them a read but the one today was very helpful in terms of groups. I have been in a mastermind group that was very helpful but met on a night where I often worked. I liked the other ideas she mentioned for groups. Now to find the people:)
Felt I did meet some at allume this year that I could partner with. Will think on this dome more. Am guessing that if I don’t have acute business acumen, I need to find people who do…and partner w them:)
Sounds like her book will be very helpful:)
approaching blogging like a business woman really makes sense to me. I’ve never blogged to earn money, or even to gain a following. Those things came, and then I’ve found myself floundering because I wasn’t thinking ahead. Somewhere along the way, all those technical aspects started choking out the pure love of writing for the sake of it. Stepping back and evaluating my time, my season, and my goal and making plans like I would to grow or maintain a business is exactly what I need to do from time to time. Where I am now is not where I was when I first clicked “create blog” all those years ago. I’m not a single, just out of highschool girl anymore. I’ve got a home and a husband, a ministry to be involved in and a business to run along side my words. I can’t stop writing, but I have to juggle my priorities and find ways to do what I need to do but still make time to do what I love…writing and connecting.
(and I’d love love love this eBook. Sounds so helpful!)
Emily Fontes says
I really love the idea of meeting with a mastermind group at a set time each week and coming prepared to answer the three questions. That sounds very productive. I’d love to win a copy of her e-book!
Emily, I know, right? I’m totally going to implement that idea in the new year. do you have a group yet, or has this post inspired you to start one?
Emily Fontes says
I don’t have a group yet Trina. I’m so awkward when comes to approaching people for this sort of thing. I don’t even know where to start! I’m a new blogger but I’ve been working in web and graphic design since 2000.
Emily Fontes says
Thank you so much Trina & Hayley!
Okay, one more person feeling relief about niche-less writing. I started blogging with a vision and then feel bad for deviating from that, like I am doing a disservice to my readers. Other blogging resources I’ve read push so hard about a specific niche and I cannot nail myself to one. I love the term “lifestyle blogger”. When I put it in those terms, I feel like my blog has weight. Thank you!
And I would love to win the book. Sounds encouraging!
Amy, I’m so glad this post brought relief! You know, I think the best friends (or followers, in blogging world) are the ones who let us grow and change. I think the key reason it’s a good idea not to nail yourself to a niche, is that you may be impeding something God wants to do in you and your blog. I totally love the idea of you embracing the ‘lifestyle’ label and letting Him guide your future content.
Naomi B says
I can’t pick just one thing! I want ro read all I can on blogging before I start again since my head is in a whirlwind about it. The niche thing is interresting.or rather no niche thing. But also so so scary to me:-)
Well, Naomi, if you are just going to be embracing the authentic YOU in your online presence, that should’t be too scary, should it? I think it will be beautiful. 😉
Naomi B. says
Ah, yes, but the question is whether I want to share the authentic ME to the entire world..or that small part of it that might stumble across it anyway. Most importantly, the people I actually know in real life 😉
ohh, good point. now we’re talking about what is TMI in what we share on our blogs. I love Natasha’s post on what content is ok and what’s not in regards to telling our story. It all has to do with where our story intersects with others…http://natashametzler.com/2012/07/20/writing-your-story-when-it-intersects-with-other-peoples/
The niche, oh the niche. I love to “write my heart out,” but then feel like a recipe or picture post just doesn’t cut it.
well, if it’s any help, I sometimes ‘write my heart out’ and sometimes just post a picture or a recipe…I’m really just being ‘me’ on my blog anymore, and not listening to all the ‘voices’ that tell me to do or be something or another online. And, it’s working out ok. 😉 Definitely takes a huge amount of stress out of blogging….
Her thoughts on niche and voice may be just the things I need to finally get my blog off and running. Thanks, Trina, for all of your encouragement in that regard. : ]
Oh, ERIN! You’re going to blog! I’m so excited! Please, keep me updated!! 😉
Dawn @ The Momma Knows says
OK So I need this book, and I need a mastermind group. I have been thinking seriously about it since Allume, but I see the different ways she has approached them and I definitely need that! I DO have a couple of bloggers that I go to and that come to me but we aren’t any defined anything other than being friends for years through our blogs (and one in person.)
shannon coe says
I am concerned that I will be the blog about only one thing and that one thing does reach a chapter end sometime. I need to branch out. I did feel like I did that with my hospitality post. I hear what she says about the perspective. I need to listen to that and learn from it. I love interviews and this was a great one.
Shannon, I do see your blog being about one thing: God’s providence. Surely that doesn’t end when you finish the current story you are working on? I’m looking forward to wherever He leads you in the future.
Dawn, I am so passionate about people having a mastermind group, you know I’d love to chat with you and help you brainstorm toward starting your own! Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to chat!
I am intrigued by the idea of running your blog like you would a business, even if you have no desire or plans to attempt to make money with your blog. I’d love to learn more about this idea!
I think key to seeing our blogs from this perspective is to follow other bloggers who are being intentional in their blogging. Tiny Twig is one, and I think of Tsh of Simple Mom as another blogger who is very focused and intentional with her online space. This is an area I want to grow in, as well.
Anna Radchenko @ Here Am I says
I definitely need to learn more about niche and voice (and um pretty much everything else)… I feel like I know a lot, but am not very good at applying what I “know”. I’d definitely love to win this book 🙂
Oh, Anna–I just want to say, give yourself time! 😉 It’s taken me 5 years to find my ‘groove’. I’m sure it will take you much less time because you are being so intentional about seeking good input at the beginning of your journey.
Jennifer Peterson says
Well you already know how I feel, I love this book!! When I read the the sentence find your voice not your niche I was in tears. I felt a relief come over me.
Oh, Jennifer, I know! The main thing I got out of this book was freedom. Confirmation that it’s ok, and may even be a great strategy online, to just be me!! Yehaw! (lol)
Julie Anne says
As I’ve been thinking through my blog and “branding” and niche and all, I keep coming back to connection. I want to make a connection and for me that includes, writing, creating, crafting, recipes, home stuff, etc… It’s never one thing! so I love what she said about a blogger’s voice!
I also felt my toes pinch just a little bit when she stepped on them… regarding the return on investment and opportunity cost!!
I joined a “mastermind” group through Better Writer after (I think it was you, Trina) did a post on them. We’ve been hit and miss, but having 5 of us actually meet at Allume was invaluable. We stretch from West Coast, to Midwest, to PA, to Canada… so a facebook group has been most successful for connections for us!
All great stuff and I would LOVE to read her book!!!
Julie Anne, I’m so delighted to hear you started a group. Yes, meeting in person is amazing, isn’t it? Our group is also spread across the country and Allume was a special time for us, too.
Um, yeah, the idea of ROI has been rolling around in my head all month, making me analyze everything I do online. Which is a good thing! One thing I’ve decided is that chatting with my readers on my blog is more important to me than ‘keeping up’ on social media platforms. I’m just totally delighted with the conversation we’re having here, and appreciate you joining in with your thoughts!
Noel McNeil says
I would looove to win this book! I’d love to have a ‘mastermind group’ but I am the only blogger I know. Personally anyway. I’d love to be able to find my voice, I feel like I know it, but lack time to get it on the blog the way I want it. Thanks for this interview and for doing the giveaway!!!
Noel, most of the bloggers in my group I didn’t know terribly well before joining with them–it was after we got in a group that we really got to know each other. If you want to start one, all you have to do is approach a few bloggers you admire or have had some contact with and ask them if they’re interested in a mastermind group! All they can say is no! But you’d be amazed at how many people are longing for this type of community and accountability in their passion for blogging.
If you wanna brainstorm about creating your own group, feel free to email me! email@example.com
I find it helpful to know that not everyone has a defined niche. I just write about life. Plus I have a variety of interests and would be bored writing about one thing all of the time. I’d love to know what else she has to share!
I guarantee you’ll love the book, Sara. She’s so affirming of the type of blogging you say you do!
Christin @ Joyful Mothering says
I’d like to fine tune my voice and broaden my niche (maybe even go nicheless, but very slowly). I feel like I have so many things to write about, but can’t because of the walls of my niche.
Being that I am in the thrusts of motherhood right now, it would still be integrated well within that realm because i simply cannot be separated from that role.
So much to think and pray on!
Noel McNeil says
I too can feel like I’m trapped from my niche. My husband tells me that I’m overthinking it and that I should write about whatever I want. Hard to get past the ‘walls’ in my mind….
Oh, but once you do, Noel, it’s amazing what happens. I’ve been in a season where I decided not to define myself by any sort of tagline or niche description, and writer’s block has become a thing of the past. I come to my blog passionate, and write about whatever I’m passionate about that month. And then Hayley told me that was OK, and I nearly cried. You should try it… 😉
Now THAT is just what the Dr. ordered…or the Great Physician, take your pick :0). Writing with a passionate heart is what I long to do…BUT truth is, my insecurities about my writing interfere. I start listening to the whispers “What makes YOU such an expert?”
What an awesome freedom that can be…just WRITE! The niche, the voice, the platform can all fall into place. A GREAT interview!!!
Donna, the biggest lesson the Lord taught me this past month is to ‘ignore the voices’. Those whispers that try to discourage you from blogging? Yeah. Ditch ’em. 😉 Embrace the freedom, and watch what God does. I know it’s gonna be amazing. Blessings to you!
Lisa Mather says
hehe, that’s why my tag line is: everyday ramblings. It doesn’t give me a ‘niche’! Though, I tend to gravitate toward one topic or another as I feel at the time. Somedays, it’s more family/homeschooling and others it’s my quilty side of things. 🙂
I read Hayley talk about niche in Feb of this year and ever since then I have quietly considered myself nichless, at least in my own mind. I can’t tell you how freeing this has been. Writer’s block has become a thing of the past. I thing defining your niche is like putting a wall up–sometimes it helps to show people the shape of what you have to offer, but I think more often it serves as a wall that deters people who may be drawn to us for who we really are. It’s a kinda scary no-man’s-land to ‘go nichless’, but it’s interesting what shape appears when you let God draw the lines of what you’re about. I’m still in the middle of this experiment, but I can attest that it has been very fruitful so far.
I too, would love to read the book. I think I most appreciate Hayley’s thoughts on opportunity cost- so often I just go from one thing to the next, not asking what the cost is, or what is the most productive way that I could be using my time.
Oh, Rachel, that was a big one for me, too! What has the highest rate of return for me? (I’ll tell you a secret–a comment discussion like this one here totally makes my day, and this is why I wanted to blog today–thanks for everyone who has joined the conversation!!!)
kalynbrooke | Creative Savings says
I would love to read this ebook!
I have had major anxiety not on what to post on my blog, but what to post as an extension of my niche on facebook or twitter. In a blog post, you can often relate any topic to your niche because you have enough space to define it. But on facebook, it’s more difficult. But then again, I’m probably overthinking it!
Kalyn–thanks for stopping by! You’ll be happy to know, Hayley does talk in the book about how she presents herself on the different platforms. I think you’ll find it very helpful!
Overthinking–is relative. 😉 I think there’s a time and place to analyze our online presence so we can set up some guidelines so that other times we can just go with the flow within those guidelines, not thinking to hard about it. Hayley has really helped me with those guidelines.
So, my biggest take-away from this was how to take my mastermind group to the next level. I already have a great group of women I blog alongside of, but Hayley’s tips for meeting with a few of them at a time with very focused questions and topics for discussion sounds like it could be very productive!!
Hmmm…. does this mean we can have a NY/PA meet up when you’re back up North? Because that would be amazing!
Well, you know I adore IRL meetups! But, um, have you seen the weather out there? LOL I want to start with figuring out this google chat meetup of which she speaks, at least while the winter has a grip on the land…
Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions says
I’d love to further define my niche! Still having trouble putting it into words…
Ahh! Elizabeth! you beat me to commenting on my own blog! LOL
I know, I know–niche definition has been a huge mountain I’ve been trying to climb for years. But Hayley has helped me to relax a bit on that, showing me that my writing voice can be just a crucial a defining part of my blog as a tagline that explains my niche. I love how this releases me to just focus on being me when I type, rather than trying to figure out how to define what shape I am online…know what I mean?
Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions says
Makes sense! 🙂
Oh, and PS–you’re entered for the giveaway, Elizabeth! 😉