Meet Jessica Thiele of VL

One of the greatest things about blogging is that it’s something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have a business, a passion or even any idea what you eventually want to create with your blog, it’s all about taking action and going live with something of your own. Many times blogs will start off in one direction and end up in another. No matter why or how a blog is created, the end goal is to always provide value for an audience — especially when that audience might be potential customers and clients.

That’s exactly what we are going to be discussing today, as our featured Meet the Bloggers interviewee this week is Jessica Thiele, who started her education in one area, then turned it another direction through the use of business blogging. Be sure to check out her story below and see if you can apply any of her same principles and blogging techniques into your own site and content creation.

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

Jessica Thiele

Blogging is the mechanism that allows you — regardless of the capacity or reason — to connect with your audience on a more authentic level. Forcing you to write semi-regularly means less room for platitudes and generalities, as those eventually run dry. Coming from an academic background with a Masters in Anthropology, writing came naturally to me and paired well with our marketing and business’ objectives while also matching well with connecting with our audience on actionable and authentic insight.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

Our blog is a corporate blog, so we focus on making our area of expertise (data integration) less cluttered and more accessible to a not necessarily technical audience. Because we serve a variety of market segments (including omnichannel retail, or retailers that sell through a number of portals online and in the ‘real world’), we have the flexibility to write about our niche, but also about broader industry trends and innovation. With all the change in the retail industry, it’s a really exciting space to write about!

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

We’re purely inbound when it comes to the monetization of our blog. Our ethos is that if we provide great quality, well-researched and authentic content rooted in industry news and events, it will resonate better with our audience. Our metrics prove this concept, as we’ve seen increased brand awareness and greater traction with our audience across several portals and social media platforms that have turned into customers. When you produce good content and provide a high-quality service, people trust you more than any bait-and-switch methodology — push marketing included. (Not to mention most users have been subconsciously trained to ignore ads!)

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

Get out of your head. Academia, extending all the way back into high school, trains writers to write formally and in a structured, inflexible format. But discourse has changed, and that sort of stuffy semi-corporate speak is quickly becoming less and less relevant. If you won’t read it on your personal time, why waste professional time writing in a passive, formal tone? Stop worrying about what you’re going to write or how it’s written, and just write.

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

I’m not sure if they qualify as blogs, but I frequent The New York Times and Buzzfeed daily. The different writing styles keep me grounded and help me get in the zone. I find Cracked’s writing style particularly enlightening on a personal level; their informal tone pairs well with high-quality research, and clearly it engages readers.

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

Google’s Webmaster Dashboard (or Search Console) is key as a jumping off point but can be difficult to master without expert input. We use Clickly to keep tabs on our daily metrics day over day, and have found that it’s analytics are far more digestible on a moment-by-moment basis.

Since a blog is of limited good if you can’t convert your audience, we use a Marketing Automation Platform, LeadFox, to tie our content to targeted content we produce (which is produced in the same vein as our blog, putting our quality above quantity and showing our audience that the content they’re trading their information for is worth it).

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Much of the same as I’ve said above — get out of your head, stop planning, and just sit down and write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling on your first pass (free writing methodology), but instead focus on getting your ideas down. Refinement can happen later. And write in a tone that is accessible (including jargon use)!

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

Just write! Freewriting is a great tool that’s severely underused in the professional community.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

Buy an attractive, mobile responsive WordPress template — I like Tesla Themes personally. Invest a little bit of your personal time configuring the template to fit your needs, and look into plugins when you can. You don’t need to be a programmer to have a good looking website, you just have to be a little ambitious and dedicated to the project. Google will cover you when you hit an impasse. But having an attractive, functional site is absolutely necessary to build your credibility… and your audience.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

Thanks again Jessica for taking the time to share her advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.

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